News Stories

U.S. 2nd Fleet Embarks USS Mount Whitney for Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021

by From U.S. 2nd Fleet Public Affairs
14 May 2021

Staff members attached to Joint Force Command Norfolk (JFCNF) and U.S. 2nd Fleet (C2F) embarked aboard the U.S. 6th Fleet (C6F) command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) to kick-off Exercise Steadfast Defender 2021 (STDE21), May 12.

U.S. 2nd Fleet is acting as the Maritime Component Commander (MCC) for the first phase of Steadfast Defender, the Maritime live exercise. This phase focuses on the rapid reinforcement of NATO’s European Allies by North American forces. This phase is led by Joint Force Command Norfolk, and will involve 19 ships with 5,000 participants from eleven nations.

 “Participating in exercises like STDE21 allows NATO allies to collectively validate our operational capabilities while defending strategic lines of communication between North America and Europe,” said Canadian Rear Adm. Steve Waddell, vice commander of U.S. 2nd Fleet, embarked Mount Whitney as the leader of the MCC.“ Together we are stronger, ready, and postured to deter threats in the North Atlantic and into the Arctic."

STDE21 is NATO’s flagship exercise for 2021 and the first in a new series of long-planned NATO exercises to ensure that forces are trained, able to operate together, and ready to respond to threats from any direction. This exercise will display the value of North America and Europe working together to keep our nations safe in a more challenging security environment.

“The USS Mount Whitney's afloat communications capability is second to none,” said Capt. Dave “Crusty” Pollard, Mount Whitney’s commanding officer. “C2F will use the embarked technology to manage the Commander's Joint Intelligence Center and Joint Operations Center while underway. Working together gives the commander the most-powerful C4I capability, allowing extensive command and control at sea."

Mount Whitney, forward deployed to Gaeta, Italy, operates with a combined crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners in the C6F area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.

For decades, the bond between Europe and North America has made NATO the strongest alliance in history. Conducting training and exercises alongside allies and partners increases our collective capacity and capabilities as well as increased interoperability with the U.S. forces. 

U.S. 2nd Fleet exercises operational authorities over assigned ships, aircraft, and landing forces on the East Coast and the Atlantic.

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