September 5, 2019 – Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) ships visited New York Aug. 30-Sept. 3 after successfully conducting a series of training events at sea in the Virginia Capes operating area.
SNMG1 includes the flagship U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley (DDG 101), the Royal Norwegian Navy frigate HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl (F-314), the Belgian Navy frigate Leopold I (F930), the Portuguese Navy frigate NRP D. Francisco de Almeida (F334), and the Royal Netherlands Navy frigate HNLMS Van Speijk (F 828).
“Gridley and her crew were honored to be moored pier side in New York and are grateful we had the opportunity to develop and strengthen bonds with citizens in the local area,” said Cmdr. Joel Uzarski, commanding officer, USS Gridley. “Since Gridley is home ported on the west coast in Everett, Washington, it was some of our crew’s first time visiting the sights and scenery of New York City. We are all appreciative for the chance to explore the city and seeing everything that it had to offer.”
While some crew members have never been to New York before the visits, others such as Aerographer’s Mate 2nd Class Joseph Gonzalez were born and raised there. The visit allowed him to go home and see his family and friends in the Bronx.
“Being back in New York brought out a hidden joy,” said Gonzalez. “The Bronx is just one of the many beautiful areas throughout the city. Everything from the music, culture, history and food make for an unforgettable experience, and I’m glad I was able to share it with my shipmates.”
SNMG1 also hosted a group of distinguished visitors aboard the Belgian Navy frigate Leopold I for a force luncheon to express appreciation for the reception the group had received in the city. Guests included the Honorable Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough president, the Honorable Adam Connolly, assistant commissioner for NYC Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Thomas Coumbe, vice president of Human Resources at the Intrepid Museum, and Charles Blaich, New York Navy League council president.
“Our sincere thanks to the people of New York City for the warm hospitality,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Edward Cashman, commander, SNMG1. “All of our sailors enjoyed the opportunity to visit the fantastic sights and meet the people of New York who, as always, treated them exceptionally well. The visit was a particularly special opportunity for the allied sailors, who, for some, have never seen New York City prior to this visit. A special ‘thank you’ for the great support from the New York Police Department throughout the visit,” he continued. “It was an honor to meet and work alongside them during our time here. The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) was also extremely welcoming to our Sailors and we are grateful for their support and willingness to host a number of them.”
A flag exchange ceremony was held aboard the U.S. Navy USS Gridley Aug. 31, with the FDNY. The ceremony brought together firefighters, Sailors, families and friends as they remembered the victims of the attacks Sept. 11, 2001.
Gridley hosted public tours of the U.S. Navy ship Aug. 31, and Sept. 1. The ship also hosted a recruiter to conduct outreach to citizens in the local region who may have been interested in learning more about the U.S. Navy.
SNMG1 is one of four standing maritime task groups composed of ships from various Allied countries. These task groups form the core maritime capabilities of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force. They provide a continuous maritime capability to execute NATO missions across the spectrum of operations, demonstrate solidarity, and strengthen diplomatic and professional links among allied naval forces.