USS James E. Williams (DDG 95) returned to Naval Station Norfolk from a seven-month NATO deployment, July 14.

James E. Williams served as the flagship for Standing NATO Maritime Group (SNMG) 2, commanded by Rear Adm. Scott Sciretta.

James E. Williams deployed in December 2022 and relieved Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98) as SNMG 2 flagship. As the flagship, James E. Williams led a multinational maritime group in joint operations through the Mediterranean Sea, providing forward presence, ensuring stability in the region, and supporting deterrence and defense of NATO territory.

The James E. Williams crew traveled more than 36,000 nautical miles, conducted more than 45 sea and anchor evolutions, transited 20 straight, logged more than 600 hours of flight operations, and conducted 22 replenishments-at-sea.

“As our deployment ends, I could not be more proud of the hard work, true dedication, pride and professionalism that our Sailors have demonstrated on this deployment,” said Cmdr. Robert Ireland, commanding officer of James E. Williams.

“James E. Williams got real, got better, and provided Commander, NATO Allied Maritime Command and U.S. 6th Fleet with a tactically proficient, operationally ready, and strategically focused asset to project NATO’s united resolve to deter and defeat our nation’s and Alliance’s adversaries.”

While working with 12 countries on joint operations, the crew visited 12 different cities in Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Spain and Türkiye. While in port, Sailors strengthened relationships with our critical Allies, participating in social events with Sailors from other navies and touring local regions.

Through this wide range of exercises, operations and port visits, the crew demonstrated their unrelenting commitment to the mission and to the region. They spent 225 days away from homeport, truly demonstrating the fulfillment of their ship’s motto: Lead from the Front.

HMS Duncan (D37), a Royal Navy Daring-class air-defense destroyer, properly relieved James E. Williams as SNMG 2 flagship during a ceremony in Taranto, Italy, June 30. With the completion of the hand-over turn-over, the United Kingdom commenced a one-year rotation in command of SNMG 2 under the leadership of Cdre. Paul Stroude.

As a NATO task group, SNMG 2 prioritizes its mandate to enhance the collective readiness, responsiveness, deployable readiness, integration and interoperability of its forces. Its focus is on deterrence and defense against all adversaries in the maritime domain, upholding freedom of navigation, securing maritime trade routes and protecting the main lines of communication.

SNMG 2 is a multinational integrated task group that projects a constant and visible reminder of the Alliance’s solidarity and cohesion afloat. This continuous maritime capability performs a wide range of tasks, including exercises and real-world operations in periods of crisis and conflict. SNMG 2 is one of four Standing Naval Forces that operate under NATO Allied Maritime Command, headquartered in Northwood, United Kingdom.