USS Porter (DDG 78) returned to her homeport of Naval Station Norfolk, June 16, 2023, following a four-month deployment to the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) area of operations.
Porter spent two months of its patrol in the Baltic Sea, participating in
passing exercises and joint operations with NATO-Allied and partner navies
from Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Estonia.
“Over the last four months, Porter lived up to its nickname of ‘Freedom’s
Champion’,” said Cmdr. Joe Hamilton, Porter’s commanding officer. “The crew
was outstanding in every warfare area and truly set the standard. From
presence operations in the Baltic Sea, to port visits in allied nations, to
large-scale exercises with our Allied and partner nations, Porter
demonstrated we’re ready to execute any mission, any time.”
Following its time in the Baltic Sea, Porter steamed to the North Atlantic
Ocean to participate in exercise Formidable Shield 2023, a biennial
integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) exercise, which included more than
20 ships and 35 aircraft; eight ground units consisting of radars, National
Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS), and High Mobility Artillery
Rocket System (HIMARS); and nearly 4,000 personnel from across the Alliance.
During Formidable Shield 2023, Porter conducted two live-fire missile events
from the UK Ministry of Defence’s Hebrides Range, successfully firing three
Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) interceptor missiles and destroying all targets.
“The amount of preparation poured into an exercise like this is incredible,
and the Porter crew performed superbly from laying the groundwork to
executing missiles on target,” Hamilton said about Formidable Shield. “The
opportunity to conduct live-fire missile exercises like this isn’t one we
get every day, and we made the most of the opportunity.”
Throughout the deployment, the crew conducted scheduled port visits to
Rostock, Germany; Funchal, Portugal; Klaipeda, Lithuania; Tallinn, Estonia;
Kalundborg, Denmark; Gdynia, Poland; Kiel, Germany; Rota, Spain; and
Faslane, Scotland. During these port visits, Porter Sailors were able to
experience local cultures and forge bonds with their hosts. Porter also
hosted a number of distinguished visitors during its time in ports,
including President of Estonia Alar Karis; U.S. Consul General Jason Chue,
U.S. Consulate General in Hamburg, Germany; German Navy Rear Adm. Jürgen zur
Mühlen, Commander, German Maritime Forces Staff, Director of Operations, and
Deputy Fleet Commander, German Navy Headquarters; and U.S. Ambassador to
Estonia George P. Kent.
“We’re always grateful for an opportunity to strengthen our relationship
with NATO-Allied and partner nations,” said Hamilton. “Visits like these
give the crew the opportunity to experience cultures, customs, and
traditions that they may not have been able to otherwise.”
After arriving at Naval Station Norfolk, the crew was greeted by Rear Adm.
Sean Bailey, commander of Carrier Strike Group 8 and Capt. Edward Pledger,
deputy commander of Destroyer Squadron 22. Pledger presented a plaque
recognizing Porter as the 2022 Destroyer Squadron 22 Battle Effectiveness
award winner. The Battle “E” is presented to units whose crews consistently exhibit excellence in wartime capabilities and optimal mission readiness. Porter’s Battle ‘E’ is a result of a clean sweep of all CEAs for maritime warfare (Black ‘E’), engineering/survivability (Red ‘E’), command and control (Green ‘E’), safety (Yellow ‘E’), and health and wellness (Green ‘H’).