11 February 2014
The Next Chapter in European Presence and Partnerships
As you read this blog USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) is heading east, on a course that will make the ship the first of four destroyers to be forward deployed in the Naval Forces Europe operating area.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: There’s been a tremendous effort put forth to get the ship to this point. It was a whole government effort, in close coordination with our Spanish ally. The end result of this collaboration will be four U.S. warships stationed in Rota, Spain, but its message is so much more.
On the surface, it’s a message of supporting our allies and partners, with multi-mission Ballistic Missile Defense-capable Aegis ships. It’s a message that is supported by our ability to rapidly respond to any crisis. But more importantly it’s a message that rings loudest because of our commitment to be continuously present where it matters, in order to respond when it matters.
With continuous presence comes an enhanced ability to train and operate with our allies and partners. Our presence also highlights the importance of U.S. relationships in the Mediterranean and our dedication to the United States’ relationship with its European allies and strong support for the NATO alliance.
Working alongside and training together with our allies and partners is generally thought of as a means to an end – in that, we train together in order to enhance our ability to respond to crises.
But this is nothing new – our presence and partnerships with our allies in this region goes back as long as the United States has had a Navy. This forward deployment of ships is simply the latest chapter in a long, rich history. It serves as a reminder of our shared commitment with our Allies to protect against belligerent aggression and coercion that goes beyond the threat of ballistic missiles.
ROTA, Spain: Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG75) moor the ship to the pier after pulling into Naval Station Rota. Donald Cook is the first of four guided-missile destroyers to be forward deployed to Rota, Spain. (U.S. Navy photo by Cmdr. Philip R. Rosi II)
Secretary Mabus, Ambassador Costos, Admiral Munoz-Delgado Diaz del Rio, Ladies and Gentlemen, good afternoon. I am delighted to be back in Rota and honored to join Admiral Bolibar-Pineiro in conveying my respect to the distinguished political, military, and civic leaders who have assembled here to celebrate the arrival of Donald Cook.
I am also pleased to see both Spanish and American Sailors and their families here – you are the heart and soul of Rota’s ships, squadrons, and the installation – in fact, our entire Navies. Thank you for your immense contributions each and every day, and for the enthusiastic welcome I know you will extend to our new shipmates.
This arrival ceremony reflects the exceptional collaboration and common interests shared between the United States and Spain. It marks the vanguard of a build up of forward stationed naval forces in Rota that will culminate in 2015, with Donald Cook joined by three additional ships. In the aggregate, these ships will enhance our contribution to ballistic missile defense of our allies and partners in the region.
Moreover, the other inherent capabilities of these ships, including their potential to function as a lily pad to refuel helicopters and as a forward platform from which to operate remotely piloted vehicles, are well suited to address the concurrent crises that characterize the region today.
Considering the diverse challenges facing the United States and Spain, when I say that I am delighted by Donald Cook’s arrival as the operational commander, you can be certain that I am speaking for General Phil Breedlove, Commander of U.S. European Command; my 6th Fleet Commander, Vice Adm. Phil Davidson; and my entire staff as well.
Today would not have occurred without Spain’s willingness to host Donald Cook and her sister ships. I know our subsequent speakers are going to elaborate on this, but I would be remiss if I did not express my personal gratitude to the numerous Spanish officials at many different echelons for their efforts in making today possible.
I know all hands onboard Donald Cook are eager to contribute to our common defense; moreover, I know they are eager to experience for themselves the generosity and warmth of the Spanish people.
We have three great speakers ahead of us, so on that note, it is my
honor to relinquish the podium to our Ambassador to Spain, Ambassador