After touring the USS Vella Gulf in Constanta, Romania, on Friday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel took to the ship’s intercom to thank the crew and stress the importance of their mission.
The Vella Gulf is in Constanta for a port visit as part of its deployment in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations to contribute to regional maritime security, conduct bilateral and multinational training missions and support NATO operations and deployments.
“To the skipper and all of you who make this happen, we’re proud of you and we’re proud of your families. We’re grateful for what you’re doing at a very important time in the world. In particular, this mission that you’re on — where you are today as we partner with the Romanians, our NATO allies, at a troubling time in this region in the world — is really defining.
“And your role in all this is not only appreciated,” he continued, “but it’s as essential as it’s ever been, and I just wanted to tell you how proud I am of all of you. The president of the United States is proud of you, and I also want to compliment you in particular regarding the shape of this grand ship.”
When the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser arrived in Constanta on June 3, the ship’s commanding officer said Vella Gulf’s presence in Romania reaffirmss the U.S. commitment to strengthening ties with NATO allies and partners while working toward mutual goals of promoting peace and stability in the region.
“This is an important time to reassure and demonstrate our commitment to work closely with NATO allies in order to enhance maritime security, readiness, and naval capability,” said Navy Capt. Robert Katz. “The relationships built during our bilateral and multilateral exercises are great ways to strengthen and improve interoperability between allies as we all work together toward shared mutual goals.”