Home Africa US destroyer trains with Royal Moroccan Navy during Atlas Handshake

US destroyer trains with Royal Moroccan Navy during Atlas Handshake

USS Porter
USS Porter (DDG 78) fires its Mark 45 5-inch gun during a live-fire exercise portion of Exercise Atlas Handshake. Photo: US Navy

US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) has completed a training evolution with the Royal Moroccan Navy Sigma-class frigate Allal Ben Abdellah (FF 9813) off the coast of Morocco.

The bilateral naval surface fire support training evolution, dubbed Atlas Handshake, was completed between January 13 and 15. This is at least the second iteration of the exercise after the first one took place in November 2019.

The live-fire exercise portion saw the two ships fire rounds at the Aourioura Ordnance Range near Tan Tan, off the coast of Morocco.

“Porter is excited to train alongside our Moroccan partners to enhance our tactical proficiency and collective capabilities,” said Cmdr. Thomas Ralston, commanding officer of Porter. “These exercises strengthen the ability of US and Moroccan forces to execute cooperative naval engagements and demonstrate our commitment to regional stability and maritime security in this vital region of the world,” Ralston said.

“The joint naval exercise Atlas Handshake 21-1 is part of the dynamics of military cooperation between the Kingdom of Morocco and the United States of America,” said Capt. Mohammed Belghazi, commander of the Royal Moroccan Navy frigate Allal Ben Abdellah.

The Moroccan Navy Captain added that the exercise strengthen the ability of the two navies to plan and conduct air maritimes operations and to consolidate tactical practice in both conventional (submarine, anti-ship and anti-aircraft) and emerging asymmetric threats,” Belghazi said.

Porter is forward deployed to Rota, Spain, and is on its ninth patrol in the US 6th fleet area of operations. The US Navy has four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers permanently stationed in Spain from where they support NATO’s missile defense system in the European theater and engage with local partners in exercises throughout the year.