US Navy guided missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) returned to Rota, Spain, on December 23, completing her inaugural patrol as a member of a group of destroyers forward-deployed to Europe.
After 30 years based in Norfolk, Virginia, Arleigh Burke shifted homeports to Rota, Spain in April 2021 and joined US Sixth Fleet’s Destroyer Squadron 60.
Arleigh Burke began the patrol in August and spent the last four months operating alongside NATO allies and partners throughout the Sixth Fleet area of responsibility.
“In an especially challenging year punctuated by the COVID-19 pandemic, an international homeport shift, and its first Sixth Fleet patrol, USS Arleigh Burke overcame all odds to deliver American strength and resolve on demand, on time, every time,” the ship’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Patrick Chapman, said reflecting on the accomplishments of the past twelve months.
Over the course of 2021, Arleigh Burke sailed more than 44,000 miles, circumnavigated Europe, and executed operations in the Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Barents Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and Arctic Ocean.
Arleigh Burke began patrol by sailing above the Arctic Circle. Along the way, they participated in an air defense exercise with US and Norwegian Air Forces.
The ship then proceeded south, through the Danish Straits, to the Baltic Sea. While in the Baltic, Arleigh Burke demonstrated interoperability with NATO allies and partners; and conducted a port visit in Tallinn, Estonia, where they welcomed several distinguished guests, including the Estonian President, Kersti Kaljulaid.
After a brief stop in Rota, Spain, Arleigh Burke returned to the Baltic Sea where they operated alongside allied and partner navies, including Canadian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish ships of Standing NATO Maritime Group (SNMG) 1.
Arleigh Burke conducted a port call in Helsinki, Finland, before returning to Rota, Spain, and became the first forward deployed ship to complete the US Navy’s Damage Control-Industrial training exercise.
Following the exercise, Arleigh Burke sailed east, through the Strait of Gibraltar, Mediterranean Sea, and Turkish Straits, and entered the Black Sea. While in the Black Sea, Arleigh Burke executed port visits in Varna, Bulgaria; Constanta, Romania; and Golcuk, Turkey; hosted Romanian and Turkish naval leadership, and conducted a tactical maneuvering exercise with the Georgian Coast Guard.
Arleigh Burke is one of four US Navy destroyers based in Rota, Spain, and assigned to Commander, Task Force 65 in support of NATO’s Integrated Air Missile Defense architecture. These ships have the flexibility to operate throughout the waters of Europe and Africa, from the Cape of Good Hope to the Arctic Circle, demonstrating their mastery of the maritime domain.