The ship’s presence in the Baltic Sea is a demonstration of the U.S. Navy’s continued commitment to collective defense of the European region and reinforces the strong bond between the United States and Lithuania.
“We are honored for the opportunity for our Sailors to experience this beautiful country and we appreciate the hospitality we have already seen from the people of Lithuania,” said Cmdr. Hunter Washburn, Gravely’s commanding officer. “Our brothers and sisters in this country have been strong supporters of NATO and we look forward to using this visit as another step towards an even stronger partnership.”
Gravely, attached to the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) carrier strike group (HSTCSG), has been deployed to the U.S. Naval Forces Europe area of responsibility since late 2021. Since arrival in theater, the ship has participated in multiple passing exercises with NATO Allies and partners and has completed numerous port visits to Allied countries throughout Europe.
While in the port of Klaipėda, the ship and her crew will have the opportunity to partake in several Morale, Welfare and Recreation tours and see many historical sights and experience the rich culture of Lithuania and its citizens. The crew will have the opportunity to foster relationships with their Lithuanian counterparts during basketball and soccer games between the two navies as well as community relations events involving cleaning up a local park.
“The United States and Lithuania are celebrating a milestone 100 years of unbroken diplomatic relations in 2022,” said Cmdr. Brian Sanchez, Gravely’s executive officer. “These types of visits enhance our ties with our allies and allow our crew to experience the rich history of Lithuania.”
Gravely is building on the strong and enduring relationship between the United States and Lithuania, especially in the maritime domain. Vice Adm. Gene Black, commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet and commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, visited Klaipėda during exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) in June 2021. Klaipėda also kicked off BALTOPS in June 2018.
U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.