The US Navy's guided-missile destroyer returned to Naval Station Rota in Spain on Dec. 20, 2022, capping its first patrol in northern waters. US Navy photo.
The US Navy’s guided-missile destroyer Paul Ignatius has returned to its Spanish homeport, capping its maiden patrol in European waters five days before Christmas.
The Arleigh Burke-class warship arrived at Naval Station Rota on Tuesday, Dec. 20, four months after it departed for a cruise that took it across the Arctic Ocean, Baltic Sea, and North Sea, under the command of US 6th Fleet.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this crew,” said the destroyer’s executive officer, Cmdr. Corry Lougee, in a prepared statement. “We have been operational since February, and this ship continues to excel. Our sailors executed the most successful homeport change to date, fought through the adversity of patrol, and now return to our new homeport stronger than ever. The mental toughness of this crew is beyond words and we are so appreciative of the overwhelming support from our families, the base, Destroyer Squadron 60, and the amazing Spanish people of Rota.”
Commissioned in 2019, Paul Ignatius spent its first three years at Naval Station Mayport in Florida before it was forward-deployed to Spain and assigned to Task Force 65 and Destroyer Squadron 60, part of a quartet of advanced warships designed to buttress NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense system.
US Navy Gunner’s Mate 1st Class Allen Schane reloads a Mark 38 25mm machine gun on board the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Paul Ignatius on Dec. 5, 2022, in the Baltic Sea. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aaron Lau.
Plying northern waters with an embarked detachment from the “Griffins” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 79, the destroyer supported the Kearsarge Amphibious Readiness Group and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit in the Baltic, and patrolled the sea alongside Standing NATO Maritime Group 1.
Last month, Paul Ignatius conducted training with the Royal Danish Navy’s guided-missile frigate Niels Juel, the British Type 23 frigate Northumberland, and the German Navy’s Baden-Württemberg-class frigate Sachsen-Anhalt.
As Baltic weather turned brutal in December, Paul Ignatius joined the Finnish Navy’s Freezing Winds exercise.
During the tour, the crew made calls on Tallinn, Estonia; Riga, Latvia; the Polish ports of Gdańsk and Gdynia; Plymouth, England; Helsinki, Finland; and Kiel, Germany.
"The crew of Paul Ignatius has demonstrated time and again during this patrol that the US Navy will sail, fly and fight in any conditions as we stand unified with partners and allies,” said the destroyer’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Aaron Arky, in his prepared remarks on Tuesday.
Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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