A multi-national carrier strike group, headed by the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman, departed Norfolk Naval Station early Thursday for exercises off the Virginia coast.
The carrier was joined by frigates from two European allies, the German frigate FGS Hessen and the Norwegian frigate HNoMS Roald Amundsen, for one of the exercises in the strike group’s training cycle.
The German and Norwegian ships both arrived in Norfolk last week.
Following the exercise, Hessen will remain and deploy with the strike group when Truman heads for 5th and 6th Fleet waters by early April. The Amundsen is not scheduled to deploy with the group.
“Any time we can operate with another one of our allies anywhere in the world, we gain from it and they gain from it,” said Rear Adm. Gene Black, commander of the strike group, in a Navy release. “I’ve always had great success working with coalition partners and this is just a similar task with a more complex mission set. I’m very confident of our success and look forward to sailing with these two great ships.”
While exercises like this strengthen cooperation, there are challenges to getting it done without a hiccup. Things like language barriers and differences in how each Navy operates must be ironed out.
“We are looking forward to a challenging and exciting training with the U.S. Navy,” said Cmdr. Oliver Pfennig, Hessen’s commanding officer. “The integration of German warship Hessen in the carrier strike group requires a lot of trust in our capabilities and we will perform professionally and competently in all upcoming CSG operations.”
Both Hessen and Amundsen are highly capable frigates with robust air-defense systems necessary to provide escort and defense capabilities to an aircraft carrier.
The Hessen deployed with the Truman previously in 2010, spending a few months operating with the strike group.
Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.