NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Legend-class national security USCGC Hamilton (WMSL 753) and crew returned to Charleston, South Carolina, June 4, following a historic 97-day deployment to Europe working with U.S. Navy 6th Fleet, allies and partners, the Coast Guard Atlantic Area said in a release.
“By operating with 6th Fleet, we expand the Coast Guard’s global reach and advance our Nation’s Tri-Service Maritime Strategy,” said Capt. Timothy Cronin, commanding officer of USCGC Hamilton. “This deployment also reinforced our commitment to freedom of navigation in international waters while building capacity and partnerships with nations that have shared interests and threats in the maritime domain.”
After departing North Charleston, South Carolina, Feb. 28, the crew of Hamilton stopped in Puerto Rico and then headed toward Rota, Spain, with two Sentinel-class fast response cutters, USCGC Charles Moulthrope (WPC 1141) and USCGC Robert Goldman (WPC 1142) in the trans-Atlantic leg of the fast response cutters’ 9,000-mile voyage to homeport in Bahrain and service at Patrol Forces Southwest Asia.
After escorting the cutters and departing Spain, Hamilton then visited Italy, Georgia, Ukraine, and Malta. The crew conducted various operational exercises with the maritime components of each country and forces from Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria.
“The U.S. Coast Guard’s bilateral engagements with partner services play a critical role in our overall diplomatic engagement with those states,” said Philip T. Reeker, acting assistant secretary for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs at the Department of State. “They complement our on-shore diplomacy in building enduring partnerships that focus on joint approaches to common problems. They also reinforce our global effort to uphold the rules-based international order.”
Hamilton entered the Mediterranean Sea April 15 and the Black Sea April 27 to support NATO Allies and partners. Hamilton was the first U.S. Coast Guard cutter to visit the Black Sea since 2008. The last U.S. Coast Guard cutter in the Black Sea was USCGC Dallas (WHEC 716), which sailed to the Black Sea twice, once in 2008 and 1995.
Since leaving the Black Sea on May 14, Hamilton’s crew visited Valletta, Malta, and conducted engagements at sea with the armed forces of Malta. They also made a brief logistics stop in Rota, Spain, on May 23. Hamilton transited out of the Mediterranean Sea, concluding the crew’s recent operations in 6th Fleet’s area of responsibility, May 24.
“The relationships we build are fundamental for establishing maritime safety and security worldwide,” said Lt. Cmdr. Taylor Kellogg, operations officer of USCGC Hamilton. “Working together with our NATO allies and partners, we advance the rule of law on the sea, ensuring free and open access to the maritime domain.”
The U.S. Coast Guard, as demonstrated by this deployment, is a welcome presence and critical contributor to maintaining maritime safety, security, and stability in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Hard-earned and long-lasting partnerships in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean give the Coast Guard unique access to vital partners. These efforts build unique partnerships thanks to a broad suite of specialized maritime capabilities, competencies, and authorities. The U.S. Coast Guard multi-mission mandate as a law enforcement agency, a regulatory agency, and a military branch makes the Service’s comparative advantage unique and unparalleled.
“All nations benefit from free and open access to the maritime domain,” said Vice Adm. Steven Poulin, commander U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area. “We seek to foster a united, global effort to safeguard this access. Allies and partners are integral to protecting our shared interests, preserving our competitive multilateral advantage, and upholding the rules-based international order. Hamilton’s tremendous efforts strengthen our alliances and partnerships by developing interchangeable capabilities, combined operations, theater security cooperation, and capacity-building measures. Together we defend sovereignty from malign influence and coercion.”