By USS Ramage (DDG 61) Public Affairs
DURRES, Albania – The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ramage (DDG 61) – part of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12, Gerald R. Ford CSG, arrived in Durrës, Albania for a regularly scheduled port visit July 20, 2023.
The port visit provides an opportunity to enhance the U.S.-Albanian partnership as the two nations work together for a stable, secure, and prosperous Europe. It also allow the Sailors of USS Ramage a chance to experience the culture and history of a key NATO Ally.
As a NATO member since 2009, Albania’s long-standing relationship with NATO, and its continued interoperability with NATO Allies, including the United States, has solidified the country’s position as a strategic partner in defense of the Adriatic Sea.
“I welcome the visit of the USS Ramage to Albania as another step forward in our strengthening defense partnership, as close partners and NATO Allies,” said Demian Smith, Chargé d’Affaires of U.S. Embassy Tirana.
“The spirit of Albania is very much our own, a proud nation which declared their independence from tyranny and broke free from communist dictatorship,” says Cmdr. Tim Yuhas, commanding officer of the USS Ramage. “Our relationship with Albania is built on a foundation of shared values, experiences, and vision. We all want nothing more than for people to live their lives in freedom. With this port visit, we hope to preserve this trust between our great nations.”
While in port, Ramage Sailors will have the opportunity to visit historical sites such as the Amphitheatre of Durrës, the largest amphitheater in the Balkans, as well as Durrës Castle, a fortified city built under Byzantine, Venetian, and Ottoman influence.
“Growing up as the son of two experienced archaeologists, my parents sparked my interest in history,” says Gunner’s Mate Seaman Caleb Baker of Littleton, Colorado. “I’m excited to visit the Archaeological Museum of Durrës after its reconstruction.”
Strengthening partnerships during the port visit to Albania builds enduring relationships and emphasizes our shared commitment to promoting safety and stability within the region, while seeking opportunities to enhance our interoperability as NATO allies. Albania recently participated in the Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO)-led enhanced vigilance activity Neptune Strike 2023-2 alongside the Gerald R. Ford CSG.
CSG-12, Gerald R. Ford CSG, is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa area of operations, employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet to defend U.S., allied and partner interests.
The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group is comprised of its flagship and namesake, the Ford-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW-8), Destroyer Squadron Two (DESRON-2), the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG-60), and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Ramage (DDG 61), USS McFaul (DDG 74), and USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116).
The squadrons of CVW-8 embarked aboard Gerald R. Ford are the “Tridents” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 9, the “Spartans” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 70, the “Bear Aces” of Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 124, the “Ragin’ Bulls” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 37, the “Blacklions” of VFA-213, the “Golden Warriors” of VFA-87, the “Tomcatters” of VFA-31, the “Gray Wolves” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 142, and the “Rawhides” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40.
Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.