European VIPs Visit USS George H.W. Bush
- The aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) transits the Suez Canal. The George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group is deployed supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S.
- Cmdr. Grady Duffey, maintenance officer of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), left, gives a tour to distinguished visitors Spain, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. George H.W. Bush, homeported in Norfo
U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa hosted 23 distinguished visitors from multiple European countries aboard aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) as a part of the Navy's Distinguished Visitor (DV) Embark program, Oct. 30.
The DV program is a unique experience that allows civilian and military guests board the ship while underway and experience the Navy's mission and witness carrier operations firsthand.
The DVs included Lithuanian Minister of National Defense, Juozas Olekas; Latvian Minister of Defense, Raimonds Vejonis; Polish Undersecretary of State, Maciej Jankowski; Estonian Defense Forces Commander, Commander, Estonian Defense Forces, Maj. Gen. Riho Terras; and Spanish Fleet Commander in Chief, Adm. Santiago Bolibar.
Bush also hosted DVs the previous day representing Bulgaria, Georgia and Greece including Bulgarian Minister of Defense Dr. Velizar Shalamanov; Georgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Maia Panjikidze; and Commander, NATO Missile Firing Installation Crete, Greece, Maj. Gen. Lazaros Skylakis.
The DVs toured the aircraft carrier and observed flight operations from the flight deck.
"It's important to see the combat power of the United States Navy and to understand our strong support of the NATO alliance," said Adm. Mark Ferguson, who joined the delegation aboard the ship for the day.
The carrier has various capabilities that exhibit more than simply wartime usefulness.
"When we show up somewhere, we bring a heck of a lot of combat power, and we make a pretty big statement," said Capt. Andrew Loiselle, commanding officer of George H. W. Bush. "But, it's not just about combat power. It's about all the other things we bring to the table; everything from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. We've got some fantastic capabilities on board this ship and we're willing to help out."
During the tour, Ferguson also met with Sailors about the ship and thanked them for their service.
"I'd like to congratulate the crew of the Bush on a successful deployment," said Ferguson. "The ship has done everything from engagements to combat operations in Central Command. You all represent the very best of the global U.S. Navy."
During a gift exchange ceremony, Lithuanian Minister of National Defense Juozas Olekas spoke on the importance of working together in a multinational manner with the U.S. and other NATO countries.
"We all know how important our cooperation with the United States is for peace and democracy," said Olekas. "Indeed, it was a very unforgettable day for me being on this carrier, this symbol of freedom. It is a symbol of our efforts for peace."
George H.W. Bush, homeported in Norfolk, Virginia, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.