USS Mount Whitney returns to Gaeta
The Gaeta, Italy-based USS Mount Whitney returned home Saturday after two deployments to the Eastern Mediterranean in response to the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah forces, which erupted in Lebanon in mid-July.
The command and control ship first sailed from Gaeta on July 17 to help evacuate U.S. citizens from Lebanon. The ship returned to Italy on July 29, and sailed again on Aug. 17 to be in the area when U.S. European Command took over operations there from Central Command.
“We took them out of Gaeta on extremely short notice after getting home from another short-notice deployment. The most difficult aspect of it all was trying to support a staff in a real-world operation, and I am particularly impressed with the positive attitudes the crew had while doing it,” Capt. Joseph Kuzmick, the commander, said in a statement.
The uncertainty of how much time the crew, made up of both active-duty sailors and civilian mariners, would be underway proved most stressful, said Master Chief Petty Officer Terrence Gaffney, the command master chief. “Everyone wanted to know ‘what’s next? When are we pulling back? What’s happening?’ This was an open-ended deployment, and we had no idea when we were pulling in.”