USS Harry S. Truman returned to NATO command as the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group participates in exercise Neptune Shield, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby announced to reporters Tuesday.
Neptune Shield is the third in a series of exercises between the United States and NATO allies. The U.S. previously participated in Neptune Challenge in October 2021 and Neptune Strike from January to February 2022.
Neptune Shield is slated to last through May, Kirby said.
“This activity increases the pace and flexibility of command and control of US naval and amphibious forces between Sixth Fleet the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, operating in the Mediterranean Sea, USS Kearsarge amphibious ready group that’s operating in the Baltic Sea, along with the embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit,” Kirby said.
The Harry S. Truman CSG has been operating in and around the Mediterranean since January, when it first went under NATO command as part of Neptune Strike. This is the second time since the Cold War that a U.S. aircraft carrier has been placed under NATO control.
The carrier strike group consists of Harry S. Truman, cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG-56), Carrier Air Wing 1 and Destroyer Squadron 28, which includes USS Cole (DDG-67), USS Gravely (DDG-107), USS Bainbridge (DDG-96), USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109), USS Gonzalez (DDG-66) and Royal Norwegian Navy frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310).
The Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group will also participate in Neptune Shield, Kirby told reporters. The ARG is currently operating in the Baltic Sea, according to USNI News’ Fleet Tracker.
USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) is set to make a port call in Stockholm, according to a Swedish news outlet. Kirby did not confirm the port visit, but he said that a visit would not have anything to do with Sweden’s interest in joining NATO.
The Kearsarge ARG consists of Kearsarge, amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD-24) and dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44). The 22nd MEU is also embarked on the ARG.