THE FLAGSHIP of the United States Navy’s Sixth Fleet, the USS Mount Whitney, is in Lisbon today (February 15).
The Blue Ridge class command ship is the command and control vessel for Commander Joint Command Lisbon and Commander Striking Force NATO and had previously served for years as 2nd Fleet’s command ship.
Based in Gaeta, Italy, the Mount Whitney is probably the most sophisticated Command, Control, Computer and Intelligence ship ever commissioned incorporating advanced C41 equipment giving the Joint Task Force Commander the capability to effectively command all units under the command of the Commander, Joint Task Force.
Mount Whitney can receive and transmit large amounts of secure data from any point on earth through HF, UHF, VHF, SHF and EHF communication channels.
The ship’s hull was laid down in January 1969 by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company in West Virginia and was named after the 14,505-foot mountain in the Sierra Nevada range in California – one of the highest peaks in the United States.
The vessel carries enough food to feed the crew for 90 days and can transport supplies to support an emergency evacuation of up to 3,000 people.
Her distilling units make over 100,000 US gallons (400m3) of fresh water a day and the ship was the first to permanently accommodate women on board.
Launched on January 8, 1971, she has a 18,400 tons displacement, is 620 feet (189m) long and 108 feet (33m) wide, being powered by two boilers and one geared turbine.
The Mount Whitney can attain speeds of 23 knots (43 km/h) and has a total crew capacity of 930.
The ship has seen action in 1994’s Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti, while on November 12, 2002 she was involved in Operation Enduring Freedom, one of the US military’s campaigns in the Global War on Terrorism, patrolling the Horn of Africa and providing humanitarian aid to war and famine-ridden countries there such as Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea.
In 2004, Military Sealift Command civilian mariners were integrated into her crew but her compliment was cut back from 600 sailors to 170 naval officers and enlisted and 155 civilians.
The ship can pull considerable firepower punch thanks to its Super RBOC Chaff rockets, Bushmaster guns and 20mm Phalanx CIWS. It can also accommodate CH 60s Knight Hawk type helicopters.
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