Vice Adm. Gene Black, commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet, visited Rijeka, Croatia, on April 27th to speak with Croatian military leadership and meet with crews of three U.S. Navy ships undergoing lifecycle maintenance at the Viktor Lenac shipyard.
Defense cooperation between the United States and Croatia is a cornerstone of our bilateral relationship. Croatia substantively contributes to regional stability and international security as a member of the NATO Alliance.
“Croatia is a beautiful country, a great NATO Ally and a dependable friend of the U.S. Sixth Fleet,” said Vice Adm. Black. “Our ships and Sailors enjoy warm hospitality whenever they visit, and I look forward to many more years of steadfast cooperation in the future.”
Chargé d’Affaires Victoria Taylor applauded the strong U.S.-Croatia defense partnership and our long history of cooperation. “U.S. military assistance projects directly support local communities throughout Croatia,” she said. “The United States has invested 4.5 billion kuna in Croatia over the last decade for both civilian and military projects including joint exercises and professional education.”
Since Croatia joined the NATO Alliance 12 years ago, U.S. and Croatian military personnel have served together from Afghanistan to Iraq to Kosovo. The U.S.-Croatia partnership on land and at sea is essential to the two countries’ NATO military cooperation and shared security.
Lieutenant General Siniša Jurković, Deputy Chief of Defense of the Croatian Armed Forces, noted “Our defense cooperation has been ongoing for years now and we are extremely grateful for all the support and contributions that the U.S. Government has provided to the development of Croatian defense capabilities. Joint training, exercises and participation in operations raise our operational readiness and interoperability. The Croatian Armed Forces are fully committed to strengthening stability and security and enhancing our defense cooperation.”
In addition to meeting with Croatian military and civilian officials, Vice Admiral Black visited three U.S. Navy ships that are currently in port: Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4), and Military Sealift Command expeditionary fast transport ships USNS Carson City (EPF 7) and USNS Trenton (EPF 5).
U.S. Sixth Fleet forces regularly work with Croatian partners, building capacity for the Croatian military, including training together in naval diving and operating shoulder-to-shoulder around the European and African theater.
This engagement comes shortly after the groundbreaking ceremony on April 15th for a U.S. Navy-led construction project hosted by the Croatian Armed Forces and attended by Capt. Cameron Chen, Commodore Task Force 68 (CTF-68), on the Croatian Naval Base at Lora in Split.
U.S. Navy ships frequently stop in Croatia for maintenance and mutual security operations. Rijeka is a hub for U.S.-Croatia cooperation, with the port city benefiting economically from nearly 900 million kuna in contracted services by the U.S. Navy since 2011.
Hershel “Woody” Williams is homeported in Souda Bay, Greece, and conducts U.S. African Command (AFRICOM) security cooperation missions in the Mediterranean Sea and the waters surrounding Africa. Carson City and Trenton are forward deployed to the Sixth Fleet, conducting security and logistics operations in theater.
U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national security interests and support security and stability in Europe and Africa.