Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Big E Wraps Cannes, France Port Visit

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Hendrick L. Dickson, USS Enterprise Public Affairs

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Big E departed Cannes, France, July 27 after a three-day port visit. The stop in southern France was the ship’s first port visit since deploying on July 7.

The crew of more than 6,500 Sailors and Marines served as American ambassadors during their visit, using their influence to help strengthen ties between France and the United States.

Enterprise was the platform for a landmark event between French and U.S. navies July 23, a day before the port visit, when the ship trapped and launched two of France’s multi-role combat fighters, Rafale M aircraft. It was the first time the aircraft had ever trapped aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier.

This historical event was a testament to Chief of Naval Operation’s vision of a “1,000-ship navy.”

“When the CNO speaks about a ‘1,000-ship navy,’ this is what that concept can achieve – International partners working together to improve global maritime security,” said Enterprise Commanding Officer Capt. Ron Horton. “The French pilots landing Rafales under the direction of our Sailors truly represents that type of cooperation needed to achieve that goal. It is what the concept is about.”

More than 75 Sailors and Marines left an indelible mark in Cannes by participating in two community relations (COMREL) projects. The charity organization, Rayon de Soleil, coordinated both projects along with the local husbanding agent. Crew members painted walls and did extensive landscaping at two local orphanages.

Enterprise Chaplain Alan Wilmot said the COMRELs further symbolized what this port visit was all about.

“I’m absolutely thrilled about the results from these projects,” said Wilmot. “The over-arching mission of this port visit was building a positive relationship between the U.S. and France. The COMRELs were an integral part of that.”

Enterprise also held a reception aboard the ship hosted by Adm. Henry G. "Harry" Ulrich III, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, celebrating the partnership between France and the United States. More than 500 French distinguished visitors and American officials attended the event including the French chief of naval operations and the U.S. Ambassador to France.

“Today marks an important step in our operation cooperation,” said French CNO Admiral Oudot de Dainville. “It is also the confidence in the synergy existing between the American and French naval aviation. It was aboard this U.S. Navy carrier that the Rafale fighter and the French navy Hawkeye operated together as such for the first time.”

Enterprise is the flagship for Carrier Strike Group 12. The ship and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 is currently on a scheduled six-month deployment in the U.S. 6th and 5th Fleet areas of responsibility.