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Russian Navy conducts flight training aboard US ship

27th July 2010 - 8:00 by the Shephard News Team

A moment of historic international cooperation at sea took place aboard USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) on July 22.

A Russian Navy KA-26 "Helix" helicopter from the Udaloy I-class Russian destroyer RS Serveromorsk (DDG 619) conducted interoperability deck landing training on board Mount Whitney, developing and solidifying techniques and procedures to a new level.

"I wanted to give both the Russian aircrew and Mount Whitney flight deck crew an experience with each other's procedures and equipment," said USS Mount Whitney Commanding Officer Capt. Karl Thomas. "As we continue to work closer together, this type of cross-training will make us a stronger cohesive team."

Mount Whitney has several qualified landing signals enlisted (LSE) including Military Sealift Command (MSC) civil service mariners and Sailors from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28 Detachment 1.

"This was a great opportunity and experience," said Anthony Brooks, an MSC civil service mariner boatswain's mate and an LSE flight crewman. "Even though this was my first encounter with this country and the type of helicopter platform, I am fortunate to bring four years of experience to the deck plates to make it a smooth evolution. All country partnerships are vital in today's military mission and readiness is always essential."

"I am glad many members of the crew took advantage of the opportunity to witness this unique helicopter, and its very nimble and capable flight characteristics," said Thomas. "This was certainly one of the many highlights of FRUKUS exercise 2010, and a great example of interoperability and teamwork."

FRUKUS, which stands for the participating countries – France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – is a naval exercise focusing on strengthening maritime partnerships and improving interoperability and overall communication between the nations.

Mount Whitney is currently on its scheduled deployment in support of FRUKUS exercise 2010. Mount Whitney is the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship homeported in Gaeta, Italy, and operates with a hybrid crew of U.S. Sailors and MSC civil service mariners.

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Sylvia Nealy, USS Mount Whitney Public Affairs

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