German defense minister visits Guam military facilities

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer arrives aboard Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Charleston (LCS 18), May 28. Charleston, part of Destroyer Squadron Seven, is on a rotational deployment operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operation to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready response force in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam Butler)

The crew of Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Charleston (LCS 18) hosted Germany’s Defense Minister, who toured the ship while moored at Naval Base Guam, May 28.

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer spent the afternoon meeting with Charleston’s crew, discussing the shared U.S.-German interest of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Joined by Rear Adm. John Menoni, commander, Joint Region Marianas, Charleston’s commanding officer explained the ship’s mission and role during their current rotational deployment to U.S. 7th Fleet.

“USS Charleston was honored to host Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer. This visit was a great opportunity to strengthen our bilateral relationship,” said Cmdr. Joseph Burgon, commanding officer, Charleston Gold Crew. “My crew looks forward to the time we meet our German friends at sea, with the common goal of ensuring freedom of the seas.”

While touring the ship, the crew signified German-designed engineering equipment integrated into the LCS. The main propulsion diesel engines, ship’s service diesel generator, and other engineer equipment are based on designs by German company MTU Aero Engines.

“It’s a unique opportunity to discuss commonalities between LCS and our bilateral partners, both in ship design and in mission,” said Capt. Tom Ogden, commander, Destroyer Squadron Seven (DESRON 7). “Visits like this with Germany’s Minister of Defense help grow our partnership and cooperation, and emphasize shared responsibility of promoting maritime peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Charleston recently completed a joint mission with U.S. Coast Guard in the Western and Central Pacific under the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI) to reduce and eliminate illegal, unregulated, unreported fishing, combat transnational crimes, and enhance regional security. Charleston embarked a Coast Guard law enforcement detachment from the Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team to support the OMSI, a Secretary of Defense program that leverages Defense Department assets to support regional stability and partnerships in Oceania.

Charleston’s rotational deployment marks the seventh littoral combat ship presence in the Indo-Pacific, which include USS Freedom (LCS 1), USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), USS Coronado (LCS 4), USS Montgomery (LCS 8), USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10), and USS Tulsa (LCS 16).

Attached to DESRON 7, Charleston is on a rotational deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the region, and to work alongside allied and partner navies to provide maritime security and stability, key pillars of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

As the U.S. Navy’s destroyer squadron forward-deployed in Southeast Asia, DESRON 7 serves as the primary tactical and operational commander of littoral combat ships rotationally deployed to Singapore, ESG7s Sea Combat Commander, and builds partnerships through training exercises and military-to-military engagements.

7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed fleet and employs 50 to 70 ships and submarines across the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. 7th Fleet routinely operates and interacts with 35 maritime nations while conducting missions to preserve and protect a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer also met with U.S. Air Force Airmen at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. During her visit she received a brief on Agile Combat Employment concepts conducted by the 36th Contingency Response Group at Northwest Field. ACE is the new warfighting concept that Pacific Air Forces is operationalizing to ensure agility, deterrence, and resiliency in a contested or degraded environment. The ACE concept also involves teaching personnel how to complete tasks outside of their assigned Air Force Specialty Code.

(By Lt. Lauren Chatmas, Command Destroyer Squadron 7)