The US vessel arrived on Friday and visited the Split shipyard, while reporters were invited to visit the ship on Saturday.
US Chargé d’Affaires Mark Fleming said they were glad to be in Split and that the defence cooperation between the United States and Croatia was the corner stone of their bilateral relations.
Over the last 10 years, US military aid to Croatia has reached nearly HRK 4.5 billion, which is more than $700 million, for training, equipment, infrastructure building and specialised military training, Fleming said. Since Croatia joined NATO 12 years ago, US and Croatian personnel have served together from Afghanistan to Iraq to Kosovo. The US-Croatian partnership on land and at sea is crucial for the military cooperation and common security of our two countries, he added.
US naval ships often stop in Croatia for maintenance and mutual security operations. The northern port of Rijeka has been the centre of US-Croatian cooperation since 2011, benefiting from contracts with the US Navy worth nearly HRK 900 million. This year three US naval ships have been berthed in the Kraljevica shipyard for regular maintenance.
In April, US Navy EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) divers held a training course on humanitarian mine clearance for Croatian Navy personnel and launched a project to develop an EOD training facility for the Croatian Navy.
Vice Admiral Gene Black, Commander of the US Sixth Fleet, said that Croatia stands as an important NATO ally, facilitating the maintenance of US Navy forward deployed ships.
Croatian shipyards are world class, and mine action capabilities ensure a continued maritime presence and security in the whole region, Black said.
Dave Pollard, Commander of USS Mount Whitney, said that the US-Croatian military cooperation and sharing the same values brings stability and prosperity to this region.
After the visit, USS Mount Whitney will begin a two-week scenario-driven integrated exercise that will provide high-end training at sea and ashore against a challenging adversary force.
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