By Lt. j.g. Jacqui Maxwell, Navy Public Affairs Support Element - East
NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) returned to Naval Station Norfolk, July 26, marking the completion of a two-month underway period in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.
While underway, Oscar Austin took part in the 70th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings in France; participated in the 42nd annual Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2014, a multinational exercise in the Baltic Sea and conducted numerous engagements with partner nation governments and military officials.
"Despite deploying on very short notice, Oscar Austin performed superbly supporting international exercises and engagements," said Cmdr. Brian Diebold, commanding officer of Oscar Austin. "The crew greatly improved U.S. relationships and interoperability with our allies and partners during Baltic Operations 2014 and provided a tangible diplomatic presence in the Baltic region strengthening our partnerships through key engagements in Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania and France."
Following BALTOPS 2014, Oscar Austin visited ports around the Baltic Sea as part of an ongoing effort by U.S. military forces to strengthen ties with NATO allies and partners while working toward mutual goals of promoting peace and stability in the region.
"Even with the hectic pace, we've advanced qualification levels for several Sailors in a number of areas, even managing a few Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) completions," said Electronics Technician 2nd Class Julia Planes. "Overall, for the high work-load this has entailed, I think Oscar Austin rose to the challenge and exceeded expectations."
Commissioned in 2000, Oscar Austin is named for U.S. Marine Corps Pvt. 1st Class Oscar P. Austin. Austin received the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroism and sacrifice during the Vietnam War in 1969.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint and interagency partners in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.