USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20)

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USS Mount Whitney;10012001.jpg
USS Mount Whitney underway
United States
Name: USS Mount Whitney
Namesake: Mount Whitney
Ordered: 10 August 1966
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company
Laid down: 8 January 1969
Launched: 8 January 1970
Commissioned: 16 January 1971
Homeport: Gaeta, Italy
Status: Ship in active service
Badge: USS Mount Whitney LCC-20 Crest.png
General characteristics
Class and type: Blue Ridge-class command ship
Displacement: 18,400 tons full load
Length: 189 m (620.1 ft)
Beam: 33 m (108.3 ft)
Draft: 906.78 cm (29.8 ft) full load
Propulsion: Two boilers, one geared turbine
Speed: 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph)
Capacity: 930
  • 170 officers and enlisted
  • 155 Military Sealift Command civilian sailors
Aircraft carried: 1 × helicopter, currently a MH-60S Knight Hawk

USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) is a Blue Ridge-class command ship of the United States Navy under the Military Sealift Command; it is the flagship of the United States Sixth Fleet. She is also the command and control ship for the Commander Joint Command Lisbon and the Commander Striking Force NATO. She had previously served for years as the COMSTRIKFLTLANT(NATO Designation) / US Second Fleet's command ship.

She was classified as LCC-20 on 1 January 1969, and she was laid down on 8 January by Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company, Newport News, Virginia.


The ship is named for Mount Whitney, a peak in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. Mount Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous United States with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 m).[1]


Alleged to be the most sophisticated Command, Control, Communications, Computer, and Intelligence (C4I) ship ever commissioned,[2] Mount Whitney incorporates various elements of the most advanced C4I equipment and gives the embarked Joint Task Force Commander the capability to effectively command all units under his or her command.

Mount Whitney can transmit and receive large amounts of secure data to and from any point on earth through HF, UHF, VHF, and SHF (satellite communications) communications channels. This electronic technology enables the Joint Intelligence Center and Joint Operations Center to provide the most timely intelligence and operational support available in the Navy.


Officers from coalition countries meet aboard USS Mount Whitney while off the coast of Libya during Operation Odyssey Dawn
USS Mount Whitney, left, is underway with Georgian coast guard ship Sokhumi near Batumi, Georgia in November 2013

From 1981 to 2005, Mount Whitney served as the flagship for Commander Second Fleet/Commander Striking Fleet Atlantic.

In 1994, during the FleetEx 2/94 "George Washington" war game exercise, the Argentine Navy, acting as the enemy and using the diesel submarine ARA San Juan, went undetected, penetrated the destroyer defense and "sank" Mount Whitney, which was acting as the command ship during the exercise.[3][4]

Mount Whitney deployed in 1994 to Haiti with Lieutenant General Hugh Shelton, the commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps, in command of the Joint Task Force that conducted Operation Uphold Democracy.

On 12 November 2002, Mount Whitney deployed to the Central Command area of responsibility in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. She was acting as the initial command post for Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. During the deployment, the ship embarked elements of the 2nd Marine Division and II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF), based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, under the command of Major General John F. Sattler and Captain Morton W. Kenyon.

In 2004, Military Sealift Command civilian sailors were integrated into her crew. She remains a commissioned warship in the United States Navy, but the size of her crew was reduced from about 600 sailors to about 170 Navy officers and enlisted personnel and 155 civilians.

In February 2005, Mount Whitney left Norfolk for Gaeta, Italy where she was redesignated as the (LCC/JCC 20) and assumed duties as the 6th Fleet flagship, officially relieving USS La Salle. She also assumed duties as the command ship for the Commander Joint Command Lisbon and the Commander Striking Force NATO.

In August 2008, Mount Whitney was deployed to the Black Sea in support of Operation Assured Delivery to deliver humanitarian aid to those affected by the Russian-Georgian war[5] and became the first NATO ship to deliver aid to port of Poti, Georgia.[6]

On 6 November 2008, Mount Whitney was unable to enter the port at Sevastopol. City authorities and representatives of the Ukrainian Navy refused to comment on the event. Individuals working for the city administration reported that the failure was due to issues with Mount Whitney's border crossing documents - others suggested anti-NATO protests were the cause.[7]

From 19 March 2011, Mount Whitney served in the Mediterranean as the main command vessel for the enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 against Libya,[8] flagship for Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, who had tactical command of the Operation Odyssey Dawn joint task force.[9] Command was expected to be transferred to a coalition commander in time[10] though confusion within the coalition was evidenced in early days.[9] The vessel was serving as a command-and-control vessel for the United States' involvement in the coalition campaign aimed to enforce a Libya no-fly zone and to stop Muammar Gaddafi's forces from destroying the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.[11]

In February 2013, Mount Whitney transferred to the San Giorgio del Porto Shipyard in Genoa, Italy for a major 60-day overhaul and repair project.[12] The ship returned to active duty in April 2013 at the end of the maintenance window.

On 31 January 2014, Mount Whitney left its homeport of Gaeta, Italy.[13] Mount Whitney was the first of two U.S. Navy ships (deployed with USS Taylor) that operated in the Black Sea during the Sochi Olympics.

On 31 July 2015, a fire broke out aboard Mount Whitney while she was in Viktor Lenac Shipyard; Rijeka, Croatia. There were no reported injuries and the fire was extinguished within 45 minutes by ship's force and shipyard fire brigade personnel. The cause of fire and extent of damage was investigated. Mount Whitney had been in Viktor Lenac Shipyard since January 2015 undergoing a scheduled maintenance overhaul designed to extend the service life of the ship to 2039.[14]

On 30 June 2016 Mount Whitney visited Klaipėda, Lithuania and in October 2016, the ship visited Souda Bay, Greece.[15]

Beginning in early 2017 through October 2017, Mount Whitney was at the Viktor Lenac Shipyard; Rijeka, Croatia, for further upgrades to its Information Technology infrastructure, and various engineering refurbishments.[16]


  1. ^ "NGS data sheet". U.S. National Geodetic Survey. Retrieved 25 November 2017. 
  2. ^ "History". United States Navy. Retrieved 25 November 2017. 
  3. ^ "El día que el ARA San Juan sorprendió a la Armada de Estados Unidos". La Nacion. 22 November 2017. Retrieved 22 November 2017. 
  4. ^ Latinoamericana, Comunidad Submarinista (8 December 2014). "Ejercicio Fleetex 2/94 "George Washington"". (in Spanish). Retrieved 22 November 2017. 
  5. ^ "Second U.S. ship delivers aid to Georgia". U.S. Sixth Fleet Public Affairs. 27 August 2008. Archived from the original on 30 August 2008. Retrieved 25 November 2017. 
  6. ^ "US delivers aid to Georgian port". BBC News. 5 September 2008. Retrieved 25 November 2017. 
  7. ^ Arvidas, Shemetas (6 November 2008). "USS Mount Whitney fails to enter Sevastopol Port". Ukrinform. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  8. ^ "Libya Live Blog". Al Jazeera. Archived from the original on 19 March 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2017. 
  9. ^ a b MacAskill, Ewen & Hopkins, Nick (21 March 2011). "Libyan operation hampered by confusion and dispute: Lack of resolution over who will take control of military operation tests patience of US". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 November 2017. 
  10. ^ "Gunfire, explosions heard in Tripoli". CNN. 19 March 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2017. 
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 March 2011. Retrieved 20 March 2011. 
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 March 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  14. ^ 6th Fleet Public Affairs (1 August 2015). "Fire Aboard USS Mount Whitney; No Injuries" (Press release). United States Navy. Retrieved 25 November 2017. 
  15. ^ "Klaipėdoje lankosi JAV karinis laivas „USS Mount Whitney"" [United States Navy USS Mount Whitney is visiting Klaipėda] (in Lithuanian). Ministry of National Defense of Lithuania. 30 June 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2017. 
  16. ^ Pavlic, Vedran (30 March 2017). "United States Navy USS Mount Whitney is visiting Klaipėda". Retrieved 25 November 2017. 

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