US Navy IKE Strike Group Operates with Royal Moroccan Navy in Exercise Lightning Handshake
US Navy IKE Strike Group Operates with Royal Moroccan Navy in Exercise Lightning Handshake

US Navy IKE Strike Group Operates with Royal Moroccan Navy in Exercise Lightning Handshake

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (IKE CSG) is participating in Lightning Handshake, a bi-lateral maritime exercise between the U.S. and the Royal Moroccan Navy (RMN) and Royal Moroccan Air Force (RMAF) during the first week of March. The exercise enhances interoperability between the U.S. and Moroccan Navies across multiple warfare areas, many of which include: surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, air and strike warfare, combined logistics support, maritime interdiction operations.

“On behalf of the Sailors assigned to the IKE CSG it’s an honor to participate in this historic bi-lateral maritime exercise; hallmarking 200 years of an enduring partnership with Morocco,” said Rear Adm. Scott Robertson, commander, Carrier Strike Group Two. “Exercises like Lighting Handshake enhance the foundation of our interoperability and continued support of our long term commitment to security in the region.”

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US Navy IKE Strike Group Operates with Royal Moroccan Navy in Exercise Lightning Handshake
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) sails alongside the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57), March 3, 2021. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaleb J. Sarten/Released)

Lightning Handshake 2021 increases the ability of U.S. and Moroccan maritime forces to work together in order to address security concerns and increase stability in the region. Participating ships in Lightning Handshake from the IKE CSG, commanded by Rear Adm. Scott Robertson, include flagship USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69); and Destroyer Squadron 22 ships include Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Mitscher (DDG 57), and USS Porter (DDG 78).

Aircraft participating in Lightning Handshake include – Squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3, embarked on Eisenhower include the “Fighting Swordsmen” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32, “Gunslingers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 105, “Wildcats” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131, “Rampagers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 83; “Dusty Dogs” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 7; “Swamp Foxes” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74; “Screwtops” of Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 123; “Zappers” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 130, and a detachment from Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40 “Rawhides.”

US Navy IKE Strike Group Operates with Royal Moroccan Navy in Exercise Lightning Handshake
The Royal Moroccan Navy Sigma-class multi-mission frigate Tarik Ben Zayid (FMMM 613) sails behind the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57), March 3, 2021. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaleb J. Sarten/Released)

Moroccan assets participating in Lightning Handshake include: Royal Moroccan Navy Frigate Tarnk Ben Ziyad (SIGMA Class Frigate) Royal Naval HQ Maritime Operations Center (MOC) Royal Air Force HQ Air Operations Center (AOC), one Panther Helicopter, and two of each fixed-wing combat F-16 and F-5 fighter aircraft. USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) participated in the 2018 exercise and included unit events which flexed interoperability between the U.S. and Royal Moroccan Navies in the following warfare areas; communication, link, Anti-Submarine Warfare, close air support and Naval Surface Fire Support.

Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group is a multiplatform team of ships, aircraft and more than 5,000 Sailors, capable of carrying out a wide variety of missions around the globe. U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.

US Navy IKE Strike Group Operates with Royal Moroccan Navy in Exercise Lightning Handshake
The Royal Moroccan Navy Sigma-class multi-mission frigate Tarik Ben Zayid (FMMM 613), front, and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) sail in formation with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57), March 3, 2021.(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaleb J. Sarten/Released)
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