Homeported in Gaeta, Italy, USS MOUNT WHITNEY (LCC 20) was constructed by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company and is named for the 14,505-foot peak in the Sierra-Nevada range in California, the highest point in the lower continental United States. It is the first ship in the U.S. Navy to bear this name.
MOUNT WHITNEY (MTW) serves as the Command Ship for Commander, SIXTH Fleet/ Commander, Joint Command Lisbon/Commander, Striking Force NATO and has a complement of 150 enlisted personnel, 12 officers and 150 Civilian Mariners from Military Sealift Command. MTW was the first U.S. Navy combatant to permanently accommodate women on board.
MTW carries enough food to feed the crew for 90 days and can transport supplies to support an emergency evacuation of 3,000 people. The ship makes 100,000 gallons of fresh water daily and carries over one million gallons of fuel, enough for a round trip, 16 knot, 35 day voyage from Norfolk, Virginia to Mozambique in the Indian Ocean. The ship's two anchors weigh 11 tons each and are attached to 180 fathoms (or 1,080 feet) of anchor chain. Each chain weighs almost 25 tons. Total electrical capacity is 7,500 kilowatts, a sufficient amount to power a small city.
The ship's afloat communications capability is second to none. MTW can receive, process and transmit large amounts of secure data from any point on earth through HF, UHF, VHF, SHF, and EHF communications paths. This technology enables the Joint Intelligence Center and Joint Operations Center to gather and fuse critical information while on the move. As the most sophisticated Command, Control, Communications, Computer, and Intelligence (C4I) ship ever commissioned, MTW incorporates various elements of the most advanced C4I equipment and gives the embarked Joint Task Force Commander the capability to effectively command widely dispersed air, ground and maritime units in an integrated fashion.
Since it’s commissioning in 1971, the ship has participated in fleet operations in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Caribbean and the Indian Ocean and Horn of Africa regions. MTW was a key participant in Exercise Strong Resolve 2002 in support of Operation enduring Freedom and JTFEX 04-2, Operation "BLINDING STORM" consisted of more than 40,000 participants from 26 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Partnership for Peace nations.
In 2004, MTW was chosen to chart a new course with the integration of Civilian Mariners into her crew and relocate to Gaeta, Italy where she assumed the role as the Sixth Fleet Flagship. Since arrival in the European AOR in February 2005, MTW has steamed more than 32,000 nautical miles.
MTW completed four major NATO exercises in 2005, including Loyal Diligence ’05, Moving Star ’05, Allied Action ’05 and Loyal Midas ’05. In January of 2006, MTW was honored to support the Liberian Presidential inauguration. Additionally, at various times since operating in the C6F AOR, MTW has served as the training platform for Joint Forces Maritime Component Commander Europe, Joint Forces Command Brunssum, Joint Command Lisbon and Special Operations Command Europe. Finally, MTW hosted several showcase events in 2006 including the Secretary of Defense Joint Civilian Orientation Course and EUCOM hosted Senior Commanders Warfighters Seminar. In 2007, MTW conducted unique dry dock maintenance availability in Palermo, Italy and various Theatre Security Cooperation missions throughout Europe and Africa and the Component Commander’s Conference in August 2007.
In August 2008, MTW was deployed to the Black Sea in support of Operation Assured Delivery to deliver humanitarian aid to those affected by the Russian-Georgian war and became the first NATO ship to deliver aid to port of Poti, Georgia.
Beginning 19 March 2011, MTW served in the Mediterranean as the main command vessel for the enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 against Libya, flagship for Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, who had tactical command of the Operation Odyssey Dawn joint taskforce. Command was expected to be transferred to a coalition commander in time though confusion within the coalition was evidenced in early days. 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.