Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The multi-ship Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group has departed Naval Station Norfolk, Va., for exercises ahead of deployment to Europe.
The ABECSG left port on Friday for its composite training unit exercise, or COMPTUEX, a series of operations and scenarios meant to help the seven-vessel group achieve certification for deployment, the Navy said in a statement on Monday.
The group, referred to as ABECSG, is comprised of its flagship, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, as well as Carrier Air Wing 7, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, and ships assigned to Destroyer Squadron 2, which include the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Bainbridge, USS Gonzalez, USS Mason and USS Nitze.
COMPTUEX is a certification exercise assessing a strike group's ability to conduct military operations at sea and project power ashore. Joint planning, and the execution of realistic training scenarios, will be undertaken, with the goal of certification for deployment.
The Spanish frigate Mendez Nunez will join the U.S. ships of ABESCG for the exercise in order to enhance interoperability with U.S. vessels and personnel.
After two months of training and exercises, the Lincoln will then head for San Diego, its new homeport, and the Mendez Nunez will return to Spain after circumnavigating the globe.
The U.S. and Spanish vessels will then meet up again in April at their first port of call, Gibraltar. From there the ships will travel through the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
The Spanish ship will be under American command as it transits waters patrolled by the United States' 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th fleets, the Spain's defense ministry said.
Vessels from other countries have previously participated in CSG COMPTUEX exercises, including last year when warships from Norway and Germany accompanied the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group.