May 8 (UPI) -- Military forces of the United States and Romania completed Close Air Support exercises this week, the U.S. Navy announced on Tuesday.
The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group of ships and components of its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing 7, with the U.S. Air Force 603rd Air Control Squadron, completed the exercises with Romanian partners in the Ionian Sea from May 3 to 5.
The strike group consists of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, Destroyer Squadron 2, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, joined by the Àlvaro de Bazàn-class frigate ESPS Méndez Núñez of the Spanish Navy.
The exercise involved coordination with U.S. Air Force tankers for in-flight refueling and Romanian joint terminal air controllers, a ground-control support group, to complete a training exercise of about 700 nautical miles.
"This is among the first missions we've executed with Romania," said Lt. Gerard Anderson, a pilot with Strike Fighter Squadron 25 and the coordination leader of the exercise. "They're one of our allies, and it's beneficial to integrate with different countries to show the world what we're capable of. Exercises like this strengthen defense capabilities against any potential threats in the European theater.
"Our North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance is a critical tool for maintaining security and stability in the region; this demonstration builds competence and confidence in our ability to do just that," Anderson added.
Romania is a NATO partner, and the strike group's exercise coincided with an announcement by National Security Adviser John Bolton that the ships, and a bomber task force, will immediately be deployed to the Strait of Hormuz.
Bolton said the deployment was "in response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings" about a possible attack on U.S. and allied forces in the Middle East by Iran.
Initial plans for the strike group's tour, after it left Virginia in April, was travel to travel to Gibraltar and then the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean, South China Sea and Pacific Ocean. It would then head to San Diego, its new home port.