Rome, Italy - Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert conducted a two-day visit to Italy to visit the chief of the Italian navy and attended the Naval Forces Europe change of command ceremony this week.

Chief of Staff of the Italian navy, Adm. Giuseppe De Giorgi hosted Greenert July 21 for a welcoming ceremony and a set of meetings at the Italian naval headquarters in Rome.

"The Italian navy is a very close partner in dealing with common maritime security challenges," said Greenert. "Our discussions focused on deepening our relationship and looking at ways to increase interoperability between our fleets."

The two leaders discussed evolving situations in the areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, which is crucial for the prosperity and development of Italy and Europe as a whole. They also raised opportunities for the two navies to conduct more exchanges, training and cooperatively operate together at sea. Both the Italian and U.S. navies have been among many NATO nations contributing to combating threats and ensuring the safety and stability of the region.

Greenert presided over the change of command and retirement ceremony July 22 for Commander Allied Joint Force Command (JFC)/U.S. Naval Forces Europe in Naples. Greenert praised outgoing NAVEUR Commander, Adm. Bruce Clingan for his leadership and performance while in command.

"Bruce has been the right leader, in the right place, at the right time. The Clingans have provided us an enduring contribution both to the Navy, to NATO and to Naval Forces Europe-Africa," remarked Greenert.
Greenert then presented Clingan, who retires this fall after 37 years of service, with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.

Adm. Mark Ferguson assumed command of NAVEUR as the 28th U.S. naval officer to serve as commander of JFC. Ferguson, who previously served as vice chief of naval operations in Washington, D.C., addressed his and NATO's continued commitment to the alliance.

"As history has demonstrated, the NATO alliance remains the bedrock of U.S. national security. It is an alliance founded on shared values, cemented in trust and built to endure," said Ferguson. "I am committed to strengthening the alliance and working with our allies and partners to ensure we remain a positive force for stability and peace throughout the region."

Ferguson's NATO operational responsibilities will include operations in the Balkans, Black Sea, Mediterranean and NATO training missions. And as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, Ferguson will be responsible for providing overall command, operational control, and coordination of U.S. Naval Forces in the Europe and Africa Command areas of operations.

Greenert returned to D.C. July 22. His next planned interaction with De Giorgi will take place in September at the International Seapower Symposium (ISS) at the U.S. Naval War College. During ISS, leaders from the world's maritime forces will come together to find solutions to areas of common interest and foster cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans. The theme for this year's symposium will be "global solutions to common maritime challenges."