Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Gilday and his wife, Linda, visited France and Romania, Jan. 16-20, to meet with service members, government officials, and military leaders, the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest ann0unced.
The international trip began in Paris, and was followed by visits to Bucharest, Develesu, and Constanta, Romania.
Chief of the French Navy Adm. Pierre Vandier hosted CNO and Royal Navy Adm. Sir Ben Key, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff of the United Kingdom at the inaugural Paris Naval Conference, Jan. 18. The conference, jointly hosted by the French Navy and the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), was themed “the return of naval combat,” and featured senior speakers from the United States, France, and the United Kingdom.
“This conference showcases the solidarity and enduring partnerships among our three countries,” said Gilday. “Expanding collaboration and sharing information and technology will ensure we prevail across the continuum of day-to-day competition, crisis, and conflict, keeping the world’s oceans open and free.”
After the conference, Vandier awarded Gilday the National Order of the Legion of Honor, which is considered the highest decoration and order of merit in France.
The CNO offered his appreciation and gratitude during an award ceremony.
“Humbled is an understatement,” said Gilday. “France is our oldest ally. The bond of friendship that was forged between our navies centuries ago is stronger than ever and continues to grow. This is truly an honor of a lifetime.”
In Paris, CNO met with U.S. Ambassador to France Denise Campbell Bauer, where they spoke about the unwavering alliance between France and the United States.
Gilday also met bilaterally with Vandier, and trilaterally with Vandier and Key, to discuss regional security, the strategic environment, and alignment between their navies. Gilday last met with Vandier and Key in October 2022.
Following their visit to France, CNO and Linda traveled to Romania to meet with government officials, military leaders, and U.S. service members to discuss the importance of maritime and regional security, as well as interoperability.
In Bucharest, CNO met U.S. Chargé d’Affaires David Muniz, Romanian Minister of Defense Angel Tîlvăr, Deputy Chief of Defense Lt. Gen. Gheorghiţă Vlad, and Commander of the Romanian Naval Forces Vice Adm. Mihai Panait.
Throughout discussions, Gilday and Romanian leadership talked about the importance of the Black Sea and their shared commitment to promoting safety and stability in the region.
“Romania is an important ally and strategic partner, and has long been a close friend to our U.S. Navy,” said Gilday. “Together with NATO, we are committed to deterring conflict, defending allies, and continuing to support the Euro-Atlantic region.”
After his engagements in the capital, Gilday traveled to U.S. Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System Romania (AAMDS) in Deveselu, Romania, where he toured the facilities and met with U.S. Navy Sailors. The command, under the operational control of U.S. Naval Forces Europe, is part of the European Phased Adapted Approach, which protects European NATO allies and U.S. deployed forces in the region.
The land-based missile defense facility is designed to detect, track, engage, and destroy ballistic missiles in flight outside the atmosphere. Its technology is nearly identical to, and works in coordination with, the systems used on the four forward-deployed naval forces Europe Aegis destroyers based out of Rota, Spain.
“Every day, our Sailors are standing the watch, operating forward, strengthening our strategic partnerships, and increasing interoperability with committed allies and partners like Romania,” said CNO. “I am so impressed by the incredible talent and dedication here from our Sailors serving at Aegis Ashore, who are ensuring that one of our nation’s most critical defense assets is always ready to respond to any threat.”
Gilday’s last stop in Romania was in Constanta, the country’s largest Black Sea port, where he met with Vice Adm. Panait, as well as Romanian sailors and students at the Mircea cel Bătrân Naval Academy. Separately, the CNO met with U.S. Army Maj. Gen. J.P. McGee and soldiers assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, thanking them for their service.
Panait, who Gilday hosted at the Pentagon in September 2022, presented CNO with the Romanian Emblem of Honor, signifying appreciation of the partnership between the U.S. and Romania.
“It was a great honor and privilege to receive the Romanian Emblem of Honor,” said CNO. “I’m thankful for our strategic partnership, mutual commitment to peace and security, and the strong bond we share with the Romanian Navy.”
Gilday’s visit marked the first time a U.S. Navy chief of naval operations visited Romania in nearly a decade.