09:49 GMT04 March 2021
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    The US Navy is growing its fleet, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said.

    US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles conduct airstrikes in Syria and Iraq
    © REUTERS / U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Matthew Bruch/Handout
    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US Navy is substantially growing its fleet and working with military partners to strengthen its global presence, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said during a visit to the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group in the Mediterranean Sea.

    During Mabus’ visit to the carrier group on Thursday, the US guided-missile destroyer Mason conducted a refueling exercise with the Italian Navy’s Flotta Verde.

    "We're where we need to be and when we need to be there. We're growing our fleet and we're doing it pretty dramatically — 308 ships by 2021," Mabus stated. "We're going to have that presence."

    The American flag flies at half-mast aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) during a scheduled port visit to Constanta, Romania June 13, 2016.
    © REUTERS / US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robert S. Price/Handout
    Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Navy for Energy Joseph Bryan explained that operating with other nations’ navies demonstrates US support for regional security and provides "greater access to the maritime domain" for the United States and its allies.

    The guided-missile destroyer Mason is scheduled to make a port visit to Italy, where officers will meet with Italian delegates to emphasize the US-Italian partnership, according to the Navy.

    The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group entered the Mediterranean on June 13 in support of US national security interests in Europe. The strike group has been conducting biofuel exercises with the Italian Navy as part of the US Great Green Fleet initiative, which seeks to utilize energy more effectively.

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