After the ceremony, attendees went to the monument dedicated to the Marines and Sailors of USS
Guam and USS Trenton at the port of Barcelona to lay
flowers and wreaths. The Honor Guard and those who
were present paid their respects. Following a dinner in
Barcelona, several people spoke to thank all the veterans
from the Fire Brigade, the CRIS submarine divers and
the fishermen for their help during such a tragic accident. It was a very emotional day, the report concluded.
In Villefranche-sur-Mer, more than a year’s worth
of planning and effort to honor U.S. Sixth Fleet’s former presence in the city came to fruition Jan. 19-22
with a port visit by the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney, parades, ship tours,
receptions and special events.
Also attending the Sixth Fleet commemoration was
Navy League National President Skip Witunski and
European Region President Nicholas Hayes, according
to French Riviera-Monaco Council President Cornelis
Van Vliet, who worked closely with Professor Christophe
Trojani, mayor of Villefranche-sur-Mer, and Valérie
Blouin, president of Les Americains et la 6éme Flotte,
among many others to organize the events.
USS Carney arrived on Jan. 19. The ship hosted a
welcome reception on Jan. 20 and was available for
tours. The French Navy ship EV Jacoubet also was in
port during the commemoration.
“We have worked closely with the French Navy
during our two deployments in Sixth Fleet since joining the forward-deployed naval forces in Europe. It is
an honor to visit France and pay homage to our shared
naval heritage,” Carney’s commanding officer, Cmdr.
Peter Halvorsen, said in a Navy News Service report.
Ship’s crew and Sixth Fleet officials joined local
dignitaries and members of the French Riviera-Monaco Council and Les Américains et la 6ème Flotte
in Villefranche-sur-Mer Jan. 20 for a parade, laying
of wreaths at a monument of fallen soldiers and the
official unveiling of an anchor and Sixth Fleet plaque
as symbols of friendship between Villefranche and the
U.S. Navy. Bands from Sixth Fleet and French Navy
took part in the ceremonies.
“France is one of the United States’ oldest and
strongest allies. We have the same professional dedication, fighting spirit and resilience to ensure we are
ready to fight and win if called upon. The national
and military partnerships are felt on a personal level
here in Villefranche-sur-Mer,” Vice Adm. Christopher
Grady, Sixth Fleet commander, said during the Jan. 20
ceremonies, according to the Navy News Service.
A number of U.S. Navy veterans who served ashore
and aboard the Sixth Fleet flagships that homeported
in Villefranche-sur-Mer from 1954 to 1967 traveled to
the city for a reunion and to join in the commemoration. According to Van Vliet, many officers and Sailors
who served in the city during that time married local
women and there still are about 300 American families
living there. Van Vliet served aboard the light cruiser
USS Springfield — the last Sixth Fleet flagship homeported in Villefranche-sur-Mer — from October 1959
to September 1960.
Harry Lamar Thomas, center, who survived the 1977 landing craft
accident in the port of Barcelona, Spain, stands with fellow survivors
and family members at a monument honoring the 49 U.S. Sailors
and Marines who were killed in the incident. Thomas spearheaded a
reunion of the survivors to mark the 40th anniversary of the accident.
At right, Barcelona Council President Salvador Molist stands with the
U.S. Marine Honor Guard and other participants following the Jan. 17
commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Navy landing craft
accident in Barcelona.