KIEL, Germany — Sailors aboard amphibious command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) were treated to a special concert June 20 as the band Queensryche rocked the flight deck during the ship's port visit to Kiel, Germany. The concert was sponsored by the United Service Organization (USO) to celebrate the successful completion of Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise 2009. "We came up here from Kaiserslautern, Germany to support Mount Whitney and USS Forest Sherman (DDG 98)," said Walter Murren, regional vice president of USO. "In Europe we tend to provide more for military branches with larger footprints like the Air Force and Army, so we really appreciate the opportunity to show the Navy how important you are to us."
Murren also said that Queensrrche was very receptive to the idea when first approached, as the band came out to Mount Whitney to perform for free on one of their few days off their European tour.
Queensryche performed many of their greatest hits, including "Sign of the Times" and "Silent Lucidity". They also performed "If I Were King" from their newest album "American Solder."
"We are very proud to come aboard and play for the troops," said lead singer Geoff Tate. "It is very interesting to come and meet all the fans on the ship, and to meet some of the younger people who have never heard of us."
Tate added that their album "American Soldier" is a concept album about war from the perspective of people on the front lines of wars, from World War II to the present. Tate has spent the last few years interviewing veterans from all the conflicts.
"It all started when my dad told me about his experience while serving in the Vietnam War,, said Tate. When he came home he expected to be greeted with a parade, but people spat on him and I donnt ever want to see that happen again." After performing for an hour, Queensryche signed autographs and took photos with the crew.
"This was the first time in my 11 years in the Navy I have seen a band perform on a ship," said Information Systems Technician 1st Class George Strattiner, Mount Whitney crew member. "It is awesome to have them come out here and support us as we are supporting them." BALTOPS is comprised of forces from 12 countries and is the largest multinational naval exercise this year in the Baltic Sea. Annually hosted by the U.S. Navy, the exercise aims to improve maritime safety and security in the Baltic Sea through increased interoperability and cooperation among regional allies.
Mount Whitney, home ported in Gaeta, Italy, is the flagship for Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet and operates with a hybrid crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civilian mariners.