JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii — A surface action group of Navy destroyers has arrived in Hawaii ahead of a deployment to the Asia-Pacific region.
Deployment of the USS Sterett and USS Dewey from their San Diego homeport will expand U.S. Pacific Command’s options as it monitors North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program development and China’s military actions in the region.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett, foreground, with USS Dewey, maneuvers into formation Sept. 23, 2014, during the conclusion of Valiant Shield 2014 in the Pacific Ocean.
DECLAN BARNES/U.S. NAVY
Standing aboard Sterett’s deck, Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Scott Swift told sailors that readiness was on the minds of “so many of us,” following the Navy’s April 6 Tomahawk missile strike on a Syrian airfield and the USS Carl Vinson strike group’s deployment in response to ongoing weapons tests by North Korea.
Calling the Navy the world’s “911 force,” Swift said that rapid responses sent a message to America’s allies and friends, while demonstrating resolve to those who challenge international norms and rules with “coercive activities” and “bullying.”
“It’s about setting the standard and setting an example of expectations,” Swift said.
The deployment marks the second year of a program that allows 3rd Fleet’s ships to remain under its command, even after they cross the International Date Line. Previously, the Japan-headquartered 7th Fleet gained command of ships in the Western Pacific.
During transit to Hawaii, the two ships completed training and certification exercises designed to prepare it for operations in the Western Pacific, which include patrols and maritime security operations with regional navies.