US guided-missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) got underway from Naval Station Norfolk on March 26 to head for its new homeport in Rota, Spain.
USS Arleigh Burke will replace USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) as one of four forward deployed naval forces (FDNF) destroyers located in Spain.
This will the second of four destroyer swaps the navy plans to complete as part of its plan to modernize its Spain-based fleet of destroyers tasked with providing ballistic missile defense in the European theater.
USS Ross, USS Carney, USS Porter and USS Donald Cook are either Flight I or Flight II versions and the navy wants to replace them with more modern and more capable sister ships.
The first destroyer change occurred in March last year, when USS Roosevelt replaced USS Carney (DDG 64).
Prior to heading for its new homeport, USS Arleigh Burke received some significant upgrades. The ship is sailing with the latest AEGIS baseline 9 combat management system upgrades, as well as a new SeaRAM launcher. It also sports the AN/SLQ-62 electronic warfare systems that seem to be exclusively used by US Sixth Fleet destroyers. According to the War Zone, the system is likely used as a tool in countering anti-ship cruise missiles.
Arleigh Burke was the first US Navy destroyer in the world equipped with the AEGIS Weapons Systems and departs for Sixth Fleet with the latest AEGIS baseline 9 upgrades. This higher capability ship is effective in high-threat areas conducting anti-air, antisubmarine, anti-surface, and strike operations.
To prepare for homeport shift, Arleigh Burke took part in the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group’s Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX). COMPTUEX is designed to fully integrate a strike group as a cohesive, multi-mission fighting force, and test the group’s ability to carry out sustained combat operations from the sea. Upon completion of COMPTUEX, Arleigh Burke is certified and ready to execute the full spectrum of maritime operations in any theater.
“As one of the most technologically advanced destroyers in the entire United States Navy, we are excited to provide additional capability to Sixth Fleet operations,” said Cmdr. Patrick Chapman, commanding officer, USS Arleigh Burke. “However, even stronger than the technology we have been outfitted with, is the strength of our crew. Every day we train to be the most effective crew possible – one that is ready for sustained forward presence in the Sixth Fleet Area of Operations.”