Home Asia Pacific US Navy boosts Japan-based fleet with two new destroyers

US Navy boosts Japan-based fleet with two new destroyers

US Navy 7th Fleet destroyers in Yokosuka, Japan
USS Higgins (DDG 76) arriving at Yokosuka on August 16, 2021. Photo: US Navy

The US Navy’s Japan-based 7th Fleet has been reinforced with the arrival of two new Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers.

USS Higgins (DDG 76) and USS Howard (DDG 83) arrived at their new forward-deployed location in Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, on August 16.

The forward presence of Higgins and Howard will support enduring national security strategic guidance initiatives to posture the most capable units forward in the Indo-Pacific region. These forces, along with their counterparts in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, frequently operate together allowing a rapid response with maritime and joint forces to uphold a rules-based international order that promotes security and well-being.

“We are excited to have Higgins and Howard join our forward-deployed team,” said Capt. Chase Sargeant, commander, Task Force (CTF) 71. “These two ships will be an integral part of the 7th Fleet team for years to come.”

Higgins is a Flight II destroyer with ballistic missile defense capabilities and Howard is a Flight IIA destroyer capable of embarking two MH-60 variant helicopters with improved ballistic missile defense, anti-air, and surface warfare capabilities.

Higgins and Howard arrived in Japan after sister ship USS Mustin (DDG 89) wrapped up a 15-year stint in Japan, returning to San Diego in July this year.

“These destroyers are some of the most capable ships our navy has to offer,” added Sargeant. “Adding them to our forward deployed forces is a clear signal of our continuing commitment to our partners and allies, and our mutual commitment to maintaining stable regional maritime security.”

As the US Navy’s largest forward-deployed fleet, 7th Fleet employs 50 to 70 ships and submarines across the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. US 7th Fleet routinely operates and inter-acts with 35 maritime nations while conducting missions to preserve and protect a free and open Indo-Pacific region.