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USS John S. McCain latest US Navy ship to conclude lengthy 7th Fleet deployment

USS John S. McCain departing Japan after 24 years
USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) departs Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) on September 17, 2021, as part of a homeport shift to Naval Station Everett, Washington. Photo: US Navy

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) is the latest US Navy ship to depart its Japan homeport after years of forward-deployed operations.

DDG 56 left Yokosuka, Japan, Sept. 17, as part of a scheduled homeport shift to Naval Station Everett, Washington.

While forward-deployed to Fleet Activities Yokosuka, John S. McCain has operated independently and with carrier strike groups in the region since arriving to US 7th Fleet in the summer of 1997.

While the ship supported a range of operations and evolutions, it is perhaps most widely known for the fatal 2017 incident, when it collided with the Alnic MC commercial tanker on August 21 off the coast of Singapore. Ten US Navy sailors lost their lives in the collision and another five were injured. It took the Navy over two years to return the ship to sea.

“John S. McCain and her sailors have proven time and time again our Navy’s resolve to answer the call in support of our nation and our allies,” said Cmdr. Tin Tran, USS John S McCain’s commanding officer. “After 24 years of faithful overseas service, we are ready to head back home to America, back to Washington State. Our Sailors will forever remember the bonds of friendship and hospitality Japan has shown us.”

During 24 years of forward-deployed service, John S. McCain operated across the region from the Indian Ocean to the Sea of Japan supporting joint and multinational exercises and operations to strengthen US alliances and partnerships, maritime security, and promote regional stability toward a free and open Indo-Pacific.

John S. McCain also participated in several surge deployments to US 5th Fleet in support of the USS Independence battle group in 1998 and USS Kitty Hawk strike group in 2002 and again in 2003 supporting Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.

During the most recent seven-month deployment, John S. McCain participated in the annual multinational exercise MALABAR alongside the Indian Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and Royal Australian Navy, focusing on anti-submarine and anti-surface operations.

In March, 2011, John S. McCain responded in support of Operation Tomodachi to provide humanitarian assistance following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

“It is definitely a changing of the guard with USS John S. McCain and her crew departing the 7th Fleet after over 24 years in Japan,” said Capt. Chase Sargeant, Commander, Task Force 71/Destroyer Squadron 15. “The contributions of the current and all previous crews in defending peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific cannot be overstated, and the entire forward-deployed fleet wishes John S. McCain fair winds as she transfers to her new homeport of Everett, Washington.”

John S. McCain is scheduled to join US 3rd Fleet, which leads naval forces in the Indo-Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy. US 3rd Fleet works consistently with US 7th Fleet to complement one another and provide commanders capable, ready assets across the spectrum of military operations in the Indo-Pacific.

DDG 56 is the fourth ship US Navy ship this year to conclude its mission in the US 7th Fleet. Earlier, destroyers USS Mustin (DDG 89) and USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) left Japan after 15 and 25 years, respectively. The two were replaced by more modern sister ships, USS Higgins (DDG 76) and USS Howard (DDG 83), who arrived in Japan in August.

Amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) completed a decade-long deployment to Japan earlier this month.