Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Ignatius (DDG 117) departed Naval Station Mayport on April 27 to become the third new US Navy destroyer to forward-deploy to Spain.
Prior to joining the European Command at Naval Base Rota, in Spain, USS Paul Ignatius will complete a patrol in the US Sixth Fleet area of operations.
USS Paul Ignatius will be joining the other destroyers stationed in Spain, USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51), USS Ross (DDG 71), USS Porter (DDG 78) and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) as Forward Deployed Naval Force-Europe (FDNF-E) ships.
The arrival of new, more advanced destroyers in Europe is part of the US Navy’s long-range plan to gradually modernize its Spain-based fleet of destroyers tasked with providing ballistic missile defense in the European theater. All four of the original destroyers are scheduled to be replaced by 2022. An additional US Navy helicopter squadron will also be established in Rota by the end of the year.
The first two of the new destroyers, USS Roosevelt and USS Arleigh Burke, replaced USS Carney and USS Donald Cook, respectively. This means USS Paul Ignatius will be replacing either USS Ross or USS Porter.
Paul Ignatius is the second of eight planned Flight IIA “technology insertion” ships, which contain elements of the Flight III ships. The Flight III upgrade is centered on improvements to the DDG air and missile defense capability, enabling Flight III ships to simultaneously perform AAW and BMD. This improvement satisfies the Navy’s critical need for an enhanced surface combatant Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) capability.
“We are excited to begin this journey today,” said Cmdr. Aaron Arky, commanding officer of Paul Ignatius. “This is the culmination of a lot of hard work by many Sailors to both prepare the ship and hone our tradecraft. Paul Ignatius is one of the newest and most advanced destroyers in the Navy. Together with our embarked helicopter detachment, we are bringing a lot of capability to the US Sixth Fleet area of operations.”