US Navy destroyer USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) got underway from Naval Station Norfolk on August 4 for its new homeport in Rota, Spain, becoming the fourth new US destroyer to forward-deploy to Spain with the aim of enhancing ballistic missile defense in Europe.
Bulkeley will join destroyers USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51), USS Roosevelt (DDG 80), USS Paul Ignatius (DDG 117) and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 79 as Forward Deployed Naval Force-Europe (FDNF-E) assets stationed in Rota.
With Bulkeley’s arrival, along with Paul Ignatius’ arrival earlier this year, USS Ross (DDG 71) and USS Porter (DDG 78) will shift homeports from Rota to Norfolk in the coming months; marking the final scheduled homeport shifts in the long-planned FDNF-E rotation.
The initial plan was to gradually replace the four older destroyers already stationed in Spain, USS Ross, USS Carney, USS Porter and USS Donald Cook. However, the White House decided earlier this year it would increase the number of US Navy destroyers based in Spain to six.
The more modern variants of the destroyers (Flight IIA) will be assigned to Commander, Task Force 65 in support of NATO’s Integrated Air Missile Defense architecture. These ships have the flexibility to operate throughout the waters of Europe and Africa, from the Cape of Good Hope to the Arctic Circle.
“The Bulkeley crew has been working extremely hard the past year to prepare to join our forward deployed forces in Rota and work with our partners and allies in the region,” said Capt. Mac Harkin, commanding officer, USS Bulkeley. “We are excited to join our sister ship and aviation units already at the tip of the spear, to assure our allies, respond to threats as required and ensure support to global operations.”
Commissioned on Dec. 8, 2001, the ship is named in honor of Medal of Honor recipient Rear Adm. John Duncan Bulkeley, whose 55 years of naval service included action in both the Pacific and Atlantic theaters during World War II and the Korean War. Bulkeley was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions as commander of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3 in Philippine waters from December 7, 1941 to April 10, 1942. He died on April 6, 1996 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.