The U.S. Navy’s San Diego-based Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Sterett (DDG 104) and USS Dewey (DDG 105) departed U.S. 7th Fleet, April 29, after two months of operations in a multitude of warfare areas and partnership-enhancing port visits.
Sterett and Dewey, with respective embarked helicopter detachments, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 49 “Scorpions” and HSM 35 “Magicians,” joined the Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) to advance the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s “Up-Gunned ESG” concept, provide additional defense capability to the ESG, and enhance Navy-Marine Corps training.
“This was an excellent opportunity for us to integrate with Marine Corps,” said Cmdr. Claudine Caluori, Sterett commanding officer. “With the addition of destroyers and the Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighter to become an ‘Up-Gunned ESG,’ we have demonstrated our Navy’s ability to innovate new tactics in a dynamic and ever-changing region.”
While attached to the ESG, the destroyers were able to integrate with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s F-35B Lightning II for air defense drills and other interoperability tests. Other events included tracking and detecting of undersea assets, simulated Tomahawk Land Attack Missile-missile strikes, and several live-fire weapons shoots.
The destroyers, along with the other ships of the Wasp ESG and embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), worked as an aggregated team in order to complete the MEU’s certification exercise (CERTEX). CERTEX served as the final evaluation in a series of training drills that ensure readiness for crisis response throughout the Indo- Pacific region.
While in 7th Fleet, both crews conducted outreaches with local communities and built strong international relationships during port visits throughout the region. Dewey visited Sasebo, Japan where it visited an elderly home and Sterett had the opportunity to connect with the two different schools in Hong Kong.
“[The visit to the elderly home] was as rewarding as it was enjoyable,” said Operations Specialist 1st Class Ryan Jones from the Dewey. “Being able to interact with the locals and experience their culture is why I joined the Navy and is something that I will never take for granted.”
Sterett and Dewey departed San Diego Feb. 6 and will return to there for maintenance, training, and upkeep.
The Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, based in Okinawa, Japan, is 7th Fleet’s task force for expeditionary operations. The task force oversees forces from Guam to Sasebo to Yokosuka to provide the region with a response capability in the event of a contingency.
MC2 Richard L.J. Gourley