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Guided Missile Destroyer USS Sterett Makes Chinese Port Visit

Sailors aboard Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG-104) man the rails as the ship arrives in Zhanjiang, China on June 12, 2017. US Navy Photo

A U.S. guided missile destroyer has pulled into southern China as part of a planned port visit with the People’s Liberation Army Navy.

USS Sterett (DDG-104) pulled into Zhanjiang, the headquarters of the South Sea Fleet, on Monday for the port visit and low level interactions with the PLAN, according to a release from U.S. 3rd Fleet.

“During the course of the port visit, sailors will conduct sporting events, ship tours, and a community relations event, along with leadership office calls and receptions with the PLAN,” read the statement.

Sterett’s post visit is the first visit of a U.S. ship to Zhanjiang since 2015 and the first port visit by a U.S. ship to a mainland Chinese port this year.

“This visit is an exciting opportunity to promote maritime cooperation and reinforce a navy-to-navy relationship with our People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA(N) counterparts,” said Cmdr. Claudine Caluori, Sterett’s commanding officer said on Monday.

The visit comes as the U.S. has stepped up its patrols of the South China Sea and resumed a schedule of testing Chinese maritime claims around its network of its militarized artificial islands through Freedom of Navigation operations.

Last month USS Dewey (DDG-105) – which is operating with Sterett as part of a two-ship surface action group out of Naval Station San Diego, Calif. – came within six nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the first FON op of the Trump administration.

In addition to the port visit and the FON op, the surface action group has also participated in several regional exercises in the last few months.

USS Sterett (DDG 104) participates in a straits transit exercise on May 23, 2014. US Navy Photo

The following is the complete June 12, 2017 statement on Sterett’s visit to Zhanjiang.

ZHANJIANG, China – Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) arrived in Zhanjiang, China, June 12, 2017, for a scheduled port visit.

Sterett’s visit is the first U.S. Navy visit to Zhanjiang since 2015 and the first U.S. Navy visit to mainland China in 2017.

“This visit is an exciting opportunity to promote maritime cooperation and reinforce a navy-to-navy relationship with our People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA(N) counterparts,” said Cmdr. Claudine Caluori, Sterett’s commanding officer.

During the course of the port visit, Sailors will conduct sporting events, ship tours, and a community relations event, along with leadership office calls and receptions with the PLA(N).

Sterett is part of the Sterett-Dewey Surface Action Group (Sterett-Dewey SAG) and arrived with the embarked command staff of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 31 and an embarked helicopter detachment from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 49.

“My staff, the Sterett crew and I are excited to be here and enjoy this port visit in Zhanjiang. Professional engagement with regional navies allows us the opportunity to build upon our existing relationships, as well as learn from each other,” said Capt. David Bretz, DESRON 31’s commodore.

The Sterett-Dewey SAG is operating with regional naval services to conduct routine patrols, maritime security operations, and theater security cooperation activities to enhance regional security and stability in the Western Pacific.

U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy, constantly coordinating with U.S. 7th Fleet to plan and execute missions based on their complementary strengths to promote ongoing peace, security, and stability throughout the Pacific theater of operations.