The Navy is surging a guided-missile destroyer and altering the deployment of a guided-missile destroyer to cover gaps left by two ballistic missile defense-capable destroyers that were damaged in collisions with merchant ships, USNI News has learned.
The Norfolk-based cruiser USS Monterey (CG-61) and Pearl Harbor-based destroyer USS O’Kane (DDG-77) will be deployed to assist in BMD missions, two Navy officials confirmed to USNI News.
The move comes as tensions between the U.S. and North Korea continue to simmer as Pyongyang to develops more sophisticated intercontinental and medium-range ballistic missiles.
O’Kane was scheduled for an independent patrol to an unspecified location before it was tasked to U.S. 7th Fleet for BMD operations in the Western Pacific, a Navy official confirmed to USNI News.
Monterey will conduct an independent BMD deployment in the U.S. 6th and 5th Fleet areas of operation in Europe and the Middle East to ease to overall BMD burden for the service, a Navy official told USNI News.
Both deployments will last about six months.
Monterey’s surge deployment follows a seven-month Middle East deployment as part of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, which ended in late December.
Both ships will share the U.S. BMD burden left after collisions with merchant ships sidelined guided-missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and USS John S. McCain (DDG-56).
Fitzgerald suffered a June 17 collision off of Japan that resulted in the death of sailors and McCain was struck by a merchant oiler off of Singapore resulting in the death of 10 sailors.
Both ships, part of the forward-deployed Destroyer Squadron 15, will be under repair for more than a year before rejoining the fleet. The pair were responsible for providing escorts to the forward-deployed carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and for BMD operations focused on North Korea.