Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG-69) is now in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations, joining the forces based in Japan as part of a Navy effort to modernize its forward-deployed fleet.
During the past year, while homeported in San Diego, Milius was outfitted with the Aegis Baseline 9 combat system that provides the ship with upgraded air defenses, ballistic missile defenses and surface and undersea warfare capabilities, according to the Navy.
“I am very excited that Milius is coming to DESRON 15,” Capt. Jonathan Duffy, Destroyer Squadron 15 commander, said in a release.
“The ship’s advanced capabilities will be vital in support of our missions in the Indo-Pacific region.”
The move to Japan has been in the works for four years, when the Navy first announced its plan to beef up the capabilities of the forward-deployed forces. Milius joins USS Benfold (DDG-65) and USS Barry (DDG-52), which had also previously been U.S. 3rd Fleet ships that were moved to 7th Fleet as part of the plan “to rotate newer and more capable units into positions to maintain presence and coverage across the Indo-Pacific region to provide security and stability to the forward deployed Navy,” according to the news release.
Milius’ move to Yokosuka, Japan, comes at a time when the Navy’s forward-deployed forces in Japan are down two ships, following the collisions of USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) and USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) with merchant ships in August and June of last year. John S. McCain, which is being repaired in Japan, had already undergone an upgrade similar to the one Milius recently completed. Fitzgerald is undergoing repairs in Mississippi but will not be upgraded, according to the Navy.
“I could not be prouder of this crew and their hard work and dedication leading up to this deployment,” Milius commanding officer Cmdr. Jennifer Pontius said in the news release.
“The crew has trained extremely hard to get the ship fully certified and ready for tasking, and we are excited to operate forward and bring new capabilities to the FDNF team.”
Milius departed San Diego on April 20, and the ship will now undergo a regularly scheduled maintenance period at Fleet Activities Yokosuka in Japan while the crew and their families settle in to their new homeport.