USS Sterett returns from surface action group deployment

USS Sterett (DDG 104) sailors man the rails as the ship arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, for a port visit. Photo: US Navy

US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) returned home to San Diego on August 28 following a five-month deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Sterett spent the majority of the deployment as part of the Sterett-Dewey surface action group (Sterett-Dewey SAG), the third deploying group operating under the command and control construct called 3rd Fleet Forward.

The concept allowed the destroyer to operate in the 7th Fleet area of operations while remaining under the 3rd Fleet command providing Pacific Fleet commander with added flexibility.

This was demonstrated in June this year when Sterett’s deployment was extended after the 7th Fleet destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with a merchant vessel.

after her sister ship USS Fitzgerald was damaged in a collision in June this year.

USS Sterett is staying in the Western-Pacific until the end of August to provide capability and presence in the region in response to the reduced availability of destroyers in the region after the USS Fitzgerald collision.

The Sterett-Dewey SAG started their deployment getting underway from San Diego on March 31.

The first foreign port the crew visited was Hong Kong on April 29. Following the port call, Sterett conducted the first joint operation of its deployment in the South China Sea with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ship JS Izumo (DDH 183). Over the course of two days, a liaison naval officer (LNO) exchange allowed the two navies to gather more understanding of operational procedures aboard the respective vessels.

Sterett’s next tasking in the South China Sea took the ship off the coast of Thailand on May 10 to support the annual Cooperative Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) multilateral exercise. Sterett hosted a presail conference, welcoming aboard naval leadership from Bangladesh, Republic of Singapore, and Thailand. Sterett additionally participated in strengthening partnerships and increasing interoperability by conducting multilateral engagements at sea with Republic of Singapore ship RSS Intrepid (FFS 69), Royal Thai Navy ship HTMS Naresuan (FFG 421), and Independence-class littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4).

Following the series of operations, Sterett made a historic port visit to Zhanjiang, China, June 12. There sailors conducted a sports day, ship tours, a community outreach event at a local special education school, and a seamanship competition with their Chinese counterparts. Sterett also hosted a reception for Swift and People’s Liberation Army (Navy) (PLAN) Vice Adm. Wang Hai, commander of the PLAN South Sea Fleet. Upon Sterett’s departure from Zhanjiang, the ship conducted a series of maritime maneuvers with People’s Liberation Army (Navy) (PLAN) frigate CNS Huangshan (FFG 570).

Sterett joined the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, comprised of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS McCampbell (DDG 85) and USS Barry (DDG 52), Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67), and Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) for a series of exercises. Sterett additionally welcomed aboard Rear Adm. Charles Williams, commander, Battle Force 7th Fleet, who announced that Sterett’s scheduled return to homeport would be delayed by an additional 28 days to fulfill U.S. 7th Fleet’s requirements.

Sterett next participated in Exercise Talisman Saber 17 under Combined Task Force 73, comprised of amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay (LPD 20), amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48), Royal Australian Navy ships Ballarat and guided-missile frigate HMAS Darwin (FFG 04), and Royal Australian Navy frigate helicopter HMAS Toowoomba (FFH 156), putting to practice the “Up-Gunned Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG)” concept using cruiser and destroyer assets to protect the ESG against air threats while simultaneously strengthening interoperability in the U.S.-Australia alliance.

On July 23, Sterett conducted its final foreign port visit to Brisbane, Australia. sailors participated in community outreach events at a facility servicing the disabled, a maritime museum, and a retirement home. Sterett then transited to Naval Base Guam, arriving Aug. 4 to conduct further maintenance.

“I am extremely proud of the way Sterett sailors took every challenge, every schedule change, every last-minute tasking, and met it with skill and professionalism,” said Cmdr. Claudine Caluori, Sterett’s commanding officer. “We’ve done well in our mission, and we’re very excited to be coming home to our families and friends in San Diego.”

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