The U.S. Navy has announced that the ballistic missile defense (BMD)-capable guided-missile destroyers USS Benfold (DDG 65) and USS Milius (DDG 69) will become part of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) based at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan.
Benfold and Milius will leave their current homeport of San Diego and forward deploy to Yokosuka in the summers of 2015 and 2017, respectively. The move directly supports the announcement made by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in April of this year that the Navy would commit to sending two additional BMD-capable ships to the defense of Japan by 2017.
The Navy also announced that the guided missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) will conduct a hull swap with USS Lassen (DDG 82) and become a member of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) in early 2016. USS Barry will forward deploy from its current homeport of Norfolk, Va. while USS Lassen will return to the U.S. and homeport in Mayport, Fla.
Barry, Benfold, and Milius will all complete a midlife modernization, making them among the most capable ships of their class. All will be fitted with the latest Aegis Baseline 9 combat system which includes state of the art air defense, ballistic missile defense, surface warfare and undersea warfare capabilities.
The three Flight I ships will also receive upgrades including a fully-integrated bridge, improved machinery, damage control and quality of life improvements, an advanced galley and commercial-off-the-shelf computing equipment.
These U.S. BMD-capable forces, combined with the sea-based missile defense systems operated by their counterparts in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, as well as the new TPY-2 radar at Kyogamisaki scheduled to start operations later this year, provide the U.S.-Japan alliance a regionally responsive missile defense capability.
Press release; Image: U.S. Navy