US destroyer duo returns from Middle East deployment

USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) returns to Naval Station Norfolk, Dec. 21, 2018. Photo: US Navy

US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) and USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) returned to their homeports after completing a seven-month deployment to Europe and the Middle East.

On December 21, USS Jason Dunham returned to Naval Station Norfolk while USS The Sullivans to Mayport Naval Station.

During the deployment, Jason Dunham navigated the Bab el-Mandeb 16 times, the Strait of Hormuz twice, the Strait of Gibraltar twice, the Suez Canal twice, among other transits, totaling to well over 40,000 nautical miles traveled. Port visits included Haifa and Eilat, Israel; the Azores, Portugal; Safaga, Egypt; Djibouti, Djibouti; Duqm, Oman; Manama, Bahrain; Jebel Ali, UAE; and Funchal, Madeira.

“I am very proud of the crew for all of their accomplishments this deployment. We had a junior crew, and this was a challenging deployment,” said Cmdr. John Hamilton, Jason Dunham commanding officer.

In addition to the thousands of nautical miles traveled, the ship conducted over 500 hours of maritime security operations, to include four boardings and the seizure of over 2500 AK-47’s.

Jason Dunham worked hand-in-hand with foreign countries as she conducted numerous passing exercises, gunnery exercises, and other integrated exercises- to include Eagle Salute 2018- with the Egyptian and Emirati navies. The ship also supported the USS Essex (LHD 2) Amphibious Ready Group with mine sweeping exercises off the coast of Djibouti, Djibouti.

USS The Sullivans navigated over 40,000 nautical miles, completed two Strait of Gibraltar transits, two Suez Canal transits, two Bab-el Mandeb transits, and 14 transits through the Strait of Hormuz.

The destroyer’s port visits included Rota, Spain; Limassol, Cyprus; Souda Bay, Crete; Manama, Bahrain; Muscat, Oman; Fujairah, United Arab Emirates; and Duqm, Oman.

For a large portion of the crew’s deployment in 5th Fleet, The Sullivans was the only Arleigh Burke destroyer in the Arabian Gulf, operating with US Navy Cyclone-class patrol ships and Combined Maritime Forces partners to preserve the free flow of commerce and freedom of navigation in the Gulf.

While operating independently in the Arabian Gulf, The Sullivans led the 2018 trilateral exercise with US Navy and US Coast Guard ships alongside the Iraqi and Kuwaiti navies. The exercise afforded the opportunity for the three countries to practice cooperative maritime security tactics and operations in the Gulf.

The Sullivans also provided layered defense and command and control for the 2018 Griffin missile exercise with four US Navy Cyclone-class patrol ships. Upon arrival of Amphibious Ready Group One in US 5th Fleet, The Sullivans provided layered defense for USS Essex (LHD 2) in support of Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter missions to ensure stability and security in the Central region.

“The Sullivans led operations daily in the Arabian Gulf that directly impacted freedom of navigation through the Strait of Hormuz, and strengthened ties with our partners in 5th Fleet,” said Cmdr. Pat Eliason, commanding officer of The Sullivans.

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