USS STERETT, At Sea (NNS) -- The guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) successfully launched two Tomahawk missiles during a weeklong weapons training exercise in the Pacific Ocean June 21-25.
"The missile launch was a success," said Pablo Dasalla, lead platform test coordinator, who was on board to observe the launch.
According to Dasalla, the planning required to launch a Tomahawk missile takes three to four months to coordinate. The coordination involves mission planning, approval from different organizations, scheduling of range time and fulfilling requirements prior to the missile launch.
The ship's crew has been preparing for the past four months to maintain its mission readiness by conducting daily drills and training evolutions.
"We've been conducting a simulated land attack missile exercise (SLAMEX), twice a month," said Fire Controlman 2nd Class (SW) Elliot Asmah, who is part of Sterett's strike group and was responsible for launching one of the Tomahawk missiles during their second day out to sea.
The missile launch became an historic event for the Sterett, as this was the first time the ship launched a Tomahawk from its vertical launch system.
According to Asmah, every year a ship is chosen to test the Tomahawk missiles, but there are many ships that can spend their entire lifetime in the fleet without ever shooting one.
For many aboard the ship, the missile launch was a lifetime experience especially for Asmah, who pushed the button that sent the missile soaring into the sky after a countdown.
"It was a privilege to be the first person on the Sterett to shoot a Tomahawk missile," said Asmah. "This will make history, and I am part of it."
Dasalla credits the flexibility of Sterett's leadership and its crew to the success of the missile launches.
"The leadership on board made things happen," said Dasalla. "The diligence and dedication of the strike team has shown their willingness to succeed with Tomahawk launch attack missile operations."