SAN DIEGO – The officers and crew of the guided missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59) provided a ship’s tour and brief on the Navy’s important role in ballistic missile defense (BMD) to a high ranking U.S. State Department official, April 17.
Dr. Amanda Sloat, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, visited the ship to better understand the role and capabilities of Russell’s powerful BMD system.
Sloat is responsible for issues related to Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus, as well as for coordinating with Europeans on our engagement with the countries of the Middle East and North Africa. Russell was the second U.S. Navy ship ever visited by Sloat, and the first destroyer.
Sloat’s visit coincided with Russell’s final re-certification as an official U.S. Navy BMD ship, enabling her to view Russell’s entire Combat Information Center (CIC) watch team in action. She observed Russell’s crew successfully engage several ballistic missiles, simulating defending our allies and neutralizing the threats of rogue states.
“In addition to touring the ship, I was lucky enough to observe a BMD exercise,” said Sloat. “I was impressed with the ship's technical capabilities, as well as the expertise and teamwork displayed by the crew.”
After observing the ballistic missile defense simulation, Sloat proceeded on a tour of the ship led by Cmdr. Gill McCarthy, Russell’s executive officer.
The tour included the bridge, decoy launch system deck, foc’sle, and aft missile deck, enabling Sloat to gain a better understanding of the navigation of the ship as well as the employment of Russell’s formidable offensive and defense capabilities, including the surface to air missile, Tomahawk cruise missile, vertical launch anti-submarine rocket, MK45 five-inch gun, Phalanx close-in weapons system and various missile decoys.
“It was great to be able to show off the amazing things this ship can do,” said McCarthy.
Sloat said the extensive two-hour tour was worthwhile to her work.
“As a State Department official in Washington, I participate in discussions about the deployment of military assets,” said Sloat. “It was extremely valuable to get a first-hand understanding of the capabilities of the Navy, particularly on a destroyer.”
Sloat’s official visit follows a string of high-profile successes by Russell, including hosting the first visit by the Chinese Navy to San Diego in nearly a decade last August, the first-ever visit to the continental United States by the Japanese destroyer JS Teruzuki (DD 116) last October, and passing the Afloat Safety Survey on the first try immediately after emerging from a nearly two-year $84 million Extended Dry Dock Selective Restricted Availability (EDSRA).
After the conclusion of the tour, Russell proceeded to successfully re-certify as a BMD ship on the first try only six months after emerging from EDSRA.
“This crew never ceases to amaze me,” said Cmdr. James Harney, Russell’s commanding officer. “No matter how difficult the circumstances, they deliver every time.”
Russell is part of the U.S. Navy’s Aegis BMD program. The Navy embraces BMD as a core mission. According to the U. S. Missile Defense Agency, the Aegis BMD system is a keystone in the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) for missile defense in Europe. It is capable of defeating short- to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats with the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3), as well as short-range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase with the SM-2. The system is also able to share targeting data with the rest of the United States’ ballistic missile defense system, including land-based interceptors in Alaska and California, thus enhancing homeland defense.
Russell is assigned as part of Destroyer Squadron One. The ship and crew are currently in the basic training phase in preparation for a deployment later this year.