USS O'Kane
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USS Hopper and USS O'Kane Deploy

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paul D. Honnick, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Hawaii

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Guided-missile destroyers USS Hopper (DDG 70) and USS O'Kane (DDG 77) departed Naval Station Pearl Harbor for independent deployments to 5th Fleet and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility in the Middle East and Western Pacific Sept. 14.

USS Hopper deployed in support of ballistic missile defense (BMD) to the 5th Fleet, while USS O'Kane deployed under the Middle-Pacific Surface Combatant (MPSC) concept to support operations in the 7th Fleet operating area.

Hopper's crew will conduct integrated operations with various carrier strike groups and coalition partners deployed to the Middle East region.

"The crew has done phenomenal," said Cmdr. Timothy J. Kott, Hopper's commanding officer. "In less than sixteen weeks, they've done absolutely every single evolution there is to do in the Navy, and that's probably why we're deploying, because we've trained to do this and it's a return on our investment of training. I'd also like to just say thanks to our families, they've done a fantastic job."

Kott also expects to support the wider mission areas of Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO) and Theater Security Cooperation (TSC).

Under the MPSC deployment concept, Pearl Harbor-based ships deploy to support operations in the 5th and 7th Fleet operating areas.

Cmdr. Timothy Steadman, O'Kane's commanding officer, will oversee integrated training while operating in the Western Pacific. Operating with the USS George Washington Strike Group will afford the crew of O'Kane the opportunity to improve their operating proficiency and seamlessly integrate into 7th Fleet's Naval Presence and TSC missions.

O'Kane will be conducting a Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS) exercise while in 7th Fleet's operating area. This exercise improves the gunnery team's proficiency in shore bombardment to support troops on the ground.

They will also participate in an annual exercise with Japan. This exercise tests and supports the Navy's anti-submarine warfare/anti-surface warfare/ballistic missile defense working relationship with the Japanese.

Hopper and O'Kane are under the command of Destroyer Squadron 31 and are two of 18 U.S. ships — three cruisers and 15 destroyers — fitted with the full Aegis BMD capability, allowing them to detect, track and engage enemy ballistic missiles.

The destroyers are embarking on separate missions but both will support maritime ballistic missile defense, a core capability of the Navy that will enhance deterrence by providing an umbrella of protection to forward-deployed forces and allies, while contributing to the larger architecture planned for defense of the United States.

Story Number: NNS090916-02 Release Date: 9/16/2009 4:46:00 AM

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