USS Lassen (DDG 82) Returns to Yokosuka, Japan
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles Oki, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Det. Japan
YOKOSUKA, Japan - The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) returned to Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) May 26 following a nearly three-month spring deployment.
Lassen made port calls to South Korea, Singapore, India and Thailand during the two and a half month deployment, and took part in exercises Foal Eagle 2010, Malabar 2010 and Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise Thailand 2010.
"It was a long and rewarding underway period with lots of terrific training opportunities. We were honored to participate in significant exercises with three of our partner nations," said Cmdr. H.B. Le, Lassen's commanding officer. "We were not originally scheduled to be underway for that length of time, but that is one of the exciting aspects of the forward deployed naval forces. I could not be more proud of how my officers and crew responded to the changes and how well they performed at sea and ashore."
Lassen also provided air defense coverage assistance to the Republic of Korea (ROK) in their salvage and recovery efforts for the ROKS Cheonan after the ship sank March 26 in the Yellow Sea.
Lassen then made its way to Goa, India for Exercise Malabar 2010. Training with ships from the Indian Navy as well as USS Shiloh (CG 67), USS Curts (FFG 38) and USS Chafee (DDG 90); Lassen conducted surface and anti-submarine warfare events, coordinated gunnery exercises, air defense operations, and visit, board, search and seizure drills. Malabar 2010 also had Sailors from both navies serving as liaison officers as part of personal and professional exchanges.
"Spending time aboard the Indian Navy ships was definitely a unique and valuable experience," said Information Systems Technician 1st Class (SW/AW) Benjamin Wooldridge, a Great Lakes, Ill., native. "Not only was I able to share professional knowledge with my counterparts in the Indian navy, but I was also able to experience the culture of Indian ships and the Indian people."
After the completion of Malabar 2010, Lassen transited to Laem Chabang, Thailand to participate in CARAT Thailand 2010. Other exercise participants included USS Tortuga (LSD 46), USS Vandegrift (FFG 48), the US Coast Guard cutter Mellon (WHEC-717) and ships of the Royal Thai navy. The bilateral exercise was held to train in missions and tasks ranging from maritime security to air defense and amphibious operations.
"The Royal Thai navy is one of our key partners in the region and the CARAT exercises reinforce that relationship, so that we are ready to work together in a time of crisis," said Lt. Michael Root, the operations officer aboard Lassen. "The time saved by already being able to communicate and work together as a team rather than two separate entities in situations like the earthquake and tsunami that hit the region in 2004 could be what saves hundreds if not thousands of lives."
Sailors volunteered for community service projects during every port of call.
"Every time a ship makes a port visit, it becomes an extension of America," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Joshua Eddy, a native of Barberton, Ohio and Lassen's community service coordinator. "Every time Sailors or Marines step off a ship they become ambassadors for the United States, so it's important to show that not only do we want to experience the culture of your country, but that we also want to extend a helping hand."
Lassen pulled into its forward deployed operating base of Fleet Activities Yokosuka to a celebration and greeting from Yokosuka's MWR and families who have been waiting to see their loved ones for more than 10 weeks.
"I very much appreciate Mr. Mike Crockett and his team from MWR Yokosuka for giving us such a warm homecoming. It was unexpected but fantastic," said Cmdr. Le. "I'm glad that Lassen has the opportunity to be back in Yokosuka for a little while before our next mission. It will be great to spend some time with families and friends before our next mission."
Operating in the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean, the U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets, covering 48 million square miles and with approximately 60-70 ships, 200-300 aircraft, and 40,000 Sailors and Marines assigned at any time.
For more news from Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/c7f/.