SOUTH CHINA SEA – The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) patrolled the South China Sea from April 12 to June 6.
“It’s important to operate in the South China Sea,” said Cmdr. Joseph A. Torres, Jr., Mustin’s commanding officer. “We remained focused and ready, and the crew of the Mustin rose to the occasion magnificently. I couldn’t be more proud of their performance.”
During her patrol in the South China Sea, Mustin was observed in a professional manner by a host of People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA (N)) warships and aircraft.
“Supporting Seventh Fleet’s mission requires the utmost vigilance in the South China Sea where Mustin and other U.S. Navy assets routinely conduct maritime patrols,” said Lt. Jon Murray, Mustin’s operation’s officer. “Mustin’s bridge and combat information center teams remained absolutely vigilant as we sail in international waters.”
Since the most recent agreement concerning Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) was established in April 2014, Mustin and other U.S. Navy units communicate with foreign warships via this communication method – CUES is standard practice to formally communicate ships’ maneuvering intentions and maintain safety of navigation.
“Since August 2013, Destroyer Squadron 15 DDGs have been patrolling the South China Sea – most importantly, our persistent South China Sea patrollers regularly use CUES to communicate with PLA(N) warships,” said Capt. Shan Byrne, commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15. “Safe interactions with PLA(N) vessels at sea, through CUES and prudent shiphandling, establishes our commitment to maritime security and informs our Chinese counterparts we intend to operate freely in international waters.”
Mustin also conducted daily flight operations with her two embarked MH-60R Seahawk helicopters, assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 51, also known as the “Warlords.”
“Conducting flight operations in the South China Sea required a high level of discipline, situational awareness and coordination with the ship,” said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Newgren, Mustin’s air boss. “It was great to see our ‘Warlord’ flight crews and maintainers rise to the occasion and complete our mission here in a highly professional manner.”
Mustin, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan and assigned to DESRON 15, is on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region.