The guided-missile destroyer USS Stout (DDG 55) returned to Norfolk Va. , earlier this month, following a six-month deployment to the 6th Fleet Area of Operations in support of Navy Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), maritime domain awareness, and theater security cooperation.
During this deployment Stout completed the inaugural Navy Ballistic Missile Defense deployment in the European Command (EUCOM) Area of Responsibility. Stout is one of only two ships, along with USS Ramage (DDG 61), on the east coast with BMD capability.
""BMD is definitely in high demand,"" said Cmdr. Mark J. Oberley, commanding officer of USS Stout. ""Our last deployment to the European theater was specifically to provide a ballistic missile defense capability to EUCOM if needed. We deployed independently in support of this mission. Independent deployments are fairly routine. Historically U.S. Navy ships have deployed independently, going out on single deployments for multiple engagements around the world. ""
Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, visited Stout on Sept. 23 and praised her crew for their successful mission in 6th Fleet, and the importance of Stout's BMD capability in support of global mission requirements.
""The global BMD mission and the capabilities provided by USS Stout and her fine crew are more important now than ever before,"" said Chilton. ""These capabilities are proven and highly adaptable to the security environment we currently face. Stout's very successful deployment in 6th Fleet is testament to the crew's tremendous professionalism, their readiness, and their resolve to carry out the BMD mission anytime they are called upon. ""
Stout deployed from Norfolk in March, and traveled through or operated in the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, and Black Sea. When not at sea, Stout executed cooperative maritime security training and theater security cooperation missions ashore during port visits to Israel, Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, and Turkey.
There are 18 ships equipped with Aegis BMD, and all but Stout and Ramage are currently based in the Pacific. By the end of Fiscal Year 2010, the Navy will have 21 BMD-capable Aegis ships, and is building towards 32 ships in 2015.
The three ships already set to get upgrades are the cruisers Vella Gulf and Monterey, based at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. , and the destroyer The Sullivans, based at Naval Station Mayport, Fla. The six additional ships haven't been named.
Navy ships on Ballistic Missile Defense patrol have the ability to detect and track ballistic missiles of all ranges, including Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and report track data to the missile defense system. This capability shares tracking data to cue other missile defense sensors and provides data to aim and fire Ground-based Midcourse Defense interceptors located at Fort Greely, Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
Stout is the 4th ship in the Arleigh Burke Class of Aegis guided missile destroyers. These highly-capable, multi-mission ships conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection, in support of the National Maritime Strategy. The ship has a crew of approximately 300 Sailors.