The US Navy will deploy alternative guided-missile destroyers to cover gaps left by two ballistic missile defense-capable destroyers that were damaged in collisions with merchant ships, amidst growing nuclear threats by North Korea.
The Norfolk-based cruiser USS Monterey (CG-61) and Pearl Harbor-based destroyer USS O’Kane (DDG-77) will be deployed to assist in BMD missions, two Navy officials told USNI News. The deployments will last about six months.
O’Kane was scheduled for an independent patrol to an unspecified location before it was tasked to U.S. 7th Fleet for BMD operations in the Western Pacific, whereas, Monterey will conduct an independent BMD deployment in the U.S. 6th and 5th Fleet areas of operation in Europe and the Middle East to ease to overall BMD burden for the service, the officials said.
Both ships will share the U.S. BMD burden left after collisions with merchant ships sidelined guided-missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and USS John S. McCain (DDG-56).
Fitzgerald suffered a June 17 collision off of Japan that resulted in the death of sailors and McCain was struck by a merchant oiler off of Singapore resulting in the death of 10 sailors.