Wednesday, August 26, 2009

USS Chafee Returns Home to Pearl Harbor

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Mark Logico, Commander, Navy Region Hawai’i Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) Sailors reunited with families and friends at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Aug. 24, after a Western Pacific deployment.

More than 300 officers and enlisted personnel aboard Chafee played a key role in supporting U.S. maritime strategy, which calls for credible combat power to be continuously postured to protect America's vital interests.

"As a surface ship, with a crew of more than 300 and state of the art technology, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer is the Cadillac of the fleet," said Cmdr. Heedong Choi, commanding officer of Chafee. "We're an integral part of the maritime strategy, providing theater security cooperation along with maritime security operations. We're keeping the ocean safe so that commerce continues to flow."

Chafee deployed Feb. 24 with embarked Helicopter Anti-Submarine Light (HSL) 37, Detachment 1 from Marine Corps Base Kaneohe.

During the deployment, Chafee traveled more than 30,000 nautical miles, performed 46 evolutions of boat operations and 110 sorties of flight operations.

"The Navy is about ships, and it's about the Sailors, and I try to focus on what my crew did," said Choi.

Chafee participated in exercises: Foal Eagle 2009, Malabar 2009 and Cooperation and Readiness Afloat Training (CARAT) 2009.

Chafee operated with the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), amphibious command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) and the Royal Thai Navy's aircraft carrier, HTMS Chakri Narubet, as well as numerous Yokosuka- and Pearl Harbor-based ships.

After completing Foal Eagle, Chafee headed for Sasebo, Japan to participate in Malabar 2009, a multilateral exercise with the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force and the Indian navy. The exercise is designed to increase the interoperability between Indian, Japanese, and U.S. forces and strengthen stability in the Pacific region.

For the last half of the deployment, Chafee conducted bilateral operations in support of CARAT 2009, a series of bilateral exercises. CARAT provided an excellent opportunity to train with Southeast Asian navies including the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Brunei.

In addition to operational missions and training, Chafee crew members volunteered for community relations projects. Their efforts improved conditions at three schools, repaired a walking path to a monastery and helped with a housing development project during port calls to South Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Republic of Philippines.

Choi said that Chafee paid 14 port call visits in 10 countries in the Western Pacific.

"I am proud of my husband," said a Chafee family member waiting at the pier, "but more than that, I am happy to see him return after a long deployment."

Guided missile destroyers operate in support of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, amphibious groups and replenishment groups and are multimission, anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare surface combatants.