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Engineering issues delay USS Sterett’s departure to Western Pacific

The guided-missile destroyers USS Sterett, foreground, and USS Dewey maneuver into formation in the Pacific Ocean during exercise Valiant Shield 2014. DECLAN BARNES/U.S. NAVY PHOTO

A San Diego-based destroyer is back on track toward the Western Pacific after engineering issues forced it to delay its deployment.

The USS Sterett, which departed Naval Base San Diego along with the USS Dewey on Feb. 6, returned to port after sailors heard unusual noises in the ship’s main reduction gear, Naval Surface Forces spokesman Lt. Andrew DeGarmo told Stars and Stripes on Thursday.

The crew resolved the issue and the ship departed again on Thursday. The Navy did not provide further details regarding the mechanical issues.

DeGarmo said the Dewey’s departure was not affected by the Sterett’s delay.

Both destroyers are scheduled to link up with the Japan-based USS Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group to operate under the Navy’s “Up-Gunned ESG” — a concept that pairs troop-carrying amphibious ships with surface vessels like the Sterett and Dewey.

The Wasp — an amphibious-assault ship that recently arrived at its new homeport at Sasebo Naval Base and can handle F-35B stealth fighters capable of short takeoff and vertical landings — also bolsters the group’s offensive capabilities.

“Surface ships like Dewey and Sterett enhance an amphibious force’s ability to conduct its primary mission of ship-to-shore movement in the littorals, particularly in a contested environment,” said a Navy statement. “Dewey and Sterett possess important sensors and weapons to detect and neutralize undersea, surface, and air threats that are vital to protecting the amphibious force.”

The Sterett and Dewey are the latest 3rd Fleet ships to deploy the Western Pacific, an area usually patrolled by the 7th Fleet. The San Diego-based USS Carl Vinson strike group began a deployment to the region last month. In addition to the aircraft carrier, the group includes Carrier Air Wing 2, a pair of guided-missile destroyers, a guided-missile cruiser and more than 6,000 sailors.

The Dewey last made headlines last October after it suffered a mechanical failure that led to a fuel spill near San Diego. It leaked 700 gallons of lubricating oil approximately 4 miles off the coast of Imperial Beach.

Last May, Dewey conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation, sailing within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef, a disputed South China Sea island controlled by China.


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