The Navy announced Tuesday it plans to rotate out the four destroyers currently based in Spain with newer ships and add a helicopter squadron.
Four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers have served as Forward Deployed Naval Force-Europe (FDNF-E) ships in Rota, Spain since 2014-2015. They consist of the USS Donald Cook (DDG-75), USS Ross (DDG-71), USS Porter (DDG-78), and USS Carney (DDG-64).
These ships will be rotated out in a staggered way, with the first rotation with new ships set to start in 2020 and the transition is expected to be finished by spring 2022. During the rotation, the FDNF-E ships will continue assigned missions in the 6th Fleet area of operations.
The Aegis-equipped destroyers were first deployed to Rota as part of the Obama administration’s 2011 European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) to missile defense in Europe. DDG-75 first arrived in February 2014, marking the start of EPAA. The ships feature the Lockheed Martin [LMT]-built Aegis Combat System and Raytheon [RTN] SM-3 missile interceptor.
Patroling destroyers are planned to work with two Aegis Ashore facilities in Romania and Poland to defend against low-number ballistic missile threats. The Romanian facility is complete while the Poland site is delayed and still under construction.
The current destroyers will be replaced with “newer, modernized ships in order to posture the most capable forces forward in the U.S. European Command area of responsibility,” the Navy said in a statement.
The service also intends to relocate a helicopter maritime strike squadron to support the destroyers. The Navy said they will “enhance the multi-mission roles of these ships.”
“Continuing to operate the FDNF-E destroyers out of Rota, Spain demonstrates the enduring relationship between the U.S. Navy and our Spanish naval allies,” the Navy added.
In March, U.S. European Command head Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti told Senators during a hearing he requested two additional destroyers be stationed in his area of responsibility to keep up with Russia’s modernizing fleets (Defense Daily, March 5).