Don’t Give Up the Ship

December 14, 2011

Dear Members and Friends,


MDAA recently had the opportunity to visit one of the United States Navy’s 23 Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Aegis ships docked in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii:  The USS O’Kane (DDG-77).  Today, this ship has the capability to protect and defend an area of up to a few hundred miles in all directions from ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and aircraft.  When coupled with an adjacent Aegis BMD ship, the defended area doubles; additional Aegis BMD ships could increase that coverage exponentially if desired.  This basic concept, coupled with longer range missile defense interceptors, provides the foundation of protecting entire regions, such as Europe, with the Aegis BMD system.  It applies both on ships and on land in Aegis Ashore sites in Poland and Romania that are part of our President’s Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) promise to protect Europe from ballistic missiles.


Moreover, this provides the U.S. Navy more defensive capability and confidence to defend its aircraft carrier battle fleets in open waters as well as pivotal key strategic international waterways throughout the world.  This concept is also enhanced by its links to U.S. Army sensors such as the AN/TPY-2 Forward-Based Radars, which are currently deployed in Japan and Israel and will be deployed in Turkey by the end of the month, to provide much earlier cuing that would allow Aegis BMD missiles to launch earlier and engage outside of their respective ship sensor ranges.  Further, if these BMD Aegis ships are positioned correctly and have the adequate cuing, there is residual capability to defend small areas from much faster ballistic missiles with longer ranges, as was demonstrated by the shooting down of a falling toxic satellite in 2008 by the USS Lake Erie, an Aegis BMD ship.


Today the country of Israel depends heavily  on USS Aegis BMD capability deployed in the Mediterranean Sea, as there is no other missile defense system or platform (including their own) that can intercept ballistic missiles in the upper tier of space deployable in that region.  This also holds true with our defense of U.S. forward operating military bases and allies in the Persian Gulf, two or more U.S. Aegis BMD ships are always deployed in and around that region.


In addition, the United States uses its deployed Aegis BMD ships to defend the upper tier of space around the Korean Peninsula and surrounding seas, where U.S. ships and forward operating military bases are located.  Along with U.S. Aegis BMD ships protecting its U.S. bases in Japan, Japan has its own Aegis BMD CONGO class ships to defend Japan collectively with the United States.  These regional areas, and many more that may need to be defended in the future, are the reason why our Navy is requesting 41 Aegis BMD capable ships, 341 SM-3 Aegis BMD interceptor missiles, and two Aegis Ashore BMD sites by 2016.


The USS O’Kane, like its sister Aegis BMD Destroyer ships, holds 90 missiles in a vertical launch system, which range from Tomahawks to Standard Missile 3 Block 1As.  This offensive and defensive mix of missiles is coupled with a SPY Band Radar and a 3.6 processing Aegis BMD Weapon System that allows the ship to defend itself and simultaneously perform its missile defense mission.  The USS O’Kane has been one of the most capable BMD ships that the Navy has in place today, which is due to the leadership from its officers and sailors that operate, maintain, and command the combat systems as well as the ship’s entire crew that supports their mission.


The USS O’Kane has taken tours to the Persian Gulf as an Aegis BMD capable ship to stabilize the region and has also been involved in Aegis ballistic missile tests off the coasts of Hawaii at the nearby Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai.  The USS O’Kane has approximately 280 sailors and officers on board, currently commanded by Captain Michael Ray, who will sustain a six and a half month deployment out of Pearl Harbor to join the 5th Fleet in the Persian Gulf next year.


The level of pride and professionalism throughout the Pearl Harbor waterfront in support of not only the USS O’Kane, but the other ten Navy Destroyers, Cruisers, Frigates, and eight Navy Los Angeles Class Attack Submarines all home ported in Hawaii, are of excellence and commitment to excellence.  Their belief in the critical mission of the United States Navy and our national security from this Pacific-centered port is sincere and contagious.


The world and our nation need our ships patrolling and defending the international waters to provide peace and to deter against aggression.

“Don’t give up these ships.”

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