US Naval Destroyer arrives in Simons TownDate: 18 July 2009
By Dean Wingrin
The United States Navy Aegis class guided missile destroyer, USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51), docked in Simon's Town on the morning of Saturday 18 July 2009.
The visit of the US naval vessel to South Africa forms part of the SA Navy's objective of maintaining and enhancing international contact with United States Naval Forces. The Arleigh Burke, home-ported in Norfolk, Virginia, is on a scheduled training deployment to the Sixth Fleet area of responsibility.
The USS Arleigh Burke made her first port visit to South Africa in Durban on Monday 13 July. Two days later, she departed Durban and preceded with a passage exercise en route to Simon's Town with SAN strike craft SAS Galeshewe and the frigates SAS Amatola and SAS Mendi.
The mission of the Arleigh Burke, which left Norfolk on 21 April, is to conduct training on the east coast of Africa, working with the navies of other nations. Having transited the Mediterranean, these partnership building and training operations saw the US destroyer visiting Djibouti and Kenya.
During the passage exercise to Simon's Town, the Arleigh Burke and the Amatola conducted formation Independent Firing Exercises. This involved firing 15 rounds from the 5-inch gun and 500 rounds with the Phalanx Close-In Weapon System at the floating "Killer Tomato". The vessels would then change position and the Amatola would fire at the target using her 76-mm gun.
According to Ensign Martin Treppa, Strike Officer aboard the Arleigh Burke, the South African frigates were the largest and most modern vessels they have seen since leaving the southern coast of Britain and arriving in the Mediterranean.
"It's always great when two partner nations can schedule meaningful and productive events such as these," said Capt. James Tranoris, Commander, Task Force 363. "It not only enhances the professional element of each of our navy's ability to work with one another for a safer maritime domain, but renews the strong ties of partnership we have with South Africa."
Following their departure from Simon's Town this Wednesday, the US destroyer will sail directly to Mauritius, then on to Reunion and Tanzania. The Arleigh Burke is scheduled to return to Norfolk in October.