The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59) completed an Oceania transit and presence operation Jan. 18 interacting with partners and upholding commitments with the Republic of Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Papua New Guinea.
USS Russell (DDG 59) conducted a cooperative deployment with the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) National Police Maritime Surveillance Division Patrol Boats FSS Palikir and FSS Micronesia in Pohnpei State, FSM, reinforcing US commitment to the safety and security of the Federated States of Micronesia.
Russell, part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, is on a scheduled deployment to the 7th Fleet area of operations. As the U.S. Navy’s largest forward deployed fleet, with its approximate 50-70 ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and 20,000 Sailors in the area of operations at any given time, 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests throughout a free and open Indo-Pacific area of operations to foster maritime security, promote stability, and prevent conflict alongside 35 other maritime nations and partners.
“USS Russell is honored to work with COFA states to foster our enduring partnerships in the region,” said Cmdr. Ryan Rogers, Russell’s commanding officer. “Our operations showed our support to these fine nations in a wonderful region of the world that is rich with naval history.”
The COFA agreement establishes the relationships of free association between the United States and the three Pacific Island sovereign states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.
“All nations benefit from free and open access to the seas,” said Capt. Steve McDowell, commodore, Destroyer Squadron Twenty Three. “Together with our allies and partners, we are able to ensure maritime security and adherence to international rules and norms that have allowed all nations to continue to prosper. We’re extremely proud to operate with our COFA partners and to continue to enhance our strong partnership.”
Russell’s transit and operations across Oceania demonstrate the U.S. commitment to upholding its agreement with the COFA states, while also building trust with emerging strategic partners like PNG, in support of advancing international rules and norms of the high seas.
“My crew and I enjoyed the opportunity to conduct a cooperative deployment with USS Russell,” said Lt. Cmdr. Paulino Yangitesmal, commanding officer of FSS Palikir. “Even without COVID interrupting our ability to complete at sea training with like-minded partners, it is rare for us to meet up with a warship of this size and capability. We look forward to further opportunities as they become available.”
(Courtesy photo by U.S. Defense Attache Office, Kolonia, FSM)