Hull Swap: Ingenuity, Innovation, Improvement

By Rear Adm. Frank Ponds
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

This week, the guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97) arrives to become part of our team at Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific at Pearl Harbor.  The arrival is another signal of Navy’s commitment to upgrade platforms, conserve resources and rebalance assets strategically to the Pacific.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59) departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for the last time from its homeport in Hawaii, Jan. 3, 2013. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dustin W. Sisco/Released)

The guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59) departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for the last time from its homeport in Hawaii, Jan. 3, 2013. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dustin W. Sisco/Released)

 

The commanding officers and crews of USS Halsey and USS Russell (DDG 59) executed a smooth ship rotation perfectly last month in San Diego.  While the ship USS Halsey is new to the Pearl Harbor waterfront, many of the crewmembers formerly served aboard USS Russell.  Their families are welcoming them home this week, and we are all welcoming about two dozen new crewmembers and families to Hawaii and our ohana.

Here in Hawaii we are actively pursuing ways to significantly reduce and defer costs due to the fiscal challenges our Navy currently faces. Swapping the ship but not the Sailors, an initiative begun more than a year ago, is an innovative means of saving taxpayers approximately $35 million.  Savings were achieved through economy-of-scale repairs through mid-life upgrades.  Simultaneously, the hull swap provided stability to our Sailors and their families by allowing them to remain in the same homeport.

130125-N-SK590-035  SAN DIEGO (Jan. 25, 2012) Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97) board their newly-assigned ship after a hull swap with guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59). Hull swaps, or ship rotations, are part of the Navy's long-term plan to routinely replace older ships with newer more capable ships. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tim D. Godbee/Released)

Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97) board their newly-assigned ship after a hull swap with guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59), Jan. 25, 2013. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tim D. Godbee/Released)

 

USS Halsey brings different and in some areas improved capabilities to the middle Pacific. Halsey is capable of embarking helicopters, as one example, and has improved air defense capabilities.  While we honor the service and achievements of USS Russell, we look forward to the capability improvements USS Halsey represents.

USS Halsey’s namesake is Fleet Adm. William “Bull” Halsey Jr., commander of the U.S. 3rd Fleet in the Pacific War against Imperial Japan.  The ship belongs in historic Pearl Harbor, where Admirals Halsey, Spruance and Nimitz once served.

USS Halsey is expected to deploy to 3rd, 7th and 5th Fleet areas of operation in support of Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet.  All of our ships in the Middle Pacific are positioned to protect strategic crossroads, to work with and reassure regional partners, to support humanitarian assistance missions, and to bring advanced combat capabilities if required.

From our strategic base here in Hawaii – center point for rebalancing to the Pacific – we are committed to maintaining warfighting readiness, operating forward and preserving freedom of the maritime domain.

Editor’s note: The 11 surface ships of MIDPAC include three guided-missile cruisers: USS Chosin (CG 65), USS Lake Erie (CG 70) and USS Port Royal (CG 73); seven guided-missile destroyers: USS Chafee (DDG 90), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), USS Halsey (DDG 97), USS Hopper (DDG 70), USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112), USS O’Kane (DDG 77) and USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60); and one guided-missile frigate: USS Reuben James (FFG 57). They are homeported at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, on Oahu, and train at Pacific Missile Range Facility, at Barking Sands, Kauai.