The first of four US Navy destroyers, which will form a centerpiece of NATO's Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), has arrived in its new home port at the Spanish Naval Base of Rota, the western military alliance announced Tuesday.
According to a NATO statement on Tuesday, USS Donald Cook, a multi-mission Missile Defense-capable Aegis Destroyer equipped with the high-tech Aegis combat system, will now be permanently based in Rota.
The destroyer will carry out missile defense, among many other tasks, including maritime security operations, bi-lateral, and multi-lateral training exercises, and NATO operations and deployments, including participation in the Standing NATO Maritime Groups.
"For the first time, a ship of the United States Navy equipped with the Aegis ballistic missile-defense system is permanently based in Europe" said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
"The arrival of the USS Donald Cook marks a step forward for NATO, for European security, and for transatlantic cooperation," the NATO chief added.
NATO said three additional US warships of the same class will join the USS Donald Cook over the next two years. The USS Donald Cook and her sister ships have advanced sensor capabilities and interceptor missiles which can detect and shoot down ballistic missiles.
By hosting these ships, Spain is making a vital contribution to NATO Missile Defense, enhancing the security of Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic Ocean, while shortening the response time for US ships, the alliance stressed.
"In November 2010, at the Lisbon NATO Summit, Heads of State and Government, decided that NATO will develop a missile defense capability to protect all NATO European populations and territory. Interim capability of the system was declared at the NATO Summit in Chicago in 2012. Full capability is foreseen for the first half of the next decade," the statement said.
by RTT Staff Writer
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