U.S. 5th Fleet: Ready to Support and Respond

By By Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command public affairs | May 09, 2018

U.S. FIFTH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS -- USS Monterey (CG 61), USS Laboon (DDG 58) and USS Higgins (DDG 76) played a critical role from the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in the April 13 Tomahawk land attack missiles (TLAM) strikes into Syria.

The three ships launched a total of 60 TLAMs to significantly impact the Syrian regime's ability to develop, deploy and use chemical weapons in the future.

“When called upon by our nations' leaders, Monterey and the combined forces conducted prompt combat operations incident to operations at sea by precisely projecting power ashore,” Capt. Dave Stoner, commanding officer of the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey. “This was a textbook operation executed superbly by well-trained maritime professionals … I could not be more proud of my entire team and their performance.”

From the Red Sea, Monterey fired 30 TLAMs, and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon fired seven TLAMs. 

“Every Sailor aboard contributed to the safe, precise and complete execution of the tasks needed to be in position, on time, with ready equipment and ready Sailors, when the orders arrived,” said Cmdr. Robert Lightfoot, commanding officer of  Laboon. “Just like our ship's namesake, Jake Laboon, we were ready when our moment came, and executed our mission calmly, proficiently and without fear."

From the North Arabian Gulf, the guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins fired 23 TLAMs. 

"My Sailors rigorously trained during deployment workups and continuously during deployment to be ready for all assigned missions, and it paid dividends during this total team win," said Cmdr. Victor Garza, Higgins commanding officer.

President Donald J. Trump announced that the combined forces of the United States, France, and the United Kingdom launched precision strikes against Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities shortly after the strikes. The attack against the targeted capabilities was designed to stop Assad from using banned chemical weapons.

Chemical weapons have been banned since their widespread use during World War I. "The purpose of our action tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons," the president said. "Establishing this deterrent is a vital national security interest of the United States. The combined American, French and British response to these atrocities will integrate all instruments of our national power."

“In summary, in a powerful show of allied unity, we deployed 105 weapons against three targets. That will significantly impact the Syrian regime's ability to develop, deploy and use chemical weapons in the future,” said Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Joint Staff Director.

This is the second time in the past year the United States struck Assad's chemical network. In April 2017, Trump ordered an attack against the Shayrat air base after Syrian aircraft dropped bombs containing the nerve agent sarin. Some 58 missiles hit the aircraft and chemical weapons facilities at the base.