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PEARL HARBOR - The guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) returned to its homeport Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after a successful four-month deployment, Feb. 9.
While deployed to the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf with the U.S. 7th Fleet and U.S. 5th Fleet, Hopper promoted security and stability as well as ballistic missile defense.
"What this crew has accomplished not only over the past four-plus months of our surge deployment, but in the months leading up to it, is nothing short of greatness," said Cmdr. Jeff Tamulevich, Hopper's commanding officer. "Hopper has the best Sailors and warfighters in the world, and I am proud to be their commanding officer."
An early highlight to Hopper's deployment was a visit from Secretary of the Navy Robert V. Spencer on Thanksgiving Day. While aboard, Spencer received a tour of the ship, which provided an opportunity for him to speak with Sailors on watch before heading out to the ship's flight deck to address the rest of the crew. He reminded them how much their service means to the country.
"What the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps team represent is the deployed power to keep peace by presence, but [to also] deliver the fight tonight when called on," said Spencer. "You are that team, and you make me really proud."
Hopper, at the time operating with the America Amphibious Ready Group, had the opportunity to exchange Sailors with Her Majesty's Australian Ship HMAS Warramunga (FFH 152). Two groups of six Hopper Sailors made the small boat ride over to Warramunga.
"I was lucky enough to be one of the Hopper Sailors to visit Warramunga, where we received a warm welcome," said Lt. j.g Keelen Collins, Hopper's navigator. "We toured the Australian frigate with counterparts of similar rank and compared ships, crew structure, and lifestyle. It was a fantastic experience visiting a fellow warship in the Gulf and making new acquaintances from the land down under."
Tamulevich said Hopper, a ballistic missile defense asset, provides operational commanders with one of the most lethal and capable warships in the world, fully certified in 20 warfare areas.
"We seamlessly integrated with a myriad of commanders, and the Hopper Team executed all mission tasking like the professionals we are."
Hopper conducted a boarding of underway replenishment oiler USNS Guadalupe (T-AO-200) while working in coordination amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), expeditionary mobile base vessel USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), and 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit during an expanded maritime interdiction operation (EMIO) exercise.
"The EMIO event was an excellent opportunity to flex Hopper's ability to embark a prize crew and practice taking control of an unfamiliar vessel," said Lt. j.g. Alexandra Chan, Hopper's Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure officer. "It was a pleasure to work with our Marine Corps brethren on the America. The 15th MEU were true professionals. I was impressed by their proficiency and appreciated the training they provided our VBSS and combat gunnery team."
During the four-month span, Hopper executed port visits in Bahrain, Singapore, and Guam. Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR)-sponsored tours and events offered during the port visits allowed Sailors to explore and experience the culture of each location.
"We've been at sea for almost 12 of the past 18 months, which has presented many challenges, but we've been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit so many amazing countries and truly see the world," said Quartermaster 3rd Class Rodrigo Hernandez.
Commissioned Sep. 6, 1997, Hopper is named after former U.S. Navy Rear Adm. "Amazing" Grace Hopper, owing to the breadth of her accomplishments as a pioneering computer scientist and naval officer.
Hopper is part of U.S. 3rd Fleet and U.S. Naval Surface Forces. U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy, working constantly with U.S. 7th Fleet. The forces of both fleets complement one another across the spectrum of military operations in the Pacific.