In this file photo, USS Antietam (CG-54) departs San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Laurie Dexter)

YOKOSUKA, Japan - The U.S. Navy announced today the most advanced guided missile cruiser, USS Antietam (CG 54), will conduct a hull swap early in 2013 with USS Cowpens (CG 63) and become part of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) operating out of Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan.

As part of the U.S. Navy's long range plan to put the most advanced and capable units forward, Antietam has completed its mid-life guided missile cruiser modernization and is the most capable ship of its class. The majority of the ships' crews will remain in their respective locations. Antietam and Cowpens will turnover, execute a hull swap and exchange command. The San Diego crew will relinquish command of Antietam, take command of Cowpens, and return to San Diego.

This force structure change is part of the Navy's long range FDNF plan to rotate newer and more capable units forward. Increasing FDNF capability supports the United States' commitment to the defense of Japan and the security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region.