In this file photo, USS Antietam (CG 54) arrives in Laem Chabang, Thailand, for a port visit during a previous Western Pacific deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Eboni C. Cameron)

SAN DIEGO - Guided missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) will depart San Diego Jan. 3 to conduct a hull swap with USS Cowpens (CG 63) and become part of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) operating from Yokosuka, Japan.

The majority of the ships' crews will remain in their respective locations. Antietam and Cowpens will turn over, 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.

"My crew has worked very hard this past year preparing Antietam for turnover with Cowpens," said Antietam Commanding Officer, Capt. Robert Tortora. "The ship is more than ready. We very much look forward to delivering a mission-ready, upgraded cruiser to 7th Fleet and bringing Cowpens back 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.