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HONOLULU The Pearl Harbor fleet is changing shape with at least three surface ships being retired and a new destroyer named after a Hawaii-based SEAL on its way.
Pearl Harbor next month will welcome the new destroyer, the Michael Murphy, named after the SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 lieutenant and Medal of Honor recipient who died in eastern Afghanistan in 2005. Murphy was part of a four-man team that battled more than 50 enemy fighters.
The 510-foot guided missile destroyer was commissioned Oct. 6 in New York City and made its first port call Tuesday in Barbados on the way to its new home port in Hawaii.
Other changes are in the works for the fleet as well, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. A destroyer from San Diego will be traded for one at Pearl Harbor, and more of the Navy's latest-generation Virginia-class attack subs will be sent to Hawaii.
Plans call for shrinking the 11-ship surface fleet and growing the 19-sub fleet. Bruce Smith, a retired Navy captain and former chief of staff for the U.S. Pacific Fleet submarine force, said the changes are a sign of the new national defense policy emphasizing Asia and the Pacific being put into action.
The Navy is retiring older ships and shifting 60 percent of its fleet to the Pacific in what is a departure from the 50-50 Atlantic and Pacific split.
U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said the state remains critical in the new defense strategy with Pearl Harbor's submarines and combatant ships playing a significant role for the U.S. Pacific Command.
"As we wind down from a decade spent fighting two wars, we must strategically change our mix of aircraft, ships and submarines to account for a renewed focus on the Asia-Pacific region," he said in an email.
The first of the changes comes Oct. 26 with a decommissioning ceremony for the Pearl Harbor frigate Crommelin, which is destined for sale to a foreign country after 30 years of service, the Navy said.
The Navy's only other frigate at Pearl Harbor, the Reuben James, will be decommissioned on Aug. 30, 2013. It also will be sold to a foreign navy.