Crew members aboard the destroyer Barry perform an underway replenishment with the oiler Leroy Grumman on Sept. 6 in the Mediterranean Sea. Barry's deployment has been extended as leaders mull military action against Syria. (MC1 Christopher B. Stolz/Navy)
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With the president weighing diplomatic alternatives to strikes on Syria, the crew of one of the destroyers patrolling the eastern Mediterranean as part of a possible strike force received a personal thank-you from the Pentagon chief.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel praised the crew of the destroyer Barry in a Wednesday call to the ship’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Tom Dickinson, for remaining on station beyond their slated return date, should the U.S. order cruise missile strikes against Syria.
The Norfolk, Va.-based Barry just crossed the seven-month mark of its deployment. The extension is dependent on the showdown with Syria and appears to be indefinite, a defense official said.
Barry had been slated to turn over with the destroyer Stout, which deployed in mid-August. They now are stationed in the eastern Mediterranean together, along with the destroyers Ramage and Gravely and the amphibious transport dock San Antonio, which carries forces with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
A week and a half ago, the Pentagon sent home another ship, the destroyer Mahan, which had been deployed for eight months, leaving four destroyers on station. The Barry’s extension signals that officials believe that’s the right number in case strikes are ordered.
Mahan is scheduled to pull into Norfolk on Friday.
Defense officials declined to say whether guided-missile or attack submarines were also on station.
The possible strike force also includes the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, a robust flotilla that includes four destroyers and a cruiser, in the Red Sea; the Truman CSG in the Persian Gulf; and two more amphibs — the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge in the Gulf of Aden and the dock landing ship Carter Hall in the Persian Gulf, both of which carry Marines with the 26th MEU.