The guided-missile destroyer Stout reached a record 208 days at sea Sept. 26 as part of a deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, near the Middle East and North Africa.
In efforts to mitigate the risk of sailors contracting COVID-19, fewer port visits and more time training at sea have become the norm.
Earlier this year, the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt experienced an outbreak of COVID-19, the handling of which led to the firing of its commanding officer. Now, the TR is planning to deploy again in upcoming months.
When the rest of Destroyer Squadron 26 returned home this summer, the Stout remained to support Task Force 50, Task Force 51/5, and Coalition Task Force Sentinel, the arm of the International Maritime Security Construct responsible for operations, the Navy reported.
The Stout provided overwatch for more than 550 vessels in 139 days of supporting Task Force Sentinel, ensuring open trade was not interfered with.
“USS Stout has been instrumental in maintaining freedom of navigation in the region. Its regular presence has helped to deter potential threats and provide reassurance to the global merchant community,” said Cmdr. Rob Bellfield, commander of CTF Sentinel, in the Navy news release. “I wish to thank the crew for their efforts and wish them all the best during the rest of their deployment.”
Alongside TF 51/5 the ship also practiced island amphibious assault and joint air and surface integration. In support of both the Ike and Nimitz Carrier Strike Groups, the Stout patrolled the Strait of Hormuz and escorted Army logistics support vessels.
While at sea, the crew also achieved another first for the Navy, conducting the first-ever mid-deployment voyage repair at sea. Mid-deployment voyage repairs require significant repair and maintenance to keep the ship running for the remainder of the deployment.
“We are extremely proud of Stout’s accomplishments in theater as they’ve been operating to ensure freedom of navigation,” said NAVCENT boss Vice Adm. Samuel Paparo in a news release. “Under the challenges of COVID-19 and the uncertainty of regional tensions, Stout embodied their motto and prevailed with ‘Courage, Valor and Integrity.’”
Harm Venhuizen is an editorial intern at Military Times. He is studying political science and philosophy at Calvin University, where he's also in the Army ROTC program.