New guided-missile destroyer signals U.S. resolve, PACOM chief says

Navy photograph by PO2 Aiyana Pascha

The Navy’s newest Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer sends a signal to allies and adversaries in the Asia-Pacific region that what happens in the region matters to the United States, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command said in Hawaii July 15.

The Asia-Pacific region is inextricably linked to America’s future security and economic prosperity, Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. said during a commissioning ceremony for the USS John Finn at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

“America is a Pacific nation, a Pacific leader and a Pacific power — always has been and always will be,” Harris said.

Smart power, hard power
“We believe in peace through strength — smart power backed by hard power — and the ship’s hard power personified sends a clear signal to our friends and to our adversaries, that we will remain laser-focused on the Indo-Asia Pacific,” the admiral said.

That’s why the United States is sending its best people and its best platforms to the region, Harris said, noting that the USS John Finn is the first new construction ship built from the keel up with the Aegis Baseline 9 weapon system, which enables the ship to simultaneously conduct air warfare and ballistic missile defense.

“That means the John Finn brings both the saber and the shield to the fight,” Harris said. “American know-how to get her done — anytime and anywhere.”

The John Finn’s advanced combat systems, along with the innovative spirit and dedication of the ship’s crew, “are powerful reminders of our readiness to fight tonight. This warship is the embodiment of America’s resolve to protect our homeland and defend our allies,” the admiral said.

No one should doubt that America remains as committed as ever to the vital Asia-Pacific region, he said.

“In my opinion,” Harris said, “we can’t get our most advanced assets here fast enough.”

Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of U.S. Pacific Command, delivers remarks during the commissioning ceremony for the Navy’s newest Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, the USS John Finn, at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, July 15, 2017.

The admiral said that while the ship’s commissioning is a Navy ceremony, and today is a Navy day, “we now live in a world where we must learn, think and fight jointly.”

Today, Harris added, “we go back to the roots of not only America’s Navy but of our Marine Corps, our Army and Air Force as we take special note of what lies at the very core of the joint force, the continuing recognition … of who we are and what we value as military leaders — the absolute nature of accountability, the science of command and the art of leadership.”

USS John Finn
The Navy’s newest destroyer is named after chief aviation ordnanceman Navy chief petty officer John Finn, who on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, manned a .50-caliber machine gun during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor at Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay.  Wounded more than 20 times, he continued to fight until the attacks ended. Finn died in 2010 at age 100.

Finn received the first Medal of Honor of World War II for his heroism.

“USS John Finn is about to join the Pacific Fleet and the Pacom joint team,” Harris said. “This ship and her crew are ready to sail into harm’s way and assume the critical mission of safeguarding our nation’s interests in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.”

The ship’s name is fitting, the admiral added, because the best joint fighting force the world has ever seen exists today “because of the men and women who did their duty, right here on this island, 75 years ago.”