USS Jason Dunham Completes Her First Deployment to US 5th Fleet

Guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) transited the Suez Canal, March 16 completing her first deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).

The ship and crew spent approximately six months in the 5th Fleet AOR promoting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.

 “The majority of the world’s commerce is conducted by sea,” said Cmdr. Michael Meredith, Jason Dunham’s commanding officer. “We’re out here ensuring safety and freedom of navigation, which impacts every nation.”

On Dec. 5, Jason Dunham received a distress call from a Pakistani fishing dhow while on a routine counter-piracy patrol in the Arabian Sea. Jason Dunham rendezvoused with the vessel and sent an interpreter and medical corpsman, to render medical assistance. The dhow’s crew member was treated for kidney stones and given a recommended course of treatment.

Meredith said events like the medical assistance also play a key role in the ship’s mission.

 “Anytime a vessel is in distress, fellow mariners have an obligation to respond,” Meredith said. “Providing assistance is an integral part of our mission as it fosters trust in the region and shows we’re here to help.”

While in theater, the crew also made port calls in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, enjoying liberty, participating in community relations projects and performing maintenance on the ship.

Command Master Chief Petty Officer Stephen Vandergrifft said liberty is an important part of mission accomplishment and was proud of the way Jason Dunham Sailors conducted themselves.

 “We approach liberty with the same attitude and professionalism as we do our warfare areas,” Vandergrifft said. “The crew performed admirably while ashore: interacting with locals, learning respect for different cultures and building relationships through community relations projects.”

Meredith mirrored Vandergrifft’s remarks about the crew’s performance while operating in the AOR. Meredith said he is impressed by their attitude and accomplishments, while emphasizing that Jason Dunham is a new ship and approximately 80 percent of the Sailors had never deployed before.

 “I could not be more proud of the officers and crew,” said Meredith. “They rose to every challenge and executed every task with professionalism and enthusiasm. They’ve been away from home a long time and are excited to be heading back for some well-deserved rest and time with their families.”

Jason Dunham is currently deployed to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

Naval Today Staff, March 20, 2013