By Rear Adm. Brian Fort
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific
On Sept. 13, we welcomed USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) to her new homeport here at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
USS Wayne E. Meyer is named for Rear Adm. Meyer, considered the father of Aegis, our Navy’s centralized, automated, command-and-control radar and computerized weapon control system. It’s the Navy’s universal – and integrated – computerized system aboard our guided-missile cruisers and destroyers, including USS Wayne E. Meyer.
Brought to life by Meyer and his team in the early 70s, the Aegis combat system is able to detect threats from all around our ships – as many as 250 targets at the same time. Aegis can detect enemy threats in the air nearly 300 miles away.
Our leaders, from the chief of naval operations to the fleet and type commanders, remind us we steam today in a fast-paced, complex and frequently uncertain world. It’s a world with evolving threats and unpredictable potential adversaries. That’s one reason we can be extremely grateful for the steady and extremely capable Aegis system.
Meyer developed the system while director of surface warfare at the then-new Naval Sea Systems Command. It was just at the end of the Vietnam War but still in the heat of the Cold War, when Meyer brought together a team of top-notch engineers, his “true believers” – STEM volunteers who were willing to stake their reputations on making Aegis a reality.
Meyers integrated women on his team because he saw their skills and ability as well as their determination as members of his team.
He and his volunteers believed in the mission, and their hard work paid off for generations who followed.
The women and men aboard the USS Wayne E. Meyer are also volunteers – professionals who can lead, serve with integrity, rise to a challenge together and critically self-assess their performance. They are committed to continuous improvement and warfighting readiness in service to our nation.
Over the past two years DDG-108 conducted two deployments to the western Pacific, leading the fight for the Carl Vinson Strike Group. In 2017, USS Wayne E. Meyer served as air and missile defense Commander to ensure the safety of the strike group for its six-month deployment. During the 2017 deployment, DDG-108 conducted exercises and drills with key allied partners, the Republic of Korea Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.
In March 2018, USS Wayne E. Meyer and USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) made a historic port visit to Da Nang, Vietnam – the first time a U.S. aircraft carrier visited the country since the end of the Vietnam War in 1973. That was the same year coincidentally – 45 years ago – that Meyer and his team installed Aegis installed aboard the first test ship, USS Norton Sound (AVM 1).
Today, our Navy continues to develop, test and deploy innovative systems on our ships here in the Pacific, including those on the Pearl Harbor waterfront. Aegis continues to evolve as well, embracing new changes in technology. Increasingly, we are also embracing the potential and need for Aegis Ashore.
With the arrival of USS Wayne E. Meyer, named for the “father of Aegis,” to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, we see a dedicated commitment to integrating and maintaining the most technologically advanced ships in the Pacific with updated and advanced capabilities.
I join with the rest of our region/MIDPAC team in welcoming – and integrating – the Sailors and families of USS Wayne E. Meyer as the newest member in our ohana.
Editor’s note: This is the eleventh in a series of namesake blogs by Rear Adm. Brian Fort highlighting the surface ships homeported at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
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