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US sends ballistic missile destroyer to Spain to support NATO missile shield

3 February 2014, 11:54

The US deployed a ballistic missile defense destroyer to Spain to boost NATO's anti-missile shield in Europe. Washington says the deployment is aimed at curbing possible missile threats from Iran while Russia considers the move as a national security threat.

The USS Donald Cook will travel to its new home port of Rota, Spain, as part of the Obama administration's 'phased adaptive approach' for European missile defense. Three other Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers are to be deployed to Rota within the next two years, the Pentagon said in a press release.

'The US has a historically strong partnership with Spain, and the strength of that relationship is exemplified today as the first of four US Navy destroyers departs for Rota, Spain,' Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in provided comments. 'Permanently forward-deploying four ships in Rota will enable us to be in the right place, not just at the right time, but all the time.'

Hagel said the US is committed 'to deploying missile defense architecture there,' as a part of Phase 3 of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA).

The other three destroyers tasked for fielding in Spain are the USS Ross, USS Porter and USS Carney. All of the ships are to be equipped with Aegis systems and Standard Missile 3 Block 1B interceptors designed to defeat short- and medium-range ballistic missile threats.

The US Navy estimates that 1,239 military personnel will move to Spain's port of Rota as part of the EPAA plan, according to the Congressional Research Service. The move will cost $92 million, with another $100 million being spent annually on maintaining the ships in Spain.

In the meantime, if the US continues boosting its anti-missile capabilities through developing its missile defense system in Europe, Russia may eventually be forced to withdraw from the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), the Russian Foreign Ministry's top disarmament official, Mikhail Ulyanov, has warned.

'We are concerned that the US is continuing to build up missile defense capability without considering the interests and concerns of Russia," Ulyanov told Interfax. "Such a policy can undermine strategic stability and lead to a situation where Russia will be forced to exercise [its] right of withdrawal from the [START] treaty."

Two US warships, marines come to Black Sea - source

The guided missile frigate USS Ramage (DDG-61) and the command ship USS Mt. Whitney with 600 marines deployed aboard have come to the Black Sea, a military diplomat told the Russian news agency on Monday. 'The frigate USS Ramage and the flag ship of the US Sixth Fleet, the USS Mt. Whitney, have arrived in the Black Sea. They have passed through the Dardanelles and Bosporus Straits lately with Turkish consent. More than 600 U. marines are stationed aboard the ships,' the source said.

Judging by the vector of their movement, one may presume the US warships are headed towards the Ukrainian Black Sea coast.

A visit of the US warships to the Russian territorial waters is not on the agenda as of yet, the source said.

The USS Mt. Whitney, a Blue Ridge class command ship, is the flag ship of the US Sixth Fleet. It has a displacement of 18,400 tonnes, a length of 189 meters and a speed of 23 knots. The ship carries defensive artillery weaponry and a helicopter.

The USS Ramage (DDG-61) is a guided missile frigate commissioned on July 22, 1995. It has a displacement of 8,775 tonnes and a speed of 32 knots. It carries tactical strike weapons, Tomahawk cruise missiles, guided air defense missiles, artillery, anti-sub, mine and torpedo armaments, and a helicopter. The ship has a crew of 337, including 23 officers.

The Pentagon told reporters earlier that the ships would pay the visit as a part of standard military planning for security purposes during the Sochi Olympic Games.

Voice of Russia, Interfax, RT, National Journal, Press TV

Source: voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_02_03/ US-sends-ballistic-missile-destroyer-to-Spain-to- support-NATO-missile-shield-8809/

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