NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - The USS Laboon is off and making history Wednesday when the guided missile destroyer left Norfolk with one of the most advanced weapons systems in the Navy.
The USS Laboon got underway early Wednesday morning, but the ship's commanding officer has been preparing the crew for this deployment for at least 12 months.
"This is a strategic, national mission," Cmdr. James Storm told WAVY.com. "This is a priority of the President of the United States."
That sense of urgency heightened by recent missile tests in Iran and intelligent reports that show sophisticated ballistic missile technology is more available than ever to nations hostile to the United States and our allies.
"Technology has kept pace with the proliferation of these threats and we have the capability to counter those threats," Storm said.
That capability is the Ballistic Missile Defense System the ship was outfitted with last July. A number of Norfolk-based destroyers are equipped with the BMD system. Those vessels are the cornerstone of what is known as the president's "Phased Adaptive Approach" to protect our European allies from the growing ballistic missile threat.
"The nature of war has changed dramatically since World War II," Bill Morine said. His son, Grant, is a junior officer on the USS Laboon. "It's great to see our son and this ship and all the people on board serving at the forefront, pioneering in new warfare on behalf of the defense of our nation."
The opportunity to make history does not go unrecognized by the crew.
"To go out and actually do something for my country instead of sitting back and watching other people do it," Thomas Taylor said.
Like many of his shipmates, this will be Seaman Taylor's first deployment. Fir this mission, though, their youth may actually be an advantage.
"They're more technologically savvy than I probably was when I first came in," Storm said.
All are possessing the same devotion to duty.
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