Sailors aboard guided missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) departed August 10, for an independent deployment to maintain maritime stability and security and ensure access, deter aggression, and defend U.S., allied and partner interests around the globe. This deployment comes in the wake of countless hours of training, maintenance and practice. Sailors aboard Churchill will also be navigating the continuing global pandemic, following strict protocols to keep the crew healthy while maintaining the highest states of operational readiness. All personnel assigned to the ship completed a minimum, 14-day quarantine and were tested for COVID-19 prior to getting underway.
“This Team of Teams has trained hard for the last year, prepping to go overseas and execute whatever tasking and mission sets come our way,” said Cdr. Timothy F. Shanley, Churchill’s commanding officer. “This crew has very much taken extra steps compared to the typical Navy deployment, in having to take proper pre-deployment quarantine measures ahead of embarking the ship.”
“HSM-70 stands firm in our commitment to the mission, undeterred by the challenges imposed upon us by COVID-19,” said Lt. Cdr. Mark D. Kummer, Churchill’s air boss.
“We are a front line asset ‘warship,’ expected to be combat ready with the potential to conduct prompt and sustained combat operations at sea, said Cdr. Timothy F. Shanley, Churchill’s commanding officer. “However, this year is the unprecedented 2020, and this crew has had to first adapt to being a ‘COVID warship’ by tackling the various challenges of keeping the coronavirus off our ship so we can get underway and properly execute the nation’s bidding, on time. I am blessed to be the Captain of such a fine crew of professional surface warriors, each with their different strengths.”
Most recently, the ship participated in a rigorous Task Force Exercise (TFEX) alongside other U.S. and other coalition ships. A scenario-driven training event, TFEX serves as the certification exercise for independent deploying ships and is designed to test mission readiness and performance in integrated operations. The ship is deployed with “Spartans” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 70.
Unique to the fleet, Churchill is the only U.S. Navy ship to have a Royal Navy officer assigned permanently to ship’s company as a symbol of the partnership between the British and American navies. It is also the only U.S. Naval vessel to fly a foreign ensign – the Royal Navy’s White Ensign is flown alongside the Stars and Stripes. Churchill is the fifth U.S. warship to be named in honor of an English subject. The ship, whose motto is “In War: Resolution, In Peace: Goodwill,” was commissioned in 2001 as the 81st Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.