The Bulkeley missile destroyer left Norfolk, Va., on Thursday for its new homeport in Rota, Spain – one of several recent changes to the destroyer fleet based there.
The homeport change, which aligns with the Navy’s plan to rotate Rota-based destroyers, also comes as the service aims to boost its fleet of destroyers in Spain from four to six warships at the course of the next few years.
Bulkeley joins destroyers Arleigh Burke, Roosevelt, Paul Ignatius and the 79th Maritime Strike Helicopter Squadron as part of Naval Force-Europe’s forward deployed assets based in Rota.
Guided missile destroyers Ross and Porter are also currently based in Rota, but are expected to move their homeports to Norfolk as part of the FDNF-E rotation in the coming months once Bulkeley arrives in 6th Fleet.
Meanwhile, it’s unclear which additional ships will be heading to Rota. Italian-based US 6th Fleet officials told the Navy Times in June that the other two destroyers would not arrive in Rota until at least fiscal year 2024.
According to White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, the enhanced destroyer fleet “will help increase the maritime presence of the United States and NATO and all relevant maritime domains in the Euro-Atlantic area.”
“The crew of the Bulkeley have worked extremely hard over the past year preparing to join our forward deployed forces in Rota and to work with our partners and allies in the region,” said Captain Mac Harkin, commanding officer of the Bulkeley, in a Navy statement. Release. “We are excited to join our sister ship and our already spearheaded aviation units to secure our allies, respond to threats as needed and provide support for global operations.”
In June, the Commanding Officer and Chief of Command of the Bulkeley were relieved due to a “loss of confidence” in their leadership abilities. Harkin has served as commander ever since.
The Bulkeley was commissioned in 2001.