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Estonia: US Navy ship pulls into Muuga harbor

TALLINN - A U.S. Navy ship, the USS Winston S. Churchill, pulled into Muuga harbor near Tallinn on Monday.

"The United States' commitment to the collective defense under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty remains ironclad. Hosting this advanced naval vessel in Estonia is another example of the importance of maritime domain awareness, our commitment to regional stability, support for our allies, and the importance of force interoperability," U.S. ambassador James Melville was quoted as saying by the U.S. embassy in Tallinn.

Routine port calls such as these strengthen the relationship between Estonia and the U.S. and help to maintain a safe and secure maritime environment. This port visit also provides the ship's crew an opportunity to meet with the people of Tallinn and to experience the rich history and culture of Estonia, the embassy said.

USS Winston S. Churchill, home to 34 officers and 280 enlisted personnel, was built by Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. She took five years to build and was christened on April 17, 1999. The 9,500-ton, 510-foot-long Aegis equipped Arleigh Burke-Class destroyer was commissioned at her homeport of Norfolk, Virginia on March 10, 2001. USS Winston S. Churchill is the only U.S. Navy ship to have a Royal Navy officer assigned as ship's company. As part of the Personnel Exchange Program, Lieutenant Nick Ward, RN, is serving as the ship's navigator for a two-year tour of duty.

The ship's mission is to provide a forward naval presence and ensure the world's oceans remain free and accessible. In order to fulfill her mission, USS Winston S. Churchill is able to conduct prompt and sustained combat operations at sea. The ship is equipped to operate in a high-density, multi-threat environment either independently or as a vital member of a carrier strike group. She is the 31st Arleigh Burke Class destroyer to be built and is capable of fighting air, surface, and subsurface battles simultaneously. The Aegis-equipped destroyer has the AN/SPY-1D phased array radar, the most powerful air search radar in the U.S. Navy's inventory. Besides the 5'' gun, the ship is equipped with a vertical launch system (VLS), close in weapons system (CIWS), torpedo launchers, 50-caliber machine guns, and two SH-60 LAMPS MK III helicopters.  Her four gas turbine engines allow her to reach speeds in excess of 30 knots.

The Russian Navy has brought several of its vessels from the Black Sea and the North Sea to the Baltic Sea, saying that a navy parade to be held on July 29 is behind that.

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