Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS Higgins and USS Howard arrived Monday in Yokosuka, Japan to join the forward-deployed team in the 7th Fleet region of responsibility.
Howard and Higgins forward presence directly supports strategy to posture the most capable units forward in the Indo-Pacific region, the U.S. Navy said on Monday.
"We are excited to have Higgins and Howard join our forward-deployed team," Capt. Chase Sargeant, commander of Task Force 71, said in a Navy press release.
"These two ships will be an integral part of the 7th Fleet team for years to come," Sargeant said.
The 7th Fleet, which conducts missions in the Indo-Pacific region, is the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed fleet, according to the branch.
Higgins as an Arleigh Burke Flight II-class destroyer with ballistic missile defense abilities and Howard is a Flight IIA-class destroyer.
Flight IIA destroyers which can embark two MH-60 variant helicopters with improved ballistic missile defense, anti-air, and surface warfare abilities.
"These destroyers are some of the most capable ships our Navy has to offer," Sargeant said. "Adding them to our forward deployed forces is a clear signal of continuing commitment to our partners and allies, and our mutual commitment to maintaining stable regional maritime security."
Sailors and family members were briefed on Commander Naval Forces Japan COVID-19 mitigation measures, the statement said.
The Higgins escorted the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group in its deployment from San Diego earlier this month, with other escorts including the USS O'Kane, USS Chafee, USS Dewey, USS Stockdale, USS Michael Murphy and guided missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain.
The Howard and the USS O'Kane, USS Chafee, USS Dewey, and USS Michael Murphy previously joined U.S. Coast Guard cutters Midgett and Oliver Berry in June in interoperability exercises in the eastern Pacific ocean.