The guided-missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke, seen here arriving at its homeport in Rota, Spain, April 11, 2021, has received a service life extension.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke, seen here arriving at its homeport in Rota, Spain, April 11, 2021, has received a service life extension. (Eduardo Otero/U.S. Navy)

The Navy last week approved plans to keep the guided-missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke in service another five years, meaning the first-in-class ship will have sailed for four decades before its retirement.

The destroyer, homeported at Naval Station Rota, Spain, was slated for decommissioning in 2026 at the end of its anticipated 35-year service life. With the extension, the ship will operate until fiscal year 2031, according to a March 14 news release from Naval Surface Force Atlantic.

First commissioned in 1991, the Arleigh Burke would be 40 years old at the end of its extended service life.

The Navy approved the extended service “based on the lethality she delivers” and a “thorough assessment of her material condition and adherence to class maintenance plans,” Naval Surface Force Atlantic spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Jason Fischer said by email Wednesday.

Additional service extensions for other Arleigh Burke-class destroyers will be made with “similar criteria” on a “hull-by-hull basis,” he said.

The extension is a “testament to the success” of the Navy’s guided-missile destroyer program, which produced 71 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers over the past three decades, Rear Adm. Brendan McLane, commander of Naval Surface Force Atlantic, said in the release.

“DDG 51’s are the best warships in history. They demonstrate that there are no limits to what we can accomplish with a strong American Navy-industrial partnership,” he said in the release. “Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are the backbone of the Navy’s surface fleet and critical to the Nation and the Navy today and long into the future.”

Another 11 more destroyers of the Arleigh Burke class are under construction with 18 more under contract, Fischer wrote in his email.

Aegis-equipped destroyers already in service are undergoing or will undergo modernization that ensures they “possess the latest long-range fires and terminal defense capabilities,” according to the Navy release.

The Aegis Combat System, first deployed aboard a Navy vessel in 1983, is “a total weapon system, from detection to kill,” according to the Navy.

At its heart is the AN/SPY radar, a high-powered radar capable of tracking more than 100 targets.

“USS Arleigh Burke completed most of its modernization during a major maintenance availability prior to homeport shifting to Rota in 2021,” Fischer wrote. “The modernization is an on-going program – Arleigh Burke will receive further combat systems and network upgrades in-theater.”

Named after Adm. Arleigh Albert Burke, the longest serving Chief of Naval Operations in U.S. history, the destroyer spent the first 30 years of its service based in Norfolk, Va., before relocating to Rota in 2021 as part of the 6th Fleet.

The ship is now on its third patrol, according to the news release.

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Alex Wilson covers the U.S. Navy and other services from Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Originally from Knoxville, Tenn., he holds a journalism degree from the University of North Florida. He previously covered crime and the military in Key West, Fla., and business in Jacksonville, Fla.
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Jennessa Davey is a reporter and photographer at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, who enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2016. Jennessa was named the Marine Corps’ videographer of the year in 2018 and photographer of the year in 2019.

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