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The USS O'Brien sits pier-side Wednesday at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan.
The USS O'Brien sits pier-side Wednesday at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. (Jim O'Donnell / S&S)
The USS O'Brien sits pier-side Wednesday at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan.
The USS O'Brien sits pier-side Wednesday at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. (Jim O'Donnell / S&S)
Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Larson (far left), lowers a Vertical Launch System component to the deck of USS O'Brien with assistance of Petty Officers 2nd Class John Linke (hidden middle) and Mark Wilson (right). The O'Brien sailors were removing the VLS system components in preparation for the ship's decommissioning.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Larson (far left), lowers a Vertical Launch System component to the deck of USS O'Brien with assistance of Petty Officers 2nd Class John Linke (hidden middle) and Mark Wilson (right). The O'Brien sailors were removing the VLS system components in preparation for the ship's decommissioning. (Jim O'Donnell / S&S)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The USS O’Brien, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, since 1992, will return to its former permanent base of San Diego in early May, Navy officials announced Tuesday.

The 27-year-old O’Brien is to be decommissioned later this year as part of the Navy’s plan to phase out all Spruance-class destroyers, according to a U.S. Naval Forces Japan news release.

The O’Brien’s replacement will be the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald, the release said.

The Fitzgerald, now permanently based in San Diego, Calif., is to arrive in Yokosuka in late July, according to the release.

Ship officials reached Wednesday afternoon were unable to comment on what will happen with the ship’s crew. Some options allow O’Brien sailors to stay in Yokosuka, while others have the sailors move with their ship.

“It will be hard to leave Japan” and the forward-deployed naval forces, said O’Brien’s commanding officer, Capt. Gene F. Harr, in an e-mail response to questions. “But we, the crew of O’Brien — past and present — are all the richer for our experiences, which will undoubtedly make us better citizens in our own country, given our insight on world affairs.”

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