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NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, May 22) – The U.S.S. Chung-Hoon, a multi mission guided missile destroyer of the United States Navy departed Nuku’alofa on May 18 after visiting Tonga for three days.

The ship, which arrived from Port Villa, Vanuatu, is the 43rd ship in the Arleigh Burke Class of Aegis guided missile destroyers – the U.S. Navy’s most powerful Destroyer fleet.

Dave Welch, the Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Chung-Hoon (DDG-93) said that the main purpose of their visit to Tonga was to give its 300-crew members, consisting of 250 men and 50 women the liberty to enjoy a new culture and to meet the people of Tonga. There were also two Tongans in the crew. A sunset reception was held onboard the destroyer on May 15.

The Commanding Officer said the ship is based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. They were deployed on January 5 and would soon be sailing back home to Hawaii.

The destroyer is named Chung-Hoon in honor of the first Hawaiian Admiral, Gordon Pai’ea Chung-Hoon (1910-79), a recipient of the Navy Cross. The ship has multiple warfare capabilities such as air defence, surface warfare, land attack and submarine warfare. It is 150m in length and 9,200 tons.

He said the ship’s primary weapon is its missile launcher and it has 96 missile cells on board as well as standard torpedoes and a five inch 62 caliber gun. The ship is also capable of launching two helicopters and utilizes the latest in computer technology called the negis combat system, which has combat radar weapon displays.

Sailors are expected to visit the capital Nuku’alofa and take tours to the rural villages while on their three-day visit.

The ship is the first US Navy fleet to visit Tonga in the last two years.

May 24, 2006

Matangi Tonga Magazine: www.matangitonga.to/home/

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