NORFOLK- The two Norfolk-based ships sent by the Pentagon to the waters off Libya left here with entirely different orders.
USS McFaul left Naval Station Norfolk on February 26 for what the Navy called maritime security and counter piracy operations.
USS Laboon deployed to the Mediterranean Sea on July 11th to provide ballistic missile defense for the 28 nations of NATO.
Both Arleigh Burke Class guided missile destroyers are equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles, which can strike targets with pinpoint precision from hundreds of miles away.
U.S. officials insist neither ship has specific mission orders. They’re being sent in response to the Libyan crisis to give American command authority leaders “flexibility.”
The commanding officers of both warships said before deploying that their crews embraced their missions, understood that being flexible is critical and that safety is a top concern.
“There is always a risk,” McFaul Commanding Officer CDR Daniel Gillen said. “There’s risk in any kinetic operation to just seamanship. I’m out on the highs seas, so there’s always a high risk. And I’m always conscious of that and one of my priorities is bringing all of my 295 sailors back safely.”
When the Libyan situation began unfolding, Laboon was involved in a port visit in Crete. The ship has now been moved to a position of the coast of Libya. McFaul was outside the Strait of Gibralter and is said to be a few days away.
The move was made a day before the arrests of four people suspected of helping "instigate the events at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in which the U.S. ambassador and three embassy staff were killed," Reuters reported.
ABC News reported Thursday that one of the victims was a former Navy SEAL - 42-year-old Glen Doherty from the Boston area.