The crew of the USS Antietam is scheduled to take the guided-missile cruiser to its new home port in Japan beginning today, and then bring the USS Cowpens — the same type of ship — to San Diego, the Navy announced Wednesday.
The 400 or so Cowpens crew members will man the Antietam at its new base in Yokosuka, Japan, according to the Navy.
The procedure is called a “hull swap.”
A statement by the Navy said the switch is part of a plan to move newer and more capable vessels to forward operating positions to bolster the defense of Japan, and improve security in Asia and the Pacific Ocean.
However, the Cowpens — the vessel set to leave Japan — is four years newer and of the same class of cruisers, according to its online records. The Navy could not immediately answer questions about the discrepancy.
“My crew has worked very hard this past year preparing Antietam for turnover with Cowpens,” said Capt. Robert Tortora, commanding officer of the Antietam. “The ship is more than ready. We very much look forward to delivering a mission-ready, upgraded cruiser to Seventh Fleet and bringing Cowpens back to San Diego.”
The 567-foot Antietam is named for the site of a bloody Civil War battle that resulted in more American deaths than any single day in history.
The Cowpens, which is part of the same class of ships, is named after a Revolutionary War battle.