The guided-missile destroyers Donald Cook and Winston Churchill never fired a shot in Friday’s allied airstrikes against Syria, but as it turns out, they were key to the mission’s success.
The strikes were in retaliation for suspected chemical attacks by the Assad regime against a rebel-held Syrian town.
A source familiar with White House war planning told Bloomberg News that the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers were positioned in the Mediterranean to be an intentional ploy to distract Syrian and Russian forces and undermine any attempted counterattack.
When President Trump first threatened to strike Syria, the Donald Cook was the only destroyer in the region. As talks of airstrikes intensified, many presumed it would be the vessel to carry out the strike.
But on Friday night, the Cook was silent.
The coalition launched 105 weapons against Syria, but zero came from the Cook or the Churchill.
To Syria’s surprise, many of the missiles came from the Red Sea. The cruiser Monterey fired 30 Tomahawk missiles, and the destroyer Laboon fired seven.
Other missiles came from the North Arabian Gulf and the eastern Mediterranean Sea, where the destroyer Higgins and the Virginia-class submarine John Warner were called into action, respectively.
The three-pronged attack successfully hit a trio of targets which the U.S. considered to be at the core of the Syrian chemical weapons program. Despite earlier threats, high-end Russian defense systems made no attempt to intercept the missiles.