The guided-missile destroyer Paul Ignatius returned to Rota, Spain, on Tuesday from a patrol in the 6th Fleet — its first as a Forward-Deployed Naval Forces-Europe ship.

The Ignatius’ homeport shift from Mayport, Florida, earlier this year aligns with the Navy’s plan to rotate the destroyers based in Rota and comes as the service aims to bolster its destroyer fleet in Spain from four to six warships in the next several years.

During the patrol, which kicked off in August, the ship operated in the Arctic Ocean, Baltic Sea and North Sea conducting theater antisubmarine warfare, air and missile defense, surface warfare training, and exhibiting expeditionary warfare capabilities.

The destroyer integrated with the Kearsarge Amphibious Readiness Group and Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit in the Baltic Sea to conduct interoperability operations with NATO allies. Additionally, the ship participated in the Finnish Navy Command-led exercise “Freezing Winds” in the Baltic Sea, along with units and personnel from 11 other countries.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this crew,” Cmdr. Corry Lougee, executive officer of Paul Ignatius, said in a Navy news release. “We have been operational since February, and this ship continues to excel. Our Sailors executed the most successful homeport change to date, fought through the adversity of patrol, and now return to our new homeport stronger than ever. The mental toughness of this crew is beyond words, and we are so appreciative of the overwhelming support from our families, the base, Destroyer Squadron 60 and the amazing Spanish people of Rota.”

The ship was commissioned in 2019 and is named after former Secretary of the Navy Paul Ignatius, who served during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration.

The destroyer arrived in Rota June 17.

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