The US destroyer USS Jason Dunham sailed into Devonport Naval Base on Friday to begin a five day visit.
The 300 sailors were looking forward to getting to know Plymouth this weekend and a few tourist attractions were on their list of things to do, including the Barbican to see the famous Mayflower steps.
The Commanding Officer of the 9,000 tonne ship, Commander Darren Dugan, said: “My crew and I are excited to visit the UK, one of our nation’s closest allies and important maritime partners. Not only do we get to interact with our Royal Navy shipmates at their largest Naval Base, but we will also have the opportunity to visit the Mayflower steps, the launching point of our own nation’s history. We have just completed BALTOPS with British ships HMS Ocean, HMS Iron Duke and HMS Portland. It has been fascinating working with 17 different countries and close on 50 warships. It has been an absolute pleasure working with many different partners and to cement the special relationship between the US and UK.”
USS Jason Dunham has been on deployment from her home port of Norfolk, Virginia since January this year. She has visited various European countries such as Montenegro, Bulgaria and Poland.
The ship is named after US Marine, Corporal Jason L. Dunham who died whilst serving in Iraq in 2004. Corporal Dunham was manning a checkpoint in Karabilah, Iraq, when an insurgent leapt from his car and began choking him. A scuffle ensued as two Marines approached to help. Reportedly, the last words from Corporal Dunham were, “No, No. Watch his hand.” Suddenly, the insurgent dropped a grenade. Corporal Dunham took off his Kevlar helmet, dropped to the ground, and covered the explosive as best he could. He died eight days later in Bethesda Naval hospital from his injuries. He received a Medal of Honour for his bravery.
The ship will leave Devonport on Wednesday (05/08) to continue her deployment with NATO forces.