Two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers acted on quick notice Thursday by order of President Donald Trump to deliver what Syrian officials described as "huge material damage" to the air base that was the source of alleged chemical attacks against civilians.
The Porter, commanded by Cmdr. Andria Slough, and the Ross, commanded by Cmdr. Russell Caldwell, moved into position in the eastern Mediterranean and together launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Shayrat airfield less than 72 hours after a reported attack by the Syrian air force on the town of Khan Sheikhoun with the nerve agent Sarin.
Both ships are forward-based out of Rota, Spain. Slough, a 1998 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and Caldwell, originally from South Africa and a graduate of the University of Kansas, acted only hours after Trump made the final strike decision aboard Air Force One on Thursday afternoon, White House officials said.
Slough previously commanded a minesweeper, the USS Defender, while Caldwell served on a number of Navy ships and also commanded a minesweeper, according to the ships' websites.
The Porter and the Ross, both capable of speeds in excess of 30 knots, each have about 33 commissioned officers, 38 senior non-commissioned officers and 210 enlisted sailors aboard.
The Porter, called "Freedom's Champion," is named for two Navy legends -- Commodore David Porter and his son Adm. David Dixon Porter.
The Ross -- "Fortune Favors The Brave" -- is named for Donald Kirby Ross, who received the Medal of Honor for his actions aboard the battleship Nevada during the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.