We salute the USS Sterett for flying this badass battle flag on the way back to port

"In ancient Greek folklore, the phoenix is a bird that cyclically regenerates or is born again."

The USS Sterett has returned from its more than 10-month-long stint at sea — and it did so with f—ing style

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer sailed back into its homeport at Naval Base San Diego, Calif., on Feb. 26 rocking a new (and unquestionably badass) battle flag showing a phoenix wreathed in flames and emblazoned in red, yellow, and orange.

Task & Purpose first caught sight of the Sterett’s new battle flag after a few zoomed-out photos of the destroyer cropped up on the military’s video and imagery database. Unfortunately, they offered only a distant view of the warship’s new colors:

We salute the USS Sterett for flying this badass battle flag on the way back to port
Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) returns to its homeport of Naval Base San Diego, February 26. A part of Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, Sterett returned to Naval Base San Diego after a more than 10-month deployment to U.S. 5th Fleet and U.S. 7th Fleet, which included freedom of navigation operations and participation in Operations Freedom’s Sentinel, Inherent Resolve and Octave Quartz. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David Mora Jr.)

But after a little Twitter-cyber-sleuthing, we were pointed to the official Instagram account for the USS Sterett, which revealed the origins of the ship’s new battle flag as an homage not just to Greek mythology, but to past sailors of the Sterett.

“In ancient Greek folklore, the phoenix is a bird that cyclically regenerates or is born again,” reads the Instagram post from the USS Sterett’s official account. “A phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. Due to Sterett’s rich warfighting history of resiliency and perseverance under fire, this image of a phoenix was created to properly capture these sentiments and honor the former crews of their namesake.”

The Sterett participated in a record-breaking deployment with more than 10 months at sea as part of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group assigned to the U.S. 5th Fleet and U.S. 7th Fleet, during which time they partook in freedom of navigation operations, supported Operation Inherent Resolve, in Iraq and Syria, and Operation Octave Quartz in Somalia.

In 2011, the USS Sterett was attacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia who fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the destroyer. The attack came during negotiations with the pirates, who had kidnapped four Americans and held them hostage with intent to ransom them. As U.S. special operations forces prepared to board the pirate’s vessel, the hostages were shot and killed. U.S. troops killed two of the pirates as they took custody of the vessel, and detained 15 others, Reuters reported at the time.

The USS Sterett had its commissioning ceremony in Baltimore, Md. at the birthplace of its namesake Andrew Sterett, on Aug. 9, 2008, after being produced by Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine.

The USS Sterett’s official motto is “Forever Dauntless” and honestly that’s pretty fitting considering its new battle flag shows a legendary bird that simply cannot die. And there’s something poetic about the vessel’s new colors since the current USS Sterett is actually the fourth. Its predecessors include a Belknap-class guided-missile cruiser, which saw action in the Vietnam War and the Cold War;  a Benham-class destroyer, that fought during World War II; and the original USS Sterett, a modified Paulding-class destroyer, or “flivver” that saw combat in the First World War.

So, here’s to you, the forever dauntless and seemingly immortal, USS Sterett. And to your crew: Welcome home.

Related: We salute the USS Indiana for flying this badass battle flag on its way back to port

James Clark
James Clark

is the Deputy Editor of Task & Purpose and a Marine veteran. He oversees daily editorial operations, edits articles, and supports reporters so they can continue to write the impactful stories that matter to our audience. In terms of writing, James provides a mix of pop culture commentary and in-depth analysis of issues facing the military and veterans community. Contact the author here.

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