The two US ships which attacked a Syrian airfield have been equipped to deal with a mysterious Russian threat

USS Porter tested her SEARAM system last year, successfully. Picture: US Navy

This morning, US Navy destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at Shayrat airfield in Syria.

The attack was to send a message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in regard to his government’s alleged involvement in a chemical attack which saw at least 80 people killed in the northwestern part of the country on Monday.

Both ships have been part of the US Navy fleet for 20 years. USS Porter was launched in November 1997, with the motto “Freedom’s Champion”:

Picture: Getty Images

She is a 154-metre-long Arleigh Burke-class destroyer with a full displacement of 9000 tons who first engaged in combat operations launching Tomahawk missile during the Shock and Awe stage of the Iraq War.

Porter has been upgraded several times and repaired once, after colliding with an oil tanker off Dubai in 2012.

Her most recent upgrade in 2015 saw her equipped with a SEARAM launcher, a type of anti-ship missile defence system, in response to a Russian naval threat in the Mediterranean.

The details of what the threat is remain classified, suffice to say it was severe enough that Porter got her new defence system in place without having to go through the normal acquisition procedures.

Just one month ago, she was buzzed by two Russian jets in the Black Sea:

USS Ross has been slated to receive the same system. Another 154m Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the Ross was also once in the news when she was buzzed by a pair of Russian Su-24 Fencers in 2015, also in the Black Sea:

Launched in 1996, Ross first saw action in Yugoslavia in 1999 as part of Operation Allied Force during the Kosovo War, and again in the Persian Gulf in 20001 for Operation Enduring Freedom.

Picture: Getty Images

Her motto is “Fortune Favors Valor”.

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