A Tomahawk cruise missile blasts off from a vertical launch tube on the USS Monterey. Navy photo

Updated at 11:02 a.m., Saturday, April 14

A San Diego-based destroyer was among four Navy vessels that fired dozens of cruise missiles early Saturday morning local time in the attack on Syrian chemical weapons sites.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins, which departed San Diego in November, was joined in the action by the Norfolk-based cruiser USS Monterey, destroyer USS Laboon and submarine USS John Warner.

The attack is the second in a year to target the chemical weapons used by the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

“Clearly, the Assad regime did not get the message last year. This time, our allies and we have struck harder,” said Defense Secretary James Mattis. “Together, we have sent a clear message to Assad, and his murderous lieutenants, that they should not perpetrate another chemical weapons attack for which they will be held accountable.”

The Defense Department released photos of the Monterey firing missiles in the attack ordered by President Trump.

The attack also involved British and French warplanes and U.S. B-1 bombers, all of which launched missiles outside of Syrian airspace.

The Pentagon said a total of 105 missiles were launched from the ships and aircraft and all hit their targets. Officials denied Syrian and Russian claims that some of the missiles were shot down.

“We are confident that all of our missiles reached their targets,” said Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. He said that while the Syrians fired back, “most of the launches occurred after our strike was over.”

The Navy ships and submarine involved in the strikes were located in the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that the destroyer USS Porter was involved.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.