The United States Navy launched its newest ship, the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, USS John Finn, on Saturday, providing what PACOM Commander Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. calls a “signal to allies and adversaries in the Pacific.”

In a speech given during a ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam marking the commissioning of the John Finn, and its addition to America’s Pacific Fleet, Harris explained that the United States is, and forever shall be, a Pacific Power, adding that America’s “future security and economic prosperity” are inextricably linked operations in the Asia-Pacific region.

“America is a Pacific nation, a Pacific leader and a Pacific power — always has been and always will be,” Harris said.

“We believe in peace through strength — smart power backed by hard power — and the ship’s hard power personified sends a clear signal to our friends and to our adversaries, that we will remain laser-focused on the Indo-Asia Pacific,” the admiral added.

Cmdr. Michael Wagner took control of the vessel, and 350-person crew, at the completion of the commissioning ceremony on Saturday.  Although the USS John Finn is one of many Arleigh Burke-class destroyers serving in the U.S. Navy, it is the very first to be designed and built from the ground up around the Aegis Baseline 9 weapon system, which will allow the Finn to conduct both air warfare and ballistic missile defense operations simultaneously.

“That means the John Finn brings both the saber and the shield to the fight,” Harris said. “American know-how to get her done — anytime and anywhere.”

According to Harris, the USS John Finn’s combat systems, combined with the crew comprised of some of the Navy’s finest sailors, “are powerful reminders of our readiness to fight tonight. This warship is the embodiment of America’s resolve to protect our homeland and defend our allies.”

The Pacific has become a hot-bed for military tensions in recent years, with China declaring its sovereignty over vast expanses of the South China Sea, which sees a huge amount of commercial traffic each year and houses large deposits of natural resources.  North Korea’s ballistic and nuclear weapons programs have also prompted an influx of U.S. led military activities near the Korean Peninsula, including the continued presence of at least one, but sometimes two, super carrier strike groups.