NORFOLK -- When the USSMonterey left Norfolk last March, it was the first ship to deploy as part of a new European missile defense shield.

The US promised its NATOAllies that it would help defend against missile attacks by basing four ballistic missile defense capable Navy ships in Rota, Spain.

'These are guided missile destroyers that have received upgrades so that they are capable of intercepting ballistic missiles in flight,' said Craig Quigley, executive director of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance.

Of the four ships to be transferred, the Aegis equipped, Arleigh Burke class ships are the ones most likely to get the call, if the call happens in 2013.

'So I think the most likely split would be three guided missile destroyers from Hampton Roads and one from Mayport, Florida,' added Quigley.

The ships, the sailors, and their families would all be based out of the Naval Base in Rota, Spain.

'A crew of a guided missile destroyer is about 325, so somewhere between 900 and 1,000 sailors and their families would be moving from here to Rota, Spain,' said Quigley.

The total impact could be anywhere from 2,500 to 2,600 sailors and their families attached to three ships. Facing a $450 billion cut to defense spending, some wonder if this could this be the start of a downsizing of Naval Station Norfolk.

'As far as does this threaten the future of the Navy's significant presence in Hampton Roads, absolutely not,' concluded Quigley.

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