Destroyer leader

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This article is about United States Navy nomenclature of the 1950s. For earlier terminology for similar ships, see Flotilla leader.

Destroyer Leader (DL) was the United States Navy designation for large destroyers from 9 February 1951 through the early years of the cold war. United States ships with hull classification symbol DL were officially frigates from 1 January 1955[1] until 1975. The smaller destroyer leaders were reclassified as destroyers and the larger as cruisers by the United States Navy 1975 ship reclassification; so destroyer escorts could be reclassified as frigates (FF) in conformance with international usage of the term.

Destroyer Leader USS John S. McCain with 3"/70 Mark 26 gun and Weapon Alpha visible abaft the forward 5"/54 caliber Mark 42 gun.

Background[edit]

By the end of World War I the destroyers intended to screen formations of battleships had evolved to a displacement of approximately 1100 tons armed with four 4-inch (10 cm) guns and six or more torpedoes.[2] Italy had built three esploratori scout cruisers approximately 70% larger than contemporary destroyers. The Washington Naval Treaty encouraged United Kingdom satisfaction with its traditional fleet of V and W-class destroyers and United States contentment with similar Wickes and Clemson-class destroyers, while the signatories with smaller fleets explored alternative warship configurations between the classical definitions of destroyer and cruiser. Italy launched three more esploratori[3] and France responded with six contre-torpilleur super destroyers. Japan launched the minimum light cruiser Yūbari followed by the special type destroyers 特型 (Tokugata?) with endurance to escort the Kido Butai mobile force of aircraft carriers over the wide reaches of the Pacific.[4]

Germany built similarly enlarged zerstörer when it commenced naval rearmament.[5] With the exception of the Tribal-class and a few flotilla leaders, most British and American destroyers built between the world wars were smaller than contemporary Axis destroyers; but as the battleships for which the smaller destroyers had been designed faded into restricted roles in the combat experience of World War II, United States destroyer displacement increased to 2100-tons, 2200-tons, and 2400-tons to support Fast Carrier Task Force operations.[6]

Description[edit]

As the United States Navy thinned its wartime fleet following second world war hostilities, the smaller destroyers were discarded until only those over 2,000 tons remained in active service.[6] Naval architects had a few years to evaluate captured ships and combat experience before there was any need for more warships. With large inventories of destroyers and cruisers, new surface warship designs explored placing high-efficiency boilers in hulls of intermediate size. The first destroyer leader USS Norfolk was authorized in 1948 and laid down in 1949 as an anti-submarine hunter killer cruiser based on the Atlanta-class anti-aircraft cruiser. She was designated EDL-1 while engaged in experimental work with new sensors and weapons systems including SQS-23 Sonar, Weapon Alpha, RUR-5 ASROC and automatic 3"/70 Mark 26 guns.[1] She served entirely in the Atlantic except for a single deployment to the Indian Ocean and cruise around the world in 1968 shortly before she was retired from active service.[7] A sister ship was authorized, but not completed after experience with the prototype did not justify repetition of the design.[1]

The next design was for an unarmored cruiser of displacement similar to Italian Capitani Romani-class cruisers to carry the new 5"/54 caliber Mark 42 gun. Each of the four Mitscher-class ships received somewhat different experimental propulsion machinery powered by 1,200 pounds per square inch (82 atm) Foster Wheeler boilers. DL-2 and DL-3 had General Electric turbines while DL-4 and DL-5 had Westinghouse turbines. All four ships began operations in the Atlantic. DL-3 and DL-5 were transferred to the Pacific in 1956. DL-3 made routine deployments to the western Pacific for as long as she remained in commission, but DL-5 was transferred back to the Atlantic in 1963 after making a few western Pacific deployments. DL-2 and DL-4 made routine deployments to the Mediterranean Sea.[8] The ships were built with AN/SPS-6 air search radar, AN/SPS-8 height finding radar, and AN/SQG-1 sonar. During their first refit in the mid-1950s the AN/SQG-1 was replaced by AN/SQS-4 sonar and the open 3″/50 caliber guns were replaced by 3"/70 Mark 26 guns. Later refits removed the unsatisfactory 3"/70 guns and Weapon Alpha. After experimental flight operations with the Bell HUL-1 and Kaman HTK-1 aboard Mitscher in 1957, helicopter decks and hangars for the Gyrodyne QH-50 DASH were installed where the aft 3" guns had been. DL-2 and DL-3 underwent major overhaul at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard beginning in 1966 including new Combustion Engineering boilers, AN/SQS-23 sonar, AN/SPS-37 air search radar, AN/SPS-48 height finding radar, and the Tartar Guided Missile Fire Control System for RIM-24 Tartar missiles.[9] DL-4 and DL-5 had earlier received a new 70-foot bow section mounting the AN/SQS-26 sonar and spent the remainder of their service lives testing these prototypes until retirement when their sisters emerged from overhaul at Philadelphia in 1968 for another decade of service as guided missile destroyers.[10]

A third class of destroyer leaders was designed after observing the performance of propulsion and weapons systems tested aboard the Mitscher class. The first three ships were ordered with three 5"/54 caliber guns shortly after the name change to frigates, while the next three were ordered with two 5"/54 guns forward and a RIM-2 Terrier missile system aft. All ten ships were completed with a single 5"/54 gun forward, an ASROC launcher where the B gun would have been, and the missile system aft; but the class was variously named Coontz for the first ship to be ordered with a missile system, or Farragut for the lowest numbered ship to be completed in that configuration. All were reclassified as guided missile destroyers in 1975.[11]

Comparison of ships with similar missions[edit]

Name Date Number Nation Displacement Speed Guns Torpedoes
Mirabello-class[3] 1917 3  Italy 1,811 tons 35 knots 8 × 4-inch (10 cm) guns 4
Yūbari[12] 1923 1  Japan 2,890 tons 35 knots 6 × 14-centimetre (5.5 in) guns 4
Leone-class[3] 1924 3  Italy 1,743 tons 34 knots 8 × 12-centimetre (4.7 in) guns 4
Chacal-class[13] 1926 6  France 2,126 tons 35 knots 5 × 13-centimetre (5.1 in) guns 6
Fubuki-class[14] 1927 20  Japan 2,090 tons 34 knots 6 × 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun 9
Guépard-class[15] 1929 18  France 2,441 tons 35 knots 5 × Canon de 138 mm Modèle 1927 7
Navigatori-class[16] 1929 12  Italy 1,900 tons 38 knots 6 × 12-centimetre (4.7 in) guns 6
Akatsuki-class[17] 1931 4  Japan 2,090 tons 38 knots 6 × 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun 9
Porter-class[18] 1935 8  USA 1,850 tons 37 knots 8 × 5"/38 caliber gun 8
Le Fantasque-class[19] 1936 6  France 2,569 tons 37 knots 5 × Canon de 138 mm Modèle 1929 9
Asashio-class[20] 1936 10  Japan 1,961 tons 35 knots 6 × 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun 8
Tribal-class[21] 1936 27  Royal Navy 1,870 tons 36 knots 8 × 4.7 inch QF Mark XII gun 4
Zerstörer 1934[22] 1937 16  Germany 2,200 tons 38 knots 5 × 12.7 cm SK C/34 naval guns 8
Somers-class[23] 1937 5  USA 1,850 tons 37 knots 8 × 5"/38 caliber gun 12
Kagerō-class[24] 1938 18  Japan 2,033 tons 35 knots 6 × 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun 8
Tromp-class[25] 1938 2  Netherlands 3,787 tons 32 knots 6 × 15-centimetre (5.9 in) guns 6
Zerstörer 1936[22] 1938 6  Germany 2,400 tons 38 knots 5 × 12.7 cm SK C/34 naval guns 8
Mogador-class[26] 1939 2  France 2,994 tons 39 knots 8 × Canon de 138 mm Modèle 1929 10
L and M-class[27] 1939 16  Royal Navy 1,920 tons 36 knots 6 × 4.7 inch QF Mark XII gun 8
Zerstörer 1936A[28] 1940 15  Germany 2,600 tons 38 knots 4 × 15 cm TbtsK C/36 naval guns 8
Yūgumo-class[29] 1941 20  Japan 2,077 tons 35 knots 6 × 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun 8
Gerard Callenburgh-class[30] 1941 2  Netherlands 1,922 tons 36 knots 5 × 12-centimetre (4.7 in) guns 8
Akizuki-class[31] 1942 12  Japan 2,701 tons 33 knots 8 × 10 cm/65 Type 98 naval gun 4
Shimakaze[32] 1942 1  Japan 2,567 tons 39 knots 6 × 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun 15
Fletcher-class[33] 1942 175  USA 2,050 tons 37 knots 5 × 5"/38 caliber gun 10
Capitani Romani-class[34] 1942 4  Italy 3,750 tons 36 knots 8 × 13.5-centimetre (5.3 in) guns 8
Allen M. Sumner-class[35] 1943 58  USA 2,200 tons 36 knots 6 × 5"/38 caliber gun 10
Gearing-class[36] 1944 98  USA 2,425 tons 35 knots 6 × 5"/38 caliber gun 10
Battle-class[37] 1944 26  Royal Navy 2,315 tons 35 knots 4 × QF 4.5-inch Mk III naval gun 10
DL-1[1] 1953 1  USA 5,600 tons 32 knots 8 × 3"/70 Mark 26 gun 4 + Mk 32
DL-2 class[10] 1953 4  USA 3,675 tons 35 knots 2 × 5"/54 caliber Mark 42 gun 4 + Mk 32
DL-6 class[11] 1960 10  USA 4,700 tons 34 knots 1 × 5"/54 caliber Mark 42 gun Mk 32

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Blackman, Raymond V.B. (1970–71). Jane's Fighting Ships. Jane's Yearbooks. 
  • Kafka, Roger; Pepperburg, Roy L. (1946). Warships of the World. Cornell Maritime Press. 
  • Lenton, H.T. (1976). German Warships of the Second World War. Arco Publishing. ISBN 0-668-04037-8. 
  • Lenton, H.T. (1968). Navies of the Second World War: Royal Netherlands Navy. Doubleday & Company. 
  • Lenton, H.T.; Colledge, J.J. (1964). British and Dominion Warships of World War II. Doubleday & Company. 
  • le Masson, Henri (1969). Navies of the Second World War: The French Navy 1. Doubleday & Company. 
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (1968). U.S. Warships of World War II. Doubleday & Company. 
  • Taylor, J.C. (1966). German Warships of World War II. Doubleday & Company. 
  • Watts, Anthony J. (1966). Japanese Warships of World War II. Doubleday & Company. 

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Blackman, p.434
  2. ^ Lenton & Colledge, pp.79-94
  3. ^ a b c Kafka & Pepperburg, p.784
  4. ^ Watts, pp.126-143
  5. ^ Lenton, (1976) p.67
  6. ^ a b Silverstone, pp.100-103
  7. ^ Toppan, Andrew. "Norfolk". The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  8. ^ "A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History". The National Association of Destroyer Veterans. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  9. ^ "Mitscher Class". Gyrodyne Helicopter Historical Foundation. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Blackman, pp.433&435
  11. ^ a b Blackman, p.432
  12. ^ Watts, p.77
  13. ^ le Masson, pp.110&111
  14. ^ Watts, p.126
  15. ^ le Masson, pp.112&113
  16. ^ Kafka & Pepperburg, p.780
  17. ^ Watts, p.133
  18. ^ Silverstone, p.114
  19. ^ le Masson, p.116
  20. ^ Watts, p.141
  21. ^ Lenton & Colledge, p.107
  22. ^ a b Taylor, p.43
  23. ^ Silverstone, p.118
  24. ^ Watts, p.143
  25. ^ Lenton, (1968) p.13
  26. ^ le Masson, pp.118&119
  27. ^ Lenton & Colledge, p.109
  28. ^ Taylor, p.41
  29. ^ Watts, p.148
  30. ^ Lenton, (1968) p.24
  31. ^ Watts, p.152
  32. ^ Watts, p.153
  33. ^ Silverstone, p.135
  34. ^ Kafka & Pepperburg, p.768
  35. ^ Silverstone, p.146
  36. ^ Silverstone, p.148
  37. ^ Lenton & Colledge, p.121