USS Merrill (DD-976)

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USS Merrill (DD-976)
Career (US)
Namesake: Aaron Stanton Merrill
Ordered: 26 January 1972
Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding
Laid down: 16 June 1975
Launched: 1 September 1976
Acquired: 30 January 1978
Commissioned: 11 March 1978
Decommissioned: 26 March 1998
Struck: 26 March 1998
Fate: Sunk as target NW of Hawaii in 2003
General characteristics
Class & type: Spruance-class destroyer
Displacement: 8,040 (long) tons full load
Length: 529 ft (161 m) waterline; 563 ft (172 m) overall
Beam: 55 ft (16.8 m)
Draft: 29 ft (8.8 m)
Propulsion: 4 × General Electric LM2500 gas turbines, 2 shafts, 80,000 shp (60 MW)
Speed: 32.5 knots (60 km/h)
Range: 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km; 6,900 mi) at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
3,300 nautical miles (6,100 km; 3,800 mi) at 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Complement: 19 officers, 315 enlisted
Sensors and
processing systems:
AN/SPS-40 air search radar
AN/SPG-60 fire control radar
AN/SPS-55 surface search radar
AN/SPQ-9 gun fire control radar
Mk 23 TAS automatic detection and tracking radar
AN/SPS-65 Missile fire control radar
AN/SQS-53 bow mounted Active sonar
AN/SQR-19 TACTAS towed array Passive sonar
Naval Tactical Data System
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
AN/SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare System
AN/SLQ-25 Nixie Torpedo Countermeasures
Mark 36 SRBOC Decoy Launching System
AN/SLQ-49 Inflatable Decoys
Armament:

2 x 5 in (127 mm) 54 calibre Mark 45 dual purpose guns
2 x 20 mm Phalanx CIWS Mark 15 guns
1 x 8 cell ASROC launcher (removed)
1 x 8 cell NATO Sea Sparrow Mark 29 missile launcher
2 x quadruple Harpoon missile canisters
2 x Mark 32 triple 12.75 in (324 mm) torpedo tubes (Mk 46 torpedoes)

2 x quadruple ABL Mark 43 Tomahawk missile launchers
Aircraft carried: 2 x Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk LAMPS III helicopters.
Motto: Spirit of '76

USS Merrill (DD-976), named for Rear Admiral Aaron Stanton Merrill USN (1890–1961), was a Spruance-class destroyer laid down 16 June 1975 by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries at Pascagoula, Mississippi. She was launched 1 September 1976 and commissioned 11 March 1978.

History[edit]

USS Merrill had the distinction of being the test ship for the installation of the Tomahawk cruise missile system aboard the SPRUANCE Class units.

On 21 August 1980, while on a Western Pacific Ocean deployment, Merrill rescued 62 Vietnamese refugees, over 200 miles southeast of Saigon. During the next years, Merrill served as the Navy's test platform for the Tomahawk Cruise Missile Program, earning the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation. In this function, the ship did not participate in the Pacific Fleet's deployment rotation.

In 1989, Merrill stood out on a deployment to the Middle East. Serving as a unit of Joint Task Force Middle East, the ship conducted operations in support of Operation Earnest Will and was back in San Diego in May 1990. In August 1990 the USS Merrill was host to the USSR Navy in San Diego.

Ship's crest

Assigned to the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier battle group, Merrill again deployed to the Middle East in 1991.On the way to Persian Gulf the Merrill took part in Operation Fiery Vigil in June 1991. Arriving in the region after the ceasefire of the Gulf War, Merrill became the flagship for the coalition minesweeping forces in the Persian Gulf and was the second warship to visit the liberated port of Kuwait City after the Iraqi invasion. 1992 found Merrill underway on a counter-narcotics deployment in the Central America area of operations. In September 1992 the Merrill was sent to Long Beach for an extensive overhaul which lasted into late 1993.

Merrill deployed in 1995 as part of the Abraham Lincoln battle group. During the first half of the deployment, the battle group conducted a variety of multinational operations and exercises designed to support U.S. interests and relationships in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and the Persian Gulf. The battle group maintained a continuous watch on all merchant shipping going to and from Iraq. Numerous ships were queried and boarded to verify their cargo manifests.

In July 1995, as part of a reorganization of the Pacific Fleet's surface ships into six core battle groups and eight destroyer squadrons, Merrill was reassigned to Destroyer Squadron 7. The reorganization was scheduled to be completed by 1 October, with homeport changes to be completed within the following year.

From 10 February through 21 February 1997, Merrill took part in Pacific Joint Task Force Exercise (PACJTFEX) 97-1, off the Southern California coast. The U.S. 3rd Fleet exercise involved 20 ships, fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters from the USS Constellation carrier battle group and USS Boxer Amphibious Ready Group with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked. Army, Air Force, National Guard and Coast Guard units also participated. The exercise included various air strike and support missions, maritime interdiction operations, humanitarian operations, operational testing of weapons systems, logistics support, search and rescue, and command and control. Amphibious operations supporting the exercise culminated with an amphibious landing at Camp Pendleton, California, involving surface and helicopter assault forces. PAC JTFEX 97-1 was part of a series of exercises previously named "FLEETEX". The change in name reflected the increasing focus on preparing naval forces for joint operations with other U.S. military services. During the previous several years this exercise placed increasing emphasis on incorporating joint procedures, planning, and command and control structures into task group training.

Merrill then deployed with the Constellation battle group, as part of a routine six-month deployment in the waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The Constellation battle group departed 5th Fleet's Area of Responsibility (AOR) on 17 August 1997. The battle group had entered the Arabian Sea on 16 May, and conducted high tempo operations there that included more than 4,400 sorties during more than 10 weeks in the Persian Gulf. Operations included exercises with friendly forces in the region. After departing the Persian Gulf, the Constellation battle group concluded its tour in the 5th Fleet with a joint-combined exercise with the Pakistani Armed Forces. Dubbed Inspired Siren 97-2 and Inspired Alert 97-2, the exercises incorporated both surface combatants and air components, respectively. The purpose of this four-day training mission was to exercise the joint-combined naval and air capabilities of both countries, improve their respective levels of readiness and interoperability, and enhance military relations between the two nations.

Fate[edit]

Merrill was decommissioned and stricken 26 March 1998 awaiting disposal at Pearl Harbor Naval Intermediate Ship Maintenance Facility. On 1 August 2003 she was sunk as a target northwest of Hawaii. The exact location was 022° 43' 53.0" North, 160° 29' 23.0" West.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 22°43′53″N 160°29′23″W / 22.73139°N 160.48972°W / 22.73139; -160.48972