USS Fife (DD-991) in June 2002, shown with VLS cells.
|Builders:||Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi|
|Operators:||United States Navy|
|Preceded by:||Charles F. Adams class|
|Succeeded by:||Arleigh Burke class|
|Active:||1 (Paul F. Foster) as SDTS|
|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)|
|Complement:||19 officers, 315 enlisted|
|Aircraft carried:||2 x Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk LAMPS III helicopters.|
|Aviation facilities:||Flight deck and enclosed hangar for up to two medium-lift helicopters|
The Spruance-class destroyer was developed by the United States to replace a large number of World War II–built Allen M. Sumner and Gearing-class destroyers and was the primary destroyer built for the U.S. Navy during the 1970s.
First commissioned in 1975, the class was designed with gas-turbine propulsion, a flight deck and hangar for up to two medium-lift helicopters, all-digital weapons systems, and automated 5-inch guns. Serving for three decades, the Spruance class was originally designed to escort a carrier group with a primary ASW mission. In the 1990s, 24 members of the class were upgraded with the Mark 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) for the Tomahawk surface-to-surface missile. Rather than extend the life of the class, the Navy accelerated its retirement. The last ship of the class was decommissioned in 2005, with most examples broken up or destroyed as targets.
The ships were initially controversial, especially among members of the United States Congress who believed that their unimposing looks, with only two guns and an ASROC or Armored Box Launcher (ABL) missile launcher per ship implied that the vessels were weak compared to Soviet designs which carried large numbers of anti-ship missiles. The Spruance-class was also unfavorable compared to earlier U.S. designs which had more visible guns or launchers for the Standard medium range missiles. Despite the criticism they were successful in their intended ASW role due to their seaworthiness, quiet operation, and ability to operate two helicopters.
The Spruances were much larger than destroyers of that era, being comparable in size to contemporary guided-missile cruisers (CG and CGN) and U.S. Navy light cruisers (CL) in World War II. Their hull dimensions allowed them not only to accommodate a helicopter landing pad, a first for a U.S. Navy destroyer as flight decks were previously only found on frigates and cruisers, they were the first U.S. Navy destroyer/cruiser class to have an enclosed hangar (with space for up to two medium-lift helicopters) which was a considerable improvement over the basic aviation facilities of earlier cruisers. The "Spru-cans" were the first large U.S. Navy ships to use gas turbine propulsion; they had four General Electric LM2500 gas turbines to generate about 80,000 horsepower (60 MW). This configuration (developed in the 1960s by the Royal Canadian Navy for the Iroquois-class destroyers and known as COmbined Gas And Gas, or COGAG) was very successful and used on most subsequent U.S. warships. As of 2010, all U.S. Navy surface combatants (except nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and the LCS-1) use the LM2500 COGAG arrangement, usually with two such turbines per shaft.
The Spruance-class received the "DD" designation in the hull classification symbol system which was previously applied to gun destroyers, though their primary armament as designed was missiles. However their complement of anti-aircraft missiles only sufficient for point defense, compared to other American destroyers designated as DDG which were designed to provide anti-aircraft warfare screening to the fleet while some newer ships also added powerful surface-to-surface capabilities. A major update in the 1990s added a Vertical Launch Missile System (VLS) for the Tomahawk surface-to-surface missile which modernized 24 members of the class to a strike destroyer standard, although they still lacked the anti-aircraft capabilities of guided-missile cruisers (CG and CGN) and destroyers (DDG).
The entire class of 31 ships was contracted on 23 June 1970 to the Litton-Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, under the Total Package Procurement concept originated by the Whiz Kids of Robert McNamara's Pentagon. The idea was to reap the benefits of mass construction, but labor and technical problems caused cost overruns and delayed construction.
One additional ship, USS Hayler, was ordered on 29 September 1979. Hayler was originally planned as a DDH (Destroyer, Helicopter) design, which would carry more anti-submarine helicopters than the standard design of the Spruance class. Eventually this plan to build a DDH was scrapped and a slightly modified DD-963 class hull was put in commission.
Four additional ships were built originally for the Iranian Navy with the Mark 26/Standard AAW missile system and commissioned as the Kidds for the U.S. Navy. The Kidd-class destroyers used the same hull as the Spruances but they were more advanced general-purpose ships with significant anti-air warfare capabilities that the Spruance-class lacked. It was once planned to build all of the Spruance class up to this standard, but it was too expensive. A slightly lengthened version of the hull was also used for the Ticonderoga-class cruisers, originally planned as DDG-47-class destroyers but redesignated as cruisers in 1980 to emphasize the additional capability provided by the ships' Aegis combat systems, and their flag facilities suitable for an admiral and his staff.
The Spruance design is modular in nature, allowing for easy installation of entire subsystems within the ship. Although originally designed for anti-submarine warfare, 24 ships of this class were upgraded with the installation of a 61 cell Vertical Launch Missile System (VLS) capable of launching Tomahawk missiles. The remaining seven ships not upgraded were decommissioned early.
At least ten VLS ships, including Cushing, O'Bannon, and Thorn, had a 21 cell RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile launcher mounted on the starboard fantail.
- David R. Ray tested the RAM system in the 1980s, but had the system removed after the tests.
- Oldendorf was the test platform for the AN/SPQ-9B Anti-ship Missile Defense (ASMD) Firecontrol Radar to be outfitted on the San Antonio-class amphibious transport docks. The AN/SPQ-9B is used to detect all known and projected sea skimming missiles.
- Arthur W. Radford tested the Advanced Enclosed Mast/Sensor system which helped in the mast design of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ships.
- Merrill served as the Navy's test platform for the Tomahawk Cruise Missile Program receiving armored box launchers and test launching a Tomahawk 19 March 1980. Merrill carried two ABLs and an ASROC launcher into the 1990s until the ASROC launcher was removed.
Spruance-class destroyers fired 112 land attack Tomahawks during Operation Desert Storm.
In order to save $28 million a year, the Navy accelerated the decommissioning of the Spruance class, though they could have served to 2019 had they been maintained and updated. Despite the recent modifications to the Spruance and Kidd classes, they were still considered expensive and manpower intensive to operate, while the succeeding Arleigh Burke-class were more capable and versatile due to their Aegis combat system while also being more cost-efficient, and by the end of the 1990s a large of number of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers had entered the fleet. While the early Flight I Arleigh Burke ships only had a flight deck, Flight IIA and subsequent vessels added the enclosed hangar which made their aviation facilities comparable to the Spruance-class.
The US Navy planned to replace its current destroyers and cruisers with the new Zumwalt-class (DDG-1000) vessels, but the 2010 U.S. Defense budget funded the construction of only three DDG-1000s and production of Arleigh Burke class continued and it became the U.S. Navy's only operational class of destroyers after the USS Cushing was decommissioned on 21 September 2005.
Rather than being preserved in storage like some older classes or offered up for sale to foreign navies, some were broken up and the remaining majority of the class finished their lives as targets in various fleet exercises. The last Spruance-class destroyer on active service, USS Cushing, was decommissioned on 21 September 2005. It was unsuccessfully offered to the Pakistan Navy before being sunk as a target 29 April 2009. The four Kidd-class destroyers were decommissioned in 1998 and were sold to Taiwan in 2005 and 2006.
One notable exception to this fate is the ex–Paul F. Foster which replaced the ex-Decatur in 2005 as the Self Defense Test Ship. The SDTS is remotely-controlled to tow a barge targeted by live weapons. This avoids the safety concerns and other problems associated with manned ship exposure to live weapons.
Ships in class
|Ship Name||Hull No.||Crest||Laid Down||Launched||Commissioned||Decommissioned||Disposition||Link|
|Spruance||DD-963||27 November 1972||10 November 1973||20 September 1975||23 March 2005||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|Paul F. Foster||DD-964||6 February 1973||22 February 1974||21 February 1976||27 March 2003||Struck 6 April 2004; in use as a Self Defense Test Ship|| |
|Kinkaid||DD-965||19 April 1973||25 May 1974||10 July 1976||7 January 2003||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|Hewitt||DD-966||23 July 1973||24 August 1974||25 September 1976||19 July 2001||Disposed of by scrapping, dismantling|||
|Elliot||DD-967||15 October 1973||19 December 1974||22 January 1977||2 December 2003||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|Arthur W. Radford||DD-968||31 January 1974||1 March 1975||16 April 1977||18 March 2003||Disposed of as artificial reef on 10 August 2011 off coast of Delaware|||
|Peterson||DD-969||29 April 1974||21 June 1975||9 July 1977||4 October 2002||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|Caron||DD-970||1 July 1974||24 June 1975||1 October 1977||15 October 2001||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|David R. Ray||DD-971||23 September 1974||23 August 1975||19 November 1977||28 February 2002||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|Oldendorf||DD-972||27 December 1974||21 October 1975||4 March 1978||20 June 2003||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|John Young||DD-973||17 February 1975||6 January 1976||20 May 1978||30 September 2002||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|Comte de Grasse||DD-974||4 April 1975||26 March 1976||5 August 1978||5 June 1998||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|O'Brien||DD-975||9 May 1975||8 July 1976||3 December 1977||24 September 2004||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|Merrill||DD-976||16 June 1975||1 September 1976||11 March 1978||26 March 1998||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|Briscoe||DD-977||21 July 1975||28 December 1976||3 June 1978||2 October 2003||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|Stump||DD-978||25 August 1975||1 January 1977||19 August 1978||22 October 2004||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|Conolly||DD-979||29 September 1975||3 June 1977||14 October 1978||18 September 1998||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|Moosbrugger||DD-980||3 November 1975||23 July 1977||16 December 1978||15 December 2000||Disposed of by scrapping, dismantling|||
|John Hancock||DD-981||16 January 1976||29 October 1977||10 March 1979||16 October 2000||Disposed of by scrapping, dismantling|||
|Nicholson||DD-982||20 February 1976||11 November 1977||12 May 1979||20 December 2002||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|John Rodgers||DD-983||12 August 1976||25 February 1978||14 July 1979||4 September 1998||Disposed of by scrapping, dismantling|||
|Leftwich||DD-984||12 November 1976||8 April 1978||25 August 1979||27 March 1998||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|Cushing||DD-985||2 February 1977||17 June 1978||21 September 1979||21 September 2005||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|Harry W. Hill||DD-986||1 April 1977||10 August 1978||17 November 1979||29 May 1998||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|O'Bannon||DD-987||21 February 1977||25 September 1978||15 December 1979||19 August 2005||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|Thorn||DD-988||29 August 1977||3 February 1979||16 February 1980||25 August 2004||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|Deyo||DD-989||14 October 1977||20 January 1979||22 March 1980||6 November 2003||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|Ingersoll||DD-990||5 December 1977||10 March 1979||12 April 1980||24 July 1998||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|Fife||DD-991||6 March 1978||1 May 1979||31 May 1980||28 February 2003||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|Fletcher||DD-992||24 April 1978||16 June 1979||12 July 1980||1 October 2004||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
|Hayler||DD-997||20 October 1980||2 March 1982||5 March 1983||25 August 2003||Sunk as target during Fleet training exercise|||
- Military Officer Greyhounds of the Sea By Gina DiNicolo Archived 20 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
- Bishop, Chris. Encyclopedia of World Sea Power. 1988. ISBN 0-517-65342-7. Page 94-95
- "Bigger, Costlier Destroyers". The Morning Record. Meriden, Connecticut. 15 July 1970.
- Associated Press (18 September 1975). "Spruance Akin to Vacation Cruise". Times Daily. Florence, Alabama.
DD-963 ... is a year behind schedule due to a strike, a drydock accident and other instances of what Ingalls calls "excusable delays."
- Associated Press (23 October 1975). "Shipyard Begins Design Work on Sub for Saudis". Times Daily. Florence, Alabama.
The Litton-owned shipyard has come under heavy fire from the Navy and Congress for delays and cost overruns on U.S. destroyers and assault ships.
- "Historical Review of Cruiser Characteristics, Roles and Missions". Aandc.org.
- John Pike. "CG-47 Ticonderoga-class". Globalsecurity.org.
- "DD-963 SPRUANCE-class – Navy Ships". Fas.org.
- Dunnigan, James F. (2 August 2008). "USN Abandons New Ship Designs". Strategypage.com.
- Bennett, John T. and Kris Osborn. "Gates Reveals DoD Program Overhaul". Defense News, 6 April 2009.
- "US guided missile destroyer to visit Subic Bay Tuesday". Philippine Star. 4 February 2013. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
- "Paul F Foster EDD-964 Final DOI Naval Vessel Historical Evaluation" (PDF). navsea.navy.mil. 5 March 2013.
- John Pike. "Global Security information". Globalsecurity.org.
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