The Abandoned Destroyer Class : Curse of the Spruances

Back in the early 1970s, the US Navy needed a replacement for the old FRAM’d WWII era Sumner and Gearing leftovers from the 1940s and 50s in the fleet. These were small, 3500-4000 ton ships that carried an 8-cell ASROC launcher, 4 5-inch/58 guns in twin mounts, and two triple Mk32 ASW torpedo launchers. They were sitting ducks to anti-ship missiles, could not carry helicopters, and packed almost 400 sailors into a tin can made to all the best specs of 1942.

The USS Orleck, shown here in 1964, a WWII veteran still going strong, by the 1970s needed replaced

The USS Orleck, shown here in 1964, a WWII veteran still going strong, by the 1970s needed to be replaced. Ironically, while all of the Spruances are gone, Orleck endures as a floating museum ship in Lake Charles, La. and is slated to go to Jacksonville in the coming months

To replace these old boats, the Spruance class, a mighty 31 destroyers, were built between 1972-1983, all at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula.

Sketch in the 1973-4 Jane’s Fighting Ships on the planned Spruance class


Artist’s conception of the Navy’s DD-963-class destroyer. The ship, designed by Litton Industries’ Ingalls West Division at El Secondo, California, will be mass-produced at the Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation, Pascagoula, Mississippi. Catalog #: USN 1144349 Copyright Owner: National Archives. Original Creator: Artist, Russ Vickers


Six Spruance class destroyers fitting out, circa May 1975. Ships are, from left Paul F. Foster (DD-964); Spruance (DD-963), then running trials; Arthur W. Radford (DD-968); Elliot (DD-967); Hewitt (DD-966) and Kinkaid (DD-965). Ingalls East Bank, Pascagoula

Six Spruance-class destroyers are being built at Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi. 24 June 1975. From top to bottom: USS Peterson (DD-969), USS Arthur W. Radford (DD-968), USS Elliot (DD-967), USS Hewitt (DD-966), Kinkaid (DD-965), USS Caron (DD-970) PCUs are visible

At least five Spruance-class destroyers being built by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries at Pascagoula, Mississippi, with the two closest being USS Conolly (DD-979) and USS Moosbrugger (DD-980), 25 May 1977

No less than 16 Spruance class destroyers are on the way. DD Module Erection Area 24 June 1976. Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi.

As a kid, I used to sit at the old Point on Beach Boulevard and watch these sleek 563-foot long greyhounds birthed for Poseidon’s fox hunts.

The USS Ingersoll, DD-990 was a good example of how the Spru-cans came out of Pascagoula in the 1980s. She is armed here with just her guns, torpedoes, ASROC and a Sea Sparrow launcher. Bring on the Red Banner Fleet!

The USS Ingersoll, DD-990 was a good example of how the “Spru-cans” came out of Pascagoula in the 1980s. She is armed here with just her guns, torpedoes, ASROC, and a Sea Sparrow launcher. Bring on the Red Banner Fleet!

They were called the “Love Boats” back then since they were the size of WWII light cruisers (8000-tons), yet only carried a pair of 5-inch guns (Mk45 rapid-fire jobs that provided more firepower than twice as many of the old Sumner‘s 5-inch/58s), twin triple ASW tubes, and an 8-cell ASROC launcher.

Bow of the destroyer USS O’Bannon (DD-987), a Spruance-class destroyer, showing the ship’s Mark 16 8-cell ASROC anti-submarine rocket launcher, foreground, and a Mark 45 5-inch/54-caliber gun

Still, they made a good backdrop for 1984 recruiting commercials– set in British-controlled Hong Kong!

In their defense, most were funded by the bankrupt Carter military and their armament suite was superior to the destroyers they were supposed to replace. Also, they had a twin helicopter hangar that could support a pair of sub-busting choppers, a battle implement WWII destroyers never dreamed of.

This changed over time and by the late 1980s, they were pretty capable ships

This changed over time and by the late 1980s, they were pretty capable ships

Over the 1980s and 90s, they were increasingly armed with other weapons systems. Some 24 ships of the class swapped out their ASROC launcher for a 61-cell Mk41 VLS system like on the Ticonderoga class cruisers (which were based on the Spruance hull). All ships also gained an 8-pack of Harpoon SSMs, an 8-cell NATO Sea Sparrow SAM launcher (also capable of being used against surface ships), and a pair of 20mm CIWS R2D2 guns for swatting away incoming missiles. Ten more of these had a 21 cell RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile launcher mounted on the starboard fantail to further protect these ships from more modern anti-ship missiles. Several of those that weren’t converted to VLS were given quadruple ABL Mark 43 Tomahawk missile launchers like on the recommissioned Iowa class battleships.

USS Deyo after her ASROC was removed and replaced with the 61-cell VLS. Also note the Phalanx CIWS mounts port and starboard.

USS Deyo after her ASROC was removed and replaced with the 61-cell VLS. Also, note the Phalanx CIWS mounts port and starboard.

They proved the backbone of fleet operations throughout the last decade of the Cold War, the sordid engagements in the Persian Gulf, and the Navy’s part in the war on drugs.

Spruance class destroyer USS Peterson (DD-969) with Soviet Moma AGS class survey vessel Nakhodka in the Sargasso Sea 1983 on the rescue op for Victor III K-324

Spruance-class destroyer USS Peterson (DD-969) with Soviet Moma AGS class survey vessel Nakhodka in the Sargasso Sea 1983 on the rescue op for Victor III-class SSN K-324. On Halloween 1983, K-324 snagged the frigate USS McCloy’s towed sonar array cable about 300 miles west of Bermuda, causing damage to the submarine’s propeller. The Soviet attack boat was towed to Cienfuegos, Cuba for repairs, and Red Fleet technicians recovered some parts of McCloy’s array. 

Spruance class destroyer USS Peterson (DD-969) keeping tabs on YAK 38 Forger most likely landing on a Soviet Kiev class carrier

USS Peterson (DD-969) keeping tabs on YAK-38 Forger, most likely landing on a Soviet Kiev-class carrier

Speaking of carriers, there was even some thought to making an “aviation destroyer” variant.

The “through deck destroyer” variant would place a ski jump on a Spruance hull and be able to carry as many as 10 VTOL aircraft

Their long legs (6000+ nm at 20 knots on two turbines), allowed them to self-deploy away from the battle group and a lot of the flag-waving done in foreign ports during the Regan-Bush-Clinton years was done by Spruances operating alone. Gone were the days of boilers and steam plants.

USS Spruance (DD-963) ship’s propulsion control center, during her trials period, May 1975. Official U.S. USN 1162172

USS Cushing late in her career. Note the RAM missile launcher on her stern.

USS Cushing late in her career. Note the RAM missile launcher on her stern.

Then, starting in 1998, these hardy destroyers that were at the top of their game, began to retire.

When the Spruance‘s left the Navy, they took with them 1,494 Mk41 VLS cells which carried mainly Tomahawk cruise missiles along with a smattering of ASROC sub-busters. They also faded away with 62 5-inch guns, 62 CIWS guns, 249 Harpoon anti-ship missile launch spots, 62 LAMPS helicopter hangar spots, 249 Sea Sparrow missile launcher cells, 210 RAM missile cells, and 186 Mk32 ASW Torpedo tubes. Those 7 hulls that were not equipped with VLS retained their ASROC launchers which gave the fleet another 56 of those weapons.

In 1989, the US Navy had 63 Knox/Brooke/Garcia-class frigates, 51 OHP type guided-missile frigates, 31 Spruances, 4 Kidd-Class DDGs (Mk-26/SM-2 armed Spurances) 27 Ticonderoga class CGs, 23 older Charles Adams-class DDGs, 10 Farragut-class DDGs, six nuclear CGNs, 19 Belknap/Truxtun/Leheay-class CGs, four huge Iowa-class Battleships, and the 15,000-ton cruiser Long Beach as large surface combatants. This is a total of 239 surface warships capable of blue water operations.

Today they have in commission: 22 remaining Ticos, 12 OHPs (that are largely disarmed and rapidly retiring), 4 (unproven) LCS’s,  and 62 Burke-class destroyers, the first of which was laid down on 16 September 1989. That’s an even 100-ships, or a reduction by about 58% from the late 1980s. Granted, the US Navy doesn’t have to go to war with the Soviets anymore ala-Red Storm Rising, but there is still a global need for surface combatants from the South China Sea to the HOA to the Med and the Persian Gulf.  A hundred surface ships can’t be everywhere at once.

All good things come to an end: last Spruance-class destroyer USS Hayler (DD-997) in a hard starboard turn during her Acceptance Trials, circa late February 1983.

All good things come to an end: last Spruance-class destroyer USS Hayler (DD-997) in hard starboard turn during her Acceptance Trials, circa late February 1983.

You can argue that the 96-cell VLS equipped DDG-51 class destroyers replaced the Spru-cans, DDGs, and retired CGs on a 2:3 basis, but the DDG-51 lacked the extra 5-inch mount, and, in early models, the aircraft capability.   Instead of being crammed full of TLAMs, these new DDGs have to allocate most of their space to carrying surface to air missiles. Further, the ’51s are tasked increasingly with fleet air defense and (now) with ABM missions. All the while their ASW, ASuW, and NGFS capability are being marginalized. Yes, the 51’s replaced the Spurances and the 1970s vintage CGNs of the South Carolina and Virginia-class in so much as AAW is concerned, but they did not fully replace their capability in ASW and NGFS. The Spruances, unlike the Burkes, was dedicated to ASW, ASuW, and land strike with both naval gunfire and cruise missiles.  With the Burkes, its a side-job.

Iowa bracketed by Spruance Class destroyers Deyo and Comte de Grasse

Surely the Spurances would now be long in the teeth, ranging from the 1975-commissioned DD-963 to the 1983-dated DD-997, they would all be over thirty years old. However, the Ticonderoga-class cruisers are roughly the same age. In fact, they use the same hull and below-deck machinery. In 2003, the newer 22 of the 27 ships  (CG-52 to CG-73) in that class were upgraded to keep them combat-relevant, giving the ships a service life of at least 35 years each. Had a similar mechanical upgrade been given to the 24-VLS equipped Spurances, they would all still be in service. In fact, given that timeline, DD-997 would only be expected to decommission in 2018. More on this ship below.

Instead, all 31 Spruances were rapidly decommissioned and mothballed between 1998 and 2005, when the ships were all in their 20’s. Instead of being refurbed to serve another decade or two, they were stricken from the Navy List. No sooner were they stricken than they were systematically sunk in a series of fleet training exercises, dismantled, or otherwise scrapped.

Like Megatron and Osama Bin Laden, most of the Spruances were sunk in deep water. Here the USS Hayler, DD-997, commissioned in 1983, being sunk as a target on 13 November 2004. Most 21 year old ships are still in service. Her story is typical of her class.

Like Megatron and Osama Bin Laden, most of the Spruances were sunk in deep water. Here the USS Hayler, DD-997, commissioned in 1983, is being sunk as a target on 13 November 2004. Most 21-year old ships are still in service, with another 10-15 years left on their hulls. Her story is typical of her class. Not even her 127mm guns, standard issue on US Navy destroyers, were salvaged.

It can be guessed that since they were too close in design to the still very active Tico class cruisers, they were too sensitive to give away as military aid to the likes of Pakistan, Mexico, or Colombia. Just one of their number, the former USS Paul Foster, remains. She has been in use since 2004 as an unnamed and non-commissioned test ship for the US Navy as the Self Defense Test Ship (SDTS). In this role, she is a remote control drone boat, used as a hard target for new weapons systems.

Ex USS Paul F Foster DD-964, SDTS Self Defense Test Ship EDD-964, the last Spruance class Destroyer, decommissioned in 2003, still working, departing San Diego after refueling, December 3rd 2021 as captured on San Diego Webcam

And so goes another wasted opportunity.


  • I served TAD aboard USS Deyo in 1981, when she was the first ship deployed on orders of NSA to spy on the Nicaraguans and Salvadorans. Great cruise.

    • Ronald D Ferguson

      I was across the pier from you on the USS John Rodgers (DD-983). We tagged yall down off the coast of Gulf of Fonseca.

      • I was on the John Rodgers. She was my last ship in a 20 year Naval career. They retired me and decommissioned her at the same time. She was the best riding ship I ever served on and is dearly missed.

      • Petty Officer Spanky

        USS John Rodgers has a Facebook page. If you’re not a member ask to be added. I will approve you

      • on the Deyo as EMO from about March 82 until retirement July 83. Picked her up in Panama City just as she was deploying for her NSA ops in Gulf of Fonseca for the NSA. She was the last and best ship of my 20 plus years. Great crew and wardroom not to shabby for bubble head CWO.

    • I was on the USS DEYO 1986-1990

    • Joseph S Jones

      I served on the Deyo from March 82 until my retirement in July 83 as the EMO. Picked her up in Panama and deployed for the NSA ops in the Gulf of Fonseca area doing our thing during the Salvadoran civil war. Was great ship and crew to serve with.

      • Served on the mighry warship Deyo from 99-04. It was my first ship with the best memories and an amazing crew!

    • Actually it was the Spruance Dd963. We were down there in ‘80 doing radar picket with new Outboard listening system. Also supplied aid to SEALS. They loved their weekly tub of ice cream. GSCS(SW) Ret DD963 ‘79 – ‘83

      • I remember the swim call in Gatun Lake while heading west through the Panama Canal on SPRUANCE. She was the Rodney Dangerfield of ships then; fantastic job in Gulf of Fonseca but got no recognition because we weren’t “officially” there. Four years sailing all the world’s oceans ’81-85 and I left with a GCM and stars on the SSDR.

    • Did that Spy thing and looking for Gun Runners on the USS Coontz DDG-40 in 81/82.

    • Michael Walker

      I was there being a plankowner on 989

  • My First Ship was DD-977 Briscoe. Great Ships.

  • I also was on the Briscoe DD-977. It was a great ship. The 963 class were disposed of prematurely.

  • Great summary ..thank you for bringing this to light. I was on the USS Comte De Grasse DD974 from 1980 to 1983. Probably 7 or 8 years ago I remembered hearing from a friend of mine who’s son was actually working on the scrapping project. My first thought was …Wow…now why wouldn’t they want to retrofit these great ships and get another 10 to 15 years of service out of them?
    SK2 Longtin
    — DD 974 will forever live in my heart …Sans Precedent !

  • I was on DD-981 John Hancock from 91-95, a great class ship. Thanks for the article. It’s a shame they went away so soon.

  • I served aboard the USS John Rodgers DD983 from 1983-1986. I met the ship of the coast of Beirut In Sept 83 where she was the first ship with the new 5″54 gun system to draw blood. She was the first Spruance to sail into Helsinki harbor through miles of pack ice (following a breaker of course) I went through the retrofit that added 2 CIWS guns and twin Tomahawk launchers. Online there are pictures of her being broken in Brownsville, TX…Very very sad…

  • I served on the USS Peterson (DD 969) ’91 – ’95. I was on her when we went to Pascagoula for the retrofit from ASROC to VLS. In ’93 we launched 14 Tomahawks on Baghdad and on two deployments with the Ike we were rarely with the carrier group. Constantly called away for solitary duties. A great ship, a great class of destroyers. I was mind-boggled when they so rapidly decommed those destroyers and then the CGs (I also served on USS Thomas S. Gates CG 51). It told me alot about how out-of-touch the brass and Congress were with the realities of the Navy and our world’s volatility.

    • I too served on the USS Peterson (DD-969) from 1986 – 1990 as a DS2 SW. I boarded her for the first time 3 days before we bombed Libya. She was a great ship, and being one of two ships on the east coast that had major crypto surveillance, we were always underway.

      • The Pete was my last ride 9/86-8/88. Commissioned Thorn DD 988 in 2/80. Both were fine ships. Thorn just had plankowner reunion in Nashville. Of course, you know what we say: the best ship is the one you just left or the one you’re going to!! I would do it all again on any ship!!

    • Gregory claibourn

      I Commissioned the USS Peterson 969 in 1976 she was my first ship in the Navy and was very proud to serve on her

    • Gilbert courchesne

      I was with you onboard at the same time I live in mobile and was only 45 minutes away from home during her overhaul in pascagoula I was a gse you know she has a reunion coming up here in April here in Mobile too many hurgada visits for me during that red sea deployment did get to see some great action on that cruise though

  • Enjoyed reading. Steamed with a lot of the Spru cans.
    WWII cans had 5″/38 caliber guns (no such gun as 5″/58)
    Spru cans had 5″/54’s

  • Pre-com plankowner DD963 USS Spruance shake down cruse and left the Spruance and the Navy Aug. 17 1976
    Reunion in a few days (Sept. 17 2015) in Mobile Al. See y’all there

    • Also a SPRUANCE plank owner. Remember the Pascagoula shipyard and all the pre-commissioning work we did. Mike Sullivan. She was a good ship!

      • I was on two, USS Merrill DD-976 90-94 and USS Oldendorf DD-972 97-02.

      • I was a Plank owner of the Spruance and The O’Brien DD 975. We had some good times Sullivan

      • @ Tom Honda I guess I could be considered an Honorary plankowner of O’Brien!!! When she did trials out of Long Beach, I was there. My dad was a sonar guru from the shipyard, and I went with. I was 6 or 7. Dad and I slept in Commander Mullens cabin, and he took the XOs. The crew was great, chaperoning me all over the ship, since dad was busy testing the sonar, amd Ieven got to “play” on a radar console in CIC. They whipped up a bogus “hostile” and even sounded some alarms for my benefit. Amazing experience!! The cruise was supposed to end at Seal Beach, but dad ended up failing the new sonar, so we ended up going back to LBNS. Evidently the Goodyear rubber dome “window” had irregularities and caused flow noise. (I spent lotsa time in the LBNS drydocks too) So if you have any recollection of a lil redhead aboard, running poor exhausted junior sailors all over the ship, that was me!!!

  • I served in NICHOLSON (DD 982) from 1998-2000 and DEYO (DD 989) from 2001-2003. Where to start? Well these ships were fun to drive and both of them shot a lot of Tomahawks when I was on them. And they were darned good looking ships…the last with real destroyer lines, if you ask me.

    The shame in the SPRUANCE class retirement is that the Navy did a poor job of maintaining and upgrading them. Obviously, keeping us in good shape would have meant spending money the Navy would have rather dumped on its pride and joy Aegis ships. The Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) was bound and determined to help Big Navy get rid of the SPRUCANs by failing them in their 5-year inspections (in 2002, aboard 989, we were the only SPRU in recent memory to–barely–pass an INSURV).

    Yes, of course, the SPRUANCE hulls are the same as the TICOs, thus showing their retirement was early. Sadly, while their chronological age would have suggested they had another decade of service remaining, most of the SPRUCANs I ever set foot on were begging to be retired (of my two, 982 more so than 989)…obsolescent and limping along from a materiel standpoint. It still pisses me off to think of it.

    • I served on the nick 84-88. Great ship

      • Steve McCarthy

        I was a Nicholson Plankowner, 1979-1984. Finished my career on another Spruance, David R Ray DD-971. Such a shame that they retired them early.

  • 400 sailors on on a Sumner/Gearing?

  • sorry to burst your bubbles but the burks are more than this writer thinks got to remember the type 1 and the type 2 alphas with helos and without helo hangers these ships are still more equipped with the latest in technology and with more fire power than the dd push come to shove in a ship to ship fire fight burks win every time sorry boys.

    • I never said the DDG-51s are not capable, or that a Spruance class was comparable, the 51’s were laid down in 1989 and are a generation evolved. The crux of the argument in the post is that the Spruances were put to pasture too early when they clearly had another decade or more of life in them.

      • One ship with nukes is more than enough. Everything else can be handled by the Coast Guard.

        The Flight III Arleigh Burke is more than a match for anything any other Navy can deploy…save the US Navy itself of course.

  • DD964 USS Paul F Foster plank owner, EM2. She served us well and glad to see our old girl still afloat. We served her well, too.

  • David A. Spriggs

    I was the commissioning Operations Officer in USS SPRUANCE (DD-963). While the SPRUANCE Class may have had many years of service life remaining in their hull and propulsion systems, it was their combat systems which spelled their doom. As more and more AEGIS-equipped vessels came online, the antiquated NTDS systems of the class were unable to “keep up”. One might say that the data processing and networking capabilities of the SPRUANCE class were like 9600 baud dial-up systems trying to keep up with broadband cable. It would have been prohibitively expensive to retrofit the SPRUANCE hull with AEGIS. Moreover, the class had an enormous RF reflectivity, making them huge targets. Note the “stealth” hull configurations of the DDG-51 Class.

    In the end, it is always money. It was cheaper and more effective to scrap the SPRUANCEs in favor of an entirely new class of vessels who could exchange and manage battle space data much more efficiently.

    Don’t get me wrong; I hated to see my old ship and all the other ships of the class go away. However, I recognized that necessity. The SPRUANCEs served long and with honor. They have passed the torch to a younger and more formidable group of ships.

    David A. Spriggs
    Captain, USNR (Ret)

    • Thank you for your service!

    • You probably know this, but Capt.Harbrect, Capt Lash, and Master Chief Huggins are still around Pascagoula, actually I think Capt Harbrect is in Fairhope, Alabama

    • Thank you for saying what needed to be said Captain. I’m as sentimental as the next sailor about the passing of the Spruance class having been a plankowner in Nicholson DD-982 from 78-80, but the fiscal and technological realities/limitations of the Spruance class fast became apparent. The end of service life for them was being discussed in NAVSEA back in the early 90’s shortly before I retired. It broke my heart to learn of Nicholson’s decommissioning and subsequent sinkex but it also happened to two of the other ships I served in as well. (Glennon DD-840 and Belleau Wood LHA-3)

    • Sir, while I respect your overall conclusion that Spru-cans combat systems were their downfall, I disagree that they should have been scrapped at that point. You didn’t throw away your two year old tube TV because plasma TV came on the market. You waited for the price to come down and technology to mature some and got the HD LCD TV and then you still held onto the tube set for a while and put it in the guest room until a better deal came along and you got an even better primary set. Just seems wasteful. But then again how many times were we spending money like a drunken sailor in the PI on payday the last quarter of the year so that our budget didn’t get reduced next year.

    • What you said was honest and well thought out. I love you for your service and dislike you (just a lill) honesty about a ship I’ve learned to love. You are truely a great man. “Be just and fear not” USS Hewitt DD-966. DC2 Chris C.

    • Refitting with Aegis wouldn’t happen. But they could all have been upgraded to the standard of the three DDGs based on the Spruance class. That was do able and would have made sense.
      If it’s any conciliation the contemporary Perry class frigates were deficient in NTDS, only one target illumination radar, no five inch gun, and a substandard air search radar.

    • David W Haapala

      A bit of a story first, Capt., then a thought about what you wrote. I was an EW on DD-971 (David R. Ray) for a couple of years early to mid ’80s.
      When I had heard of the sinking of the only SpruCan I had served on I was genuinely surprised. I felt my ship was too young. I was also angry. She was named after a Vietnam MOH winner and I remember his mother making visits to the ship. The first thing I thought, perhaps horribly, was that I hoped she wasn’t alive to have seen it. Then I discovered the whole 963 Class had been mothballed and were scheduled Davy Jones’ fleet.
      I understand your summary completely. My first thought about the justification was of the lack of stealth. The hull and superstructure were perfectly made to give just about any radar a nice, juicy return and changing that would probably cost as much as a new ship. But retrofitting with Aegis I wouldn’t think excessively cost prohibitive unless Lockheed and others wanted the good old arm and leg they like to charge. The majority of ships already had been upgraded to vertical launch, and as far as the rest of the electronics upgrades go – well, that’s the easiest and cheapest of the bunch.
      Her weapons outfitting wasn’t really all that bad – even pointing to the DDG-51 Class the Spruance was a worthy foe. She also had lots of room for weapons upgrading for years to come.
      Maybe I’m too nostalgic, but I strongly feel the Navy wasted a perfectly good hull when it dumped the SpruCan. I bet that today, in 2018, there are a lot of Admirals walking around wishing they had some of those still above water.

  • I serve on the david r ray DD 971 for me that class was what the navy was all about during the cold war. I served on carriers as well. But my heart is always and will be a tin can like dd971

    • Formerly: Tim Richeson

      I served on the DD-990 and am a plankowner. Good ship great crew. Shame that they sunk the Spruance class of ships, Way to soon.

  • Nice article mate! Very sad to see this great class go…and I was not even on any them. I think, for the most bang for the buck, they were GREAT…and specialized sub hunters like you mentioned. Oh, what now…the Russians are reviving there sub fleet, too bad…no Spruance-class destroyers are left to hunt them down. I honor this class on my facebook page.

    I was on Rigel (T-AF-58) and Neosho (T-AO-143) in the 80’s out of Norfolk, VA.

  • Is it just me? Whenever I play the song: Jazzman by Carol King…I think of the Spruance Class destroyers.

  • I was on the Stump DD-978 from 81-85. Great ship.

    • Charles Felix MSC(SW) retired

      2 tours onboard the Stump 87-91 and 95-98 loved that ship and I know the Russians hated the 53C sonar that popped tall outta the water one time and pissed off the Admiral incharge of the med when we busted his sub before she found us damn the bad luck

  • My first duty station was the O’Bannon DD-987 2003 – DECOM. I’ll be going to her last XO’s funeral this Thursday in Arlington. He most recently was the CO of the Phil Sea before being killed in an on base house fire last fall.

  • My first ship was USS David R Ray DD-971 August 1979-July 1984 made three WestPac cruises. Qualified Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW) as a First Class Petty Officer. Second ship was USS John Hancock DD-981 October 1987- November 1991 Made one MEF cruise and a North Atlantic cruise, Served as Senior Enlisted Engineering Programs Manager. Next duty station was Fleet Training Group Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from November 1991-June 1995 as a shipboard instructor on Perry class Frigates, Spruance class Destroyers, and Ticonderoga class Cruisers. Many good memories.

    • Tommy Miller STGC(SW) Ret.

      Long time no see James. I hope all is well. My first and third ship was the USS John Hancock. June 1979-Aug 1983 and October 1989-October 1991.

      • BH Phillips, (GSEC(sw)

        Chief: I do believe we were on sister ships; Served on the “Nick” DD-982 from precom ‘78 till I left in’82 as GSE1. Isn’t it odd,(or not), that each of us was on the best “Spru can”. Funny thing we’re all correct, and all saddened at the premature end of every damn one of them,regardless of the reason for it. Thanks for your service!

  • I served onboard USS R.W.RADFORD DD968 FROM 95-98. I am a plankowner on the USS VICKSBURG. CG69 Loved every minute of it sad to hear they are being scrapped.

    • R. Byron Stevens

      Served on the Ready Radford ’86-89. Was onboard when they put the VLS on in NOLA (Avondale). Much later, I watched video of them sinking her for a NJ reef. It was… surreal. Some of the best times of my life were spent during my time assigned there.

  • Timothy Williams

    I was Pre-com Connolly DD-979 and then regular ships company, 78-81. A fine ship gone far too soon.

    • As another Conolly plankowner, I fully agree with Tim and was dismayed to learn of the ship’s mothballing in 1998 after barely 20 years in commission, and eventual demise as a test target. This class represented one of the Navy’s early efforts to improve quality of life afloat for enlisted sailors (Time Magazine interviewed men on the Peterson), and also be more environmentally responsible (the Jared vacuum-suction sewage incineration system). Only once in three years did we ever experience “water hours” when our evaporators failed.

      One thing that did fascinate me is the level of vertical integration practiced by Litton Industries in the outfitting of the ship: Numerous other subsidiaries participated along with Ingalls: There were Clifton Precision SPA-25 radar scopes in CIC, Amecom communication gear in the radio room, Frigitemp chillers in the galley, and Royal typewriters (along with Monroe calculators) in the office. Had I not been forced to rotate, I would gladly have spent another year or two on 979!

  • I too served on the Connolly DD-979, 85-90. One of the finest ships I served on. She did not get the VLS upgrade and we knew her days were numbered. Such a waste.

  • Sam Kafer MSCM (ret)

    I was part of the commissioning crew USS Ingersoll DD-990. What a great tour of duty. But what hurt was the De commissioning before I retired from the navy. Who would think.

    • Served on Ingersoll 87-90 caught in yards in San Pedro Ca and rode her to Pearl.Did the Aussie Bi-cenntenial cruise more time inport than at sea after the cruise Capt Frank told me I would make chief because of the performance of our div(S2) I will be always thankful for that group of sailors much love for Spruance Class destroyers.

  • Somehow the helicopters were on Sumner and Gearings’. How about DASH. Drone anti submarine helicopters Unmanned helicopters capable of carrying nuclear depth charges. FRAM’s carried on for many years after in foreign navies. One is the USS Steniker in Mexico today.

  • A small correction on the main article. I served on the DD718, USS Hamner. We were a Gearing Class Fram II with the ASROC setup. I was a Torpedoman’s Mate. Our “Can” was classified as 2250 tons, not the 3000 to 4000 tons as specified in the article. We sailed with many Fletcher class “cans” that were only 2100 tons. Other than those small errors, I found the article to be very noteworthy and interesting.

  • Yet another Conolly DD 979 plankowner here. Good article about a great class of DDs. I agree that they were decommissioned way too early. I believe it was because of the so-called peace dividend after the Cold War. The career politicians let us down again, surprise surprise.

  • I too precommed and was a plank owner of DD-990 USS Ingersoll. Commissioned her as an ETC, Departed a year later as an LDO Ensign. Three years later served as EMO aboard DD-984 USS Leftwich. Two of my 3 favorite ships, the first being a 2250 Fram can USS Higbee DD-806! The only thing better than riding a Spruance Can was driving a Spruance CAN!

  • I served on the USS Moosbrugger DD-980 from May, 1984 to Nov, 1986. Went through a yard period overhaul and upgrade in Pascagoula, MS. They installed the CIWS, the helo recovery tracking system, ungraded the radars and expanded the helo hangar for extra sonar buoy storage. Went through GITMO reftra, Oct, 1985 and then on to the med cruise 1986. I “borrowed” the “Moose” as we called her for my last reenlistment ceremony, august, 1999. Whenever we got underway, we would announce, “The Moose is Loose!” he had a set of moose antlers on the fwd superstructure, on the mess decks, the ward room and the chief’s mess. She was considered “Head and antlers above the rest”. I have many pictures of her from over the years, some were taken by me and many others that were taken during the years after I moved on and later retired from the Navy. I have the last picture taken in 2006, over 5 years after she was decommissioned, in the starting process of being scrapped in Texas.

    • David DeKilder

      I too served on the “moose” from August 1980-July 1984, we must have crossed paths for a couple months, I was released in Newport, RI in ’84.
      EM2 DeKilder

      • It’s possible, I reported aboard May, 1984 the day the Moose came home for the 1983 /84 med cruise as an undesignated E-1.By the time we did a port visit to Newport, RI, I was mess cranking. Incidentally, Newport RI was my home port when I served on my 2nd ship, the USS Miller FF-1091, from 1987 to 1990. I went from BM3 to BM2 on her. I then served at SIMA Newport from 1990 to 1993. I served on two other ships and several shore commands before I retired as a BM1 (SW) in 2004.

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  • I can see mothballing the Spruances during the War on Terror years- but the weird part was how they were all sunk within a few years. Surely keeping some in mothballs would have been decent insurance – but no one was worried about Russia or China back in 2003 or so.

    I laugh when I see that the Navy saved 28 million a year on operations! Divide that into a billion for a new Burke. I think they were sunk so that the Navy wouldn’t have to slow down Burke production or Zumwalt development. Old ships simply don’t have as many fans as new ones, and their billion dollar contracts, divided among 20 states or so.

  • Great article! A few corrections:
    In ’89, the U.S. only had 12-15 Ticos up and running (Chancellorsville was commissioned 11/4/89) and they still had 5 years left.
    The FRAMs had 5/38s, but that could just be a typo.
    The Ticos were early decommed too–and Valley Forge sunk as a target. Also, the irony is that the first four Ticos themselves were originally drawn up as DDGs! (Hence the gap between DDG 47-50 after Preble (DDG-46)).
    Polmar has good reference material on this, but THE ultimate reference book is Michael Potter’s “Electronic Greyhounds.”
    Josh Echt

  • on the elliot DD967 forward engineroom. 81- 85

    • Herbert Meyer

      I was on Her from 91 until 93 as a CTM1 up in outboard on 03 level you never made it that high I am sure nose bleeds and all….

    • Michael schwartz

      Dan, I served on Elliot from 81-85 also, sk3 Schwartz

    • I remember dan the brother of dale hatcher , Im gsm2 winger the most awsome memories and buddies on the uss elliot DD967 early 80’s

  • I was an OS/ship rescue swimmer 80-83 on DD-973 USS John Young. One of the first non-plank owners to board the ship, talking about feeling like an outsider. Nice article on the ships, they were built for speed. We had HT’s constantly chasing cracks in our starboard side helo hanger. They drove the ship hard a lot, tore the fantail hand rail and trash chute several times. Thanks to the internet and facebook have been able to reconnect with several of my old shipmates. Look up operation Operation Nimble Archer for some good spurance class reading.

  • Slowly but surely since the 80’s the Department of Defense has for some ungodly reason stuck it’s head in the sand. They need to be renamed the Department of Disinterested. Congress, present & past administrations in order to support government payraises, pork projects, massive welfare projects and foreign aid have cut military new hardware/ modernization projects needed to provide the physical defense of this nation and to meet our comittment’s to our allies. Today we face challenges on all fronts with neither the manpower nor the equipment to support sustained operations in a multiple theater scenario. Sad, Dangerous, and down right STUBID! We’re in dire need of an administration, Congress, and Military Leadership that willing to make the right arguments to them both for WHY we need their unequivocal SUPPORT !

  • Herbert Meyer

    I was on-board USS Elliot(DD 967) AS A CTM1 From 1990 until 1993 always a tin-can sailor SPRU-CAN all the way got rid of them way too soon. loved that ship.

  • I was on the USS John Rodgers DD983 and she died a death no ship should go through, she was scrapped at Brownsville TX shipyard. I believe the spru-can’s could have been refurbished to another decade or more. At least they were not sold to another country

  • Dennis Davidson

    Thank you for posting this. I served on three Spruance destroyers (USS Harry W Will DD-986, USS Cushing DD-985, and USS Fletcher DD-992) out of San Diego from 1987-1992. They were great ships and it broke my heart to see them be tossed aside like they were.

    • RM2 Ernie Long now retired ITC

      I served on the Fletcher Dd-992 from 1993-1996.

    • Plankowner USS Fletcher DD992 BM3 AlexRodriguez

    • I was a plank-owner on the USS Cushing (DD985), a fine ship! Sad to hear their fate and why…. I too have many fond memories of Pascagoula, Miss. and eventually San Diego on her….I feel the same way…heart-broken to hear the fate of the Spruance class…

      • My husband, MAC Frank Pierce was also a plankowner on Cushing. He retired off of her in June 1981. We attended a reunion in S.Diego a couple of years ago. When I saw the video of her sinking, water just started coming out of my eyes. Frank does keep in touch with a couple of guys that he worked closely with. It is sad that these fine ships were scrapped or sunk with just 20 or so years of service.

    • william escolante jr

      I also served on the Uss Harry W Hill from sept 1 85 to april 9 88. Let go early for disability but that’s a story.Sure had some good times aboard her.Cried sorta,got angry sorta ect when she was sunk but think we all did.Life is good shipmate glade you made it

  • Warren Rabern

    Served on three of these hulls DD, DDG, and CG….Fletcher, Callaghan, and Thomas S Gates and enjoyed each one.

  • DD 864 Harold J. Ellison 5 years as BT in fire rooms that were hell on earth. from 1973 to 1978 the hull was so thin we were forbidden from needle gunning the bilges. aft fire room brovo 3

  • The big secret to this whole thing is that it was cheaper to up grade then build a new ship. But in order to build all those new Burks you have to get rid of the cheap fix. There are designs out that show the sprucans with an aegis up- grade. This would have given those ships another 20 years of life.

  • Served on USS FLETCHER DDDD992 from 91 to 95. She was the last in the continuous line of hull numbers. Two homeports two northpacs two westpacs two yard periods and 3 captains. Was great ship and a great crew. FC2

  • i worked as an electrician at ingalls on the first few of these. later i served as DCA on uss fife (dd-991). these were good ships, sorry they are now history.

    • USS FIFE/DD 991
      Fife Dog
      SN/EN3 McAllister
      Deck Department: 1st Div
      Engineering: Auxiliary Dept.
      Spruance Class Destroyers

  • Do I understand correctly that they essentially turned these DDs into DDGs, but without renaming them?

    BTW, I was on one of those Charles Adams class DDGs, the Goldsborough (DDG-20).

  • I just read your article this morning and I found it quite enjoyable. I served as an ET onboard the USS Comte De Grasse DD974 from 1983-1986 . I did however find one mistake that you made. You listing of the weapon and radar systems would lead one to believe that all the “Spruance class” destroyers had an AN/SPS-49 air search radar when in fact only one, the USS Hayler had this type of radar. All the Spru-cans built prior to the Hayler were equipped with a AN/SPS-40B air search radar that was upgraded in the late 80s to a AN/SPS-40F ( totally solid-state) air search radar.

    • 40B was a functional equivalent of the original 40 (essentially same cabinets/controls) but with solid-state upgrades in most of the modules. Original 40’s were upgraded to 40C, and 40A’s were upgraded to 40D. Involved in this process was Long Island contractor Dynell Electronics, which was acquired by United Technologies company Norden Systems. [The Dynell founder decided to pursue his holographic-photography business, Solid Photography Inc, which operated a public photo studio on LI.]
      The 15KV power supplies were made by Espey Manufacturing in Saratoga Springs, NY. When ours blew, I remember the tedious process of flipping this very heavy unit between two dollies in the radar room vestibule to get it out onto the main passageway, then wheeling it through the hangar and out to the flight deck, where a pier-based crane took it away while my chief (ETC Ronald Pyle) looked on.
      The 40B rotor had a two-speed motor, slow for long-range mode (LRM) and faster for Low Flyer Detection Mode (LFDM). Switching on-the-fly from slow to fast was no problem, but we needed to warn our OS’s about the damage risk of going from fast to slow without first doing a total stop, where braking would be properly applied.
      I don’t know anything about the Hayler’s SPS-49, but the Kidd class (4 ships originally ordered by the Shah’s Iran) were equipped with the more capable SPS-48 series used by our older CG’s and CGN’s. The 48, which featured a flat rectangular antenna, was made by ITT Gilfillan.

  • realitiveinsanity

    DD-974 Plankowner. We should have given them to our allies in the Pacific.

    • The Republic of China Navy now operates the four Kidd class DDGs. They have actually served as long in the RCN as they did in the USN.

  • I served nn the UssComte De Grasse DD 974 from 1984 to 1987 great ship just found out her fate saddens me to hear that she rest on the bottom of the ocean miss her and my ship mate God bless Them all.

    • Have you checked out the websites
      for “Together We Served” and/or
      “Hull Number”, to sign in on the
      roster of the magnanimous
      USS Comte De Grasse?
      Didn’t see your name listed there.
      Saw Regec, though. Seems he
      made Chief before retiring.
      Saw Al Aumack’s name listed
      someplace, too. And… Carson
      Raines, as well.
      Anyway… it’s good to see that you
      made it. Hope life’s treating you

  • Did a North Atlantic cruise on the Spruance DD-963 while in Precom for MY ship, Comte De Grasse DD-974…. Plankowner, Shellback and Suez Canal transit certificates proudly hang on the wall in my home office to this day…

    I did Med & North Atlantic trips on her… I learned my trade on The Count…

    Finished 24 years active duty as an ICC(SW/AW)…

    I knew it was time to retire when I was invited to the Decom for her, and I was still active duty… Never thought I’d out live that glorious ship…

    Sans’ Precedent !!!!

  • Never served aboard any of these ships or in the Navy, but I always admired these ships. Lived in Bremerton for many years and watched a set of 3-4 of them (I remember one was David R Ray) moored in the bay off of PSNS for years, just rotting away. It seemed disrespectful to me at the time. Now it just seems stupid how these ships were allowed to fall to pieces prematurely by bureaucratic penny pinching.

  • First paragraph….Five inch/thirty eight caliber gun….there is no such critter as a five inch/fifty eight…that would wind up with a barrel three hundred inches long or so….

  • Randall Fahlbusch

    Words fail me. I am so disheartened and can only shake my head. I loved bothe Sprucans I was on. What a platform. What a waste to systematically rid the Navy of so many great ships.

  • Plankowner USS Spruance DD-963 First an Best.

  • OHP sailor here, but the Spru-cans were great ships. I do believe that generation of ships will prove to be the best all around ship designs any NAVY has floated, so far. True, the newer Burks have the firepower and technology, but those old hulls (both the Spruences/Ticos, and the OHP) could take a pounding. Even the Sink-ex ships took a pounding before going down.

  • I served on USS Oldendorf DD 972. When I seen them sink her a part of me went too.

    • Served aboard the OLY 1990-1995. Chief Electrician EMC(SW). A great ship and really hated to see her sunk.

  • USS Comte de Grasse (DD-974), 1987-1991 it never quit, we were asea forever. In some warped way…I miss those daze.

  • USS KINKAID DD-965……5 Years of My 20…….BM2/1

  • I spent 4 years on the greatest navy ship in my 24 years the uss elliot 967 i loved that ship i was the chief cook it had the best crew and skippers very proud of her

    • Michael schwartz

      Chief Dunn I served on board the Elliot with you from 81 to 85 sk3 Schwartz.,you and sky weaver were great guys to serve with

    • William DuVal Jr

      Bill DuVal here. Boy Jerry looks like we are the few who commented for Elliot, too bad.

  • I was also a DD988 USS Thorn Plankowner and I agree with your analogy on giving up on the Spruance class. They were a fast, maneuverable ship. Yes the Hull and superstructure was very thin but, you had to sacrifice something for speed and maneuverability. On our maiden cruise – We made it to the mouth of the Med in 5 days – faster than I ever sailed across the pond before or since! The original contract was for 26 ships and to deplete the Navy of those ships – as quick as they did was a move to deplete the Navy. Weather the decision makers meant that or not – It did affect the Navy force composition. Now they cancel the Line of Zumwalt Class bringing the Price up to 2.2 Billion per ship and only 2 in the Planning. You wonder what our planners are thinking??

  • think they have retro fitted them with updated electronics and weapons.
    would have been able to serve another 10 or 15 years and update the engines and to get better has milage

  • Served on USS Yorktown CG48 and USS Stump DD978 in late 80’s through mid-90’s. Video of Stump SINKEX literally brought me to tears…Yorktown is decommissioned, but still afloat up in the northeast pending some kind of decision on disposition. Was at Leehelm for my GQ station when Stump fired Tomahawks into Iraq just after the end of the first Gulf War…quite an experience! A lot of good memories tied up in both those old girls…

  • Petty Officer Spanky

    3 years USS John Rodgers DD983..I have always thought she was decommissioned way too young and it hurt my heart to see the pictures of her in Brownsville. .

  • I served on the USS F B Parks DD-884(Gearing class destroyer). It went through a number of changes while I served(70-72) including but not limited to a helo deck. and a missile launcher on the fantail. While in Vietnam I saw several Marine helo pilots park their helos on the fantail. Personally I think to many people are in a hurry to use these fine ladies for target practice.

  • Precom and of course plank owner on the USS Hewitt, DD-966. Started as an “IBM”, and struck for OS, 1976-1979. Would love to hear about a reunion

  • Plankowner on DD997 USS Hayler. A-gang. Later on I rode USS A W Radford DD 968 operation Desert Storm. Retired ENC(SW) 1975-1995

  • Miss the Jolly Rogers!


  • USS O’Bannon DD987 85-88, her sinkex is on youtube and the only thing I can say when I watched it was, those doing the sinking would be crapping themselves if I was still on board her shooting back, sad to see the young lady go down without a fight, and yes she could fight hard.

  • USS JOHN YOUNG, DD 973 Reunion 2018, Mobile Alabama. Open to former crewmembers and support personnel. Email for details, or visit website at

  • I was a Plank Owner on the USS Comte De GRasse and served from 1978 To 1980. She was a fine ship and it broke my heart to hear that she was used as target practice and sunk. I have fond memories of Pascagoula Ms. and the commissioning of her. I was the first PC on her.

  • Served as part of Airdale crew aboard the USS O’Brien DD975 and USS Ingersol DD990 ……. Great Ships to go to Sea on.

    • First went to sea on O’Brien…. As a 9 year old. My dad was running the sonar dept at Long Beach Naval Shipyard. I went to sea overnight with him. We slept in the COs cabin, and i had sailors giving me the nonstop tour. Even got to play on the gear in CIC!! Then dad failed the sonar gears performsnce and we went back to LB instead of San Diego. Great memories!!! (I lster served just as dad did!!)

    • I think it was 1978…

  • As a former US NAVY VET..(Bt3..yeah what`s a Bt?)..anyway I served on the Uss Talbot Deg-4 from 1970-1974..great fast ship..ok here is what I could never understand about retired ships..20 years they are all used up..the Us Airforce has the B-52 made when? back in the 50`s…will fly another 20 years they say with updating every so can the powers at be spend all the do rae me on that airplane (don`t get me wrong it is a good bomber for sure)..and replace some classes of ships with a proven track record so early because they say they are out of is the B52….and now we all watch and learn about the new replacements ugly as hell..can“t afford the bullets to the rail guns they have…and can never go to see without the local AAA tow tug right behind them..ya think there are some palms being greased in DC?..nuf said..GO NAVY

  • I was a plank owner on the DD986 – USS Harry W. Hill. I was her first Navigator and XN Department Head. The ship’s crew was top-notch, but I was quite disillusioned about the quality of shipyard workmanship in building the Hill. We had several fires onboard due to shipyard trash being stored in electrical junction boxes. We also had a major gunfire casualty due to a coke can being disposed inside of our fire control computer. I generally regarded the Ingalls Shipyard as a bunch of rednecks with welding rods. All of our navigation gear (NavSat, Omega) broke within days of leaving the shipyard and we had to navigate from Mississippi to San Diego using stars and sextant. We nearly ran onto a reef in the Caribbean when the Omega system skipped lanes and gave us false navigation plots. While I really liked the ship and it’s crew…the ship itself was a piece of crap!

  • I spent nearly 2 years of my 6 in the Navy on USS Oldendorf DD972. I too thought that they were decommed WAY too early. The only big drawback that I can think of is that the superstructure was aluminum. I remember when I first got there she was going through an availability. One of the repairs that was being done was welding up a large crack that had formed between the masts on the O3 level. The Ticos and the Burkes have steel superstructures.

  • I served onboard the US John Young DD973 from 92-96. Loved every minute of it. Best years of my life were on a Sprucan.

  • In ’80 to ’81, I was 11-12 yrs old and was in St Lucia while my dad was working there…We took a tour of the USS Peterson when it came in for a port visit. It made a big impression on me. After high school, I joined the Navy in ’88 and served on the Nicholson ’90-’94

  • am a plankowner on USS HAYLER DD997 in 83. I also sailed in AW Radford DD968 89-94. I retired in 1995. I was shocked that the Navy saw fit to get rid of all of these capable ships! A waste of fineships!
    ENC (SW) ret 75-95

  • I was a plank owner of USS Arthur W. Radford DD-968….She was a great ship…first ship to fire a Harpoon missile in the Mediterranian Sea…Had a great mentor on board…FTG1 Joe Puls (eventually MCPO)…left the Radford as Fox division LPO….Loved that ship and all my shipmates…Saw her stripped down before sinking…what a host of memories!!!!….

  • the USS David R. Ray (DD-971) back in 1977… Greatest ship I ever served on… I also commissioned the USS Vincennes (CG-49) based on the Sprucan hull. Same base platform, different mission package…


    I object to your use of the term, “bankrupt Carter military.”

  • The four KIDD class of upgraded Spruance destroyers were neither scrapped nor sunk. They are presently serving honorably and proudly in the Taiwan Navy.

    • I’m not sure what upgrades they received, but they were originally designed and built for a foreign country, so I am sure their technology wasn’t/isn’t up to the Sprucans levels. Any Operations types serve on a Kidd AND Spruance? What were the major differences (other than between a DDG and DD)? Weapons systems limited, did they have NTDS, how about Engineers, were their power plants like? Off to research this one for myself…

  • Dorrell mcknight worked on these boats in 1975, I find it hard to believe that they were decommissioned already!! What a waste!!!

  • Question: How come in the ’70s and ’80s it shows the US Navy ships with white railings? But later on the railings (or whatever the term is) are gray like the rest of the ship?

  • I don’t know if this went through the first time, but if it did I apologize…
    How come it shows the Orleck with white railings? Were all Navy ships of the ’70s and ’80s like that? Was that a new color scheme? (Later on ships had gray railings in the ’90s). I know the Ticos early on had the same issue with white railings.

  • USS JOHN YOUNG “The Meet” March 2019 Jacksonville.

  • I served on the USS Kinkaid DD-965 during “CrashPac 89-90” as ET3/ET2.

    Even with all the trials and tribulations the “KinkyD” went through, I was surprised when I learned of its destruction.

  • I served aboard USS Cushing (DD-985) from 1990 to 1993, and she was one of the best in the fleet.

    That’s not just bragging, either, check her fleet combat readiness records, they’ll tell you everything you need to know.

  • Walt Talmadge

    The Navy retired them way too early. Served aboard the USS David R Ray (DD-971) in the early ‘80’s. Great ships!!

    • Warren Buddy Jameson

      My brother Roy and I were one of 2 sets of brothers that were plankowners on the David R. Ray. He was a Ship Serviceman and I was an Operations Specialist. Our first ship, and boy was she a GREAT ONE…
      9th Spruance, 7th Fleet, 1 speaks for itself (971)

  • I served aboard the Deyo from 84 until 88 and count those years as some of the best of my life. It probably wasn’t so much the hull, the armament or the electronics, it was the crew. I had the privilege of being part of something special and have some truly amazing memories.

  • Our Navy has become has shrunk to become second rate. We could not fight the Russian’s, or Chinese now and win. And if we fight the Chinese expect the Russian’s to jump in on their side! Numbers and weapon systems are what we need. Not Multi billion dollars projects that run over budget, and do not deliver. Requests should go out at Cost plus 7-10% and due on specific dates 100% certified and complete with a Bonus paid upon completion of contract when completed early and 100% . We need to arm our vessels to the teeth to out gun any enemy like the Russian Battle Cruisers, and heavy DD’s did! We keep making under armed ships that will get folks on our side killed, and loose the battle. Make equipment that makes the other side say ” Hey guy’s I’ll pass!”

  • I was precom for USS John Hancock DD-981 in 1978 went TAD on the Peterson and Stump, sorry to see. them go. Funny a West German ship I seen at Gitmo is now a museum in Germany, the Moulders, named after an air Ace from ww2. I’m not sure any newer ships are museum’s, I visited a Coast Guard Ice Breaker in Michigan, brought back some memories, but it was 1940s – 2005 or so. I still want to see a Littoral Combat Ship sometime look ‘s neat in a spaceship kind of way.

  • Plankowner on USS HAYLER DD997. Assigned DD968 USS AW Radford during Desert Shield/Storm

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  • I served aboard the Harry W Hill, DD-986 aka The Furry Wet Mound 1996-97.
    The reason the Navy dumped the Spruance Class was because of the hull…
    The aluminium hull construction specifically. There is this thing call “Stress Corrosion Cracking” (This is also a significant problem with the CG’s as well). The DDG-51 Class was originally supposed to replace the OHP FFG-7 Class,
    but the Spruance’s were in such bad shape that they ended up replacing them instead and the OHP’s stuck around as glorified gun boats a lot longer than desired.

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  • USS Fletcher DD-992 82-84 EN1 A-Div LPO……Damn Fine Ship.

  • USS John Young (DD-973)
    “The Spruance with Class”
    OS2 “DEL”

  • I put the David R. Ray (DD-971) in commission and served aboard her for 5 years. Great ship with a great crew. She was the 5th of 7 ships I served on in my career. My last ship I also put in commission was an Aegis Cruiser – the USS Vincennes (CG-49) another great ship with a great crew.

  • I was part of the USS Ingersoll DD-990 commissioning crew. Spent a considerable amount of time in Pascagoula. I loved that ship. It was like having a brand new car with all the bells and whistles.

  • Served on Elliot 967 from July 76 till 79. While I got to enjoy activity and follow-up the story of “Elliot and the Three Bears” My transfer did not let me participate in the rescue of the Vietnamese Boat People. As Sea Sparrow I made Chief and selected tor 8 when I went ashore. Lots of fond memories and funny stories. I learned a few yeas ago she ended up off the coast of Australia and is a fish reef. So she serves a greater purpose than a “Target”
    CMC Bill DuVal (FC)

  • Cadillacs…..Plain and simple, Our Ship (USS FIFE), could tear through the water, Hunted Subs like a fox, and always looked sleek and sure in or out of port. Watched the video of her being used for target practice and just thought, what a waste… The Spruance was the best of the best…. Navy made a big mistake not at least mothballing at least 20 of them!

  • I was on USS Peterson from 86-90. Although she was a great ship with plenty of power the Spruance class destroyers were plagued with some serious problems. Dissimilar metals which caused electrolysis and resulted in rapid deterioration.Additionally she had no expansion joints and was prone to super structure cracking. I recall going through a storm that caused a 18 foot crack in the aluminum super structure. We could actually see daylight from within combat information center. Repairs and upkeep were very expensive. They were indeed beautiful ships though!

    • Warren Buddy Jameson

      I commissioned the David R. Ray (DD-971) and did my first 5 year sea duty tour as an OS. Multiple deployments, several Typhoons, and never saw any problems like you described. Then again, our crew took excellent care of our baby… So sad to know she has been put to the bottom though.

  • I served on 2 SpruCans: USS PAUL F FOSTER (DD 964) as OPS Boss and USS O’BRIEN (DD 975) as XO. They were great ships to drive and their ASW and aviation capability was first rate. My first ship was USS TURNER JOY (DD 951), which was the last USN DD before the Spruances came along. The weapon systems, technology, engineering plant and livability differences between TJ and PF Flyer was night and day. I’m glad that PF Flyer is still sailing the Pacific. I was also CO of USS RENTZ (FFG 46) and USS HORNE (CG 30), both great ships. The OHPs were never meant to be multi-warfare DD replacements. They were great ASW platforms but not much else. The CG 26 class CGs were also decommissioned way too soon for budgetary reasons. But, given the geopolitical situation in the post-Desert Storm world, it probably was the right decision.

  • I was a plank owner on USS Paul F Foster DD-964. I served onboard from pre-com all the way through to the end of the first WESTPAC deployment. I never had more challenges than getting through the Light Off Exam and the Operational Readiness Exam. I assisted in writing the PQS for Engineering and the PMS program that was a mess as received by BUSHIPS. We worked hard and played hard. I won’t go any farther than that. We set the performance bar for the rest of the class and I’ve been told by following crews we set it too high. Coming from the USS Forrestal crew I was determined to do it right the first time. I was among the first to convert from EM1 to GSE1 in oct. 78 when the GS rating officially opened.

  • George Townsend

    I was the commissioning Navigator on the USS Harry W Hill (DD986) in 1979 out of Pascagoula. That shipyard was the worst the US had to offer…I called their workers “rednecks with welding rods”. We had 2 Class C fires due to shipyard trash being stashed in sealed electrical boxes. The Hill was a good ship with a fantastic commissioning Captain. I considered the SpruCans as “cadillacs” since I came off the Knox Class frigates. My GPS system was almost always Casrept, so we sailed from Mississippi to San Diego and back again by radar and stars…the Loran and Omega was totally worthless. Favorite story was the skipper called me into his sea cabin to let me know we would be diverting to the Gulf of Fonseca for a freedom-of-navigation operation while transiting from San Diego to Pascagoula. I reminded he that we had offloaded all ammunition at Seal Beach, CA before departing. He stopped, thought for a moment, and then told me “Never mind, I’ll handle this”.

    • How did he wind up handling it? LOL

      • George Townsend

        The skipper “reminded” the Navy Dept. that we had no bullets, so the tasking to send us into disputed Nicaraguan waters was cancelled. We held a swim call instead.

    • Hey, George!
      Great to hear from a fellow Harry W Hill plank owner. What have you been doing for the last 30 years? I retired in 1994 then worked for the owner of a fleet of commercial ships till 2008. I miss the comradery of blue-water sailors Nice to see it / feel it on Facebook pages.
      Tim French
      Ex-XO Harry W Hill

      • George Townsend

        Hey there XO!!! Terrific to hear from you! Ain’t it a small world? I always liked your XO approach…fair and honest. I even remember that time when I mouthed off over the 21MC as a joke but the transmission went through…In any event, I left the Hill in 1979 but kept a Reserve Commission and changed my designator from Surface Warfare to Intelligence. I then became a quasi-expert on the Middle East and oil issues…since I landed a job at Mobil Oil Corp in 1980 for 12 years. Recalled for Desert Storm and worked the Pentagon intel jobs…best billet I ever had!!! Meanwhile, worked at Mobil, Nike, Intel and then Microsoft because I moved to the Pacific Northwest. Now retired in North Bend, WA. and retired from the Naval Reserve as well. Terrific to hear from you and I’d like to get your summary of life after the Hill as well. I’ve always told myself that I would have remained in the Navy if the Hill and her officers were my first tour! My personal email is:

  • U S S PERRY 1961 – 1964

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  • William DuVal Jr

    Served aboard Elliot 77 – 81. Made CPO. It was a definite difference from GGL and CGs. Went from Talos, Long Range Fist of he Fleet to pop gun, NATO Sea Sparrow. At a CPO reunion learned she is on the bottom off the coast of Australia as a reef.. Glad she wasn’t a target or sold to some wierdo country. Later served aboard Leftwich till her move to Pearl..

  • William Mcallister

    Hey Guys, found this site VIA Pinterest, Read thorough the replies tonight 06/14/2021 I worked on the Eastbank as a welder on these ships in Pascagoula, MS 1977-1980. Although I wasn’t in the Navy I was very Proud to do my part. Thank You

  • Served on the USS Leahy CG-16 2 years shore duty then USS Conolly DD-979. Both of them great ships. Then the navy in its infinate wisdom sent me to a LST. What a comedown.

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    If anyone knows where Rick Dangerfield is from uss Briscoe have him email me.

    • First name Ricky or Richard? Middle name? Wife’s Name? Mom & Dad sisters, brothers names? approx Age? What state was he from? any other details? Navy Rate?
      I find Shipmates and Friends rather easily when I have as much details as possible when I start.
      Drop me a email zorched_dd973 AT yahoo dot Com
      Best Regards Dave Stangland STG3 Plankowner USS John Young DD973

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  • Plankowner USS John Young DD973
    I remember one of the Key Selling points to Congress at the time was the Ships modular design. Ingalls promoted that the ships could be modified and upgraded for years to come, and Ingalls could build a modular section that could be added as the section they are updating was removed.

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