Sisters from another mister, ADM De Grasse edition

Here we see a starboard beam view of the Spruance-class destroyer USS Comte De Grasse (DD-974) and the French Tourville-class fregate De Grasse (D-612) underway near Cape Henry on their way to Norfolk, October 1981. The ships at the time were participating in the U.S./French bicentennial celebration to mark the joint American Colonial-French operation that concluded the 1781 siege at Yorktown.

A starboard beam view of the destroyer USS COMTE DE GRASSE (DD-974) and the French destroyer De GRASSE (D-612) underway near Cape Henry on their way to Norfolk. The ships participated in the joint U.S./French bicentennial celebration at Yorktown, Va.

Photo 330-CFD-DN-SC-82-02122 in the National Archives

Note De Grasse‘s Lynx Mk.2(FN) helicopter on her stern, her Crotale EDIR short-range SAM looking aft, a battery of MM38 Exocet anti-ship missiles amidships, and her twin GIAT 100mm/55 cal M68 guns forward. The whopping missile-like object loaded just aft of the Exocets is a Malafon ASW rocket-assisted glider-delivered torpedo. The first two ships of the class commissioned with three 100mm mounts, including one over the stern, while De Grasse completed with two to make way for the newly introduced Crotale. The 4,500-ton frigate commissioned in 1975 and served the Marine Nationale until for almost 40 years. Decommissioned in 2013, she’s awaiting her fate at the French ship graveyard at Landévennec but RUMINT is that she may go to the Philipines as part of a package deal on Scorpène-class submarines.

The larger USS Comte De Grasse in the background was commissioned at Pascagoula in 1978 and returned their several times during her career– I once toured her as a kid. She is shown above in her “pre-Tomahawk ” layout that included a stand-alone ASROC launcher forward. After 1984, she was fitted with two 4-cell Mk 143 armored box launchers for said cruise missiles. Just short of her 20th year with the fleet and still young, DD-974 was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 5 June 1998 then sunk as a target in 2006.

The two De Grasses, named of course for French ADM Franҫois-Joseph-Paul de Grasse, who commanded the French fleet at Yorktown, would meet on at least one other occasion in honor of their shared namesake.

In March 1997, a year before she was decommissioned, USS Comte de Grasse got underway for France to participate in Spontex 97, a multinational ASW exercise sponsored by the French Navy. After the exercise wrapped up, she joined her old friend, the French fregate De Grasse, at Brest during a period that coincidentally corresponded with the 216th anniversary of the date Adm. de Grasse sailed for America with the fleet that became victorious at the Battle of the Virginia Capes in 1781.

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