Courtesy of Military.com

Destroyers, a Century of Greatness
by Journalist Third Class (SW/AW) Jennifer Zingalie
Navy News Service
November 27, 2002


USS Winston S. Churchill makes a high-speed run in the English Channel. The destroyer, based in Norfolk, Va., is making its first deployment to the United Kingdom and Norway. The Churchill is the only U.S. Navy vessel in active service named after a foreign dignitary. The ship is named in honor of Sir Winston Spencer Leonard Churchill (1874-1965), best known for his courageous leadership as the British Prime Minister during World War II. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Shane T. McCoy.

NORFOLK, Va. -- One hundred years ago, on Nov. 24, a new class of ship was “born” into the fleet of the U.S. Navy.

This ship, USS Bainbridge (DD 1), along with eight sister ships, leaders of the class, were built to destroy powered torpedo boats (German U-boats).

Throughout the years, destroyers have been fast, alert, lethal and resourceful. They have been involved in almost every naval conflict and continue to be essential to the Navy’s warfighting strategy.

“Destroyermen -- a powerful term that includes so many generations, so many experiences -– peacetime and war, both men and women,” said Vice Adm. J. Cutler Dawson, Commander 2nd Fleet, who served as guest speaker at last spring’s Destroyermens' Ball.

Although the birth date of this class of ship has been celebrated for the entire year, the actual birthday of the destroyer is in the month of November and is remembered by those to whom its birth means the most, the men and women who serve aboard them.

“On a destroyer, the crew is small, so being capable and versatile in your job and as a Sailor is very important. We are mission-ready. Intense training to build these traits in each other is of utmost importance,” said Sonar Technician (Surface) Seaman James M. Hughes of USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79).

Today, there are two types of destroyers; Arleigh Burke-class and Spruance-class. Armed to respond with power and precision, the Spruance-class is used mainly for antisubmarine warfare, and the Arleigh Burke-class has a variety of combat capabilities. However, both serve in the protection of other ships in a battle group.

“Destroyers are ships that, when out to sea, constantly train. These exercises prepare us for any contingency, because we are ready for action at a moment’s notice,” said Mess Management Specialist 3rd Class James W. Towne of Oscar Austin.

The Navy continues to explore new and better ways to improve the fleet and is working to develop the 21st century’s next-generation destroyer, known as the DD(X). These ships are being designed for multimissions in dealing with small boats, diesel submarines and mines in coastal waters. Like their predecessors, they will also fulfill the need of the Navy in combat and precision.

“I believe that destroyers have held high standards for the ships and Sailors alike since they were first commissioned, and always will,” said Hughes. “We as destroyermen have jobs to do, which can be dangerous and hard. We put ‘warheads on foreheads.’ Everything we do is built around fighting our ships. I think we have to uphold high standards.”

Adm. Arleigh A. Burke, one of the Navy’s greatest destroyermen, said in 1964: “…the already great strength of the Navy will be increased even more, and through it, we will respond more effectively to the challenges which confront our country,”