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Hull Number: DD-963

Launch Date: 11/10/1973

Commissioned Date: 09/20/1975

Decommissioned Date: 03/23/2005

Call Sign: NDKV (84-87)

Voice Call Sign: SHY NATIVE (75), QUIET WARRIOR (76),



Length Overall: 563’ 3"

Beam: 55’

Draft: 29'

Full Load Displacement: 8,040 tons


Two 5″/54 caliber guns
Two 20mm Close-In Weapons Systems
One ASROC Launcher
Two 12.75″ triple anti-submarine torpedo tubes


19 Officers
315 Enlisted


4 General Electric LM2500 Gas Turbines: 80,000 horsepower

Highest speed on trials: 32.5 knots




Not yet available

A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History


The Tin Can Sailor, January 2009

The SPRUANCE (DD-963) was the lead ship of her class of 31 destroyers when she was launched on 10 November 1973 at the Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The navy’s first ship to be named in honor of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, whose victory at the Battle of Midway was the turning point of the Pacific war, she was commissioned on 12 August 1975 in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Her early career as the navy’s latest ASW weapon included cruises in the Northern and Southern Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, and Persian Gulf with port calls in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. During a 1986-87 modernization, she was equipped with a vertical missile launching system. In January 1989 heavy winds forced the destroyer aground on a coral reef near Andros Island in the Bahamas. The same wind damaged her foremast. She was finally pulled free by the USNS MOHAWK (T-ATF-170) and USS GRASP (ARS-51).  There were no injuries, but repairs cost $1.4 million.

War with Iraq in January 1991brought the SPRUANCE to the Red Sea as part of  the carrier SARATOGA (CV-60) Battle Group. She operated with the cruiser PHILIPPINE SEA, flagship of a cruiser-destroyer escort group that included the SAMPSON (DDG-10) and   MONTGOMERY (FF-1082), as well as the battleship WISCONSIN (BB-64), the SOUTH CAROLINA (CGN-37), BIDDLE (CG-34), THOMAS C. HART (FF-1092), and DETROIT (AOE-4). For this operation, she was armed with Tomahawk missiles, which, according to  Desert Victory author Norman Friedman, played an essential role in disabling the Iraqi air-defense system. From their positions in the Red Sea, the ships of the SARATOGA Battle Group could strike targets in western Iraq and Baghdad.

The SPRUANCE returned to the Red Sea in May 1993 to conduct board and search operations to enforce UN sanctions against Iraq. Thereafter, she joined the Sixth Fleet making  stops in Spain, Italy, and Crete. She returned to the Red Sea in late June as flagship of the task force commander and took part in exercises with the Egyptian and Jordanian navies. On 10 September 1993, the SPRUANCE made the UN multinational force’s 18,000th ship interception since the sanctions were initiated in August 1990, when she stopped the Maltese cargo ship,  EARLY STAR. She was found to be empty and was permitted to go on her way. In October, the SPRUANCE was relieved as flagship by the USS HAYLER (DD-97) and headed for home. She had completed more than 170 boardings during her deployment.

A different mission took her to the Caribbean in July 1994 to take part in Operation Restore Democracy and assist the U.S. Coast Guard in enforcing the UN’s embargo on Haiti.  The SPRUANCE transported nine hundred Haitians to Guantanamo Naval Station. Routine operations took her into mid 1996 when she participated in BALTOPS 96, an exercises in the Baltic Sea involving 47 ships and aircraft from 12 squadrons representing the U.S., Great Britain, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, The Netherlands, Poland, Russia, and Sweden.

The following year, the SPRUANCE joined the USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV-67) Battle Group for a seven-month deployment in the Mediterranean. She was the flagship of DesRon 24 for visits to 13 foreign ports and engaged in five multinational exercises in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. She was Presidential Support Ship representing the U.S. Navy for  the fifty-second anniversary of the Allied landings in southern France and hosted military and diplomatic VIPs during Ukranian Independence Day celebrations. While operating in the Black Sea she participated in an exercise to train military forces in providing humanitarian aid to victims of a simulated earthquake in southern Ukraine.

She spent another busy year in 1999 deployed again with the JOHN F. KENNEDY Battle Group in the Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf. She left the battle group to relieve the USS PETERSON (DD-969) representing the Standing Naval Forces Mediterranean and then returned to the states, where she had to contend with the effects of Hurricanes Floyd and Gert off the east coast of Florida. She ended the year in the Mediterranean.

In June 2000, the SPRUANCE began a dry dock period in Jacksonville, which was the first time in ten years a U.S. Navy ship had dry docked there. She went into the floating dry dock SUSTAIN, which was brought especially from Norfolk to the St. John’s River. She was back at the naval station in Mayport in August and ready for action. On 24 September 2001, she began exercises at the Vieques Island firing range with the JOHN F. KENNEDY Battle Group, training in naval surface fire support and air-to-ground bombing. She was with the battle group in late January and again in February for Joint Task Force Exercises off the East Coast and on Florida and North Carolina training ranges.

In February 2002, she began her deployment to the Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf. She would have one final deployment with the KENNEDY battle group in June 2004 before she was decommissioned at Mayport on 23 March 2004 and transferred to Philadelphia. On 8 December 2006 the SPRUANCE was sunk as a target off the Virginia Capes. She was the longest serving ship of her class.

A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History


The Tin Can Sailor, April 2012

The USS SPRUANCE (DD-963) was the lead ship of her class. She was named for Admiral Raymond A. Spruance. She was built by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries at Pascagoula, Mississippi, and christened by Mrs. Raymond A. Spruance. The new ship was assigned to DesRon 24 and operated out of Mayport. As a class, the SPRUANCE ships proved highly successful as antisubmarine warfare destroyers. She was the first gas-turbine powered destroyer in the U.S. Navy. She was armed with an 8-cell NATO Sea Sparrow missile launcher for air defense.

She deployed to the Mediterranean for the first time in October 1979 with the SARATOGA battle group. She sailed with the BIDDLE (DDG-5), CONYNGHAM (DDG-17), MILWAUKEE (AOR-2), and MOUNT BAKER (AE-34). During the cruise, the SPRUANCE visited the Black Sea to conduct surveillance on the new Soviet helicopter carrier, MOSKVA, as she sailed from her building shipyard to join the Soviets’ Red Banner Northern Fleet, the SPRUANCE had to replace one of her LM-2500 gas turbine main engines.

Because she was the first gas turbine powered ship in the fleet, she had a distinctive underway replenishment breakaway flag, flown as she pulled away after receiving supplies and fuel from the logistics ship. It was a copy of the large yellow warning seen on the side of aircraft carrier superstructures. Its red block letters warned ‟Beware Jet Blast”. They unfurled the flag on the destroyer’s halyards and played the theme from the movie ‟Superman” as, with increasing speed, she steamed away from the supply ship.

The SPRUANCE deployed to the Arabian Sea in 1982, visiting the port of Mombasa, Kenya, in May 1982. She spent a brief time on station off Beirut in June 1982 before being relieved. That year, she transited both the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal in the same summer.

In January 1983, the SPRUANCE deployed for six months in the Persian Gulf in company with the USS OLIVER HAZARD PERRY (FFG-7) during the Iraq-Iran War. During a brief yard period, she received the CIWS and TAS Mk 23 radar system, then, in 1984, she went on to take part in Teamwork ’84 in the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean. She deployed to the Mediterranean Sea in November 1984 and conducted her second Black Sea Operations over Thanksgiving 1984. She returned from her deployment in May 1985 and shortly thereafter began her second overhaul during which she received the SH 60 and Vertical Launch System (VLS), replacing the old Mk 16 ASROC launcher.

She deployed to the Red Sea for six months in May 1993. There she spent over three and a half months conducting visits and board-and-search operations in support of United Nations sanctions against Iraq. While attached to the U.S. Sixth Fleet, the SPRUANCE visited ports in Spain. Additional stops in the Mediterranean consisted of a brief stop in Sicily, then to Souda Bay, Crete, for a maintenance period (IMAV) with the SHENANDOAH. The SPRUANCE passed through the Suez Canal on 29 June.

Upon arrival in the Red Sea, the SPRUANCE served as flagship of CTG 152.1 in command of the maritime interdiction forces. She served three different task force commanders.

While on station, the SPRUANCE conducted exercises with the Egyptian and Jordanian navies.

During her time in the Red Sea, she visited the Egyptian port of Hurghada for crew rest and relaxation. Other official port visits included Safaga, Egypt and Aqaba, Jordan, where the SPRUANCE hosted receptions for top military and embassy officials. On 10 September 1993, she intercepted the 18,000th ship since sanctions began in 1990. The ship intercepted the Maltese-flagged bulk carrier EARLY STAR en route from Massaua, Eritrea, to Aqaba in the Northern Red Sea. The ship was empty and was allowed to proceed. When the SPRUANCE was relieved as flagship on 9 October, she had completed more than 170 boardings. Once back in the

Mediterranean, she made port calls in France and Spain before returning home on 14 November.

In July 1994, as part of Operation Restore Democracy, she was one of the U.S. Navy ships assigned to enforce the United Nations embargo of Haiti. When the U.S. Coast Guard ships needed assistance in handling the volume of Haitians trying to escape from the island, the

SPRUANCE joined the effort, carrying nine hundred Haitians to Guantanamo Naval Station. She subsequently went on to Portsmouth, Virginia, for a period in dry dock.

In mid-1996, the SPRUANCE took part in the 24th annual BALTOPS, a U.S. invitational maritime exercise in the Baltic Sea. Made up of air, surface, and subsurface operations, the exercise involved 47 ships and aircraft from 12 different squadrons sent by 13 NATO and Partnership for Peace nations. The following year, she deployed to the Mediterranean from April through October with the JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV-67) carrier battle group. She served as the DesRon 24 flagship visiting thirteen foreign ports; participating in five multi-national naval exercises; serving as Presidential Support Ship in Rotterdam, Netherlands; representing the U.S.

Navy in Thoule Sur Mer, France, for the commemoration of the fifty-second anniversary of the Allied landings in southern France; and hosting Ukrainian military and diplomatic visitors during the 1997 Ukrainian Independence Day celebration. During that period, the SPRUANCE also took part in the Sea Breeze 97 Black Sea exercise that trained military forces to provide humanitarian relief for victims of a simulated earthquake in Southern Ukraine.

After dealing with the effects of Hurricane Floyd and Hurricane Gert off the east coast of

Florida, in the fall of 1999, the SPRUANCE crossed the Atlantic and entered the Mediterranean with other ships from the JOHN F. KENNEDY battle group. The battle group was the U.S. representative to the Standing Naval Forces Mediterranean, part of NATO’s reaction force ready to respond to any crisis concerning NATO’s interests in the Mediterranean.

On 1 June 2000, the SPRUANCE became the first U.S. Navy ship to use the dry dock in Jacksonville, Florida, in more than ten years. She remained there until early August. While in dry dock, her hull was cleaned and inspected and corrective and preventative maintenance performed. In September 2001, as part of the KENNEDY battle group, the SPRUANCE began

COMPUTEX exercises at the Vieques Island inner firing range and the northern and southern Puerto Rican operating areas. The exercises involved complex battle group training events, naval surface fire-support training, and air-to-ground bombing. COMPUTEX was designed to forge the battle group into a cohesive, fighting team, and was a critical step in the pre-deployment training cycle and prerequisite for the battle group’s Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) scheduled for early the following year.

In January 2002, as part of the battle group, the SPRUANCE began the two-phase Joint Task Force Exercise designed to meet the training requirement to prepare U.S. forces for joint and combined operations off the East Coast, as well as on training ranges in North Carolina and Florida. She returned to Mayport with the battle group on 7 December 2004 and was decommissioned there on 23 March 2005. The SPRUANCE was sunk as a target for aircraft-launched Harpoon missiles on 8 December 2006.

A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History


The Tin Can Sailor, July 2016

Until the commissioning of the USS ZUMWALT (DDG-1000) later this year, the first USS SPRUANCE (DD-963) was the largest destroyer, by volume and length if not displacement, in U.S. Navy history. At 563 feet in length, they were longer even that the current Arleigh Burke-class although they displaced substantially less at 5,830 tons (light) compared to the Burke’s 9,200.

Designated DD, they nonetheless had guided missiles. What was to have been a two ship-type project of DXG destroyer and a smaller DX destroyer escort became a single ship type when the analysis indicated that the DX would of necessity meet all destroyer characteristics anyway. To save money the navy decided a single yard would build them all and would therefore have economies of scale. The 1970 contract was for 30 ships originally but a 31st was added in 1977 for DD-997 to be a DDH version that was to have carried four LAMPS Mk III helicopters. That order was changed to a standard Spruance before construction however. Competition with the DLGN nuclear destroyer project was likely the actual reason for not having the DDG designation because the DXG program was not approved whereas a DD program would pass Congressional scrutiny.

Litton Industries Pascagoula, Mississippi Engalls Shipbuilding had the contract for all 31 ships and produced them between 27 November 1972 when SPRUANCE (DD-963) had her keel laid and 2 March 1982 when Hayler (DD-997) was launched.

Named for famed World War II Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, the ship as to be the premier antisubmarine and anti-ship weapon and would allow retirement of the remaining World War II destroyers. The SPRUANCE was christened by Mrs. Raymond A. Spruance on 10 November 1973 and was commissioned 20 September 1975, CDR Raymond J. Harbrecht in command.

Propulsion came from two General Electric gas turbine engines, the same as were used on many commercial aircraft. Together they produced 80,000 SHP into two screws and made sure the ship could do the required 30 knots to keep up with the aircraft carriers they were to protect.

SPRUANCE carried as armament two 5-inch/54-cal. guns, ASROC, two Mk 32 triple 12.75-inch torpedo tubes, Sea Sparrow, Harpoon, and in the 1980s, Standard missiles were added in a Vertical Launch System (VLS) and the ASROC launcher was removed. A pair of Phalanx CIWS automatic Gatling guns were added for close-in protection at that time.

Being the first U.S. Navy ship with General Electric’s LM 2500 gas turbine engines, SPRUANCE was also the first to experience an underway engine failure. However the engine was easily replaced in port.

During the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s SPRUANCE was assigned to observe from the Persian Gulf and to help keep the sea lanes open while avoiding the combatants.

SPRUANCE returned to Norfolk from the deployment in May 1985 and entered the yards for an overhaul which included the addition of the VLS, a towed array sonar upgrade and the LAMPS Mk 2 SH-60 helicopter. The addition of the helicopter extends the antisubmarine detection and weapons range away from the ship significantly and of course serves several surveillance, rescue and transportation functions.

During the 1990s, SPRUANCE served as flagship for CTG 152.1 in the Red Sea. During that period three different task force commanders used DD-963 as flagship. Deployments were mostly from the East Coast to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Red Sea and Persian Gulf. In 1994, during the UN embargo of Haiti, SPRUANCE was called upon to assist the Coast Guard in handling the thousands of Haitians who were at sea on overloaded unseaworthy vessels in danger of sinking. SPRUANCE once picked up nine hundred Haitians and carried them to Guantanamo, Cuba to be processed. She also played the usual maneuvering games with Soviet ships intent on denying the U.S. free access to the Mediterranean and Black Seas.

The SPRUANCE as-built complement was for 296 officers and enlisted but that rose as more and newer sensor systems, missiles, and helicopter were added, making the ship much more expensive to operate. When it came time to do a service life extension the navy determined the cost would be too high because the ships were not compatible with new systems and equipment so they opted to retire the class instead. USS SPRUANCE (DD-963) was decommissioned on 23 March 2005. On 8 December 2006 she was sunk as a target for aircraft-launched Harpoon anti-ship missiles.