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Hull Number: DD-997

Launch Date: 03/02/1982

Commissioned Date: 03/05/1983

Decommissioned Date: 08/25/2003

Call Sign: NRWH

Voice Call Sign: ASSASSIN



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



Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, January 2020

Vice Adm. Hayler was a distinguished surface warfare force commander in the Pacific theater of World War II (1939–1940). During his service in the war, he became one of the U.S. Navy’s most highly decorated officers receiving the Navy Cross with two Gold Stars, one Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, a Legion of Merit with one Gold Star, and a Commendation from the Secretary of the Navy. Following the war, he served as a member of the General Board and later as the Commandant of the Sixth Naval District. He retired from U.S. naval service in 1951.


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USS HAYLER DD-997 Ship History

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, January 2020

Hayler was laid down on 20 October 1980, at Pascagoula, Miss., by Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries; launched on 2 March 1982 and co-sponsored by Miss Margaret Hayler and Miss Nicole Hayler, granddaughters of Vice Adm. Robert W. Hayler; and commissioned on 5 March 1983, at Ingalls Shipbuilding, Cmdr. Paul W. Ecker in command.

Hayler was the last of the U.S. Navy’s Spruance (DD-963) class destroyers. Designed as multi-mission combatant ships, Hayler and the other Spruances were the first navy destroyers powered by gas turbine engines. Although her primary mission remained anti-submarine warfare, Hayler carried a formidable array of weapons systems and cutting-edge electronics. Her design, which provided for a reduction in crew manning via automation, greatly enhanced her sea availability.

Homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Hayler conducted her inaugural shakedown cruise in the Caribbean Sea. The destroyer got underway on her first deployment on 17 October 1984, steaming across the Atlantic Ocean in company with a battle group built around the aircraft carrier Independence (CV-62). In the course of the cruise, Hayler patrolled the Red Sea, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. She returned to Norfolk on 6 April 1985 and later received the Golden Anchor Award for excellence during the patrol.

On 22 July 1986, Hayler got underway for her second major deployment—Unitas XXVII—and first cruise, off Central and South America. The destroyer operated in South American waters for five months and then returned to Norfolk on 6 December.

The following year on 31 August 1987, Hayler got underway from her homeport in Virginia for a three-month deployment to the Baltic Sea and North Sea. She later returned to Norfolk on 8 November.

On 20 June 1988, Hayler voyaged back to Northern Europe to serve as the flagship for the Commander of Standing Naval Force Atlantic. The destroyer arrived in her assigned area on 30 June and began a rigorous training routine with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) naval forces. Just a week after her arrival, on 7 July, she was dispatched to a distress signal relayed by the oil platform “Piper Alpha” located off the northern coast of Scotland. Hayler was one of the first NATO ships to arrive at the scene of the disaster and subsequently aided in rescue operations, which had begun several hours prior to her arrival. Following the incident Hayler remained in the area for six months conducting exercises with NATO forces. She later returned to her homeport on 16 December.

Hayler voyaged again to European waters on 25 February 1989 to participate in NATO exercise North Star 89. Upon her return to the east coast of the United States on 4 April 1989, the destroyer proceeded to participate in New York City Fleet Week 1989. In June 1990, Hayler deployed for Unitas XXXI.

On 26 April 1991, Hayler went onto keel blocks at the Bath Iron Works Shipyard in Portland, Maine, for a major overhaul, which included the installation of a Mk. 41 Vertical Launch System. The new weapons platform enabled the destroyer to carry Tomahawk cruise missiles. Her overhaul work eventually concluded the following year and on 4 May 1992, she returned to the water and steamed back to Norfolk for refresher training and certification work.

Hayler stood out for another major deployment on 3 September 1993, making her way across the Atlantic and then taking up a patrol station in the Red Sea. While in her operating area, the destroyer participated in Maritime Interdiction Operations in support of United Nations sanctions imposed on Iran. In the course of these operations, Hayler was credited with a record-setting 327 boardings of suspected sanctions violators.

Following her return to North American waters on 24 February 1994, Hayler was dispatched to support a United Nations Security Council Resolution, which authorized U.N. intervention to remove a military regime in Haiti that had overthrown the country’s democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The subsequent deployment of U.N. forces (primarily U.S.) was known as Operation Support Democracy and Operation Uphold DemocracyHayler supported these operations from 16 to 30 April.

Underway from Norfolk on 24 May 1994, Hayler voyaged to the Baltic Sea for Baltops 94 (Baltic Operations 1994) in which she participated in exercises with 52 warships from 12 different nations. In the course of the Baltops exercises, Hayler was dispatched on 9 June, to make one of the first U.S. Navy recoveries of a crashed Russian Navy helicopter. While in the region, she also made several historic port visits to former Eastern Bloc nations and, on her return journey, she made a Fourth of July port visit at Portsmouth, England.

On 28 December 1994, Hayler entered the Metro Machine Corporation Shipyard in Norfolk, for a six-month maintenance period. Although the work was completed on 11 May 1995, the destroyer then participated in work ups that lasted well into the following year.

Hayler deployed to the Mediterranean Sea on 25 November 1996, in company with a battle group organized around the nuclear powered aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). In the course of the cruise, Hayler participated in seven major exercises and made 18 ports visits.

After returning to the United States in May 1997, Hayler later transited to Portsmouth, Va., on 7 July, for a three-month overhaul followed by extensive “work-ups.” On 13 July 1998, the destroyer deployed with the guided missile frigate Carr (FFG-52) for a six-month cruise in the Middle East where she participated in four major exercises. During Operation Desert Fox, she fired Tomahawk s into Iraq. Hayler returned to Norfolk on 13 January 1999.

In 2000, Hayler got underway for South American waters during Unitas XXXXI. Following the terrorist attacks that occurred in the United States on 11 September 2001, Hayler deployed to the Mediterranean in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While in her assigned area, Hayler participated in three major exercises and conducted the first Sixth Fleet maritime boardings to occur in 20 years. She also made nine port visits. For her consistent reliability during the period, she was presented with the “ComDesRon 28 IRONMAN Trophy.”

In 2002, Hayler went on an American Tribute Tour, notably visiting Boston, Mass., for the annual Dorchester Parade. That same year the destroyer again received the Golden Anchor Award.

In the spring of 2003, Hayler completed a highly compressed intermediate deployment cycle in less than six months. During the deployment, she voyaged to the Eastern Pacific to participate in counter drug operations, which “gathered vital intelligence and denied drug traffickers passage via sea routes.” While engaged in these operations Hayler conducted a high-speed chase with a suspected drug trafficking vessel that resulted in the contraband ship being intentionally beached and set on fire by its own crew. The pursuit resulted in the disruption of a 1,300-pound cocaine transfer.

The destroyer made her final homecoming on 6 June 2003, and then the following month “commenced preparations for decommissioning,” which took place on 25 August 2003.

Hayler was stricken from the U.S. Naval Vessel Register on 6 April 2004.

On 13 November 2004, the ex-Hayler was sunk as target practice during a multi-national exercise, 300 miles off the U.S. east coast. 

Commanding Officers Date Assumed Command
Cmdr. Paul W. Ecker 5 March 1983
Cmdr. Edward F. Messina 31 May 1985
Cmdr. Stanley B. Weeks 5 June 1987
Cmdr. Charles E. Mulroy 8 November 1988
Cmdr. William L. Sheppard Jr. 8 June 1990
Cmdr. Fred S. Bertsch III 18 April 1992
Cmdr. Alan B. Hicks 20 January 1994
Cmdr. William P. Garland 30 November 1995
Cmdr. Paul K. Susalla 5 August 1997
Cmdr. Michael R. Durkin 30 April 1999
Cmdr. Jon W. Kaufmann 24 March 2000
Cmdr. Mark J. Hellstern 16 December 2001


Jeremiah D. Foster