Description: These fast warships provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities, and can operate independently or as part of carrier battle groups, surface action groups, amphibious ready groups, and underway replenishment groups.
Features: Destroyers and guided missile destroyers operate in support of carrier battle groups, surface action groups, amphibious groups and replenishment groups. Destroyers primarily perform anti-submarine warfare duty while guided missile destroyers are multi-mission [Anti-Air Warfare (AAW), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW)] surface combatants. The addition of the Mk-41 Vertical Launch System or Tomahawk Armored Box Launchers (ABLs) to many Spruance-class destroyers has greatly expanded the role of the destroyer in strike warfare.
Background: Technological advances have improved the capability of modern destroyers culminating in the Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) class. Named for the Navy's most famous destroyer squadron combat commander and three-time Chief of Naval Operations, the Arleigh Burke was commissioned July 4, 1991, and was the most powerful surface combatant ever put to sea. Like the larger Ticonderoga class cruisers, DDG 51's combat systems center around the Aegis combat system and the SPY-lD, multi-function phased array radar. The combination of Aegis, the Vertical Launching System, an advanced anti-submarine warfare system, advanced anti-aircraft missiles and Tomahawk, the Burke class continues the revolution at sea.
The DDG 51 class incorporates all-steel construction. In 1975, the cruiser USS Belknap (CG 26) collided with USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67). Belknap suffered severe damage and casualties because of her aluminum superstructure. On the basis of that event, the decision was made that all future surface combatants would return to a steel superstructure. And, like most modern U.S. surface combatants, DDG 51 utilizes gas turbine propulsion. These ships replaced the older Charles F. Adams and Farragut-class guided missile destroyers.
The Spruance-class destroyers, the first large U.S. Navy warships to employ gas turbine engines as their main propulsion system, are undergoing extensive modernizing. The upgrade program includes addition of vertical launchers for advanced missiles on 24 ships of this class, in addition to an advanced ASW system and upgrading of its helicopter capability. Spruance-class destroyers are expected to remain a major part of the Navy's surface combatant force into the 21st century.
Point of Contact:
Public Affairs Office
Naval Sea Systems Command (OOD)
Washington, DC 20362
Builders: Bath Iron Works, Ingalls Shipbuilding
Power Plant: Four General Electric LM 2500-30 gas turbines; two shafts, 100,000 total shaft horsepower.
SPY-1 Radar and Combat System Integrator: Lockheed Martin