Destroyer Squadron 21
Destroyer Squadron 21 is embarked aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). Unlike previous battle group concepts where DESRONs "disappeared" from the commander's eyes in favor of embarking a surface platform, the Sea Combat Commander remains permanently embarked aboard the CVN and work with the air wing and carrier assets to best allocate the task force resources.
A DESRON Commodore is responsible for the operational readiness of various surface ships. But in the case of the Commodore for DESRON 21, he has another other role - as the Sea Combat Commander for the John C. Stennis Battle Group. The primary mission as Sea Combat Commander is to protect the force against surface and subsurface threats and to maintain complete coverage and keep track of contacts and critical contacts of interest. There are four major areas of responsibility that make up the SCC mission. First, the Sea Combat Commander maintains the entire subsurface picture-controlling submarines as well as protecting against submarine attacks. Second, the SCC is responsible for identifying tracking and protecting the force against all surface contacts. Third, as Screen Commander, the SCC positions ships in an optimum configuration for the protection and mutual coverage of all the assets within the battle group. Fourth, the SCC controls all maritime interception operations (MIO). Fusing these warfare responsibilities with the SCC and co-locating the SCC with the BG Commander on the CV facilitates command and control functions as well as coordination of air-wing assets required to support SCC mission areas. The SCC can make recommendations to the battle group commander concerning coverage for a surveillance area, or classification identification engagement area as well as the vital area. Aircraft from the battle group's air wing, as well as the ship and submarine assets of the battle group, are positioned to maintain a cohesive surface picture.
On 10 March 1943 at Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, nine of the new and powerful 2100-ton class destroyers were formed into Destroyer Squadron TWENTY-ONE, under the command of Captain F. X. McInerney. Over the next three years, Fletcher, Radford, Jenkins, La Vallette, Nicholas (flagship), O'Bannon, Chevalier, Strong, Taylor, Ross, Howorth and Hopewell served in the front line and collectively earned three individual Presidential Unit Citations, a Navy Unit Commendation and 123 battle stars. Then in 1945, Admiral Halsey chose three survivors of this most decorated destroyer squadron Nicholas, O'Bannon, and Taylor to escort his flagship Missouri into Tokyo Bay "because of their valorous fight up the long road from the South Pacific to the very end." This is the legacy of courage and fighting skill that inspired the present Destroyer Squadron Twenty-One Insignia: a Rampant Lion with a trident, sweeping the seas beneath the Southern Cross, and the mottos "Solomons Onward."
Following World War II, on December 31, 1945, the original Destroyer Squadron Twenty-One was inactivated with the last of its ships. But in January 1946, a fleet reorganization took place and the squadron came alive again for about a year. For the next eight years, the Rampant Lions were not in the Fleet as Destroyer Squadron Twenty One. Then on December 9, 1954, Destroyer Squadron Eighteen arrived from the East Coast, was redesignated Destroyer Squadron Twenty-One, and commenced with significant roles in Pacific Fleet operations, including the evacuation of the Tachan Islands. From 1965 until the 1973 cease-fire, the squadron participated in the Vietnam War in a number of roles including naval gunfire support, escort duty for carrier strike groups, search and rescue, radar surveillance, and coastal patrol. Between 1973 and 1986, Destroyer Squadron Twenty-One made numerous deployments to the Western Pacific and participated in Eastern Pacific exercises while assisting ships in achieving and maintaining high states of training and material readiness.
The squadron deployed in 1986 as part of the USS New Jersey Battle Group, the Navy's first Tomahawk cruise missile-equipped battle group. In 1989, the Squadron deployed to the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans with the USS Enterprise Battle Group. The Squadron next deployed in 1991 to the Arabian Gulf with the USS Nimitz Battle Group in support of Operation Desert Storm. The Squadron returned to the Arabian Gulf during the USS Abraham Lincoln Battle Group's deployments in 1993, 1995, and 1998. Recently, the Rampant Lions of Destroyer Squadron Twenty-One are deployed as the "Sea Combat Commander" with the first battle group of the new millennium, the USS John C. Stennis Battle Group.
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