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Destroyer Squadron TWENTY FOUR

Destroyer Squadron 24, formerly Escort Destroyer Squadron 6, was established on July 1, 1956, and homeported in Newport, R.I. Know as the "Keystone" squadron, the name carried over from the original formation of Escort Squadron 6 when the Commodore and all commanding officers hailed from the state of Pennsylvania, the Keystone state. Destroyer Squadron 24 shifted homeports in 1973 from Newport, R.I. to Mayport. In 1978, Destroyer Squadron 24 was redesignated a tactical squadron commander whose purpose is to command assigned ships for naval air and sea control in pursuit of national objectives. Squadron mission emphasis is specifically on tactical development and execution.

When deployed, Destroyer Squadron 24 is usually assigned anti-submarine warfare and/or anti-surface warfare commander duties within the battle group or in a specific area of operation. Leading anywhere from only a few to greater than a dozen ships, the squadron can effectively execute a variety of missions ranging from Tomahawk strike planning and execution and open-ocean warfare to maritime interdiction operations and littoral warfare in support of joint forces ashore. In home port, the staff supports training and readiness needs of assigned ships.

Destroyer Squadron TWO FOUR, formerly Escort Destroyer Squadron SIX, was established 1 July 1956 and homeported in Newport, Rhode Island. The "KEYSTONE" Squadron name carried over from the original formation of Escort Destroyer Squadron SIX when the Commodore and all Commanding Officers hailed from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania - the KEYSTONE State. The squadron is administratively and operationally assigned to Commander, Carrier Group SIX.

During the 1960s. Destroyer Squadron TWO FOUR participated in several historic events. In January and February 1962, squadron ships participated in the Project Mercury Space Task Recovery Group in support of Lieutenant Colonel John Glenn's milestone first manned orbital flight. Later that year, four squadron ships joined other U.S. Atlantic Fleet ships off the waters of Cuba in support of the Cuban Quarantine. Highlights of that operation included boarding clearance of five Soviet merchant ships and, in conjunction with the 3rd Antisubmarine Carrier Group, surfacing a Soviet submarine. In September 1965, Destroyer Squadron TWO FOUR was the first U.S. Atlantic Fleet destroyer squadron deployed to the Pacific Fleet in support of combat operations in Southeast Asia. In 1973 Destroyer Squadron TWO FOUR shifted homeport from Newport, Rhode Island, to Mayport, Florida.

In 1978 Destroyer Squadron TWO FOUR was designated a tactical destroyer squadron with a mission to command, train and prepare ships for naval operations in support of the National Maritime Strategy. From then and through the decade of the Eighties, Destroyer Squadron TWO FOUR conducted Battle Group operations in the North Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Caribbean Sea, Indian Ocean and South America. The squadron has participated in naval contingency operations in Beirut, Lebanon; rescue operations in Grenada; anti-terrorist strikes into Libya and freedom of navigation operations in the Black Sea and Gulf of Sidra. Noted for its development and evaluation of surface antisubmarine warfare tactics, in 1986 Destroyer Squadron TWO FOUR produced the training plan used to prepare all Atlantic Fleet towed array ships for extended deployment.

Commander Destroyer Squadron TWO FOUR embarked in USS SARATOGA in August 1990, a first for the Atlantic Fleet, as Anti-Submarine Warfare Commander for the Battle Group. Following a high speed transit of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea, Commander, Destroyer Squadron TWO FOUR assumed command of the Maritime Interception Operation in the Red Sea in support of United Nations Resolutions 661 and 665. The operation effectively closed the port of Aqaba, Jordan as a transshipment point for goods to and from Iraq. During Operation Desert Storm, Commander, Destroyer Squadron TWO FOUR assumed duties as AAW Commander for the "Defense of the MED" and the safe passage of thousands of tons of shipping and airlifts into Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Gulf. After Desert Storm, the Squadron participated in BALTOPS 91, a multinational exercise in the Baltic Sea and then in August 1991, deployed on short notice back to the Red Sea to resume their role as Commander of the Red Sea Maritime Interception Operation.

1992 saw Commander, Destroyer Squadron TWO FOUR work-up and deploy once again to the Mediterranean with the USS SARATOGA Battle Group. Employed in a variety of independent roles throughout the deployment, the squadron pioneered Adriatic operations in response to the crisis in the former Yugoslavia, conducted surveillance operations in the central Mediterranean, and exercised with numerous allied navies. When in company with the USS SARATOGA, Commander, Destroyer TWO FOUR acted as anti-submarine warfare commander and at times, as anti-surface unit warfare commander.

1993 was characterized by two deployments to the North Red Sea as Commander of U.S. Maritime Interception Forces and an accelerated training period for the final deployment of USS SARATOGA to the Mediterranean Sea. During the Red Sea deployment, Commander, Destroyer Squadron TWO FOUR coordinated the international force enforcing United Nations sanctions against Irag, served as Launch Area Coordinator for a successful punitive Tomahawk strike, and planned and executed an active multilateral exercise program with Red Sea littoral nations.

Assigned to Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Group 12, Destroyer Squadron 24 completed a deployment in June 1994 as part of the USS Saratoga battle group. Commander, Destroyer Squadron TWO FOUR and the USS SARATOGA deployed to the Mediterranean Sea from January to June 1994 as part of a Joint Task Group under the command of RADM William Wright IV, Commander, Cruiser-Destroyer Group TWELVE. The Squadron conducted numerous bilateral and NATO exercises and goodwill port visits including several significant operations and visits in the Black Sea. Deploying to Haiti for Operation Support Democracy in August, the squadron orchestrated the convergence of forces in Operation Uphold Democracy and executed the transition to Operation Maintain Democracy. During August and September of 1994, the Squadron acted as Commander of Maritime Interception Operations and as Surface Task Group Commander, for forces deployed to Operation SUPPORT/UPHOLD/MAINTAIN DEMOCRACY off the coast of Haiti. During this period 7 to 20 ships, including up to 6 foreign ships, were under the tactical command of the Squadron. The Squadron also used three combat logistic force ships to coordinate the at-sea replenishment of a Task Force of 27 ships, including two aircraft carriers, a helicopter assault ship, and a fleet command ship.

Destroyer Squadron 24 was reassigned to a different carrier battle group. Additionally, as part of Atlantic Fleet reorganization plans, four ships were permanently assigned to Destroyer Squadron 24. On 1 September 1995, COMDESRON TWO FOUR assumed duties as permanent Immediate Superior In Command (ISIC) for USS SPRUANCE (DD 963), USS JOHN HANCOCK (DD 981), USS TAYLOR (FFG 50), and temporary ISIC for USS OBANNON, USS JOHN RODGERS, USS UNDERWOOD AND PCU CARNEY on behalf of COMDESRON FOURTEEN who was deployed to the Mediterranean. The role of ISIC presented new challenges for the squadron with responsibility for the material, training, and scheduling as well as the operational status of ships. In November 1995, Commander, Destroyer Squadron TWO FOUR led his three ships into the Puerto Rican OPAREAS in support of Prospective Commanding Officer Submarine Operations 95-2 which was the firing portion of the submarine PCO training phase.

1996 was again a busy year with the crew certification of the USS CARNEY (DDG 64) in February, ISIC turnover of COMDESRON FOURTEEN ships and the preparation of squadron ships for basic training in March. COMDESRON TWO FOUR successfully completed its Command Inspection in June, INDEX 96-2 operations in the Puerto Rican OPAREAS along with a Change of Command in July. In September 1996, COMDESRON TWO FOUR began work-ups for deployment with USS JOHN F. KENNEDY Battle Group. Work-ups included the Warfare Commanders Conference, COMPTUEX Phases I and II, and Joint Task Force exercise 97-2.

On April 19, 1997, the newest member of the Squadron, USS THE SULLIVANS (DDG 68) was placed into commissioned service. On April 29, 1997, the squadron including USS SPRUANCE (DD 963), USS JOHN HANCOCK (DD 981), and USS TAYLOR (FFG 50) deployed to the Mediterranean as part of Joint Task Group 97-2. COMDESRON TWO FOUR performed the functions as Undersea Warfare Commander, Maritime Interception Force Commander, and Screen Element Coordinator, while operating with the Carrier Battle Group and Commander Task Force 60 in the absence of the Battle Group Commander from the Mediterranean area of operations. COMDESRON TWO FOUR participated in a number of exercises during the deployment including: ILES D'OR, SHAREM 121, INVITEX 97, SEA BREEZE 97 (Black Sea), and DYNAMIC MIX 97.

In September 1997 Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) Two Four completed operations in the Black Sea after transiting the Turkish Straits. While in the Black Sea, the "Keystone Squadron", led United States participants in the spirit of Partnership For Peace Exercise Sea Breeze 97. Operating from their flagship, USS Spruance (DD 963), DESRON 24 visited Donuslav and Odessa, Ukraine; and Varna, Bulgaria. During their stay in Donuslav before the exercise, Sailors from USS Spruance, USS Ponce (LPD 15), DESRON 24 as well as Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit participated in Ukrainian Independence Day celebrations. Sailors and Marines took part in parades and friendly athletic competitions between the Ukrainian, Turkish, Romanian, and Bulgarian navies. Events leading up to the exercise also included a 90-minute press conference that included more than 200 news agencies. Sea Breeze 97 trained military forces at providing humanitarian relief for victims of a simulated earthquake in Southern Ukraine. This portion of the exercise also stressed cooperation and coordination at sea. Following the at-sea portion of the exercise, the participants entered Odessa for the completion of the exercise. After Odessa, DESRON Two Four and USS Spruance visited Varna, Bulgaria.

The Battle Group returned from deployment on October 28, 1997.

In August 1998, COMDESRON TWO FOUR served as SORTIE Commander of Naval Station Mayport based ships in response to Hurricane Bonnie. All the ships assigned to the TASK FORCE remained underway for one week to avert the storm. In September 1998, in accordance with the Atlantic Fleet Realignment, COMDESRON TWO FOUR received two additional ships, the USS CARNEY (DDG 64) and USS UNDERWOOD (FFG 36). In December 1998, COMDESRON TWO FOUR welcomed the newest addition to the Squadron, the USS MCFAUL (DDG 74). In September and November 1998, COMDESRON TWO FOUR captured the essence of COMNAVSURFLANT Inter-Deployment Training Cycle Work-ups by conducting two robust Group Sails off the coast of Florida and in the Caribbean Sea. The first SSBNs, as well as SUW and AAW services from VC-6. During the November Group Sail, squadron ships supported PCO OPS 98-4 in the Puerto Rican operation area and participated in PHOENIX COOPERATIVE 98, a first ever US-French SSN Exercise held in the Caribbean.

In 1999 the seven ships of COMDESRON TWO FOUR concluded preparation for the Mediterranean Sea Deployment with the USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV 67) Battle Group by completing extensive warfare training off the east coast, and participating in the International War at Sea Exercise El Morro Castle 99, Joint Task Force Exercise 99-2 and Composite Training Unit Exercise 99-2 in the Caribbean operating areas.

After six months of deployment to the Mediterranean Sea, COMDESRON TWO FOUR returned in March 2000. While on deployment CDS24 acted as CTF 60 and participated in several multi-national exercises, including DOGFISH 2000. Upon return, USS MCFAUL left DESRON TWO FOUR to become part of DESRON EIGHTEEN. In October 2000, the Navy's newest Flight IIA DDG, USS ROOSEVELT (DDG 80), was commissioned and joined the squadron, replacing USS JOHN HANCOCK (DD 981) which was decommissioned, also in October. December of 2000 brought the first groupsail for the new Inter-Deployment Training Cycle. An SSBN provided services for COMDESRON TWO FOUR which allowed refreshing ASW skills. Additional ASW support was provided by VP-5, VP-16, VP-30, and HSL-48. ATG Mayport also assisted while DESRON TWO FOUR honed SUW and AAW skills off the coast of Florida.




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