Destroyer Squadron TWENTY-SIX
In September of 1995 as a result of the reorganization of Surface Forces Atlantic, destroyer squadrons now became permanent Immediate Superior In Command (ISIC) to all destroyers and frigates. This reorganization replaced all tactical destroyer squadrons and readiness squadrons and combined the duties and responsibilities of the two into the new destroyer squadron. Destroyer Squadron TWENTY-SIX oversees the combat readiness of its five ships, USS MAHAN (DDG 72), USS LABOON (DDG 58), USS BARRY (DDG 52), USS ARTHUR W. RADFORD (DD 968), and USS KAUFFMAN (FFG 59). This Squadron continues to play a significant role in fleet and joint operations.
The mission of Destroyer Squadron Twenty Six (DESRON 26) is to conduct underway operations and exercise tactical control of destroyers, frigates, submarines, and aircraft during peace and war time operations.
When deployed as part of an Aircraft Carrier Battle Group (CVBG), Commander, Destroyer Squadron TWENTY-SIX serves as a Major Warfare Commander, planning operations and tasking Battle Group assets. Typical assignments are as Alternate Composite Warfare Commander (CWC) and Sea Combat Commander (SCC). The SCC is responsible for performing numerous roles in the Battle Group, including Anti-Submarine Warfare Commander, Surface Warfare Commander, Submarine Operations Coordinating Authority, TOMAHAWK Launch Area Coordinator, Maritime Intercepts Operations (MIO) Commander, and Screen Coordinator. During Underway operations separate from the Aircraft Carrier, the Commander, Destroyer Squadron TWENTY-SIX may serve as a Joint or Naval Task Group Commander.
The Commander, Destroyer Squadron TWENTY SIX reports administratively to the Commander, Naval Surface Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet (COMNAVSURFLANT), whether deployed or in homeport (Norfolk, VA). Destroyer Squadron TWENTY-SIX reports operationally to Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Group EIGHT.
From Korea to Vietnam and from the Caribbean to the Middle East, Destroyer Squadron TWENTY-SIX has served the United States for over 50 years. In 1950, four general purpose destroyers established the squadron and saw combat action in Korea until 1952. Following the end of the Korean Conflict, the squadron departed the Pacific for a new homeport in Norfolk, Virginia. In July 1964, Destroyer Squadron TWENTY-SIX became one of the Navy's three all guided missile squadrons consisting of six modern and versatile destroyers. The squadron saw combat action in Southeast Asia with the Pacific Fleet from 1964 to 1970. From 1971 to 1974, Destroyer Squadron TWENTY-SIX was selected by the Chief of Naval Operations to evaluate a new manning concept in which ships would be manned and commanded by outstanding officers one rank junior to those normally assigned. This "Mod Squad," as it was nicknamed, initiated the "Go Navy" cruise recruiting program with 626 prospective recruits embarked in Destroyer Squadron TWENTY-SIX ships conducting operations off Newport, Rhode Island.
Since 1974, Destroyer Squadron TWENTY-SIX has participated in several noteworthy events with the U.S. SECOND Fleet including the first Anti-Air Warfare Training Ship Program, the first Atlantic Fleet Open Ocean Mobile Sea Range Operation, Operation Sail ("Review of the Tall Ships"), and the 1976 NATO Firepower Demonstration.
In April 1978, Atlantic Fleet Destroyer Squadrons were reorganized and Destroyer Squadron TWENTY-SIX was designated a tactical squadron, responsible for the "at-sea" training and operations of Atlantic Fleet destroyers and frigates during exercises and deployments, while administrative responsibilities were assigned to readiness squadrons who remained in homeport. In July 1996 DESRON 26, deployed with the USS George Washington Battle Group, completed highly successful Black Sea operations and made port visits to Varna, Bulgaria; Constanta, Romania; and Odesa, Ukraine. By the end of deployment, DESRON 26 ships participated in 13 major exercises. DESRON 26 crew members participated in community relations projects such as painting, electrical and mechanical repairs and lawn work. When visiting high school students, Sailors shared stories about growing up in America.
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