DD 963 Spruance
"Wisdom, Fortune, Reason"
USS Spruance (DD 963) was decommissioned during a ceremony at Naval Station Mayport, on March 23, 2005 after nearly 30 years of honorable service to the fleet
The official crest of SPRUANCE is highly symbolic of the ship it so strikingly represents. The trident is a naval symbol of authority, power, and maritime domination. The "double trident" device indicates that SPRUANCE is an entirely new class of Navy destroyer that indicates that is more than twice the size of World War II destroyers. The six points of the trident refer to the multi-mission accomplishments of SPRUANCE. These missions include: (1) Undersea Warfare Operations in support of carrier battle groups, amphibious readiness groups and convoys; (2) Strike Operations against shore based targets; (3) Surface Warfare against hostile shipping; (4) Air Warfare for local area air protection; (5) Command, Control, and Communications Operations; and (6) Humanitarian missions such as rescue and evacuation operations.
The crest symbolizes the 1942 Battle of Midway in which Admiral Raymond A. Spruance administered a decisive defeat to a large Japanese carrier strike force. The battle was the turning point in the Pacific War.
The cherry blossom, similar in design to that worn by personnel of the Japanese Navy, symbolizes a number of associations with the decisive battle. The end of the petals identify the letter "M" for midway, the letter "V" for Victory, and the Greek letter "Sigma" for SPRUANCE. The five petals allude to the five Japanese ships sunk in the battle. The fifteen small dots and larger center dot add up to sixteen and refer to "Task Force 16", the numerical designation of the task force under Spruance's command. The fifteen small dots also symbolize the six cruisers and nine destroyers which made Task Force 16, with the larger center dot being the symbol of the three task force carriers.
The red disc, "cut off" at Midway, refers to the defeat which halted the Japanese advance in the Pacific. The crossed staffs signify the cancelling out of Japanese naval air power and naval ambition. The four white pointed stars on the banner of blue indicate the ultimate rank achieved by Admiral Spruance during the Second World War.
Commissioned on 12 August 1975 in Pascagoula, Mississippi, USS SPRUANCE (DD-963) is the first of a class of 31 destroyers developed for the primary mission of Undersea Warfare. Displacing 9020 tons, USS SPRUANCE class destroyers are the largest destroyers in the history of the U.S. Navy. These sophisticated warships are designed to be readily adaptable to new weapon systems and electronics, ensuring these ships will remain in service well into the twenty-first century.
A superior weapon suite makes USS SPRUANCE one of the most capable ships in the U.S. Navy arsenal. Armed with 61 cell Vertical Launch System (VLS), USS SPRUANCE can launch Tomahawk cruise missiles against shore targets and Vertical Launch Anti-Submarine Rockets against hostile submarines. USS SPRUANCE also carries eight Harpoon anti-ship cruise missiles, two five inch guns for surface, air, and shore fire support, a NATO Sea Sparrow missile launcher to engage enemy aircraft and anti-ship missiles, and a 20mm Close In Weapon System for short range air defense. These weapon systems give USS SPRUANCE a lethal ability to engage enemy forces in a highly complex and challenging warfare environment.
USS SPRUANCE is equipped with some of the most modern upgrades in her class. The Vertical Launch System upgrade was received in the late 1980s, replacing an older ASROC launcher. The active and passive Anti-submarine sensors are among the most capable in the world. Engineering plant steam auxiliary systems have been completely replaced with electric equivalents. She was the first gas turbine-powered U.S. destroyer. SPRUANCE is fitted with Reverse Osmosis Distilling Plants, significantly increasing the production of fresh water. Numerous other upgrades have kept USS SPRUANCE at the cutting edge of technology.
The USS Spruance deployed for a six-months period on May 26, 1993 to the Red Sea where is spent over three and a half months conducting visit, board and search operations in support of United Nations sanctions against Iraq. While attached to Sixth Fleet, Spruance conducted a brief stop for fuel in Rota, Spain, followed by a liberty port visit in Palma De Mallorca, Spain. Additional stops in the Mediterranean consisted of a brief stop in Augusta Bay, Sicily, then to Souda Bay, Crete, for a maintenance period (IMAV) with USS Shenandoah. Spruance transitted the Suez Canal on June 29.
Upon arrival in the Red Sea, under command of CTG 152.1, Commander Maritime Interdiction Forces, Spruance assumed the duties as flagship for the task force commander. While on station, Spruance was the flagship for three different task force commanders. While on station, Spruance conducted exercises with the Egyptian navy and the Jordanian navy. During Spruance's tenure in the Red Sea, Spruance conducted several port visits to Hurghada, Egypt for crew rest and relaxation. Other official port visits were conducted in Safaga, Egypt and Aqaba, Jordan, where Spruance Hosted receptions for top military and embassy officials. On September 10, 1993, the USS Spruance (DD 963) intercepted the 18,000th ship since sanctions were put into place in August 1990, as part of the multinational maritime interception effort enforcing United Nations sanctions against Iraq. The ship's crew intercepted the Maltese-flagged bulk carrier "Early Star" in the North Red Sea during normal intercept operations. The merchant ship was sailing from Massaua, Eritrea, to Aqaba, Jordan. As the ship was empty, it was allowed to proceed toward its destination.
Spruance was relieved as flagship by USS Hayler on October 9 after having completed more than 170 boardings, and then started her transit homeward through the Suez Canal on October 11. Once back in the Mediterranean, the ship made port calls in Toulon, France; Alicante, Spain; and Rota, Spain. She returned home on November 14.
In July 1994, as part of Operation Restore Democracy, U.S. Navy ships were tasked with helping to enforce the United Nations embargo of Haiti. However, so many Haitians were picked up from the sea that Coast Guard ships needed an assist from Navy "gray hulls" in the region to handle the volume. Among these was the USS Sprunace (DD 963) which took onborad nine-hundred Haitians for the transit to Guantanamo Naval Station.
In mid-1996, the USS Spruance took part in the 24th annual U.S. invitational maritime exercise in the Baltic Sea, the BALTOPS 96 exercise. Made up of air, surface and subsurface operations, the exercise involved 47 ships and aircraft from 12 different squadrons sent by 13 NATO-member and Partnership for Peace nations: Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, The Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States.
USS SPRUANCE deployed to the Mediterranean from April through October 1997 with the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) Battle Group. Serving as the Destroyer Squadron 24 flagship, USS SPRUANCE made significant contributions throughout the deployment including: visiting thirteen foreign ports; participating in five multi-national naval exercises in the Mediterranean and Black Seas; serving as Presidential Support Ship in Rotterdam, Netherlands; representing the U.S. Navy in Thoule Sur Mer, France, in commemoration of the fifty-second anniversary of the Allied landings in southern France; and hosting Ukrainian military and diplomatic distinguished visitors during the 1997 Ukrainian Independence Day celebration. During that period, the USS Spruance also took part in the Partnership For Peace Exercise "Sea Breeze 97" in the Black Sea. Sea Breeze 97 trained military forces on how to provide humanitarian relief for victims of a simulated earthquake in Southern Ukraine.
In the fall of 1999, the USS Spruance detached from the John F. Kennedy Battle Group to relieve the USS Peterson (DD 969) as the United States' representative to the Standing Naval Forces Mediterranean (STANAVFORMED). After dealing with the effects of Hurricanes Floyd and Gert off the east coast of Florida, USS Spruance crossed the Atlantic and entered the Mediterranean with other ships from the John F. Kennedy Battle Group. STANAVFORMED is part of NATO's `Reaction Force' and as such was ready to respond to any crisis in NATO's area of interest, although its primary area of operations is the Mediterranean. The USS Spruance was expected to remain assigned to STANAVFORMED through March 2000.
On June 1, 2000, the USS SPRUANCE became the first U.S. Navy ship to use the drydock in Jacksonville in over ten years. She left Mayport harbor early on June 1st, traveled up the St. John's River to the drydock facility, and remained there until early August. During the drydock, the ship was raised out of the water, her hull was cleaned and inspected, and corrective and preventative maintenance was performed. On September 24, 2001, as part of the USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) Carrier Battle Group (CVBG), the USS Sprunace commenced use of the Vieques Island inner range in conjunction with their Composite Unit Training Exercises (COMPUTEX). The exercise, which began the week prior, also also utilized the northern and southern Puerto Rican operating areas, and involved complex battle group training events, naval surface fire-support training and air-to-ground bombing. COMPUTEX is an intermediate level battle group exercise designed to forge the battle group into a cohesive, fighting team, and is a critical step in the pre-deployment training cycle and prerequisite for the battle group's Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) scheduled for early the following year. Successful completion of the COMPUTEX also certifies the carrier and its embarked air wing as qualified for open-ocean operations.
The USS Spruance (DD 963), along with the USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) Battle Group (CVBG) took part, from January 19 through 26, 2002, in Phase I of Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) 02-1; and from February 7 through 14 in Phase II of Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) 02-1. The JTFEX is designed to meet the requirement for quality, realistic training to prepare U.S. forces for joint and combined operations and also provides the opportunity to certify the CVBG for deployment. That particular JTFEX was scheduled for two phases to accommodate recent repairs to the carrier, which required it to be pierside during Phase I. The exercise took place in the waters off the East Coast, as well as on training ranges in North Carolina and Florida.
Admiral Raymond Ames Spruance is one of the greatest heroes in United States Naval history. Born on July 3, 1886 in Baltimore, Maryland, Spruance attended the United States Naval Academy, graduating with the class of 1907.
Spruance served in surface combatants throughout the First World War and inter-war years, earning a reputation as an expert tactician and skilled leader.
During the Second World War, Admiral Spruance repeatedly demonstrated his tactical and strategic prowess in the Pacific Theatre. Although trained and disciplined in battleships, Spruance quickly grasped the superior offensive capabilities of aircraft carrier strike forces and adapted his tactics to the new revolution in naval warfare. Spruance commanded Task Force 16 during the Battle of Midway in June 1942 and achieved a decisive victory over a numerically superior Japanese force. U.S. naval air forces destroyed four Japanese aircraft carriers, effectively ending the advance of the Japanese across the Pacific.
Spruance subsequently commanded the U.S. Fifth Fleet, performing brilliantly during amphibious operations in the Gilbert, Marshall, and Marianas island groups and the capture of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. His appreciation of Japanese naval tactics enabled him to engineer the great victory at the Battle of the Philippine Sea, known commonly as the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot." U.S. naval air forces destroyed over 500 Japanese aircraft in a single day, while successfully supporting the amphibious forces invading the Marianas islands. Due to Spruance's quiet demeanor and tremendous tactical ability in naval warfare, he was affectionately known as the "Quiet Warrior."
Among students of Naval history, Admiral Spruance's name is legendary. He is widely regarded as the greatest tactician to ever wear an admiral's uniform. In the more general body of historical works on World War II Admiral Spruance's name and accomplishments are being overshadowed by other military leaders whose deeds just happened to get more press coverage at the time.
Admiral Spruance, who went out of his way to avoid the hero-worshipping attention heaped on some of his contemporaries, is mostly remembered today for his victory at Midway which turned the tide against Japan. But he accomplished far more than that. In fact, he was singularly the most successful combat commander of the war, leading his forces to five other major victories in the Pacific.
American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines distinguished themselves in bravery and valor in every theater of this war. But no theater was tougher than the push across the Central Pacific where our forces faced large numbers of opponents who preferred to fight to the death rather than surrender.
Late in the War, Congress authorized the Army and the Navy to nominate four officers each for promotion to five-star rank. The Army nominated Marshall, MacArthur, Eisenhower and Arnold, all of whom were duly appointed. Contrary to instructions, the Navy submitted five names: Leahy, King, Nimitz, Halsey and Spruance. The first three were immediately promoted, but even the Secretary of the Navy did not want to choose between Spruance and the more flamboyant and well-known Halsey to get the fifth star. As a "consolation prize" Congress passed a special act later to authorize Spruance to receive the pay of an Admiral for the rest of his life, even after he retired in 1948. In 1950, the Army was given a fifth five-star billet with the promotion of Omar Bradley to that rank. There is no question that Bradley deserved this recognition, but it is equally fitting to recognize that Spruance's accomplishments are every bit the equal of Bradley's, and arguably, greater.
Not only did Admiral Spruance win the Battle of Midway and take the initiative away from Japan, but he pushed the Japanese back all the way to their own shores without ever suffering a defeat or setback.
Unlike General MacArthur, Spruance never had the option of "hitting them where they ain't" -- MacArthur's strategy of leap-frogging Japanese strongholds was not possible in the Central Pacific. All the objectives in Spruance's path were heavily defended by determined, well-entrenched ground forces determined to fight to the death. Add to that the constant threat of attack from the Japanese fleet, and it is clear that Admiral Spruance was repeatedly faced with the most challenging military decisions.
The great naval historian Samuel Eliot Morison had this to say about Spruance: "Power of decision and coolness in action were perhaps Spruance's leading characteristics. He envied no one, rivaled no man, won the respect of almost everyone with whom he came in contact, and went ahead in his quiet way, winning victories for his country. When we come to the admirals who commanded at sea. there was no one to equal Spruance. It is regrettable that, owing to Spruance's innate modesty and his refusal to create and image of himself in the public eye, he was never properly appreciated."
The men who served under Spruance - and most especially the United States Marines - were locked in the toughest, most grueling combat mankind has ever seen. Their Japanese foes did not surrender. They fought to the death. They killed thousands of Americans in suicide attacks, both on the ground and in the air.
The valor and sacrifice of the men who served under Spruance was nothing short of extraordinary. Tarawa. Iwo Jima. Kamikaze attacks from dawn to dusk. The memory of the accomplishments of these men - and their great bravery - must be preserved for future generations of Americans.
In 1951, Admiral Spruance was called out of retirement by President Truman to become American ambassador to the Philippines. He served as ambassador until 1955 when he returned to his home in Monterey, CA. Admiral Spruance died in 1969
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