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DD 966 Hewitt

The USS Hewitt (DD 966) was decomissioned on July 13, 2001, at 10:00am at Pier 7 Naval Station San Diego, marking the end to 25 years of service.

The USS Hewitt was fourth Spruan Class ship built. Built by Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries, Pascagoula, MS, her keel was laid on July 23, 1973. Mrs. Leroy Hewitt Taylor and Mrs. Gerald Hewitt Norton, Admiral Hewitt's daughter's christened HEWITT on 14 September 1974 at Ingalls Shipyard. Hewitt was commissioned on 25 September 1976.

After an intensive period of initial training, Hewitt deployed to Western Pacific in September 1978 and was assigned to the SEVENTH Fleet. In addition to serving as a front line unit, Hewitt also acted as a good will ambassador with port visits to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Hong Kong. Hewitt returned to San Diego in April 1979. In preparation for her next deployment, Hewitt participated in a multinational Rim-of-the-Pacific (RIMPAC) battle group exercise in February and March 1980. She departed on her second overseas deployment on 15 May 1980. During that deployment, Hewitt and other members of Battle Group CHARLIE operated in the Indian Ocean to show U.S. resolve to protect free world access to Middle East petroleum resources, and to help obtain the release of 52 Americans held hostage in Iran. Hewitt earned the Navy Expeditionary for her contributions. During the latter part of the deployment, Hewitt also earned the Humanitarian Service Medal for rescuing a group of Vietnamese boat refugees adrift in the South China Sea. For her superior performance, Hewitt was awarded the Battle "E" as the most outstanding ship in Destroyer Squadron TWENTY-ONE from 1979 to 1980.

Hewitt entered the Long Beach Naval Shipyard in 19 May 1981 for its first regular overhaul. Extensive modifications were performed to improve survivability, and new combat systems capabilities were added to improve quick reaction to missile attacks. After a rigorous re-qualification and retraining period, Hewitt departed on 21 March 1983 for its third deployment. Highlights included a three aircraft carrier fleet exercise with USS Midway, USS Coral Sea and USS Enterprise, and independent operations in the South China Sea.

Hewitt departed on her fourth deployment on 18 October 1984. Once again a member of Battle Group CHARLIE, she spent seven highly successful months in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. In January 1985, Hewitt set a record at the Tabones Firing Range in the Philippines by earning the highest score ever recorded at the range for Naval Gunfire Support (NGFS) exercise. From February to April 1985, Hewitt operated in the North Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman. For its achievements during the deployment, Hewitt received the Meritorious Unit Citation. Hewitt returned home to San Diego on 24 May 1985.

On 1 September 1985, Hewitt and other members of Destroyer Squadron THIRTY-ONE became the first Pacific Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Squadron. The squadron's basic mission was to locate and track submarines in the Eastern Pacific, to develop USW tactics and training, and to serve as a ready response force under Commander, THIRD Fleet. From September 1985 to April 1987, Hewitt and the other ships in Destroyer Squadron THIRTY-ONE set new standards of excellence in USW.

During Hewitt's second overhaul (May 1987 to November 1988) at National Steel and Shipbuilding Company Shipyard in San Diego, CA, she underwent a modernization which included installation of the Vertical Launch System, the Tomahawk Missile System, the Close-In Weapons System (CIWS), LAMPS MK III, and the SQO-89 Sonar System. After a brief but extensive training and inspection cycle, Hewitt joined Destroyer Squadron TWENTY-ONE and once again deployed to the Arabian Gulf on 18 September 1989. Hewitt's fifth Western Pacific deployment ended on 16 March 1990. Five months later, Hewitt was underway to her new homeport at Yokosuka, Japan.

Hewitt joined TG 152.1 on 22 August 1990, and served with the Task Group through 30 November 1991. Hewitt joined Destroyer Squadron FIFTEEN on 25 August 1990. In Yokosuka, she operated with numerous multi-national forces, including the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, and the South Korean, Bruinese, Greek, French, Spanish, Australian, Saudi Arabian, Russian, British, and Singaporean navies. Hewitt was on station from 02 November 1990 to 14 March 1991, attached to CV 41 Midway Battlegroup and the Middle East Force [MEF].

From 15 June 1991 to 12 September 1991 USS Hewitt (DD 966) was deployed with United States Naval Forces Central Command performing Maritime Interception Force operations in the Red Sea in support of Operation DESERT STORM. Hewitt participated as flagship for Maritime Interception Force (MIF) Commander Red Sea for Boarding Operations in support of Operation Desert Storm in 1991 as part of United Nations sanctions against Iraq.

Hewitt concluded an intensive six month deployment to the Arabian Gulf in April 1993. Her seventh deployment was highlighted by a Tomahawk strike against Iraq and combined operations with numerous navies, the Russian Destroyer Admiral Tributs. On 17 January 1993, cruiser Cowpens (CG 63) and destroyers Hewitt (DD 966) and Stump (DD 978), operating in the Arabian Gulf, and destroyer Caron (DD 970), steaming in the Red Sea, launched 42 Tomahawk cruise missiles against a multibillion-dollar factory complex in Zaafaraniyah, about eight miles southeast of Baghdad. This facility contained computer- operated precision machine tools that had been used to enrich uranium for Iraq's nuclear weapons program. At least 30 Tomahawks got through, hitting every one of the targeted structures.

Hewitt also served as Maritime Action Group (MAG) Commander in October 1993, helping to develop the new MAG warfare concept. Hewitt was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for the 1992 to 1993 Arabian Gulf deployment and the SEVENTH Fleet's USW Excellence Award for 1993.

Following a brief maintenance availability in early 1994. Hewitt participated in RIMPAC '94. Directly following the exercise, Hewitt conducted live missile firings near Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii which included a successful NATO Seasparrow engagement and the first fleet firing of the Penguin anti-ship missile on 25 June 1994. An SH-60B Seahawk helicopter from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (Light) Five One (HSL 51) Detachment Six, embarked onboard the destroyer USS Hewitt (DD 966), fired the Penguin missile from a helicopter, at the Pacific Missile Range Facility off the coast of Hawaii. The Penguin is a helicopter-launched anti-ship missile.

Hewitt again deployed to the Arabian Gulf on 05 September 1994 as a primary component of the multinational Middle East peace keeping unit, enforcing United Nations sanctions against Iraq. Hewitt returned to Yokosuka, Japan 10 January 1995 and received SEVENTH Fleet's Surface Warfare Award for 1994.

On 17 March 1995, Hewitt entered the yards for an extended availability period which ended 05 September 1995. Afterwards, Hewitt participated in several multinational USW exercises and was awarded the Battle "E" for her performance in 1995.

As part of a reorganization by the Pacific Fleet's surface ships into six core battle groups and eight destroyer squadrons, with the reorganization scheduled to be completed by October 1, 1995, and homeport changes to be completed within the folowing, year, the USS Hewitt was reassigned to Destroyer Squadron 15.

In March 1996, and in response to the announcement of missile tests and military live-fire exercises to be conducted by the Chinese in the waters surrounding the island of Taiwan, the United States has dispatched forward deployed naval assets, including a carrier and other combatants to the area to monitor the situation. The USS Hewitt joined the USS Independence (CV 62) and other units in its battle group, operating in international waters, and which had been on the scene since the exercises began.

On 03 June 1996, Hewitt deployed to the Arabian Gulf for Middle East Force deployment (MEF) 96-2. While supporting FIFTH Fleet operations, Hewitt participated in operation DESERT STRIKE and launched two Tomahawk missiles on 04 September 1996 against Iraq during the second attack wave. Its mission was to complete the suppression of Iraq's air defense facilities which could potentially remain in operation after the initial strike. The USS Hewitt was operating as part of the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Battle Group that had moved into the northern Arabian Gulf the week prior in response to escalating activity by Iraqi ground forces. The operation took place following the seizure by Iraqi troops of the northern Kurdish city of Irbil in an alliance with a Kurdish faction. Hewitt received a Meritorious Unit Commendation for her actions during the deployment and returned home to Yokosuka, Japan on 30 October 1996.

In March 1997, Hewitt conducted Battle Group exercises with USS INDEPENDENCE and in April COMDESRON FIFTEEN for SHAREM 120B conducted with the Republic of Korea Navy. In May Hewitt entered an availability and received the women at-sea modification to berth the first females permanently assigned to the ship. The first female Sailors reported on board in July. On 24 August 1997, Hewitt departed Yokosuka, Japan for a homeport change to San Diego, California.

Hewitt joined Destroyer Squadron TWENTY-THREE on 29 August 1997 during her transit to San Diego, as she was being relieved by the USS Vincennes (CG 49), as an element of the U.S. Navy's full-time forward presence in the western Pacific. The rotation took place as part of a planned rotation of forward deployed naval forces in Japan. The USS Hewitt returned to the United States and became homeported in San Diego, after seven years of being forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.

On 27 January 1999, Hewitt deployed to the Arabian Gulf for Middle East Force Deployment (MEF) 99-1. In support of U.N. Sanctions against Iraq. Hewitt conducted Visit, Board, Search and Seizure of merchants in the area. Hewitt returned to San Diego on 26 July 1999 followed by a two month Selected Restricted Availability which ended 07 November 1999.

On November 9, 2000, USS Hewitt (DD 966) with HSL 49 Detachment 6 embarked departed on its final cruise prior to decommissioning, a PACMEF 00-4 deployment. After operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet's area of responsibility -- with port visits to Australia, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong -- the USS Hewitt participated in Operation Southern Watch in the Arabian Gulf. During the deployment, Hewitt conducted 35 days of maritime interception operations in the Arabian Gulf supporting U.N. sanctions against Iraq.

Hewitt served in the capacity of surface action group commander in company with USS Higgins and USS Fitzgerald. While on the Middle East Force deployment, Hewitt transited through 7th Fleet, and made stops in the Australian ports of Sydney and Fremantle. Additionally, Hewitt conducted a surface exercise and naval fire support training with the Australian navy. During the deployment, Hewitt conducted 35 days of maritime interception operations in the Arabian Gulf supporting U.N. sanctions against Iraq.

At the end of December, the action group arrived in the Arabian Gulf. Upon arrival, Hewitt was immediately tasked to support United Nations sanctions by conducting maritime interception operations in conjunction with Operation Southern Watch. Hewitt's primary mission was the detection and interception of potential oil smugglers transiting the Northern Arabian Gulf. In support of this mission, Hewitt conducted numerous small boat, helicopter, and boarding operations at the tip of the spear. She returned home in May 2001 and was decommissioned two months later.

Admiral H. Kent Hewitt

Admiral H. Kent Hewitt was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, on 11 February 1887 and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1906. Prior to his promotion to flag rank, Admiral Hewitt served aboard several battleships and destroyers, including USS MISSOURI (BB 11), USS CONNECTICUT (BB 18), USS FLUSSER (DD 20), USS FLORIDA (BB 30), and USS PENNSYLVANIA (BB 38). He commanded USS EAGLE, USS CUMMINGS (DD 44), USS LUDLOW (DD 112), Destroyer Division 12 and USS INDIANAPOLIS (CA 35). During the 1920s and 1930s, he was involved in naval gunnery and ordnance as Pacific Fleet Gunnery Officer and Inspector of Ordnance in charge of the Naval Ammunition Depot at Puget Sound, Washington, while sharpening his knowledge of shore bombardment so necessary in his later amphibious assaults.

In April 1942, Admiral Hewitt took command of the amphibious forces in the Atlantic Fleet. He distinguished himself during landings in North Africa in late 1942. In July 1943, Admiral Hewitt's Eighth Fleet conducted the first Allied Amphibious landings of Europe in World War II. It was this amphibious assault on Sicily that landed General George Patton and his Third Armored Division that ultimately led to the surrender of Fascist Italy.

Admiral Hewitt retired in 1949 and passed away in 1972 in Orwell, Vermont.

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