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DD 974 Comte De Grasse
"Sans Prcdent"

The USS Comte De Grasse (DD 974) was decommissioned on June 5, 1998 a the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, VA.

The USS Comte De Grasse was a versatile, multi-mission ship designed to operate with equal effectiveness either alone or in support of a large Carrier Battle Group. She was a large ship, twice the size of a WWII destroyer, and, as such, could carry a formidable array of weapons and electronics equipment very long distances, at very high speed. For instance Comte De Grasse was developed primarily as an anti-submarine warfare platform, designed to carry some of the most sophisticated underwater detection, tracking and fire control systems in the world. In this respect, she was equipped with the AN/SQQ-89 SONAR Suite with the AN/SQR-19 Towed Array SONAR, and the LAMPS MK III RAST Helicopter Recovery system. However, she was equally capable of carrying out other important missions, such as shore bombardment, amphibious support actions, strike warfare and anti-air warfare.

The armament aboard Comte De Grasse consisted of Anti-Submarine Rocket (ASROC) Launcher, two 5-inch guns, torpedo tubes, and two of the most sophisticated and capable helicopters in the world for ASW detection and long-range weapons delivery. She also carried the Tomahawk Weapons System with Block II Upgrade and Harpoon Cruise Missiles for Land Attack and Anti-Ship Strike missions, and a NATO Sea Sparrow Missile Launcher, and two Phalanx Close-In Weapons Systems for anti-ship missile defense.

Comte De Grasse is the twelfth SPRUANCE Class destroyer, and the third ship to proudly bear the name of the famous French Admiral Francois Joseph Paul De Grasse. The ship's keel was laid on 4 April 1975. She was launched on 26 March 1976 and christened on 22 May 1976. She was commissioned on 5 August 1978 at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, MS. The sponsor of Comte De Grasse is Madam Valery Giscard D'Estang, wife of the former, and then President of France.

In late Ferbruary-early March, the USS Comte de Grasse took part in Exercise Safepass-80.

Comte De Grasse sailed on her maiden Mediterranean deployment in April of 1980, returning home in December. Since then she has deployed there six times.

In February 1981, the USS Comte de Grasse went to the Vieques NGFS Range. The following month, she took part in READEX 1-81. In May, she took part in a Comprehensive Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) in the VACAPES OpArea. In late August, she took part in OCEAN VENTURE-81 and exercise MAGIC SWORD. In September, she took part in Exercise OCEAN SAFARI-81. She was drydocked for a short period in November for voyage repairs and replacement of her Sonar Dome Rubber Window, before departing for a Mediterranean deployment on December 1.

1982 saw the USS Comte de Grasse take part in Exercise SARDINIA-82 from 27 Freburary to 9 March. The then took part in Exercise NORTHERN WEDDING/UNITED EFFORT-82 from 23 August to 20 October. From 7 to 14 December, she took part in COMPTUEX 1-83.

From January 8 to July 10, 1983, she deployed to join NATO's Standing Naval Forces Atlantic. During that time, she took part in Exercise ROEBUCK near Scotland, SPRING TRAIN off Gibraltar, BRIGHT HORIZON and MAY WEST off Norway, NOR OPS, and OCEAN SAFARI. Upon her return home, she was drydocked from 28 October 1983 to 10 July 1984 for a routine overhaul at Ingalls Shipyard, Pascagoula, MS.

From 4-13 September, she underwent Harpoon Certification, Tomahawk Material Certification, and from 24-26 September, Combat Systems Ship Qualification Test (CSSQT), at the VACAPES OpArea.

From 19-23 March 1985, the USS Comte de Grasse underwent Tomahawk Tactical Qualification Test (TTQT). Then from 22 April to 7 May, she participated in COMPTUEX 2-85, before deploying to join the Middle East Force on 6 June. She transited the SUez Canal into the Red Sea on 26 June and entered the Persian Guld on 4 July. She took part in Exercise INFERNO CREEK/BRIGHT STAR '85 from 11-17 August. Transiting though the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sra on 15 November, she returned home on 5 December.

1986 saw the USS Comte de Grasse take part in a number of gunnery, air targeting and submarine tracking exercises in the VACAPES and Puerto Rico OpAreas. From 4-8 September, she took part in Drug Interception Operations in the Caribbean.

The USS Comte de Grasse took part, from 9-28 January 1987, in BLASTEX 1-87, and from 10 February to 1 March, in FLEETEX 1-87. Then after being drydocked in March for SUSTAIN AFDM-7, she took part in SOLID SHIELD 87, from 30 April to 8 May, and FLEETEX 2-87 from 9-10 May. She departed for her Mediterranean deployment 3-87 on 6 June and returned home on 17 November.

From 11-23 May 1988, she took part in a USN/FGN MISSILEX. Then from 15 June to 1 July, she participated in FLEETEX 2-88 (BASIC). From 12 August to 1 September, the USS Comte de Grasse assisted Coast Guard Law Enforcement Operations in the Caribean OpArea. Then, from 7-22 November, she participated in FLEETEX 1-89 (ADV) and SOCEX 1-89.

From 8 February to 1 March 1989, the Comte De Grasse took part in FLEETEX 1-89. She was in drydock from 14 April to 7 May, at NNSY, Portsmouth, CA, for replacement of its Sonar Dome Rubber Window. She deployed on 11 May for her Mediterranean/Indian Ocean deployment 2-89. She transited on 25 June through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea, then from 4-6 July, conducted operations in the Strait of Hormuz, Eastern Patrol Area (SOHEPA). Entering the Persian GUlf on 14 August, she transited the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea on 6 September before returning home on 9 November.

From 16-28 January 1990, she spent time at the VIEQUES Gunnery Range where she earned the designation of Top Gun of the Year. On 15 February 1990, the USS Comte de Grasse was visited by a delegation of the Supreme Soviet and the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Les Aspin.

1991 saw the USS Comte de Grasse undergo a number of qualification training and tests.

From 6-10 January 1992, the USS Comte de Grasse took part in the SWET Competition. Then from 13 January to 13 February, it took part in FLEETEX 2-92; followed by Exercise FABRIC FALCON BRAVE form 26 February to 3 March. The USS Comte de Grasse departed on its Mediterranean Deployment 2-92 on 6 May. This would be her last Mediterranean deployment during which she sailed with the USS SARATOGA (CV 60) Battle Group to the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.

In preparation for her deployment, Comte De Grasse completed Refresher Training in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, conducted various Battle Group exercises in the Caribbean Sea, such as FLEETEX 2-92, and successfully passed a myriad of pre- deployment inspections and exercises, including a Combat Systems Assessment (CSA), in which COMTE DE GRASSE received the highest grade of any unit in the entire Atlantic Fleet during 1991. During the deployment, she took part in intense Battle Group operations, developed and integrated new tactics for small combatants, conducted Maritime Interdiction Operations in the Red Sea, took part in major exercises, such as NATO DISPLAY DETERMINATION, and supported United Nations humanitarian efforts in the Adriatic Sea near the troubled lands of the former Yugoslavian Republic.

She transited the Suez Canal into the Red Sea on 7 September, at which point it conducted Maritime Interdiction Force Operations until 20 September when it transited the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea. She returned home on 6 November.

From 18 January to 15 February 1993, the USS Comte de Grasse took part in Operation Sea Signal in the Caribbean Sea. Then from 3 to 25 May, it conducted Counter Drup Operation in the Carribbean. It spent time dry docked in August, then participated in COMPTUEX, in the Caribbean Sea from 19-22 October, before finishing off the year with a Fleet Exercise in the Cherry Point OpArea from 1-15 December.

On 12 January 1994, the ships Port Main Reduction Gear was discovered to have been sabotage, resulting in a delay in its deployment. It finally got underway for its Meditteranean deployment on 5 February. It conducted operations in the Southern Adriatic in support of Operation Sharp Guard and returned home on 24 June. From 6 September until 1 October, the USS Comte de Grasse took part in Operations Support/Uphold/Restore Democracy in the Haitian OpArea.

1995 saw the USS Comte de Grasse take part in CART II, from 7-16 January; in COMPTUEX in the Caribbean from 24 April-14 May; then from 1 July until 3 December, in UNITAS XXXVI-95. UNITAS 95 included operations and port calls in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.

From 24 February to 12 March 1996, the USS Comte de Grasse conducted Countere Drug Operations in the Caribbean Sea.

In 1997, she took part in SPONTEX 97-1, from 4 March to 10 April. Then she took part in INDEX 97-3 form 9-16 May in the Puerto Rican OpArea. The USS Comte de Grasse then took part in UNITAS XXXVIII-97 form 1 July to 26 November 1997.

One of the highlights of COMTE DE GRASSE's deployment, was her participation in Grasse Day on 19 October 1992. On the occasion, which honors the French Admiral Francois Joseph Paul De Grasse, the officers and crew of the ship took part in ceremonies in Grasse and Bar sur Loup, France. In commemorating the day, which is built on and symbolized by Franco-American friendship, the town of Grasse adopted the warship Comte De Grasse, and proclaimed the town's populace as sponsors of Comte De Grasse.

Comte De Grasse's superior performance was again recognized in March of 1992 when she was awarded a second consecutive Battle Efficiency Award, representative of the best destroyer in Cruiser- Destroyer Group Eight. This prestigious award encompassed Mission Area Excellence Awards in Navigation and Deck Seamanship, Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW), Electronic Warfare (EW), Anti-Air Warfare (AAW), Engineering, Damage Control, Surface Ship Safety, and Command Control and Communications.

Amiral Francois Joseph Paul De Grasse

French sea power, which George Washington termed "the pivot upon which everything turned," compelled the capitulation of the British Army at Yorktown, thus setting the final course for success in America's struggle for independence. Knowledge that a powerful French Fleet, under Admiral De Grasse, was sailing from the West Indies for the Chesapeake, led the General's Washington and Rochambeau to break camp around New York and march south. The subsequent naval battle off the Virginia Capes on 5 September 1781, in which De Grasse drove off the British Fleet of Rear Admiral Thomas Graves, sealed the fate of General Lord Cornwallis entrenched at Yorktown, with his back to the sea. Hemmed in on the land side by the allied armies, and cut off from support or evacuation by water, Cornwallis surrendered over seven thousand troops on 19 October 1781. The final victory went to the holder of the sea lines of communication.

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