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DD 975 O'Brien
"Loyalty, Unity, Freedom"

The thirteenth SPRUANCE-class destroyer to be built, O'Brien was commissioned on December 3, 1977, and is forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan as part of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces.

Designed and built by Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries, Pascagoula, Mississippi, O'Brien displaces 9000 tons and is 563 feet long. Four General Electric LM-2500 gas turbines, the land and marine version of the engine used by DC-10 and C-5 aircraft, power O'Brien to speeds in excess of 30 knots. Twin controllable reversible pitch propellers provide a degree of maneuverability unique among warships of her size.

A multi-mission destroyer, O'Brien's primary function is to operate in power projection and anti-submarine roles, either independently or as part of a carrier battle group. Her gun, anti-submarine, and missile fire control systems are integrated into the naval tactical data system, providing quick and accurate employment of her weapons systems.

O'Brien is armed with two 5-inch 54 cal MK 45 lightweight guns, two triple barrel MK 32 torpedo tubes, the LAMPS MK III helicopter, NATO Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles, Harpoon anti-ship cruise missiles, two Vulcan Phalanx close-in-weapons systems and the MK 41 Vertical Launch System with Tomahawk cruise missiles and Vertically Launched Anti-Submarine Rockets.

Since commissioning, O'Brien has had an active schedule. The destroyer has completed seven major deployments to the Western Pacific/Indian Oceans and seven deployments to the Arabian Gulf.

During her third deployment, which included 69 consecutive days at sea in the Indian Ocean, O'Brien took part in two refugee rescue missions, earning the Humanitarian Service Medal. The first rescue took place in the Gulf of Thailand on April 29, 1984, and the second in the South China Sea on May 23, 1984.

O'Brien's fourth western pacific deployment took the destroyer further north. Operations included joint U.S./Korean naval exercises TEAM SPIRIT 86 and TAE KWAN DO 86-1

Following the installation of an advanced towed array sonar system in 1987, O'Brien conducted experimental sonar evaluation operations in the Northern Pacific and Bering Sea.

During her fifth deployment, O'Brien became part of the Middle East Force. O'Brien participated in Operation ERNEST WILL, escorting reflagged Kuwaiti tankers, and Operation PRAYING MANTIS, during which O'Brien was a key member of the three-ship surface action group that engaged and sank the Iranian Guided Missile Frigate SAHAND

O'Brien underwent an extensive overhaul and received major weapon systems improvements in 1988 including the MK 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) for the Tomahawk cruise missile, the SQR-1 tactical towed array sonar system and the LAMPS MK III helicopter system.

While assigned to the Middle East Force from September to December 1990, O'Brien participated in Operation DESERT SHIELD.

Conducting Arabian Gulf patrols in support of the United Nations embargo of Iraq, O'Brien investigated over four hundred vessels.

In December 1991 and again from February to April 1992, O'Brien conducted counter narcotic operations off the coasts of Central and South America.

In August 1992, O'Brien departed San Diego to become a member of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces. En route from San Diego to Yokosuka, O'Brien conducted follow-on testing and evaluation of the Vertically Launched Anti-Submarine Rocket and the SQQ-89 sonar system on the Pacific Missile Test Range off Kauai, Hawaii. O'Brien arrived in Yokosuka, Japan, in October 1992.

In June 1993, O'Brien departed Yokosuka for its third deployment to the Middle East Force where she conducted Arabian Gulf patrols in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH and surveillance operations in the Gulf of Oman.

The USS O'Brien took part in Exercise Valiant Blitz '94 in November 1993. During the exercise, sailors and Marines from the United States and the Republic of Korea operated as an integrated force from the Sea of Japan. The week-long exercise successfully demonstrated the bilateral cooperation required to effectively coordinate and conduct a combined amphibious landing and follow-on operations ashore with ground forces.

O'Brien participated in several joint exercises with the U.S. Marines and Air Force, as well as combined exercises with the Armed Forces of Singapore, Brunei, and the Republic of Korea. O'Brien departed on her fourth Middle East Force deployment on February 17, 1995 and continued to conduct operations in support of the United Nations embargo on Iraq.

In 1995, 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 dispatched forward deployed naval assets, including the USS Independence (CV-62) carrier and other combatants to the area to monitor the situation. Operating in international waters, the USS Independence (CV 62) and other units in its battle group, including the USS O'Brien, were on the scene since the exercises began. The Independence CVBG had just completed a port visit to Manila, Republic of the Philippines, and the CVBG's ships were readily available to respond to the tasking from the national command authorities.

As part of a 1995 reorganization of 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, and homeport changes to be completed within the following year, the USS O'Brien was reassigned to Destroyer Squadron 15.

O'Brien'S operational tempo remained very high throughout 1996, including her fifth Middle East Force Deployment and RIMPAC '96 as well as real world tasking as a member of the Taiwan contingency force. During PACMEF, O'Brien continued conducting operations in support of the United Nations embargo on Iraq and her efforts resulted in the seizure of over 1.5 million gallons of contraband oil.

O'Brien was away from homeport for 233 days in 1996, but was rewarded for her stellar performance and tireless devotion to duty with the Battle "E", Meritorious Unit Commendation, Humanitarian Service Award and the nominated for the prestigious Spokane Trophy.

The USS O'Brien took part from November 5-12, 1998 in a large bilateral maritime exercise in waters around Japan. The routine exercise, Annualex 10G, was designed to improve both navies' capability for coordinated and bilateral operations in the defense of Japan. In particular, Annualex 10G focused on enhancing military-to-military relationships, improving command and control, and air, undersea and surface warfare. U.S. Navy units taking part in the exercise with JMSDF units also included the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). Exercise Annualex 10G was one in a continuing series an annual routine bilateral exercise between the U.S. Navy and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force. Approximately 8,000 U.S. naval personnel participated in the exercise.

In 1999, O'Brien participated in exercises with the Phillipine Navy and in CROCEX '99 with the Australian Navy.

In 1999, the USS O'Brien, forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, was given diplomatic approval by the Chinese government to make a four-day port call to Hong Kong. The ship arrived in Hong Kong on October 31 and departed on November 4. The USS O'Brien was the first U.S. Navy warship to visit Hong Kong since the May 1999 Chinese Embassy bombing in Belgrade.

While on a regularly scheduled two-month deployment to the Western Pacific Ocean, the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, accompanied by the guided missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) and the destroyer USS O'Brien (DD 975), took part in Exercise Cobra Gold 2000. From May 9-23, Exercise Cobra Gold 2000 tested the U.S. and Thai military to ensure regional peace. It also strengthened the ability of the Royal Thai armed forces to defend themselves and respond to regional contingencies. This annual joint exercise was one of the largest military exercises involving U.S. forces in the Pacific Command this year, and it involved units from the Thai and U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines. Armed forces from Singapore also participated for the first time that year.

The USS O'Brien departed with the USS Kitty Hawk on April 11, 2000, to begin a routine deployment to the Western Pacific. The carrier had spent the previous five weeks in Yokosuka following a 12-day sea trial in February and March.

In 2001 when O'Brien participated in PACMEF '01, conducting maritime interdiction operations, including boarding over thirty merchant vessels throughout the summer in the Arabian Gulf. On September 11, O'Brien emergency sortied from Bahrain to the Arabian Sea. She participated in the opening Tomahawk cruise missile strikes into Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The USS O'Brian took part in a multi-sail battle group interoperability exercise in early 2002.

The USS O'Brien took part, in February 2002, in an anti-ship missile defense training exercise (MISSILEX 02-1) as part of a Commander Task Force Seven Five (CTF 75) Multi-Sail battle group interoperability exercise. It was one of nine ships that participated in the exercise.

The U.S. Navy announced on April 28, 2004 that the O'Brien would be replaced by the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald in late July 2004. O'Brien will depart Yokosuka in early May 2004 and will return to San Diego for decommissioning as part of the Navy's plan to phase out all Spruance-class destroyers. The O'Brien is scheduled to be decommissioned 24 September 2004.

Shield & Crest

USS O'Brien's official crest, symbolizes the rich tradition of courage and determination initiated by the ship's namesake, Captain Jeremiah O'Brien, and continued by those ships that proudly bore his name.

The golden pile and its associated elements are resplendent in symbolism. The pile, in conjunction with the wavy bars, represents a ship at sea, symbolic of the grand tradition of the U. S. Navy. Taken by itself, the pile also represents the Roman numeral "V" equaling the total number of ships, including DD-975, to be honored with the name of "O'Brien". The shamrock centered at the top of the pile alludes to Jeremiah O'Brien's Irish ancestry and the arms of the previous O'Brien (DD-725). The crossed nautical tridents overlapped by a single cannon dedicates the first naval battle of the American Revolution in which Jeremiah O'Brien and his men defeated the British warship, MARGARETTA. O'Brien and his men, armed with only limited muskets, axes, and pitchforks (represented on the crest by the crossed tridents) boarded the MARGARETTA and defeated an enemy armed with muskets, grenades, and cannons.

The battle took place at Machias, ME. The state of Maine is symbolized by the pine trees on either side of the cannon. Reflected in the ship's motto "Loyalty, Unity, Freedom" are the qualitatively describe Captain O'Brien's contribution to the American Revolution. The motto also displays the goals of a long line of U. S. Navy Sailors manning ships named O'Brien.

Captain Jeremiah O'Brien

USS O'Brien (DD 975) is the fifth warship to be named in honor of Captain Jeremiah O'Brien, Commanding Officer of the first American ship to successfully engage a British vessel during the Revolutionary War. His home was the small lumber-exporting town of Machias, Maine, the site of the battle between O'Brien's ship UNITY and the British man-of-war MARGARETTA.

To provide housing for the growing British forces in Boston, Admiral Samuel Graves arranged for the armed ship MARGARETTA to escort the colonial ships UNITY and POLLY to Machias where they were to obtain two shiploads of lumber from the forests and mills of Maine.

The UNITY, POLLY and MARGARETTA anchored in Machias Harbor on June 9, 1775. Earlier that month, the residents had been so elated by the news of the colonial uprisings at Lexington and Concord that they erected one of the first liberty poles of the era. They were incensed by the presence of a British symbol of power in their own harbor and were further angered when the MARGARETTA's captain demanded the removal of their liberty pole.

Following an unsuccessful attempt by the infuriated townspeople to capture the MARGARETTA's officers at church, Captain O'Brien organized a crew and seized the schooner UNITY. Displaying exceptional seamanship, he skillfully maneuvered the smaller UNITY into a position which allowed her bowsprit to pierce the mainsail of the warship MARGARETTA. The two ships swung together and O'Brien's crew armed with only pitchforks, axes and the fierce determination of their Captain defeated a superior force of professional soldiers and sailors armed with muskets and grenades.

Captain O'Brien later received a commission from the Massachusetts Congress, commanding UNITY and the schooner DILIGENT during the Revolutionary War.

TB 30 (1900 - 1909)

One hundred and twenty-five years later, The United States Navy named its first ship in honor of the gallant O'Brien brothers. On 24 September 1900 USS O'Brien, Torpedo Boat 30, was launched In the Crescent Shipyard at Elizabeth port, New Jersey. The ship was struck from the Navy list on 3 March 1909 and used as a target.

DD 51 (1914 - 1922)

The next O'Brien, DD51, was built by William Cramp and Sons at Philadelphia. Laid down on 5 September 1913, she was launched ten and a half months later on 20 July 1914. DD51 served throughout the First World War guarding merchant vessels against the constant peril of U- boat attacks. While escorting the British steamer ELYSIA in the coastal waters of Ireland, lookouts aboard O'Brien sighted a periscope 800 yards on the starboard bow. Heading directly for the rapidly disappearing periscope at twenty knots, the ship moved in for the attack. The foretop lookout reported that he saw the submerged U-boat pass close along the starboard side. He clearly saw the submarine and watched it until it was almost to the after deckhouse. At this moment a depth charge was dropped. Circling around the spot, O'Brien saw no evidence of damage. A few hours later a British destroyer, passing through the same area, reported large patches of oil on the surface. No wreckage was sighted. DD51 was placed out of commission in 1922. She was stricken from the Navy List and sold in 1935.

DD 415 (1939 - 1942)

The third O'Brien DD-415 was launched in Boston in 1939. She served with the Atlantic Fleet until the entry of the United States in the Second World War. On 15 January 1942, she was ordered to the Pacific. Four days after her arrival in San Francisco, she put to sea with a convoy; a collision with the USS CASE forced her back to Mare Island for repairs to her port side. Once again ready for sea, 0 'BRIEN went to San Diego where Commander Destroyer Division Four broke his flag on O'Brien. In the spring of 1942, the ship helped evacuate civilian personnel from Midway Island, patrolled the seas around French Frigate Shoals, escorted vessels in the vicinity of Pago Pago Samoa, and supported the occupation of Wallis Island.

On the afternoon of 15 September 1942, O'Brien was in the joint task force with USS HORNET and USS WASP southeast of the Solomons. The Japanese submarines 1-15 and 1-19 attacked, sinking WASP, damaging the USS NORTH CAROLINA, and delivering one torpedo to O'Brien. The explosion did little damage that was immediately evident. Temporary repairs were made so the ship could make the long voyage to repair facilities in San Francisco and Pearl Harbor. During the trip, the hull weakened considerably. On 19 September, she sank approximately 2800 miles from the point where she was torpedoed.

DD 725 (1944 - 1972)

The fourth O'Brien joined the Fleet on 25 February 1944. She saw her first action while escorting landing craft at Omaha Beach on fl-Day. Later at the bombardment of Cherbourg, she operated close inshore, protecting mine-sweeps and bombarding German shore batteries with her five-inch guns. Behind her the battleship TEXAS was pouring sixteen-inch projectiles into the same batteries. O'Brien's fire was so effective that German guns concentrated their fire on the destroyer rather than the battleship. It was only a matter of time before the little ship was hit. In spite of heavy damage on the after part of the bridge and the loss of thirteen men, she stayed on long enough to lay a protecting smoke screen around TEXAS. Following repairs at Boston she was ordered to the Pacific. In Ormoc Bay, she was with the USS WARD when that ill-fated ship was hit by suicide planes. Salvage crews from O'Brien desperately tried to save the WARD, the impossibility of salvage was shortly seen and WARD was sunk by O'Brien guns. Three years earlier O'Brien's Captain, W. W. OUTER BRIDGE, had had command of WARD when she had sunk a Japanese submarine off Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.

Then the ship went on to participate in the invasion of Mindoro and the pre-invasion bombardment of Lingayen Gulf. Here on January 1945, she was hit by a "Zeke" (single engine suicide plane) which left a gaping hole in her port side. Quick repairs were made, and then O'Brien headed north for the first raid on Tokyo. As an advance picket, she approached within ninety miles of the Japanese capital. Following these raids, the gallant destroyer headed south for the action at Iwo Jima. At Kerama Rhetto, off Okinawa, a Japanese suicide plane hit the ship just aft of the bridge, exploding a magazine. Twenty-eight men were killed, twenty-two missing and one hundred were injured. The ship returned to Mare Island for repairs. In July 1947, where O'Brien was placed in the reserve fleet. At the outbreak of the Korean War, she was reactivated and placed under the command of CDR C. W. NIMITZ, Jr. In March 1951, she arrived in Korean waters as flagship of Destroyer Division 132, participating at the siege of Chongjin, the "Battle of the Buzz saw," and various bombardment missions along the Korean coast line. During these activities, both Radio Moscow and Radio Peiping reported O'Brien sunk by the North Korean Peoples Navy. 1961 brought an extensive overhaul through the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization program. O'Brien became a member of Destroyer Division 232 In April 1963.

In 1965, O'Brien saw her first Vietnam action. The following is taken from the Navy Times of early 1966, that describes one of her actions.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:54:06 ZULU