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DD 985 Cushing
"Not for Self but for Country"

USS Cushing (DD 985), the last Spruance-class destroyer, was decommissioned in San Diego on 21 September 2005, on the 26th anniversary of the ship's commissioning.

A highly versatile multi-mission destroyer, USS Cushing was capable of operating independently or with amphibious assault and aircraft carrier task forces. Cushing's primary missions include the prosecution of both surface and subsurface threats. The ship's offensive assets include Harpoon anti-ship missiles, five-inch guns, and ship- and helicopter-launched torpedoes.

USS Cushing (DD985) was the twenty-third SPRUANCE Class Destroyer to be designed and built by Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Homeported in Yokosuka Japan, Cushing was assigned to Commander, Destroyer Squadron Fifteen.

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 Cushing was reassigned to Destroyer Squadron 5.

A prototype Remote Minehunting System (RMS) was installed onboard USS Cushing in time for the fall 1996 USS Kitty Hawk deployment to provide the Battle Group with a mine reconnaissance capability. This was an upgrade of the system successfully used in 1995 with the additional capability for shipboard launch and recovery and direct interface to the shipboard system. In FY 1997, the RMS concept was successfully demonstrated by employment of a prototype system from the USS Cushing (DD 985) during an Arabian Gulf exercise.

In early 1997, the USS Cushing was conducting Maritime Interception Operations in the Arabian Gulf.

The Spruance-class destroyer USS Cushing departed Pearl Harbor, HI, on March 16, 1998, for its new home port of Yokosuka, Japan. The USS Cushing had been homeported in Pearl Harbor since 1991 and was set to replace the USS Fife which was changing homeports to Everett, WA. During its time in Pearl Harbor, USS Cushing made four western Pacific deployments and one to the South Atlantic. Upon arrival in Japan, USS Cushing was assigned to Commander, Destroyer Squadron 15, and deployed in May to participate in CARAT '98, a multi-national exercise with navies of Southeast Asian nations. CARAT '98 was the fourth annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise held between the United States and six Southeast Asia countries from May 12 to August 5, 1998. As part of a series of bilateral training exercises, CARAT 98 had U.S. forces training with military forces of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines. CARAT 98 demonstrated U.S. commitment to security and stability in Southeast Asia while increasing the operational readiness and capabilities of U.S. forces. The exercise also promoted interoperability and cooperation with U.S. regional friends and allies by offering a broad spectrum of mutually beneficial training opportunities.

The USS Cushing, from March 22 to March 25, 1999, along with Battle Force 7th Fleet took part in a multi-national live-fire missile exercise (MTX 99) in waters near the Marianas Islands. Also involved in the MTX 99 were naval units from Australia, Canada, Singapore and the Republic of Korea. Fired during MTX 99 were live weapons which included Harpoon, Penguin and Maverick missiles, torpedoes and various shipboard weapons systems. The former USS Oklahoma City was used as the target vessel. Oklahoma City had been commissioned as a light cruiser (CL 91) in 1944. She had participated in the Battle of Okinawa prior to being decommissioned in 1947, before being recommisioned in 1960 as a guided missile light cruiser (CLG 5), serving in the Vietnam War and making several deployments to WESTPAC to serve as the 7th Fleet flagship prior to finally being decommissioned and stricken from the naval register in 1979.

The USS Cushing took part in the 38th Foal Eagle exercise held in the fall of 1999. A regularly scheduled exercise, Foal Eagle combined forces from the Republic of Korea (ROK) with US ones. In August 2000, the USS Cushing took part in SHAREM 138. USS Cushing and various units in the Foward Deployed Naval Force (FDNF), participated in SHAREM (Ship ASW Readiness Effectiveness Measuring) 138 along with units from the host, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force near Okinawa, Japan. Although weather conditions curtailed SHAREM events, valuable training was accomplished in the Art of Undersea Warfare(USW).

The USS Cushing took part in Missile exercise (MISSILEX) 01-1 which was held November 17-18, 2000 as part of a coordinated task group operation.

During a Naval Surface Fire Support exercise held near Guam on December 4-5, 2000, the USS Cushing (DD 985) posted a better-than-perfect score during a gun shoot. The exercise was designed to test the accuracy and effectiveness of Cushing's guns and the proficiency of its watch teams. When the dust settled and the grade sheets were tallied, with bonus points for superior communications performance, Cushing was awarded 101.5 points out of 100.

The USS Cushing (DD 985) was honored by Commander, Destroyer Squadron 15, when it Cushing received the Silver Enlisted Surface Warfare Excellence Pennant on January 25, 2001. As a result, Cushing was now authorized to fly the pennant as all enlisted personnel E5 and senior have qualified as enlisted surface warfare specialists within the required time standard set forth by the Chief of Naval Operations. Cushing is the first ship of Destroyer Squadron 15 to qualify for this prestigious award.

Cushing's aggressive enlisted surface warfare program entails daily training, both underway and inport. The lecture series involved builds a foundation for the crew to obtain a knowledge of the fundamentals of surface warfare. Then personnel have to go through every part of the ship and obtain signatures on individual combat systems, engineering, deck and damage control items, among others and show that they understand how the ship works. After completing all the knowledge requirements listed in their qualification books, candidates then must pass a rigorous written examination and an oral qualification board. The pennant embodies the warrior spirit of the crew's enlisted surface warfare specialists. For individual Sailors, earning the pin requires extensive research, observation, study and knowledge of all surface warfare mission areas: combat systems, operations, navigation, engineering and supply.

From January to March 2001, the USS Cushing underwent a series of upgrades to its weapons and engineering systems.

USS Cushing (DD 985) returned to Yokosuka, Japan, on Aug. 27, 2004, after being deployed for nearly five months in the Persian Gulf. The Spruance-class destroyer participated in several missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom during the deployment. Cushing teamed with navy units from several other countries, forming a coalition force to interdict potential terrorists, terrorist-related maritime activity, and to maintain warning and exclusion zones around Iraq oil terminals in the northern Persian Gulf.

The ship queried 465 vessels and boarded 47 during the deployment. Despite the pace of that recent underway period, Cushing's crew also found time to execute various community relations efforts in Malaysia and Sri Lanka and qualify 62 new enlisted surface warfare specialists.

During the ship's career, Cushing completed 10 deployments, four homeport changes and received multiple awards for excellence. The destroyer was also the last U.S. warship to transit the Panama Canal while under U.S. control, in September 1979.

Ship Shield and Crest

USS Cushing's coat of arms symbolizes the spirit and endeavors of William Barker Cushing, as well as the tradition of destroyers named in honor of this brave naval officer. The predominant colors of dark blue and gold are traditionally associated with the Navy and symbolize the sea and excellence. The indented division of the shield represents a log boom and pile and is suggestive of the manner in which Commander Cushing accomplished the sinking of the Albemarle. The upper area of the pile is red, alluding to the danger of this famous action and that Commander Cushing was under enemy fire more than any other Union Navy officer. The lion's head is a symbol of courage and strength and signifies the character of Commander Cushing. His spirit is also reflected in the ship's motto, "NON SIBI SED PATRIAE", a statement attributed to the ancient Roman Cicero that translates to "Not for Self but for Country".

The trident is a traditional maritime symbol and its sharp points suggest offensive action. The spar torpedo is dark blue alluding to the dark night and the covert nature of the sinking of the Albemarle. The dark blue also recalls the fact that Commander Cushing took the torpedo, at that time a Confederate weapon, and successfully used it to sink an enemy vessel. The five stars refer to the fact that USS Cushing was the fifth ship in the U. S. Navy with this name.


USS Cushing (DD 985) is the fifth U. S. Navy ship named Cushing. The original was the Navy's first torpedo boat, TB-1, commissioned on 22 April 1890. From 1891 until 1897, the boat conducted experimental torpedo work at the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, Rhode Island. In late 1897, this Cushing was transferred to Key West, Florida, where it performed picket patrol and courier duties in the Florida Straits. During the Spanish-American War, TB-1 patrolled the waters off Florida and captured five small Spanish vessels. After the war, Cushing continued with torpedo experiments until decommissioning in November 1898. From 1901 until 1911, TB-1 was attached to the Reserve Torpedo Flotilla, and was later sunk as a naval gunnery target.

DD 55

The second USS Cushing was one of the earliest destroyers, DD-55, commissioned on 21 August 1915. Until the U. S. entered World War I, Cushing participated in the typical schedule of maneuvers and exercises. In May 1917, the destroyer was ordered to the war zone off Ireland and patrolled the Irish coast escorting convoys, engaging enemy submarines and picking up survivors of torpedoed ships. Later, Cushing performed similar work off the coast of France and ended the war with an excellent record of service. DD-55 was decommissioned in August 1920.

DD 376

DD-376, commissioned 28 August 1936, was a 1465-ton destroyer of the MAHAN class, and the third U.S. naval vessel named Cushing.

She was built at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, and was commissioned August 1936. She mainly operated in the Pacific during the half-decade of peace that followed her entry into service, participating in Fleet Problems, training and other activities. Among the latter was the mid-ocean search in July 1937 for the missing aviator Amelia Earhart.

When Japan began the Pacific War on 7 December 1941, Cushing was finishing an overhaul at the Mare Island Navy Yard. During the war's first months, Cushing performed convoy duty between the west coast and Pearl Harbor, patrolled off the Midway Islands and operated with the residual U.S. Pacific Fleet battleship force off the west coast, later screening training forces near California.

In August 1942, it was ordered to the south Pacific to join in the campaign to hold Guadalcanal. In addition to convoy escort duties, she screened the aircraft carrier Enterprise during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in late October. Cushing fought at the Battle of Santa Cruz on 26 October 1942, during which outnumbered U. S. forces turned back a Japanese force advancing toward Guadalcanal.

A few weeks later, on 13 November 1942, Cushing was at the head of the U.S. line during the first night action of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. In an intense gun and torpedo action, she bravely engaged several Japanese ships, among them the battleship Hiei. Although Cushing received numerous hits by enemy shells, the crew continued to fight until 0230 the next day when the ship was abandoned. With their ship battered by shellfire and burning badly, the destroyer's surviving crewmen were forced over the side into the water, from which they were rescued the following morning. Cushing's hulk remained afloat until the late afternoon of 13 November, but then suffered a magazine exposion and sank. However, she had helped thwart an enemy bombardment of U.S. positions ashore on Guadalcanal, and thus played a vital role in the successful fight to retain that vital island. Cushing had suffered 70 men killed or missing and many others wounded. The third USS Cushing earned three battle stars for her wartime service.

Cushing's sunken wreck was located and examined in 1991-92. She rests nearly upright nearly a half-mile below the surface of Iron Bottom Sound, southeast of Savo Island. Her hull has been destroyed aft of the forward part of the after deckhouse, but is essentially intact from there to the bow. Cushing's forward superstructure, weakened by intense fires before she sank, has largely collapsed, and much of the rest of her upperworks are severely damaged. Her forward five-inch guns are intact and point toward the port and starboard bows. Also trained to port are her centerline quadruple torpedo tubes, pointing exactly as they were during the chaotic night of 13 November 1942.

DD 797

The fourth USS Cushing (DD 797), a destroyer of the FLETCHER class, was commissioned on 17 January 1944. Joining the FIFTH Fleet in august 1944, the ship was assigned to screen the aircraft carriers during strikes on the Philippines, Formosa and mainland China. At Iwo Jima, and later at Okinawa, Cushing provided screening, shore bombardment, and radar picket ship services for Task Force 58. From June 1945 until the end of the war, DD 797 screened the carriers that were conducting strikes on Tokyo. After the war, Cushing returned to the United States and was decommissioned on 3 February 1947.

DD 797 saw later action during the Korean conflict. The ship was recommissioned on 17 August 1951, and was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet. In January 1953, Cushing joined Task Force 77 off the coast of Korea and served principally in plane guard duty with the carrier task force. The ship returned to Norfolk in August of that year and served in the Atlantic and Mediterranean in 1954. In 1955, Cushing returned to the Pacific Fleet where it served until she decommissioning at Charleston, South Carolina, on 8 November 1960. The fourth Cushing earned

William Barker Cushing

USS Cushing is named after Commander William Barker Cushing, a Naval hero of the American Civil War. Born in Delafield, Wisconsin, November 4, 1842, he entered the Naval Academy in 1857. He earned the rank of Lieutenant on July 16, 1862, and subsequently attained the rank of Commander on January 31, 1872.

After a brilliant service in the blockading fleet off the North Carolina coast, his plans were to outfit the torpedo boats with a spar torpedo and destroy the formidable and dangerous Confederate ram ALBERMARLE. The ALBEMARLE had sunk or damaged several Union warships during the Spring and Summer of 1864 and was causing considerable apprehension in Washington D.C. because no Union ironclad could navigate the shoals off the North Carolina coast. This allowed the ports in the area to remain open to blockade runners as ALBEMARLE could destroy the wooden inshore blockading squadron. LT Cushing proposed a small boat attack on the ironclad using boats of his own design. The Navy Department agreed and sent the twenty-one year old officer to New York to have the boats built.

On the night of October 27, Cushing led seven volunteers in one of his small steam driven boats up the Roanoke River into North Carolina. His only weapon was a "torpedo" suspended forward of his craft by a twenty foot boom or spar. The torpedoes of that time were similar to what are now called mines in that they were not self-propelled. As Cushing approached ALBEMARLE, his boat was detected and was fired upon from the shore. By the light of a Confederate bonfire on the near bank, Cushing observed ALBEMARLE was protected by a semi-circle of floating logs. Pressing the attack, Cushing rammed the barrier at full speed causing his boat to stick fast less than ten yards from the mighty ironclad. From this position, by the use of lines he controlled while standing in the bow, Cushing lowered the torpedo into the water, released it, waited for the torpedo to settle under the ironclad, then detonated it. At the instant the torpedo, exploded the fatally crippled ALBEMARLE fired one of its eight inch guns at Cushing's craft. Fortunately, the gun could not be depressed enough to hit the boat, but the concussion swamped it. Cushing and a few others dove into the river attempting to escape. Although everyone else in his crew was either killed or captured, Cushing himself eluded his pursuers and managed to work his way through enemy territory to the coast where he was picked up by the blockading Union forces. For this action Cushing was promoted meritoriously to lieutenant commander and received the official thanks of Congress, the only non-flag officer of the Civil War to be so honored. Four years after graduating from the Naval Academy, William Barker Cushing was promoted to the rank of Commander.

After the Civil War, he served in both the Pacific and Asiatic squadrons; commanded LANCASTER, and MAUMEE; served as ordnance officer, Boston Navy Yard; and from July 11, 1873 commanded USS WYOMING until relieved of active duty because of illness.

The boldness he displayed during the war was readily apparent in his later career, as exemplified by an incident that occurred while he was commanding USS WYOMING in the Caribbean. Cushing helped to free the passengers of a ship being detained by the Spanish government in Cuba by threatening to shell the city of Havana if the passengers were not released.

Commander Cushing died on 17 December 1874 of a painful back ailment, probably caused by the physical abuse his body had taken during his life. He was survived by his mother, his wife, two daughters, and one of his brothers. He had two other brothers; one died during the Battle of Gettysburg, and the other died fighting the Apache in 1871.

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