DDG-2 Charles F. Adams
The Charles F. Adams-Class was the first class designed specifically as a guided missile destroyer. Her design was similar to the Forrest Sherman-class destroyers and had a length of 437 feet, a displacement of roughly 4,500 tons and could reach speeds of 30 knots. The 23 commissioned ships were the last U.S. Navy destroyers to use a steam turbine power plant. These ships most notably served during Vietnam and during the quarantine of Cuba in 1962. Though the ship incorporated some of the latest technologies of the time it was evident later that the class could not fully deal with the advances in surface-to-air and guided missile technology. The ships received the developed New Threat Upgrade (NTU) along with other combat, weapon, sensor and communication system add-ons to increase the ships’ capability and survivability.
The Charles F. Adams class guided missile destroyers were constructed in the late 1950s and early 1960s. A particularly versatile fighting ship, their design was based on that of the highly successful Forrest Sherman class of gun destroyers. They were the first destroyers planned and built as a guided missile ships, and the most heavily armed ships at the time of their construction. Designed to meet the new challenges of the Cold War, the ships bristled with more antenna and guidance systems than guns.
Designed primarily to provide anti-air defense for carriers, for air defense the class was fitted with long range surveillance radars capable of detecting aircraft at ranges greater than 300 kilometers. The major anti-aircraft weapon is the Standard surface-to-air missile with a range of more than 35 kilometers. Two 5-inch rapid-fire guns are used for air defence, surface action and shore bombardment, delivering 70 rounds a minute on to targets up to 20 kilometers away. Anti-submarine capability is provided by a powerful sonar under the bow. For close-range attack, torpedoes are launched from tubes on each side of the ship.
The heart of the ship's fighting capability is a computer bank, which correlates information from all sources and automatically assigns weapons to counter a threat. Propulsion consists of four superheated boilers and two main engines which produce more than 70,000 shaft horsepower at top speed. Four turbo generators driven from the boilers provide 2000 kilowatts of electrical power. Living conditions were crowded, but all living spaces are air-conditioned and every effort was made to provide a reasonable standard of comfort.
The keel for the USS Charles F. Adams, named for Charles Francis Adams, Secretary of the Navy from 1929 to 1933, was laid on June 16, 1958. The Adams was the first in a line of 23 ships.
The Royal Australian Navy bought three Adams Class Destroyers from Defoe Shipbuilding. Substantially modified, they were re-classed as Perth Class Destroyers. From time to time, a class of ship emerges that is so successful that it continues to be useful well beyond normal life expectation. The Royal Australian Navy's three American built Charles F. Adams class destroyers, constructed during the 1960s, are examples of such an exceptional design. HMAS Perth was the first of three guided missile destroyers (DDGs) built in the United States for Australia. She was commissioned in July 1965 and arrived in Australia in March 1966. Her sister ships were Hobart and Brisbane. They all saw operational service during the Vietnam War. . All three RAN DDG's underwent an extensive modernisation of their Combat System between 1986-1992, with Brisbane being the first to undergo the upgrades to see her through to an anticipated de-commissioning year of 2001. HMAS Perth decommissioned on 15 October 1999, and HMAS Hobart on 12 May 2000.
In the early 1980s the DDG Upgrade program, applicable to all ships of the DDG-2 class, updated the DDG-2 combat system to a digital computer-controlled basis but did not make the system compatible with the SM-2 missile. The firepower and engagement envelope of the DDG-2s, therefore, remained governed by the capabilities of the Standard SM-1 missile. The DDG-2 Upgrade Program was relatively expensive, however, and only six of the 23 DDG-2s in the fleet were initially scheduled to receive this upgrade package. The six-ship program cost about $200 million per ship and included combat system improvements beyond those for the AAW system alone, as well as hull and machinery overhaul items costing approximately $50 million.
Despite periodic modernizations, the class was retired in the early 1990s. Modernization with the New Threat Upgrade (NTU) package was considered for these ships but was terminated since modernization would not have been cost effective given the limited service lives remaining. The New Threat Upgrade program built upon the CG/SM-2 Upgrade program by providing further radar and fire control improvements. It also gives the ship a capability to use the SM-2 (Block II) missile, a faster and still more capable version of the SM-2 AAW missile.
In the 1980s, with the shift in focus to the development of the Ticonderoga Class cruisers and Arleigh Burke Class destroyers, only a few of the Adams Class ships would receive minor upgrades as the Navy waited for the Arleigh Burke Class to become operational and ready for service. As part of the 1989 Amended budget submission, the decision was made to accelerate the retirement of these ships to achieve complete retirement of the class by the end of FY 93. The highly capable, multi-mission, AEGIS equipped, Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) class replaced these ships. On April 29, 1993, USS Goldsborough (DDG 20) wasthe last of the Adams-class to be decommissioned.
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