Spruance Class

Overview

Country: United States

In the late 1960s the US Navy wanted a replacement anti-submarine and carrier battle group escort destroyer. The resulting new design was the first US Navy warship to have gas turbine engines. From 1975-83 thirty-one Spruance Class destroyers were commissioned into the US Navy.

Spruance Class ships were more than twice as large as Second World War destroyers and were in fact as large as 1940s cruisers. Their design allowed for a great deal of future growth and enhancement in their equipment fit. They were originally designed as anti-submarine (ASW) destroyers but in the 1980s and 90s twenty-four ships of this class were upgraded with the installation of a sixty-one cell Vertical Launch Missile System (VLS) capable of launching Tomahawk and Harpoon missiles. The VLS missile systems replaced the Mk16 ASROC launcher. The addition of Tomahawk cruise missiles has greatly enhanced their bombardment ability.

In the 1980s the entire class was fitted with Kevlar armour and this increased the displacement from under 7000 tons full load to 8250 tons. These vessels have also been modified to make them ‘stealthy’. Their radar cross-section has been rreduced by the addition of radar-absorbent materials to the superstructure and masts and alterations to the antenna installations.

The US Navy has decided to decommission the last nineteen remaining Spruance Class destroyers by 2006 and by the time this section is read almost certainly no ships of this type will remain in US Navy front line strength.

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