The USS Paul F. Foster was the Pacific fleet’s very first Spruance-class destroyer. Commissioned in 1976 and built by Ingalls Shipbuilding, she was an impressive 563 feet long. She ran on four GE gas turbines, at a top speed of 32.5 knots (60 km/h). Her range was approximately 3,300 nautical miles at this speed, and displacement was 8,040 tons of water when fully loaded.
Outfitted with an imposing display of armament, she was equipped with 54 caliber Mark 45 dual purpose guns, Phalanx CIWS Mark 15 guns, an ASROC launcher (removed), and a NATO Sea Sparrow Mark 29 missile launcher. She also possessed quadruple Harpoon missile canisters, Mark 32 triple torpedo tubes, and a VLS launcher for Tomahawk missiles.
The ship carried a full complement of nineteen officers and three hundred fifteen crew members, along with two Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk LAMPS III helicopters.
Named after vice admiral Paul F. Foster USN (1889-1972), this notable war ship was a pioneer for many Navy firsts. She was the first ship of her class to fire a NATO Sea Sparrow missile, and was instrumental in testing the operating range capabilities of both the H-46 and SH-3 helicopters.
In 1978, the USS Paul F. Foster became the first Spruance-class destroyer to deploy to the western pacific. Afterwards, she was transferred to Long Beach, California. There she once again set a historical precedent, as the Navy retrofitted her to become their first all eclectic destroyer. She received an electronic warfare system, torpedo countermeasures, and a decoy launching system.
The primary area of deployment was the western pacific and the Indian Ocean. The ship continued to represent a standard of naval excellence, as she was credited for being influential in the liberation of Kuwait. Over the years, she received both the Meritorious Unit Commendation and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.
Deployed a total of thirteen times over the life of her career, she was decommissioned on March 27, 2003. The USS Paul F. Foster is the last surviving destroyer in her class. She is now used by the Navy as a self defense test ship, continuing her motto of “Honor, Valor, and Service”.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, especially during World War II, naval destroyers also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, includingÂ mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.