The USS Spruance DD 963 was the first in a series of destroyers designed for anti-submarine warfare. The Spruance was the first destroyer in the US Navy to be powered by a gas turbine. The ship was named after Admiral Raymond A. Spruance. It was built by Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi and launched in 1973.
The Mediterranean Sea was the first deployment the Spruance was sent on in October 1979. Part of the mission included a detour to the Black Sea to observe the new Soviet helicopter, the Moskva. During this expedition, the Spruance lost one of the LM-2500 gas turbine engines. The engine was successfully repaired at port.
In 1980, the Spruance underwent her first major overhaul. Originally outfitted with the 8-cell NATO missile launcher that offered little air defense, the destroyer was soon upgraded to the VLS which replaced the Mk 16 ASROC launcher. In 1982, the destroyer was deployed to the Arabian Sean and in the same year she was stationed off of Beirut for a short period. In 1983, she was outfitted with the CIWS and TAS Mk radar system.
After leaving the yard in 1983, the Spruance was dispatched for a 6-month deployment in the Persian Gulf. For nearly five months, she provided observations of the Iraq-Iran War alongside the USS Oliver Hazard Perry. From 1983 to 1985, the Spruance conducted various missions in the Mediterranean and Black Seas before heading back into the shipyard for another overhaul.
In 1993, the Spruance deployed to the Red Sea where she performed various interception missions. The Spruance was called upon in 1994 to help in the Operation Restore Democracy mission where she rescued nearly 900 Haitians at sea. Once the mission was completed, the Spruance docked in Portsmouth, Virginia. She remained dry docked until 1996 when she returned to the Mediterranean Sea with the John F. Kennedy battle group.
For the next six years, the Spruance travelled with the John F. Kennedy battle group with occasional separate deployments. In December 2004, the Spruance docked in Mayport, Florida. On March 23, 2005, the Spruance was decommissioned after 30 years of service. She was sunk on December 8, 2006 as a target for aircraft launched harpoon missiles.
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, including 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.