by Journalist Third Class (SW/AW) Jennifer Zingalie
Navy News Service
November 27, 2002
NORFOLK, Va. -- One hundred years ago, on Nov.
24, a new class of ship was “born” into the fleet of
the U.S. Navy.
USS Winston S. Churchill makes
a high-speed run in the English Channel. The
destroyer, based in Norfolk, Va., is making its
first deployment to the United Kingdom and
Norway. The Churchill is the only U.S. Navy
vessel in active service named after a foreign
dignitary. The ship is named in honor of Sir
Winston Spencer Leonard Churchill (1874-1965),
best known for his courageous leadership as the
British Prime Minister during World War II. U.S.
Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class
Shane T. McCoy.
This ship, USS Bainbridge (DD 1), along with eight
sister ships, leaders of the class, were built to
destroy powered torpedo boats (German U-boats).
Throughout the years, destroyers have been fast, alert,
lethal and resourceful. They have been involved in
almost every naval conflict and continue to be essential
to the Navy’s warfighting strategy.
“Destroyermen -- a powerful term that includes so many
generations, so many experiences -– peacetime and war,
both men and women,” said Vice Adm. J. Cutler Dawson,
Commander 2nd Fleet, who served as guest speaker at last
spring’s Destroyermens' Ball.
Although the birth date of this class of ship has been
celebrated for the entire year, the actual birthday of
the destroyer is in the month of November and is
remembered by those to whom its birth means the most,
the men and women who serve aboard them.
“On a destroyer, the crew is small, so being capable
and versatile in your job and as a Sailor is very
important. We are mission-ready. Intense training to
build these traits in each other is of utmost
importance,” said Sonar Technician (Surface) Seaman
James M. Hughes of USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79).
Today, there are two types of destroyers; Arleigh
Burke-class and Spruance-class. Armed to respond with
power and precision, the Spruance-class is used mainly
for antisubmarine warfare, and the Arleigh Burke-class
has a variety of combat capabilities. However, both
serve in the protection of other ships in a battle
“Destroyers are ships that, when out to sea,
constantly train. These exercises prepare us for any
contingency, because we are ready for action at a
moment’s notice,” said Mess Management Specialist
3rd Class James W. Towne of Oscar Austin.
The Navy continues to explore new and better ways to
improve the fleet and is working to develop the 21st
century’s next-generation destroyer, known as the DD(X).
These ships are being designed for multimissions in
dealing with small boats, diesel submarines and mines in
coastal waters. Like their predecessors, they will also
fulfill the need of the Navy in combat and precision.
“I believe that destroyers have held high standards
for the ships and Sailors alike since they were first
commissioned, and always will,” said Hughes. “We as
destroyermen have jobs to do, which can be dangerous and
hard. We put ‘warheads on foreheads.’ Everything we
do is built around fighting our ships. I think we have
to uphold high standards.”
Adm. Arleigh A. Burke, one of the Navy’s greatest
destroyermen, said in 1964: “…the already great
strength of the Navy will be increased even more, and
through it, we will respond more effectively to the
challenges which confront our country,”