Destroyer leader

Summary

Destroyer leader (DL) was the United States Navy designation for large destroyers from 9 February 1951 through the early years of the Cold War. United States ships with hull classification symbol DL were officially frigates from 1 January 1955[1] until 1975. The smaller destroyer leaders were reclassified as destroyers and the larger as cruisers by the United States Navy 1975 ship reclassification so destroyer escorts could be reclassified as frigates (FF) in conformance with international usage of the term.

Destroyer leader USS John S. McCain with 3-inch/70 Mark 26 gun and Weapon Alpha visible abaft the forward 5-inch/54 Mark 42 gun.

BackgroundEdit

By the end of World War I the destroyers intended to screen formations of battleships had evolved to a displacement of approximately 1,100 tons armed with four 4-inch (10 cm) guns and six or more torpedoes.[2] Italy had built three Mirabello-class esploratori (scout cruisers) approximately 70% larger than contemporary destroyers. The Washington Naval Treaty encouraged the United Kingdom's satisfaction with its traditional fleet of V and W-class destroyers and the United States' contentment with the similar Wickes and Clemson-class destroyers, while the signatories with smaller fleets explored alternative warship configurations between the classical definitions of destroyer and cruiser. Italy launched three more Leone-class esploratori[3] and France responded with six Chacal-class contre-torpilleur super destroyers. Japan launched the minimum light cruiser Yūbari followed by the Fubuki-class special type destroyers 特型 (Tokugata) with endurance to escort the Kido Butai mobile force of aircraft carriers over the wide reaches of the Pacific.[4]

Germany built similarly enlarged Zerstörer when it commenced naval rearmament.[5] With the exception of the Tribal class and a few flotilla leaders, most British and American destroyers built between the world wars were smaller than contemporary Axis destroyers; but as the battleships for which the smaller destroyers had been designed as escorts faded into restricted roles in the combat experience of World War II, United States destroyer displacement increased to 2100 tons, 2200 tons, and 2400 tons to support Fast Carrier Task Force operations.[6]

DescriptionEdit

As the United States Navy thinned its wartime fleet following World War II, the smaller destroyers were discarded until only those over 2,000 tons remained in active service.[6] Naval architects had a few years to evaluate captured ships and combat experience before there was any need for more warships. With large inventories of destroyers and cruisers, new surface warship designs explored placing high-efficiency boilers in hulls of intermediate size. The first destroyer leader USS Norfolk was authorized in 1948 and laid down in 1949 as an anti-submarine hunter-killer cruiser based on the Atlanta-class anti-aircraft cruiser, themselves originally conceived as destroyer leaders. She was designated EDL-1 while engaged in experimental work with new sensors and weapons systems including SQS-23 sonar, Weapon Alpha, RUR-5 ASROC and automatic 3 inch/70 Mark 26 guns.[1] She served entirely in the Atlantic except for a single deployment to the Indian Ocean and cruise around the world in 1968 shortly before she was retired from active service.[7] A sister ship was authorized, but not completed after experience with the prototype did not justify repetition of the design.[1]

The next design was for an unarmored cruiser of displacement similar to Italian Capitani Romani-class cruisers to carry the new 5 inch/54 caliber Mark 42 gun. Each of the four Mitscher-class ships received somewhat different experimental propulsion machinery powered by 1,200 pounds per square inch (82 atm) (8.3 MPa) Combustion Engineering forced-circulation boilers in DL-2 and DL-3; and Foster Wheeler boilers in DL-4 and DL-5. DL-2 and DL-3 had General Electric turbines while DL-4 and DL-5 had Westinghouse turbines. All four ships began operations in the Atlantic. DL-3 and DL-5 were transferred to the Pacific in 1956. DL-3 made routine deployments to the western Pacific for as long as she remained in commission, but DL-5 was transferred back to the Atlantic in 1963 after making a few western Pacific deployments. DL-2 and DL-4 made routine deployments to the Mediterranean Sea.[8] The ships were built with AN/SPS-6 air search radar, AN/SPS-8 height finding radar, AN/QHBa scanning sonar and AN/SQG-1 attack sonar. During their first refit in the mid-1950s the AN/SQG-1 and AN/QHBa were replaced by AN/SQS-4 sonar and the secondary open 3 inch/50 caliber guns were replaced by 3 inch/70 Mark 26 guns. Later refits removed the unsatisfactory 3 inch/70 guns and Weapon Alpha.

After experimental flight operations with the Bell HUL-1 and Kaman HTK-1 aboard Mitscher in 1957, helicopter decks and hangars for the Gyrodyne QH-50 DASH were installed where the aft 3 inch guns had been. DL-2 and DL-3 underwent major overhaul at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard beginning in 1966 including new Foster Wheeler boilers, AN/SQS-23 sonar, AN/SPS-37 air search radar, AN/SPS-48 height finding radar, and the Tartar Guided Missile Fire Control System for RIM-24 Tartar missiles.[9] DL-4 and DL-5 had earlier received a new 70-foot bow section mounting the AN/SQS-26 sonar and spent the remainder of their service lives testing these prototypes until retirement, when their sisters emerged from overhaul at Philadelphia in 1968 for another decade of service as guided missile destroyers.[10]

A third class of destroyer leaders was designed after observing the performance of propulsion and weapons systems tested aboard the Mitscher class. The first three ships were ordered with three 5 inch/54 caliber guns shortly after the name change to frigates. The next three were ordered with two 5 inch/54 guns forward, and a RIM-2 Terrier missile system aft, marking the transition to guided missile frigates (hull classification symbol DLG), intended to defend aircraft carriers against anti-ship cruise missiles. All ten ships were completed with a single 5 inch/54 gun forward, an ASROC launcher where the B gun would have been, and the missile system aft; but the class was variously named Coontz for the first ship to be ordered with a missile system, or Farragut for the lowest numbered ship to be completed in that configuration. ASROC and sonar gave the guided missile frigates an anti-submarine capability that most of the World War II cruiser conversions lacked. All were reclassified as guided missile destroyers in 1975.[11]

Similar ship classesEdit

Comparison of ships with similar missions
Name Nation Date No. built Disp. (tons) Speed (knots) Torpedoes Guns
Mirabello class[3]   Italy 1917 3 1,811 35 4 8 × 4-inch (10 cm) guns
Yūbari[12]   Japan 1923 1 2,890 35 4 6 × 14-centimetre (5.5 in) guns
Leone class[3]   Italy 1924 3 1,743 34 4 8 × 12-centimetre (4.7 in) guns
Chacal class[13]   France 1926 6 2,126 35 6 5 × 13-centimetre (5.1 in) guns
Fubuki class[14]   Japan 1927 20 2,090 34 9 6 × 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun
Guépard class[15]   France 1929 18 2,441 35 7 5 × Canon de 138 mm Modèle 1927
Navigatori class[16]   Italy 1929 12 1,900 38 6 6 × 12-centimetre (4.7 in) guns
Regele Ferdinand class[17]   Romania 1930 2 1,785 35 6 5 × 12-centimetre (4.7 in) guns
Dubrovnik   Yugoslavia 1931 1 1,910 40 6 4 × 14-centimetre (5.5 in) guns
Akatsuki class[18]   Japan 1931 4 2,090 38 9 6 × 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun
Leningrad class   Soviet Navy 1932 6 2,180 40 4 5 × 130 mm/50 B13 Pattern 1936
Porter class[19]   US 1935 8 1,850 37 8 8 × 5"/38 caliber gun
Le Fantasque class[20]   France 1936 6 2,569 37 9 5 × Canon de 138 mm Modèle 1929
Asashio class[21]   Japan 1936 10 1,961 35 8 6 × 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun
Tribal class[22]   UK 1936 27 1,870 36 4 8 × 4.7 inch QF Mark XII gun
Zerstörer 1934[23]   Germany 1937 16 2,200 38 8 5 × 12.7 cm SK C/34 naval guns
Somers class[24]   US 1937 5 1,850 37 12 8 × 5"/38 caliber gun
Tashkent class   Soviet Navy 1937 1 2,893 43.5 9 6 × B-2LM
Kagerō class[25]   Japan 1938 18 2,033 35 8 6 × 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun
Tromp class[26]   Netherlands 1938 2 3,787 32 6 6 × 15-centimetre (5.9 in) guns
Zerstörer 1936[23]   Germany 1938 6 2,400 38 8 5 × 12.7 cm SK C/34 naval guns
Mogador class[27]   France 1939 2 2,994 39 10 8 × Canon de 138 mm Modèle 1929
L and M class[28]   UK 1939 16 1,920 36 8 6 × 4.7 inch QF Mark XII gun
Zerstörer 1936A[29]   Germany 1940 15 2,600 38 8 4 × 15 cm TbtsK C/36 naval guns
Yūgumo class[30]   Japan 1941 20 2,077 35 8 6 × 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun
Gerard Callenburgh class[31]   Netherlands 1941 2 1,922 36 8 5 × 12-centimetre (4.7 in) guns
Akizuki class[32]   Japan 1942 12 2,701 33 4 8 × 10 cm/65 Type 98 naval gun
Shimakaze[33]   Japan 1942 1 2,567 39 15 6 × 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun
Fletcher class[34]   US 1942 175 2,050 37 10 5 × 5"/38 caliber gun
Capitani Romani class[35]   Italy 1942 4 3,750 36 8 8 × 13.5-centimetre (5.3 in) guns
Allen M. Sumner class[36]   US 1943 58 2,200 36 10 6 × 5"/38 caliber gun
Gearing class[37]   US 1944 98 2,425 35 10 6 × 5"/38 caliber gun
Battle class[38]   UK 1944 26 2,315 35 10 4 × QF 4.5-inch Mk III naval gun
DL-1[1]   US 1953 1 5,600 32 4 + Mk 32 8 × 3"/70 Mark 26 gun
DL-2 class[10]   US 1953 4 3,675 35 4 + Mk 32 2 × 5"/54 caliber Mark 42 gun
DL-6 class[11]   US 1960 10 4,700 34 Mk 32 1 × 5"/54 caliber Mark 42 gun

Evolution into guided missile cruisersEdit

Two additional DLG classes and two similar nuclear-powered ships (DLGN) were completed by 1975 for a total of twenty additional guided missile frigates. These significantly larger ships were reclassified as guided missile cruisers (CG/CGN) in 1975.[39] By 1995 the former guided missile frigates were replaced by the Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.[40]

See alsoEdit

SourcesEdit

  • Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-26202-0.
  • Blackman, Raymond V.B. (1970–71). Jane's Fighting Ships. Jane's Yearbooks.
  • Gardiner, Robert; Chumbley, Stephen (1995). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1947–1995. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 1-55750-132-7.
  • Kafka, Roger; Pepperburg, Roy L. (1946). Warships of the World. Cornell Maritime Press.
  • Lenton, H.T. (1976). German Warships of the Second World War. Arco Publishing. ISBN 0-668-04037-8.
  • Lenton, H.T. (1968). Navies of the Second World War: Royal Netherlands Navy. Doubleday & Company.
  • Lenton, H.T.; Colledge, J.J. (1964). British and Dominion Warships of World War II. Doubleday & Company.
  • le Masson, Henri (1969). Navies of the Second World War: The French Navy 1. Doubleday & Company.
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (1968). U.S. Warships of World War II. Doubleday & Company.
  • Taylor, J.C. (1966). German Warships of World War II. Doubleday & Company.
  • Watts, Anthony J. (1966). Japanese Warships of World War II. Doubleday & Company.

NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d Blackman, p.434
  2. ^ Lenton & Colledge, pp. 79–94
  3. ^ a b c Kafka & Pepperburg, p.784
  4. ^ Watts, pp. 126–143
  5. ^ Lenton, (1976) p. 67
  6. ^ a b Silverstone, pp. 100–103
  7. ^ Toppan, Andrew. "Norfolk". The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  8. ^ "A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History". The National Association of Destroyer Veterans. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  9. ^ "Mitscher Class". Gyrodyne Helicopter Historical Foundation. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  10. ^ a b Blackman, pp. 433 & 435
  11. ^ a b Blackman, p. 432
  12. ^ Watts, p.77
  13. ^ le Masson, pp.110&111
  14. ^ Watts, p.126
  15. ^ le Masson, pp.112&113
  16. ^ Kafka & Pepperburg, p.780
  17. ^ Earl Thomas Brassey, Brassey's Annual: The Armed Forces Year-book, Praeger Publishers, 1938, p. 264
  18. ^ Watts, p.133
  19. ^ Silverstone, p.114
  20. ^ le Masson, p.116
  21. ^ Watts, p.141
  22. ^ Lenton & Colledge, p.107
  23. ^ a b Taylor, p.43
  24. ^ Silverstone, p.118
  25. ^ Watts, p.143
  26. ^ Lenton, (1968) p.13
  27. ^ le Masson, pp.118&119
  28. ^ Lenton & Colledge, p.109
  29. ^ Taylor, p.41
  30. ^ Watts, p.148
  31. ^ Lenton, (1968) p.24
  32. ^ Watts, p.152
  33. ^ Watts, p.153
  34. ^ Silverstone, p.135
  35. ^ Kafka & Pepperburg, p.768
  36. ^ Silverstone, p.146
  37. ^ Silverstone, p.148
  38. ^ Lenton & Colledge, p.121
  39. ^ Bauer and Roberts, pp. 213–217
  40. ^ Gardiner and Chumbley, pp. 580–585