The Pre-com crew of the soon to be USS Spruance (DDG-111) will be making a big splash in Key West after the ship docks on September 23, until she shoves off on October 3. Her Prospective Commanding Officer, Commander Tate Westbrook, expressed his wish to have this ceremony be a time for the crew to have fun, and “what better place than Key West, with its rich maritime history, it’s close ties to the US Navy, and it’s recreational amenities,” said a statement from the US Navy. The Pre-Com crew has worked hard to make Spruance fleet-ready, and they should have some quality “liberty time” in Key West, a great place to relax, before continuing the journey to her new homeport in San Diego, California and the continued readiness, training and workups for joining the fleet as a fully operational unit.
At a recent City Commission meeting, Mayor Craig Cates proclaimed September 24 through October 1 USS SPRUANCE Week in honor of the upcoming visit and commissioning of the vessel.
“The men and women of the USS SPRUANCE (DDG111) proudly represent the core values of honor, courage, and commitment of the United States Navy,” reads the proclamation, “and will be forever welcome in Key West…”
Crewed by over 250 enlisted and officers, Spruance is one of the last Arleigh Burke class “Destroyer, Guided Missile” ships to roll off the shipbuilders ways at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. The longest running class of ships since WWII, there have been 61 ships built since the first, USS Arleigh Burke, was christened in 1989, in several variations, the latest of which incorporate embarked helicopters, reduced manning initiatives and management systems, and anti-ballistic missile defense systems. Arleigh Burke destroyers use four LM2500 gas turbine engines to power twin screws and over 10,000 tons of all-steel constructed hull through the water at speeds in excess of 30 knots. Vertical launch missiles in 96 cells can launch surface to air defensive weapons, Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles, and Harpoon anti-ship missiles to provide multi-threat defensive and offensive firepower at extreme ranges.
Additionally, the ship carries two embarked MH-60R helicopters for search and rescue, anti-surface and anti-submarine weapons deployment and logistics support for the ship when underway.
The ship’s namesake, Admiral Raymond Spruance was famous as a surface warfare tactician, thrust into the role of Fleet Carrier Group Commander, wisely using naval air power projection during the Battle of Midway, considered the turning point of the war with Japan in the Pacific during the US’s involvement in WWII. An entire class of Destroyers was named after him and those destroyers are just now ending service life. On June 5, 2010 Ellen Spruance Holscher christened the guided-missile destroyer at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. She is the granddaughter of Adm. Spruance. Photo courtesy of General Dynamics Bath Iron Works by D. Griggs/Released