USS Spruance (DD 963).
Spruance class
The Spruance-class destroyers were developed for the defense of nuclear aircraft carrier task forces against the latest generation of submarines. Their size reflected a need for seakeeping ability in all weather conditions: they were more than twice as large as a World War II destroyer and as large as a World War II cruiser. (The Ticonderoga-class cruisers that followed them adopted the same basic hull design.)
Electronic Greyhounds by Capt. Michael C. Potter

Electronic Greyhounds by Capt. Michael C. Potter.

All 31 “Spru-cans” were built at Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi. Laid down beginning in 1972 and commissioned between late 1975 and 1980, with Hayler commissioned in 1983, they were the first US Navy ship class powered with gas turbines—four marine versions of jet aircraft engines driving two shafts with reversible-pitch propellers. (Curiously, their screws rotated in the opposite direction from other twin-screw ships.)

Their complement was similar to preceding destroyer classes: 3–400 officers and enlisted personnel. Comfort and habitability were considerations in the ship’s design; some ships were retrofitted to provide separate quarters for female personnel.


Length: 563' 4" overall; 529' waterline.

Beam: 55'.

Draft: 22' hull; 32' navigation.

Displacement: 9,250 long tons full load.

Designed complement: 24 officers; 330 enlisted. (Helicopter detachment: 9 officers; 30 enlisted.)

Propulsion machinery: 4 x LM 2500 General Electric gas turbines; 2 shafts; 80,000 shp.

Speed: 32.5 knots.

Range: 6,000 nm @ 20 knots.


In the 1980s and 90s, 24 ships had their forward Mk 16 ASROC launchers replaced by a 61-cell Vertical Launch Missile System (VLS, also used in Aegis cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers), which was capable of launching Tomahawk and Harpoon missiles. In 1998, the seven remaining ships—Comte de Grasse, Conolly, Harry W. Hill, Ingersoll, John Rodgers, Leftwich and Merrill were decommissioned.

By 2000, however, the remaining Spruances’ capabilities were duplicated or had counterparts in the 27 Flight I and II Arleigh Burkes by then in commission. With the first Flight IIA Burkes soon to complete, despite costing $1 billion or more each, the Burkes were so versatile and cost-effective that the Spruances were completely phased out before the end of their design lifetimes. The last one, Cushing, decommissioned in 2005.

Sources: Friedman, Military Analysis Network, Potter, Destroyer History Foundation database.