USS Farragut (DDG 37).
The relationship between the “Farragut class” and “Coontz class” in the fifties was not unlike that between the “Gleaves class” and “Livermore class” in World War II—two cases of earlier-authorized ships completed to a subsequent design.

Length: 512' 6" overall; 490' waterline.

Beam: 52' 4".

Displacement: 4,167 long tons light; 5,648 long tons full load.

Propulsion machinery: geared steam turbines, 85,000 shp; 2 shafts.

Design speed: 32 knots.

Endurance: 5,000 nm @ 20 knots.

Design complement: 23 officers; 337 enlisted.

In this case, six ships were initially ordered at the same time: Farragut, Luce and Macdonough, numbered after the Mitscher class as all-gun DL 6–8; Coontz, King and Mahan, as DLG 1–3 to a mixed gun and missile design. Both groups were intended for fast task force air defense.

Subsequently, a decision was made to build all six to the gun and missile (Coontz) design as DLGs 6–11 as part of a ten-ship order placed with five shipyards on 14 November 1956 (less than three weeks before Gyatt became operational as the Navy’s first guided missile destroyer). Thus, as with the Livermores, while Navy tradition dictates that a class of like ships take the name of the low-numbered hull, the Coontz class name remained in colloquial use and “Farragut-Coontz” continues as a useful way of differentiating this class from the original “goldplater” Farragut class of the thirties, but “Farragut” is the correct name of the class.

The ten ships commissioned in 1959–61 beginning with Bath Iron Works’ pair, Dewey and Preble. Armed with the new Terrier surface-to-air missile in a twin launcher mounted aft, their careers were contemporaneous with the smaller Charles F. Adams-class destroyers (DDG, initially armed with the same missiles). All ten were modernized from time to time over the next twenty years until 1982, when only Mahan received the latest “New Threat Upgrade” (NTU) package. In the early 1990s, with the advanced Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyers commissioning, all were retired.

On 30 June 1975, when the term “frigate” was reapplied to escort ships, the Farragut-Coontzes were redesignated as guided missile destroyers (DDG) and given hull numbers 37–46. All the color photographs on this web site, taken during the eighties or early nineties, show these ships late in their careers with their DDG hull numbers.

Sources: Bauer & Roberts, Friedman, Silverstone; Global Security.