Destroyer USS Arthur W. Radford (DD-968)

Destroyer USS Arthur W. Radford (DD-968) 0Destroyer USS Arthur W. Radford (DD-968) 1Destroyer USS Arthur W. Radford (DD-968) 2Destroyer USS Arthur W. Radford (DD-968) 3Destroyer USS Arthur W. Radford (DD-968) 4



Basic information

Country of build:
Laid down:
Commissioned (service):
Decommissioned (out):
Scuttled as artificial reef off coast of Delaware, 10 August 2011

Ship measurements

8,040 t
161 m
16.8 m
8.8 m


Propulsion system:
  • 4 * General Electric LM2500 gas turbines
  • 2 * shafts, 80,000 shp (60 MW)
32.5 knots
6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km; 6,900 mi) at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)



Combat assets

  • AN/SPS-40 air search radar
  • AN/SPG-60 fire control radar
  • AN/SPS-55 surface search radar
  • AN/SPQ-9 gun fire control radar
  • Mark 23 TAS automatic detection and tracking radar
  • AN/SPS-65 Missile fire control radar
  • AN/SQS-53 bow mounted Active sonar
  • AN/SQR-19 TACTAS towed array Passive sonar
  • Naval Tactical Data System
  • AN/SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare System
  • AN/SLQ-25 Nixie Torpedo Countermeasures
  • Mark 36 SRBOC Decoy Launching System
  • AN/SLQ-49 Inflatable Decoys
  • 2 * 5 in (127 mm) 54 calibre Mark 45 dual purpose guns
  • 2 * 20 mm Phalanx CIWS Mark 15 guns
  • 1 * 8 cell ASROC launcher (removed)
  • 1 * 8 cell NATO Sea Sparrow Mark 29 missile launcher
  • 2 * quadruple Harpoon missile canisters
  • 2 * Mark 32 triple 12.75 in (324 mm) torpedo tubes (Mk 46 torpedoes)
  • 1 * 61 cell Mk 41 VLS launcher for Tomahawk missiles
  • 2 * Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk LAMPS III helicopters

The USS Arthur W. Radford (DD-968) served as a Spruance-class destroyer in the United States Navy. This vessel was named after Admiral Arthur W. Radford, a distinguished naval officer who became the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After 26 years of service, it was decommissioned on March 18, 2003, and on August 10, 2011, its hull was deliberately sunk off the Delaware coast to create an artificial reef.

Construction of the Arthur W. Radford commenced on January 31, 1974, at the Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Launched on March 1, 1975, the ship was christened by Mrs. Arthur Radford, the admiral's widow. Commissioned on April 16, 1977, the vessel set sail for the U.S. East Coast on the same day. However, it had to return to the shipyard for repairs shortly after commissioning before resuming its journey on April 30. Making stops at Charleston, South Carolina, and eventually arriving at its home port in Norfolk, Virginia, on May 6.

Following its arrival, it was deployed to Newport, Rhode Island, to support the Naval Surface Warfare Officer Training Command. During the voyage, a LAMPS helicopter landed on its deck for practice before returning to Norfolk on May 11. The destroyer stayed in Newport until May 17 and then returned home, engaging in gunnery exercises and helicopter operations off the Virginia Capes.

Setting sail again on May 24, it reached Port Canaveral, Florida, the next day. Carrying Commander R. K. Albright, the ship departed on May 27 and conducted various surveillance activities while President Jimmy Carter observed operations onboard the attack submarine Los Angeles. The destroyer rendezvoused with the submarine during its initial dive and upon resurfacing, providing support for press coverage of the Chief Executive's voyage.

Reaching Norfolk again on May 31, the Arthur W. Radford faced adverse weather conditions while returning from the Virginia Capes on June 6. Navigating through low-visibility and high winds exceeding 90 knots, it encountered difficulties with its radar antenna and was pushed off the main shipping channel, at one point having only 30 centimeters of water under its keel. Despite the challenging conditions, the destroyer spotted a capsized motor vessel, Dixie Lee II, south of Thimble A Shoals Channel buoy 21. Unable to offer assistance due to the weather, the ship notified the United States Coast Guard of the situation and anchored in Hampton Roads until conditions improved.

Following this incident, the Arthur W. Radford embarked on training operations in the West Indies, including gunfire support activities. Conducting weapons tests en route to Frederickstad, Saint Croix, in late June, it conducted a gunnery exercise at Vieques, Puerto Rico, before visiting Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Independence Day 1977. Notably, during this firing exercise, a dummy shell inadvertently hit USS Opportune (ARS-41), which was towing a target sled. The destroyer continued operations in the Bahamas and at Guantanamo Bay before returning to Charleston, South Carolina, on July 31, eventually arriving back home on August 3.

Resuming post-shakedown availability at Pascagoula on September 11, the ship stayed under the care of its builders until mid-October, returning to Norfolk thereafter. From October 25, it underwent restricted availability at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard until the spring of 1978, engaging in local operations, ship qualification trials, and training in Guantanamo Bay and Vieques. By July 30, 1978, the ship had returned to Norfolk after its exercises.

On August 23, the Arthur W. Radford left the Naval Weapons Station Yorktown Virginia, heading for NATO exercises in the North Atlantic. Participating in Exercise «Common Effort,» it conducted escort duties during an «opposed Atlantic transit,» with Vice Admiral Wesley L. McDonald briefly on board. This was followed by Operation «Northern Wedding,» a joint NATO exercise involving multiple carrier groups in simulated naval warfare scenarios. The ship operated alongside naval units from various countries during this exercise, facing severe seas due to Hurricane Flossie.

Upon the conclusion of «Northern Wedding,» the destroyer visited Copenhagen, Denmark; Rotterdam, the Netherlands; and Portsmouth, England. The ship once again hosted VADM McDonald at Portsmouth on October 16, carrying his flag during the return voyage to Norfolk, where it arrived on October 25. The vessel then continued local operations through the winter, alternating between port stays for maintenance and training at sea.

Departing Norfolk on March 13, 1979, the Arthur W. Radford headed for a Mediterranean tour with the U.S. 6th Fleet. Over the following six months, it engaged in various exercises and visited several ports across the Mediterranean, participating in multiple operations and firing its first Harpoon missile in the region on July 28. It also engaged in Exercise «Multiplex 1-79,» «Dawn Patrol,» «Tridente,» and «National Week» XXVII, among others, carrying out various support and rescue operations during the deployment.

Returning to Norfolk on September 22, the ship conducted deck landing qualifications for helicopter pilots in Miami, Florida, before training exercises with American and Canadian warships off Halifax, Nova Scotia. It logged its 1,000th helicopter landing of 1979 during the Canus-Marcot exercise. After these operations, the ship stayed in Norfolk for the remainder of the year.

For the initial part of 1980, the Arthur W. Radford operated along the East Coast and in the West Indies, conducting training and exercises. It traveled as far north as Halifax and as far south as the Caribbean, also making a stop at Annapolis, Maryland, for midshipmen's orientation visits. Admiral James L. Holloway III, the former Chief of Naval Operations, also paid a visit during this time.

After a brief period at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, the destroyer prepared for another extensive deployment. Departing Norfolk on June 21, 1980, it embarked on UNITAS XXI, joining various naval forces of South America in exercises and visits across multiple countries. Over four months, it operated alongside naval units from Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. The ship visited numerous ports during this time, transiting the Panama Canal twice and engaging in various training and operational activities.

Following the UNITAS XXI conclusion, the Arthur W. Radford sailed for Gabon as part of the West Africa Training Cruise (WATC), visiting several ports and countries along the West African coast. Afterward, it returned to Norfolk on December 15, marking the end of that particular deployment.

Setting sail from Norfolk on October 25, the USS Arthur W. Radford voyaged towards Nova Scotia, reaching Halifax on October 28. Following a briefing for its participation in SHAREM 62, the vessel departed Halifax the next day, heading for Notre Dame Bay in Newfoundland. Crossing the Strait of Belle Isle on October 31, the ship reached its destination on November 1, actively engaging in SHAREM 62 until November 6, when it departed for Halifax.

After the post-exercise debriefing, the Arthur W. Radford embarked on its journey back to Norfolk, arriving at its home port on November 13. Progressing up the eastern seaboard, the destroyer made a stop at Boston, Massachusetts (December 5 to 8), before a brief stint at Newport, serving as the Surface Warfare Officer School ship from December 9 to 12. Returning to the Norfolk vicinity, the ship unloaded weapons at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown from December 15 to 18 before hosting a dependents' cruise on December 18.

The destroyer underwent restricted availability until late March 1986, conducting post-repair trials on March 29 and 30 before heading to Yorktown to replenish weapons. Operating locally from Norfolk into late July, it included a drydocking period in Sustain from May 30 to June 17 for repairs to its struts, stern tubes, and a sonar dome inspection. Following refresher training in Guantanamo Bay, the ship visited Roosevelt Roads before engaging in gunfire support practice, surface gunnery exercises, and missile shoots at Vieques. Returning from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, it reached Norfolk on September 12.

Soon after, Arthur W. Radford returned to Guantanamo Bay to board HSL-36, detachment 6, then proceeded to Roosevelt Roads on October 6 to load ammunition, refuel, and take on board a Coast Guard law enforcement detachment and Commander of the Caribbean Squadron along with the staff. Operating within assigned waters from October 6 to 19, the ship returned to Roosevelt Roads to disembark the Commander and staff.

Releasing the Coast Guardsmen at Nassau, Bahamas, on October 22 during the commencement of the ship's port visit, Arthur W. Radford set course for Norfolk on October 25, arriving two days later. Departing on November 3 for the Bermuda operating area for exercises, it aided Preble in searching for a lost crewman near Cape Hatteras, just a day out of Norfolk.

The ship conducted exercises (SHAREM 1-87) before returning to Norfolk on November 16. Except for a brief period at sea in the Virginia Capes operating area on December 9 and 10, Arthur W. Radford spent December anchored in Norfolk. In early 1987, it participated in a major FLEETEX and other exercises, followed by involvement in UNITAS XXVIII from July 20 to December 10, 1987.

In January 1990, a Vertical Launching System (VLS) was installed during a significant overhaul at Avondale Shipyard. Departing on September 26, 1991, the ship embarked on a six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf with the Eisenhower battle group, returning on March 26, 1992, marking its first deployment in five years.

The vessel embarked on Mediterranean sea deployments in 1994 and 1996, receiving awards for service related to Bosnia during both tours. As of August 31, 1995, Arthur W. Radford was slated to join Destroyer Squadron 26.

In May 1997, the ship underwent the initial shipboard installation of the Advanced Enclosed Mast/Sensor System, integrating advanced materials, structures, and sensor technology for improved warfighting capabilities.

On February 4, 1999, around 23:34, Arthur W. Radford collided with the Saudi Riyadh, a 29,259-ton roll-on/roll-off container ship, while conducting calibration tests on electronic warfare equipment. The collision caused significant damage to both vessels and resulted in injuries among the crew. Repairs were completed on September 13, allowing the destroyer to deploy with the Eisenhower battle group.

Arthur W. Radford deployed to the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf from April 3 to October 1, 2000. It was decommissioned on March 18, 2003, stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on April 6, 2004, and later assigned to the Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On June 8, 2010, the ex-Arthur W. Radford was transferred to Delaware and eventually sunk as an artificial reef off the coast of New Jersey and Maryland on August 10, 2011.

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