Curtis Dwight Wilbur
10 May 1867 - 8
"A Man of Unimpeachable Integrity"
Secretary of the Navy, Curtis Dwight Wilbur, was born in Boonesboro,
Iowa, on May 10, 1867. He was appointed to the United States Naval
Academy in 1884. Shortly after graduation, Curtis Wilbur resigned his
commission, a common practice at the time, and moved to Riverside,
California. He was admitted to the California bar in 1890 and served as
Los Angeles Deputy Assistant District Attorney. Curtis Wilbur moved to
the Superior Court in 1903, and finally, in 1918, to the California
Supreme Court where he served as Chief Justice.
On March 19, 1924, Curtis Wilbur was sworn in as Secretary of the Navy.
The first appointee of President Calvin Coolidge. Curtis Wilbur came
into the position with a reputation as a man of high intellect and a
character of "unimpeachable integrity." By the end of his term, Curtis
Wilbur had achieved success in enlarging and modernizing the fleet and
established a naval air force which would grow to become a potent
component in the war with Japan.
When Herbert Hoover became president in 1929, he appointed Curtis
Wilbur to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. He
served with distinction as the presiding judge until his retirement in
1945. Following retirement, Curtis Wilbur spent time with his wife,
Olive Doolittle, and his three children; Edna, Paul and Lyman Dwight.
The Honorable Curtis D. Wilbur passed away in 1954
CURTIS WILBUR is the fourth of the most powerful and survivable class
of destroyers ever put to sea. She possesses the AEGIS Weapon System
with the AN/SPY-1D multifunction radar, capable of detecting and
engaging multiple targets; the Vertical Launching System, capable of
storing and rapidly firing 90 missiles; the SQQ-89 Antisubmarine
Warfare System with its SQR-19 towed array sonar and the new SQS-53C
digital hull mounted sonar; the Harpoon anti-ship cruise missile
system; and the Tomahawk land attack cruise missile system, capable of
hitting targets hundreds of miles away. CURTIS WILBUR also carries
improved versions of the 5-inch gun and the Phalanx Close-in Weapons
System. The Arleigh Burke class destroyers represent a return to
all-steel construction and incorporate electromagnetic pulse hardening,
enhanced firefighting features, and a Collective Protection System to
protect against nuclear, chemical, or biological contamination. The
distribution of vital equipment throughout the ship, and improved blast
and fragmentation protection will help enable the ship to survive a hit
and continue to fight.
Named in honor of the forty-third Secretary of the Navy, USS CURTIS
WILBUR was built by Bath Iron Works, in Bath, Maine. Her keel was laid
12 March 1991, and she was christened just a year later, on 16 May
1992. Her maiden voyage began on 14 February 1994, when she set sail
for her homeport of San Diego, California. The voyage included many
hours of training for the crew, including a transit through the Panama
Canal. On 19 March 1994, CURTIS WILBUR was commissioned in Long Beach,
California. The Secretary of the Navy, The Honorable John H. Dalton,
was the principal speaker for the ceremony.
During the summer of 1994, CURTIS WILBUR participated in RIMPAC
‘94, a major multinational exercise involving more than
thirty ships as well as numerous submarines and air assets, both
carrier and land-based. During this exercise, she performed duties as
Air Warfare Commander. Also that summer, the Board of Inspection and
Survey conducted Final Contract Trials to assess the material status of
the ship. CURTIS WILBUR became the first ship of the class, and only
the second ship ever to complete the examination with zero mission
degrading deficiencies. In October 1994, CURTIS WILBUR became the first
AEGIS ship to integrate women into the crew.
CURTIS WILBUR departed on her first WESTPAC deployment on 31 July 1995,
transiting the Pacific and heading to the Arabian Gulf. While deployed
with the United States Naval Forces Central Command, she supported
Operations SOUTHERN WATCH and VIGILANT SENTINEL. During 100 days in the
theater, the ship served as Air Warfare Defense Commander, Surface
Warfare Defense Commander, Undersea Warfare Defense Commander, and
Strike Warfare Commander. CURTIS WILBUR was also a member of the FIFTH
Fleet Expeditionary Task Force supporting United Nations sanctions
In September 1996, CURTIS WILBUR became part of SEVENTH Fleet, shifting
homeport from San Diego to Yokosuka, Japan. Upon arrival in Japan, she
successfully completed Tailored Ship’s Training Availability
II and III and was the first ship to validate the Final Evaluation
Period. On 15 February 1997, CURTIS WILBUR deployed with the USS
INDEPENDENCE Battle Group to participate in exercises TANDEM THRUST
’97 and COBRA GOLD. CURTIS WILBUR served as the Air Warfare
Commander for the battle group.
Throughout the remainder of 1997, CURTIS WILBUR participated in
numerous Seventh Fleet Exercises, including JAVELIN MAKER, MISSILEX
’97, ASWEX ’97, HARMEX ’97, ANNUALEX and
COMPTUEX. For her successful year and contributions to the fleet,
CURTIS WILBUR was selected as Destroyer Squadron Fifteen Battle
Efficiency Winner for 1997.
Having earned the “Battle E,” CURTIS WILBUR
continued her trend of excellence well into 1998, participating in
SHAREM 108. While deployed from 17 February 1998 to 19 May 1998, CURTIS
WILBUR broke new ground, becoming the first ship of her class to cross
the Great Barrier Reef. During this Southern Pacific Deployment, CURTIS
WILBUR participated in numerous multinational anti-submarine exercises.
After deployment, CURTIS WILBUR was received in Shimoda, Japan, for the
annual Black Ship Festival. After the festival, CURTIS WILBUR returned
to Yokosuka for her second Selective Restricted Availability (SRA).
During the nine-week shipyard period, CURTIS WILBUR received numerous
upgrades, including JTIDS (Link 16), JMCIS 98, and INMARSAT B.
In the fall of 1998, in addition to beginning the training cycle,
CURTIS WILBUR deployed for the joint and combined Exercise FOAL Eagle
‘98 with the Republic of Korea Navy and completed a
successful Cruise Missile Tactical Qualification and Naval Surface Fire
Support qualification. During the training cycle the ship certified the
Main Space Fire Drill for ECERT at TSTA II and had a near flawless
performance during ECERT. After completing her second complete training
cycle while forward deployed, CURTIS WILBUR participated in SHAREM 127
with the Korean Navy and deployed in March of 1999 with the USS KITTY
HAWK Battle Group.
After completing TANDEM THRUST ’99, an annual multi-national
training exercise, CURTIS WILBUR received immediate tasking to proceed
at best speed en route the Arabian Gulf. Steaming in company with USS
KITTY HAWK (CV-63) and USS CHANCELLORSVILLE (CG-62), CURTIS WILBUR
conducted a no-notice high speed transit and arrived in the Gulf 18
April. Proceeding directly to the Northern Arabian Gulf, CURTIS WILBUR
commenced operations in support of OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH; enforcing
the Southern No-Fly Zone over Iraq and supporting United Nations
Sanctions against Iraq by conducting Maritime Interception Operations
(MIO) as a member of Fifth Fleet. CURTIS WILBUR also participated in
two major exercises while on her second Arabian Gulf deployment:
NAUTICAL SWIMMER ’99, a combined exercise with the Royal
Saudi Naval Forces, and SHAREM 128, an Undersea Warfare exercise in the
North Arabian Sea. Following port visits to Bunbury, Australia and
Phattaya, Thailand, CURTIS WILBUR returned to Yokosuka, Japan on 25
Highlights of the recent deployment included CURTIS WILBUR’s
outstanding crew and their continuing achievements. Forty-seven
enlisted Sailors earned the coveted Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist
qualification, while five officers in the Wardroom earned their Surface
Warfare Officer designation. Additionally, two First Class Petty
Officers earned qualification as Officer of the Deck for fleet
operations, and one earned his qualification as Engineering Officer of
the Watch. Finally, seven of CURTIS WILBUR’s outstanding
First Class Petty Officers achieved career milestones as they were
selected for promotion to Chief Petty Officer.
In the five years since her Commissioning Ceremony, CURTIS WILBUR has
proven to be an extremely versatile and capable ship. The men and women
that serve in her continue to strive for excellence in order to meet
the new challenges posed by today’s world.