DDG 68 | USS THE SULLIVANS
George, Francis, Joseph, Madison, and
USS THE SULLIVANS was laid down on 14 June 1993 at Bath, Maine, by Bath Iron Works Co.; launched on 12 August 1995; sponsored by Kelly Sullivan Loughren, granddaughter of Albert Leo Sullivan; and commissioned at Staten Island, N.Y., on 19 April 1997, Commander Gerard D. Roncolato in command.
On 26 April, THE SULLIVANS departed New York for Norfolk where, after arriving on the 27th, the crew completed underway replenishment qualifications with PLATTE (AO-186). The warship then sailed for Mayport on 29 April and arrived in her new homeport on 2 May.
After completing two days of gunnery trials in mid-May, THE SULLIVANS embarked upon her shakedown deployment to the West Indies on 27 May. That cruise took her to the waters off Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, where the destroyer conducted numerous sonar, gunnery, and torpedo exercises. The warship also twice entered Roosevelt Roads and stopped once at St. Thomas for port visits. On 29 June, THE SULLIVANS conducted test firings of Standard SM-2 ER missiles from her vertical launch system (VLS). After a brief stop at Mayport for the 4 July weekend, the warship joined other ARLEIGH BURKE - class destroyers, cruisers, destroyers, and frigates off the Virginia Capes for a multiple-ship missile firing exercise. She returned to Mayport on the 12th for upkeep.
Following three days of damage control exercises in mid-August, the crew began preparations for a post shakedown availability. She sailed for Maine on 3 September, arriving at Bath Iron Works on the 5th. The shipyard repainted the hull, altered the superstructure, and installed equipment upgrades in the engineering plant and combat systems suite. When the yard work was completed THE SULLIVANS got underway for Mayport, arriving there on the 23 November.
On 8 December the destroyer joined ENTERPRISE (CVN-65) off Georgia for a week of underway training. While providing plane guard services on the 11th, a McDonnell Douglas T-45A trainer ("Goshawk") splashed following take-off. THE SULLIVANS made a high-speed dash to the site. While the carrier's rescue helicopter safely rescued the pilot, boats launched by THE SULLIVANS picked up considerable pieces of wreckage which were helpful in determining the cause of the crash. The crew also completed helicopter deck landing qualifications before returning to port for the holidays on the 12th.
In January 1998, the crew of THE SULLIVANS began a series of exercises designed "to build the capability for long-term self-sustained training onboard." They included engineering, combat, seamanship, and battle scenario training exercises. These local operations lasted until 18 May when the warship got underway for New York and the annual "Fleet Week" celebrations.
Following a week long port visit, THE SULLIVANS got underway on 26 May for Halifax, Nava Scotia to conduct training workups for the upcoming Exercise "Unified Spirit `98." During the exercise she joined an amphibious task force formed around NASSAU (LHA-4), two LPDs, and two LSDs. The warship screened the "gator" ships during an exercise focusing on multi-national peace enforcement operations. Ships from Canada, Great Britain, Germany, France, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, and Portugal also participated in the exercise. After this exercise, the ship visited Boston and then sailed with relatives and family for Mayport, arriving on 1 July.
After a summer of conducting midshipmen training off the Florida coast, Commander Roncolato was relieved by Commander E. Scott Hebner, USN, in a change of command ceremony on 4 September 1998. THE SULLIVANS is assigned to Destroyer Squadron Twenty-Four, a component of the USS JOHN F. KENNEDY Battle Group. In 1999, the ship participated in various training exercises to prepare for her maiden deployment in October to the Mediterranean and then in 2000 continued into the Arabian Sea and participated in exercises and boarding operations until late March. On 9 February, 2000, Commander Daniel Paul Keller, USN relieved Commander Heber in a change of command ceremony, held at sea on station in the Arabian Gulf. After port visits in the Persian Gulf, she returned through the Mediterranean to her homeport in April 2000, successfully completing her first six month deployment. After participating in BEACHFEST at Port Canaveral, FL, THE SULLIVANS underwent a major maintenance overhaul to prepare for future operations.
The dark blue and gold
represent the sea and excellence. They are also the Navy's tradition
colors. Red is emblematic of courage and sacrifice. The five interlaced
swords honor the five Sullivan brothers killed in action during WW II
and commemorate their spirit of teamwork and patriotism. The upright
points of the swords allude to the present ship's combat readiness and
its missile system. The boarder reflects unity and the eleven stars
represent the battle stars earned by the first USS THE SULLIVANS; nine
for WW II and two for the Korean War.