DDG 73


Commodore Stephen Decatur

Born in Sinepuxent, Maryland January 5, 1779
Died March 22, 1820

Born in Maryland and raised in Philadelphia, Decatur showed evidence of the bold and courageous man he would become: he was known to dive from the tips of jib booms and, at the age of 14, defended his mother against a drunken ruffian. Commissioned a midshipman in 1798, within a year he was promoted to acting Lieutenant of the UNITED STATES.

Praised for a decisive style of leadership during the encounter with the PHILADELPHIA, Decatur became the most striking figure of the Tripolitan Wars. He subsequently received the commission of Captain, commanding the CONSTITUTION and later the CONGRESS. Responsibility for the gunboat flotilla in the Chesapeake, management of the Norfolk Navy Yard, and command of all U.S. Naval forces on the Southeast coast followed. He also presided over various courts of inquiry for naval affairs.

During the War of 1812, Decatur fought and defeated the MACEDONIAN, the second of his three famous frigate encounters. Other notable encounters include the battle between the PRESIDENT and a British blockade of New York harbor, where Decatur was able to destroy the enemy frigate ENDYMION. The PRESIDENT was later captured and Decatur wounded, but the victory over ENDYMION earned him high praise.

In 1815, Decatur commanded a nine-ship squadron headed for Algiers to settle conflicts which had persisted since 1812. Decatur's abilities as a negotiator were recognized after he secured a treaty with the Algerians and extracted compensation from the Tripolitans. During celebration of the truce with the North African States, Decatur declared his famous line: "Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but our country right or wrong."

From November 1815 until his death, Decatur served on the Board of Navy Commissioners. Successful Naval leaders of Decatur's time were rewarded financially for their exploits; Decatur invested his ample prize money in the Washington, D.C. area, building Decatur House which still stands today in Lafayette Square.

Decatur's death was predictably both heroic and tragic. As Navy Commissioner, he opposed the reinstatement of Captain John Barron whom he had suspended from service much earlier while serving on an inquiry board. Barron responded with a challenge to duel with the much younger Decatur. Ever the honorable warrior, Decatur allowed only a short distance of eight paces out of respect for Barron's faulty eyesight and claimed he would not fire to kill. At the first exchange, Barron was shot in the thigh, Decatur received a fatal shot. All of Washington turned out to mourn the hero who remains today a prominent figure in U.S. Naval history.

Historical Notes:

19 January 1993 Contract Signed
11 January 1996 Keel Laying
13 July 1996 Mast Stepping Ceremony
8-9 November 1996 Launch Day – Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine. The launch was originally scheduled for the 8th of November, but because of strong winds and the danger of the ship entering the water under those conditions, the actual launch was conducted the morning of the 9th. The ceremony with all the major speakers was conducted on the 8th of November. Mrs. Shalikashvilli, DECATUR’s sponsor christened the ship on the 8th as part of the ceremony and then a second time on the 9th when the ship was actually launched off the rails into the Kennebec River. 30 plus members of the Commissioning crew came from San Diego, Rhode Island, and other commands around America to Bath to be a part of the ceremony.
October/November 1997 Engineering Department attended the LBES training facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
November 1997 "A" Trials.
25 December 1997 DECATUR’s first annual Christmas party in DECATUR University, a renovated Reserve center turned into training rooms for the Precommissioning Unit.
5 January 1998 Phase IV Balance Crew arrives in Bath, ME at the Pre- commissioning unit. All 300 crew members arrive from San Diego and other commands. The detachment in San Diego is closed down.
21-25 January 1998 "B" Trials
January 1998 Ice Storms. Engineering Console Operations Team Training, Newport, Rhode Island. Engineering Department members visited the Surface Warfare Officer School to practice operation of DECATUR’s propulsion plant in a new simulator. They also attended the LBES training facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
22 February- 13 March 1998 Radioman and Electronic Technician Team Training, St. Indigos, Maryland. All the RM’s and ET’s practiced configuring a communications suite just like the one onboard to provide the communications needed at sea.
15– 30 March 1998 Combat Information Center Team Trainer, Wallops Island, Virginia. Training provided a series of realistic command and control scenarios to develop methods for dealing with Anti-ship cruise missiles, attacking aircraft, torpedoes from submarines and gunfire from surface ships. The team completed training with praise from the staff of instructors.
March 1998 Fire Fighting and Helicopter Crash and Fire Fighting in Norfolk, Virginia. Donning the same fire fighting ensembles used at sea, these trainees learned team techniques for battling fires aboard ship and simulated battling helicopter crashes on a flight deck.
February/March 1998 Light Off Assessment Preparations Crew Certification Preps Publication Inventory Supply warehouse on-load preps "C" trials
13 March 1998 Ship’s Custody Transfer, the Navy took custody of DECATUR from BIW, at this point the ship became an official Navy asset.
1 May 1998 Crew Move Aboard May 1998 Crew Certification Phase I
5 – 12 June 1998 Crew Certification Phase II Light Off Assessmen
19 June 1998 Commissioned Without Ceremony. Commodore Pat Garrett, COMDESRON 23, put DECATUR in Commission without Ceremony in Bath, Maine.
22 June 1998 Dry Dock. DECATUR was put into dry dock in Portland, Maine due to a CRP leak in the starboard shaft seal.
4 July 1998 DECATUR hosts the shipbuilders from Bath Iron Works and their families for tours and a barbecue on the flight deck.
6 July 1998 Sailaway from Portland, Maine
13 July 1998 Naval Weapon Station, Yorktown, Virginia for weapons onload
20 July 1998 Mayport, Florida port visit
28 July 1998 Port visit Puerto Rico
29 July 1998 NGFS range Puerto Rico, shot over 140 five inch shells and scored 99.25% on the range, during FIREX I
3 August 1998 Panama Canal transit
11-14 August 1998 Port visit Puerta Vallarta, Mexico
21- 23 August 1998 Port visit Longview, Washington. The transit from Longview to Portland, Oregon provided a chance to have many riders on board. DECATUR hosted over 200 passengers for the transit up the Columbia River ranging from Delayed Entry Program Candidates from the Naval Recruiting Depot in Portland to family members and a host of media personnel.
26 – 31 August 1998 Commissioning Week in Portland, Oregon. Television and newspaper coverage touted the ship’s arrival for the first commissioning ceremony in Portland, OR. DECATUR hosted for the Portland Navy League and the Reserve Centers. General topside ship tours were open to the public on Saturday and Sunday after the commissioning ceremony. Over 1000 people visited the ship this weekend.
29 August 1998 Commissioning Ceremony, Portland, Oregon
4 September 1998 Arrival in Homeport San Diego, California
December 1998 Combat Systems SQT/ 14 out of 14 Missile shots hit the target, PMRF Hawaii. Returned to San Diego just before Christmas
January 1999 Final Contract Trials, DECATUR passed with flying colors.
February- April 1999 Post Shakedown Availability period in Southwest Marine shipyard. The crew lived and worked on a berthing barge. Most ships are allowed a twelve week availability period, but DECATUR was able to complete these jobs in only nine weeks and was awarded the AEGIS Excellence award for efficiency during the Shakedown period
19 April 1999 DECATUR Family Day Cruise enroute to Seal Beach, CA for an ammo onload. This was DECATUR’s first Family day cruise with over 150 family members taking part. DECATUR had Damage Control demonstrations of a Helicopter crash and smash drill and Small arms static display. The Supply department provided a Steel Beach picnic to top off the day.
25 April 1999 Decatur Island, Washington visit. DECATUR anchored off the little island and ran the RHIB boats to and from the ship to provide the community ship tours. In return the community of Decatur Island held a picnic complete with a basketball court and a campfire.
26-30 April 1999 Vancouver, British Columbia port visit. Ship tours were provided for a few groups including the Canadian Standards Association, the Royal Canada Sea Cadets Corps, and the Navy League Cadet Corps.
03 August 1999 Arrived Everett, Washington - RON
04 August 1999 Embarked 150 Guest Riders. Departed Everett, enroute Seattle Washington as a parade of ships for the Seattle Seafair. Visitors enjoyed a steel beach picnic. Arrived Pier 66.
07 October 1999 Pre-deployment Fair
07 January 2000 Underway for Maiden Western Pacific Deployment
13-14 January 2000 Inport Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
26 – 29 January 2000 Sharem 2000 – Yellow Sea (Joint USW exercise with ROKN and USN forces)
30 Jan – 03 Feb 2000 Inport Chinhae, South Korea Community Relations Project at Good Samaritan Rehabilitation and local Orphanage Crewmembers visit Pusan
07-12 February 2000 Inport Yokosuka, Japan
14 – 17 February 2000 Inport Nagasaki, Japan Community Relations Project at Convent of the Holy Child Jesus Crewmembers visited historical sites such as the Peace Park, Atomic Bomb Hypocenter and Atomic Bomb museum, as well as attended the Nagasaki Lantern Festival.
18 February 2000 BSF (Brief Stop for Fuel) Okinawa, Japan
20-21 February 2000 Taiwan Strait Transit
22 – 25 February 2000 Anchored Hong Kong Community Relations Project at Crossroads Crewmembers took tours to places such as Victoria’s Peak, Ocean Park, Stanley Market, and TSL Jewelry Factory.
06 – 09 March 2000 Anchored Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia Crewmembers stay at Magellan Resort Hotel and participate in whitewater rafting and Orangutan Sanctuary tours
13 – 17 March 2000 Inport Guam CO’s (CDR Gumataotao) homecoming Major Flight Deck Reception Community Relations Project at Alee Shelter and Sanctuary
29 – 31 March 2000 Inport Guam
03 April 2000 Crossing the Line Ceremony
09 – 13 April 2000 Inport Suva, Fiji Community Relations Project at the Humane Society
14 – 19 April 2000 Inport Pago Pago, American Samoa – Centennial Celebration Major Flight Deck Reception Military Recognition Ceremony at Veteran Memorial Stadium CO elected High Chieftain
26 April – 01 May 2000 Inport Sydney, Australia Wardroom reception on host ship HMAS ARUNTA Wardroom reception with Australian American Association
03 – 07 May 2000 Inport Brisbane, Australia Crewmembers meet Steve (Crocodile Hunter) and Teri Irwin Ship receives word that deployment will be shorten to 5 months.
13 – 17 May 2000 Inport Darwin, Australia
17 May 2000 USS PEARY (DD-226) Memorial Service
19 May 2000 2nd Crossing the Line Ceremony
23 – 24 May 2000 Inport Guam
01 – 02 June 2000 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii – Tigers boarded USS MISSOURI and ARIZONA Memorials Reenlistments Crewmembers enjoy Germaine’s Luau
08 June 2000 Arrive San Diego – Homecoming
08 June – 11 July 2000 Post Overseas Movement Stand Down

Ship's Crest:

Supporters: The sword and cutlass crossed behind the shield depict Lieutenant Fitzgerald's personal experiences as both an officer and enlisted sailor, as well as the professional excellence and teamwork in the United States Navy. The dolphins flanking the shield signify maritime dominance and allude to USS FITZGERALD's role in preserving America's command of the seas.

The Shield: The Fitzgerald family coat of arms (a white shield with a red saltire) provides the foundation for the coat of arms for USS FITZGERALD. The shield signifies defense, while the saltire connotes strength and its red color represents valor and action. This traditional design has been modified by the addition of a blue cross paty interlaced with a gold annulet and four shamrocks. The cross commemorates the Navy Cross posthumously awarded to Lieutenant William Charles Fitzgerald for extraordinary heroism in the Vietnam battle that took his life. The annulet symbolizes the continuity of everlasting hope, fidelity and unity. The four shamrocks represent Lieutenant Fitzgerald's Irish family and heritage.

The Crest: The trident, a traditional symbol of maritime prowess, represents both Lieutenant Fitzgerald's graduation from the U. S. Naval Academy and USS FITZGERALD's war fighting capabilities. Each tine of the trident depicts separate warfare areas -- air, surface and sub-surface -- in which FITZGERALD possesses unmatched strengths. Lions, the traditional symbol for strength and courage on land, support each side of the trident. They commemorate the circumstances under which Lieutenant Fitzgerald gave his life and to signify the eternal vigilance and teamwork necessary to project America's maritime power ashore.

Motto: The scroll, in our national colors of red, white, and blue and emblazoned with the motto "PROTECT YOUR PEOPLE," bears testimony to the ideals and actions exemplified throughout the life of William Charles Fitzgerald. This motto also links the Fitzgerald's ancient family history -- their Gallic war cry translates as "Defend the castle forever" -- with the gallantry, dedication and extraordinary heroism of Lieutenant Fitzgerald and the honored traditions of the United States Navy.


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