The Norfolk-based Spruance-class destroyer USS Arthur W. Radford (DD 968) decommissioned on March 18, 2003 at Naval Station Norfolk. The ship will now serve as the test platform for the U.S. Navy’s future destroyer, DD(X).
This will not be the first time Radford has been used as a test platform. The ship used the newest and most robust cryptologic system during its last deployment. Although many ships now use this new cryptology system, Radford was the first to deploy with it.
Radford also introduced the Advanced Enclosed Mast System (AEM/S) to the Fleet in 1998. The ship’s unique, enclosed superstructure, which literally stands out among the masts of other ships, protects major antennas and other sensitive equipment. It also reduces maintenance and significantly reduces radar signature.
The ship will now be towed to Philadelphia where the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Inactive Ships Maintenance Office (NISMO) will oversee its inactivation. Eventually, the ship will be towed to Pascagoula, Miss. where Northrop Grumman Ship Systems will equip it with three DD(X) Engineering Development Models, including the Integrated Power System (IPS), the Composite Deckhouse, and the Dual Band Radar. The IPS will allow rapid reconfiguration of power, reduced acoustic noise, and greater flexibility in ship design, according to David Caskey, a NAVSEA spokesperson.
The conversion, scheduled to begin in the fall of 2004, will take approximately one year.
Once Radford is converted, at-sea testing will begin in the Gulf of Mexico and Virginia Capes Operating Areas, including Lambert’s Point Range in Norfolk, and Wallops Island Range near the eastern Virginia shore. The Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center Range in the Bahamas will also be used for the ship’s testing.