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Decatur

 

Stephen Decatur, born 5 January 1779 in Sinepuxent, Md., was warranted a midshipman at the age of 19 and made his first cruise in the frigate United States. In command of the schooner Enterprise at the outbreak of the Tripolitan War, he captured the bomb ketch Mastico on 23 December 1803. He used this ship, renamed Intrepid, in his daring raid to burn the captured frigate Philadelphia in the harbor of Tripoli, 16 February 1804. He also distinguished himself during the attacks on Tripoli in command of a gunboat division. Promoted to captain he was assigned command of Constitution, and later, in November 1804, Congress. He negotiated with the Bey of Tunis at the close of the Tripolitan War, and returned to the United States in September 1805 with the Tunisian envoy.

 

During the War of 1812 he commanded United States, capturing HMS Macedonian in one of the greatest single-ship actions of naval history. He took command of President at New York and attempting to slip through the blockade fell in with a British squadron of five heavy ships. After 2 hours of furious combat the frigate HMS Endymion was silenced but President had suffered such extensive damage that it was impossible to execute an escape. The twice-wounded Decatur reluctantly surrendered, but was paroled, landing at New London 22 February 1815.

 

Returning to the Mediterranean in 1815, Decatur in Guerriere, negotiated a treaty with the Dey of Algiers which ended tribute and exacted full payment for injuries to Americans, then concluded similar agreements with the Bey of Tunis and the Bashaw of Tripoli. From November 1815 until killed by Commodore James Barron in a duel 22 March 1820, Decatur served on the Board of Navy Commissioners.

 

V

 

(Destroyer DDG-73: displacement 6,624 (light); length 504 feet 6 inches; beam 66 feet 6 inches; draft 20 feet 8 inches; speed 30+ knots; complement 342; armament 2 VLS, w/Standard, Tomahawk, Harpoon missiles, 1 5-inch gun, 1 CWIS, 6 12-inch torpedo tubes, 2 SH-60 helicopters; class Arleigh Burke)

The fifth Decatur (DDG-73) was laid down on 11 January 1996 by Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine; launched on 9 November 1996, sponsored by Mrs. Joan E. Shalikashvilli, wife of John M. Shalikashvilli, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and commissioned 19 June 1998, Commander Pete Gumataotao in command.

Following a combination shakedown and transit cruise to the west coast, during which Decatur visited San Juan, Puerto Rico; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; and Portland, Oregon; the guided-missile destroyer arrived at her new home port of San Diego on 4 September. She spent the remainder of the year conducting acoustic trials and combat system evaluations. Decatur then spent three months in a post-shakedown availability in the Southwest Marine Yard.

In April 1999, the warship conducted a short cruise to the northwest, visiting Decatur Island, Washington, and Vancouver, British Columbia, before returning to San Diego in early May. After a second visit to Washington in August, Decatur helped Bunker Hill in assisting MV Gardenia Ace--a car carrier--which had suffered a fire in her engine room.

Upon completion of her final missile tests and sea trials, Decatur commenced her first western Pacific deployment on 7 January 2000. After stopping at Pearl Harbor to load Tomahawk land-attack missiles, the guided-missile cruiser proceeded to the Yellow Sea for Exercise Sharem 2000--a joint U.S. and South Korean naval exercise--in late January. On the 30th, the warship visited Chinhae, South Korea, and over the next two weeks also stopped at Yokosuka and Nagasaki, Japan. She then sailed south through the Taiwan Strait, made a three-day port visit to Hong Kong, and then commenced a South China Sea exercise with units of the Philippine Navy.

In early March, Decatur visited Malaysia and Guam before sailing south across the equator to Fiji in April. After visits to American Samoa, and numerous ports in Australia, the guided missile cruiser returned to San Diego on 8 June.

Following upkeep and voyage repairs, the warship operated locally out of San Diego for the rest of the year. In February 2001, Decatur began various battle group and missile training off the west coast. Following the terrorist plane hijackings and crashes in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on 11 September, the cruiser put to sea for Operation NOBLE EAGLE in southern California waters. Returning to San Diego on the 23d, the warship spent seven weeks preparing for her deployment with the John C. Stennis (CVN-74) battle group on 12 November.

The warships steamed west and, after stops at Hong Kong and Singapore, transited the Strait of Malacca on 11 December. Sailing northwest into the Indian Ocean, the battlegroup moved into Central Commands AOR to participate in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, the liberation of Afghanistan. Between 17 December 2001 and 16 April 2002, Decatur escorted the Peleliu (LHA-5) Amphibious Ready Group -- during which time her security team boarded three merchant ships (including one non-compliant boarding of M/V Francisco Dagohoy on 10 April -- in support of Maritime Interdiction Operations. During this period, the warship made three short port visits to Manama, Bahrain. Departing the region on 2 May, the warship sailed for home, stopping in Phuket, Thailand; Bali, Indonesia; Dili, East Timor; Apra, Guam; and Pearl Harbor before arriving in San Diego on 8 June 2002. Decatur spent the rest of the year in upkeep or training out of San Diego.


During a second deployment to the Arabian Gulf in 2003, Decatur seized a 40-foot dhow on 15 December, discovering an estimated two tons of narcotics linked to an al-Qaida smuggling operation.


25 August 2004