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Spruance

 

Raymond A. Spruance-born on 3 July 1886 at Baltimore, Md.-was appointed midshipman at the United States Naval Academy on 3 July 1903. He graduated 26th in his class on 12 September 1906 and served two years as a Passed Midshipman in Iowa (Battleship No. 4). During the summer of 1907, he was transferred to Minnesota (Battleship No. 22), and he circumnavigated the world in her as part of the "Great White Fleet." On 13 September 1908, he was promoted to ensign.

 

After a year of study in Schenectady, N.Y., at General Electric Co., he returned to sea in Connecticut (Battleship No. 18). In November 1911, Spruance became senior engineering officer in Cincinnati (Cruiser No. 7) ; and, in the spring of 1913 at Olongapo in the Philippines, he took command of Bain-bridge (Destroyer No. 1). A year later, he was assigned to the Newport News Shipbuilding- Corp. as Assistant Inspector of Machinery. In 1916, he helped to fit out Pennsylvania (Battleship No. 38). By late 1917, he was Assistant Engineering Officer and Electrical Superintendent at the New York Navy Yard. During this tour of duty, he served temporarily at London, Liverpool, and Edinburgh and with the 6th Battle Fleet.

 

In 1919, after serving as executive officer in Agammemnon (ID. No. 3004), he reported to Bath, Maine, to fit out and assume command of Aaron Ward (Destroyer No. 132). From 1921 until 1924, Spruance was in the Bureau of Engineering. He then served briefly as Assistant Chief of Staff to Rear Admiral Philip Andrews, Commander, Naval Forces, Europe. However, when Osborne (DD-295) became available, he took command of that destroyer. In 1926, he began two years of study at the Naval War College at Newport, R. I.

 

He next spent two years as executive officer of Mississippi (BB-41) before joining the faculty of the War College. In 1932, he was promoted to Captain; and, in May 1933, he became Chief of Staff to the Commander, Destroyers, Scouting Force, under Rear Admiral A. E. Watson. In 1935, he returned to the Naval War College as Head of the Tactics Section of the Department of Operations. Capt. Spruance assumed command of Mississippi in 1938; and, two years later, he was appointed Commandant of the 10th Naval District. On 1 October 1940, he became Rear Admiral Spruance; and, from July until September 1941, he commanded both the Caribbean Sea Frontier and the 10th Naval District.

 

On 17 September 1941, he hoisted his flag in Nor-thampton (CA-26) as Commander, Cruiser Division (CruDiv) 5, Pacific Fleet. At the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Spruance and his cruisers were at sea with Halsey's task force, built around Enterprise (CV-6). Though scheduled to reenter Pearl Harbor on 7 December, the task force was still 200 miles away at the time of the attack. Reentry plans were cancelled, and Halsey and Spruance attempted to hunt down the enemy attack force, but to no avail.

 

Over the next six months, Rear Admiral Spruance commanded CruDiv 5 during the air strikes on Wotje, Roi, Kwajalein, Taroa, Maloelap, and Marcus Island; during the Halsey Doolittle Raid on Tokyo; and in the Battle of the Coral Sea. His cruisers also shelled enemy-held Wake Island. Just before the Battle of Midway, Spruance assumed command of Halsey's carrier task force, TF 16, when the latter was hospitalized at Pearl Harbor. Though junior to Rear Admiral Fletcher (CTF 17), Spruance assumed control of the battle after carrier Yorktown (CV-5), flagship of TF 17, was knocked out of action. Thus, much of the credit for American success in this decisive battle accrues to him.

 

On 18 June 1942, Spruance became Chief of Staff to Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet. During his tenure as Nimitz's Chief of Staff, Spruance joined his superior and Admiral King in advocating the Central Pacific "leap-frog" strategy; and it is a tribute to his ability that he was chosen to plan and command the first hop of that offensive, the capture of the Gilbert Islands.

 

With the Gilberts secured, Spruance continued to command the Central Pacific Force, to be redesignated 5th Fleet on 29 August 1944, as it swept through the Marshall Islands in January 1944 and captured Guam, Tinian, and Saipan in the summer of 1944. During the latter operation, his force also met and decisively defeated Japanese naval air power in the Battle of the Philippine Sea on 19 and 20 June. Spruance, a full Admiral since 4 February 1944, culminated his combat career by planning and leading the assaults on Iwo Jima and Okinawa in the last year of the war.

 

On 8 November 1945, Admiral Spruance was relieved of command of the 5th Fleet; and he, in turn, relieved Fleet Admiral Nimitz as Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas. On 1 February 1946, Admiral Spruance took leave of the Pacific Fleet to become President of the Naval War College. Admiral Spruance served in that post until his retirement on 1 July 1948.

 

Retirement, however, did not end Admiral Spruance's usefulness to the United States government. After almost four years of productive retirement at Pebble Beach on the Monterey Peninsula, he was called to the colors once again. Early in 1952, President Truman appointed him United States Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines. Serving until the spring of 1955, he successfully negotiated American retention of several important military bases on the islands and fostered, in his quiet manner, a deepening of respect between the two governments and peoples. Admiral Spruance returned to his home at Pebble Beach where he lived until his death on 13 December 1969.

 

(DD-963: dp. 7,600 (f.); l. 563'; b. 55'; dr. 19'; s. 30 k.; cpl. 250; a. 2 5", ASROC, Sea Sparrow, 2 mk. 32 tt.; cl. Spruance)

 

Spruance (DD-963) was laid down on 27 November 1972 by Ingalls Shipbuilding Division at Pascagoula, Miss.; launched on 10 November 1973; sponsored by Mrs. Raymond A. Spruance; and commissioned on 20 September 1975, Comdr. Raymond J. Harbrecht in command.