(DDG-96: displacement 9,515; length 510'; beam 66'; draft 32'; speed 30 knots; complement 287; armament Standard SM-2, NATO Evolved Sea Sparrow, Tomahawk, ASROC, Mk 46 torpedoes, 5-inch, Close In Weapon System, two LAMPS Mk III SH-60 helicopters; class Arleigh Burke)
The fifth Bainbridge was laid down on 7 May 2003 at Bath, Maine, by Bath Iron Works; launched on 30 October 2004; sponsored by Mrs. Susan Bainbridge-Hay; and commissioned on 12 November 2005, Comdr. John M. Dorey in command.
Bainbridge (DDG-96) steams at sea. (Unattributed or dated U.S. Navy photograph, Bainbridge Commissioning Brochure)
The ship completed her Builder’s Trials and live-firing of two SM-2 Standard surface-to-air missiles, 5-inch rounds, and the Mk 36 Super Rapid Bloom Offboard Countermeasures Chaff and Decoy Launching System, in New England waters (31 May–4 June 2005). The majority of the crew began moving on board on 5 August. Bainbridge then accomplished her Light-Off Assessment and Crew Certification, which enabled the destroyer to be placed in ‘commission without ceremony’ status. Bainbridge sailed from Bath to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on 8 October 2005, refueled at Newport, R.I. (11–13 October) and Norfolk, Va. (21–31 October), and participated in Broward Navy Days at Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale (7–13 November; including her commissioning on 12 November).
Sikorsky SH-60B Seahawks of Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadrons (Light—HSLs) 42 and 44 carried out the first helicopter operations from the ship while she steamed off the coast of Mayport, Fla., on 15 November. Bainbridge trained off the Virginia capes into the New Year, broken by brief periods at her home port of Naval Station (NS) Norfolk (18–28 November, 2–12 December, and 16–31 December). In addition, the destroyer loaded her ordnance at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, Va. (13–14 December).
Additional training and certifications included firing four torpedoes from her Mk 32 launcher and one vertically-launched ASROC during the Ship’s Combat Systems Qualifications Trials (February 2006). The following month included one NATO Evolved Sea Sparrow and four Standard missile shots. Bainbridge completed her post shakedown availability in drydock at Metro Machine Shipyards, Norfolk (May–August).
The ship provided 5-inch naval surface fires support to marine amphibious landings and an opposition force—using only visual means of recognition and manual methods of tracking—to amphibious assault ship Bataan (LHD-5) during exercises off North Carolina (October). The following month, she completed deperming at Norfolk. Comdr. Stephen J. Coughlin relieved Comdr. Dorey as the commanding officer on 15 December 2006.
Bainbridge took part in Navy Days at Tampa, Fla. (January 2007). The ship then rounded Florida and tested the Remote Mine Hunting System (RMS) in the waters off West Palm Beach (January–February). The system consisted primarily of the Remote Minehunting Vehicle, the AN/AQS-20A (Q-20) towed sensor, and the launch and recovery system. The Navy intended to install RMS in Freedom (LCS-1) class littoral combat ships.
Bainbridge received a transmission from the Coast Guard concerning a distress call from a fishing boat and her three crewmen: Anthony Culler, Charlie Lee, and Clay Ware, at 1130 on 18 February 2007. The anchor line broke on board their 43-foot fishing boat, Bonnie Anne, and an electrical fire then left the boat without power, drifting and taking on water about 60 miles off the coast of Myrtle Beach, S.C., at 32°51'N, 077°49'W. The men signaled the Coast Guard via their Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. A Coast Guard Lockheed HC-130H Hercules and Coast Guard 6575, a Eurocopter HH-65A Dolphin, overflew the vessel.
The weather grew harsh and 30 knot winds and eight to ten foot waves pounded Bonnie Anne. Bainbridge came about and raced 27 nautical miles to the scene. The ship contacted Bonnie Anne and prepared to airlift a generator to the men to enable them to restore power, but a metal canopy surrounding the fishing boat’s stern precluded a safe transfer from a Seahawk. The destroyer thus decided to lower a boat to transfer the generator, but the three fishermen informed the ship that they did not wish to endanger more lives and opted to abandon the boat for their own safety. A Coast Guard Dolphin, manned by (all USCG) Lt. Charles J. Clark, Lt. j.g. Michael D. Brimblecom, and Petty Officers Kyle Brown and Stu McConnell, returned to the area. McConnell, the rescue swimmer, jumped into the churning waters and assisted each of the three men into the hoist, and Brown lifted them aloft. The Dolphin flew the fishermen to Myrtle Beach Airport, where they all recovered from the ordeal.
The schedule for the ship’s training included a three-day sail in company with guided missile destroyer Laboon (DDG-58) and guided missile frigate Simpson (FFG-56) across the Atlantic to participate in Neptune Warrior 2007, a series of exercises with British, Danish, Dutch, French, and German ships and submarines off the Scottish coast (23 April–3 May). Fierce weather compelled the cancellation of the event on the second day, and Bainbridge came about and continued testing the RMS. The other ships steamed easterly courses.
The ship took part in Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) 07-02 Operation Bold Step off the east coast (26–31 July 2007). She then deployed to the Fifth Fleet, and relieved guided missile cruiser Normandy (CG-60) as flagship, Standing NATO Maritime Group 1, in the Indian Ocean. Bainbridge visited Victoria, Seychelles (mid-September).
Jazirat at Ta’ir (Bird Mountain), a volcano about 70 miles off the Yemeni coast, erupted and collapsed part of the island, destroying a Yemeni coast guard station, on 30 September 2007. A NATO convoy of six ships sailing toward the Suez Canal, including Bainbridge and allied frigates Canadian Toronto (FFH.333), Danish Olfert Fischer (F.355), Dutch Evertsen (F.805), and Portuguese Álvares Cabral (F.331), had reached a position about 80 nautical miles from the isle. The ships diverted and rescued two survivors, and recovered four bodies, through 1 October.
Bainbridge Mass Communication Specialist 3d Class Vincent J. Street photographs Jazirat at Ta’ir (Bird Mountain) as it erupts off the Yemeni coast, on the morning of 1 October 2007. (U.S. Navy Photograph 071001-N-5459S-003, Defense Visual Information Center)
Bainbridge crossed the Mediterranean and visited Soudha Bay, Crete (8 October). She operated in the Aegean Sea and visited Piraeus, Greece (27 October). The ship briefly visited Soudha Bay (10 January 2008). She returned to Norfolk the following month, having also visited Valletta, Malta, La Coruna, Spain, and Istanbul, Turkey, during her operations with the Sixth Fleet. Comdr. Frank X. Castellano assumed command as the commanding officer on 6 June. Bainbridge completed her evaluations of RMS at Panama City, Fla., on 28 July. The ship took part in a Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) off the Virginia capes (8–28 January 2009).
Bainbridge deployed with aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) to the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean on 20 February 2009. The destroyer reached the Sixth Fleet (27 February), visited Rota, Spain (5 March), and then conducted operations across the Mediterranean (6–11 March). She put into Aksaz, Marmaris, Turkey (12–13 March), and passed southbound through the Suez Canal (19 March) to operate with the Fifth Fleet. She sailed the length of the Red Sea (20–29 March), and the following day began patrols against pirates off the Horn of Africa.
Somali pirates seized Taiwanese fishing vessel Win Far 161 near the Seychelles on 6 April 2009. The pirates then used Win Far 161 as a ‘mother ship’ and four of them captured U.S.-flagged container ship Maersk Alabama and her 22 crewmembers, about 280 miles from Eyl on the Somali coast, on 8 April. Maersk Alabama carried emergency food supplies for refugees in Mombasa, Kenya. The U.S. sailors recaptured their ship along with one of the pirates, but the three surviving pirates held the vessel’s master, 53-year-old Capt. Richard Phillips, as a hostage on a 28-foot lifeboat, and demanded a $2 million ransom for his release.
A ScanEagle unmanned aircraft system films Bainbridge as she confronts the pirates who hold Capt. Richard Phillips, the master of U.S.-flagged container ship Maersk Alabama, hostage in a lifeboat in the Indian Ocean, 9 April 2009. (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph 090409-N-0000X-136, Defense Visual Information Center)
Bainbridge closed the ship and monitored the pirates. Additional vessels that participated in the confrontation included amphibious assault ship Boxer (LHD-4). An Insitu (Boeing subsidiary) ScanEagle unmanned aircraft system provided timely intelligence. Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) snipers boarded Bainbridge and operated clandestinely from the destroyer. One of the pirates pointed his AK-47 assault rifle at Phillips’ back and the SEALs shot and killed the three pirates, at 1919 on 12 April. The SEALs then rescued Phillips and his mariners. The captain recovered on board Bainbridge, and a Seahawk flew him to Boxer for further evaluation. Three of the 30 men on board Win Far 161 died from malnutrition and neglect, before the pirates released the boat and her crew on 11 February 2010. Four pirates in a skiff attempted to board Maersk Alabama again in early November 2009, but the crew fought-off the attackers.
The ScanEagle zooms in on Maersk Alabama’s lifeboat. (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph 090409-N-0000X-926, Defense Visual Information Center)
Pirates fired rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons at U.S.-flagged merchantman Liberty Sun on 14 April. The thugs slightly damaged the ship but she escaped. Liberty Sun sailed en route to Mombasa with food for famine-stricken victims in East Africa. Bainbridge came about and made for the battle, but the pirates fled by the time the destroyer reached the area six hours later.
Bainbridge continued her counter-piracy patrols until 31 May, and then put into Victoria, Seychelles (1–4 June 2009). She resumed searching for pirates off the Horn of Africa (5 June–13 July). The ship passed through the Strait of Hormuz (20 July) and completed repairs to her Oil Distribution Box at Bahrain (20–29 July). She passed eastbound through the Strait of Hormuz, and transited to the Horn of Africa (30 July–5 August) to watch for pirates (6–29 August). She came about, passed northbound through the Suez Canal (4 September), crossed the Mediterranean and passed westbound through the Strait of Gibraltar (5–9 September). Bainbridge visited Rota (10 September), reached the Second Fleet (16 September), and returned to Norfolk on 22 September.
The ship completed a selected restricted availability (1 January–29 March 2010). Bainbridge accomplished maintenance and a variety of training exercises off the east coast throughout the spring and summer, including two separate midshipmen cruises. Comdr. Daniel D. Sunvold relieved Comdr. Castellano as the commanding officer on 2 April 2010. The Board of Inspection and Survey inspected the ship (30 August–3 September).
Bainbridge sailed to European waters to take part in Joint Warrior 2010 (21 September–29 October). The ship embarked Venom 513, an SH-60B of HSL-48 Detachment 5. Bainbridge and guided missile destroyer Nitze (DDG-94) visited Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, Faslane, Scotland (16 October). Upon Bainbridge’s return, she sailed to escort a submarine during the boat’s sea trials (3–8 November). Delays prevented the submarine from her sea trials, however, and Bainbridge came about. En route her return on 9 November, the destroyer received a distress call from fishing boat Abracadabra, which lost power east of Delaware Bay. Bainbridge steamed 90 nautical miles to Abracadabra. She lowered a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB), the crew of which assisted the stricken boat and attached a tow. The destroyer then towed Abracadabra more than 30 miles to close a long range tugboat, which took the boat in tow.
Sailors from Bainbridge render assistance to Abracadabra after the fishing vessel loses power east of Delaware Bay, 9 November 2010. Bainbridge steams 90 nautical miles through rough seas to reach Abracadabra, and then tows her to safety. (Chief Intelligence Specialist Deshonia Weslgy, U.S. Department of Defense Photograph 338895, Defense Visual Information Center)
Bainbridge deployed to operate with NATO Standing Maritime Group 2 on 4 January 2011. She refueled overnight at Funchal, Portugal, and following a visit to Palermo, Sicily (end of January), passed southbound through the Suez Canal on 29 January. She transited the Red Sea, and escorted French attack submarine Améthyste (S.605) northbound through the Bab el-Mandeb. Bainbridge supported Operation Ocean Shield—counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, and the Somali Basin. She sailed with guided missile frigate Stephen W. Groves (FFG-29), allied frigates Dutch Tromp (F.803—the flagship) and Turkish Giresun (F.491), and Danish support ship Esbern Snare (L.17). Bainbridge’s embarked SH-60B of HSL-48 Detachment 5 covered her Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) team while they boarded and inspected 27 ships. Following 53 days at sea, the ship visited Bahrain (16–20 March).
Pirates meanwhile seized Iranian fishing vessel Armin and held her crew hostage. On 22 March 2011, Bainbridge responded to a distress call from Armin, rescued the boat and the hostages, and captured four pirates. The destroyer participated in Operation Ketting III (21 April–1 June). She observed suspected pirate dhows and denied them freedom of movement along the Somali coast at the most active pirate camps. In addition, the ship escorted merchantmen Irene Sl (8 April), Thor Nexus (12 April), and Renuar (24 April), which pirates had seized and released. On all three occasions, the ship’s VBSS team removed all pirate paraphernalia and hazards to the crew, and provided engineering, medical, and dietary assistance to the freed crewmembers. The destroyer twice put into the Seychelles (16–20 April and 2–4 June), making the second visit in company with guided missile frigate Halyburton (FFG-40).
The ship responded to a distress call from Pakistani fishing vessel Al Saadi off the Somali coast on 3 May 2011. Bainbridge lowered her boarding party in a RHIB to investigate, and the boarders discovered and apprehended four pirates on board Al Saadi. The pirates planned to seize another vessel, and the vigilance of the VBSS team thwarted the second attack.
The Fifth Fleet directed Bainbridge to pursue merchant vessel Ayala, which claimed to successfully escape an attempted pirate attack, on 16 May. Bainbridge quickly closed Ayala, and searched for the suspected pirate dhow, Safina Al Sams. Further investigation revealed that the pirates had seized Safina Al Sams several months before, and subsequently used her as a mother ship to raid other victims along the Horn of Africa. Six pirates surrendered to the boarders, who freed 15 hostages on board Safina Al Sams.
Bainbridge visited Aqaba, Jordan (3–7 July 2011), and passed northbound through the Suez Canal on 9 July. She put into Haifa, Israel (10–14 July), and Rota (21 July), and returned to Norfolk on 5 August. Hurricane Irene then devastated the east coast, and on 25 August Bainbridge and more than 30 other ships emergency sortied to avoid the tempest.
Comdr. Bruce G. Schuette relieved Comdr. Sunvold as the commanding officer on 4 November. The ship completed a selected restricted availability at General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co., Norfolk (11 November 2011–1 July 2012). Bainbridge carried out her sea trials (23–27 July), followed by training and certification with Afloat Training Group Atlantic (20–24 August, 17–21 September, 29 October–2 November, 9–16 November, 10–14 December, and 17–21 December 2012).
Detailed history pending.
Mark L. Evans
29 April 2016