Samuel Lee Gravely Jr., (4 June 1922–22 October 2004). For additional information on Vice Adm. Gravely, see Samuel Lee Gravely Jr.
(DDG-107: displacement 9,515; length 510'; beam 66'; draft 32'; speed 30+ knots; complement 312; armament 1 5-inch, 1 Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) for BGM-109 Tomahawks, RIM-156 SM-2MR Standards, and RUM-139 VL-ASROC Antisubmarine Rockets, 2 Mk 15 Close In Weapon Systems (CIWS), 2 25 millimeter, 4 .50 caliber machine guns, and 6 Mk 32 torpedo tubes, aircraft 2 Sikorsky SH-60B Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) Mk III Seahawks; class Arleigh Burke)
Gravely (DDG-107) was laid down on 26 November 2007 at Pascagoula, Ms., by Ingalls Shipbuilding Division, Litton Industries; launched on 30 March 2009; sponsored by Mrs. Alma B. C. Gravely, widow of the late Vice Adm. Gravely; and commissioned on 20 November 2010 at Wilmington, N.C., Cmdr. Douglas W. Kunzman in command.
Dark blue is the color traditionally associated with the Navy, representing the sea. Gold denotes excellence, personifying Gravely’s accomplishments and of being the ‘Man of Many Firsts’; the first African American commissioned as an officer from the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps’ the first African American to command a United States Navy warship, destroyer Theodore E. Chandler (DD-717); the first African American to command an American warship under combat conditions, destroyer Taussig (DD-746); the first African American to command a major naval warship, guided missile frigate Jouett (DLG-29); the first African American admiral; the first African American to rise to the rank of Vice Admiral; and the first African-American to command a U.S. Fleet, the Third Fleet); paving the way for others to follow. The Aegis shield indicates the modern weaponry of Gravely. The chevron suggests the prow of a ship; divided into quarters alluding to the four ships, Theodore E. Chandler, Taussig, Jouett, and escort ship Falgout (DE-324), that Gravely commanded. The two red sections signify the ships he commanded during combat, one of which into direct fire, Taussig. The blue lightning bolts emphasize the admiral’s expertise in naval communications. The trident represents seapower. Black denotes strength of character. The shield displays the Gravely family’s coat of arms.
The gold heraldic seadog symbolizes an experienced sailor, highlighting Gravely’s 38 years of naval service. The dark blue collar with the three stars displays his highest rank. Red signifies his courage and strength. The billet represents acceptance from his peers for his capabilities as an experienced naval officer. The representation of the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star honor his highest decorations awarded.
The pigeon silhouettes symbolize the power to think out in advance before one takes action, a characteristic of Gravely. The silhouettes also emphasize his affection for this bird.
This composite image of Vice Adm. Gravely silhouetted over the ship highlights one of the admiral’s quotes about how to attain success in life. (Gravely world wide website)
During the year and a half following the ship’s commissioning, she completed a variety of training and maintenance in preparation for her maiden deployment, principally from her home port of Norfolk, Va., and from Mayport, Fl. She operated with the George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) Carrier Strike Group for a Second Fleet training exercise off the Virginia capes (14–16 October 2010). Gravely sailed from Wilmington to Norfolk (22–24 November 2010).
While Gravely, with a video production crew from Discovery Channel Canada and Exploration Productions in Toronto embarked, conducted man overboard drills off Cherry Point, N.C., on 13 February 2011, the weld on her mast failed. The upper 13 feet of the staff crashed onto the ship, and only some of the internal electrical wiring prevented the rest of the mast from falling into the sea. Sailors climbed aloft and secured the mast, and the ship came about for temporary repairs at Mayport - she subsequently completed full repairs at Norfolk.
Gravely carried out acoustic testing at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center off the Bahamas, and then performed nine burials at sea while she returned to Mayport (29 March–8 April 2011). She completed a port shakedown availability at British Aerospace Systems Shipyard, primarily within Old Dominion Drydock, at Norfolk (17 June–6 October 2011). Cmdr. David W. Dry relieved Cmdr. Kunzman as the commanding officer on 15 December.
Sailors on board Gravely render honors to Ponce (LPD-15) as the amphibious transport dock overtakes the destroyer in the mouth of Hampton Roads, Va., 2 December 2011. Ponce returns to Norfolk for the final time after completing her last week at sea, following 40 years of service. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nathanael Miller, U.S. Navy Photograph 111202-N-YX169-080, Navy NewsStand)
The ship, with Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 74, Detachment 1 embarked, made her maiden deployment - to the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean (11 February–18 November 2013). She also took part in Operations Sharp Sentry (which supported the ballistic missile defense of Israel), Atlantic Sentry (ballistic missile defense of NATO), and Active Endeavor (patrolling the Mediterranean to disrupt and protect against terrorist activities). Gravely trained with the Sixth Fleet, Greeks, and Israelis, and visited: Italy; Santorini and Souda Bay, Greece; Cyprus; Haifa, Israel; Spain; and Portugal.
During the Syrian Civil War she rendezvoused with guided missile destroyers Barry (DDG-52), Mahan (DDG-72), and Ramage (DDG-61) and patrolled off the Syrian coast (August–September). Gravely and Ramage rescued 120 migrants attempting to reach Southern Europe when their 90-foot wooden vessel began to founder in the Central Mediterranean, on 28 October. Gravely operated approximately 75 miles from the vessel when she received the distress call, forwarded by the Greek government. She made for the area, reached the boat at about 2000, determined that the vessel was not in immediate danger, and remained until an Italian coast guard boat arrived the following morning and ferried the passengers away.
Gravely operates with Destroyer Squadron 22 out of Norfolk.
Detailed history under construction.
Mark L. Evans
24 February 2014