John Rodgers III (DD-983)
The third ship to carry the name John Rodgers is named in honor of three men of the same name from the same family: Commodore John Rodgers (1772–1838); his son, Rear Admiral John Rodgers (1812–1882); and his great grandson, Commander John Rodgers (1881–1926). Three other Navy ships have borne the name Rodgers.
Commodore John Rodgers—son of Col. John and Elizabeth Reynolds Rodgers—was born 11 July 1772 near present-day Havre de Grace, Md. Desiring to go to sea as a youth, Rodgers set out for Baltimore, where his father secured for him a five-year apprenticeship with Capt. Benjamin Folger. Taking command of his first ship Jane in 1793, Rodgers made commercial runs from Baltimore to European ports for several years.
On 9 March 1798, Rodgers entered the Navy as second lieutenant, assigned to the new frigate Constellation. He took part in the capture of the French frigate L'Insurgente on 9 February 1799, taking command of the ship as her prize master. Promoted to captain on 15 May retroactive to 5 March, Rodgers assumed command of the sloop-of-war Maryland in June. The ship patrolled off the northern coast of South America, returning to Baltimore 1 October 1800. In March 1801, Rodgers’ ship transported Virginia Congressman John Dawson to France with the ratified Convention of 1800 that ended the quasi-war between that country and the United States. After returning to Baltimore in late August, pursuant to the Peace Establishment Act of 3 March 1801, Rodgers disbanded Maryland’s crew and in October sold the ship on behalf of the government. The Peace Establishment Act not only called for a reduction in naval vessels but also of sailors and officers as well, and as one of the Navy’s junior captains, Rodgers was discharged on 23 October 1801.
At the end of 1801, Rodgers returned to the merchant marine. He purchased the schooner Nelly and, his ship laden with goods, sailed for the island of Santo Domingo. In February 1802, he saved property in and helped women and children escape from the city of Cape François [Cap-Haïtien, Haiti], which was burned by former slaves in rebellion over imperial French rule. After sailing back to Baltimore to pick up more cargo, Rodgers returned to Cape François but shortly thereafter, the French government seized the cargo from his ships. Then on 12 April, Rodgers was arrested and subjected to what he considered to be “unjust, insulting and cruel treatment” by the French. He was released on the 29th with orders to leave the island within four days and never come back. Rodgers arrived in Baltimore in May and returned to Havre de Grace.
On 25 August 1802, Rodgers was reinstated as captain in the Navy and ordered to report to Washington, D.C., to take command of the frigate John Adams. He sailed for the Mediterranean on 19 September for service in the Barbary Wars. In May 1803 while cruising off Tripoli, he captured the Tripolitan ship Meshouda. Temporarily assuming command of the Mediterranean Squadron in September 1803, Rodgers helped to broker a peace agreement with Morocco. Now sailing in his flagship New York, Rodgers left the Mediterranean in mid-October.
Upon his return to the United States in December 1803, Rodgers received orders to superintend the building of a gunboat at the Washington Navy Yard. In the spring of 1804, he was placed in command of the frigate Congress and sailed again for the Mediterranean in July, arriving at Gibraltar 12 August. At Malta on 1 November, Rodgers took command of the frigate Constitution, and by the spring of 1805 he was in charge of the American naval blockade of Tripoli. He succeeded to the command of the Mediterranean Squadron on 22 May 1805 and in this role helped to bring about the end of hostilities with Tripoli and Tunis. He returned to Washington in Essex in the summer of 1806.
Rodgers returned to Havre de Grace to superintend the construction of another gunboat. On 21 October 1806, he married Minerva Denison, a union that would eventually produce 11 children between 1807 and 1829. Rodgers was ordered to take command of the New York Flotilla on 9 July 1807. Beginning on 7 December, Rodgers served as president of the court martial of Capt. James Barron and three other officers of the frigate Chesapeake, which on 22 June 1807 took fire from HMS Leopard when Barron refused a request from the British captain to muster his sailors to look for deserters from the British navy. Chesapeake was unprepared to defend herself from the ensuing barrages, resulting in three dead and 18 injured on the American ship, which Barron quickly surrendered. The British also seized four sailors that they alleged to be deserters.
At the conclusion of the trials on 22 February 1808, Rodgers returned to New York to enforce the Embargo Act, passed by Congress at the close of 1807. He went to Washington in November 1808 to lead a court of enquiry and then went back to New York in early 1809 to sail in Constitution as his flagship for enforcement of the Non-Intercourse Act, the successor to the Embargo Act, that prohibited trade with France and Great Britain. With a reorganization of the fleet in 1810, Rodgers commanded the northern squadron from New York, patrolling the area between Montauk, N.Y., and Cape May, N.J., in his flagship President.
In May 1811, Rodgers received orders to put to sea and resume patrols after the British ship HMS Guerrière impressed an American seaman from a U.S. merchant vessel off New York. Sailing off Cape Henry on 16 May, Rodgers in President pursued an unknown ship in the belief that it might be Guerrière. After a failure of communication between the two vessels, in the darkness of night, President exchanged fire with the other ship, which was in fact the much smaller British corvette Little Belt. The incident, in which 11 British sailors lost their lives, further inflamed tensions between the two countries. Commodore Rodgers regretted the episode but was acquitted of all blame by a Court of Inquiry.
Rodgers spent late 1811 and early 1812 preparing for the potential war with Britain. The U.S. declared war on 18 June 1812, and shortly thereafter, Rodgers in President sailed with his force to intercept British ships. On 23 June in the first action of the War of 1812, President encountered the British frigate Belvidera, which escaped after a running fight of eight hours. During this engagement, one of President’s bow chaser guns burst. Among the casualties, Rodgers suffered a broken leg. In four cruises in President over the course of the war, Rodgers captured 23 prizes. While he was away at sea in 1813, the British burned Havre de Grace, including Rodgers’ home. His family, however, survived.
On 16 April 1814, Rodgers took command of the new ship Guerrière, named after the British ship, which launched at Philadelphia on 20 June. During the summer while fitting out Guerrière, Rodgers took command of the Delaware flotilla. In August after the British burned Washington, D.C., Rodgers led his troops by land into Baltimore and assisted in the defense of that city both before and during the British attack on Fort McHenry on 13–14 September. After the British retreat from Baltimore, he and his men returned to Philadelphia to prepare Guerrière for sea, but he did not have the opportunity to sail again before the end of the war.
Rodgers declined the position of Secretary of the Navy both during the war and later in 1818, but he accepted an appointment as President of the Board of Navy Commissioners upon its establishment in February 1815. Placed in command of the Mediterranean Squadron in the summer of 1824, Rodgers resigned from the Board of Navy Commissioners on 15 December and sailed to the Mediterranean in his flagship North Carolina in March 1825. He returned to the United States in the summer of 1827 and resumed the presidency of the Board of Navy Commissioners on 8 October. Rodgers held this office until he resigned his commission on 1 May 1837, his health in decline since a bout of cholera in late 1832. Commodore Rodgers died in Philadelphia 1 August 1838.
Rear Admiral John Rodgers was born near Havre de Grace, Md., on 8 August 1812. The son of Commodore John Rodgers and Minerva Denison Rodgers, young John grew up in Washington, D.C. Rodgers received an appointment to the Navy as a midshipman on 18 April 1828, just two weeks after the drowning of his older brother Frederick, who had been a midshipman at the time of his death. John took the oath on 13 February 1829 and on 10 June was assigned to duty aboard the frigate Constellation in the Mediterranean Squadron. He transferred to the sloop-of-war Concord in the summer of 1831 and was detached from that ship on 16 December 1832 shortly after returning to the United States.
After a three-month leave period, Rodgers entered the Norfolk Naval School for midshipmen in March 1833 and one year later sat for his promotion examination. He was warranted as passed midshipman on 14 June 1834. While awaiting an open position at the lieutenant rank, Rodgers took a year-long leave of absence, during which time he pursued a course of general study at the University of Virginia.
On 31 March 1836, Rodgers was assigned to the schooner Jersey on Coast Survey duty in New York. On 29 September, he reported to duty on board the brig Dolphin, serving as acting master. Dolphin sailed to the Brazil station, returning to the United States in early 1839. On 9 November, he took command of the schooner Wave, which went to Florida to participate in operations against the Seminole tribe. Rodgers received his long-awaited promotion to lieutenant on 11 March 1840, to date from 28 January. Still in Florida, he assumed command of the schooner Jefferson in late 1841 and detached on 30 July 1842 after the squadron’s return to Norfolk.
From 22 November 1842 to 9 January 1844, Rodgers served on board the brig Boxer, attached to the Home Squadron. In May 1844, he was sent to Pittsburgh, Pa., to aid in the construction of the steamer Alleghany. On 5 May 1846, Rodgers reported to Boston to join the frigate United States. Spending the next three years on the coast of Africa and in the Mediterranean in United States as well as the sloop-of-war Marion, he was detached on 22 February 1849 and went on leave.
On 27 April 1849, Rodgers took command of a party assigned to the coastal survey of Florida in the schooner Petrel and later in the steamer Hetzel. On the night of 9–10 February 1850 while anchored off Cape Canaveral, Hetzel’s starboard anchor cable parted causing the ship to drag towards shore, where ultimately the surf beached and battered the steamer. Rodgers directed his crew in a tenacious effort to make the ship seaworthy and refloat her. After several false starts and much recaulking of the leaky ship when she was deliberately beached twice more, Rodgers succeeded in bringing the ship some 300 miles to Key West in early March. He continued survey work in Petrel while Hetzel was sent to New Orleans for repairs. On 26 November 1851, Rodgers took command of the steamer Legaré for the 1852 coastal survey season.
Rodgers received orders on 12 October 1852 to report for duty with the North Pacific Exploring and Surveying Expedition. He took command of the steamer John Hancock in Boston and joined the other ships of the squadron led by Cmdr. Cadwalader Ringgold in March 1853. The expedition departed from Norfolk on 11 June and sailed east across the Atlantic, around southern Africa, and across the Indian Ocean to Southeast Asia, where survey work began. In the summer of 1854, Cmdr. Ringgold took ill and Rodgers assumed command of the expedition and the flagship Vincennes on 31 July. Under Rodgers’ command, the ships of his squadron surveyed the coasts of Formosa [Taiwan] and Japan, the Sea of Okhotsk, and the Aleutian Islands. Rodgers sailed Vincennes north along the Kuril Islands, Kamchatka Peninsula, and Russian coast to the Bering Strait. He explored the Arctic Ocean for a month, reaching as far north as 70°41̍ N. The expedition ships rendezvoused at San Francisco in October 1855, and there Rodgers learned that he had been promoted to commander as of 14 September 1855. During the return voyage to the East Coast that began in February 1856, Rodgers surveyed the Sandwich [Hawaiian] and Society Islands.
Vincennes arrived in New York in July 1856 and on the 14th, Rodgers detached from the ship and took leave. He reported to Washington on 30 August to begin the task of assembling the expedition’s records and findings for publication. While thus employed, on 25 November 1857, Rodgers married Ann Elizabeth Hodge, a union that produced three children, a son (who ultimately achieved the rank of vice admiral in the U.S. Navy) and two daughters. In the summer of 1858, Rodgers briefly commanded the side-wheel steamer Water Witch, sailing her to Cuba to investigate reports of British warships firing upon U.S. shipping before resuming his work on the North Pacific Exploring and Surveying Expedition results.
As the country descended into Civil War, the state of Virginia seceded from the Union on 17 April 1861. The following day, Rodgers received orders to go to the Norfolk Navy Yard to save or destroy ships and materiel. Unable to escape from gathering Virginia troops after attempting to demolish the yard’s dry dock on the 20th, Rodgers surrendered. However, he was released and returned to Washington within a few days. On 16 May, Rodgers was sent to Cincinnati, Ohio, serving under Army Gen. George B. McClellan to purchase, convert, and fit out the first three ironclad gunboats on the inland waterways that would become the Mississippi Flotilla. In October, Rodgers returned to Washington and was ordered to command the gunboat Flag, which took part in the blockade of Savannah, Ga.
In April 1862, Rodgers took command of the ironclad steamer Galena, which supported General McClellan's Peninsular Campaign in Virginia. In early May, Rodgers led a small fleet up the James River, and on the 15th, his ships fired upon Fort Darling, the last Confederate defensive position on the river before Richmond, eight miles upstream. Galena took the brunt of the return fire from the fort’s position atop Drewry’s Bluff, and although the ironclad performed admirably over the course of the battle, Rodgers noted: “We demonstrated that she is not Shotproof.” At least 13 shots penetrated the ship’s hull, and many of her casualties were struck by shrapnel from her metal plating.
On 4 August 1862, Rodgers was promoted to the rank of captain, to date from 16 July. He detached from Galena 8 November 1862 to assume command of Weehawken. During the transit from New York to Port Royal to join the South Blockading Squadron on the night of 20–21 January 1863, Rodgers and his crew prevented the new monitor from foundering during a tremendous gale. On 7 April, Weehawken led the way as a squadron of ironclads, including seven monitors, waged an ultimately unsuccessful attack on Fort Sumter. Rodgers’ monitor again saw battle on 17 June, when she fought and captured the Confederate ironclad Atlanta. For his efforts in the capture of Atlanta, Rodgers received the thanks of Congress on 23 December 1863 and was commissioned a commodore on 2 March 1864, retroactive to the date of the Atlanta engagement.
Rodgers assumed command of the new monitor Canonicus in July 1863, shortly before the ship’s launching. He was detached from this assignment on 11 September due to illness, but on 3 November, he received new orders for command of monitor Dictator. On 17 May 1864 during the ship’s lengthy fitting out period, Rodgers was appointed a member of the Board of Visitors at the Naval Academy, which had temporarily relocated to Newport, R.I. He remained with Dictator until her decommissioning on 5 September 1865.
The following day, Rodgers took command of a special squadron consisting of Vanderbilt, Tuscarora, Powhatan, and the monitor Monadnock to relocate those ships to the Pacific Squadron. The ships began their journey from Hampton Roads, Va., on 2 November with Rodgers hoisting his pennant in Vanderbilt. After rounding Cape Horn and entering the Pacific, the squadron arrived at Valparaiso, Chile, on 1 March 1866, and Rodgers maintained American neutrality while trying to bring about a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Spain and Chile. Rodgers reached San Francisco on 21 June 1866 and detached from the special squadron a week later. After returning to the East Coast, Rodgers took command of the Boston Navy Yard on 15 December 1866, serving in that position for three years.
On 5 February 1870, Rodgers received orders to take command of the Asiatic Squadron and was also promoted to rear admiral, retroactive to 31 December 1869. During his time in this station, Rodgers in his flagship Colorado transported U.S. Minister to China Frederick F. Low to Korea in May 1871 for the purpose of negotiating a treaty to protect shipwrecked sailors. As Low conducted diplomatic efforts, Rodgers directed some of the ships in his squadron to conduct a surveying mission on the Salee River. On 1 June, Korean troops in a fort along the river fired upon one of the American ships. Rodgers delayed military retaliation to allow the Koreans the opportunity to make amends, but with no apology forthcoming after nine days, the admiral’s landing force went into action, laying waste to five forts over the next two days. The expedition retired from the forts on the 12th and Rodgers’ fleet lingered at anchor. However, the Koreans continued to refuse to enter into negotiations, and the squadron sailed for China on 3 July.
Rodgers remained in command of the Asiatic Squadron until 15 May 1872, after which he returned to the United States and reported to duty as President of the Examining and Retiring Boards in Washington, D.C., on 26 July 1872. Rodgers moved to the West Coast to command the Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, Calif., from 30 June 1873 to 17 April 1877. He then returned to Washington and on 1 May 1877 became Superintendent of the Naval Observatory. In addition to his duties there, he became the chairman of the Light House Board on 13 May 1878 and was appointed President of the Advisory Board on 29 June 1881. Rodgers, the senior Rear Admiral on the active list, held all three positions until his death in Washington, D.C., on 5 May 1882.
Commander John Rodgers—great grandson of Commodore John Rodgers—was born in Washington, D.C., 15 January 1881 to Elizabeth B. Chambers and John Augustus Rodgers. His father would later achieve the rank of rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. His grandfather Robert Smith Rodgers, older brother of Rear Admiral John Rodgers, had been a colonel in the United States Army during the Civil War. His grandmother Sarah Perry Rodgers was the daughter of another noted naval commodore, Matthew C. Perry
Rodgers entered the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., on appointment at large on 7 September 1897. As a midshipman in the summer of 1898, he served in Columbia (Cruiser No. 12) during the Spanish American War. After struggling with his studies, Rodgers resigned from the Academy on 5 June 1899 but was reappointed to the incoming class on 9 September that same year. During his time at Annapolis, Rodgers played football and was captain of the crew team.
After graduating on 2 February 1903, the next day Rodgers reported to Santee, moored at the Naval Academy, where he served for the next four months. He next saw duty with the Asiatic Fleet, serving in Solace, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Mohican, and Frolic. He returned to the United States in the summer of 1905 and was appointed ad interim ensign, to date from 3 February. His next assignment was to Lawrence (Destroyer No. 8) until her decommissioning at Philadelphia on 14 November 1906, when he reported to Hull (Destroyer No. 7), which recommissioned at Philadelphia that same day. Rodgers joined Nebraska (Battleship No. 14) on the West Coast on 15 July 1907. In early 1908, he was commissioned lieutenant (j.g.) and lieutenant. Beginning in July 1908, he sailed from San Francisco to Hampton Roads, Va., via Australia, Asia, and the Mediterranean in Nebraska as part of the Great White Fleet’s around-the-world journey.
On 15 November 1909, Rodgers reported to St. Louis (Cruiser No. 20) for service as that ship’s engineer officer until her decommissioning on 3 May 1910. Following some time on leave, on 9 July, Rodgers joined Pennsylvania (Armored Cruiser No. 4) as assistant to the senior engineer officer. On 18 January 1911, civilian pilot Eugene B. Ely made the first landing of an airplane on a ship on a special platform built on Pennsylvania. Less than two weeks later, as Pennsylvania steamed at 13 knots in the Santa Barbara Channel, Rodgers took flight for 15 minutes in a Perkins man-carrying kite making observations and taking pictures 400 feet above the water, “395 feet higher,” one commentator noted, “than most of us want to go in such a contraption.”
Detached from Pennsylvania shortly thereafter, Rodgers’ next orders arrived in mid-March 1911, when he was sent to Dayton, Ohio, to train in aviation with Wilbur and Orville Wright. Qualifying as a pilot that August, Rodgers became the second U.S. naval officer to receive a pilot's license, following Lt. Theodore G. Ellyson, who completed flight training with aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss.
In September 1911 Rodgers was assigned to the Engineering Experiment Station at the Naval Academy. Forming the first naval aviation detachment with his fellow pioneer naval aviators Ellyson and John H. Towers, these officers were tasked with “test[ing] gasoline motors and experimental work in development of aviation including instruction at aviation school.” Shortly after his arrival, however, Rodgers left temporarily to provide ground assistance to his cousin Cal P. Rodgers, who had just begun his quest to become the first person to fly across North America. Cal successfully accomplished this feat seven weeks later, making nearly 70 stops along the way, frequently by crashing his plane. John Rodgers returned to Annapolis after Cal reached Pasadena, Calif., in early November. On 20 January 1912, Rodgers arrived at San Diego, Calif., where he and the other early naval aviators established operations on North Island, conducting experiments with seaplane floats on their aircraft. In May 1912 the aviation detachment returned to Annapolis to continue experimentation to advance naval aviation.
Returning to general line duty in August 1912, Rodgers took command of the yacht Yankton. Later that year, he briefly served as ordnance officer of Illinois (Battleship No. 7) before assuming the same role in Nebraska on 9 December. On 24 October 1913, Rodgers became executive officer and navigator of Paducah (Gunboat No. 18). Further diversifying his naval resume, in January 1916, Rodgers commenced training in submarine operations in Columbia, now serving as flagship of the Submarine Flotilla, and continued his instruction in Fulton (Submarine Tender No. 1) in June. By September 1916, Rodgers took command of Division 1, Submarine Force, Atlantic Fleet and the submarine C-3 (Submarine No. 14). In March 1917, Rodgers attained the rank of lieutenant commander, to date from 29 August 1916. After the U.S. entered World War I, he had additional duty in command of the temporary submarine base at Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone. Detached from C-3 on 25 June 1917, he remained as commander of Division 1, Submarine Force, Atlantic Fleet, until the end of the year, when he became commanding officer of the Submarine Base, New London, Conn.
Receiving a temporary promotion to commander at the beginning of 1918, Rodgers was also officially designated as Naval Aviator No. 2 on 19 January 1918. From 19 February–31 August, Rodgers took on additional duty as commander of the Submarine Flotilla Base in New London. On 13 December, he assumed command of Division 10, Submarine Force, Atlantic Fleet, stationed in Rainbow (Submarine Tender No. 7).
With the World War about to reach its formal conclusion with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, Rodgers’ naval experience branched into yet another direction in June 1919 when he was sent to Europe to take command of Mine Sweeping Division No. 1, Atlantic. For his efforts in clearing mines from the North Sea, Rodgers received the Distinguished Service Medal. Detached on 1 October, Rodgers took command of Black Hawk (Destroyer Tender No. 9) for the next two months, sailing her back to the United States. On 8 December, Rodgers assumed the role of executive officer of Nevada (Battleship No. 36). Promoted to the permanent rank of commander as of 4 November 1920, in July 1921, Rodgers reported to the Navy Recruiting Station, Baltimore, where he was officer in charge and special disbursing agent.
By July 1922, Rodgers was a decade removed from his previous naval aviation assignment, although he remained interested in flying and had made some flights out of Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Fla. Rodgers returned to aviation duty in September 1922, when he assumed command of Naval Air Station, Pearl Harbor, T.H. In May 1925, he briefly took command of the aircraft tender Wright (AZ-1). Shortly thereafter, he was selected to command one of three planes slated to make the first attempt at a non-stop flight from California to Hawaii.
On the afternoon of 31 August 1925, the five-man crew of the seaplane PN-9 No.1 took off from San Pablo Bay, Calif., north of San Francisco, and headed for Honolulu. Running low on gas after nearly 25 hours of flight, Rodgers decided to land and refuel next to Aroostook (CM-3), stationed at sea as plane guard ship. However, using faulty radio compass bearings provided by the aircraft tender and further hampered by stormy weather, Rodgers was unable to locate the ship. Out of fuel, PN-9 No.1 made a forced landing in the Pacific on 1 September, well north of the Hawaiian Islands and far short of her destination. Without gas, the crew could not operate the plane’s radio to transmit their location to the many ships searching for them. With no rescue in sight on 2 September, Rodgers directed his crew to use the cover material of the seaplane’s wings to rig a sail to continue the trip afloat. Provisioned with only a three-day supply of food and water supplemented by water collected from a passing rain storm as well as a small amount of water produced in a still that had been provided by Rodgers’ mother, the men of PN-9 No.1 sailed their plane toward the island of Kauai for nine days. By the afternoon of 10 September, Rodgers and his crew had sailed 450 miles and were within 15 miles of Nawiliwili Bay when the submarine R-4 (SS-81) spotted the hapless plane and towed it in to port, putting an end to the airmen’s ordeal. Although PN-9 No.1 did not meet its actual objective, the seaplane’s flight of 1,841 statute miles set a long-distance record for non-stop flight by a seaplane that would stand for nearly five years.
After the experience with the PN-9 No.1 flight, Rodgers reported to Washington, D.C., on 2 January 1926 as the new Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics. A little over seven months later, on 27 August 1926, Rodgers took off from Naval Air Station, Anacostia, Washington, D.C., in a Vought VE-9 (BuNo. A-6470), bound for the Philadelphia Navy Yard on official business. Nearing his destination, Rodgers’ plane plunged into the Delaware River. Rodgers suffered grave injuries in the crash and later died at the naval hospital at League Island, Pennsylvania.
In addition to the Distinguished Service Medal, Commander Rodgers was awarded the Spanish Campaign Medal; the Mexican Service Medal; and the Victory Medal (World War I), Submarine Clasp.
Divorced in 1924, Rodgers had been married to Ethel Grenier. They had one child, Helen Perry Rodgers—born in Newport, R.I., in 1913 or 1914—who served as sponsor of the second John Rodgers (DD-574) at the ship’s launching on 7 May 1942.
(DD-983: displacement 7,800; length 563'4"; beam 55'; draft 29'; speed 30+ knots; complement 268; armament 2 5-inch, Mk-122 ASROC, Mk.29 Improved Point Defense Missile System (IPDMS) NATO Sea Sparrow Launcher, 6 Mk.32 torpedo tubes; aircraft 2 UH-2 or 1 SH-3D helicopter; class Spruance)
The third John Rodgers (DD-983) was laid down on 12 August 1976 at Pascagoula, Miss., by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries; launched on 25 February 1978; christened 18 March 1978; sponsored by Mrs. Mary T. Alger Smith, great-great granddaughter of Commodore John Rodgers, first of the ship’s three namesakes; and commissioned at her building yard on 14 July 1979, Cmdr. Michael H. Loy in command.
Departing Pascagoula on 16 July 1979, John Rodgers sailed to her home port of Charleston, S.C. The destroyer loaded ammunition at Naval Weapons Station Charleston on 6–7 August and then was underway locally for several days of training. Following a brief upkeep period, John Rodgers left Charleston on 27 August for an extended training period, arriving at Roosevelt Roads, P.R., on the 31st. The ship departed the next day, however, to avoid the approaching Hurricane Frederick. Returning to Roosevelt Roads on 4 September, the destroyer then took part in several days of weapons testing off St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. She arrived at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on 12 September to conduct two weeks of selected refresher training. On the 25th, John Rodgers went back to Puerto Rico and completed a two-day, record-breaking Naval Gunfire Support (NGFS) qualification exercise. Ship’s company enjoyed three days of leave and recreation (30 September–2 October) at St. Thomas, U.S.V.I., before returning to Charleston on 6 October.
Following a three-week intermediate availability period, John Rodgers held final contract trials at the beginning of November 1979. At the end of the month, the ship exercised individually and was also joined by Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) 7 while operating off Jacksonville, Fla. She returned to the area from 7–9 December to exercise with the aircraft carrier Saratoga (CV-60) and the destroyer Barry (DD-933). After returning to Charleston on 10 December, John Rodgers remained in port the rest of the year.
On 3 January 1980, John Rodgers departed Charleston for the week-long voyage to Pascagoula, where the ship would spend the next four months in post-shakedown restricted availability. Among the work completed during this overhaul period, the Ingalls Shipbuilding yard installed the destroyer’s Harpoon and NATO Sea Sparrow weapons systems. The ship held sea trials on 15–16 April and stood out to head back home on the 25th. Arriving at Naval Weapons Station Charleston on 29 April, the ship spent much of the month of May working on certifications for weapons and equipment. Underway on 27 May, John Rodgers headed for the Virginia Capes Operating Area to complete a missile firing exercise and calibrate equipment. The destroyer pulled in to Norfolk, Va., on 6 June, depermed from the 13th–15th, and then departed the next day, returning to Charleston on the 19th.
John Rodgers steamed from Charleston on 27 June 1980 on a mini-deployment to the Caribbean. After making a brief stop at Roosevelt Roads, the ship spent the first half of July “showing the flag” around the Caribbean. The destroyer visited Fort-de-France, Martinique (4–9 July), Kingstown, St. Vincent (9–12 July), and Oranjestad, Aruba (13–16 July) and then on 18 July put in to Guantanamo Bay to begin refresher training (REFTRA). Over the next five weeks, the crew drilled in engineering, damage control, navigation, deck evolutions, anti-air warfare (AAW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and anti-submarine warfare (ASW). During this time, the ship sometimes trained with BAE Presidente Eloy Alfaro (DD-01), formerly the U.S. destroyer Holder (DD-819) that had been acquired by the Ecuadorian Navy in May 1980. Upon completion of REFTRA on 22 August, John Rodgers departed for Roosevelt Roads. On 25–26 August, the ship completed NGFS at Vieques Island with record-breaking scores for the second year in a row. The ship returned to Charleston on 20 August.
In preparation for her first regular overseas deployment, John Rodgers underwent numerous inspections through the month of September 1980. On 30 September, the ship sailed for her final pre-deployment underway exercise, COMPTUEX 5-80, taking place in the Puerto Rico Operating Area. For the next two weeks, John Rodgers completed evolutions with the Independence (CV-62) carrier task group, which also included the guided missile cruiser Harry E. Yarnell (CG-17); guided missile destroyers Luce (DDG-38), Barney (DDG-6), and Claude V. Ricketts (DDG-5); destroyers Nicholson (DD-982) and John Hancock (DD-981); frigates Koelsch (FF-1049) and W. S. Sims (FF-1059); salvage and rescue ship Edenton (ATS-1); and fleet oiler Caloosahatchee (AO-98). John Rodgers returned to Charleston on 17 October and entered the month-long Pre-Overseas Movement (POM) period.
On 18 November 1980, John Rodgers departed Charleston en route to the Mediterranean to begin her first overseas deployment. Sailing in company with squadron-mates John Hancock and Nicholson, John Rodgers served as flagship for Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 36 through the entire deployment. She arrived at Rota, Spain, on 29 November and was underway again with Task Group (TG) 60.2 – John F. Kennedy (CV-67), McCandless (FF-1084), Richmond K. Turner (CG-20), Garcia (FF-1040), and Canisteo (AO-99) plus Birmingham (SSN-692) – on 1 December, operating independently and with other members of the task group in the western and central Med. After transiting the Straits of Messina on the 12th and anchoring overnight in Naples Bay on the 13th, the destroyer took part in a missile exercise with John F. Kennedy, Richmond K. Turner, Barney, Luce, and the Spanish frigate SPS Extremadura (F75) in the Tyrrhenian Sea. John Rodgers and Nicholson then steamed to Palma de Mallorca, Spain, for the holidays, arriving on 20 December. During their time in port, the ship’s engineers changed out the number two gas turbine generator, the crew held a Christmas party on board the ship for a local orphanage on 30 December, and John Rodgers celebrated the arrival of the New Year with a picnic on the flight deck on New Year’s Day.
John Rodgers put to sea again on 2 January 1981, rendezvousing with Task Force (TF) 60 – John F. Kennedy, Richmond K. Turner, Luce, Nicholson, John Hancock, Garcia, McCandless, W. S. Sims, and Pawcatuck – the next day. The ships engaged in a day of AAW and ASW exercises and then for the next week (5–11 January) the force engaged in “free play” operations with no preset scenario, meant to more realistically simulate actual combat. After anchoring at Augusta Bay, Sicily, on the 12th, the task force stood out later that evening to participate in National Week exercises in the eastern Mediterranean from 13–18 January. On the 15th, two Soviet naval vessels, the guided missile destroyer Reshitelny and the auxiliary general intelligence ship Ladoga, steamed through the task force formation. On the same day, John Rodgers detected the presence of a submarine and pursued it with John Hancock for 11 hours. Then on the morning of the 16th, an SH-3 helicopter from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 11 embarked in John F. Kennedy sustained damage while attempting an emergency landing on John Rodgers. Flying on only a single engine, the helo was able to return to the carrier once area weather improved.
Following National Week exercises, John Rodgers anchored at Souda Bay on the Greek island of Crete on 19 January 1981. Over the next six weeks, the destroyer continued to operate with various units of the battle force and made several port visits, stopping at Alexandria, Egypt (23–26 January); Toulon, France (3–8 February); Valencia, Spain (14–17 February); and Naples, Italy (26 February–3 March) between assignments. At Naples, John Rodgers made her first “Mediterranean mooring,” docking perpendicular to the pier where berth space is limited. There the ship also had a VIP visit from Adm. Robert L. J. Long, Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, and Adm. William J. Crowe, Commander in Chief, Allied Forces Southern Europe, on 28 February.
The destroyer arrived at Gaeta, Italy, on 5 March 1981 for a tender availability with Puget Sound (AD-38). John Rodgers put to sea again on the 17th to operate with the battle force in the western Med. Two days later, the destroyer detached to operate against the group as Orange Raider. On 22 March, John Rodgers and W. S. Sims proceeded to Casablanca, Morocco. The ships spent three days (24–26 March) at Casablanca and then sailed to Rota to conduct two days of turnover. On 30 March, John Rodgers stood out from Rota with her squadron-mates Nicholson and John Hancock as well as Barney, Luce, W. S. Sims, and Canisteo, embarking upon the transatlantic voyage that would bring them home. The three ships of DesRon 36 parted company with their travel companions on 7 April and made their return to Charleston on the 9th.
In addition to the regular month-long leave and upkeep period following an overseas deployment, John Rodgers had a retrofit from 27 April–17 May 1981. This was immediately followed by an intermediate maintenance availability (IMAV) with the destroyer tender Sierra (AD-18) through 12 June. The ship steamed off Jacksonville from 22–26 June for exercises that included two days of helicopter operations with a total of 159 landings on John Rodgers’ flight deck. In July, the ship hosted several groups of midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy for summer training out of Norfolk. On 24 July, the destroyer anchored near the Naval Academy in Annapolis, providing many more midshipmen the opportunity to tour the ship. On 29 July, John Rodgers made the short transit down the Chesapeake Bay to Bloodworth Island, Md., where she completed NGFS over the next two days. The ship returned to Charleston on 3 August and spent the next month preparing for a mini-deployment. Her plans were interrupted briefly when the destroyer had to put to sea on the 19th to ride out Tropical Storm Dennis.
On 4 September 1981, John Rodgers stood out from Charleston in company with guided missile cruiser Wainwright (CG-28), bound for the North Atlantic on a two-month mini-deployment. The following day, the ships rendezvoused with guided missile destroyers Coontz (DDG-40) and Conynham (DDG-17), frigate McCloy (FF-1038), and replenishment oiler Kalamazoo (AOR-6) as well as an amphibious task force consisting of amphibious assault ships Saipan (LHA-2) and Guam (LPH-9), amphibious transport dock Raleigh (LPD-1), and tank landing ship Barnstable County (LST-1197). Combining forces as Task Force 22, the ships crossed the Atlantic together as part of Phase VII of Ocean Venture 81, which was already in progress. The task force engaged in a “war at sea” featuring ASW, ASUW, and AAW exercises against an opposition force consisting of frigates Descubierta (F31), Diana (F32), Baleares (F71), Andalucia (F72), and Cataluna (F73), subs Cosme Garcia, Isaac Peral, and Delfin; and fast attack patrol craft Recalde and Villaamil of the Spanish Navy, led by the aircraft carrier Dédalo (ex-Cabot, CVL-28) from 15–17 September. Late on the 17th, John Rodgers was detached from the task force and steamed to Plymouth, England, where she moored overnight on the 21st.
The next morning, the destroyer got underway in company with U.S. frigates Garcia, Trippe (FF-1075), and Moinester (FF-1097) as well as British replenishment oiler RFA Tidespring (A75) for Sharem-44 in the English Channel approaches (22–24 September 1981). John Rodgers returned to Plymouth for a four day port visit, departing on the evening of 28 September. She anchored at Ålbæk Bugt, Denmark, on the 30th, joining Richmond K. Turner, Luce, frigate Jesse L. Brown (FF-1089), replenishment oiler Milwaukee (AOR-2), the West German guided missile destroyer FGS Rommel (D187), and the Danish frigate HDMS Niels Juel (F354). The following morning, this assembled NATO naval force stood out to participate in Phase VIII of Ocean Venture. John Rodgers operated with several Danish vessels off the coast of Denmark during the day and continued exercises in the Baltic Sea beginning on the morning of 2 October. Following a four-day port visit at Copenhagen from 9–12 October, John Rodgers joined Milwaukee, Richmond K. Turner, Jesse L. Brown, and Luce on the evening of the 13th and began the journey back to the United States via the English Channel.
In the vicinity of the Azores on 19 October 1981, John Rodgers was detached from the task group to rendezvous with the rescue and salvage ship Opportune (ARS-41) for an emergency medical evacuation. The destroyer retrieved the patient on the 20th and then sped toward Bermuda, transferring the ailing sailor by helicopter to the naval hospital there late on the 21st. Arriving home at Charleston on 24 October, John Rodgers spent the month of November in an intermediate availability period. She got underway again from 7–9 December for helicopter operations, completing 108 night and day deck landing qualifications in the Jacksonville Operations Area. The destroyer remained in Charleston into the New Year making final preparations to deploy.
On 11 February 1982, John Rodgers departed Charleston in company with John Hancock and set a course for the Middle East via the Mediterranean Sea. The destroyers docked at Rota, Spain, for three days (23–25 February) while John Rodgers made repairs to her starboard shaft and reduction gears. Underway the morning of the 26th, the ships transited the Strait of Gibraltar and entered the Mediterranean later that day. The destroyers rendezvoused with the frigates Valdez (FF-1096) and Koelsch on 2 March and sailed for Port Said. Early on 4 March, John Rodgers led the four-ship task unit through the Suez Canal. Transiting through the Strait of Hormuz on the 10th, John Rodgers completed turnover with Elmer Montgomery (FF-1082) while underway and began operations in the Persian Gulf as a radar patrol unit. The ship’s historian chronicled a week-long port visit in Bahrain from 23–30 March, and on 19 April she conducted an anti-mine exercise with John Hancock.
Transiting the Strait of Hormuz once again on 4 May 1982, John Rodgers temporarily left the Persian Gulf behind and set course for Mombasa, Kenya. Crossing the equator at 44°10' E on 7 May, the destroyer’s trusty Shellbacks initiated the slimy pollywogs into the realm of King Neptune during a traditional crossing the line ceremony. The ship spent three days at Mombasa (9–11 May), with many crew members taking the opportunity to go on wildlife safari tours. John Rodgers then returned to the Gulf, reaching Mina Sulman, Bahrain, on 19 May and resuming radar picket station duties in the central Gulf on the 26th.
Departing the Gulf on 2 July 1982 after being relieved by Jonas Ingram (DD-938), John Rodgers rejoined John Hancock on the 6th, and the two destroyers made the northbound transit of the Suez Canal on 10 July. In the central Med early on the 13th, John Rodgers was called upon once again to complete a medical evacuation, in this instance transferring a crewman from Bowen (FF-1079) to Naval Air Station Sigonella on the island of Sicily. Resuming her previous objective, John Rodgers put in to Malaga, Spain, on 16 July. Reunited with John Hancock, on the 19th the destroyers turned their prows toward Charleston, returning home on the morning of 28 July.
After nearly six months of deployment, the hard-working crew of John Rodgers rested briefly before putting to sea again for two more months away from home. Following a ten-day intermediate maintenance availability, the destroyer got underway for special operations on the morning of 31 August 1982 with Light Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HSL) 32, Detachment 6, embarked. On 4 September, the ship transited the Panama Canal and put in to Rodman, Panama, late that evening to take on fuel and load equipment for surveillance and intelligence operations in the Pacific off the coasts of El Salvador and Nicaragua. Relieving Spruance (DD-963), John Rodgers stood out on 6 September, but by the 10th, she had returned to base to retrieve parts to fix the Mk. 86 gunfire control system and the Mk. 91 Guided Missile Fire Control System. She left her station again on 18 September to avoid a brewing storm. After completing a hydrographic survey on 4 October and an anti-mine exercise on the 13th, the ship made her way back to Rodman on 17 October.
John Rodgers completed turnover with Trippe on the morning of 20 October 1982 and then made her way through the Panama Canal to the Atlantic. The destroyer arrived in the southern Puerto Rican operating area on the morning of the 23rd and completed exercises with Kidd (DDG-993) and Mullinnix (DD-944) before putting in to Roosevelt Roads later that day. She completed NGFS over the next two days and then returned to Charleston Naval Base on 29 October.
For the next several weeks, John Rodgers prepared for her upcoming Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) inspection with numerous assessments and assist visits as well as an intermediate maintenance availability from 15 November–3 December 1982. On the evening of 10 December, John Rodgers received a bomb threat by telephone, but no explosive device was found on board. She completed her INSURV inspection at mid-month and entered the year-end holiday leave period on 17 December. Early the next morning, the ship received another bomb threat but again nothing unusual was located on board, and the ship’s Christmas party for their dependents proceeded as scheduled that afternoon.
The beginning of 1983 found John Rodgers preparing for her next deployment. The ship operated locally in January and February, continuing with inspections, training, and assist visits. She loaded weapons on 22 February and departed Charleston on 7 March to participate in READEX 1-83 off Puerto Rico. While en route home from this exercise on 29 March, Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman visited John Rodgers. After returning to Charleston on 1 April, the ship completed a two-and-a-half week maintenance availability with Sierra (AD -18), replacing three of the ship’s main engines and two gas turbine generators. On 19 April, Vice Adm. James A. Lyons, Jr., Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, came aboard John Rodgers to present awards from READEX.
Sailing in company with Mahan (DDG-42), Joseph Hewes (FF-1078), and Bowen, John Rodgers put to sea on 29 April 1983 for deployment to the Mediterranean. The warships first took part in Operation Solid Shield, an amphibious exercise off the coast of North Carolina, before rendezvousing with the Norfolk-based Virginia (CGN-38), Belknap (CG-26), Arthur W. Radford (DD-968), Pharris (FF-1094), and Moinester and the Mayport units Antrim (FFG-20), Flatley (FFG-21) and Jack Williams (FFG-24) – of Task Group 20.4, led by Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), on 1 and 3 May. John Rodgers left the group to call at Rota, Spain (9–10 May) for turnover with Mullinnix and then continued east to refuel at Augusta Bay on the 14th. From 16–22 May, John Rodgers conducted surveillance of the new Soviet aircraft carrier Novorossiysk (CVHG-137), collecting photographic, electronic, and acoustic intelligence. Later on 22 May, a Grumman A-6E Intruder (BuNo 154144) from VA-65 flying from Dwight D. Eisenhower crashed off Taranto, Italy. John Rodgers acted as on-scene commander during the ensuing search and rescue (SAR) mission and recovered several pieces of the plane as well as two helmets. Both of the Intruder’s crewmen died in the accident.
Heading east later that evening, John Rodgers arrived off Beirut, Lebanon, on 24 May 1983. One year earlier, Israeli forces had invaded Lebanon, which was already in the midst of a protracted civil war amongst Muslim and Christian factions. As part of a cease-fire agreement, a multi-national force of troops from the United States, France, and Italy went to Beirut in late August 1982 to help keep the peace. As the civil war continued in the spring of 1983, Americans in Lebanon became the targets of violence, first in a grenade attack in mid-March that wounded five U.S. Marines and then on 18 April when a truck loaded with explosives detonated in front of the U.S. embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people and injuring more than 100. John Rodgers was among the ships sent to the area in the aftermath of the violence to provide naval gunfire support for the multi-national peacekeeping force. After spending nearly two weeks off the coast of Lebanon, the destroyer was relieved of this duty on 5 June and spent several days anchored at Alexandria (6–11 June). The ship then sailed to Trieste, Italy, for a two-week maintenance availability with Puget Sound (AD-38).
After leaving Trieste on 27 June 1983, John Rodgers, Joseph Hewes, and Belknap (CG-26) carried out a freedom of navigation exercise off the coast of Albania. John Rodgers then made her way to a port visit at Monte Carlo, Monaco. From 7–12 July, the destroyer took part in joint battle group operations with the Dwight D. Eisenhower and Coral Sea (CV-42) battle groups. After a port visit at Malaga, Spain (16–20 July), John Rodgers returned to Beirut on 27 July for another turn at naval gunfire support duty. Capt. Morgan M. France, Commander U.S. Forces in Lebanon/Commander Amphibious Forces Sixth Fleet, broke his pennant in John Rodgers on 28 July, the first time since World War II that a destroyer served as an amphibious forces flagship. He remained embarked through 10 August. The ship hosted several high-profile visitors during the month, including Gen. Paul X. Kelley, Commandant of the Marine Corps, on the 17th and Vice Adm. Edward Martin, Commander Sixth Fleet, on the 29th. Secretary of the Navy Lehman made a return visit to John Rodgers on 21 August, accompanied by Vice Adm. Martin and Capt. France.
John Rodgers remained off the coast of Beirut until the evening of 6 September 1983, when she proceeded to Ashdod, Israel, for a week-long port visit. While steaming to Corfu, Greece, on 15 September, the destroyer was diverted back to Beirut, arriving the following morning. Over the next several days (17–22 September), John Rodgers fired a total of 265 rounds at land targets that were attacking the residence of the American Ambassador and the Ministry of Defense as well as what were believed to be Syrian troops that posed a threat to the Lebanese army near the village of Suq-al Gharb. After a ceasefire was declared on 25 September, John Rodgers once again had several high-profile guests visit the ship, including Robert McFarlane, the President’s Special Envoy to the Middle East on the 27th; Adm. James D. Watkins, Chief of Naval Operations on 6 October; and Vice Adm. Edward S. Briggs, Commander, Naval Surface Forces Atlantic, in company with CTF 61 Capt. France and CTF 62 Col. Timothy J. Geraghty, USMC, on 10 October.
Detaching from Task Force 61 on 11 October 1983, John Rodgers spent 15–26 October in port at Gaeta, Italy, where Sixth Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Martin visited the ship once again on the 19th. The destroyer then sailed to Tangier, Morocco, pausing there briefly on the 30th for turnover with Gallery (FFG-26). Later that day, the ship reentered the Mediterranean to begin CRISEX 83. At the conclusion of the joint exercise with Spain on 8 November, John Rodgers made an overnight stop at Rota and then steamed west across the Atlantic, returning home to Charleston on 21 November. The ship’s crew did not rest for long, however, as John Rodgers continued underway operations locally through mid-February for engineering tests in preparation for her upcoming Operational Propulsion Plant Examination (OPPE).
On 15 February 1984, John Rodgers got underway as the flagship for DesRon 14 to take part in the NATO exercises United Effort/Teamwork 84 and BaltOps 84. Steaming across the Atlantic brought the ship on 5 March to Cape Wrath, Scotland, where she took part in a gunfire exercise. Heading north, the destroyer crossed the Arctic Circle on 10 March and following tradition painted her bullnose blue to mark the occasion. Operating off the coast of northern Norway in the Barents Sea during Teamwork 84, the ship participated in an amphibious landing exercise first as an early warning unit and then as gunfire support.
After calling at Kiel, West Germany, from 27–31 March 1984, John Rodgers spent four days en route to Helsinki, Finland. On 5 April, the destroyer and the frigate Jack Williams rendezvoused with Finnish icebreakers and tug boats. The American warships were towed dead stick through 19 miles of pack ice 5–7 feet thick to reach Helsinki. Departing on 9 April, the ships participated in BaltOps 84, but the exercise ended ahead of schedule on 12 April due to foggy conditions. John Rodgers and Jack Williams visited Aarhus, Denmark, from 14–16 April and then set off on the return trip home. ComDesRon 14 transferred his flag to Jack Williams on 27 April, and the ships parted company.
Upon her return from the North Atlantic on 29 April 1984, John Rodgers’ attention turned towards final preparations for her scheduled 11 month regular overhaul. The ship offloaded weapons on 9–10 May and completed an intermediate maintenance availability with Sierra from 14–27 May. On 30 May 1984, John Rodgers departed Charleston for her temporary home port of Pascagoula, stopping for a seven day port visit at Fort Lauderdale, Fla. en route. The ship arrived at Ingalls Shipyard on 10 June and commenced overhaul, which continued into the early months of 1985. Work completed on the ship included installation of the Tomahawk Weapon System, the Target Acquisition System, the Single Audio System, MOD 1 conversion to the Mk.45 5-inch/54 lightweight gun system, MOD 10 conversion to the Mk. 86 gun fire control system, and improvements to the SQS-53 sonar. John Rodgers underwent sea trials from 5–7 March and completed overhaul on 13 March, 57 days ahead of schedule and more than $2 million under budget. Departing Pascagoula that same day, the destroyer called at Port Everglades, Fla., from 15–18 March and arrived back at Charleston on 21 March 1985.
Following the lengthy overhaul, the ship entered an extensive training period to ensure operational readiness. In April 1985, John Rodgers participated in Battle Force Inport Training 1-85 and operated locally through the rest of the spring. Throughout the summer, the destroyer played host to several groups of midshipmen for underway training, which included port calls at Port Canaveral, Fla. (14–17 June); St. John, U.S.V.I. (22–23 June); Newport, R.I. (26–29 July); Rockland, Me., (2–5 August), Nassau, Bahamas (22–26 August); and Port Everglades (30 August–3 September). After a brief underway period off the Virginia capes from 9–12 September to calibrate her electronic systems, John Rodgers spent the rest of the month in an intermediate maintenance availability, during which the ship had to sortie off Jacksonville from 25–27 September to avoid Hurricane Gloria.
On 11 October 1985, John Rodgers arrived at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for six weeks of refresher training, punctuated by a port visit at Montego Bay, Jamaica, from 8–11 November for Veteran’s Day weekend. From 17–18 November, the destroyer completed ASW training with Bonefish (SS-582) and aircraft from John F. Kennedy. After completing the final battle problem on 2 December, the destroyer arrived home at Charleston two days later. John Rodgers rounded out the year with an assist visit followed by an inspection and the holiday stand down period.
John Rodgers departed Charleston on 13 January 1986 en route to Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for an emergency drydocking to repair a damaged controlled variable pitch propeller. She returned to Charleston on 29 January, and after loading ammunition, the ship departed once again on 3 February, bound for Galveston, Tex. There the crew enjoyed Mardi Gras festivities from 7–12 February before getting underway to conduct a Tomahawk operational test launch in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship stopped at Key West, Fla. (16–18 February) before continuing on to Roosevelt Roads for weapon systems accuracy tests and NGFS qualification from 21 February–2 March. Arriving back at Charleston on 5 March, John Rodgers held an intermediate maintenance availability as well as Battle Force Inport Training 2-86 through 9 April. She was underway from 9–28 April for Fleet Exercises 2-86. Preparations for deployment continued through the spring and early summer. Her final underway training came during Modified Fleet Exercise 3-86 from 14–30 July.
Sailing with the John F. Kennedy battle group on 18 August 1986 – a goodly company that included John F. Kennedy, Bainbridge (CGN-25), McCandless (FF-1084), Nicholas (FFG-47), Santa Barbara (AE-28), Harry E. Yarnell (CG-17), Dahlgren (DDG-43), Moosbrugger (DD-980), Elmer Montgomery (FF-1082), Robert G. Bradley (FFG-49), and Savannah (AOR-4) – John Rodgers set off on deployment, beginning her time in the Mediterranean at Rota, Spain (28–31 August) and Monte Carlo, Monaco (2–19 September). Beginning on 22 September, the destroyer participated in NATO Exercise Display Determination 86, conducting naval gunfire support at Capo Tulado range, Sardinia, through 25 September, and then performing war at sea strikes with Turkish and Italian forces until 14 October. On the morning of 2 October, John Rodgers’ LAMPS MARK I helicopter from HSL-36 crashed into the Mediterranean shortly after taking off from the replenishment oiler USNS Pawcatuck (T-AO-108). The Italian frigate Orsa rescued the helo’s three crewmen, who sustained minor injuries in the incident.
On 16 October 1986, John Rodgers transited the Turkish Straits and entered the Black Sea, where she operated through the 20th. The ship called at Istanbul, Turkey, from 21–23 October and then proceeded to La Maddalena, Sardinia, Italy, where she underwent an intermediate maintenance availability from 28 October–10 November. Getting underway once again, John Rodgers next took part in the U.S.-Moroccan exercise African Eagle (11–20 November). The ship rounded out the year with port visits at Barcelona, Spain (24–28 November) and extended calls at Villefranche, France (1–15 December) and Palma de Mallorca, Spain (19 December–2 January 1987).
Following the crash of a Grumman F-14A Tomcat while making a night landing on John F. Kennedy on 3 January 1987, John Rodgers rescued the plane’s radar intercept officer as well as a responding search and rescue swimmer in high seas and strong winds. The ship spent a week at Toulon, France (6–12 January) before taking part in Exercise National Week 87A (16–25 January). John Rodgers completed turnover at Augusta Bay, Sicily, from 21–23 January and made her way west, putting in to Malaga, Spain, on 29 January.
The destroyer’s port visit was cut short, however, by the call to duty. In response to increased tensions in the Middle East, including the kidnapping of several foreigners in Lebanon during January 1987, the John F. Kennedy battle group’s deployment was extended an extra four weeks, and John Rodgers headed east again on the 30th to participate in Lebanon Contingency Operations. While at sea on 3 February, the destroyer received a special visit from Secretary of the Navy Lehman. In mid-February, John Rodgers was finally able to point her prow toward home. She passed through the Strait of Gibraltar on 20 February and returned to Charleston on 5 March. The crew then enjoyed a much-deserved month-long leave and upkeep period before sailing to Philadelphia on 8 April. On the 10th, the destroyer entered dry dock at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard to have her sonar dome rubber window replaced. The ship exited dry dock and departed the shipyard on 21 May, arriving back at Charleston on the 24th.
Over the summer of 1987, John Rodgers took part in two midshipmen training cruises, first heading south to Florida on 1 June and calling at Miami (4–6 June) and Port Everglades (9–10 June) before returning to Charleston on the 12th. The second midshipmen cruise sailed north on 17 June, stopping at Halifax, Nova Scotia (19–21 June) and Boston, Mass. (24–26 June) and returning to Charleston on the 27th. The ship then operated locally for the next several weeks preparing for and completing her INSURV inspection. On 8 August, John Rodgers entered a three-month Selected Restricted Availability (SRA) period with Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion, and Repair (SupShip) Charleston. She completed sea trials on 17–18 November, loaded ammunition on the 19th, and remained in port at Charleston through the rest of the year.
Resuming underway operations in the New Year to prepare for her upcoming deployment, John Rodgers operated locally until departing for the Puerto Rico operating area on 12 February 1988. The ship completed NGFS qualifications and combat systems ship qualifications trials (CSSQT) and made a port visit at St. Thomas, U.S.V.I., from 26–28 February before returning to Charleston on 3 March. From 21–30 March, the destroyer was underway again to complete a Tomahawk operational test launch in the Gulf of Mexico. Back at Charleston, William L. Ball, the new Secretary of the Navy, paid a visit to John Rodgers. The ship was underway again from 11 April–2 May to take part in Ocean Venture 88 and FLEETEX 1-88 and put to sea again from 7–25 June for FLEETEX 2-88.
On 2 August 1988, John Rodgers set off on another Mediterranean deployment with Med 3-88 Battle Group. After arriving in the Mediterranean on the 14th, the destroyer operated in the western Med, taking part in National Week exercises and conducting turnover with Peterson (DD-969). She called at Naples, Italy from 20–26 August and then made her way to Alexandria, arriving on 30 August. While in port, the destroyer began Exercise Seawind 88 with the Egyptian Navy. The underway component of the exercise took place from 6–8 September. The ship then visited Monte Carlo from 12–20 September. She took part in NATO Exercise Display Determination 88 between 21 September and 10 October before returning to Alexandria for an intermediate maintenance availability (11–24 October). John Rodgers visited La Spezia, Italy, from 29 October–4 November and then anchored in Augusta Bay for Surface Warfare Training Week (7–10 November). After transiting the Turkish Straits on 14 November, the destroyer operated in the Black Sea for the next four days.
Returning to the western Mediterranean, John Rodgers arrived at Malaga, Spain for a port visit on 23 November. From Malaga, on 28 November the ship made the quick transit to Tangier, Morocco, to participate in Exercise African Eagle from 1–9 December. Following a port call at Palma de Mallorca, Spain (10–19 December), she participated in Exercise Snake Pit (20–22 December) and then put in to Naples, Italy on 23 December for the holidays. Departing Naples on 3 January 1989, John Rodgers began the year with another port visit at Marseille, France, from 5–11 January. The destroyer participated in National Week exercises, pausing at Augusta Bay on the 14th for turnover with Moosbrugger and steamed in the western Mediterranean through the 20th. She then headed west to sail for home, departing the Mediterranean on 21 January and arriving back at Charleston on 1 February.
Following a month-long post-deployment stand down, John Rodgers got underway again on 17 March 1989, bound for the Caribbean. The ship stopped at Roosevelt Roads (20–21 March) before embarking upon law enforcement operations in the Caribbean Sea from 22 March–1 April. She then stopped briefly at Guantanamo Bay (2 April) and visited New Orleans, La. (6–8 April) before returning to Charleston on the 11th. The destroyer offloaded her weapons at Naval Weapons Station Charleston and then entered a two month SRA period at Charleston Naval Shipyard through 20 June.
After completing sea trials and loading weapons in late June 1989, John Rodgers commenced the training workup cycle for her next deployment. Over the summer, the destroyer completed training at Norfolk (15–27 July), visited Baltimore (29–30 July), and returned to the Virginia Capes area for midshipmen summer training (1–3 August). Following her return to Charleston on 4 August, the destroyer spent most of the rest of the month in upkeep. After loading weapons at Naval Weapons Station Charleston on 28 August, John Rodgers took part in Fleet Exercise 4-89 from 29 August–10 September. She visited Port Everglades from 12–14 September and then sailed to the Gulf of Mexico for an operational Tomahawk launch in the Pensacola operations area. On the return trip home, the ship called at Miami (19–21 September) and Mayport Naval Station (23–27 September), reaching Charleston on 28 September.
For the remainder of 1989 and into the New Year, John Rodgers continued training evolutions and qualifications. From 23–25 October, the ship completed a VANDALEX off the Virginia capes and was underway again for a Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) project from 6–13 November. At the end of the month, she sailed to Guantanamo Bay for training, returning on 11 December. After a short break for the holidays, John Rodgers took part in FLEETEX 1-90 (25 January–10 February), the final major underway exercise prior to deployment. As part of the exercise, the destroyer conducted an operational test launch of an RGM-109B Tomahawk anti-ship missile against a target hulk on 27 January.
Departing in company with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Battle Group on 8 March 1990, John Rodgers stood out from Charleston en route to the Mediterranean. The destroyer served as flagship for ComDesRon 20, and HSL-32 Det 1 was also embarked for the deployment. After arriving on station, the ship took part in Exercise National Week 90B from 20–27 March. The destroyer completed turnover at Augusta Bay on 28 March and then spent a week (2–9 April) at Toulon before steaming to the Aegean Sea to participate in Exercise Distant Thunder I from 16–19 April. She then spent a week (22–28 April) at Haifa, Israel, before heading to the central Med. There John Rodgers took part in three exercises—Dragon Hammer 90 (3–15 May), ROMPEX (16–21 May), and Distant Thunder II (22–24 May). The destroyer next made a three day port visit at Aksaz Karaağaç, Turkey, home of a new naval base, and called at Port Mahon, Spain, on the island of Menorca (1–4 June) before putting in to Naples for a ten-day intermediate maintenance availability (7–17 June). After a stop at Monte Carlo (25–28 June), John Rodgers went to Marseille, France, for an additional IMAV with Sierra from 2–15 July. Beginning on 23 July, the ship made several calls at Haifa between exercises Noble Dina 5 (29 July–1 August) and Flashing Scimitar (5–11 August).
While John Rodgers lay at Haifa early on the morning of 2 August 1990, Iraqi troops poured over the border into neighboring Kuwait. By the next evening, Saddam Hussein’s military had taken control of the small, oil-rich country. The international community was quick to condemn Iraq’s action. On 3 August, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 660, calling for the withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait, followed three days later by Resolution 661, which placed economic sanctions on Iraq. The United States began moving additional Navy ships towards the Middle East on the 7th, marking the beginning of Operation Desert Shield.
Once underway from Haifa on 14 August 1990, John Rodgers’ initial role in Desert Shield was to support contingency planning, maritime interdiction, and quarantine efforts in the Eastern Med, monitoring commercial traffic into and out of the Suez Canal. On the 23rd, the destroyer transited the canal, joining the multi-national forces operating in the Red Sea to enforce the U.N. sanctions. John Rodgers patrolled the waters near the Gulf of Aqaba, monitoring shipping headed to Aqaba, Jordan, and the Persian Gulf. Nearing the end of her deployment, however, John Rodgers’ time in the region was short, and she began the long voyage home via the Suez Canal on 27 August. The destroyer refueled at Augusta Bay on 30 August and passed through the Strait of Gibraltar very early on 1 September. John Rodgers arrived at Charleston on 8 September 1990 “to crowds of cheering family and friends and extensive media coverage of the return of the first units from Desert Shield.”
Following the month-long post-deployment leave and upkeep period, the ship operated locally in the Charleston area through late November 1990. On 26 November, John Rodgers put to sea for a seven-week tour in the Caribbean conducting counter-narcotics operations for Joint Task Force 4. On station in the Caribbean through the end of December save for a port stop at St. Thomas, U.S.V.I., from 16–18 December, the ship celebrated the new year at Roosevelt Roads from 31 December–2 January 1991. John Rodgers completed one more brief patrol in the Caribbean through the 6th and then made her way back to Charleston, arriving on 10 January 1991. For her efforts in drug enforcement operations as a member of Joint Task Force 4, John Rodgers was given the Joint Meritorious Unit Award.
At the end of January 1991, John Rodgers traveled to the Caribbean again to complete NGFS qualifications at Vieques, and upon her return to Charleston, she made preparations for an INSURV inspection at the end of February. In March, ship’s company prepared to temporarily relocate to Norfolk, and on 1 April, John Rodgers entered Metro Machine Shipyard to begin a year-long overhaul period that included nearly three months in dry dock from 1 June–27 August. Among the improvements made to the destroyer’s equipment, she received the new Recovery Assist Secure and Traverse (RAST) helo recovery system, LAMPS MK III helicopter upgrade, and SQQ-89 anti-submarine warfare system including the SQR-19 Towed Array Sonar system, upgrades to the SLQ-32(V) 3 and OUTBOARD II Electronic Warfare systems, as well as the Tomahawk Block II and Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) Block I. With the ship completing sea trials on 22–24 February 1992 during a bout of severe weather, her historian wryly reported, “High winds, sea states greater than 5, and 25 degree rolls ensured many of the members of the crew got reacquainted with seasickness.” After completing her overhaul 48 days early and under budget, the destroyer returned home to Charleston on 1 April 1992.
Following her overhaul period, John Rodgers embarked upon a series of trainings and evaluations over the summer of 1992. On 13 July, the destroyer steamed for Vieques to complete NGFS qualifications before heading to Guantanamo Bay for seven weeks of refresher training. The crew performed so well during REFTRA that the ship was allowed to make a port visit at Georgetown, Grand Cayman Island (21–25 August) before the end of the training period, which John Rodgers completed three days ahead of schedule. The destroyer next called at Mayport to prepare for and complete OPPE, returning to Charleston on 12 September.
Departing Charleston on 14 October 1992, John Rodgers set off for another counter-narcotics assignment in the Caribbean, arriving on station on the 17th. Calling at Grenada from 24–26 October, the destroyer served as U.S. representative during ceremonies marking the island nation’s Independence Day celebration, commemorating the anniversary of the U.S. offensive to liberate the island from Cuban and Russian influence in 1983. The ship then made the short trip to Kingstown, St. Vincent for that country’s Independence Day celebration (26–28 October). John Rodgers also visited the island of St. Martin from 13–16 November. After finishing her anti-drug duties on 20 November, the destroyer made a brief stop for fuel at Roosevelt Roads and steamed for Charleston. She arrived home on the 25th and remained in port in upkeep status for the rest of the year.
John Rodgers returned to sea early in the New Year, sailing for the Caribbean once again on 19 January 1993. On the first leg of the journey, John Rodgers tested CNO Project RAIDS (Rapid Anti-Air Integrated Defense System), a prototype air defense system. She then continued on to the Caribbean operations area to once again help stem the flow of illegal drugs into the United States from South America. Working with Biddle (CG-34), John Rodgers detained a high-speed “go fast” boat off the coast of Colombia. Challenged by heavy seas and the drug-smuggler’s disabled steering system, the destroyer brought the vessel and its three-man crew to U.S. Coast Guard officials at Guantanamo Bay. During this mini-deployment, John Rodgers participated in two additional drug interdiction operations and also visited Cartagena. Upon her return to Charleston on 10 March, the ship prepared for a longer deployment with a series of inspections and qualifications. From 6–14 April, the destroyer participated in MEFEX 3-93 off Jacksonville and then steamed to Vieques to complete NGFS.
On 17 July 1993, John Rodgers departed for Roosevelt Roads to assemble with the other American units participating in UNITAS 34. At Roosevelt Roads, Commander South Atlantic Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (USComSoLant) hoisted his flag in John Rodgers, and on 21 July, the destroyer sailed in company with guided missile frigate Stark (FFG-31), dock landing ship Whidbey Island (LSD-41), submarine Pintado (SSN-672), and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Northland (WMEC-904) to begin the first phase of the exercise. Together with ships from France, Colombia, and Venezuela, the American warships exercised off Puerto Rico until 2 August and then debriefed at Roosevelt Roads. The U.S. battle group then embarked upon a counter-clockwise circumnavigation of South America, exercising with naval forces from local countries as they went. Over the next three and a half months, John Rodgers made official port calls at Porta La Cruz and La Guaira, Venezuela; Cartagena, Colombia; Rodman, Panama; Malaga, Colombia; Manta, Ecuador; Lima, Peru; Coquimbo, Valparaiso, Talcahuano, and Puerto Montt, Chile; Puerto Belgrano, Argentina; Montevideo, Uruguay; and Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza, Brazil. During these stopovers, the destroyer’s crewmen helped to spread American goodwill by participating in community relations projects at schools, orphanages, and public facilities and by distributing food, clothing, and educational materials collected by Project Handclasp. She then steamed to Roosevelt Roads to disembark USComSoLant staff and welcome aboard 30 friends and family members for a “Tiger Cruise.” Reaching Charleston on 26 November, the destroyer remained in port for the rest of the year for post-deployment stand-down, holiday leave and upkeep, and an intermediate maintenance availability.
Leaving Charleston on 8 January 1994, John Rodgers sailed for the Caribbean to take part in Operation Support Democracy, a multi-national effort to enforce United Nations-imposed sanctions against Haiti. On 30 September 1991, Haitian President Jen-Bertrand Aristide was overthrown in a military coup, less than one year after his election. Following the coup, the country descended into chaos and violence. The U.N. Security Council voted to prohibit the importation of military arms and equipment and any petroleum products into Haiti in June 1993. The prohibitions were lifted following negotiations with the military regime but were reinstated in October 1993 after the regime failed to fulfill its obligations under the settlement. Participating in Support Democracy through 24 February 1994, John Rodgers gathered intelligence and conducted maritime interdiction operations, interrogating and boarding shipping bound for Haiti to ensure that cargo did not violate the embargo. She returned to Charleston on 4 March.
John Rodgers entered a two-month ship’s restricted availability on 27 March 1994. Near the end of the maintenance period, from 17–25 May, the destroyer served as host ship to the Canadian frigate HMCS Montreal (FFH 336) during her stay in Charleston. John Rodgers completed SRA on 27 May and commenced preparations for her next regular overseas deployment, beginning refresher training in the Virginia Capes area on 1 July. On 18 July, the destroyer assisted the Coast Guard with a search and rescue mission for a small boat lost at sea, communicating with and locating the pleasure craft Sea Sea Rider and guiding the Coast Guard cutter USCGC Aquidneck (WPB-1309) to her position to provide assistance. As deployment preparations continued through the fall of 1994, beginning on 11 October John Rodgers also served as test platform for CNO Project 111-1A, the Band One improvement kit for the SLQ-32(V)3 electronic warfare system. Testing continued as John Rodgers participated in COMPTUEX 95-2 off Puerto Rico from 9 November–8 December. The following day, the ship loaded weapons and then entered pre-deployment maintenance and upkeep.
On 18 January 1995, John Rodgers departed Charleston with HSL-48 Det 9 embarked to begin a transatlantic voyage for deployment to the Mediterranean. After stopping for fuel in the Azores, the destroyer steamed for the Strait of Gibraltar, entering the Med on 29 January. The ship arrived at Augusta Bay, Sicily, on 1 February and held turnover with Yorktown (CG-48), assuming the role as the Standing Naval Forces Atlantic Flagship for Operation Sharp Guard, with Rear Adm. James Stark, Commander Standing Naval Force Atlantic (ComStaNavForLant), embarked through 6 April. For the vast majority of the deployment, John Rodgers patrolled the Adriatic Sea and conducted maritime interdiction operations to enforce the U.N. blockade of the former Yugoslavia. On 18 March, John Rodgers became the first ship to employ a LAMPS Mk. III SH-60B helo equipped with the Penguin anti-ship missile in a real world operational potential combat situation.
John Rodgers made several port visits between duty on station, including Naples, Italy (10–15 February 1995); Istanbul, Turkey (3–8 March); Lisbon, Portugal (2–8 April); Toulon, France (10–18 April); and Trieste, Italy (18–22 May). The ship also returned to Augusta Bay from 28 April–2 May to replace one of the main engines, followed by the first of several liberty calls at Corfu, Greece (4–9 May, 1–5 June, 15–20 June). She returned to Augusta Bay on 27 June for turnover with Nicholas (FFG-47) and then sailed to Palma de Mallorca, Spain for a port visit (30 June–2 July). Commencing the westward transit of the Atlantic on 3 July, John Rodgers paused overnight at Ireland Island, Bermuda, on the 11th to embark 51 family members for a Tiger Cruise. The destroyer arrived at her home port of Charleston on 14 July. During this deployment, John Rodgers’ crew learned that their ship had earned the Battle “E” Award for 1994.
Immediately following her month-long post-deployment stand down period, on 15 August 1995, John Rodgers steamed to Norfolk for an emergency drydocking to replace a generator and to repair the starboard shaft. With repairs completed, on 11 September the destroyer sailed to Mayport, Fla., which would be her new permanent homeport due to the planned closure of Naval Station Charleston pursuant to the recommendations of the 1993 Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission. Upon her arrival at Mayport, the ship immediately entered an intermediate availability through the 24th to prepare for her INSURV inspection, which was completed during the last week of September.
Away from Mayport for much of October 1995, John Rodgers was on station off Cape Canaveral on 5–6 October to support the planned launch of the space shuttle Columbia, which was scrubbed. On 10 October, John Rodgers’ embarked SH-60B Seahawk, Venom 514 from HSL-48 Det 9, rescued Capt. J. W. O’Neill, USMC, who had ejected from his AV-8B Harrier over the Atlantic off the coast of North Carolina. At the time, the destroyer was en route to the Gulf of Maine to assist with the pre-commissioning Bravo sea trials of the new Arleigh Burke-class destroyer Carney (DDG-64). John Rodgers provided very valuable assistance during Carney’s sea trials when two of the pre-commissioning unit’s target drones used in missile test firings failed. John Rodgers gave up her own drones to Carney, which allowed the new ship to successfully complete her sea trials. Arriving at Newport, R.I., on 12 October, the destroyer welcomed officers from the Naval War College and the Surface Warfare Officers School for ship tours and briefings. Two days later, John Rodgers helped out another new Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, providing support services for Fitzgerald (DDG-62)’s commissioning. In company with Briscoe (DD-977) and Boise (SSN-764) on 17 October, the ship exercised with three South Korean naval ships – ROKS Pusan (FF 959), ROKS Chung Ju (FF 961), and ROKS Chung Jee (AO 57) off the coast of Virginia and then sailed to Annapolis. There John Rodgers received more than 1,000 visitors during celebrations for the Naval Academy’s 150th Homecoming from 18–23 October. The destroyer rounded out the month with a week of exercises with ComPhibRon 2 and the Guam (LPH-9) Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG), arriving back at Mayport on the 31st.
After an eventful October, John Rodgers entered intermediate availability through 26 November 1995 to prepare for her next mission. The ship put to sea on 27 November, headed for counter-narcotics duty in the eastern Pacific with the Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) East. After transiting the Panama Canal on 1 December, the destroyer worked with the U.S. Coast Guard to carry out “several major narcotics seizures” while in the Pacific. She made the return transit through the canal on 15 December and then spent two days at Montego Bay, Jamaica. After returning home on 21 December, the destroyer entered a six-week availability period with SupShip Jacksonville and Shore Intermediate Maintenance Activity (SIMA) Mayport.
On 6 February 1996, John Rodgers deployed to the North Atlantic to take part in the Joint Maritime Course 1-96 exercise, sponsored by the British Navy. After stopping to refuel at the Azores on the 13th, the destroyer put in to Faslane, Scotland, on 17 February for two days of pre-exercise briefs. From 19–29 February, 16 ships, 2 submarines, and more than 100 aircraft representing several NATO countries including Great Britain, the United States, France, Spain, and Norway conducted the exercise, which concluded with a debriefing from 1–4 March at Leith, Scotland. John Rodgers’ crew was able to enjoy some liberty time at Leith as well as Bremerhaven, Germany (6–10 March) and Amsterdam (12–15 March) before beginning the return trip across the Atlantic. En route to Mayport, the destroyer once again stopped briefly in the Azores to refuel and then called at Bermuda on the 26th to embark 28 “Tigers” for the final leg of the voyage, which concluded on 29 March.
In April 1996, ship’s company learned that John Rodgers had won the 1995 Battle Efficiency “E” Award for the second straight year and won all of the command excellence awards for battle efficiency, command and control, engineering, logistics management, and maritime warfare as well. On 29 April, the destroyer got underway again for Joint Task Force exercise Purple Star 96, a joint U.S.-U.K. naval exercise that took place through 15 May. She then made her way to Newport to serve as the Surface Warfare Officer School ship from 17–21 May. On the 22nd, John Rodgers made the short trip to New York City to participate in Fleet Week 96. The destroyer was among 15 naval vessels representing the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Mexico that paraded up the Hudson River past President Bill Clinton, who was on board the former aircraft carrier Intrepid (ex-CV-11), and from 23–28 May she welcomed some 1,200 visitors to her decks per day. On 30 May, John Rodgers completed an advanced, multi-phase at sea research, test, and development (RT&D) program for the Naval Research Laboratories (NRL) and the CNO Special Projects office which sought to evaluate the abilities of existing on-board electronic warfare and electronic attack systems as well as off-board decoy deployment techniques to successfully defend against advanced radar-guided anti-ship cruise missiles. The destroyer returned to Mayport on 31 May and offloaded her weapons at Naval Weapons Station Charleston from 4–5 June. She then returned to Mayport and remained in port until required to sortie for Hurricane Bertha from 9–12 July.
On 15 July 1996, John Rodgers sailed to Charleston and entered Detyens Shipyard (formerly Charleston Naval Shipyard) to begin a planned 88-day docking ship restricted availability (DSRA). Work to be completed included installing a new satellite communications system, maintenance for all fuel oil tanks, replacement of two potable water tanks, refurbishing three berthing areas, and overhaul of both shafts. The ship remained at Detyens for four months, but “substandard, unsatisfactory welding performance” and “failure to complete the work package within the contracted time period” prompted the Navy to terminate the contract with the shipyard on 13 November. John Rodgers returned to Mayport two days later, and SupShip Jacksonville completed the remaining repair work. The ship underwent several inspections and assessments during the remainder of the year and the crew trained for the next deployment.
As the calendar changed to 1997, John Rodgers’ pre-deployment training switched into high gear. The destroyer began tailored ship’s training availability (TSTA) on 6 January, continuing for the first few months of the year with numerous drills and exercises both in port and underway. John Rodgers started underway training with other units of the George Washington (CVN-73) Battle Group off Puerto Rico in mid-May. Following a port visit at St. Maartin (29 May–1 June), the ship completed NGFS at Vieques and rejoined the battle group for the first phase of COMPTUEX through 16 June. After a brief break at home in Mayport, the ship completed COMPTUEX off North Carolina from 20–25 June. John Rodgers traveled to Naval Weapons Station Yorktown in mid-July to load weapons and departed again on 18 July to participate in JTFEX 97-3 with the battle group through 3 September, when she returned to Mayport and entered the month-long pre-overseas movement leave and upkeep period.
Serving as the flagship of DesRon 14, John Rodgers put to sea on 3 October 1997, headed for deployment in the Mediterranean with the George Washington Battle Group. Reaching the Strait of Gibraltar on 15 October and completing turnover the next day, the group continued its transit across the Mediterranean to Egypt to take part in Bright Star 98, a multi-national, multi-force exercise with the Egyptian military, through the rest of the month.
On the afternoon of 1 November 1997, John Rodgers departed Alexandria independently, arriving at Naples, Italy, on the 4th. On the 8th, the ship crossed the Tyrrhenian Sea, arriving at Cagliari on the island of Sardinia the next morning. From 10–12 November, the destroyer and Carney participated in exercises off the coast of Sardinia with units of the Italian Navy. John Rodgers then detached and headed for Algeria, although her routing was later changed to Marseille, France, where she arrived on the 18th. She departed on the 24th to make a port visit to Cannes (25 November–1 December).
John Rodgers put in to Catania, Sicily, on 3 December 1997. By the 8th, other American naval ships had joined her there. Departing on the 9th with CTF 60 embarked, the destroyer in company with Underwood as well as the Italian ship ITS Scirroco sailed to the Tunisian operating area for the SHAREM 123 (Ship Anti-submarine warfare Readiness/Effectiveness Measuring) submarine tracking exercise. Stopping briefly at Augusta Bay on 17 December, John Rodgers then made her way to Barcelona, arriving on the 19th for an extended port visit over the Christmas holiday season.
Holiday celebrations ended for John Rodgers on New Year’s Eve when the destroyer got underway to transit the Mediterranean en route to Haifa, Israel, where she arrived on 5 January 1998. On 7 January, the ship stood out to be the lone American ship to participate in Reliant Mermaid 98, a one-day search-and-rescue exercise conducted jointly with the Turkish and Israeli navies off the coast of Israel. On the 9th, John Rodgers departed Haifa en route to the southern Sardinia area for INVITEX 98-1 with CTG 60.1 (12–15 January). She next made a port visit at Antalya, Turkey (21–26 January) and returned to Haifa on the 27th. On 1 February, the destroyer sailed from Haifa to join the underway replenishment oiler USNS Laramie (T-AO-203) and submarine L. Mendel Rivers (SSN-686) and ships and submarines of the Israeli Navy for Exercise Noble Dina. John Rodgers returned to Haifa on 4 February and then visited Rhodes, Greece (9–14 February). She stopped for two days at Augusta Bay before departing to take part in the joint American-Italian ASW exercise Dogfish in the Ionian Sea from 19–26 February.
With a very busy two months of exercises behind her, John Rodgers spent 2–7 March 1998 visiting the Italian port of Livorno. She then headed south towards Gaeta before turning west and sailing towards a rendezvous with the destroyer Caron (DD-970). The ships completed turnover on the 11th, and John Rodgers steamed for Valencia, Spain, where she made a week-long port visit. Departing Valencia on 20 March, the destroyer began her final Atlantic transit, joined by other units of the battle group as she made her way westward. On the morning of 3 April, John Rodgers completed her last deployment, mooring at Mayport shortly before 8am.
John Rodgers held a month-long post-deployment stand down into early May 1998. On 10 May, the ship sailed for Naval Weapons Station Yorktown to complete her final weapons offload. She returned to Mayport on the evening of the 15th, and the ship’s crew spent the next three months preparing the destroyer for decommissioning. As a precautionary measure in reaction to the approach of Hurricane Bonnie, which had quickly developed from a tropical storm into a category 3 hurricane, John Rodgers was towed to Tallyrand Shipyard in Jacksonville, Fla., on the morning of 23 August. She was towed back to Mayport on the 26th after the eye of the storm, still well off the coast, passed to the north of the Jacksonville area. Nine days later, on 4 September 1998, John Rodgers was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register.
Transferred to the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Philadelphia, to await final disposition, the ship was sold in 2005 to International Shipbreaking of Brownsville, Tex., which completed the dismantling process in 2007.
|Commanding Officers||Date Assumed Command|
|Cmdr. Michael H. Loy||14 July 1979|
|Cmdr. George F. A. Wagner||7 August 1981|
|Cmdr. Stephen G. Kmetz||15 July 1983|
|Cmdr. Laurence M. Bergen Jr.||22 October 1985|
|Cmdr. Frank T. Giesemann||5 February 1988|
|Cmdr. Jeffrey L. Flood||16 January 1990|
|Cmdr. Jack R. Carpenter Jr.||16 December 1991|
|Cmdr. Michael A. Lefever||27 September 1993|
|Cmdr. Roger C. Easton Jr.||1 July 1995|
|Cmdr. James M. Carr||7 March 1997|
4 January 2018