Kidd II (DDG-993)
The second U.S. Navy ship named for the late Rear Adm. Isaac Campbell Kidd; see Kidd I (DD-661) for biography.
(DDG-993: displacement 9,300; length 563'0"; beam 55'0"; draft 20'0”; speed 30 knots; complement 348; armament 2 Mk. 45 5-inch, 2 Mk. 26 guided missile launchers, 2 Harpoon missile quad-canister launchers, 2 ML 32 Mod 14 torpedo tubes, 1 Mk. 15 Mod 2 Close-In Weapon System, 1 MK 32 Mod 2 Super Rapid-Blooming Offboard Chaff System; aircraft 2 helicopters; class Kidd)
The second Kidd (DDG-993) was laid down on 26 June 1977 at Pascagoula, Miss., by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries; launched on 13 October 1979; sponsored by Mrs. Angelique Kidd Smith, granddaughter of Rear Adm. Isaac C. Kidd, Sr.; and commissioned on 27 June 1981, Cmdr. William J. Flanagan, Jr., in command.
Kidd had originally been contracted for the Imperial Iranian Navy under a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement made in December 1973. Designated DD-993 and tentatively named Koroush in honor of Cyrus the Great, she was only 50% complete when revolutionaries overthrew Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. After Iran’s new government gave notice that they were terminating the sales agreement for DD-993 and her three sister-ships (subsequently christened Callaghan [DDG-994], Scott [DDG-995], and Chandler [DDG-996]), the U.S. Navy submitted a budget request to acquire the ships, which was approved as a part of a supplemental appropriations bill signed by President Jimmy Carter on 25 July 1979.
Re-designating her DDG-993 and subsequently christening her Kidd, the Navy accelerated its analysis of manpower and training requirements, as well as modifying the ship’s habitability spaces and weapons. The end result of this unusual process was a new class of guided missile destroyer that blended features from both Spruance (DD-963)-class destroyers and Virginia (CGN-39)-class nuclear cruisers in order to conduct anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-air warfare (AAW), and anti-surface warfare (ASU) operations more efficiently. As Kidd’s commissioning booklet succinctly described it, “This is a ship designed to go in harm’s way – and win.”
Kidd was first assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 10, U.S. Atlantic Surface Fleet (NavSurfLant). Beginning her shakedown cruise on 29 June 1981, the vessel’s operational plan was to sail from Pascagoula to her homeport of Norfolk, Va. However, less than a day after her departure from the shipyard, she already had to divert from her course to rescue 25 Haitian refugees from a small boat adrift at sea near the southern tip of Florida. After turning them over to a local Coast Guard unit, the ship made her first port-of-call at Mayport, Fla., on 2 July to onload ammunition. She then cruised to Port Everglades, Fla. to conduct a two-day open house for the public (4-6 July), followed by a day of structural test firings on 7 July.
Kidd completed her cruise to Norfolk on 9 July 1981. Upon her arrival, she was greeted by Vice Adm. John D. Johnson, Jr. (Commander, NavSurfLant) and Commodore William M. Fogarty (Commander, DesRon 10), the first of many high-ranking officials and diplomats who were eager to see first-hand the new class of guided missile destroyers that would now be accompanying the Navy’s aircraft carriers around the world. Over the course of the next two months, Kidd received a wide array of visitors ranging from Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence J. Korb (31 July) to General Jeannou Lacaze, Chief of the General Staff Headquarters of the Armies of France (16 September). Not all of Kidd’s time in Norfolk, however, was spent receiving visitors.
Throughout the summer, Kidd conducted a wide array of exercises in the Virginia Capes Operations Area including embarking a Kaman SH-2 Seasprite Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) helicopter from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (Light) (HSL) 32 on 28 July and conducting sea trials from 24 to 28 August 1981. Kidd’s crew also continued to work diligently on their own individual training in order to live up to her motto, “Nothing without great labor.” By 18 September, every member of her chief petty officer (CPO) mess had qualified as an Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS).
Kidd departed Norfolk on 23 September 1981 to undergo her post-shakedown availability at Ingalls Shipbuilding Division. While en route, she visited Port Everglades once more to onload special shock test equipment (25-27 September). Over the next six days, three charges were detonated at varying distances from the ship in order to test her structural integrity and survivability in a combat situation. With the successful completion of these tests, Kidd steamed onwards to Pascagoula, arriving on 5 October. During the remaining months of 1981 and into 1982, she received numerous upgrades and modifications to her engineering, communication, and combat systems.
With her post-shakedown availability completed on 9 March 1982, Kidd returned to Norfolk on 18 March. She spent the next three months alternating between time in port and conducting various sea trials and system tests off the Virginia capes. On one such excursion (12-16 April), Kidd had the privilege of hosting nine surviving members of the “Golden Thirteen,” the first group of African-American navy officers, as well as Wesley A. Brown, the first African-American graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. For most of the retired officers, this was their first time at sea in a U.S. Navy ship since WWII and their first chance to serve on a fighting vessel, even if it was just in an honorary capacity. As Frank E. Sublett, Jr. wistfully noted to historian Paul Stillwell, “I wanted very badly to serve in a fighting ship during World War II and didn’t get to.” However, he greatly appreciated the opportunity to go on board Kidd, describing it as “a beautiful piece of machinery, beautiful, absolutely wonderful.”
After months operating off the Virginia capes. Kidd finally left local waters on 7 June 1982 to conduct refresher training and combat systems tests. Her first destination was Roosevelt Roads, P.R. and nearby Vieques, P.R., to conduct exercises on the firing range (10-11 June). She then steamed to St. Thomas, V.I. for four days (14-17 June) before returning to the Puerto Rico Operations Area for another round of exercises (19-21 June). Upon completion of these, she proceeded to Port Everglades (25-30 June) for more training followed by a trip to the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) at Andros Island, Bahamas to conduct firing tests of her ASROC and torpedoes (1-3 July). The ship would later return to AUTEC for ASW training (14-15 August) after spending most of the preceding month conducting refresher training at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
More training awaited Kidd upon her return to Norfolk on 18 August 1982. Her crew’s capabilities were especially tested during Surface Warfare Training Week 5-82 (Sept. 13-17), which pitted them in competition with the crews of guided missile destroyer Dahlgren (DDG-43), destroyer Spruance (DD-963), and frigate Thomas C. Hart (FF-1092). Kidd ultimately took top honors, a clear demonstration that she was more than ready for her upcoming deployment to the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean. To prepare further, she departed Norfolk on 13 October to rendezvous with other ships of aircraft carrier America’s (CV-66) group off Puerto Rico. Arriving on 18 October, they spent nine days conducting exercises (19-27 October) before steaming to Mayport (30 October) and then onwards to Norfolk (6 November).
Kidd finally got underway for her deployment on 8 December 1982 in company with the aircraft carrier America (CV-66) and replenishment oiler Savannah (AOR-4). During her transatlantic crossing, she conducted three UNREPs with Savannah (13, 19, and 21 December), ASW exercises with America, cruiser Dale (CG-19), Moosbrugger (DD-980), Brumby (FF-1044), and submarine Sand Lance (SSN-660) (10-13 December), and both passing (PassEx) and war-at-sea exercises with the Independence (CV-62) Battle Group (14-17 December). After spending Christmas in port at Palma de Mallorca, Spain (22-27 December), she embarked a Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King from HSL-11 and set a course for Beirut, Lebanon, to assist peacekeeping efforts in the war-torn country.
Earlier that year, on 6 June 1982, Israel had launched an invasion of southern Lebanon with the aim of driving out Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) fighters. A two-month siege of Beirut ensued until the U.S. brokered an agreement to allow Syrian and PLO fighters to evacuate under the supervision of a multinational peacekeeping force consisting of British, French, U.S., and Italian troops. Although they had planned only to send a limited number of troops to ensure that both sides adhered to the terms of the peace agreement, continuing hostilities in the region coupled with the fragility of the Lebanese government led the member countries of this force to commit even greater manpower and resources to ensure peace within the region. The America Battle Group’s deployment to Beirut was one outcome of this.
Prior to arriving at Beirut, Kidd briefly operated off the coast of Libya in a display of sea power (29-30 December 1982). She then relieved Capodanno (FF-1093) off the coast of Libya to provide fire support for Marine operations there (3-9 January 1983) and also undertook an IMAV with destroyer tender Puget Sound (AD-38) (13-15 January). After being relieved, she sailed to Catania, Italy, to spend a few days in port (23-27 January) and made preparations for her voyage to the Indian Ocean. Transiting the Suez Canal on 31 January, Kidd and the America Battle Group commenced a three-month of period of operations in the Indian Ocean and North Arabian Sea. Over the course of February, the group patrolled the waters between the Arabian Peninsula and the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), including participating in exercises near Muscat, Oman and Diego Garcia, BIOT (28-4 March). In early March, Kidd, in company with Dale (CG-19), made a port visit to Trincomalee, Sri Lanka (7-11 March), where the crew provided money and man-hours for repairing St. Joseph’s Orphanage. One of the crew also had the privilege of meeting with Arthur C. Clarke, the famed author of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Following her visit to Sri Lanka, Kidd transited to the North Arabian Sea on 14 March 1983. Her first week operating was largely comprised of exercises, including a PassEx with units of the French Navy (23-24 March). On 25 March, however, she was detached from her battle group to conduct surveillance of the Soviet Indian Ocean ships near the Port of Aden (25 March-4 April). She was subsequently joined by Dale on 29 March. Such operations were becoming more and more frequent as the Cold War began to heat up in parts of Africa and the Middle East, notably, Afghanistan.
With her surveillance operations completed, Kidd rejoined her battle group, and made port in Mombasa, Kenya, for a few days of shore leave (8-14 April 1983) before getting back underway for more operations in the N. Arabian Sea. While anchored near Masirah Island, Oman on 22 April, she received HSL-34 Detachment (Det.) 5 from guided missile frigate McInerney (FFG-8). The two vessels subsequently conducted an over-the-horizon targeting (OTH-T) exercise on 26 April. She also assisted in the search for a downed helo on May 2, receiving an injured pilot from Truett (FF-1095). Two days later (4 May), the America Battle Group transited the Suez Canal and cruised to the Lebanese coast. After another week of serving as fire support (6-12 May), Kidd was relieved by Mahan (DDG-72) and Trippe (FF-1075) and made preparations to return to Norfolk. During her cruise through the western Mediterranean, she made a final port visit to Benidorm, Spain (16-21 May) and then transited the Strait of Gibraltar to begin her transatlantic crossing. During her return home, she participated in a PassEx with her battle group and also conducted her 1,000th helo landing (22-31 May).
Kidd arrived at Norfolk on 2 July 1983. Although she had been deployed for nearly six months, it was not long before she got underway once more (12 July), this time for a 30-day deployment to the Caribbean to assist the Coast Guard in identifying and boarding vessels suspected of smuggling drugs. On the evening of 14 July, the bridge crew caught sight of an 85-foot fishing vessel bearing the name Ranger. After one of the embarked Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement Team (TACTLET) members identified it as a potential smuggling vessel, Kidd changed course and shadowed the vessel throughout the night. When dawn broke, it became readily apparent that Ranger was not a typical fishing vessel. The ship’s name and homeport of Tela, Honduras had been crudely stenciled on and the vessel itself bore an unusually high number of antennae on its deckhouse. Most tellingly, the ship was bow heavy, indicating that it was laden with more than just the day’s catch. After receiving word from Coast Guard operations that the Honduran government had no record of any vessel named Ranger sailing under its flag, Kidd moved in to intercept the stateless vessel. Although she was heavily outgunned, Ranger’s captain refused to allow the Coast guard to board the ship, citing the fact that both ships were currently sailing in international waters. Even after Kidd brought her deck guns and missile launchers to bear, the fishing vessel’s skipper remained defiant, not realizing that his ship, as a stateless vessel, did not enjoy the same sort of protections as an officially registered Honduran vessel.
By nightfall, permission had been granted for Kidd to fire warning shots. A Coast Guard Dassault HU-25 Guardian jet flew over the fishing vessel, giving Ranger and her captain one final warning, but they obstinately maintained their course. Thus, at 1901, Kidd fired her first warning shot from her .50-caliber gun, which landed well in front of Ranger. Two more flyovers and warning shots soon followed, all the while Ranger’s captain vainly insisted that Kidd was violating international law. With no other options left to her, Kidd received permission to fire disabling shots. At 0700 on 16 July, following yet another warning shot that went unheeded, Kidd fired eighteen shots from her .50 caliber fantail gun into Ranger’s stern. Belatedly realizing that their ramshackle fishing boat was no match for a fully armed guided missile destroyer, the vessel’s crew mutinied and forced her captain to bring her to a halt. With Kidd’s crew assisting, the five member Coast Guard team boarded the disabled vessel at 0900 to search illicit cargo. They discovered nearly 881 bales of marijuana with an estimated value of nearly $23 million. After securing the cargo and the prisoners, Kidd rendezvoused with Coast Guard buoy tender Sagebrush (WLB-399) off the coast of Puerto Rico to transfer control of Ranger and its prisoners.
Following a brief stop in Roosevelt Roads (18-19 July 1983), Kidd steamed to La Guaira, Venezuela, to represent the U.S. Navy at the Simon Bolivar Naval Review. She then sailed to St. Thomas for a four-day port visit (26-29 July) followed by yet another visit to Roosevelt Roads, this time to conduct naval gunfire support (NGFS) tests at the Vieques Range. Months at sea had not dulled the crew’s skill, as they achieved a range record of 99.8 on 1 August. They undertook further exercises at AUTEC (4-5 August) followed by a port visit to Ft. Lauderdale (7-10 August) and a return to Norfolk (13-16 August). The ship then made a brief journey up the East Coast to Newport, R.I., to receive visitors (18-21 August). With this complete, Kidd’s crew was finally able to stand down for a month (23 August-19 September).
Upon the return of her full crew, Kidd largely operated off the Virginia capes, departing the area only briefly for exercises at AUTEC (29 September-1 October 1983). November proved considerably more hectic, as the ship had to sortie on short notice for operations with America’s battle group (2-9 November). Eleven days later, she got underway once again to the Caribbean, this time to support ground forces in the U.S.-led invasion of Grenada (25-29 November). Following a brief cruise to Barbados (30 November-1 December) and two days of operations in Puerto Rican waters, the ship returned to Norfolk for holiday leave and upkeep.
Kidd got underway again on 8 January 1984. Over the next month, she would alternate between Norfolk and conducting exercises in the Virginia capes, including an ASW exercise with Finback (SSN-670). All of this was undertaken in preparation for United Effort/Team Work ’84, a major NATO exercise in the Arctic Circle. Over 150 ships from 11 member nations would be taking part in this exercise as a test of their ability to reinforce and resupply northern Europe in the event of a Soviet invasion, as well as assessing the feasibility of launching a large-scale amphibious landing north of the Arctic Circle. Getting underway on 16 February, Kidd set a course for Cape Wrath in Scotland. After operating off the Scottish coast for two days (6-7 March), she sailed for Norway to conduct operations. Her first major assignment was to participate in Busy Eagle on 11 March, an air command and control exercise near Tromsø, Norway. She then spent the next week largely anchored near Tromsø (13-20 March) followed by four days of task force operations in the Norwegian Sea.
Having accomplished this, Kidd sailed to Denmark, operating out of fjords near Skagen for two days (25-26 March 1984) followed by a four-day port visit to Aarhaus (27 March-1 April). From there, she cruised to Stockholm (5-8 April) and participated in BaltOps ’84, a NATO exercise in the Baltic Sea (10-13 April). She subsequently visited Kiel, Germany (14-16 April) and then transited the Kattegat, Skaggerak, and English Channel (17-20 April). Rendezvousing with Jack Williams (FFG-24), John Rodgers (DD-983), Connole (FF-1056), and Canisteo (AO-99) at the Azores, she arrived back in Norfolk on 3 May. The very next day, she had the privilege of hosting Rear Adm. Isaac C. Kidd, Jr. (Ret.), the son of her eponym.
Kidd remained in port for a selected restricted availability at the Norfolk Shipbuilding & Drydock Company (NorShipCo) until 31 July, when she participated in Independence’s Phase I workup (31 July-9 August). Two weeks later (23 August), she embarked a group of Sea Cadets for a cruise up to Newport. While there, Kidd served as a school ship for the Surface Warfare Officers School Command (26-9 August) and conducted ASW operations in Narragansett Bay. A day later, she returned to Norfolk for what was intended to be a 13-day stay. On 12 September, however, she was forced to sortie out into the Chesapeake Bay to avoid bearing the brunt of Hurricane Diana.
After briefly returning to port the next day, Kidd set sail for Guantanamo Bay for a month of refresher training and other exercises (17 September-4 October). Just prior to her Operational Propulsion Plant Examination (OPPE) (9-10 October), she undertook a short cruise to Montego Bay, Jamaica, staying there two days (6-7 October). With the completion of her OPPE, she sailed back to Norfolk. The seas were anything but calm, as she had to weather the ferocious gales of Hurricane Josephine for two days (12-13 October) before finally arriving at her homeport on 15 October. Two weeks later (31 October) she was steaming southwards once more, this time to participate in Composite Training Unit Exercise (CompTUEx) 1-85 in preparation for her upcoming deployment. While operating in PROA, she made a brief detour to St. Vincent to host the island’s prime minister (12-13 November). The CompTUEx finally ended 17 November with an ASW exercise that pitted Kidd against Bonefish (SS-582). Upon returning to Norfolk on 22 November, she began her holiday leave and upkeep.
Kidd largely spent the first two months of 1985 in port preparing for her upcoming deployment, departing only for a brief trip to Newport (29 January-3 February). Upon getting underway for her deployment (12 March), she cruised southwards to participate in a ReadiEx as ASWC for Nimitz’s (CVN-68) battle group in off Puerto Rico (12-27 March). She then accompanied Nimitz and Underwood (FFG-36) off the coast of Central America to conduct naval presence operations before returning to Roosevelt Roads to rejoin the rest of the battle group and begin her deployment to the Mediterranean (28 March-6 April). The transatlantic voyage was relatively uneventful save for the occasional UNREP from Kalamazoo (AOR-6) (11 and 17 April). Once she had transited the Strait of Gibraltar, Kidd set a course for the Strait of Messina, conducting maneuvers with Doyle (FFG-39), Flatley (FFG-21), and Underwood while en route. After anchoring in Augusta Bay (21-3 April), the ships in the group went their separate ways to conduct port visits around the Mediterranean. Kidd, in the company of Doyle, made a port visit to Taormina in Sicily (25 April-1 May). The vessel then steamed to Gaeta for an IMAV with Puget Sound (3-19 May) and a brief visit to Naples (20-21 May) before returning once more to Taormina (23-26 May).
The next three months of Kidd’s deployment would be considerable more fraught with peril. Departing Taormina on 26 May 1985, Kidd set a course for the Black Sea. In contrast to the warm, welcoming waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Black Sea was a political powder keg. The Soviets generally considered these waters to be within their sphere of control and were suspicious of any U.S. or NATO operations in the area. Their suspicions were by no means unjustified, as many operations in the area were focused not just on reconnaissance of U.S.S.R. vessels, but also testing Soviet alertness and response times by making incursions into their territorial waters. Fortunately for Kidd, her operations in the Black Sea in company with Underwood proceeded without incident (30 May-3 June). After transiting the Dardanelles and the Bosporus straits, she conducted an UNREP with Neosho (AO-143) (4 June) and briefly stopped in Souda Bay on the island of Crete (5 June). The ship then operated in the eastern Mediterranean for a week before steaming to Haifa, Israel for upkeep on 13 June.
While Kidd was anchored there, two Shi’a extremists seized control of TWA Flight 847 and threatened to execute the passengers if Israel did not release over 700 Shi’a inmates from its prisons. Kidd and other members of the battle group rapidly sortied from their respective ports and sailed for the Lebanese coast to provide support U.S. forces on the ground and, if necessary, receive casualties (16-14 July 1985). Ultimately, only one of the hostages, SW2 Robert D. Stethem, was killed. Mistakenly believing Stethem to be a U.S. Marine (he was actually a diver with Navy Underwater Construction Team No. 1), the terrorists separated him from the rest of the group, savagely beat him, and executed him. His body was subsequently dumped on the tarmac of Beirut International Airport. Although his death did not occur on the battlefield, Stethem’s sacrifice was not forgotten. In addition to posthumously receiving the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, Stethem would be honored by having DDG-63 named for him. As for the rest of the hostages, the threat of retaliation coupled with diplomacy ultimately led to them being released by 30 June.
Following the resolution of the crisis, Kidd undertook a towing exercise with Doyle on 3 July 1985. Shortly thereafter, on 5 July, Dewey relieved her of her eastern Mediterranean duties. Kidd was supposed to sail to Palma de Mallorca for a port visit, but before she had even gone out of communications range, Dewey experienced a malfunction with her DFT. Returning to her position until Flatley could arrive, Kidd ultimately visited Haifa instead for upkeep (15-24 July) and then resumed her patrol of the eastern Mediterranean (25-30 July). Once this was completed, Kidd sailed to Alexandria, Egypt, spending three days in port (31 July-2 August).
Upon her departure from Alexandria, Kidd once more set a course for the Black Sea. Rendezvousing with Doyle on 4 August 1985 and embarking Rear Adm. Frank B. Kelso (Sixth Fleet) on 7 August, the two ships proceeded through the Dardanelles and Bosporus Straits. Despite tense relations between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. at this time, other East Bloc countries such as Romania and Yugoslavia were willing to open up their ports to U.S. ships, albeit, under very strict conditions. For both sides, these visits provided significant propaganda and intelligence gathering opportunities. There was, however, also a significant risk of diplomatic incidents ranging from defections to harassment and even physical violence from local security forces. However, no such incidents occurred during her port visit to Constanta, Romania (8-12 August).
Kidd spent two more days operating in the Black Sea (13-14 August 1985) before transiting the Bosporus and mooring in Istanbul (15-18 August). Four days later, she transited the Dardanelles and set a course for Naples (23-29 August) and, from there, cruised to Benidorm (2-5 September). Following the end her visit, Kidd sailed back to Augusta Bay to conduct a turnover (10-134 September). While there, Admiral Kelso awarded her with the Sixth Fleet’s “Top Hand” in recognition of her many achievements. As he noted, “The ship displayed outstanding readiness, superb seamanship and high standards of professionalism while participating in operations of national importance.” He was also quite impressed with how the crew handled themselves ashore in even places such as Constanta, declaring, “Kidd crewmen set the standards for the battle group.” With her turnover now complete, she proceeded to Rota (21 September) and then began her transatlantic voyage. Arriving back in Norfolk on 2 October, she spent most of the remainder of 1985 in port, leaving only briefly to conduct an ASW exercise and basic engineering casualty control exercises (BECCEs) around the Virginia capes (12-14 November), as well as other local operations (9-12 December).
Kidd got underway again on 21 January 1986. The next seven months largely consisted of AAW, ASW, and ASU exercises, LAMPS rooftop training, repeated UNREPs with USNS Truckee (T-AO-147), and an extended period of selected restricted availability at the NorShipCo floating drydock Titan, as well as their Berkley Plant (7 April-16 June). It was not until 1 July that Kidd was finally able to begin conducting more extensive operations outside of the Virginia capes. Stopping briefly in Port Canaveral, Florida (4-7 July), she proceeded to Nassau, Bahamas (8-10 July) before returning to Norfolk on 12 July.
The arrival of Hurricane Charley (15-30 August 1986) significantly altered Kidd’s operational plans for the rest of the year. On less than two weeks’ notice, Kidd received orders to join Nimitz Battle Group and serve as a replacement for a nuclear cruiser that had been prevented from rendezvousing with the group for Operation Northern Wedding ‘86, a NATO exercise taking place off the coast of Norway. With Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 1 (HS-1) Det. 4 embarked, she departed Norfolk on 17 August and conducted an UNREP with Kalamazoo that same day. Other members of the battle group included Iowa (BB-61), amphibious command ship Mount Whitney (LCC-20), South Carolina (CGN-37), Richard E. Byrd (DDG-23), Thorn (DD-988), Doyle, W.S. Sims (FF-1059), Moinester (FF-1097), Truett (FF-1095), and ammunition ship Nitro (AE-23).
The transatlantic voyage to Norway was anything but routine, as Kidd had been designated AAW command (AAWC) for the battle group. Her tasks involved coordinating the group’s response to flyovers by both Soviet reconnaissance planes and exercise opponents, including flight intercepts from Nimitz and British aircraft carrier Ark Royal (R.07), maintaining station on Nimitz during 30-knot fast breaks, and conducting around-the-clock flight operations in total radar silence and completely darkened ship conditions. At one point, the crew even jokingly re-designated the ship as DDGH-993 (Destroyer Helicopter Carrier) on account of the two helos they had embarked on deck, the one refueling alongside, and another circling to land.
After reaching the seas around the northern coast of Scotland, Kidd detached from Nimitz Battle Group and crossed the Arctic Circle on 28 August. Entering Vestfjord day later, she sailed further north and anchored at Hajafjord, Norway, to conduct Silent SAM operations (29-31 August). Operating at one of the more northern pickets, Kidd was responsible tracking and identifying all aircraft passing overhead, alerting the battle group to any potential incoming “adversaries” from NATO. Following the completion of this, Kidd shifted her anchorage to Malangsfjord on 1 September to provide air defense and test out new tactical concepts and operational procedures for an amphibious landing exercise.
On 3 September 1986, Kidd got underway for Vestfjord. While en route, her lookout caught sight of a Norwegian Ula-class mini-submarine which had suffered a steering casualty. Kidd remained in company of the submarine until she was relieved by a Norwegian ship. Afterwards, she engaged in an exercise with Iowa, shadowing the battleship through the fjords at night as though she were a Soviet battlecruiser. The next day, Kidd rendezvoused with Nimitz to conduct war-at-sea and Silent Sam operations in the North Sea (4-6 September). She also participated in simulated air strikes in and around the oil rigs in the North Sea oil field.
Following the completion of these exercises, Kidd detached from Nimitz and accompanied Iowa and amphibious transport ship Nashville (LPD-13) to the amphibious operations area near Larvik, Norway. For the next two weeks (6-19 September 1986), she engaged in a series of simulations including ASW and minesweeping operations, served as AAWC for amphibious landings in Larvik and Oksboel, Denmark, and conducted surface warfare drills in the Skaggerak Strait which consisted of launching simulated gunnery and missile attacks against targets while cruising along in total darkness at 30 knots without radars. Rear Adm. William M. Fogarty, who was serving as commander of the Amphibious Task Force, was apparently so impressed with Kidd’s performance during these exercises that he was reported to have exclaimed, “If asked which cruiser I would like to have as our Anti-Air Warfare Commander, my answer will be USS Kidd!”
With Northern Wedding ‘86 finally ended, Kidd made her way to Oslo, Norway, for a six-day port visit (20-6 September 1986). She subsequently visited Rotterdam, Netherlands (27 September-3 October) and then got underway for Norfolk, conducting UNREPs with Nitro (4 October) and Kalamazoo (8 and 14 October) along the way. She finally reached Norfolk on 16 October and began a two-month period largely consisting of exercises ranging from numerous LAMPS rooftop training drills to a full week of surface warfare training (1-5 December), all in or around Norfolk. The ship did briefly depart from Norfolk for ASW operations in the Western Atlantic on 8 December, but she was back in port for holiday leave and upkeep by 17 December.
\Kidd remained in port until 13 January 1987, when she briefly got underway for two days of exercises, including an ASW exercise with Claude V. Ricketts (DDG-5). Following another month in port at Norfolk, she departed on 10 February for fleet exercises (FleetEx 1-87) in the Caribbean. After a brief UNREP with Merrimack (AO-179) on 12 February, Kidd arrived at St. Thomas on 14 February and anchored there for the next two days. For the rest of the month, she conducted fleet exercises including ASW drills and a mock war-at-sea. Upon completion of these, she returned to Norfolk, arriving on 1 March.
The next three months were largely devoted to drills and maintenance. While moored in port on 11 March 1987, Rear. Adm. William F. McCauley presented Kidd’s crew with the James F. Chezek Memorial Gunnery Award, which is awarded every other year to the gunnery crew with the highest firing exercise scores in the NavSurfLant. She also conducted two UNREPs with Concord (24 March) and Merrimack (2 May) and hosted Dutch frigate Van Kingsbergen (F.809) for nearly two weeks at the end of February (25 February-6 March). When not out to sea conducting exercises, Kidd had a number of upgrades installed including new AN/SSQ-74 and AN/SSQ-33 sonars (8-10 April), an upgraded gun direction system (GDS) (15 April), a Joint Operational Tactical System (JOTS) (20-29 April), and Demand Assigned Multiple Access-enabled terminals (DAMA) (20-26 May). All of this was in preparation for her upcoming deployment to the Middle East.
On 6 June 1987, Kidd got underway for her deployment. During her crossing of the Atlantic, she rendezvoused with Flatley (8 June) and conducted an UNREP with Merrimack (9 June 1987). After a brief stop at Rota for refueling, the ship transited the Strait of Gibraltar on 15 June and steamed to Sicily. While en route, she conducted UNREPs with USNS Rigel (T-AF-58) and USNS Mississinewa (T-AO-144) on 18 June. The next day, Kidd arrived in Augusta Bay to embark HSL-34 Det. 6 and provide her crew with at least a brief period of liberty. With this accomplished, she made her way to Port Said, Egypt (21-23 June), along with Flatley and Klakring (FFG-42) in preparation for her transit through the Suez Canal.
After transiting the canal, Kidd steamed towards Djibouti. Following a brief refueling stop on 29 June 1987, she cruised to the Gulf of Oman to conduct a turnover with Coontz (DDG-40) on 5 July. From there, the ship transited the Strait of Hormuz and cruised to Mina Jebel, United Arab Emirates (UAE), (7 July) to refuel. She then made her way to Sitra Anchorage near Manama, Bahrain (8-10 July), which would serve as her home base for the duration of her time in the Persian Gulf. They would have very little opportunity for rest and relaxation, however, as preparations needed to be made for Operation Earnest Will.
Operation Earnest Will was a response to increased Iranian attacks on Kuwaiti shipping during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88). Since 1984, Iran and Iraq had engaged in a so-called “tanker war” with both sides attacking merchant shipping around the Persian Gulf in order to cripple their rival’s oil export revenues. As one of Iraq’s most important trading partners in the region, Kuwait was quite naturally a prime target for Iranian attacks, particularly after Iran captured the nearby Faw Peninsula in February 1986. Possessing minimal capability to defend itself, the Kuwaiti government approached both the U.S. and Soviet governments to reflag 11 of their 22 ships in order to deter the Iranians from attacking. Although initially cool to the idea of greater involvement in the Iran-Iraq War, the U.S. nevertheless agreed to reflag all 11 ships when it became clear that the Soviets were interested in assisting the Kuwaitis as a means of expanding their influence within Middle East.
When Kidd arrived in the Persian Gulf, the President and Congress were still debating as to how and when the convoys would begin. In order to prepare for this eventuality, Kidd undertook two rehearsals with La Salle (LPD-3) serving in the role of a tanker and ComDesRon 14 in command. By 22 July 1987, the first Earnest Will convoy had been approved and was prepared to weigh anchor near Khor Fakkan, UAE. Consisting of the 401,000-ton tanker Bridgeton (ex-Al Rekkah) and 48,233-ton tanker Gas Prince (ex-Gas Al Minagish), Fox (CG-33), Crommelin (FFG-37), and Kidd, the convoy planned to sail from the Gulf of Oman, through the Strait of Hormuz, and to the edge of Kuwaiti waters. Once there, the two tankers would be escorted by Kuwaiti security forces the rest of the way to Minah Al-Ahmadi, Kuwait to take on their precious cargo.
Although the Kuwaiti government was banking on U.S. neutrality and military strength to deter the Iranians, the escort mission still entailed considerable risk. The Iranian government was already smarting over the fact that the U.S. had been providing intelligence to the Iraqis throughout the war and was ever prepared to stir up anti-Americanism for bolstering its internal political support among the Iranian populace. While it was not considered highly probable that the Iranians would directly attack any U.S. ships, nevertheless, they had a number of military options which they could deploy ranging from speedboats laden with explosives to HY-2 Silkworm surface-to-surface missiles launched from mobile sites on shore.
The Iranians were not the only potential threat. Although the U.S. had quietly supported the Iraqis throughout the war, this had not prevented fatal misunderstandings from occurring between the two. Just two months month prior, 37 crew members had been killed on board Stark when a modified Iraqi Dassault F-1 Mirage fighter fired two AM-39 Exocet anti-ship missiles into it. While it is likely that the pilot had fired on the ship thinking it was an Iranian vessel, nonetheless, Earnest Will’s planners took considerable pains to ensure that a similar mishap would not occur with the convoys including providing the Iraqi military with advanced plans for the convoys, a special communications frequency, procedures to alert each other, and traveling through the northern Persian Gulf during daylight.
For their part, the crews on all ships in the convoy were on a state of high readiness with jets from Constellation patrolling overhead. As the convoy entered the Strait of Hormuz, three Iranian McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II fighters streaked towards the convoy. After the aircraft failed to heed the warnings not to approach, Fox locked on to them with her fire control radar. They swiftly peeled off just 17 miles away from of the convoy.
In addition to the aerial threats, the convoy passed within range of at least six Silkworm launch sites while transiting the strait. Fortunately, none were launched, enabling the convoy to enter the Persian Gulf safely. Other potential dangers, however, awaited. During the night, the convoy passed within 14 miles of Abu Mansa Island, a known anchoring point for heavily-armed Iranian speedboats. There were also a number of fishing vessels in the general area, any one of which could be a potential attacker. To protect against this possibility, members of the convoy deployed searchlights and helicopters to detect any approaching ships. Fortunately, the night passed without incident, as did most following day. It was only later in the evening of 23 July that command began to receive hints of further trouble brewing
North of the convoy, near Farsi Island, a Boeing E-3 Sentry (commonly referred to as AWACS [Airborne Warning and Control System]) detected a number of Iranian small boats lurking around the area. Fearing an attack, the convoy received orders to hold up near Bahrain until morning. When dawn broke on 24 July, the convoy got underway again. Proceeding to within 18 miles west of Farsi Island (80 miles south of Kuwaiti territorial waters), the ships saw no sign of the Iranian small boats that had been there the night before. All seemed well until an explosion rocked Bridgeton at 0655.
Although the mission planners had prepared for a number of different threats, they had not foreseen the possibility that the Iranians would place underwater mines along the convoy’s route. The one that struck Bridgeton ripped a nearly 15-by-30 hole on the portside and sent shrapnel nearly 90 feet upwards into the main deck. As Captain Frank Seitz described it, “It felt like a 500-ton hammer hit us.” Amazingly, no one was injured and only four of the ship’s 31 compartments flooded, leaving Bridgeton damaged, but very much seaworthy. Following an inspection, the convoy reformed into a single-file column with Bridgeton at the head and Kidd bringing up the rear. This was done to minimize the chances of striking another mine, with Bridgeton now serving as an impromptu minesweeper.
The convoy safely managed to reach Kuwaiti territorial waters seven hours following the explosion. Although no lives had been lost and Bridgeton remained seaworthy, nonetheless, this proved to be a significant embarrassment for the U.S. Navy. Mir Hussein Mousavi, Iran’s prime minister, crowed that, “The U.S. schemes had been foiled by invisible hands.” Both the national press and U.S. Congress questioned why the convoy had not been equipped with a minesweeper, to which Cmdr. Daniel J. Murphy of Kidd could only helplessly reply “I don’t know.”
With Bridgeton and Gas Prince now being escorted by the Kuwaiti navy, Kidd proceeded to Manama for a brief respite starting on 25 July. Getting underway three days later (28 July), she conducted a search and rescue mission for survivors of a Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King crash. The helo, which was part of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) 2 (nicknamed the “The Desert Ducks”), had crashed while attempting to land on board La Salle. Four survivors were rescued by helo, while Kidd rescued a fifth.
Despite the series of mishaps that had occurred in prior weeks, Kidd and Crommelin were able to escort Gas Prince safely on its return trip to the Gulf of Oman (1-4 August). This did not, however, occur without incident. As they approached the Strait of Hormuz, more Silkworm mounted launchers were detected. Although no attempt was made to fire on the ships, the Iranians still directed missile search radars at the convoy until the Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler aircraft accompanying the convoy could jam their signals. Clearly, the Iranians intended to test the Navy at every turn.
The next escort mission commenced on 8 August 1987 with Kidd, Crommelin, Valley Forge (CG-45) and Jarrett (FFG-33) escorting Gas King (ex-Gas Alahmadi), Sea Isle City (ex-Umm Al Maradem), and Ocean City (ex-Umm Casbah). Tugs Hunter and Striker and a Lockheed P-3C Orion “Reef Point” aircraft accompanied by Grumman F-14 Tomcats from Constellation preceded the convoy to sweep for mines and surveil Silkworm missile sites. As the convoy transited the strait, Valley Forge’s Aegis radar along with Constellation’s Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye radar-warning plane picked up two inbound Iranian F-4 Phantoms. Two F-14A’s were swiftly dispatched from Constellation to intercept the Iranian fighters. When they were within range, they fired two AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missiles at the Phantoms, though neither one appears to have connected with an Iranian fighter. Nonetheless, the convoy was able to complete its transit of the Strait of Hormuz unharmed. After briefly detaching from the convoy to make stop at Sitra on 9 August, Kidd returned to its mission and successfully completed the hand-off with the Kuwaiti navy on 11 August. Despite the tense situations they had encountered, Cmdr. Murphy was increasingly confident in the success of the escort missions and his crew’s capabilities. He acknowledged to Kidd’s ombudsman that, “The Bridgeton mining was a setback but one we have learned from.” Comparing it to a football game, he went on to declare, “Being scored against early in the game only makes us more determined.”
The next month was a whirlwind of activity for Kidd and her crew. While anchored in Sitra (13-15 August 1987), amphibious assault helicopter carrier Guadalcanal (LPH-7) arrived with a full squadron of minesweeping helicopters. Now possessing additional protection from mines, Kidd escorted Gas Prince back to the Gulf of Oman in the company of Klakring and Crommelin (16-17 August). Less than two day later, the three naval ships were sailing back to the Persian Gulf as escorts for Gas Prince, Gas Queen (ex-Gas Al Kuwait), and Townsend (19-21 August). Rather than returning to Bahrain, Kidd remained anchored in near Kuwaiti territorial waters awaiting her next convoy. Just mere hours after the prior convoy had docked in Kuwait, Kidd got underway with Crommelin, Ocean City, Sea Isle City, Gas King, and, most notably, Bridgeton. After successfully escorting the ships down to Gulf of Oman, Kidd returned to the Persian Gulf for shore leave in Abu Dhabi, UAE (26-30 August) and a brief refueling stop with Raleigh (LPD-1) at Sitra (31 August).
Kidd spent the next two days conducting surveillance operations near Bahrain Bell, Bahrain. This was followed by another escort mission on 3 September 1987 involving Townsend, Gas Princess, and Gas Queen. After safely escorting them to the Gulf Oman on 5 September, Kidd spent the next week conducting further surveillance operations. She then escorted Bridgeton, Al Funtas, and Gas Prince back to the Persian Gulf (13-15 September). Bridgeton and Al Funtas both detached for maintenance in Dubai, with the former finally receiving significant repairs to its hull.
This was Kidd’s final escort mission but there was still plenty to keep her occupied. After a maintenance and upkeep period at Manama (15-20 September 1987), Kidd conducted surveillance operations south of Abu Musa Island in the central Persian Gulf. Although eight convoys had made it safely to and from the Persian Gulf since the Bridgeton mining, the Iranians were still conducting mining operations in international waters, often using commercial vessels that had been converted to carry mines. On the night of 21 September, the 1,662-ton landing ship Iran Ajr was observed dropping mines into the water about 30 miles of the coast of the island of Ra’s Rakan near Qatar. In response, two Boeing AH-6 gunships from Jarrett opened fire on the vessel, forcing her crew to abandon ship. Kidd, La Salle, Reeves (CG-24), and Flatley made their way to the scene and were subsequently joined by William H. Standley (CG-32) and Guadalcanal, the latter of which had a Sea, Air, and Land (SEAL) team embarked ready to board the Iranian vessel. After all surviving Iranian crew were rescued from the waters and the ship thoroughly searched, Jarrett towed the vessel into international waters. When all useful intelligence had been gathered from Iran Ajr (including a map of mine locations), plans were made to scuttle it on 25 September. Kidd received orders to escort the vessel (now under tow by Hawes [FFG-53]) with three MK III patrol boats into deeper waters and to fire upon it if the explosives did not sink the vessel. At 0130 on 26 September, they detonated the explosives, sinking Iran Ajr in less than 12 minutes.
Following the capture and sinking of Iran Ajr, Kidd spent most of the next month conducting surveillance missions around Abu Musa Island, ceasing operations only briefly to refuel at Ra’s Al Kaimah, UAE (29 September 1987) and to debark ComDesRon 14 at Sitra (8-12 October). One reason for the stepped-up surveillance is that the Iranians were undertaking increasingly aggressive actions towards Kuwait. On 17 October, the Revolutionary Guard launched a Silkworm missile from the Faw Peninsula and struck Sea Isle City at al-Ahmadi. Eighteen crewmen were injured, including Captain John Hunt, who was permanently blinded. Although Sea Isle City was technically a Kuwaiti vessel, at the time it was under the U.S. flag and commanded by an American. Seeking to discourage the Iranians from taking similar actions in the future, President Reagan ordered an attack on the Rashadat oil platform located in the Rostam oil field 120 miles east of Bahrain. It was an ideal target to send a warning, being both a radar station and resupply base for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and yet not so heavily-manned or operationally significant as to provoke a war if attacked. As the only destroyer in the Persian Gulf with sufficient power to destroy the platform, Kidd was assigned to the mission along with Hoel (DDG-13), Leftwich (DD-984), and John Young (DD-973), all of which had previously been deployed in the North Arabian Sea. The surface action group would be supported by William H. Standley and Thach (FFG-43), as well as two F-14A aircraft and an E-2C Hawkeye from Ranger (CV-61).
Sailing to within firing distance of the Rashadat platform (which actually consisted of three separate structures, one of which had previously been destroyed) on 19 September 1987, the surface action group gave those stationed on board the platforms 20 minutes to abandon them before opening fire. At 1400, the ships opened fire on the platforms from a range of about 6,000 yards, with Kidd and Leftwich attacking the northernmost structure and Hoel and John Young attacking the southernmost one. Brent Harris, Kidd’s chief engineman, remembers vividly the moment when Kidd fired on the platform, noting, “The adrenaline started flowing. I thought everything was going to break loose.” The crew cheered loudly when their 5-in. guns fired their first rounds and even harder when Captain Murphy announced that they had scored a direct hit on the platform. Successive volleys followed at ever closer ranges, first at 5,000 yards, then at 4,200, and finally at 2,300 yards. Between the four ships, nearly 1,100 rounds of ammunition had been expended. To compensate for the difficulties of hitting such an oddly-shaped target, Kidd slowly fired her rounds at varying elevations in order to hit multiple decks on the platform. One or more of these must have hit one of the safety mechanisms that closed the oil wells off, as flames swiftly enveloped the platform. It would continue to burn until August 1988, earning the derisive nickname, the “Ayatollah’s Eternal Flame,” from Secretary of Defense Casper W. Weinberger’s staff. For Kidd’s crew, it was perhaps the best possible demonstration of why they had been awarded the James F. Chezek Memorial Gunnery Award earlier that year.
The southern structure was not quite as severely damaged, but it was still badly listing due to one of its legs being destroyed. A SEAL team from Thach accompanied an Explosive Ordnance Disposal detachment to plant explosives on the platform. At 1745, they detonated the explosives, destroying the platform. With their mission complete, the Surface Action Group departed the area before the Iranians could marshal a response. Upon reaching the Strait of Hormuz, Kidd detached from the rest of the group to resume its surveillance of Abu Musa. Save for a brief refueling stop at Ra’s Al Kaimah on 21 October 1987, she remained in the vicinity of the island until 23 October. Following two days in Manama (23-25 October), Kidd transited the Strait of Hormuz one final time and conducted a turnover with Richmond K. Turner in the Gulf of Oman on 27 October.
Kidd spent the majority of November slowly making her way back to Norfolk. After a refueling stop in Djibouti on 2 November 1987, she got underway for the Suez, anchoring at Port Suez on 6 November. Transiting the canal a day later, she entered the Mediterranean and steamed towards the Strait of Messina. Passing through the strait on 10 November, she conducted an UNREP with USNS Rigel and a refueling with Waccamaw (AO-109) on 11 November. A day later, she arrived at Villefranche, France for a few days respite (12-16 November) and a visit with Vice Adm. William F. McCauley (ComNavSurfLant).
Kidd refueled with USNS Mississinewa upon her departure from Villefranche and then cruised to Palma de Mallorca for another couple of days of shore leave (17-21 November 1987). From there, she transited the Strait of Gibraltar and briefly moored in Rota for refueling on 23 November. After mooring in Ponta Delgada, Azores for one final refueling stop (26 November), Kidd began her long voyage across the Atlantic. A day after successfully passing her OPPE (1-3 December), she arrived in Norfolk, much to the relief of her crew and their families. As Brent Harris recalled of his departure from Norfolk, “I knew it was unlike any other cruise. The morning we left it was almost like we weren’t going to see each other again.” Cmdr. Murphy was also quite relieved and justifiably proud of his crew’s accomplishments. Upon being thanked for bringing the crew home safely, he simply responded, “They brought themselves home.”
Cmdr. Murphy was not the only one who was proud. In recognition of the Kidd’s significant achievements that year, her crew was nominated for and won the Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Award for 1987. Established in 1917, this honor is awarded every year to two ships selected from the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets, respectively, that demonstrate the highest level of battle readiness. Having spent nearly four months in harm’s way escorting convoys through mine-laden waters while under threat from nearby Iranian patrol boats, aircraft, and missiles, as well conducting a successful strike against the Rashadat oil platform, Kidd’s crew had proven that they were both battle ready and battle-tested.
1988 was a considerably less eventful year for Kidd and her crew, largely consisting of training exercises, drills, local operations, and port visits along the Eastern seaboard and Caribbean. Following an extended holiday leave period (4 December 1987-7 January 1988) and another month of inspections, Kidd briefly got underway for operations in the Virginia capes (3-4 February). She subsequently sailed for St. Thomas for a port visit (12-14 February) and then to Roosevelt Roads (19-21 February) to prepare for NGFS Qualifications and weapons exercises at Vieques. After another brief stint in Roosevelt Roads (25-26 February), she transited back to Norfolk, arriving on 29 February.
March and April 1988 were largely consumed with further training exercises as well as public tours of Kidd. On 20 April, for example, Kidd conducted an AAW gunnery exercise with Preble (DDG-46). Upon completion of this, she cruised to New York City for Fleet Week (21-25 April) and then to West Haven, Ct. (27-31 April). She then steamed back to Norfolk to spend a few days in port (4-8 May) before getting underway again for Operation Prime Chance (9-13 May). Following another brief stop at Norfolk to embark ComDesron 36 (13 May), Kidd sailed for Nassau, Bahamas, conducting an ASW exercise at AUTEC along the way (15-18 May). After disembarking ComDesRon at Charleston, S.C., on 20 May, she returned to Norfolk for another in port period (23-30 May) followed by a week of projects for the Chief of Naval Operations (31 May-4 June).
Kidd spent the majority of June 1988 conducting training operations in Puerto Rican waters. Getting underway on 9 June, she rendezvoused with Independence) on 11 June while en route. After detached from Independence on 13 June, Kidd subsequently rendezvoused with the Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) Battle Group on 15 June to serve as an escort. A day later, she conducted a RAS with USNS Mississinewa, as well as a surface-to-air gunnery exercise. She then detached from the battle group to make a port visit to Roosevelt Roads (17 June), anchor near Vieques (18-19 June), and then rendezvoused with Theodore Roosevelt to provide an escort once more (20-23 June). After an UNREP with USNS Mississinewa and a surface-to-surface gunnery exercise (24 June), Kidd was detached from Theodore Roosevelt and returned to Norfolk, arriving there on 27 June.
The next two months were largely devoted to training exercises and preparing for Kidd’s impending New Threat Upgrade modernization. Save for a brief visit to Boothbay Harbor, Maine (13-17 July 1988), Kidd primarily operated around the Norfolk area until she departed for Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on 15 August. She remained in the shipyard for well over a year, receiving a considerable number of upgrades to her systems including a dual radar AAW tracking system, an expanded, multi-computer combat direction system, the SM-2 guided missile system, three 2500 KW generators, and two new masts to house the radar antenna suite. These upgrades not only altered Kidd’s warfighting capabilities, but also her physical appearance and displacement, increasing it from 9,300 tons to slightly over 10,000 tons. By comparison, many cruisers of the era did not even weigh that much.
The upgrades to Kidd were finally completed on 14 September 1989. After a week of sea trials (14-21 September), she returned to her homeport of Norfolk. For the next three weeks (22 September-13 October), she conducted an IMAV with repair ship Vulcan (AR-5). More training followed this culminating in a lengthy set of Combat Systems Ship’s Qualification Trials (CSSQT) (6 November. These trials consisted of a week of maintenance checks, Phalanx close-in weapon system (CIWS) firings against aircraft towed drones, seven surface-to-air missile firings, four anti-submarine rocket thrown torpedo firings, and many other gunnery and anti-air exercises including a NGFS exercise at Vieques. Kidd also conducted a joint exercise with Scott to test sending targeting data over their ship to ship Tactical Data Link for a remote track launch on search missile firing.
Having successfully completed her CSSQT, Kidd was now ready to resume normal operations after the normal holiday leave period. She spent January 1990 conducting numerous operations off the Virginia capes and then steamed south to the Jacksonville operations area to conduct OPPE preparations and deck landing qualifications (2-7 February). Following a brief in port visit to Mayport she returned to Norfolk on 15 February to prepare for refresher training at Guantanamo Bay. With HSL-34 Det. 5 embarked, Kidd got underway on 1 March.
After nearly a month of training (4-31 March 1990) around Cuba and Puerto Rico, Kidd sailed north to Norfolk, making a brief port visit to Port Everglades en route (2-4 April). Upon arrival at Norfolk, she disembarked HSL-34 Det. 4 on 9 April and commenced an IMAV with Puget Sound (10-30 April). Kidd did not get underway again until 8 May, when she set a course for the Puerto Rican waters to conduct another round of CSSQT (12-13 May) followed by a brief visit to Roosevelt Roads (16-17 May). She ultimately returned to Norfolk and conducted an emergent dry docking with floating dry dock Sustain (AFDM-7) on 30 May, staying there for over a week for an ASW groom and implementation of the combat system operational sequencing system on 4 June.
Kidd spent the rest of June sailing up the Eastern seaboard, visiting Boston, Mass. (15-19 June 1990), Newport (21-23 June), and Boothbay (25-28 June) along the way. She then returned to Norfolk on 4 July. Save for a brief visit to Nassau, Bahamas (24-26 July) in preparation for an ASW exercise at AUTEC (26-29 July), she spent most of the latter half of 1990 operating locally in preparation for her upcoming deployment to the Persian Gulf. Similar to her prior deployment to that region, Kidd would be heading into harm’s way to protect Kuwait from an aggressive neighbor. This time, however, her main adversary was not Iran, but rather, Iraq, which had invaded Kuwait on 2 August 1990.
Initially, U.S. involvement was limited to protecting Saudi Arabia from a potential Iraqi invasion (Operation Desert Shield). In the months leading up to Kidd’s deployment, however, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution setting a deadline of 15 January 1991 for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait or risk a military response from member nations. If it did indeed come to war with Iraq, Kidd and her crew would potentially be tested even more severely than they had been during the “Tanker War,” not only having to contend with conventional weapons such as aircraft and missiles, but possibly even chemical weapons. In anticipation of this, technicians spent over week on board Kidd installing a chemical agent point detection system (17-26 November) prior to her pre-deployment standdown (9-31 December).
With HSL-34 Det. 5 and ComDesRon 32 both embarked, Kidd began her transatlantic crossing in company with McInerney on 9 January 1991. When they first set out, both ships had been tasked with interdicting all traffic bound for ports in Iraq and countries sympathetic to it. Kidd and McInerney even conducted simulated boardings, with many of their crew qualifying on .45 caliber pistols and shotguns. The scope of their mission drastically expanded on 16 January, however, when the U.S. declared war on Iraq after it failed to withdraw from Kuwait by the established deadline. Operation Desert Shield had now become Operation Desert Storm.
Following two brief refueling stops in the Azores (20 January 1991) and Rota (22 January), Kidd transited the Strait of Gibraltar and headed for August Bay. During her cruise through the Gulf de Leon, she participated in a tracking exercise with a group of French F-1 fighters (26 January). Two days later, she arrived in Augusta Bay to refuel and undertake engine repairs. With all due haste, she got underway that very same day for Port Said, arriving on 31 January and transiting the canal the next day. During her cruise from the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf (6-14 February), Kidd served as ASW command (ASWC) for the America carrier battle group and even as a practice target for America’s McDonnell Douglas F-18 Hornet and Grumman A-6 Intruder aircraft while they conducted practice bombing runs on (13 February). Following her transit of the Strait of Hormuz, she entered the Persian Gulf and anchored at Manama, Bahrain for two days. While there, she embarked a cryptologic detachment and a stinger attachment upon her departure.
Kidd’s first duty as part of Desert Storm/Desert Shield was to ride “shotgun” (i.e. provide anti-air protection) for Ranger. However, Iraqi aircraft and missile were not the only threat in the Northern Arabian Sea. There was also the threat of mines, something which both Tripoli (LPH-10) and Princeton (CG-59) found out the hard way when they separately struck mines on 18 February 1991. Two days later, following an UNREP and VERTREP with Kansas City (AOR-3), Kidd took up station 30 miles off the Kuwaiti coast, well within the Iraqi Silkworm missile envelope. After escorting Ranger to Bahrain the next day (22 February), she returned to her station. In preparation for the commencement of ground operations in Iraq, she increased her chemical warfare readiness level to Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) Level II and assisted Bunker Hill (CG-52) in tracking and identifying aircraft operating over the conflict area.
The ground war in Iraq began on 24 February 1991 and proceeded swiftly, with a conditional ceasefire in place by 28 February. For Kidd, the days before and immediately following the ceasefire were relatively uneventful, with the only noteworthy events being a VERTREP with Niagara Falls (AFS-3) and another UNREP with Kansas City. By 1 March, she was anchored back in Manama. Despite the relative brevity of the campaign against Iraq, there was still a considerable amount of work to be done in winding down the conflict and ensuring Iraq’s continued compliance with the terms of the ceasefire. Mines, in particular, remained a significant threat to ships in the area.
Kidd commenced escort missions and minesweeping operations beginning on 10 March 1991. Her first mission was to escort a merchant vessel through mine danger areas to the battleship fire support area (BBFSA) and then escort a tanker back via the same route (10-12 March). Six days later, on 18 March, Kidd’s embarked helo sighted a floating mine. After she sounded general quarters and alerted other ships in the area, Vreeland deployed her EOD team to detonate the mine.
Following this, Kidd moored in Dubai on 25 March 1991. Three days later, she got underway to conduct AAW duties in the N. Arabian Gulf. In addition to ComDesRon 25, a Coast Guard detachment was embarked on board for Marine Interdiction Force training. The next week was relatively uneventful save for an UNREP with USNS Passumpsic (T-AO-107). Upon returning to Manama on 6 April, she embarked an Army OH-58 (AHIPS) Detachment, increasing the number of helos she had on board to four (for reference, Kidd normally embarked only one to two depending on the operation). Getting back underway on 9 April, she conducted operations around Kuwait, including maintaining station in the BBFSA as ASUWC for two days (15-17 April).
Upon returning to Manama, HSL-34 found a special surprise waiting for them: a SH-2F helo. Equipped with experimental equipment for hunting mines, the so-called “Magic Lantern” helo had the potential to enhance Kidd’s minesweeping capabilities considerably…if they could get it flying. Upon taking custody of the helo from Vreeland, HSL-34 quickly discovered that almost no maintenance had been performed on the helicopter. Deemed unsafe for flight, technicians from HSL-34 were sent ashore with the helo to repair it. It took nearly a month, requiring the helicopter to be, “rebuilt from the tires up.” According to the senior chief, “Just about every moving part was replaced.”
While awaiting her repairs to be completed on her new prize, Kidd continued to conduct operations around Kuwait, including AAWC and ASWC duties (22 April 1991), escort missions in Kuwait Harbor (23 April 1991), and replenishments from USNS Andrew J. Higgins (T-AO-190) and Niagara Falls (24 April). Following a brief return to Manama on 25 April, she cruised to Dubai for three days of liberty. According to one of Kidd’s crew, they greatly looked forward to their liberty visits to Dubai, as it offered the opportunity to visit such “famous places as Pizza Hut, Hardees, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and even Safeway.” He went on to dryly note that, “With so many famous places to visit it was hard to choose where to go first.”
After getting underway again on 31 April 1991 and briefly stopping in Manama to embark an EOD team, Kidd resumed her escort and minesweeping duties. On 7 May, Helo 234 located a minefield consisting of 10 mines. The EOD team swiftly destroyed them, and Kidd continued her patrol. Following another anchorage in Manama (11-14 May) where she embarked the freshly rebuilt “Magic Lantern” helo, she assumed duties as AAWC/EWC for the N. Arabian Gulf, which including conducting “Magic Lantern” ops in mine Danger Area 10 (16-26 May). It was amidst all this that La Salle came under fire from Iranian patrol boats (21 May), leading Kidd to immediately set Condition I and steam to the beleaguered ship’s location. Fortunately, the situation required no further action.
Kidd began her long voyage back to Norfolk on 1 June 1991 in the company of McInerney. While en route, she spent nearly a week (11-17 June) conducting Marine Interdiction Force boardings in the northern Red Sea as part of efforts to enforce U.N. sanctions against Iraq. Transiting the Suez Canal on 18 June, she set a direct course for Rota, pausing only to conduct a VERTREP with USNS Saturn (T-AFS-10) and an UNREP with USNS John Lenthall (T-AO-189). Following brief stops in Rota (23 June) and the Azores (26 June), she crossed the Atlantic and arrived in Norfolk on 3 July.
The next three months were far calmer for Kidd and her crew than the prior three. Following a month-long stand-down period, the ship spent most of her time in port, including undergoing an IMAV in late August (15-31 August 1991). It was not until 27 September that she got underway again for a sustained period of operations. Charting a course southwards with HSL 34 Det. 5 embarked, she arrived off the coast of Puerto Rico on 30 October. Over the course of the next month, she conducted counter narcotics operations throughout the Caribbean Sea, pausing only briefly to visit Grand Cayman Island (11-14 October).
By 4 November 1991, Kidd and her crew were back in Norfolk preparing to undergo their OPPE (12-14 November). Once this was complete, the rest of the month was spent preparing the ship for Selective Restricted Availability (SRA) at Norfolk’s Metro Machine Shipyard starting on 1 December. Just prior to this, Kidd received her fifth consecutive (and sixth overall) Battle Efficiency “E.” To celebrate this rare feat, Adm. Isaac C. Kidd, Jr. (Ret.), son of Kidd’s namesake, presented the crew with the Special Battle Efficiency Pennant, or as it is more affectionately known among sailors, the “golden meatball” (so-called for the gold circle at the center of the pennant).
Kidd spent the next six months in SRA. Following a lengthy round of inspections, she sailed for Guantanamo Bay on 3 June 1992 to conduct refresher training for its crew and an IMAV for the ship herself (6-29 June). With both of these things completed, she cruised to Freeport, Bahamas for a few days of liberty (1-5 July) before commencing twelve days of AAW and gunnery exercises (10-22 July). The exercises themselves proceeded without incident, but an UNREP on 17 July went severely awry when a man went overboard during approach. Fortunately, he was recovered before he drowned.
Kidd briefly returned to Guantanamo Bay on 24 July 1992 before heading back to Norfolk (25-27 July). Save for a few brief operations around the Virginia capes (3-4 August, 2-3 September, and 5-8 October), the next three months were largely spent in port preparing for the ship’s upcoming deployment. Whereas past deployment had seen Kidd sailing to the Mediterranean and Middle East, this next deployment would see her patrolling the Caribbean and the Eastern Pacific. Although Kidd had largely been deployed in the past to serve in an AAW capacity, as the encounter with drug smuggling ship Ranger early on in her career demonstrated, she was more than capable of assuming drug interdiction duties, with her LAMPS helos being particularly valuable in scouting out potential drug smuggling vessels.
Getting underway on 1 November 1992, Kidd first stopped in Puerto Rico on 3 November. Following two days of gunnery support exercises (4-5 November), she charted a course for the Panama Canal, transiting it on 8 November and spending the next day in port in Panama City. Kidd spent the ensuing three months patrolling the eastern Pacific in search of suspected drug smuggling vessels, sparing only a few days to make port visits to Panama City (2-4 December) and Acapulco, Mexico (24-26 December). It was only after she had completed her operations and transited back to the Caribbean that her crew was able to enjoy a few days of liberty in St. Thomas (24-28 January 1993).
Upon their return to Norfolk on 4 February 1993, Kidd’s crew prepared the ship to enter a dry dock SRA in Jonathan Shipyard in Newport News. Commencing on 28 February, Kidd remained in SRA until 20 August when she shifted to Norfolk and entered Sustain. It was not until 13 September that she was finally able to get underway to onload her weapons at Earle, N.J. (15-17 September), and then conduct operations and combat systems testing in the Virginia capes (17-29 September, 4-8 October). Even after all this, her crew still had undergo refresher training in Guantanamo Bay while the ship underwent an IMAV (24 October-12 November). When this was complete, they steamed to Freeport for a three-day port visit (14-17 November) and then headed back to Norfolk for period of restricted availability and an IMAV (1-12 December). After another brief stint off the Virginia capes (13-19 December), the crew was finally able to go on holiday leave on 20 December.
Kidd spent the first half of 1994 largely conducting local operations in preparation for her upcoming deployment to the Mediterranean as part of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s (CVN-69) battle group. On 20 May, she and the rest of the battle group commenced their COMPTUEX. After a week of operations with Peterson (DD-969) off Cherry Point (26-1 June), she cruised to Roosevelt Roads for a brief stop (1 June) followed by long stint in Fredriksted, St. Croix (3-7 June). The ship spent the next month conducting operations in Puerto Rican waters, including a towing exercise with Jack Williams (10 June) and firing exercises at the Vieques range (12 June). The crew’s readiness was also unexpectedly tested when a man fell overboard, forcing them to take swift action save him
After returning to Norfolk on 1 July 1994, Kidd stayed in port for two and a half months, leaving only briefly to conduct local operations around the Virginia capes and Cherry Point until her battle group finally deployed to the Mediterranean on 20 October. Their primary mission was to support NATO and U.N. peacekeeping operations in the republics of the now-former Yugoslavia, particularly Bosnia, where a brutal war amongst the various Serbian, Croat, and Bosniak factions was threatening to spiral out of control. To limit the number of civilian casualties and stop ethnic cleansing, the U.N. and NATO established a no-fly zone over the republic’s air space to prevent outside interference from Serbia and Croatia, as well as civilian safe zones within Bosnia itself. However, the armed forces of the breakaway Republika Srpska increasingly refused to respect these safe zones and even took U.N. peacekeepers hostage. Consequently, both the United States and other NATO member countries became increasingly involved in what had started out as a primarily regional conflict.
Eisenhower Battle Group’s mission was threefold: 1) To provide a naval blockade in order to enforce economic sanctions and an arms embargo against members of the former Yugoslavia (Operation Sharp Guard), 2) to enforce the no-fly zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina (Operation Deny Flight), and 3) to provide aid to the besieged residents of the city of Sarajevo through airlifts of food, medicine, and other supplies (Operation Provide Promise). In preparation for assisting these international efforts, Kidd, Peterson, and Robert G. Bradley (FFG-49) conducted a division tactics exercise with the French frigate Latouche-Tréville (D.646) on 31 October 1993 while crossing the Atlantic. They then transited the Strait of Gibraltar five days later (4 November), and set a course for the Adriatic Sea. Upon arriving on (7 November), Kidd took up station in the so-called “Red Crown” box, an AA picket that was nicknamed after the call sign given to the guided missile cruiser or destroyer on station. While operating in this area under darkened conditions, Kidd would be responsible for monitoring all incoming flight traffic and transmitting the necessary data to other ships patrolling the area in order to prevent the sort of fatal misunderstandings that had led to Stark being fired upon in 1987 and Iran Air Flight 655 being shot down by Vincennes (CG-49) on 3 July 1988.
Kidd’s first patrol of the Adriatic lasted twenty days (7-27 November 1994), with the crew hard at work even on Thanksgiving. Upon being relieved, she sailed to Corfu, Greece for a four-day port visit (28 November-1 December). Another lengthy patrol of the Adriatic ensued, with the ship alternating between steaming independently and operating under darkened conditions in the “Red Crown” box (2-19 December). During the latter, Kidd sometimes sailed in company with ships from other NATO member nations including the U.K., Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Canada, and the Netherlands. Perhaps on account of this rather overwhelming presence, the ship’s time on station was rather uneventful, with neither Serbs nor the Croats making any significant efforts to test the blockade.
The holidays provided a much needed respite for Kidd’s crew. Departing the “Red Crown” box on 19 December 1994, she sailed to Naples and spent eight days in port. Some of the crew were even afforded the opportunity to visit Rome for a midnight mass at the Vatican on Christmas Eve. Following another brief stint in the Adriatic that occasionally involved plane guarding Dwight D. Eisenhower (29 December-8 January 1995), Kidd cruised to Palermo to begin a twelve-day IMAV with Shenandoah (8-20 January). To liven up these proceedings, the crew of Cape St. George (CG-71), which was moored outboard of Kidd, threw an impromptu pier party, much to the delight of some of Kidd’s crew members. Following the completion of Kidd’s IMAV, the ship and her crew sailed for a brief visit to Rhodes, Greece (22-25 January) and then to Trieste for another few days of liberty (30 January-3 February). For part of the voyage, she was in company with Robert G. Bradley, Cape St. George, Anzio (CG-68), and fast combat support ship Detroit (AOE-4).
Sightseeing around Italy and Greece soon gave way to another long patrol of the Adriatic beginning on 4 February 1995. Save for the occasional UNREP with USNS Kanawha (T-AO-196), Kidd’s time in the “Red Crown” box was largely uneventful. By the end of the month, she was underway to Haifa for a four day port visit (1-5 March) followed by another four days in Izmir, Turkey in company with Dwight D. Eisenhower (20-24 March). After another brief stint in the Adriatic, Kidd and the rest of her battle group returned to Norfolk, arriving back there on 14 April.
Kidd’s 1994-95 deployment to the Mediterranean was the last time she deployed overseas. From this point on, her primary mission was to assist the U.S. Coast Guard in counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean and the eastern Pacific. To that end, she got underway for the Caribbean on 5 June after spending the prior two months in port. After a brief stop at Guantanamo Bay on 8 June, she began her patrol, during which she made contact with nearly 30 vessels and assisted the Coast Guard in boarding three of them. Save for a crate of broken eggs which had been dumped overboard, they found nothing of interest on any of these vessels, though they were able to assist at least one merchant vessel, Adam, that was in distress on 22 June.
The relative calm of Kidd’s patrol would soon be shattered by a crisis that would sorely test her crew’s capabilities. At 0901 on 25 June 1995, a friendly game of basketball turned deadly serious when the basketball (perhaps the ship’s only basketball) went overboard. Wasting no time, the crew swiftly sprang into action, making the necessary course and speed changes to recover the basketball. By 0913, a recovery team had manned forecastle, prepared to dive into the water at a moment’s notice. Initially, it seemed as though their efforts would be in vain, with the search called off at 0947. However, hope floats and, fortuitously, so do basketballs. At 1641, the watch caught sight of the errant orange sphere bobbing in the grasping blue waters. A swimmer was dispatched shortly thereafter and the ball was successfully recovered, ensuring the crew would not be forced to endure a hoops-free existence while on patrol. Such herculean efforts were not without cost, however, as the crew suffered at least one casualty that day; a boatswain’s mate second class who suffered a twisted knee as a result of playing basketball. He would be put on light duty for twenty-four hours.
With the basketball recovered, Kidd resumed her patrol, stopping only for a brief period in Cartagena, Colombia on 26 June 1995. By the beginning of July, she was on her way back to Norfolk, arriving there on 8 July. This was not, however, her last patrol of the Caribbean for that year. After just over three weeks in port, Kidd set a course for the Caribbean on 31 July. Once again, she stopped briefly in Guantanamo Bay (4 August) before beginning yet another patrol with members of the U.S. Coast Guard embarked.
Although Kidd made less than ten contacts in the month she was at sea, this patrol still proved to be more eventful than her prior one. For one thing, she had basketballs go over on two separate occasions (13, 27 August 1995), the first of which prompted a nearly six hour long pursuit and the loss of one of her engines. More seriously, one of the vessels searched and boarded, San Luis, proved to be carrying illicit cargo. After sending an augmented Coast Guard detachment on board to secure the ship, Kidd escorted the ship to Colombian waters and turned her over to Antioquia (FM.53) on 15 August. After a brief stop in Cartagena on 16 August, she resumed her patrol, boarding one other ship and assisting another in distress just a day later. She later returned to Cartagena for a few days of liberty (20-24 August).
Following one final Caribbean patrol, (25 August-3 September 1995), Kidd returned to Norfolk (7 September). Two weeks later, she cruised to Charleston to serve as the backdrop ship for Naval Station Charleston’s closing ceremony (20 September-6 October). This would be the last time Kidd would sail this year. Upon returning to Norfolk on 29 September, she remained in port, with the only activity of note being that she hosted British frigate Montrose (F.236) on two separate occasions (1-2 October and 8-9 October). She commenced restricted availability on 12 October and, subsequently entered Sustain on 29 November in order to receive a replacement for her sonar dome rubber window.
It took Kidd nearly two months receive the necessary repairs. After finally undocking on 31 January 1996, she commenced a nearly three-month period of tailored ship’s training availability (TSTA) in preparation for her deployment to the eastern Pacific. On 28 May, the ship finally got underway for Roosevelt Roads (2-3 June), where she engaged in weapons exercises for three days (4-6 June) before chopping to the Joint Interagency Task Force East on 8 June to conduct counter narcotics operations in the Pacific. A day later, the ship transited the Panama Canal and made her way to Rodman, Panama to refuel (19 June). Similar to her prior deployment in the eastern Pacific, Kidd spent the majority of her three months at sea patrolling for vessels suspected of drug smuggling. With the exception of the occasional visit to Rodman to refuel, the only foreign port visit the ship conducted was to Manta, Ecuador (1-4 September 1996). At the end of September, she transited back across the Panama Canal and was relieved by Ticonderoga (CG-47). She subsequently visited Ft. Lauderdale, Fl., as part of Broward County Navy Days (4-7 October) and then returned to Norfolk on 10 October. Maintenance and inspections occupied most of the crew’s time for the remaining months of 1996, including another period in Sustain to repair the sonar dome rubber window (19-31 December).
Kidd’s final full year of service was relatively active, with the ship splitting her time between her typical drug interdiction duties and public relations visits to various ports. After leaving dry dock on 14 January 1997, Kidd spent the next two weeks in her homeport before cruising to New Orleans, La. Arriving on 5 February 1997 in company with Shreveport (LPD-12), Kidd was in port for the opening of the city’s Mardi Gras festivities. Amidst the revelry, some of the crew traveled to nearby Baton Rouge to assist with the upkeep and restoration of the first Kidd (DD-661).
Returning to Norfolk on 18 February, Kidd largely spent her time in port, save for a few brief forays into the Va. Capes area (11-13 March, 25 March 1997). On 16 April, she left her homeport and sailed to Boston for the 100th running of the Boston Marathon (16-22 April). The ship then cruised southwards to Port-Au-Prince Haiti (26-27 April) and, from there, to Guantanamo Bay (28 April). Three days later, she transited the Panama Canal (1 May) and commenced her patrol of the eastern Pacific. For the next month, she conducted drug interdiction duties, operating predominantly off the coast of Colombia. Although the embarked Coast Guard tactical team boarded vessels on two separate occasions (2, 13 May), no arrests were made. She did, however, assist shipping vessel Landfall on 24 May upon receiving a distress signal. A week later, she was back in Panama, preparing to transit the canal and, from there, make her way home to Norfolk. The voyage was largely uneventful, punctuated only by brief port visits to Mayport (4-5 June) and Charleston (6-9 June). By 10 June, Kidd was back in Norfolk for a month of leave and upkeep.
Kidd got underway again on 14 July 1997 for a week in Newport (15-21 July). She subsequently conducted an ASW exercise with Klakring on 23 July, one day before she was due back in Norfolk. Another month would pass before the ship left port for what would be her final voyage. Departing Norfolk on 2 September, she sailed to Nassau, Bahamas, and AUTEC (8-11 September). The next day, she steamed to Port Everglades, mooring in port for three days (12-14 September). Following her departure, she conducted an UNREP with Platte (17 September) and then performed plane guard duties for Dwight D. Eisenhower (18 September). Upon completion of this, she returned to Norfolk the next day. Save for a brief trip to Yorktown to offload her ammunition (3-5 November), she would not leave port again, having been scheduled for decommissioning in March 1998. The time in between would largely be occupied by work on closing out all compartments of the ship. Nonetheless, certain hallowed naval traditions still had to be observed including the writing of a New Year’s poem in the deck logs.
Traditionally written by a member of the year’s final watch to celebrate the year’s achievements, these poems can be anything from light-hearted limericks to sentimental sonnets to crystal clear demonstrations that their authors were not the second coming of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Given that this would be Kidd’s final New Year’s Eve, the author of her poem chose to reflect on not just the year’s accomplishment, but the accomplishments of her entire career. As he wrote:
On this watch it is my intention to state deeds and roles played by the ship and crew whos [sic] keel was laid nineteen thousand and seventy eight. The USS Kidd is the ship of which I speak, the second ship to bear the name in this mighty fleet. The bonding of American steel and bone has ever shown the world on its many missions superiority throughout all conditions. In times past this very mast has seen the waters of the oceans and most of the seas, under nine captains this ship sailed bringing all home at the rail…. Now inport [sic] this great ship will decommission and the crew will leave its brow upon their new missions, so this will be the first entry of this New Year these words are given that you might steer a course as steady and true as all those who have sailed before you.
Kidd was decommissioned on 12 March 1998 and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register that same day. On 17 September 1999, she was transferred to the Republic of China (Taiwan) through the Security Assistance Program (SAP). Renamed Keelung (FFG.936), she continues to serve honorably in the Taiwanese navy.
During her service in the U.S. Navy, Kidd received 27 unit awards including two Navy Expeditionary Medals (Lebanon, Persian Gulf), the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Persian Gulf), the Southwest Asia Service Medal (Desert Storm), a Meritorious Unit Commendation (Dwight D. Eisenhower Battle Group), two Naval Unit Commendations, eight Navy “E” ribbons, a Coast Guard SOS Ribbon, a Combat Action Ribbon (Desert Storm), and a Joint Meritorious Unit Award. She also received the James F. Chezek Memorial Gunnery Award (1987) and the Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Award (1987).
|Commanding Officers||Date Assumed Command|
|Cmdr. William J. Flanagan, Jr.||27 June 1981|
|Cmdr. Fred P. Moosaly||26 August 1983|
|Cmdr. Daniel J. Murphy||25 October 1985|
|Cmdr. Philip M. Balisle||15 January 1988|
|Cmdr. David R. Ellison||13 July 1990|
|Cmdr. W. Douglas Crowder||3 April 1992|
|Cmdr. Robert J. Cox||14 January 1994|
|Cmdr. John J. Decavage||15 September 1995|
|Cmdr. Thomas R. Andress||8 August 1997|
Martin R. Waldman, Ph.D.
15 February 2018
Huchthausen, Peter and Alexandre Sheldon-Duplaix. Hide and Seek: The Untold Story of Cold War Naval Espionage. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2009.
Potter, Nelson C. Electronic Greyhounds: The Spruance-Class Destroyers. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1995.
Stillwell, Paul, ed. The Golden Thirteen: Recollections of the First Black Naval Officers. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1993.
Zatarain, Lee Allen. America’s First Clash with Iran: The Tanker War, 1987-88. Havertown, PA & Newbury, Berkshire, UK: Casemate, 2010.