Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Related Content
  • Boats-Ships--Destroyer
Document Type
  • Ship History
Wars & Conflicts
File Formats
  • Image (gif, jpg, tiff)
Location of Archival Materials

Mahan IV (DDG-72)


Alfred Thayer Mahan. For additional information see Alfred Thayer Mahan.

The fourth U.S. Navy ship named Mahan. The first Mahan (Destroyer No. 102) served from 1918-1930. The second Mahan, also a destroyer (DD-364), served from 1936-1944. The third Mahan, a guided missile frigate (DLG‑11), was reclassified to a guided missile destroyer (DDG-42) on 30 June 1975, and served from 1960-1993.

For the ship's Command Operations Reports see Mahan (DDG-72).


(DDG-72: displacement 8,960; length 505'; beam 66'; draft 32'; speed 30+ knots; complement 356; armament 1 5-inch, 2 Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) for BGM-109 Tomahawks, RIM-156 SM-2MR Standards, and RUM-139 VL-ASROC Antisubmarine Rockets, 8 RGM-84 Harpoons (2 Mk 141 launchers), 2 Mk 15 Close In Weapon Systems (CIWS), 4 .50 caliber machine guns, and 6 Mk 32 torpedo tubes, aircraft operate (but not embark) 1 Sikorsky SH-60B Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) Mk III Seahawk; class Arleigh Burke)

The fourth Mahan (DDG-72) was laid down on 17 August 1995 at Bath, Maine, by Bath Iron Works; launched on 29 June 1996; sponsored by Mrs. Jennie L. Arthur, wife of Adm. Stanley R. Arthur, Vice Chief of Naval Operations; and commissioned on 14 February 1998 at Tampa, Fla., Cmdr. Michael L. James in command.

Mahan (DDG-72) 1997-020927-N-1082Z-001
Mahan steams serenely through a calm sea, 30 September 2002. (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph 020927-N-1082Z-001, Navy NewsStand)
Mahan (DDG-72) 1997-051115-N-3725R-043
The ship proudly breaks out her colors as she returns from a deployment to the Mediterranean and Black Seas to Norfolk, 15 November 2005. Note the flag flapping from her port line that displays Mahan’s motto “Built to Fight.” (Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Gregory A. Roberts, U.S. Navy Photograph 020927-N-1082Z-001, Navy NewsStand)

Mahan, Cmdr. Stephen F. Murphy in command, deployed to the Mediterranean, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Sea (9 September 2008-9 April 2009). At times, the ship operated with Combined Task Force 151 against pirates in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Sea. “Piracy,” Cmdr. Murphy observed, “is a pernicious problem that has been going on in this region for quite some time.”

Mahan faced a myriad of challenges while hunting pirates. The weather she encountered typically included high pressure that produced generally fair weather with mostly clear skies, light winds, and temperatures in the 70s F. “The pirates in this area know the weather and what to expect,” AG2 Angela Fleischer of the ships company explained. “Perfect piracy weather is a day with light winds and calm seas. Really, it’s a ‘Catch-22’. Bad weather keeps the pirates at bay, but great weather brings the pirates out allowing us to do our job of counterpiracy.” The pirates often slipped through the area in skiffs, which enabled them to blend in among fishermen and then accelerate the boats to catch their prey. The brigands’ craft did not handle well in rough seas, however, and foul weather repeatedly deterred pirates from attacking merchant ships and fishing vessels. Strong winds nonetheless imperiled flight operations, and carried dust from sandstorms out to sea, creating a brown or orange tinge to the horizon and reducing visibility. The ship’s visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team, reinforced at times by Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment 405 and Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, operated using proficiency in boarding policies, maritime laws, evidence handling, handcuffing, defensive tactics, and searches.

In addition, the ship embarked a Boeing Insitu ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that enhanced her capabilities to battle pirates by providing maritime surveillance and cueing on suspicious activity. A team of Sailors and civilians operated and maintained the ScanEagle, which could fly for long periods and cover hundreds of square miles of ocean during a single mission, while sending imagery in real time back to Mahan. “This is a significant step forward and is reflective of the increased use of UAVs across the spectrum of military operations,” Murphy summarized. “It can fly day or night in a covert or overt posture, making it much harder for pirates to hide.” The ship shared this information with up to 14 allied fleets, improving the coalition’s mission effectiveness and straightening their combined operational expertise.

During the second dog watch on 24 March 2014, Jeffrey T. Savage, a 35-year-old civilian truck driver with Majette Trucking who lived in Portsmouth, Va., drove his 2002 Freightliner through Gate 5 at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. Savage parked his vehicle, and although unarmed, boarded Mahan while the ship lay moored to Pier 1, at approximately 2320. Savage confronted security team members of the ship’s company and they ordered him to stop, but he continued and a struggle ensued on the quarterdeck. Twenty-four-year-old Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Mark A. Mayo, the acting chief-of-the-guard for Norfolk’s Naval Security Forces, rushed to help. The intruder disarmed the petty officer of the watch, however, and shot and killed Mayo, then fired at the other Sailors, who returned fire and killed Savage.

“Petty Officer Mayo’s actions on Monday evening were nothing less than heroic,” Capt. Robert E. Clark, commanding officer of the naval station reflected. “He selflessly gave his own life to ensure the safety of Sailors on board USS Mahan (DDG-72). Petty Officer Mayo’s family has endured a tremendous loss, as have the men and women of Naval Station Norfolk, in the loss of a shipmate and friend.” Mayo had enlisted in the Navy in October 2007, reported to Norfolk in May 2011, and resided in Hagerstown, Md.

Mahan (DDG-72) 1997-130913-N-CT127-277
Mahan’s chief petty officer selectees sing “Anchors Aweigh” as they march to their pinning ceremony, held on the pier at Norfolk, Va., 13 September 2013. (Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Josue L. Escobosa, U.S. Navy Photograph 130913-N-CT127-277, Navy NewsStand)

Detailed history under construction.

Mark L. Evans

9 January 2015

Published: Wed Aug 05 10:12:42 EDT 2015