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McFaul (DDG-74)


Chief Engineman Donald Lewis McFaul, born on 20 September 1957 in Orange County, Calif., graduated from Bend Senior High School, Bend, Ore., in 1974. He enlisted in the Navy upon graduation, and after recruit training worked as an Engine Specialist for Port Services at Treasure Island, Calif. Chief McFaul volunteered for the Naval Special Warfare Community in 1977.

He underwent Basic Underwater Demolition/Seal Training (Class 95) in the spring of 1978. McFaul served with Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) Team 1 during three deployments in support of special operations out of Subic Bay, Philippines. McFaul discharged from the service in 1985, and tried his hand at engine repair and fishing in Seattle, Wash., and Kodiak, Alaska. He missed the challenge and excitement of the SEALs, however, and returned to the Special Warfare Community. The SEAL attended Defense Language Institute for Spanish in Monterey, Calif., where he met Patricia U. Quezada. McFaul was assigned to SEAL Team 4 and married Patricia in February 1988, a union that produced one child, a daughter, Megan D.

McFaul deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of the Middle East Force, and later to Naval Special Warfare Unit 8 at Panama. He served as Platoon Chief of Golf Platoon, SEAL Team 4, during Operation Just Cause (17 December 1989–31 January 1990). President George H. W. Bush authorized Just Cause to safeguard U.S. citizens trapped in Panama; defend democracy and human rights against the abuses of Gen. Manuel A. Noriega; combat drug trafficking; and protect the Panama Canal. McFaul deployed as part of Naval Special Warfare Task Force Papa, which attacked Punta Paitilla Airport on 20 December 1989 to prevent Noriega and his associates from escaping.

McFaul and his SEALs inserted from the sea via Zodiac F-470 combat rubber raiding craft and advanced toward a hangar housing Noriega’s private Learjet, when Panamanian Defense Force soldiers and house guards opened fire with small arms. McFaul directed his men to return fire. Realizing that most of the first squad had fallen, 27 yards north of him, he left the relative safety of his own position in order to assist the wounded men lying helplessly exposed.

Under heavy enemy fire, he carried a seriously wounded SEAL to safety, but as he neared the American perimeter, he was mortally wounded by Panamanian fire. McFaul’s heroic action saved his teammate’s life, and inspired his men to prevail in the decisive battle. The SEALs destroyed the Learjet, preventing Noriega from escaping justice. McFaul posthumously received the Navy Cross and the Purple Heart.

(DDG-74: displacement 8,960; length 505'; beam 66'; draft 32'; speed 30+ knots; complement 356; armament 1 5-inch, 1 Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) for 90 BGM-109 Tomahawks, RIM-156 SM-2MR Standards, and RUM-139 VL-ASROC Antisubmarine Rockets, 2 Mk 141 launchers for RGM-84 Harpoons, 2 Mk 15 Close In Weapon Systems (CIWS), 2 25 millimeter, 4 .50 caliber machine guns, and 6 Mk 32 torpedo tubes, aircraft land and replenish but not embark 1 Sikorsky SH-60B Seahawk Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) Mk III; class Arleigh Burke)

McFaul (DDG-74) was laid down on 26 January 1996 at Pascagoula, Miss., by Ingalls Shipbuilding Division, Litton Industries; launched on 18 January 1997; sponsored by Mrs. Marcia Coats, wife of Senator Daniel R. Coats of Indiana; and commissioned on 25 April 1998 at the Georgia Ports Authority, near Savannah, Ga., Cmdr. Bernard L. Jackson in command.

McFaul (DDG-74) 1998-Seal


Dark blue and gold are the colors traditionally used by the Navy. Neptune, the God of the Sea, embodies maritime prowess and swift mobilization. The waves suggest a coastline and underscore Chief Engineman McFaul’s insertion from sea by rubber raiding craft to block Gen. Noriega’s escape from Panama.


The cross commemorates the Navy Cross awarded posthumously to McFaul for his extraordinary heroism under fire, saving his teammate’s life. McFaul was mortally wounded by enemy fire. The aegis shape highlights McFaul’s modern multi-mission warfare operations with quick, decisive action. The colors and quarterly division are adapted from the Panamanian flag and represent Operation Just Cause. The four sections also allude to SEAL Team 4, McFaul’s team. The laurel represents achievement and honor; the palm, which is indigenous to tropical regions, alludes to the location of Panama and also symbolizes victory.


The Naval sword represents McFaul and the trident, adapted from the Naval Special Warfare insignia, highlights Chief Engineman McFaul’s SEAL service.

McFaul (DDG-74) 1998-1
McFaul arcs gracefully through the Gulf of Mexico while completing her predelivery sea trials, November 1997. (Ingalls Shipbuilding Division, Litton Industries, donated to Ship’s History, Histories & Archives Division, Naval History & Heritage Command)
McFaul (DDG-74) 1998-2
The destroyer fires a Standard surface-to-air missile at a target drone during her sea trials. The missile intercepts the drone. (Ingalls Shipbuilding Division, Litton Industries, donated to Ship’s History, Histories & Archives Division, Naval History & Heritage Command)
McFaul (DDG-74) 1998-990709-N-9568E-006
A Sikorsky SH-60F Seahawk from Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (HS) 11, embarked on board aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CV-67), refuels from McFaul in the Atlantic, 9 July 1999. (Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Christian Eskelund, U.S. Navy Photograph 990709-N-9568E-006, Navy NewsStand)

McFaul deployed with the Enterprise (CVN-65) Battle Group to the Mediterranean Sea, Arabian Sea, and Arabian Gulf (12 June–12 December 2001). When al-Qaeda terrorists attacked the United States on 9/11 (11 September), Enterprise had detached McFaul and destroyer Nicholson (DD-982) to the Arabian Gulf to perform Maritime Interception Operations (MIOs), they enforced UN Security Council Resolutions imposed against Iraq following their invasion of Kuwait. McFaul subsequently came about for the Arabian Sea, and took part in the first strikes of Operation Enduring Freedom I, the coalition’s campaign to liberate Afghanistan from the Taliban extremists and al-Qaeda. McFaul fired four BGM-109 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) against military targets: two on 7 October; one on the evening of 9 October; and one on the evening of 13 October.

McFaul and guided missile destroyer Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81) collided while they carried out pre-deployment training exercises with the Nassau (LHA-4) Expeditionary Strike Group, approximately 83 miles off the coast of Jacksonville, Fla., at 1330 on 22 August 2005. Neither ship reported casualties, but McFaul gouged a 5x10 foot hole on the port side helicopter hangar of Winston S. Churchill, damaged an antenna, and caused a hydraulic leak in a Seahawk, while the impact slightly damaged McFaul’s starboard bow. The repairs cost an estimated $1.1 million for Winston S. Churchill and $250.00 for McFaul. Cmdr. Sean M. Connors of McFaul and Cmdr. Todd W. Leavitt of Winston S. Churchill, the two commanding officers, retained command of their ships, that both returned to Norfolk two days later.

The ship deployed independently to the Mediterranean and Black Seas (26 May–6 November 2008). She passed through the Turkish Straits and participated in Sea Breeze 08, a joint maritime exercise to enhance multinational interoperability with 16 countries, in the Black Sea (11–30 July).

A war erupted between the Russians, Georgians, and South Ossetians in the Caucasus, and the U.S. launched Operation Assured Delivery , humanitarian assistance to victims of the fighting, on 7 August. McFaul had returned to the eastern Mediterranean, and she came about and loaded humanitarian relief supplies at Souda Bay, Crete (17–20 August). She transited the Turkish Straits (22 August) and delivered more than 27 tons (80 pallets) of water, baby food, infant supplies, and hygiene items to refugees, while anchored at Batumi, Georgia (24–26 August). Command ship Mount Whitney (LCC-20) and Coast Guard high endurance cutter Dallas (WHEC-716) also provided aid via Batumi and Poti.

In addition, USN McDonnell Douglas C-9B Skytrain IIs, Boeing C-40A Clippers, and Lockheed C-130 Hercules, and USAF Boeing C-17A Globemaster IIIs, flew 1,145 short tons of supplies from Ramstein AFB Germany to Tbilisi, Georgia (13 August–10 September). McFaul passed southward through the Turkish Straits (1 September). She returned to the Black Sea (13–27 September) for exercise Jackal Stone 2008, operating as an afloat forward staging base for special operations forces off the Romanian coast (18–23 September).

While deployed with the Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) Carrier Strike Group to the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean (2 January–August 2010), McFaul responded to a distress call from merchant vessel Rising Sun, after she was attacked by pirates off the coast of Salalah, Oman (5 April). The pirates fired rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) and AK-47 automatic rifles and damaged the merchantman. McFaul and Omani fast attack craft Al Sharquiyah (B.11) rushed to the area. While en route, McFaul advised Rising Sun to use high speed evasive maneuvering and fire hoses to thwart the attackers. The merchant mariners prevented the pirates from securing ladders onto the ship’s deck.

Al Sharquiyah reached the area before McFaul, and the pirate skiffs fled to their mother ship, pirated dhow Faize Osamani. The Omanis tracked the dhow, and witnessed the pirates throw weapons overboard. When the fact attack craft reached Faize Osamani, nine Indian crewmembers captured by the pirates leapt overboard in a desperate bid for freedom, to be rescued by the Omanis.

McFaul arrived and unsuccessfully attempted to contact Faize Osamani. The destroyer then deployed her Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) team to board the vessel. Crew-served machine guns covered the boarding team as they quickly secured the pilot house and captured the 10 suspected pirates. The Americans directed the suspects to move to the forward end of the dhow and raise their hands in the air, and then searched and handcuffed them. The boarders took the pirates’ fingerprints, collected evidence, and photographed documents, then transferred the men to the guided missile destroyer Carney (DDG-64) for a week, but the suspects shifted back to McFaul for 30 days. The destroyer then received orders to transfer custody of her prisoners to the Somali Transitional Federal Government in Djibouti for prosecution. The Indian sailors returned to Faize Osamani and resumed their original voyage.

More than 100 men, apparently led by Islamic militants, attacked the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi, Libya (11–12 September 2012). The attackers killed four Americans: Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith, and Glen A. Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods, two former SEALs working as embassy security guards. The militants wounded ten other people. McFaul and guided missile destroyer Laboon (DDG-58) received orders to make for the Libyan coast, and they patrolled the area until the tensions eased.

McFaul operates with Destroyer Squadron 26 out of Norfolk.

Detailed history under construction.

Mark L. Evans

19 December 2013

Published: Thu Aug 06 15:30:39 EDT 2015