The first U.S. Navy ship named to honor Paul Henry Nitze (16 January 1907-19 October 2004). For additional information see Nitze (DDG-94), Namesake.
(DDG-94: displacement 9,515; length 510'; beam 66'; draft 32'; speed 30+ knots; complement 312; armament 1 5-inch, 1 Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) for 96 BGM-109 Tomahawks, RIM-66 SM-2MR Standards, and RUM-139 VL-ASROC Antisubmarine Rockets, 1 Mk 15 Close In Weapon System (CIWS), 2 25 millimeter, 4 .50 caliber machine guns, 6 Mk 32 torpedo tubes, and accommodations for the A/N WLD-1 Remote Mine-hunting System, aircraft 2 Sikorsky SH-60B Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) Mk III Seahawks; class Arleigh Burke)
Nitze (DDG-94) was laid down on 17 September 2002 at Bath, Maine, by Bath Iron Works; launched on 3 April 2004; sponsored by Mrs. Elizabeth S. Porter, widow of the late Secretary Nitze; and commissioned on 5 March 2005 at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Cmdr. Michael A. Hegarty in command.
Sailors board Nitze during her commissioning ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk, 5 March 2005. (Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Laurie L. Wood, U.S. Navy Photograph 050305-N-9013W-004, Navy NewsStand)
The Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) Carrier Strike Group took part in JTFEx 06-2 Operation Bold Step, from 21 to 31 July 2007. The exercise attempted to present U.S., interagency, and coalition forces with “realistic and dynamic exercise threats” that replicated global challenges. More than 16,000 servicemembers and 30 ships and submarines from five countries participated. Bold Step provided sustainment training for the group, consisting of aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 2, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 22, guided missile cruiser Vicksburg (CG-69), and guided missile frigates Kauffman (FFG-59) and McInerney (FFG-8). Additional participants included the Bataan Expeditionary Strike Group, comprising amphibious assault ship Bataan (LHD-5), amphibious transport dock Shreveport (LPD-12), dock landing ship Oak Hill (LSD-51), guided missile cruiser Vella Gulf (CG-72), guided missile destroyer Mahan (DDG-72), and guided missile frigate Underwood (FFG-36).
The exercise also served as the forward-certifying event for the Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) Carrier Strike Group, comprising aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower, CSG-8, CVW-7, DesRon-28, guided missile cruiser Anzio (CG-68), guided missile destroyers Mason (DDG-87) and Ramage (DDG-61), Military Sealift Command-manned fast combat support ship Arctic (T-AOE-8), and attack submarine Newport News (SSN-750). At times, French attack submarine Emeraude (S.604) also operated with Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Soldiers of the Army’s 34th Infantry Division and the Canadian 8th Brigade group made up the Combined Coalition Force Land Component Command during the exercise. Meanwhile, guided missile cruiser Cape St. George (CG-71), guided missile destroyers Nitze and Roosevelt (DDG-80), and guided missile frigates Doyle (FFG-39), Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58), and Taylor (FFG-50), reinforced by Columbian submarine Tayrona (SS.29), acted as the opposition forces. Certain Second Fleet staff directed the exercise from on board amphibious assault ship Wasp (LHD-1).
At one point during the exercise, British aircraft carrier Illustrious (R-06) operated 14 USMC McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier IIs, and she also became the first foreign ship to record a landing by a Marine Bell-Boeing MV-22B Osprey.
Nitze sailed to European waters to take part in Joint Warrior 2010, from 21 September–29 October 2010. In company with and guided missile destroyer Bainbridge (DDG-96) she visited Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, Faslane, Scotland, on 16 October.
This bow shot of the ship aptly displays her crisp lines, published on 25 April 2011. (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph 110423-N-ZI300-337, Navy NewsStand)
A Sikorsky MH-60S Seahawk of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28 lowers a sailor to Nitze’s deck during a vertical replenishment, 29 June 2011. The ship completes her sea trials in New England waters and then visits Eastport, Maine, to celebrate Independence Day. (Ens. Joe Keiley, U.S. Navy Photograph 110629-N-GA722-180, Navy NewsStand)
Islamist forces within Yemen, likely Houthi rebels, fired one or more shoulder-fired rockets or antiship cruise missiles at Swift, a hybrid catamaran formerly operated by the Military Sealift Command (T-HSV-2) but leased to the United Arab Emirates, while she carried humanitarian aid for people in the region through the Bab-el-Mandeb, on 1 October 2016. The U.S. subsequently deployed guided missile destroyer Mason (DDG-87), Nitze, and afloat forward staging base Ponce (AFSG-15) to the trouble-torn area to ensure that ships could continue to transit the strategically vital waterway. The rebels unsuccessfully attacked Mason and Ponce as they steamed in international waters in the Bab-el-Mandeb on 9 October and again three days later. The U.S. retaliated against three of the rebel-controlled radar sites in Yemen on 12 October, and Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook described the battle:
“Early this morning local time, the U.S. military struck three radar sites in Houthi-controlled territory on Yemen’s Red Sea coast. Initial assessments show the sites were destroyed. The strikes -- authorized by President Obama at the recommendation of Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford -- targeted radar sites involved in the recent missile launches threatening USS Mason and other vessels operating in international waters in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandeb. These limited self-defense strikes were conducted to protect our personnel, our ships and our freedom of navigation in this important maritime passageway. The United States will respond to any further threat to our ships and commercial traffic, as appropriate, and will continue to maintain our freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, the Bab al-Mandeb and elsewhere around the world.”
Nitze fires a BGM-109 Tomahawk Land Attack Missile against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, 12 October 2016. (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph 161013-N-KL526-001, Navy NewsStand)
Following the commissioning ceremony for Zumwalt (DDG-1000) on 15 October at Baltimore, Md., Adm. John M. Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, revealed to the press that the Houthi rebels unsuccessfully attacked Mason a third time:
“The latest is there has been recent activity today with the Mason once again. It appears to have come under attack in the Red Sea again from coastal defense cruise missiles fired from the coast of Yemen,” he said. “So as you know this is the third such attack. We suffered one about a week ago. We also saw one in the middle of last week and now we see more activity.”
Detailed history pending.
Mark L. Evans
17 October 2016