Donald Kirby Ross (8 December 1910-27 May 27 1992). See Donald Kirby Ross for additional information.
The first U.S. Navy ship named in honor of Capt. Ross, but the second of the name. The first Ross (DD-563), a destroyer that served from 1944-1974, was named for Capt. David Ross.
(DDG-71: 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 second Ross (DDG-71) was laid down on 10 April 1995 at Pascagoula, Ms., by Ingalls Shipbuilding Division, Litton Industries; launched on 22 March 1996; sponsored by Mrs. Helen L. Ross, widow of the late Capt. Ross; and commissioned on 28 June 1997 at Galveston, Texas, Cmdr. Jeffrey R. Ginnow in command.
Dark blue and gold are the colors traditionally associated with the Navy. The anchor stands for the anchorage at Pearl Harbor, attacked by the Japanese on 7 December 1941. The lightning flashes symbolize the unexpected assault and the resulting bloodshed. The ship’s propeller represents Warrant Officer Ross and the badge of a Navy machinist, the rank he held at the time of the action. The inverted silver star recalls his heroism during the attack, representing the Medal of Honor he received for his valor while on board battleship Nevada (BB-36). The shape of the shield refers to the Aegis armament and capabilities of Ross (DDG-71). Gold stands for excellence; red, for courage.
The griffin, noted for vigilance, intelligence, and valor, reflects the versatility of Ross’ operating capabilities. It holds a trident, denoting the range of Ross’ offensive equipment and outstanding firepower. Gold stands for excellence.
The crossed Navy officer’s sword and enlisted cutlass reflect Warrant Officer Ross’ service as both an officer and an enlisted sailor.
Ross took part in three interceptions and inspections of merchant ships while deployed to the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean in 2002. NATO forces monitored the ships, and the United States European Command directed the Sixth Fleet to intercept them because they displayed “suspicious behavior,” though in all three instances, the merchantmen’s masters granted the boarders permission to inspect their vessels. Guided missile destroyer Ramage (DDG-61) intercepted merchant ship Capten Mohamed, operating under Syrian registry, approximately 26 nautical miles northeast of Cyprus, at about noon on 27 January 2002. Ramage sent a boarding party that inspected the ship, but they did not find any discrepancies in the cargo, manifest, and registration and permitted the ship to continue.
Meanwhile, at noon on the same day, combat store ship and Sixth Fleet flagship, La Salle (AFS-3), destroyer Hayler (DD-997), and Ross intercepted merchantman Hajji Rahmeh, also of Syrian registry, about 75 nautical miles northwest of Cyprus. The Americans boarded Hajji Rahmeh but did not uncover evidence of illicit activities and released the ship. Ross and Hayler continued their patrols and intercepted merchant vessel Mila, operating under Tongan registration, about 80 nautical miles northeast of Alexandria, Egypt, at 0600 on 2 February. Hayler dispatched a boarding party, but they did not discover discrepancies and allowed Mila to resume her voyage.
Ross (top) passes guided missile destroyer Ramage (DDG-61) as she enters Souda Bay, Crete, for a brief visit, 25 June 2004. Ramage resumes her patrol with the Sixth Fleet following her visit to Souda Bay. (Paul Farley, U.S. Navy Photograph 040625-N-0780F-070, Navy NewsStand)
Increased tensions between the Lebanese and Syrians led the Sixth Fleet to deploy an expeditionary strike group to the eastern Mediterranean in early 2008. Amphibious assault ship Nassau (LHA-4), amphibious transport dock Nashville (LPD-13), dock landing ship Whidbey Island (LSD-41), guided missile cruiser Ticonderoga (CG-47), and guided missile destroyers Bulkeley (DDG-84) and Ross sailed from the United States on 19 and 20 February 2008, and operated in the area until negotiators defused the tensions during the succeeding weeks.
During a NATO conference at Brussels, Belgium, on 5 October 2011, Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta announced that the U.S. intended to forward deploy four Aegis-equipped ships to Rota, Spain. “By hosting these ships,” Panetta explained, “Spain will continue its vital role in enhancing the security of the European region, Mediterranean Basin, and the Atlantic Ocean. The agreement also enables the United States to provide rapid and responsive support to the U.S. Africa and U.S. Central Commands, as needed.”
On 16 February 2012, Secretary of the Navy Raymond E. Mabus Jr. revealed that four guided missile destroyers would shift their home ports to Rota as the Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF): Carney (DDG-64) would forward deploy from Mayport, and Donald Cook (DDG-75), Porter (DDG-78), and Ross from Norfolk, Va. In addition, Ross emergency sortied in advance of Hurricane Sandy from Norfolk, Va. (late October–early November 2012). Donald Cook reached her new home port of Rota in February 2014, and Ross joined her as the second of the four forward deployed ships on 16 June.
Ross sails from Norfolk for her new home port of Rota, Spain, 3 June 2014. (Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Ellen E. Long, U.S. Navy Photograph 140603-N-YB832-053, Navy NewsStand)
Ross hoists flags honoring the United States’ allies as she arrives at Rota, 16 June. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Grant Wamack, U.S. Navy Photograph 140616-N-BS486-608, Navy NewsStand)
Cryptologic Technician 2nd Class Anthony Philpott of the ships company embraces his wife as they are reunited following the voyage across the Atlantic, 16 June. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Grant Wamack, U.S. Navy Photograph 140616-N-BS486-726, Navy NewsStand)
Ross sailed from Rota on her inaugural FDNF patrol on 18 July 2014. The ship took part in NATO ballistic missile defense, maritime security operations, and bilateral and multilateral training exercises. She ventured into the Black Sea (3-12 September), operating with other Sixth Fleet ships and those of NATO Maritime Group 2 Task Unit 01, together with Georgian, Latvian, Romanian, Turkish, and Ukrainian naval forces during Sea Breeze 2014, a multinational maritime exercise.
Ross refuels from Military Sealift Command-manned fleet replenishment oiler Leroy Grumman (T-AO-195) in the Mediterranean, 28 October 2014. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Weston Jones, U.S. Navy Photograph 141028-N-ZE250-435, Navy NewsStand)
Secretary of the Navy Mabus held an all-hands call on board Ross while she visited Istanbul, Turkey, on 11 November 2014. The following day, a gang of about 20 Turkish youth, allegedly associated with radical nationalists, assaulted three of the ship’s sailors on liberty. A videographer captured the incident on film, that shows the Turks chanting “Damn America!” while pelting the sailors with garbage and paint, then attempting to pull bags over the Americans’ heads. The sailors suffered minor injuries but escaped their attackers, and Ross cancelled liberty call. The Turkish government detained up to a dozen people for questioning. “We have no doubt the vast majority of Turks,” the U.S. Embassy in Ankara declared, “would join us in rejecting an action that so disrespects Turkey’s reputation for hospitality.”
While Ross patrolled the Mediterranean on 4 April, the Syrian government launched a chemical attack on that country’s town of Idlib. The raid violated the Chemical Weapons Convention and UN Security Council resolutions, and inflicted vast casualties on the people of the town. Initial intelligence data indicated that Syrian aircraft flying from an airfield at Al-Shayrat in western Syria carried out the attack.
“Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians,” President Donald L. Trump said in a public statement. “Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women, and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”
The Americans consequently retaliated against the Syrian regime and Porter and Ross fired 59 TLAMs against Syrian military aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, radar systems, air defense systems, petroleum and logistical storage, and ammunition supply bunkers at Al-Shayrat during the morning watch on 7 April. Two days later President Trump called the two commanding officers of the destroyers, and thanked Cmdr. Russell Caldwell and Ross’ crew for their professionalism and rapid response to the crisis.
Detailed history pending.
Mark L. Evans
11 April 2017