Raymond Ames Spruance, born on 3 July 1886 at Baltimore, Md., was appointed a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy on 3 July 1903. He graduated 26th in his class on 12 September 1906, and served two years as a passed midshipman in Iowa (Battleship No. 4). During the summer of 1907, he was transferred to Minnesota (Battleship No. 22), and he circumnavigated the world in her as part of the “Great White Fleet.” He was promoted to ensign on 13 September 1908.
After a year of study at General Electric Co., in Schenectady, N.Y., he returned to sea in Connecticut (Battleship No. 18). Spruance became the senior engineering officer on board Cincinnati (Cruiser No. 7) in November 1911, and in the spring of 1913 took command of Bainbridge (Destroyer No. 1) at Olongapo in the Philippines. A year later, he worked as the Assistant Inspector of Machinery at Newport News Shipbuilding Corp. He helped to fit out Pennsylvania (Battleship No. 38) in 1916. By late 1917, he served as the Assistant Engineering Officer and Electrical Superintendent at the New York Navy Yard. During that tour of duty, he served temporarily at London, Liverpool, and Edinburgh, United Kingdom, and with the Royal Navy’s Sixth (U.S.) Battle Squadron of the British Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands.
In 1919, after serving as executive officer in transport Agammemnon (Id. No. 3004), he reported to Bath, Maine, to fit out and assume command of Aaron Ward (Destroyer No. 132). From 1921 until 1924, Spruance worked in the Bureau of Engineering. He then served briefly as Assistant Chief of Staff to Rear Adm. Philip Andrews, Commander, Naval Forces, Europe. He took command of destroyer Osborne (DD-295), however, when she became available. In 1926, he began two years of study at the Naval War College at Newport, R. I.
He next spent two years as executive officer of battleship Mississippi (BB-41) before joining the faculty of the War College. He became Chief of Staff to Rear Adm. Adolphus E. Watson, Commander, Destroyers, Scouting Force, in May 1933. Spruance returned to the Naval War College as Head of the Tactics Section of the Department of Operations in 1935. He assumed command of Mississippi in 1938. Two years later, he was appointed Commandant of the 10th Naval District; and, from July until September 1941, commanded both the Caribbean Sea Frontier and the 10th Naval District.
Spruance hoisted his flag in heavy cruiser Northampton (CA-26) as Commander, Cruiser Division (CruDiv) 5, Pacific Fleet, on 17 September 1941. Task Force (TF) 8, Vice Adm. William F. Halsey, Jr., in command, built around aircraft carrier Enterprise (CV-6), sailed from Pearl Harbor, T.H., to deliver 12 Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats from Marine Fighter Squadron (VMF) 211 to augment Wake Island’s defenses, on 28 November 1941. Spruance and his cruisers steamed with Halsey, who approved Battle Order No. 1, stating that Enterprise steamed “under war conditions.” The Wildcats were launched during the morning of 4 December and the ships came about for Hawaiian waters. Their mission and heavy seas that delayed their return thus ensured that Enterprise and her consorts eluded the Japanese attack on Oahu, T.H., on 7 December. Halsey and Spruance cancelled their plans to reenter Pearl Harbor and attempted to hunt down the enemy, but to no avail.
Over the next six months, Spruance commanded CruDiv 5 during carrier air strikes against the Japanese on Kwajalein, Maloelap, Marcus, Roi, Taroa, and Wotje; and during the Halsey Doolittle Raid on Tōkyō. His cruisers also shelled enemy-held Wake Island. Just before the Battle of Midway, Spruance assumed command of Halsey’s carrier task force, TF 16, when the latter was hospitalized at Pearl Harbor. Though junior to Rear Adm. Frank J. Fletcher, who led TF 17, Spruance assumed control of the battle after the Japanese severely damaged aircraft carrier Yorktown (CV-5), Fletcher’s flagship.
Spruance became Chief of Staff to Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, on 18 June 1942. Spruance joined his superior and Adm. Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet, in advocating a “leap-frog” strategy across the Central Pacific; and he planned and commanded the first hop of that offensive in Operation Galvanic: the occupation of the Gilbert Islands (18 September–4 December 1943).
Spruance continued to command the Central Pacific Force as it swept through the Marshall Islands in January 1944 and captured Guam, Tinian, and Saipan in the Mariana Islands during Operation Forager that summer. The landings in the Marianas penetrated the inner defensive perimeter of the Japanese Empire and thus triggered A-Go, a Japanese counterattack that led to the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Spruance decisively defeated Japanese naval air power in the battle (19–20 June). The Navy redesignated the Fifth Fleet on 29 August 1944, and Spruance culminated his combat career by taking part in the planning and assaults on Iwo Jima and Okinawa in the last year of the war.
Spruance was relieved of command of the Fifth Fleet on 8 November 1945; and he, in turn, relieved Fleet Adm. Nimitz as Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas. Spruance then took leave of the Pacific Fleet to become President of the Naval War College on 1 February 1946, and served in that post until his retirement on 1 July 1948.
Early in 1952, President Harry S Truman appointed Spruance U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines. Serving until the spring of 1955, he successfully negotiated the American retention of several important military bases on the islands and fostered, in his quiet manner, a deepening of respect between the two governments and peoples. Admiral Spruance returned to his home at Pebble Beach, where he lived until his death on 13 December 1969.
See Spruance, Raymond A. [http://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/bibliographies/admiral-raymond-a-spruance-usn-a-select-bibliography.html] for additional information on Adm. Spruance.
(DDG-111: 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 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, 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)
The second Spruance (DDG-111) was laid down on 14 May 2009 at Bath, Me., by Bath Iron Works Corp.; launched on 6 June 2010; sponsored by Mrs. Ellen S. Holscher, the late Adm. Spruance’s granddaughter; and commissioned on 1 September 2011 at Key West, Fla., Cmdr. Tate Westbrook in command.
Dark blue and gold are the colors traditionally used by the Navy, representing the sea and excellence. The shield conveys the Navy’s steadfast resolve to defend national security, also indicating Spruance’s powerful Aegis Combat System. The black rampant lion personifies Adm. Spruance’s allegiance and courage. The lion is illustrated on the Order of Leopold II and Croix de Guerre medals, which the Belgians bestowed upon the admiral during World War II. The trident symbolizes naval power; the double trident, taken from the coat of arms of the previous Spruance (DD-963), emphasizes the multi-mission capabilities of DDG-111. The Philippines Sun commemorates his appointment as the Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines (1952–55). The red demi-sphere suggests how Japanese dominance in the Pacific changed, starting with the Battle of Midway. The lightning bolts allude to the strategic planning, brilliance, and crucial actions that characterized Spruance’s decisions at sea, in addition to honoring the critical role of the Navy radio intelligence organization’s cryptologic analysts, who broke the Japanese communications code. The five lightning bolts recall the admiral’s subsequent command of the Fifth Fleet. The naval pilot’s wings exemplify the pivotal role of naval aviation in the victories at the battles of Midway and the Philippine Sea, and acknowledge their unwavering support of Allied ground forces, so essential to the United States’ ‘island hopping’campaign. The border implies the increased operational responsibilities of the ship and crew.
The laurel wreath symbolizes honor and achievement. The blue and gold circle denotes the fidelity of the individual sailor, the foundation of the Navy. The four dark blue stars indicate the highest rank that Adm. Spruance achieved. The five red circles allude to the enemy’s ships sunk during the Battle of Midway. The compass rose underscores navigational expertise. The compass rose numerous rays signify his lifelong study and appreciation of the importance of sea power to national security. The sixteen (16) rays refer to Task Force 16, which Spruance commanded at the Battle of Midway. The image in the center of the polestar, adapted from the Navy Cross, represents the medal awarded to the admiral for extraordinary heroism as the Fifth Fleet Commander against enemy forces during the Japanese invasion (January–May 1945).
The crossed naval officer’s sword and enlisted chief petty officer cutlass honors the core of the Navy leadership that supports the ship and her crew.
Spruance operates with Destroyer Squadron 23 out of San Diego, Calif. She sailed on her first deployment, to the Western Pacific, on 16 October 2013, Cmdr. George A. Kessler, Jr., in command. The ship’s modern features include touch screen controls on her bridge. “I joke that we can drive the ship from an iPad with our fingers,” Kessler kidded during an interview with the San Diego Union Tribune, “It is a joke. But it is also actually real in that we can do that.”
Detailed history under construction.
Mark L. Evans
28 January 2014