Spruance then offloaded her ammunition at NWS Yorktown (16–17 July 1979), and returned to Norfolk, where she underwent an inspection by the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (InSurv) (23–24 July). After a month’s overhaul at Norfolk the ship reloaded her ordnance at Yorktown (19–20 September). In preparation for her next deployment, Spruance took part in CompTuEx 1-80 (1–10 October), and then sailed from Miami, Fla., for the Mediterranean on 27 November with Commander, DesRon 24 on board. After a brief stop in Rota (9–13 December), she turned for Villefranche, France, intending to spend the holidays in port along with Wainwright (CG-28). Foul weather on 22 December, however, compelled Spruance to leave port on short notice, stranding approximately one third of her crew ashore. After weathering the storm at sea for a night, she retrieved her missing crewmen the following morning and sailed to Toulon, arriving on 24 December to spend a relaxing holiday in port with Connole (FF-1056) and Koelsch (FF-1049).
The warship continued her Mediterranean cruise in 1980, sailing to French, Italian, Greek, and Spanish ports. Spruance also briefly left the Mediterranean, passing through the Turkish Straits and spending five days in the Black Sea while conducting surveillance of Kiev, as the Soviet carrier returned from dual operations with Minsk. Spruance visited Barcelona on 20 April, and returned to Norfolk in May 1980, where she again participated in midshipman training in June and July. In August she offloaded ammunition and supplies and began an overhaul in Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va., until 14 April 1981.
At about 0702 on 6 May 1981, 820-foot-long U.S. barge carrier Lash Atlantica and 470-foot-long Greek freighter Hellenic Carrier collided in the Atlantic, about 13 nautical miles northeast of Kitty Hawk, N.C. Spruance carried out additional sea trials not far from the scene of the collision, and rushed to the area and rescued 17 crewmembers from Hellenic Carrier and returned them safely to Norfolk. Neither of the vessels involved in the collision reported casualties, but Lash Atlantica experienced damage estimated at $2,920.000, and Hellenic Carrier became a total constructive loss, with repairs estimated to cost $5 million. Fuel oil spilled in the incident fouled beaches from Kitty Hawk southward for nearly 50 miles to Avon and cost an estimated $500,000 to clean up.
Following the trials, Spruance sailed for Guantánamo Bay for refresher training, but detoured to Port Canaveral, Fla., for several days for emergency repairs to No. 2 Waste Heat Boiler before resuming her journey. After arriving at Guantánamo Bay, she spent an entire month engaged in training exercises. Spruance then charted a course for Norfolk and on to Pascagoula for depot level maintenance at the shipyard she had been constructed in. With maintenance and repairs completed in November, she sailed to Naval Station (NS) Roosevelt Roads, P.R., to load ammunition, and then on to Guantánamo Bay for three weeks of training and engine certification. With all the necessary tests and exercises completed, she returned to Norfolk on 19 December for holiday leave and upkeep.
The increasingly seasoned destroyer returned to the Caribbean on her next cruise, sailing from Norfolk on 11 January 1982. Some of the ship’s company enjoyed shore leave at Ft. Lauderdale (13–15 January) and the warship took part in advanced anti-submarine warfare exercises at AUTEC until the 27th. Throughout most of these exercises and Spruance’s forthcoming deployment, a single Kaman SH-2F Seasprite of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (Light) (HSL) 34 Detachment 6 embarked on board the ship.
With the training complete, Spruance anchored at Martinique (28–30 January) and then sailed for home, engaging in surface warfare tactics and over-the-horizon targeting during CompTuEx 2-82 while underway for Norfolk in company with Biddle, Harry E. Yarnell, Forrest Sherman (DD-931), frigates Bowen (FF-1079) and Thomas C. Hart (FF-1092), and Military Sealift Command (MSC)-manned oiler Truckee (T-AO-147). Spruance then (6 February–1 March) accomplished upkeep in preparation for her next deployment. She sailed on 2 March, making port at Palma de Mallorca on 15 March, passing through the Suez Canal on the 23rd, and joining the John F. Kennedy (CV-67) Battle Group in the Indian Ocean on 10 April. After operating with the battle group for several weeks, largely with Task Force 70.9, she sailed independently to Mombasa, Kenya. While Spruance moored at Mombasa (2–6 May), numerous Kenyan officials including Maj. Gen. E. Simon Mbilu, Kenyan Navy Commander, visited Spruance.
Spruance operated with the John F. Kennedy Battle Group for a month before she swung around for a diplomatic mission at Port Sudan, Sudan. The warship slid into the harbor to a festive atmosphere, with merchant vessels blaring their whistles and a crowd of thousands lining the pier. Though she only entered the port for a single day on 2 June, Spruance acted as the flagship for Rear Adm. Charles E. Gurney, Commander, Middle East Forces, and hosted a visit by Sudanese President Gaafar M. Nimeiry and an entourage of that country’s officials. President Nimieri had just met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, Egypt, and was flown to Port Sudan for the meeting. The guests reviewed the ship’s honor guard, led by Lt. (j.g.) Mark K. Seglem, on the quarterdeck and toured the destroyer, and President Nimeiry expressed a desire for closer relations with the United States. Having discharged her diplomatic duties, Spruance sailed for home, arriving at Norfolk on 23 June to conduct repairs and upkeep.
After only a few weeks in port, Spruance sailed on 17 July for the coast of El Salvador, slipping through the Panama Canal to patrol the Pacific Ocean until John Rodgers (DD-983) relieved her. Spruance turned back eastward, passed through the canal, and on 9 September anchored at Ft. Lauderdale for a port visit. The ship returned to Norfolk on 13 September and began the usual round of upkeep. Surface Warfare Training Week 5-82 followed (13–17 September), which pitted the men of Spruance in competition with the crews of Kidd (DDG-993), Dahlgren (DDG-43), and Thomas C. Hart. Spruance turned her prow seaward on 18 October as part of an at sea InSurv, and she then (7–14 December) took part in a series of test sails in preparation for CompuTuEx 1-83 off the Virginia capes. With the exercise complete, Spruance returned to Norfolk for holiday leave and upkeep on 15 December 1982.
The beginning of 1983 found Spruance at Norfolk preparing to deploy to the Middle East. After loading weapons and ammunition at NWS Yorktown (19–20 January 1983), she sailed to the Virginia capes on 26 January to take part in a NATO Sea Sparrow missile firing exercise. After the missile shoot, she steered southerly courses to Roosevelt Roads to take part in naval gunfire support training at Vieques Island off the Puerto Rican coast (26–30 January).
Spruance then began her deployment, sailing for Ponta Delgada in the Azores Islands on 1 February, where she rendezvoused with guided missile frigate Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG-7) on 9 February for a five-hour refueling stop. The two ships made port at Rota on the 12th and that same day pushed on through the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean, and took on food, fuel, and what her historian succinctly described as “much needed mail.” The pair arrived at Port Said, Egypt, on 17 February, and the next day, now unaccompanied by Oliver Hazard Perry, Spruance transited the Suez Canal and entered the area of responsibility of the Middle East Force. She relieved Stump (DD-978) at Djibouti (19–22 February), crossed the equator on 26 February, and then (29 February–3 March) visited Mombasa. While en route to Bahrain on 8 March, she refueled at Raysut, Oman.
Spruance steamed through the Strait of Hormuz but spent only a single day on 13 March 1983 anchored at Manama, Bahrain, before taking up radar picket station duty in the Persian Gulf. The ship required extra vigilance as she arrived in the midst of a war between the Iraqis and Iranians. Spruance’s men toiled in the often wilting, enervating, heat of the region until 9 June, making frequent replenishment trips to Bahrain and a diplomatic visit to Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia (9–11 April). On 10 June, as the ship sailed through the Strait of Hormuz en route to the Suez Canal, she turned over with Deyo (DD-989) and Thomas C. Hart, and the three vessels transferred men and material back and forth in small boats and helicopters. Spruance battled a sandstorm as she passed northbound through the canal on the 17th, and then (23–24 June) made port at Rota.
From Spanish waters, Spruance began a Northern European cruise and visited St. Nazaire, France (26–28 June), and Liverpool, England (1–3 July). Nearly 3,000 visitors toured the ship in both ports. The destroyer spent the 4th of July at the Isle of Man in the United Kingdom, where her color guard and honor guard marched as the only non-British contingents in the Tynwald Day Celebration, the island’s national day. The warship anchored at Amsterdam in the Netherlands (9–11 July), and Portsmouth, England (12–14 July) before sailing for home, retuning to Norfolk on 23 July for leave and stand down. Spruance offloaded weapons at NWS Yorktown (29–31 August) and then returned to Norfolk and held a dependent’s cruise. Cmdr. Vernon E. Clark relieved Cmdr. Patrick M. Shepherd as the ship’s commanding officer on 2 September, and Clark’s star would continue to rise until he became the 27th CNO. The ship completed a selected restricted availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard that included the installation of a new sonar dome rubber window and the Mk 23 Target Acquisition System radar (6 September–5 December 1983). For the remainder of the year Spruance based out of Norfolk and trained off the Virginia capes.
Following an extended period of holiday leave, Spruance prepared for an excursion to the icy waters of the North Atlantic and the Arctic Circle. After purchasing cold weather gear and implementing a variety of anti-icing projects, she sailed on 16 February 1984 as part of a major NATO exercise entitled United Effort/Teamwork 84. The exercise involved 40 British, Canadian, and U.S. vessels as they carried out an amphibious landing in Norway, and Spruance served as the command ship for Commander, Canadian DesRon One.
As the exercise ended the ship made port at Trondheim, Norway (23–26 March), where she embarked Commander, DesRon 26 in preparation for Exercise Arctic Sharem 55. Lasting until 14 April, Arctic Sharem 55 involved anti-submarine exercises above the Arctic Circle, with Spruance sailing far enough north that the destroyer gingerly threaded her way through ice flows as she entered the outer edge of the ice pack. The ship then (14–18 April) visited Halifax, Nova Scotia, before returning to Norfolk for leave and repairs (20 April–25 May).
She next (29 May–2 June) sailed to Roosevelt Roads to take part in naval gunfire support tests, before continuing on to Guantánamo Bay until 6 July while conducting refresher training and engaging in battle problems and engineering drills. Spruance returned to Norfolk Naval Shipyard for a two-month maintenance period, which included the installation of the Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS). Spruance became the 200th ship to receive the system and marked the occasion by exchanging mementos with the shipyard and General Dynamics. Departing the shipyard on 20 August, the newly armed destroyer embarked Commander, DesRon 14 and joined in exercise ReadEx 2-84 until 8 September, hunting submarines and firing RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
Hurricane Josephine delayed Spruance from deploying with the Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) Battle Group to the Mediterranean on 12 October 1984, but the following day she stood out to sea with Commander, DesRon 14, and HSL-32 Detachment 1 on board for the Sixth Fleet. Josephine’s strong winds and heavy seas mercilessly battered the ships. Twenty foot seas smashed into Dwight D. Eisenhower at 1344 on the 12th and swept AD3 Charles D. Elliott of Attack Squadron (VA) 66 overboard to starboard. A Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 5 searched for Elliott but could not locate him in the maelstrom.
The group grimly continued their voyage and upon Spruance’s arrival at NS Rota on 23 October, she relieved Peterson (DD-969). Dwight D. Eisenhower then (26–27 October) relieved America (CV-66) at Augusta Bay, Sicily. The carrier and her consorts operated in the eastern Mediterranean early the next month. Spruance in the meanwhile provide simulated gunfire support for amphibious landings during PhiblEx 4-84 off the coast of Bizerte, Tunisia (28–29 October). She next (7–16 November) moved in to Cartagena, Spain, where her men enjoyed shore leave and hosted a series of official receptions, which included representing the United States at the International Maritime Film Festival.
The ships of the group rendezvoused for dual operations with Independence (CV-62) on 3 and 4 November, and then (5–7 November) participated in Sea Wind, a joint air defense exercise with the Egyptians. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Mississippi (CGN-40), Wainwright, Coontz (DDG-40), Sampson (DDG-10), Spruance, Elmer Montgomery (FF-1082), Koelsch, Voge (FF-1047), Butte (AE-27) and Savannah (AOR-4) steamed together in a large formation, while Independence, Josephus Daniels (CG-27), John King (DDG-3), Hayler (DD-997), Estocin (FFG-15), McCandless (FF-1084), Santa Barbara (AE-28), and Platte (AO-186) operated as the other group. The exercise gave the participants valuable experience in the complexities of maneuvering in larger formations and in station keeping.
The Cold War continued however, and Spruance turned eastward from those waters and sailed for the Black Sea in company with Coontz. The pair passed through the Turkish Straits and cruised along the Bulgarian and Soviet coasts, and MSC-manned Neosho (T-AO-143) replenished the ships underway to enable them to complete their voyage (21–29 November). The ships came about, passed back through the straits, and Spruance made port at Split, Yugoslavia (3–10 December) to conduct official calls and functions with the local communist authorities. The crew opened the ship to the public for two four-hour periods, during which over 3,800 Yugoslavs boarded to tour the vessel. Spruance cleared Split and reached Gaeta, Italy, on 13 December 1984, where she spent the rest of the year in a period of intermediate maintenance availability and holiday leave.
Spruance cleared Gaeta on 2 January 1985 and on the 7th reached Souda Bay, Crete. The ship arrived to take part in National Week Exercises, joining in a dual battle group operation that encompassed a huge sweep across the Mediterranean (13 January–1 February). Spruance primarily tracked ships in support of the battle force commander’s tactical planning. With the exercise complete she sailed to the training anchorage at Porto Scudo, Sardinia,
Italy, on 1 February and on the 5th to Algiers, Algeria. She then returned to Porto Scudo on 13 February and set out the next day for Dog Fish 85, which included Dutch, Italian, and U.S. ships. The exercise emphasized established tactical data links as they hunted for submarines.
Following terrorist threats against the U.S Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, Dwight D. Eisenhower emergency sortied from Palma de Mallorca on 7 March and made for the Eastern Mediterranean. Spruance took up a support station off the Lebanese coast on 22 March. She remained there along with Mississippi, standing ready for the potential evacuation of U.S. civilians, until 6 April. HS-5 dispatched an SH-3D (BuNo 152709) from Dwight D. Eisenhower to operate for 14 days from Mississippi and Spruance in the Eastern Mediterranean for the evacuations, before returning to the ship. The squadron considered the Sea King to be a strong asset due to its “three-fold” passenger and cargo capacity, which enabled the men to concentrate upon hunting submarines with their other helos. Helicopters subsequently evacuated people from Beirut to Cyprus. Grumman F-14A Tomcats from Fighter Squadron 143 flew dissimilar air combat training against British Royal Air Force (RAF) McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom IIs flying out of Akrotiri, Cyprus (16–29 March). The Americans noted that their confident British opponents used their AIM-7F Sparrow and AIM-9L Sidewinder air-to-air missiles to their “absolute max and min ranges.”
Kiev and her consorts added to the tension when they steamed through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles into the Mediterranean (21 March–30 April 1985). The Soviet aircraft carrier behaved very boldly toward Dwight D. Eisenhower and at one point conducted a strike exercise in proximity to the Americans. The latter noted, however, that although Soviet Yakovlev Yak-36 Forgers flew practice strafing and bombing runs against Kiev’s wake, they never flew more than 50 nautical miles out of range from their carrier, demonstrating a lack of expertise in comparison to their U.S. counterparts. Soviet Il-38 Mays monitored the ship while she conducted around the clock anti-submarine operations, though Tomcats intercepted the Soviets (6–13 April). The ship suffered her only aircraft loss during the deployment on 14 April when Lt. Kevin J. Rooney of VA-66 flew Aircraft No. 307, an LTV A-7E Corsair II (BuNo 160719), that suffered an engine failure and crashed in the Eastern Mediterranean, but an SH-3H from HS-5 recovered Rooney.
As the crisis abated Spruance returned to her standard training, sailing to Toulon on the 10th to join Coontz in an anti-air exercise (16–20 April). Spruance then conducted an active basin search for the Naval Underwater Systems Center in support of the AN/SQS-53A sonar improvement program (18–21 April). On the 21st she sailed to Augusta Bay, where Kidd relieved her, and Nimitz (CVN-68) relieved Dwight D. Eisenhower while both carriers anchored in the bay (21–23 April). On the 27th Dwight D. Eisenhower departed the Sixth Fleet en route home, and Spruance returned to Norfolk on 7 May.
Following a 30-day leave and upkeep period the destroyer served as the test platform for the Combat Direction Finding (DF) System. She then offloaded weapons and ammunition at NWS Yorktown (11–13 July) before returning to Norfolk for surface warfare training (15–20 July). Spruance spent the next several months conducting DF training off the Virginia capes, and at one point (10–13 September) joined submarine Narwhal (SSN-671) in a series of tracking, localization, and simulated attack operations in those waters.
Spruance sailed to Port Everglades on 7 December 1985 and opened the ship to more than 1,000 people over the course of four days during the Winterfest 85 festivities. From there, she sailed directly to the AUTEC range in the Bahamas to carry out anti-submarine warfare exercises with Farragut (DDG-37) against Bluefish (SSN-675), which included test firing an ASROC and two torpedoes (12–14 December). The ship steamed to Norfolk on 16 December and remained there on holiday leave for the remainder of the year.
Beginning on 10 January 1986, Spruance accomplished a series of training exercises off the Virginia capes. She then sailed to Yorktown on 28 April and offloaded weaponry. After a month-long return to Norfolk, she arrived at Pascagoula without her RUR-5 ASROC eight-cell launcher, guns, and NATO Sea Sparrow system for an extensive overhaul (2 June 1986–26 May 1987). The most important aspect of the overhaul comprised the installation of the Mk 41 Vertical Launching System, capable of carrying and launching 61 RGM-109B Tomahawk anti-ship missiles, which replaced the ASROC launcher on the forecastle. Additional upgrades to her armament included modifying the 5-inch guns to the Mod 1 version, as well as increasing the armored protection around both 5-inch magazines, and adapting the NATO Sea Sparrow system to allow it to fire RIM-7M missiles.
In addition, the ship received the AN/SQR-19 Tactical Towed Array Sonar system, the Recovery, Assist, Secure and Traverse (RAST) System for the Sikorsky SH-60B Seahawk Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS), and extended the helo hangar superstructure on the starboard side to make room for sonobuoy storage. Spruance additionally received modifications to the AN-SQS-53A bow-mounted sonar to the “B” variant. The destroyer’s engineering plant received upgrades that included removing all three waste heat boilers, both steam distilling plants, and all of the steam using equipment, and installing two electric hot water heaters, two electric lube oil heaters, and two electric fuel oil heaters (and two additional fuel tanks). The shipyard workers also installed various electric space heaters throughout the ship.
The newly refurbished ship underwent sea trials off Pascagoula until 28 May, and then sailed to Norfolk to load the necessary replacement parts at the Integrated Logistics Overhaul Site, arriving on 17 June. Spruance loaded weaponry and ammunition at Yorktown (24–26 June) and sailed to the waters off Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., where she served as a platform for Seahawk testing (6–13 July).
Spruance next turned southward for her new homeport of NS Mayport, Fla. (13–15 July). While anchored at Mayport for the remainder of July she underwent a training readiness evaluation and a period of maintenance availability. On 28 August Spruance stood out of Mayport and made for Roosevelt Roads to return a historic cannon to Puerto Rico. Based out of Guantánamo Bay, Spruance operated throughout the Caribbean, taking part in submarine hunting exercises (2 September–6 November). Aside from visits to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands (5–7 September), Roosevelt Roads on the 10th, and Ft. Lauderdale (13–17 September), she sailed between Guantánamo Bay and Roosevelt Roads for the next two months. On 8 November Spruance swung around and returned to Mayport, and then (9–11 November) carried out anti-submarine warfare exercises off the Virginia capes. Upon the ship’s return to Mayport she began preparations for an InSurv that took place while she both steamed at sea and lay in port (30 November–4 December). For the remainder of December 1987, Spruance remained in port, taking part in Tomahawk training.
Spruance embarked Rear Adm. Larry G. Vogt, Commander, Submarine Group 2, as well as the Commander, DesRon 26, and cleared Mayport on 4 January 1988 to take part in RAST landing qualifications and deck landing qualifications as part of FleetEx 1-88 exercises. While at sea on the night of 19 January, Magnum-445, an embarked SH-60B from HSL-44, crashed into Spruance’s side. The impact killed Lt. Michael S. Walker, the helo’s pilot, but sailors from Spruance used the motor whale boat to rescue the co-pilot and the aviation warfare systems operator. An investigation determined that pilot error caused the accident.
The ship arrived at Roosevelt Roads on 23 January and debarked the two commanders and their staffs. Spruance returned to Mayport on 28 January and took part in Tomahawk tests off Jacksonville until 12 February. The warship loaded weapons and ammunition at NWS Charleston (16–18 March) to prepare for her first operational Tomahawk test launch from a vertical launcher on the 26th in the Gulf of Mexico. Rear Adm. Richard D. Milligan, Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group 2, broke his flag in the ship as she fired the missile in an over the horizon targeting scenario.
After undergoing Harpoon missile qualification (7–8 April) and embarking Capt. John P. Collins Jr., Commander, DesRon 14, Spruance stood out of Mayport on a six-month cruise (25 April–25 October 1988). Spruance turned for the Arabian Sea, steaming in company with Forrestal (CV-59), Semmes (DDG-18), Dahlgren, Elmer Montgomery, Pharris (FF-1094), and Milwaukee (AOR-2). The battle group passed through the Strait of Gibraltar on 6 May and entered the area of responsibility of the Sixth Fleet. The commodore lowered his flag on the 8th and departed the ship to attend a conference for Baltic Operations Exercise (BaltOps) 88.
Spruance deployed largely in response to what journalists dubbed the Tanker War, an undeclared conflict between Americans and Iranians. With the Iran-Iraq War dragging on with no chance of concluding on land, both sides launched aircraft that attacked oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, and laid mines in the transit lanes. In addition, starting in 1983 the Iranian Sepâh-e Pâsdârân-e Enqhelâb-e Eslâmi (Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps) purchased 51 swift Swedish aluminum RL-120-2A Boghammars for what they announced as “customs duties.” Four to eight men usually manned each boat, and fought with an array of weapons that included 106-millimeter recoilless rifles, shoulder-launched RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and 12.7-millimeter machine guns. The Boghammars could reach 50 knots and proved ideal for darting around isles. The ongoing threat to ships in the Gulf eventually compelled the U.S. to permit Kuwaiti tankers to fly U.S. flags and to assure them the protection of the U.S. Navy.
Spruance meanwhile sailed to Port Said, Egypt, where she anchored (12–13 May) before transiting the Suez Canal (13–14 May 1988). The Ship’s Self Defense Force discussed the threat from Boghammars, mines, and suicide attackers as they manned Browning .50 caliber and M60 machine guns and M14 rifles from behind sandbagged positions on the deck while Spruance slid through the canal into the Gulf of Suez and the Red Sea. The forward lookouts could see many jellyfish as they stood on the forecastle, but a number of sailors off watch and nonplussed by the international situation or the 100°+ heat sunbathed on the 04 level aft. The ship also held a cookout forward, which the men thoroughly enjoyed.
The warship passed through the Bab-el-Mandeb (Gate of Tears), rounded the Arabian Peninsula, and on 20 May 1988 relieved Truxtun (CGN-35) and took up station in the Strait of Hormuz Eastern Patrol Area. There she served as an intelligence gathering platform, monitoring Soviet ships and identifying merchant and naval shipping. Spruance also monitored a small group of Iranian vessels, including an Alvand-class frigate that exited the Strait of Hormuz to conduct exercises. Daily flights of Iranian aircraft observed Spruance, which occasionally triggered her to warn the intruders away when they ventured too close.
Spruance anchored at Ras Al Hadd, Oman (11–16 and 16–17 June 1988), trading off duty as gate guard at Hormuz with O’Brien (DD-975). The two destroyers moored alongside destroyer tender Samuel Gompers (AD-37) for a tender availability during the first visit—at Ras al Haad. After conducting a vertical replenishment with combat store ship Spica (T-AFS-9) while underway on 28 June, Spruance anchored at Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates for refueling on 3 July.
On the same day that Spruance arrived in port, Vincennes (CG-49) shot down Iran Air Flight 655, a civilian airliner she misidentified as an attacking warplane, killing all 290 people on board. Spruance immediately returned to her patrol station, though since her NATO Sea Sparrow system was not operational, Semmes (DDG-18) steamed toward Spruance’s area and provided air defense for her while tensions remained heightened in the region.
A Polish sailor on board Greek fishing vessel Aegean fell critically ill on 4 July 1988. Magnum 444, Spruance’s embarked SH-60B Seahawk manned by Lt. Cmdr. Lee Davis, Lt. Jim Hirst, HM1 Julio Sanchez, AW2 Douglas Bailey, and AW2 Harold Brown, flew to the vessel, where, despite the approaching darkness, Aegean’s limited deck space, and the trawler rolling in the swells, they delivered the corpsman to help their fellow mariners. Sanchez began an IV but determined that the man required additional medical attention ashore, so they hoisted the Polish mariner aloft and flew him to Fujairah. The patient recovered there and the hospital notified that the ship that he likely would have died if they had not rescued him. The destroyer carried out a good will exchange with British frigate Beaver (F.93) four days later, and on the 11th Dahlgren relieved her as gate guard. John Hancock (DD-981) and Spruance moored alongside submarine tender Emory S. Land (AS-39) for a tender availability at Ras al Haad.
Dahlgren meanwhile returned to her gate guard duty until Spruance her and the two ships switched roles again (23–27 July). On the 27th Vincennes relieved Spruance and the later turned for home with the Forrestal Battle Group to the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal. The destroyer passed eastbound through the Strait of Hormuz and crossed the North Arabian Sea (27 July–3 August), steamed through the Bab-el-Mandeb and across the Red Sea, and on the 5th anchored at Port Suez, Egypt. There, 20 visitors from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo boarded for the passage of the strategic waterway (6–7 August). As the ship passed through the canal more than 100 sailors ran 369 miles on a Suez Canal Run to raise money for the Combined Federal Campaign.
Spruance received the first liberty of her deployment upon arrival in Naples on 10 August 1988. While in port until 16 August, her crew conducted repairs on their own that normally required the attention of full shipyard repair facilities. Some of the men traveled to Rome and while there also attended a Papal Audience with Pope John Paul II at the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer residence located about 16 miles southeast of the Eternal City. The ship then (17–19 August) participated in National Week anti-submarine warfare exercises with vessels of the Forrestal and John F. Kennedy Battle Groups in the Eastern Mediterranean. Following the exercise on the 20th, the ship took part in a fleet pass in review as Vice Adm. James D. Williams relieved Vice Adm. Kendall E. Moranville as Commander, Sixth Fleet. That same day, after nearly eight years and hundreds of thousands of deaths, the Iran-Iraq War, and with it the Tanker War, ended.
Spruance in the meantime charted a course for Spanish waters but as she stood in to the harbor at Palma de Mallorca on the rainy day of the 22nd, Greenpeace protesters, who advocated against nuclear weapons, met Spruance at the dock. The protesters refused to allow sailors to set up the lower accommodation ladder on the pier, and though Spruance turned her fire hoses on the protesters, it was not until sailors manually pulled the ladder into position that they resolved the confrontation. After then enjoying several days of undisrupted liberty, including a medieval banquet at which the libations flowed freely, Spruance sailed on 28 August for the Strait of Gibraltar and the North Atlantic.
The ship set out to engage in Teamwork-88, an exercise that involved British, Canadian, Danish, Dutch, West German, and Norwegian ships. The allies fought simulated scenarios against East Bloc submarines, ships, and aircraft across a broad area ranging from Iceland to the fjords of northern Norway. Watchstanders enjoyed the rare sight of the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights, as they danced in the night sky. A more memorable event occurred for many of the sailors when Boreas Rex, ruler of the North Wind, declared “this ship and her company true and trusted ice and brine encrusted Blue Noses” when Spruance crossed the Arctic Circle at 004°32'9"E on 10 September.
Spruance operated at one point with British frigate London (F.95), which dispatched her embarked Westland Lynx to Spruance. The Lynx landed briefly on board and her crew discussed operations with their American counterparts. The U.S. destroyer furthermore refueled from British Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA)-manned fast fleet tanker Olmeda (A.124) and small fleet tanker Gold Rover (A.271) (12–14 September 1988), and from German tanker Spessart (A.1442) on the 18th. The chilling cold and the relatively smaller size of some of the allied oilers compared to their U.S. counterparts gave the ship’s company what their Familygram succinctly described as “exciting moments.” The ship’s embarked Seahawk flew into a quiet northern Norwegian village to collect the mail at one point.
With the exercise completed on 24 September, Spruance sailed through the Skaggerak, Kattegat, and the Great Belt to Helsinki, Finland, arriving on 26 September for a formal visit. She served a formal luncheon on board for dignitaries including Vice Adm. Edward H. Martin, Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Naval Forces Europe, as well as Rockwell A. Schnabel, U.S. Ambassador to Finland, his Finnish counterpart, and the Commander-in-Chief of the Finnish Navy. She then swung around, and the navigation teams on the bridge and in the Combat Information Center again stood long details as the ship passed back through the Great Belt, and called at Aarhus, Denmark (30 September–3 October) to smooth over the final details of BaltOps 88.
The exercise lasted from 4–7 October and involved a series of anti-ship and anti-submarine exercises in proximity to East Bloc vessels and aircraft. Spruance cross-decked some men with allied ships, and Lt. Donald Rhead spent two days on board British destroyer Bristol (D.23), and Lt. Thomas Ransom served in Dutch frigate Bloys van Treslong (F.824). These two ships sent three of their junior officers to the American vessel. At the conclusion, Spruance steamed through the now familiar Great Belt and visited Kiel, West Germany (8–11 October). She then sailed for home, sailing through the English Channel on 13 October and arriving off Bermuda on the 22nd. There she embarked a propulsion examining board for an operational propulsion plant exam on 23 October. The sun rose on the 25th into what turned out to be a beautiful day as tugboats spraying colored water led the ship into the basin at Mayport. The women of the Spruance Alliance Support Group hired a plane that flew overhead towing a sign that read “Welcome Home Spru-Crew We Love You.”
Over the next several months Spruance trained and held RAST landing and deck landing qualifications off Jacksonville (28 November–2 December), and then sailed to Charleston on 4 December to offload weapons and ammunition. Aside from a dependent’s cruise on 9 December and landing qualifications (12–14 December 1988), Spruance spent the remainder of the year at Mayport, with her crew enjoying holiday leave.
Spruance began 1989 at Mayport, and then set out for the AUTEC range, joining Boone (FFG-28) and a submarine near the Bahamas on 24 January. The next night high seas and winds pounded Spruance and she ran aground on a reef approximately one mile from Andros Island. Attempts to re-float herself met with failure, and the ship remained on the reef for three days until salvage ship Grasp (ARS-51) attached a tow line to the destroyer’s bow and, in concert with MSC-manned fleet ocean tug Mohawk (T-ATF-170), laboriously pulled her free.
Grasp and Mohawk then took Spruance under tow and began the slow journey to Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula for repairs. A thorough investigation of the incident while the ship slowly completed her journey resulted in the relief for cause of Cmdr. Travis W. Parker Jr., the commanding officer, the navigator, and the officer of the deck. The trio of vessels arrived at Pascagoula on 3 February 1989, where Spruance moored at the shipyard’s East Bank, and three days later Spruance entered a floating dry dock. A close inspection revealed irreparable damage to both propellers, a severely dented sonar dome “banjo” strut, and a broken antenna on the forward mast, the latter caused by the high winds on the first night aground. Cmdr. Christopher E. Weaver reported on board on 5 February, the day before Spruance entered dry dock, to relieve Cmdr. Parker. Spruance completed her repairs and floated from dry dock on 20 February, carried out a fast cruise and dock trials on the 24th, and then sailed to Mayport, holding sea trials en route (24–27 February).
Spruance endeavored to put the grounding behind her and took part in Tail Proficiency Training 4-89, involving extensive anti-submarine training at various points (13–22 March) with Boone, Jesse L. Brown (FF-1089), Ray (SSN-653), and Shark (SSN-591). On 3 April she cleared port again to conduct detect-to-engage scenarios, precision anchoring, and a gunnery firing exercise off Jacksonville. A fishhook snagged the warship’s towed array cable and she cut short the exercises and return early to port on 7 April. Spruance repaired the damage and then departed for Norfolk, carefully threading her way through a simulated minefield as the ship stood out to sea (2–4 May). Arriving in port, the destroyer welcomed Capt. Thomas P. Collins Commander, DesRon 14, on board.
The following day Spruance joined a task force of ships bound for Onslow Bay and Morehead City, N.C., as part of Solid Shield ’89. After navigating through yet another simulated minefield with the task force, Spruance assumed a patrol and fire support station near Virginia Beach, in preparation for an amphibious landing. On the 12th and 13th, Spruance worked with Amphibious Group 2, which also included King, Aubrey Fitch (FFG-34), Estocin, amphibious transport dock Nashville (LPD-13), dock landing ship Pensacola (LSD-38), amphibious cargo ship Charleston (LKA-113), and tank landing ships Harlan County (LST-1196), Saginaw (LST-1188), and Sumter (LST-1181). She returned to Mayport on 22 May, remaining there while conducting maintenance and conducting inspections until 9 June, when she steamed in the Jacksonville Operations Area for two days with a gas turbine module training team embarked. After a brief return to Mayport, Spruance sailed again on the night of 13–14 June, this time with a propulsion monitoring team on board.
With routine maintenance complete, Spruance reached the time to return to intensive operations. She set out in company with John L. Hall (FFG-32) and Pawcatuck (T-AO-108) for the North Atlantic on 20 June 1989, to participate in ROJO 1-89. The training exercise lasted four weeks, with ships of the task force sailing from the coast of Ireland to the Strait of Gibraltar while conducting antisubmarine operations against “real-world targets.” With the exercise complete on 17 July, Spruance made port at Greenock, Scotland, providing the crew with some well-needed rest. Some of the men went ashore and competed in athletic events, toured nearby Glasgow, or took a train for Edinburgh. The warship departed Greenock on 21 July, passed back down through the busy Firth of Clyde, crossed the Atlantic, and returned to Mayport on 1 August.
On 16 August she sailed from port to conduct helicopter deck landing qualifications with HSL-44 Detachment 6 in the balmy waters off Florida. The next day, while still underway, Spruance suffered a generator control system malfunction, which resulted in the loss of two of her three generators. Crewmen secured the major electrical equipment and the ship returned to port for repairs that day. The work did not take long, and Spruance resumed training at sea to complete a combat systems assessment (21–25 August). Capt. Joseph F. McCarton, Commander, DesRon 8, held an intermediate unit commander’s inspection on board (31 August–6 September). Spruance stood out on the 8th for Yorktown, and buried two veterans at sea (who had requested the traditional service prior to their demise) with full honors, and offloaded ammunition and weaponry at the naval weapons station (10–13 September).
The destroyer turned for Philadelphia, where, on 15 September, she entered dry dock for repairs to the sonar dome and its metal “banjo” strut, which had been damaged during the January grounding and only partially repaired while at Pascagoula. Spruance remained in dry dock until 4 December, undergoing repairs and painting the previously black upper masts and stacks haze-grey to conform to new Navy regulations. Low visibility and heavy weather compelled the Navy to order a standdown on 5 October. Following a fast cruise on 4 December, she completed dock trials on 12 December and set out for a weapons onload at NWS Earle, N.J. Departing with a full combat loadout, Spruance returned to Mayport (15–18 December 1989). The crew manned the rails reinforced by a special guest as Santa Claus stood on the forecastle and greeted dependent children in the crowd ashore.
Spruance began 1990 still on holiday leave in Mayport, where she conducted an aviation certification on 8 January before sailing on the 12th to Earle for another weapons onload. During the three-day transit, Spruance had a special guest on board, Thomas L. Clancy Jr., the esteemed author of The Hunt for Red October, who toured the ship, dined with the crew, and signed autographs. The ship came about for southern waters, stopping briefly at Norfolk’s SESEF for range recalibration of the Organizational Unit Tactical Baseline Operational Area Radio Detection system, before returning to Mayport (17–20 January).
Capt. Thomas D. Barry, Commander, DesRon 24, broke his flag in Spruance during FleetEx 1-90 (29 January–11 February 1990). The ship’s chronicler reported that she completed a series of exercises in a “dynamic training environment,” and scored a “kill” with an exercise torpedo. Spruance completed the exercise at St. Thomas on 11 February and on the 15th returned to Mayport to welcome a Tomahawk tactical qualification team for an assistance visit.
Spruance dedicated herself overt the next several months to training and preparing for an upcoming deployment. The preparations began with helo deck landing qualifications for Venom 502, the embarked SH-60B Seahawk from HSL-48 Detachment 1 (12–14 March), and continued with a series of inspections, upgrades, and recoverable exercise torpedo launches. TPT 4-90, a submarine tracking and targeting exercise, followed (7–10 May). Venom 502 flew the commodore to Hayler as he shifted his flag, and she then sailed to NS Roosevelt Roads, spending overnight (11–12 May) in port while attending a planning conference and embarking observers for an upcoming U.S./German missile exercise. Spruance joined U.S. and German ships for the exercise on 12 May, fired four NATO Sea Sparrows, and splashed two MM38 Exocet surface-to-surface missiles that the “opposition forces” launched.
Following some training at home, Spruance again served again as DesRon 24’s flagship during FleetEx 3-90 (Advanced) (7–23 June). While underway in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, Spruance launched a Harpoon at a target hulk more than 50 miles away on the 19th, scoring a direct hit just above the waterline that passed completely through the vessel, which sank shortly thereafter. The warship then launched a Tomahawk missile on the 23rd that flew more than 500 miles and descended intact, via parachute, onto Eglin AFB, Fla. Apart from a trip to Charleston for a weapons onload (7–10 July), Spruance spent the rest of the month in port at Mayport, preparing for deployment.
Electrifying news from the Middle East stunned the ship’s company as they learned that the Iraqis invaded Kuwait on 2 August 1990. The coalition responded by launching Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and Desert Sabre to protect the region, contain Iraqi aggression, and liberate the Kuwaitis.
In the meanwhile, Spruance took in all lines and sailed as part of the Saratoga Battle Group, led by Rear Adm. George N. Gee, Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group 8, for a scheduled deployment to the Mediterranean and the Arabian Sea (7 August 1990–28 March 1991). Reports of Iraqi atrocities against the Kuwaitis emerged, and the tragic stories, combined with the dramatic shift in the balance of power in the region, obliged the battle group to increase speed and pass through the Strait of Gibraltar on 17 August.
The ships sped across the Mediterranean, but just as Spruance stood poised to continue with the group and enter the Suez Canal on the 22nd, she was detached and directed to take up a solo station in the Eastern Mediterranean to maintain the anti-air picture of the area. RAF Phantom IIs out of Akrotiri flew missile attack profiles against the destroyer to give her crew anti-air warfare experience on almost a daily basis. The warship often replenished from other ships and helicopters to maintain her constant vigil, and on one occasion on 10 September, from a U.S. Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion that flew from Akrotiri. After 40 grueling days at sea on patrol she moored pierside at Haifa, Israel (16–19 September), providing the crew with the opportunity to tour throughout the Israeli countryside and relax for the first time on the deployment.
Spruance cleared Israeli waters and steamed to Augusta Bay, celebrating her 15th anniversary of commissioned service on 20 September 1990 while en route by holding a swim call, talent show, and poetry contest. On the 23rd she arrived at Augusta Bay to fill the remaining vertical launch system cells with Tomahawks, and for her commanding officer and key members of his staff to attend a tactics meeting with their NATO allies on board Italian aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi for Display Determination ’90, which she then sailed into (27 September–1 October).
The ship next called at Alexandria, Egypt (11–14 October), with the intention of hosting a farewell reception for Vice Adm. Williams. The assassination of Rifaat el-Mahgoub, the Egyptian Speaker of Parliament, on the 13th, however, led the planners to cancel the reception because of security considerations. With the ship still cleaned and prepared for a reception, she sailed to Haifa, where she hosted the reception without incident and accomplished some minor material problems. Spruance next sailed to Thessaloniki, Greece (26–31 October) and took center stage in the celebration of OXI Day, the Greek military holiday. The warship also hosted a reception on the 27th for U.S. Ambassador to Greece George M. Sotirhos, along with Greek Deputy Prime Minister Tzannis Tzannetakis and the service chiefs of the Greek military.
Spruance stood out of Thessaloniki for Palermo, Sicily, arriving on 9 November and taking up the duties of the American representative in NATO’s On-Call Forces Mediterranean. For the next month she operated constantly with allied vessels, forming working relationships with British, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, and Turkish ships. The ship refueled from Turkish replenishment oiler Akar (A.580) on 7 November, and renewed her association with Spessart when she refueled from the German ship on 17 and 30 November, and again on 3 and 7 December. Spruance in the meantime broke the operations to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday, and to complete propeller strut repairs alongside Yellowstone (AD-41) while divers working from the destroyer tender inspected the corroded struts, as she lay at Souda Bay (20–26 November). With the repairs complete, the destroyer rejoined John F. Kennedy and the rest of the On-Call Forces task group en route to Naples. While in port there (7–13 December), the ship replenished and refueled, and crewmen enjoyed tours of Italy. The following day Spruance turned for Rhodes, Greece, but gale-force winds forced her to redirect to the more sheltered harbor of Thessaloniki. Spruance spent an enjoyable Christmas in the Greek port (20–27 December), and set sail for Haifa, where she moored on New Year’s Eve 1990.
Spruance started off 1991 by taking station between Cyprus and Syria. On 22 January, six days after Operation Desert Shield transitioned to Operation Desert Storm, Virginia (CGN-38), Pittsburgh (SSN-720), and Spruance launched Tomahawks at economic targets in northern Iraq. Spruance received confirmation through several channels that her missiles slammed into their targets on time with deadly results. After providing air defense coverage in the Eastern Mediterranean in company with British aircraft carrier Ark Royal (R.07) and frigate Sheffield (F.96), Spruance turned southward and on 8 February transited the Suez Canal.
The ship then joined the United Nation’s Maritime Interception Force and assisted in enforcing the economic embargo against Iraq. Spruance querried many vessels, resulting in boarding and inspecting three merchantmen bound for Iraqi ports, and diverting a fourth. She also served as an escort ship, accompanying an Egyptian troop transport south to Saudi Arabia. The destroyer’s other escort mission proved less motivated by protective tendencies and more by the opportunity to gain intelligence on Indian submarine Sindhuvijay (S.62), as she sailed south from her Soviet (Russian) builders at Severodvinsk to a new homeport in India. Although she entered Indian service, the Kilo-class boat represented a type still used by the Russians, and by escorting the submarine for a short time, Spruance was able to gather a great deal of acoustic and video information that she forwarded on to stateside analysists. On 24 February Spruance hosted a planning meeting of the commanding officers for the multi-national Maritime Interception Force.
As Operation Desert Storm ended, Spruance turned from the fighting and her crew finally enjoyed some liberty ashore as she moored at Hurghada, Egypt (28 February–3 March 1991). She then (5–8 March) visited Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where she drew alongside Puget Sound (AD-38) in order to change out the GTM-2B gas turbine engine. Again operating with the Saratoga Battle Group, Spruance passed northbound through the Suez Canal on 11 March, westbound through the Strait of Gibraltar on 18 March, and then (19–28 March) across the Atlantic Ocean. At one point the ship refueled from Wisconsin (BB-64), one of the last patrols for the battleship before she was decommissioned on 30 September. After Spruance arrived at Mayport on 28 March, the ship and her crew received the Navy Unit Commendation and the Southwest Asia Service Medal for her participation in Desert Storm. Following several months of leave and upkeep, Spruance sailed on 6 May as part of SocEx 2-91. The veteran destroyer completed the exercise on 12 May and then steamed to Charleston to offload weapons and ammunition. After her return to Mayport on 15 May, she did not leave port for another month, until she sailed on 11 June for NWS Yorktown to offload her Tomahawks.
On 24 June she headed southward for a counter-narcotics patrol in Caribbean waters. In between port visits to Roosevelt Roads on the 26th, Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles (12–14 July), and Guantánamo Bay (29–30 July), Spruance provided air surveillance and signals intelligence to agencies guarding against narcotics smugglers, resulting in the arrest of several drug traffickers and the confiscation of more than $2 billion worth of contraband. On her return from the Caribbean from 11 August, she made port at Charleston to offload munitions before returning to Mayport for a two-week homeport liberty (15 August–2 September). On the 3rd the warship set out for Norfolk, arriving on 6 September to undergo repairs and upgrades to her weaponry. After several productive weeks in Norfolk Shipyard and Drydock Company’s Titan dry dock, Spruance returned to Mayport on the 20th for a holiday stand down. Spruance rounded out the year on a personal note for the crew when Matthew A. Elam, the son of Ens Donald Elam, the ship’s missiles officer, and his wife Joanna, was christened in the ship’s bell, used as the traditional baptismal font, on 29 December 1991.
After a full month of upkeep and minor repairs, Spruance sailed on 3 February 1992 for Charleston, where she loaded weaponry to prepare for taking part in more patrols against drug traffickers in the Caribbean. After a brief (6–9 February) return to the destroyer’s homeport, she turned and patrolled the high seas to interdict drug traffic. Aside from a respite at Montego Bay, Jamaica (28 February–1 March), Spruance patrolled for nearly a month (10 February–15 March). With the counter-narcotics duties complete, however, she did not immediately turn toward home but qualified for naval gunfire support at Vieques Island on 16 March. Only then did the ship return to Mayport on 20 March, where she was awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation for her performance in the counter-narcotics operations.
Spruance left port frequently over the next several weeks, sailing on 2 April as part of an operational propulsion plant examination, and SocEx 2-92, which involved intensive anti-submarine, anti-surface, and naval gunfire support training for a marine amphibious landing (8–13 April). With the examination completed on 2 July, she spent the remainder of the month involved in routine training operations while underway off Jacksonville, including gunnery and targeting exercises against AAI Corp. RQ-2 Pioneer unmanned aerial vehicles from Fleet Composite Squadron 6.
The 30th of July found Spruance off the coast of Cape Canaveral to support Space Shuttle STS-46 Atlantis when she launched from Launch Pad 39B at John F. Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Atlantis orbited at a maximum altitude of 230 nautical miles and traveled an astounding 3.3 million miles while she deployed the European Space Agency’s European Retrievable Carrier, and operated the Joint NASA/Italian Space Agency Tethered Satellite System. The space shuttle returned to the space center on 8 August.
Hurricane Andrew threatened Spruance’s preparations to set out for another counter-narcotics deployment to the Caribbean on 24 August. The crew hastily prepared for an emergency departure, but the tempest changed course and struck Miami. The ensuing tragedy to the people of southern Florida sadly enabled the ship to make her scheduled departure date, though Spruance detoured to the east to avoid Andrew as the storm diminished but still drove high seas and winds into the area, and she entered the Caribbean. While on patrol, Spruance tracked hundreds of air and surface contacts, and with the assistance of embarked Coast Guardsmen boarded several suspect vessels. The counter-narcotics voyage lasted until 25 September when she arrived in Mayport.
Following the vessel’s return she underwent an InSurv (19–23 October), and after two weeks of in-port availability, Spruance sailed on 9 November in company with Yosemite (AD-19) for naval gunfire support training at Vieques Island, and to provide gunfire spotter services at the Bahamas AUTEC. Secretary of Defense Richard B. Cheney was visiting the range to observe the antisubmarine exercise in which Spruance participated, and the secretary boarded and toured the ship, and observed operations, while she hunted her elusive foe. Spruance returned to Mayport on 18 November to prepare for her third counter-narcotics operation of the year. The operation lasted through Christmas (4 December–29 December 1992), when she made port at Curacao to allow the crew some relaxation during the New Year’s holiday.
Spruance stood out of Curacao on 3 January 1993 and returned to Mayport, where she remained at anchor until 5 March with only one excursion to the Jacksonville Operations Area (9–12 February). On 8 March the destroyer returned to Guantánamo Bay to take part in Commander, Fleet Training Group 12-93. Lasting until 19 March, the exercise tested Spruance in preparation for her upcoming deployment. The warship then sailed to the waters off NS Roosevelt Roads, where she qualified for naval gunfire support, before returning to NS Mayport on the 26th. She cleared port several times over the next several weeks, sailing to the waters off Jacksonville (31 March–2 April and 6–15 April) as part of MEFEx 3-93, an exercise to further condition the ship for her forthcoming deployment to the Middle East Force. After a month of rest in port, she sailed on 3 May for NWS Yorktown and loaded weapons and ammunition (5–7 May).
After returning to NS Mayport on 9 May, Spruance finally departed on 3 June for MEF 3-93. Spruance crossed the Atlantic and refueled at NS Rota on 5 June before entering the Mediterranean. She then hopped from port to port across the sea and anchored at Palma de Mallorca (7–11 June), steamed through the Strait of Bonifacio and anchored in Augusta Bay (14–16 June), and rendezvoused with Shenandoah (AD-44) at Souda Bay, where she underwent minor repairs and alterations (17–27 June). From Crete the ship turned for Egypt, and after waiting for her turn for most of the 28th, transited the busy Suez Canal southbound that night and entered the Red Sea.
The ship reached the region at a tense time as a crisis with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein erupted. Former President George H.W. Bush, his wife Barbara, two of their sons, and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, had arrived in Kuwait on 14 April 1993, to participate in ceremonies commemorating the allied victory in Gulf War I. The Kuwaitis arrested and charged 17 men, however, with an attempt to assassinate the chief executive and Kuwaiti Emir (Sheikh) al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah with a car bomb. On 29 April, the CIA reported that the bomb bore the evidence of Iraqi origins. On 26 June Chancellorsville (CG-62) launched nine Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) from the Northern Arabian Gulf, and Peterson fired 14 more missiles from the Red Sea, in a coordinated night attack against the Iraqi Intelligence Service headquarters building in Baghdad, Iraq. At least 13 missiles struck the walled compound. During a press conference, Gen. Colin L. Powell, USA, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, described the attack as a “proportionate” response to the Iraqi assassination plot.
The Navy thus decided to strengthen forces making these strikes, and dispatched Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) to the Red Sea the following day. On 29 and 30 June, the carrier and her consort passed through the Suez Canal southbound, with marines manning additional M60 machine gun positions, a stand by ‘fast reaction force,’ and an FIM-92 Stinger man portable air defense. The ships entered the canal during the midwatch and the rising sun greeted the men before they reached the Red Sea. To break the monotony of the passage the carrier held a 20K four-man relay while they passed through Lake Timshah, which her embarked SEALs won. The ships completed their journey through the canal steaming at high speed, and Theodore Roosevelt’s spokesman referred to their sail as a “sprint.”
Spruance meanwhile entered the Red Sea on 29 June 1993, and assumed the duties of flagship for Task Group 152.1. The task group at times also comprised Boone and Kauffman (FFG-59), as well as several other coalition vessels including Australian guided missile frigate Sydney (FFG.03), and French corvettes Commandant de Pimodan (F.787) and Quartier-Maître Anquetil (F.786). The group primarily conducted maritime interception operations in the Red Sea in support of UN sanctions against Iraq. For Spruance, that meant observing and searching vessels transiting the Strait of Tiran en route to and from the Jordanian port of Aqaba.
In addition, Spruance rendezvoused with Theodore Roosevelt and Arleigh Burke. Marines from the carrier and Coast Guardsmen subsequently reinforced the two boarding teams from Spruance. The ship manned two such teams in order to rotate them and give the boarders a chance to catch their breath between the interceptions. Lt. (j.g.) Joseph Hanrahan and Chief Petty Officer Tim Crisp led Team 1, and Lt. Carl Burkins and Chief Cliff Rader Team 2. Chief Chris Penton of the Deck Division led a boat crew consisting of BM2 Kevin Brown, the coxswain, EN2 Reinaldo Porras, the boat engineer, and BM3 Curtis Winn, the linehandler, ably supported by BM1 James Dimattia, who led the boat deck handling team. These borders queried and boarded an average of four merchant ships a day while operating in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba, searching for illicit cargoes smuggled to the Iraqis in violation of UN sanctions. The list of such cargoes embraced a wide variety of contraband and included military equipment, weapons, and ammunition. An SH-60B LAMPS Mk III of HSL-48 Detachment 1 flying from the destroyer proved instrumental in identifying and tracking smugglers. Spruance carried out her first boarding from 10–12 July.
Spruance did not spend all that time on station, however, and alternatively anchored at Hurghada and Safaga, Egypt, in between the sojourns at sea. During one such visit to Hurghada (6–9 August), she joined an Egyptian destroyer and three patrol boats in Operation Eagle Salute, a series of maneuvering and signaling drills. Aside from the training exercises, Spruance also played host to several top Egyptian military officials and U.S. Embassy staff. Her crew and their reinforcements from Theodore Roosevelt queried their 100th ship on 28 August.
Theodore Roosevelt also coordinated many of these operations and then moved on to the Arabian Gulf for Operation Southern Watch. Following the Persian Gulf War the UN had established two no-fly zones over Iraq. In April 1991, the organization authorized the northern zone to protect the Kurds from the Iraqis. Air Force aircraft predominated during the patrols over the north during these flights, designated Operation Northern Watch, mainly from Incirlik AB near Adana, Turkey. Meanwhile, the Iraqis lashed out at Shia Muslims and the Madan People (Marsh Arabs) in southern Iraq. The UN subsequently established a southern zone extending along the 32nd parallel in order to ban Iraqi flights below that line. The coalition later extended the zone from the 32nd to 33nd parallels to grant pilots more tactical options and to pen the Iraqis in. Carriers usually launched patrols over the south during what became Southern Watch, and in time, the two zones covered half of Iraq.
Spruance celebrated her 18th birthday on 20 September 1993. FCC Charles Carter, the oldest member of the ship’s company, and SA Lynford Wayman, the youngest, cut the cake. Spruance’s relief, Hayler, arrived in the Red Sea on 29 September. After several days of turnover and training assistance, Spruance began the long journey home on 10 October, having intercepted over 170 vessels—Venom 512, the embarked Seahawk, flew approximately 700 hours in support of the queries and boardings. The destroyer spent 16 hours passing northbound through the Suez Canal the next day and then turned westward.
The warship made port at Toulon on 16 October for several days of crew leave and ship repairs, principally to the vapor compressor distiller plants. In addition, she used shore power provided by two semi-trailers, each housing a generator, to shift the equipment load off the generators after almost five months of continuous operation, which enabled the engineers to check and align the systems. The ship fully devoted her next stay, at Alicante, Spain (26–30 October), to crew leave and liberty; she then refueled at NS Rota (31 October–3 November 1993) and returned to NS Mayport on the 14th. The crew spent the remainder of the year enjoying post-deployment and holiday leave while the ship underwent routine upkeep.
The beginning of 1994 found Spruance on holiday leave in Mayport, and the ship made the first excursion of the year to Yorktown, were she spent two days (18–19 January) offloading Tomahawks and Sea Sparrows in extreme cold weather. After returning to Mayport on the 22nd, she passed a surprise controlled material system inspection. On 8 February, Spruance sailed as part of Combined Joint Task Group (CJTG) 120.1 for maritime interceptions in Haitian waters.
Following the Haitian Army’s overthrow of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in September 1991, a succession of governments had led to sectarian violence, and in May 1994 the Haitian Army imposed Supreme Court Justice Emile Jonassaint as the provisional president. The UN authorized force to restore order and the U.S. initiated Operations Support Democracy and Uphold/Restore Democracy—Uphold Democracy for a peaceful entry into Haiti, and Restore Democracy in the event of resistance.
While steaming for the Haitian coast, Spruance served as the opposition force for the George Washington (CVN-73) Battle Group during a composite unit training exercise. Upon her arrival at Haiti she assumed the responsibilities of Force Track Coordinator for the UN Security Council sanctions against Haiti. While on station approximately three nautical miles off Port-au-Prince, Spruance inspected more than 100 vessels for contraband. She also participated in two rescues, plucking a Cuban asylum seeker from a raft in the Windward Passage, and treating the man for exposure and transferring him to the Coast Guard.
The second incident involved a search and rescue of a sailing vessel in distress several days later. The vessel nearly foundered and just as Spruance completed an underway replenishment, she received a call from a USAF Boeing RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft that monitored a “Mayday” request for help. Spruance immediately launched her Seahawk and turned for the scene at high speed. Upon reaching the area, heavy seas prevented Spruance from attaching a towline, though she succeeded in lowering an officer and three sailors in a rigid hull inflatable boat, who, in spite of the foul weather, boarded and sailed the derelict more than 70 nautical miles to Guantánamo Bay. The destroyer visited Montego Bay (24–26 February) and Guantánamo Bay (16–24 March) before she returned to Mayport on the last day of the month. The Haitians eventually agreed to allow the Americans to land peacefully, and on 31 March 1995 the U.S. transferred peacekeeping functions to international forces.
Upon her return, Spruance took part in an operational propulsion plant examination while at sea off Jacksonville (26–28 April 1994). On 2 May a Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment boarded the ship to take part in counter-narcotics operations in Central American waters. Having transited the Panama Canal on 8 May, she sailed for three weeks along the Pacific Coast of Central America, and visited Acajutla, El Salvador, on 19 May and NS Rodman Panama on the 28th. The following day Spruance returned through the Panama Canal, and then headed across the Caribbean and met up with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Battle Group for a CompTuEx.
At times the group also comprised Anzio (CG-68), Cape St. George (CG-71), Kidd, Peterson, Jack Williams (FFG-24), Klakring (FFG-42), Robert G. Bradley (FFG-49), Samuel E. Morison (FFG-13), Stark (FFG-31), Annapolis (SSN-760), Boise (SSN-764), Springfield (SSN-761), fast combat support ship Detroit (AOE-4), and MSC-manned Kanawha (T-AO-196). Upon meeting with the battle group Klakring began a Vandal missile exercise. Vandal was a country superimposed on Puerto Rico, and other vessels not in the battle group played the opposing Vandal fleet. The following day the battle group proceeded toward the Puerto Rico Operating Area. While in transit the group divided up into Surface Action Units, which carried out active and passive anti-submarine warfare exercises for six days (26 May–2 June).
The ships of the various units reformed as a group in order to perform another missile exercise on 2 June 1994, and on 5 June Spruance returned to Mayport following the NATO Sea Sparrow shoot. The other vessels meanwhile entered the final stage of the exercise, which took a total of three days, beginning on 15 June. The scenario involved a fictitious war with Vandal, and began with the battle group 150 miles south of Puerto Rico, performing a gradual approach toward the island at night under deceptive lighting and radio silence. The battle group secured the island after a successful airstrike, countering electronic jamming, and simulated missile and torpedo attacks, which marked the end of the training on 18 June.
On the 22nd, Spruance cleared NS Mayport to rejoin Operation Support Democracy as flagship of the task force. With thousands of Haitians evacuating the island on anything that would float, Spruance operated as a rescue ship, evacuating more than 4,000 Haitians during three trips to Guantánamo Bay in the month of July—a maximum of 1,980 at any one time. The rescues drew upon the skills and compassion of all hands, and the ship uniquely received the Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation for her humanitarian efforts. In addition, she twice refueled patrol ship Cyclone (PC-1), a rare operation from a destroyer.
After transferring the CJTG-120.1 staff ashore at Guantánamo Bay on 22 July 1994, Spruance steamed for Vieques Island, where she carried out an over-the-side torpedo firing exercise and served as a spotter for naval gunfire qualifications. The destroyer returned to Mayport on 29 July, where she installed engineering modifications in preparation for a deck landing/RAST landing qualification held while underway overnight (19–20 September). Port Canaveral marked her next excursion, where she served as the visit ship for the city’s port festival, providing tours to nearly 5,000 visitors (23–25 September).
Spruance entered an eight-month regular overhaul at Norfolk Naval Shipyard the following month. After offloading weapons and ammunition at NWS Yorktown (5–7 October), she entered dry dock on the 7th. The work lasted until 12 June 1995, and included overhauling all three gas turbine generators, refurbishing crew berthing, replacing her CIWS mounts, upgrading the AN/SLQ-32 (V) 2 to the AN/SLQ-32 (V) 3 electronic warfare suite, installing radar absorbent material, and extending the helo hangar, along with a set of other minor improvements and upgrades. The ship completed the projects, refloated, and conducted sea trials off the Virginia capes (12–14 June). Spruance then (19–20 June) loaded Sea Sparrows, Mk 46 torpedoes, and 5-inch and 20-millimeter rounds at NWS Charleston, and returned to her homeport of Mayport on the 22nd after an extended and difficult stay in Norfolk.
The warship spent July 1995 training and recertifying her ability to carry out flight operations. On 1 August she emergency sortied from Mayport in an attempt to avoid Hurricane Erin, and only returned to port on the 3rd once the weather cleared. Fleet Training Group Tailored Ship’s Training Availability (TSTA) I followed (16–25 August), which involved piloting exercises and battle problems in low visibility areas. The limited time that Spruance spent in port during this period was devoted to man-overboard and small boat exercises. The vessel set out for NS Roosevelt Roads on 1 September, but the next day Hurricane Luis interrupted scheduled naval gunfire qualifications and she diverted to avoid the foul weather. After returning to NS Mayport for several days, she steamed from port (11–14 September) as part of a 90-day operational propulsion plant exam while off Jacksonville, completed a month of logistics assessments, and then another plant exam (11–15 October).
Space Shuttle STS-73 Columbia launched from Launch Pad 39B at John F. Kennedy Space Center on 20 October 1995. Spacelab served as Columbia’s prime payload, and the mission focused largely upon studying the “microgravity” encountered in space. Spruance again (24–26 October) supported a space mission, though this time on extremely short notice. The ship implemented her personnel recall bill and 95% of the crew returned within two hours. The destroyer swiftly cleared the harbor bar and helped track Columbia during some of the space shuttle’s 255 orbits before she returned to earth at John F. Kennedy Space Center on 5 November. Spruance returned to Mayport on the 27th.
Spruance stood out to sea on 3 November and turned for Roosevelt Roads, where she took part in Submarine Training Operations 4-95 along with John Hancock, Taylor (FFG-50), Montpelier (SSN-765), and Philadelphia (SSN-690). The exercise lasted from 7–9 November and involved a series of “mini-wars” that provided Spruance’s undersea warfare teams a great deal of experience hunting submarines. She then sailed to the range at Vieques Island to engage in gunfire practice on 11 November. After returning to Mayport for the Thanksgiving holiday (16–23 November), the ship charted a course for the Caribbean and reached the warm waters off Puerto Rico on 29 November, where she joined Belgian, Canadian, Dutch, and German ships for an international missile exercise. Planners intended for the training to determine the effectiveness of each vessel’s onboard missile defense systems by launching real anti-ship cruise missiles. Spruance fired six Sea Sparrows that intercepted several low flying cruise missiles as they hurtled toward the vessel. The warship’s homeward voyage to NS Mayport on 5 December was followed by only one more cruise that year, an operational propulsion plant exam (12–13 December), before she anchored in Mayport to complete 1995.
Spruance sailed for her first deployment of 1996 on 8 January, steaming to the Caribbean to take part in counter-narcotics patrols. A team from the Scientists-to Sea Program, which was intended to provide scientists with shipboard experience to help them design or make improvements to Navy systems, embarked on board. Spruance refueled in Colón, Panama, and Cartagena, Columbia, at ten-day intervals while she patrolled (13 January–3 February). Her counter-trafficking mission ended on 4 February when she arrived at Roosevelt Roads. There she completed several combat systems gunnery exercises and provided gunfire support for the 5th Battalion, 10th Marines, as they landed on Vieques. The coordinated event included Spruance’s 5-inch guns, USMC artillery, and marine McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier IIs.
With the exercises complete, her crew enjoyed a break at Frederiksted, St. Croix (8–9 February). Some of the sailors took part in “Jump Up” at Christiansted, a type of block party where city officials closed off six blocks to traffic so that people could savor local bands and reduced prices at shops and restaurants. Spruance then sailed to Fort de France, Martinique, where French depot ship Rhône (A.622) hosted her crew in athletic activities (12–16 February). Each of the teams played to their strengths, and the French won the soccer match, while the Americans took the basketball contest. On the 19th the destroyer returned to Mayport, where she carried out TSTAs II and III in port (26 February–8 March) and underway off Jacksonville (11–15 March). After a week (16–22 March) of upkeep and preparedness checks, Spruance sailed as part of Joint Exercise Unified Spirit ’96, which involved Canadian, Dutch, German, and U.S. ships. The exercise pitted vessels against each other as part of two different forces and stretched from Mayport as far north as Halifax. The training concluded in the Canadian port on 4 April, where Spruance’s crew enjoyed a four-day visit. Upon her return to Mayport on 11 April she conducted a cruise missile test launch and then steamed offshore (6–10 May) while completing her final evaluation period readiness tests.
Spruance set out on 23 May 1996 in company with Hue City (CG-66) and Samuel Elliot Morison for the Baltic Sea to take part in BaltOps ’96. Spruance refueled at Ponta Delgada, weaved her way through the crowded English Channel, crossed the North Sea, and then (7–10 June) made port at Eckernforde, Germany. Some 48 Belgian, British, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, and Swedish vessels gathered in that seaport and Flensburg, another German haven, for the multinational training. From 11–13 June Spruance steamed at sea along with ships from many of those NATO and former East Bloc countries, conducting exercises intended to improve the ability of the formerly hostile military forces to cooperate when necessary as part of the Partnership for Peace initiative. Spruance beat Hue City and Russian destroyer Nostoychivvy in marksmanship competition, and earned second place out of 22 ships in seamanship, besting every U.S. participant.
Following a visit to Gdynia, Poland (14–17 June), Spruance took part in the NATO-only phase of the exercise, devoted to improving the combined fighting capabilities of the various navies. With the exercise complete, Spruance sailed to Stockholm, Sweden (24–26 June), Helsinki (28–30 June), and Oslo (3–5 July). In each city she hosted a variety of dignitaries, including the U.S. ambassador to each country. A severe North Sea gale that turned out to be the precursor to Hurricane Bertha lashed Spruance as the ship stood out of Oslo, and the hurricane’s expected path compelling her to alter the scheduled route to Halifax toward the Azores to refuel. While still en route to the islands, she rendezvoused with two replenishment ships returning to the United States from other operations and refueled, and thus avoided having to make port at the Azores. Spruance arrived at Mayport on 19 July.
Spruance spent August 1996 preparing for an upcoming Insurv. Her main excursion from port during the preparation period (5–9 August) comprised participating in helicopter deck qualifications, and submarine readiness evaluations with Albuquerque (SSN-706) and Miami (SSN-755). Spruance completed the inspection but sortied early the following month on 3 September to avoid Hurricane Fran. Navy meterologists recommended that the vessels in the basin at NS Mayport emergency sortie and turn southward toward the Florida Straits and maneuver in an area approximately 60 nautical miles south of Miami. The plan worked and the ships dodged most of the foul weather. The Insurv then (9–13 September) took place while underway. “This was the best performance of any destroyer on the East Coast,” Rear Adm. Henry F. Herrera, President of the Atlantic Board of Inspection and Survey, observed.
The ship next underwent a great deal of minor maintenance and repair work, not sailing from Mayport until 6 October, when she departed for Broward County Navy Days at Ft. Lauderdale, where more than 400 visitors toured the vessel (7–9 October). The warship returned to Mayport on 11 October and immediately began to prepare for her part in CompTuEx Phase I with the John F. Kennedy Battle Group. Capt. Richard B. Foster, Commander, DesRon 24, broke his flag in Spruance, which also embarked HSL-42 Detachment 8, for the exercise. The ship charted a course for the Puerto Rican Operations Area, where she conducted undersea warfare proficiency training against a trio of Los Angeles-class submarines and a series of missile and gun firing exercises. The warship splashed a drone at maximum range with a NATO Sea Sparrow, scored a direct hit on a target hulk with a Harpoon, and shot eight torpedoes on the Underwater Tracking Range off St. Croix (13 November–13 December). Aside from a visit to San Juan, P.R. (27–30 November), Spruance operated at sea for the exercise. She returned to Mayport on 14 December 1996 and the crew stood down for holiday leave.
The battle hardened ship devoted the first several months of 1997 to maintenance and technical certifications while based at her homeport. In preparation for her eventual deployment to the Mediterranean, she took a break from qualifications and training to sail to Charleston to load Tomahawks, Harpoons, and Sea Sparrows, as well as a variety of ammunition types (19–20 February). Upon the destroyer’s return to Mayport on 21 February, she concluded an aviation readiness evaluation and embarked Commander, DesRon 24, for Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) 97-2. The exercise pitted Spruance and the ships of the John F. Kennedy Battle Group against each other in a series of anti-missile and anti-submarine operations (7–24 March). In the midst of the exercise, Spruance broke off from her training duties to take part in a real-world humanitarian mission and saved the crew of a foundering civilian sailboat during a severe winter storm. She then conducted the final steps prior to deployment: enjoying a dependent’s cruise with friends and family on 11 April and cleaning the ship’s hull while pierside (14–18 April).
Spruance set out from Mayport as part of the John F. Kennedy Battle Group for Med 97-2, a deployment to European waters (28 April–28 October 1997). In addition to the carrier, with CVW-8 embarked, the group also included Hue City, Thomas S. Gates (CG-51), Vicksburg (CG-69), John Hancock, and Taylor. The ships crossed the Atlantic and joined Commander in Chief Iberia-Atlantic NATO for Linked Seas 97. The exercise involved 33 warships from seven NATO countries as they played out air, surface, and undersea warfare scenarios for the week (12–18 May). Dunkerque, France, marked Spruance’s first overseas port of call during the deployment (21–26 May). The destroyer then (26–29 May) sailed to Rotterdam, Netherlands, where she served as the presidential support ship for President and First Lady William J. and Hillary R. Clinton during the celebrations for the 50th Anniversary of the Marshall Plan.
Following the celebration the vessel turned southward for Rota, where she stopped for only a few hours on 2 June to embark Commander, DesRon 24. The ship then entered the Mediterranean and enjoyed a visit to St. Raphael, France (5–12 June). From 13–14 June Spruance took part in the Sixth Fleet’s Undersea Warfare Exercise 97-2, carrying out acoustic exercises in a littoral environment. With the brief exercise concluded, she anchored in Calgari, Sardinia, for a planning conference for Sharem 121, another littoral anti-submarine exercise (17–22 June). Spruance then (23–29 June) took part in the U.S.-led exercise with Belgian, British, Canadian, Dutch, German, Greek, Italian, Spanish, and Turkish vessels. Spruance launched two experimental Mk 46 (MOD-5 SW) torpedoes and demonstrated her proficiency in anti-submarine warfare.
Spruance’s next assignment became an enjoyable one as she (2–6 July 1997) anchored at Barcelona, Spain, to take part in celebrations for the Fourth of July and the 200th Anniversary of the U.S. Consulate General’s presence in that country. Immediately after her departure from Barcelona, Spruance joined in the Sixth Fleet’s InvitEx 97-2. The warship made full use of maneuvering capabilities and employed coastlines, oil platforms, and darkness to her advantage, and avoided detection by “opposing force” aircraft by use of deceptive lighting and strict electronics emissions control while she attacked “high value targets.” Having concluded the exercise on 18 July, the destroyer charted a course for La Maddalena, Sardinia, where she conducted a forward maintenance availability with Simon Lake (AS-33). From there she sailed to Palma de Mallorca (28 July–3 August) and then (4–5 August) joined in a freedom of navigation operation near Rhodes. Theoule Sur Mer, France (8–17 April), marked the ship’s next port of call, where she brought on board French veterans and took part in a ceremonial wreath laying in observance of the 52nd Anniversary of Operation Anvil-Dragoon; the Allied Landings in Southern France during World War II.
The ship passed a mid-cycle assessment while she made for the Black Sea on 18 August 1997. Spruance steamed through the strategic Turkish Straits and upon arrival in the Black Sea on 21 August, joined in the Partnership for Peace exercise Sea Breeze 97. While attending a planning conference near Donuzlav Lake, Ukraine (23–25 August), she hosted a formal reception for 65 Ukrainian naval officers, including Vice Adm. Mykhaylo B. Yezhel, Commander in Chief, Ukrainian Naval Forces. Spruance then sailed for the exercises, following which she visited Odessa, Ukraine, where she hosted a variety of dignitaries as part of the Sea Breeze 97 closing ceremonies (28–31 August). The ship crossed the sea and called at Varna, Bulgaria (2–4 September), where the crew presented a series of lectures for Bulgarian naval officers on a variety of naval topics. Spruance left the Black Sea on 7 September and then (8–14 September) moored in Antalya, Turkey, a popular holiday resort in an area known as the Turquoise Coast because of the color of the waters. Her next task on the 15th was to provide search and rescue support for Secretary of State Madeline J.K. Albright’s visit to Beirut, Lebanon.
A visit to Haifa provided crewmen with a chance to explore the historic sites of the Holy Land and to provide community service maintenance work for an Invalid and Boys’ Home (17–21 September 1997). She cleared the harbor bar bound for the Central Mediterranean and NATO exercise Dynamic Mix 97 (23 September–6 October), following which she turned westward. The ship’s final port visit of the deployment was to Palma de Mallorca (9–14 October) before leaving the Mediterranean via the Strait of Gibraltar on the 16th. After crossing the Atlantic and returning to Mayport, Spruance’s chronicler recorded that she steamed 34,559 nautical miles, took part in six challenging multi-national exercises, and visited 13 ports during the deployment. The crew then received a month of well-deserved leave while the ship underwent upkeep. The destroyer did not sail from port again until 1 December, when she steamed for Yorktown, to unload her inventory of missiles and ammunition through the 5th. Instead of returning to Mayport, however, Spruance sailed to Norfolk, and then (8–10 December 1997) swung back around for Florida.
The ship underwent an extended selected restricted availability early in the New Year (5 January–15 April 1998), during which the ship’s company worked with civilian contractors to modify Spruance to integrate female sailors into the ship’s company, and to upgrade the onboard systems. Following a two-day sea trial off Jacksonville, she conducted an aviation certification and aviation readiness examination while in port (20–24 April). On the 29th she joined Arthur W. Radford (DD-968) and Thomas S. Gates off Cherry Point, N.C., as the opposition forces for a joint tactical force exercise intended to prepare the Dwight D. Eisenhower Battle Group for an upcoming deployment. On 5 May all the ships involved in the exercise sailed to Puerto Rican waters, where they continued training until the 10th.
Spruance turned northward and called at Newport, R.I., where she assumed the duties of surface warfare officer school ship, hosting tours and training sessions for a variety of departments (15–25 May). The warship then returned to Mayport for upkeep (29 May–7 June) before joining Maryland (SSBN-738) off Jacksonville to help the fleet ballistic missile submarine during a training and readiness evaluation. Spruance then (11–14 June) enjoyed a port visit to Fort Lauderdale, where she conducted a cruise for members of the local Navy League Association. From 16–18 June she conducted helicopter landing qualifications for the pilots of HSL-40.
Spruance anchored only briefly (27–28 June 1998) at her homeport before sailing in order to provide prospective commanding officers with the opportunity to experience the details of sailing into and out of Mayport (29–30 June). Her next return to Mayport on 1 July lasted a bit longer, with the crew conducting upkeep and minor repairs until the 13th, when she sailed into the Jacksonville Operations Area to train midshipmen until 16 July, and then did so again the following month (3–6 August). Three days later Spruance continued her educational duties with a return to Surface Warfare Officer School in Newport as the designated school ship. The destroyer had only just returned to Mayport on 19 August, however, when Hurricane Bonnie compelled her to emergency sortie along with the other ships in the Mayport Basin on the 22nd. Three days later Spruance returned and completed a command assessment of readiness and training (8–11 September).
From 21–25 September and again from 28 September–2 October, Spruance sailed as part of a DesRon 24 group sail while cycling through TSTA-I. Clearing Mayport on 2 November, Spruance joined the destroyer squadron at NS Roosevelt Roads (6–8 November). The group sail (9–16 November) involved a series of mini-wars between destroyers and submarines, pitting Carney (DDG-64), John Hancock, The Sullivans (DDG-68), Taylor, and Arctic (AOE-8) against West Virginia (SSBN-736), Hyman G. Rickover (SSN-709), and Toledo (SSN-769). Spruance then anchored at NS Roosevelt Roads for two days before returning along with DesRon 24 to Mayport on the 25th. After celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday, the ship carried out a cruise missile tactical qualification (14–18 December 1998). The following day, Spruance stood down for holiday leave and upkeep. During 1998, the ship also hosted a visit by Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) Dr. Susan Bailey to discuss the Women at Sea initiative. Secretary Bailey selected Spruance because of the destroyer’s success in implementing the program and the transitioning female crewmembers into the ship’s company.
The ship began the New Year moored at NS Mayport, and took part in her first excursion of 1999 when she cleared the port for a towing exercise off the Jacksonville area (11–15 January). The next several weeks included a TSTA-II, which involved sails (18–22 January and 1–5 February) while the Engineering Training Group conducted tests. On 8 February, Spruance stood out to sea, bound for Galveston, Texas, and a Mardi Gras celebration. While en route on the 9th, she received a distress call from a vessel carrying eight Cuban refugees, who had become lost during their voyage to seek asylum in the United States. Spruance rescued the refugees from the derelict and provided the people with humanitarian aid before transferring them to the Coast Guard. After an enjoyable stay in Galveston (12–15 February), she returned to Mayport on the 20th. Spruance accomplished upkeep for several weeks, aside from a 2 March dependent’s cruise, before sailing on 5 March for Yorktown. She loaded weapons there (10–11 March) and the next day returned to her homeport.
Spruance spent several weeks working through an intermediate maintenance availability and then (29–31 March 1999) took part in undersea warfare training in the Jacksonville Operations Area. Following that training and a brief interlude in port, she returned to sea on 6 April and charted a course for Puerto Rico for pre-deployment training. A visit to NS Roosevelt Roads (18–19 April) gave her crew a chance to recover from the rigorous exercises before she turned for home, arriving at NS Mayport on the 25th.
A flurry of action began on 24 June when the ship sailed for Barbados. While en route she joined in a joint task force exercise designed to prepare her for the upcoming deployment. After anchoring at Barbados (2–6 July), the warship rejoined the exercise until the 27th, when she turned for home. Spruance set out again on 2 August to load Harpoons, Sea Sparrows, 5-inch shells, CIWS 20-millimeter rounds, Vertical Launch Anti-Submarine Rockets (ASROCs), Mk 46 torpedoes, Mk 36 Super Rapid Bloom Offboard Countermeasures Chaff and Decoy Launching System rounds, and small arms ammunition at NWS Yorktown. Spruance held sea trials (8–9 September) but then (14–16 September) emergency sortied to evade Hurricane Floyd.
John F. Kennedy, with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 embarked, Monterey (CG-61), John Hancock, Spruance, Taylor, and Underwood (FFG-36) deployed to the Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf (17 September 1999–18 March 2000). John F. Kennedy relieved Constellation (CV-64) on the 29th, passed through the Strait of Gibraltar on 3 October, and immediately began conducting Freedom of Navigation operations off the Libyan coast. John F. Kennedy arrived at Malta on 6 October. On Halloween the carrier and her consorts passed through the Suez Canal to take part in Operation Southern Watch and UN sanctions against Iraq.
Upon entering the Mediterranean, however, Spruance detached from the group and visited Marseille, France (8–13 October). While there Spruance became the U.S. representative attached to Standing Naval Force Mediterranean (SNFM). As part of her new endeavors, she returned to sea and anchored off Palma de Mallorca to participate in damage control exercises until the 19th. The ships of the SNFM made port at Barcelona (20–26 October) and Spruance next (28–29 October) carried out a naval gunfire support exercise along with a contingent of British Royal Marines off the coast of Capo Teulada, Sardinia. While underway after the conclusion of the on 30 October, a German Lynx crashed as the helo flew toward the SNFM ships. Spruance joined in the two-day search, and while the searchers rescued two crewmembers, they recovered the body of the other one too late to render the person assistance.
Following that tragic accident Spruance charted easterly courses and visited Haifa (3–8 November 1999). The destroyer cleared the Israeli port and rejoined the other vessels of the force for surface, electronic, and gunnery exercises. The force stood in to La Spezia (15–21 November), and then (24–28 November) anchored at Tunis, Tunisia. The next task for the ships of SNFM was to participate in Dogu Akdeniz, a surface warfare exercise in the Aegean Sea (29 November–5 December). With the exercise complete Spruance sailed to Catania, Sicily, where she refueled and said her goodbyes to the ships of SNFM. Now operating alone, Spruance made port at Genoa, Italy (13–15 December), and Palma de Mallorca (18–20 December), and arrived at Barcelona for the second time of the deployment and celebrated the holidays in the Spanish port (22 December 1999–5 January 2000).
In her 25th year of operation, Spruance rang in the New Year and the new millennium in her familiar port of call of Barcelona. The ship returned to sea with a new contingent of SNFM warships for a visit to Naples (8–16 January 2000). The force then sailed to Augusta Bay, where Spruance loaded ammunition and weaponry (18–19 January) before making for La Maddalena for an intermediate maintenance availability alongside Emory S. Land. The destroyer cast off her mooring lines on 26 January for Toulon, France, where she enjoyed a brief visit (4–9 February). The ships then sailed to Naples, remaining there over the weekend into the following week (10–17 February) before taking part in Dogfish 2000, a large scale antisubmarine warfare exercise that stretched between Naples and Palermo.
Spruance wrapped-up her part of the exercise and slipped into Palermo on 3 March, where she detached from SNFM, carried out a “Sail Past” to honor the other ships of the force, and turned over her duties to Kauffman. The next day the ship began her return home, and slipped through the Strait of Gibraltar on 6 March. In the meanwhile, John F. Kennedy, which had concluded her last mission in support of Southern Watch and turned over to John C. Stennis (CVN-74) on 23 February, had departed the Persian Gulf via the Red Sea. The carrier passed northbound through the Suez Canal and entered the Mediterranean on 2 March. After a brief (6–8 March) visit to Tarragona, Spain, the ship entered the Atlantic Ocean. Spruance in the meantime refueled in the Azores Islands (7–8 March) and the warships of the battle group rendezvoused and crossed the Atlantic, bringing their deployment to a close at NS Mayport on 16 March—two days later for John F. Kennedy.
After the deployment, the crew of Spruance enjoyed a month-long stand down, followed by upkeep until 5 May. On her first excursion since completing the voyage to the Mediterranean, Spruance steamed to NWS Yorktown, where she offloaded ammunition (8–9 May). The ship returned to Mayport on 13 May, and did not sail again until the 1st of June, when she transferred to the Atlantic Dry Dock Company at Jacksonville for a dry dock selected restricted availability. Over the next two months, Spruance had her shafts and propellers removed and refurbished and a new Advanced Tomahawk Weapons Control System installed. With the repairs and additions complete, Spruance conducted sea trials on 24 August and late that afternoon returned to NS Mayport. She remained in port until 6 November, completing her period of selected restricted availability and refurbishing the topside of the ship. Sea trials off Jacksonville (6–9 November) and (28–30 November) deck landing qualifications marked Spruance’s only excursions during the reminder of the month. December provided even less action, as she conducted a logistics management assessment while in port (1–11 December) and steamed just offshore for a group sail (12–14 December) before standing down on 15 December 2000 for holiday leave.
Spruance began the New Year (9–11 January 2001) with an initial assessment to prepare for an upcoming inter-deployment training cycle. Capt. Michael C. Vitale, Commander, DesRon 24, broke his flag in Spruance and she then (5–11 February) joined Taylor and Underwood for a group sail. During the exercise the ships of practiced tracking and targeting a submarine. From 12–16 March Spruance completed Command Assessment Readiness Training II, to determine her readiness to go to war. She then underwent a cruise missile training qualification (2–3 April). Spruance again served as the flagship for DesRon 24 for Group Sail 2, which involved a series of eight separate mini-war events (9–21 May). After returning to NS Mayport, Spruance completed an Insurv (25–29 July). The commodore transferred to Roosevelt (DDG-80) on 19 July 2001 to prepare for the entire squadron to join a joint task force exercise with Theodore Roosevelt (6–17 August). After completing the training and returning to Mayport, Spruance accomplished a final evaluation period at the end of the month (30–31 August).
Al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four airliners on 11 September 2001, crashing two of the jets into the twin World Trade Center towers in New York City, and one about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, Pa. The terrorists also flew a Boeing B-757 designated American Flight 77 into the Pentagon. The impact of the aircraft thrust it into the reinforced building and severely damaged the newly opened Navy Command Center. The attack at the Pentagon killed 189 people: all 64 on board American 77; and injured 125 in the building including 33 sailors and nine Navy civilians. The terrorists murdered nearly 3,000 people on 9/11, and the Department of Defense declared Force Protection Condition Delta—the highest alert.
Following the attacks Spruance took up station off shore and carried out anti-submarine patrols as part of Operation Noble Eagle—the joint U.S. and Canadian operation to defend the homeland. Following those patrols the entire squadron began rigorous preparations to deploy in 2002 as part of the John F. Kennedy Battle Group. Without even returning to port Spruance took part in a composite training unit exercise until 18 October. During the final group sail of the year (28–30 November 2001), Spruance sailed along with the entire battle group as they prepared for the final pre-deployment exercises, which were to follow holiday stand down.
Basing out of Mayport for the first two months of 2002, Spruance took part in a pair of multi-ship exercises, VandalEx in January and Jtfex 02-1 in February. After a brief pre-deployment stand-down and leave period (1–19 March), Spruance got up steam on 20 March for a six-month deployment to the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. The destroyer sailed in company with John F. Kennedy, with CVW-7 embarked and wearing Rear Adm. Steven J. Tomaszeski’s flag as Commander, Carrier Group 6, and the John F. Kennedy Carrier Strike Group, Hue City, Vicksburg, Roosevelt, The Sullivans, Taylor, Boise, Toledo, and Seattle (AOE-3). Some of the ships hoisted flags that spelled “Let’s Roll” in tribute to Todd Beamer, a passenger on board United Airlines Flight 93, who courageously fought the Al Qaeda hijackers on 9/11. Planners intended for two other ships of the battle group from DesRon 24 stationed at NS Mayport, Carney and Underwood, to deploy later that spring. The group completed Phase II of Joint Task Force Exercise 02-01 (7–15 February), and on the 16th began their trans-Atlantic journey.
John F. Kennedy and her consorts reached the Sixth Fleet on 21 February 2002 to fight in Operation Enduring Freedom—the main operation of the Global War on Terrorism. Two days later they steamed through the Strait of Gibraltar, Rear Adm. Tomaszeski becoming Commander, Task Group 60.3. The ships paused briefly at Souda Bay, and on 1 March John F. Kennedy pointed her bow toward the Suez Canal and beyond to the North Arabian Sea.
Spruance in the meantime detached and marked her first port visit of the deployment at Toulon (5–9 April 2002), where her crew enjoyed tours of the French Riviera, and a group took the Bullet Train to Paris. When the ship visited Split, Croatia (29 April–2 May), sailors attended the local May Day festival, shopped for crystal, and dined along the seaside. Spruance then (14–16 May and 4–5 June) put in to Souda Bay, where her ship’s company toured the shops and waterfront restaurants. The destroyer hosted a steak and beer picnic there, and throughout the deployment films on the flight deck, a swim call into the clear Mediterranean waters (in July, while others sunbathed on the “lido” deck), bingo and spades tournaments on the mess decks, a Pie in the Eye contest that raised more than $3,000 for the ship’s homecoming, and a hot dog eating contest gave crewmembers fleeting breaks. The warship required work, however, and so she moored at La Maddalena for a week (17–24 June) of maintenance and a physical fitness assessment. The warship anchored at La Spezia (1–5 July), where some crewmembers took trains to Florence and Pisa, and then (7–9 and 23–26 July) anchored in Augusta Bay.
Spruance continued to patrol against militants and traffickers, and during Purple Flex worked with Sixth Fleet command ship La Salle (AGF-3), Roosevelt, and MSC-manned Big Horn (T-AO-198) to carry out maritime interdiction operations. The ship employed an embarked SH-60B from HSL-46 Detachment 4, intelligence, ship handling, small arms, and small boats to board and inspect three vessels suspected of terrorist related activities. Spruance nonetheless made port at Aksaz Turkish Naval Base (15–19 August). The visit enabled people to travel to the resort town of Marmaris, where they basked on beaches lined with clubs, restaurants, and shops, toured Turkish baths, went white water rafting, or visited the ruins of Ephesus. Toulon (3–4 September) and Rota (6–7 September) became her last visits of the deployment before sailing for home—John F. Kennedy had come about and returned to Mayport on 17 August. Upon making landfall at Yorktown on 19 October Spruance offloaded ammunition and missiles and then turned for Mayport, where she anchored on 24 October 2002, for several months of a restricted availability.
Having completed the work on 1 March 2003, Spruance began an intensive inter-deployment training cycle, which consisted of a series of training exercises and qualifications. On 29 August, she completed her training cycle and immediately moved into Northern Lights, in which the ship worked with Roosevelt, The Sullivans, Taylor, Underwood, Big Horn, and a number of NATO ships. Spruance patrolled at times in company with British minehunter Inverness (M.102), Danish corvettes Olfert Fischer (F.355) and Thetis (F.357), French frigate Latouche Tréville (D.646), Dutch frigates Speijk (F.828), Tjerk Hiddes (F.830), Van Galen (F.834), and Van Nes (F.833), German fast attack craft Dachs (P.6127) and Sperber (P.6115), Norwegian submarine Utstein (S.302), and Spanish frigate Navarra (F.85). In addition, she operated with or refueled from other allied vessels including British RFA-manned fleet support tanker Orangeleaf (A.110), fleet replenishment ship Fort Rosalie (A.385), and small fleet tanker Black Rover (A.273), Dutch replenishment oiler Amsterdam (A.836), and German replenishment oiler Rhön (A.1443). Spruance also coordinated her actions with various NATO aircraft including Panavia Tornadoes. In the midst of the two-month long NATO exercise she made port at Faslane, Scotland (10–13 September), Portland, England (29 September–1 October), and Oslo (5–7 October). With the operation completed on 18 October, she returned to Mayport for the rest of the year.