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The Sullivans II (DDG-68)


The five Sullivan brothers of Waterloo, Iowa, who all died when Japanese submarine I-26 sank their ship, light cruiser Juneau (CL-52), following the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal as she retired toward Espíritu Santo, New Hebrides (Vanuatu), on 13 November 1942. See The Sullivan Brothers: Honoring the Sullivan Brothers for additional information.

The second U.S. Navy ship named The Sullivans. The first The Sullivans, a destroyer (DD-537), served from 1943-1965.


(DDG-68: displacement 8,960; length 505'; beam 66'; draft 32'; speed 30+ knots; complement 356; armament 1 5-inch, 2 Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) for BGM-109 Tomahawks, RIM-156 SM-2MR Standards, and RUM-139 VL-ASROC Antisubmarine Rockets, 8 RGM-84 Harpoons (2 Mk 141 launchers), 2 Mk 15 Close In Weapon Systems (CIWS), 4 .50 caliber machine guns, and 6 Mk 32 torpedo tubes, aircraft operate (but not embark) 1 Sikorsky SH-60B Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) Mk III Seahawk; class Arleigh Burke)

The second The Sullivans (DDG-68) was laid down on 27 July 1994 at Bath, Maine, by Bath Iron Works; launched on 12 August 1995; sponsored by Mrs. Kelly S. Loughren, granddaughter of Albert L. Sullivan; and commissioned on 19 April 1997 at Staten Island, N.Y., Cmdr. Gerard D. Roncolato in command.

The Sullivans (DDG-68) II 1997-Seal


Dark blue and gold represent the sea and excellence and are the colors traditionally used by the Navy. Red is emblematic of courage and sacrifice. The five interlaced swords honor the five Sullivan brothers killed during World War II, and commemorate their spirit of teamwork and patriotism. The upright points of the swords allude to the present ship’s combat readiness and her missile system. The border reflects unity and the eleven stars represent the nine battle stars that The Sullivans (DD-537) earned during World War II and her two awards for the Korean War.


The trident, a traditional symbol of sea prowess, symbolizes the modern warfare capabilities of The Sullivans (DDG-68). The fire ball underscores the fierce Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, where the five Sullivan brothers courageously fought together and died, and highlights the firepower of the two ships named in their honor. The inverted wreath, a traditional symbol of the ultimate sacrifice, is in memory of the Sullivan brothers. The shamrock recalls their Irish heritage.

The Sullivans (DDG-68) II 1997-
The ship passes Portland Head Light, Maine, as she stands out to sea shortly after her commissioning. (The Sullivans (DDG-68) Commissioning Booklet, Ships History, Naval History & Heritage Command)
The Sullivans (DDG-68) II 1997-020725-N-6492H-530
Smoke billows from the ship’s stacks and she heels slightly to starboard and by the bow while making speed. (Unattributed or dated U.S. Navy Photograph 020725-N-6492H-530, Navy NewsStand)

The Sullivans sailed from New York on 26 April 1997, bound for Norfolk, Va., where, after arriving the following day, the crew completed underway replenishment qualifications with oiler Platte (AO-186). The destroyer then sailed for Mayport, Fla., on 29 April, reaching her new homeport on 2 May. After completing two days of gunnery trials in mid-May, The Sullivans embarked upon her shakedown deployment to the West Indies on 27 May. That voyage took her to the waters off Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, where the destroyer conducted numerous sonar, gunnery, and torpedo exercises. The warship also twice entered Roosevelt Roads and stopped once at St. Thomas for port visits. On 29 June, The Sullivans conducted test firings of Standard SM-2 ER surface-to-air missiles from her vertical launch system. After a brief stop at Mayport to celebrate Independence Day, the warship took part in a multiple-ship missile firing exercise off the Virginia capes. She returned to Mayport on 12 July for upkeep.

Following three days of damage control exercises in mid-August, the crew began preparations for a post shakedown availability. She sailed for Maine on 3 September, arriving at Bath Iron Works two days later. The shipyard repainted the hull, altered the superstructure, and installed equipment upgrades in the engineering plant and combat systems suite. The ship then steamed to Mayport, arriving there on 23 November.

On 8 December 1997, The Sullivans joined aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN-65) off Georgia for a week of underway training. While providing plane guard services on 11 December, a McDonnell Douglas T-45A Goshawk splashed after launching from Enterprise. A helicopter flying from the carrier rescued the pilot, while The Sullivans made a high-speed dash to the site. The ship then lowered boats that retrieved pieces of wreckage that investigators used to determine the cause of the crash. The Sullivans also completed helicopter deck landing qualifications before returning to port for the holidays on 12 December.

In January 1998, The Sullivans began a series of engineering, combat, seamanship, and battle scenario exercises designed “to build the capability for long-term self-sustained training onboard.” These local operations lasted until 18 May, when the warship stood out for New York and the annual “Fleet Week” celebrations. Following a week long port visit, The Sullivans sailed on 26 May for Halifax, Nova Scotia, working up for the Unified Spirit `98. During the exercise she joined an amphibious task force formed around amphibious assault ship Nassau (LHA-4), two dock landing ships, and two amphibious transport docks. The Sullivans operated with Belgian, British, Canadian, Danish, German, French, Norwegian, and Portuguese ships, while screening the allied amphibious ships during an exercise focusing on multi-national peace enforcement operations. The Sullivans then visited Boston, Mass., and returned with relatives and family for Mayport, arriving on 1 July. The ship then carried out midshipmen training off the Florida coast.

Cmdr. E. Scott Hebner relieved Cmdr. Roncolato as the commanding officer on 4 September 1998. The Sullivans trained with Destroyer Squadron 24 as part of the John F. Kennedy (CV-67) Carrier Battle Group, preparing for her maiden deployment. She sailed from Mayport on MEF Deployment 1-100, her maiden deployment, to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Sea (25 October 1999-25 April 2000). Cmdr. Daniel P. Keller relieved Cmdr. Heber as the commanding officer on 9 February 2000. During her voyage, The Sullivans participated in multiple exercises and boarding operations, and crossed the equator on 18 March. The ship then completed a major maintenance overhaul.

A fire erupted in the engine room of Grand Cayman Islands-flagged motor vessel White Star in the Red Sea on 8 November 2004. The Sullivans performed maritime interception operations while carrying out another deployment (20 August 2004-13 February 2005) and made for the area. The destroyer discovered White Star drifting toward shoal water, and rescued the vessel and her 12 mariners by towing her to a rendezvous with the Yemeni Coast Guard, which then took her under tow into a safe harbor.

Meanwhile, dhow Al Suleman sailed from Karachi, Pakistan, but broke down in the Gulf of Oman. She drifted for 13 days and her 17 crewmembers grew increasingly desperate as they consumed their food and water. Military Sealift Command-manned vehicle cargo ship Pomeroy (T-AKR-316) sighted Al Suleman in the vicinity of Salalah, Oman. She radioed the dhow’s plight to The Sullivans, which reached the disabled vessel on 17 November. The destroyer dispatched a team that discovered extreme damage to the dhow’s main reduction gear, and she took the vessel in tow until transferring her to the Omani naval forces the following day.

The Sullivans (DDG-68) II 1997-041117-N-8447S-001
The Sullivans rescues Al Suleman and tows her to safety, 17 November 2004. (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph 041117-N-8447S-001, Navy NewsStand)
The Sullivans (DDG-68) II 1997-100415-N-1056B-001
A Sikorsky MH-60S Seahawk of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26 lands on board The Sullivans during operations in the Northern Arabian Gulf, 15 April 2010. (Lt. Cmdr. Corey Barker, U.S. Navy Photograph 100415-N-1056B-001, Navy NewsStand)
The Sullivans (DDG-68) II 1997-100419-N-1082Z-204
The Sullivans (left) and coastal patrol craft Typhoon (PC-5) patrol the Northern Arabian Gulf, 19 April 2010. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason R. Zalasky, U.S. Navy Photograph 100419-N-1082Z-204, Navy NewsStand)
The Sullivans (DDG-68) II 1997-131222-N-BB308-005
Sailors greet their loved ones as The Sullivans returns to Mayport following a deployment to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Sea, 22 December 2013 (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John Parker, U.S. Navy Photograph 131222-N-BB308-005, Navy NewsStand)

Detailed history pending.

Mark L. Evans
4 December 2014

Published: Wed Mar 22 10:30:12 EDT 2017