Familiar Destroyer Will Be Sunk In Naval Exercises
(KITSAP SUN 25 JUN 08) … Ed Friedrich
Frequent drivers along Sinclair Inlet are probably wondering what happened to the big Navy ship that used to be moored in the bay. That was the destroyer David R. Ray, and it was towed away Friday to be a target in the mammoth Rim of the Pacific ’08 exercise near Hawaii.
The ship had been in Puget Sound Naval Shipyard’s Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility since being decommissioned on Feb. 28, 2002, at Naval Station Everett, where it had been homeported since 1996.
Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, served as the destroyer’s second commanding officer, from 1981 to 1983. During that time, the ship spent several months in the Persian Gulf between an Iranian air base and Saudi Arabia to make sure Iran didn’t attack Saudi oil fields during the Iran-Iraq war. It often sailed between the Middle East and the South China Sea, prompting the crew to nickname it the “Malacca Marauder” for the straits it had to pass through, Seaquist said.
“It was a wonderful ship,” said Seaquist, who later commanded the battleship USS Iowa and spent 32 years in the Navy.
When Seaquist would drive past the ship in Sinclair Inlet, he’d “think of all those wonderful sailors who worked their hearts out to make that ship so good,” he said.
Now the David R. Ray, which is 31 years old and was active for 25 of those, will be sunk.
“We were the hunters, not the hunted,” Seaquist said of the role reversal. “We were in the business of sinking other things.”
Ships in the Bremerton mothball fleet, which include the aircraft carriers Ranger, Independence and Constellation, normally become targets in naval exercises, museums, fishing reefs or scrap metal.
The Rim of the Pacific exercises, hosted by the U.S. Pacific Fleet, will run from Sunday through July 31. The exercise, held since 1971, aims to improve Pacific Rim armed forces’ ability to work together to keep the region stable.
This year’s event will consist of 10 nations, 35 ships, six submarines, more than 150 aircraft and 20,000 people. Units from Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, the Netherlands, Peru, South Korea, Singapore and England are scheduled to take part. Participants practice sinking ships and using torpedoes, and they test new vessels and technology.
Commissioned 19 Nov 77, the Ray was named for CMOH MOH (ed. Thanks for the heads-up EMW. – SJS) awardee David R. Ray, a corpsman during the Vietnam War, where he was killed while aiding wounded Marines at Phu Loc 6 in the province of Quang Nam on 11 Mar 69.
Nicknamed “the Sting Ray”, the Ray was homeported on the West Coast and conducted a number of deployments to WESTPAC and the Arabian Gulf. Among the many accomplishments of her 25-year career were serving as the Navy’s primary test platform for the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM), first intercept of a supersonic target with a NATO Sea Sparrow missile, conducting surveillance operations (SERVOPS) on the (then) newest Soviet carrier, “Novorossiysk,” and most noteworthy, in May 89 when she prevented the boarding of the U.S.-flagged President McKinley by an Iranian Saam class frigate in the Gulf. More here.