Now you see her…

Soon, you won’t:

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.

USS David R. Ray during better days:


  1. JoeC

    “…normally become targets in naval exercises, museums, fishing reefs or scrap metal.”

    Entropy happens. Man I love that word “entropy”, as I get older I even begin to understand it. Heh.

    Anyway, I was enlisted on the U.S.S. America (CV66) 1973-1976 and I was a bit shocked when I found out she was to become (later became) the target of a “SINKEX”. I had to step back a bit and examine those feelings, those feelings of memories that never were.

    I guess its natural to become nostalgic for a hunk of floating metal, after all, if you are part of the ship’s company, you put a lot of work into it to keep it afloat and working so IF you ever have to rely on it’s primary function to kill the other sucker before they kill you, the ship will do it without breaking down in the middle of the battle.

    OTOH, one can’t let nostalgia get in the way of good sense. Like spending thousands on a beloved pet to maintain it’s miserable existence for a few more days out of some sense of (guilt? love? nostalgia? honor?); maybe all that, all the while sacrificing needed funds to feed your children. There comes a time to let go.

    After I got over my brief nostalgia, remorse, and even anger at “how could they!!!???”, I realized it was the right decision for what it teaches (taught) naval engineers on how to improve the future safety and survivability of the next generation of ships. It was time to let go. All those hunks of metal have some value to the sailors who served aboard, but they can’t all become museums.

    My only regret is the inability to salvage physical momentos from the doomed hulk (which would probably be discarded later by my kids). All I have left are the memories and pictures I took from my days aboard. Those will suffice.

    So the RAY will perform one final act of service to the navy. It will be the target in a training exercise, educating current sailors in practice that we all pray will never be needed. God speed.

  2. Steeljawscribe


    Thanks and similar thoughts this end too – especially as I watched the “Ageless Warrior” (Coral Sea) being unceremoniously picked apart in the break-yard for scrap. One thing the ship did right was to provide a useful momento of sorts when she was decomm’d. They took all the brass doorknobs, melted them down and made medallions (“coins”) out of them with the ship’s logo. I’ve got mine in a place of honor on the shelves at home. Only regret was I missed out on scoring one of the ready room chairs – would’ve been great in the garage 🙂
    – SJS

  3. Interesting how the blogsphere brings contacts back together. I met Capt Seaquist while riding the IOWA as part of the staff of the OTC for an OTL at Eglin. That exercise was one of the high points (actually the 6 months of analysis and report writing that changed how TASM would be used) of my career. Long story for a Wednesday one day.

    In the mean time, Larry might be able to recount the story of the TLAM exercise rounds that parachuted into the woods of ‘Bama of it’s own volition, after being launched from his BB. It got more bizarre when the EOD bubbas in the SH-3 from Eglin piled out, attired in Camo utilities to two good ole boys standing with raised arms, way out in the woods.

    The conversation went something like: ” Any of you boys seen a missile around here?” “Ummm…you’re not here to arrest us?” “Nope. We’re looking for a cruise missile.” (Down come the hands) “Oh, yeah, right over there in the tree line. Hop in (the pickup, complete with Ol’ Blue)! Something about “if we help you find it you won’t tell our pappy we were out here growing grass, right?” “Deal!”

    …or words to that effect…

    Yep, it’s a real “Sea story.” I was sitting back on the ship hearing it all relayed.

    Sinking viable hulls…that’s another story, and we’ll pay for it later, not having any reserve fleet, much less an industrial capacity to make them in a non-emergency mode…

  4. I’m thinking the Ray was the destroyer sunk by the Australian submarine discussed here:

  5. arne r. svenningsen jr.

    sad to see the old gal gone, i was a member of the commisioning crew and spent six and a half years aboard

  6. EMW

    Your crews gave me good steers/pigeons off the coast of Beirut back in 1983, so I owe you one. Please note that HM2 Ray received the “MOH” not the “CMOH” – there is no such award. There term CMOH is commonly misused by the media as a way to appear knowledgeable, actually has opposite effect to the professionals. Other wise a good snipet that allowed me to reflect on the decision to scrap or sink our old ships.

  7. paper clip

    I was stationed aboard the David R. Ray from 1994-1998 and was looking her up to see if she was still in Everett when I found this page that told me she was sunk. The only thing that would make me happier than I am right now is if there were some way for me to get pictures or better yet video of the “Death Ray” (as we called it) going down. If anyone knows where I could get that, please, please, please post it.

  8. Well, perhaps this and this will help (ex-USS RAY after being shot by Harpoon).
    – SJS

  9. Greg Herzog

    I was sad when I heard the news. She should have went down in a Gun Battle instead of friendly fire. Oh well, if it helped the Navy gain knowledge, then it was for a good purpose. I sailed in her from 1981 to 1984. Outstanding Ship. My last CO, CDR Ray Rhodes and XO, Lcdr Hagee were the best. God Bless Capt Rhodes memory.

  10. YNC (Ret) Paul Goff

    Sorry to see her end this way. Made her 1st Westpac cruise. Many days in the Persian Gulf. First forward deployed engine change-out at Diego Garcia.

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