The first Arleigh Burke (DDG-21) Flight IIA-class guided missile destroyer, the Oscar Austin (DDG-79), is seen here at Bath Iron Works just after launch on 7 November 1998. Two sisters also are now in the water, the Ingalls-built Roosevelt (DDG-80), launched 10 January 1999, and the Bath-built Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81), to launch this month. Plans call for 29 of these 9,217-ton full-load displacement ships, which differ from their 21 Flight I and II half-sisters primarily in incorporating twin hangars for SH-60R Seahawk helicopters; the earlier ships had only a landing pad. To clear the helicopter facilities, the two aftward-facing fixed antenna arrays for the AN/SPY-1D Aegis radar system were raised 8 feet, and the hull was lengthened aft by 5 feet. DDG-80 introduces a faceted housing for the 5-inch gun, and DDG-81 and later are to carry the new 5-inch/62-caliber Mk 45 Mod. 4 gun, capable of firing extended-range guided munitions to 63 nautical-mile ranges. DDG-88 on are to have the AN/SPY-lE radar with an improved capability to detect and track low-observable targets; DDG-91 on will have the AN/SPY-2 Advanced Integrated Electronic Warfare System. All ships of the series will have the Cooperative Engagement Capability. The Oscar Austin is scheduled for delivery in February 2000.
The Spruance (DD-963)-class destroyer Arthur W. Radford (DD968), shown here while on deployment to Europe in July 1998, was involved in a major collision at sea off the Virginia Capes early on the night of 45 February 1999. She received a severe gash above the waterline to starboard of the forward 5-inch gun-mount (which was destroyed) and was badly holed below the waterline by the bulbous bow of the Saudi Arabian merchant ship Saudi Riyadh . Miraculously, only one sailor suffered injury, a broken arm. Damage to the Arthur W. Radford would cost at least $65 million to repair, and although she is the platform for the prototype Advanced Enclosed Mast/Sensor System (AEM/S), built by Ingalls Shipbuilding in 1997, the destroyer may have to be scrapped. The AEM/S envelopes the antennas for the AN/SPS-40 and Mk 23 TAS radar systems, as well as various communications arrays; similar signature-reducing masts now are planned for the San Antonio (LPD-17)-class amphibious warfare ships. Last year, the Navy discarded seven of the Arthur W. Radford 's sister ships, nearly two decades before their scheduled retirements.