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On 29 April 1991, the Navy took delivery of the USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51). She will be commissioned on the fourth of July in her home port of Norfolk, Virginia. Much has been said and more written about the introduction of this new class of Aegis de
The Arleigh Burke's beam contributes to her stability when maneuvering at high speed. Her twin rudders and two outboard-rotating propellers add to her capabilities. “Drive [her] once and you know that she is a real destroyer,” her skipper says.
stroyers, but two areas have received little attention—the crew, and the way the ship handles.
We have many reasons to be optimistic about the Navy’s future despite the budget storms around us. The best reason to be optimistic is the remarkable quality of our people. Too many think that new-construction ships like the Arleigh Burke are manned by perfect sailors. Not so. But my crew is very representative of the talented people in the Navy today. I guess the height of the bar these days is just getting higher and higher. I’ll admit one thing. We may not be the best sailors in the Navy but we are among the luckiest, having been given the opportunity
to bring Admiral Burke’s ship to life- Rumors to the contrary, the crew is not hand-picked. That is not to say tha' I did not attempt to influence where I could the assignment of a handful of people. 1 did. But the Navy has sent our ship competent, well trained men.
BATH IRON WOBt<S
We have had a few problems that are probably no different from those on any other destroyer. We certainly have lumbled around getting personnel quali' fication standards dates to match on the various forms that are required these days, and we are consistently less than perfect in all the other inspections everybody faces. Even so, I think we are a group of solid professionals.
The chiefs are a pretty remarkable
wardroom, particularly in the corn- systems department. First, I asked
Unch. 1 wouldn’t trade one of our '°'s if the personnel center gave me blank check. Five master chief petty . Icers in a destroyer is pretty impres- ' ,Vc’ ar>d four of them made rate after , IT|ost two years on the job in the Ar- ,'B'1 Burke. Either chiefs are getting ctter or 1 am luckier than I think, have done some different things in
an exceptional Limited Duty Officer j*s the combat systems officer, and I ave been criticized for robbing an as- P'rittg line officer of a vital opportu- n'ty- I know that I paid a price for my n°ice, but in this unique case I am Satisfied that I made a good call.
The major change in the combat sys- his department is the creation of a lllet we call the Combat Systems En- S'neer. This new billet is manned by a leutenant commander, who is an Engineering Duty Officer. He reports directly t0 the Combat Systems Officer, ar|d his contribution to the successful lntroduction of this ship has been inValuable. He brings a technical focus to ’’berating this complex destroyer and he ^crtainly adds a unique insight to daily ‘eet challenges. Most important, when lc leaves the ship and reenters the ’’'ainstream of the engineering duty c°mmunity, he will have a greater appreciation for what ships at sea arc all about. I think every new-construction ^egis ship should be manned by an engineering duty Combat System Engineer for the first two years of her ser- v'ce life.
There is no question that the Arleigh Burke is a high-technology ship banned by high-technology and high- Huality sailors. More important, there is n° question in my mind that U.S. sailors control this high technology destroyer and not vice versa. We can °Perate this ship because we are well educated, well trained, and experienced in taking complex surface combatants to sea.
As far as the ship handling is concerned, the Arleigli Burke is extraordinary. What makes her so distinctive is her length-to-beam ratio. She is 466 feet at the waterline, 66 feet on the beam, and draws almost 33 feet. As might be expected, she is quite stable in a heavy sea. During our first firing trial, we operated in sea state ten, with 20-foot seas and 50 knots of true wind across the deck but the ship was very stable despite the rotten weather. The ship heels less than 10° when executing a hard rudder turn—35° rudder at 32 knots—in calm seas.
With twin rudders and two propellers that rotate outboard, rather than inboard, as on Aegis cruisers and Spru- ance (DD-963)-class destroyers, the Arleigh Burke handles very much like a Charles F. Adams (DDG-2)-class destroyer. Although she is broad on the beam, she is quite agile, thanks to the available 100,000 shaft horsepower. Twisting is not a problem and handling alongside a pier is easier because she has a relatively small superstructure, i.e., sail area. Drive the ship once and you know that she is a real destroyer.
Tug make-ups are not standard. The bow has a very pronounced rake from the waterline; consequently, in a power make-up the tug is so far under the flare of the bow that its lines are not effective. To move the bow in cither direction, the only effective tug makeup is to use a headline and quarterline with the tug making up in the vicinity of the forward vertical launching system. The good news is that with two shafts, a small sail area, and 100,000 shalt horsepower—you don’t always need tugs.
The view from the bridge wings is remarkable. You can see the entire fan-
As always, (lie crew makes the ship and the Arleigli Burke is manned by motivated sailors who are solid professionals. This head-on shot (below) shows that the Arleigli Burke's fore- and-aft visibility is excellent from either wing of the bridge.
tail from cither wing; helicopter operations are clearly visible. When maneuvering along side a pier, you can see exactly where the fantail is and what is directly astern. With the power available and great visibility, ship handlers must be careful not to become overconfident.
A new generation of destroyers is about to enter the fleet. Balanced, flexible, tough and survivable, these are the right ships at the right time in history. The Navy has always depended on talented people as well as ships and airplanes that work. As the Arleigh Burke enters the fleet, we can reasonably expect that both the people and technology will succeed.
Commander Morgan commands the USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51). Prior to assuming command he served with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was the executive officer of the USS Vincennes (CG-49). He has contributed several articles to Proceedings', his most recent was “DDG-51: Future Surface Force Prototype,” in December 1988, pp. 58-61.