Destroyer

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USS Winston S. Churchill, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer of the United States Navy USS Winston S. Churchill.jpg
USS Winston S. Churchill, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer of the United States Navy

In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast, maneuverable, long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against powerful short range attackers. They were originally developed in the late 19th century by Fernando Villaamil for the Spanish Navy [1] [2] as a defense against torpedo boats, and by the time of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, these "torpedo boat destroyers" (TBDs) were "large, swift, and powerfully armed torpedo boats designed to destroy other torpedo boats". [3] Although the term "destroyer" had been used interchangeably with "TBD" and "torpedo boat destroyer" by navies since 1892, the term "torpedo boat destroyer" had been generally shortened to simply "destroyer" by nearly all navies by the First World War. [4]

Navy Military branch of service primarily concerned with naval warfare

A navy or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake-borne, riverine, littoral, or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions. It includes anything conducted by surface ships, amphibious ships, submarines, and seaborne aviation, as well as ancillary support, communications, training, and other fields. The strategic offensive role of a navy is projection of force into areas beyond a country's shores. The strategic defensive purpose of a navy is to frustrate seaborne projection-of-force by enemies. The strategic task of the navy also may incorporate nuclear deterrence by use of submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Naval operations can be broadly divided between riverine and littoral applications, open-ocean applications, and something in between, although these distinctions are more about strategic scope than tactical or operational division.

Warship ship that is built and primarily intended for combat

A warship or combatant ship is a naval ship that is built and primarily intended for naval warfare. Usually they belong to the armed forces of a state. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more manoeuvrable than merchant ships. Unlike a merchant ship, which carries cargo, a warship typically carries only weapons, ammunition and supplies for its crew. Warships usually belong to a navy, though they have also been operated by individuals, cooperatives and corporations.

Naval fleet formation of warships

A fleet or naval fleet is a large formation of warships, which is controlled by one leader and the largest formation in any navy. A fleet at sea is the direct equivalent of an army on land.

Contents

Before World War II, destroyers were light vessels with little endurance for unattended ocean operations; typically a number of destroyers and a single destroyer tender operated together. After the war, the advent of the guided missile allowed destroyers to take on the surface combatant roles previously filled by battleships and cruisers. This resulted in larger and more powerful guided missile destroyers more capable of independent operation.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Destroyer tender

A destroyer tender, or destroyer depot ship in British English, is an auxiliary ship designed to provide maintenance support to a flotilla of destroyers or other small warships. The use of this class has faded from its peak in the first half of the 20th century as the roles of small combatants have evolved.

Guided missile destroyer Destroyer equipped with guided missiles

A guided-missile destroyer is a destroyer designed to launch guided missiles. Many are also equipped to carry out anti-submarine, anti-air, and anti-surface operations. The NATO standard designation for these vessels is DDG. Nations vary in their use of destroyer D designation in their hull pennant numbering, either prefixing or dropping it altogether. The U.S. Navy has adopted the classification DDG in the American hull classification system.

At the start of the 21st century, destroyers are the global standard for surface combatant ships, with only two nations (United States and Russia) operating the heavier class cruisers, with no battleships or true battlecruisers remaining. [5] Modern guided missile destroyers are equivalent in tonnage but vastly superior in firepower to cruisers of the World War II era, and are capable of carrying nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. At 510 feet (160 m) long, a displacement of 9,200 tons, and with armament of more than 90 missiles, [6] guided missile destroyers such as the Arleigh Burke-class are actually larger and more heavily armed than most previous ships classified as guided missile cruisers.

Surface combatants are a subset of naval warships which are designed for warfare on the surface of the water, with their own weapons. They are generally ships built to fight other ships, submarines or aircraft, and can carry out several other missions including counter-narcotics operations and maritime interdiction. Their primary purpose is to engage space, air, surface, and submerged targets with weapons deployed from the ship itself, rather than by manned carried craft.

United States Navy Naval warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. It has the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the U.S. Navy is the third largest of the U.S. military service branches in terms of personnel. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the third-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force and the United States Army.

Russian Navy naval arm of the Russian military

The Russian Navy is the naval arm of the Russian Armed Forces. It has existed in various forms since 1696, the present iteration of which was formed in January 1992 when it succeeded the Navy of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Some European navies, such as the French, Spanish, or German, use the term "frigate" for their destroyers, which leads to some confusion.

Frigate Type of warship

A frigate is a type of warship, having various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.

Origins

Fernando Villaamil, credited as the inventor of the destroyer, died in action during the Battle of Santiago de Cuba in 1898 Fernando Villaamil (ca 1897).jpg
Fernando Villaamil, credited as the inventor of the destroyer, died in action during the Battle of Santiago de Cuba in 1898
The introduction of the Whitehead torpedo revolutionized naval warfare. Torpedo's general profile: A. war-head B. air-flask. B'. immersion-chamber CC'. after-body C. engine-room DDDD. drain-holes E. shaft-tube F. steering-engine G. bevel-gear box H. depth-index I. tail K. charging and stop-valves L. locking-gear M. engine bed-plate P. primer-case R. rudder S. steering-rod tube T. guide-stud UU. propellers V. valve-group W. war-nose Z. strengthening-band Whitehead torpedo General Profile, The Whitehead Torpedo U.S.N.1898.jpg
The introduction of the Whitehead torpedo revolutionized naval warfare. Torpedo's general profile: A. war-head B. air-flask. B'. immersion-chamber CC'. after-body C. engine-room DDDD. drain-holes E. shaft-tube F. steering-engine G. bevel-gear box H. depth-index I. tail K. charging and stop-valves L. locking-gear M. engine bed-plate P. primer-case R. rudder S. steering-rod tube T. guide-stud UU. propellers V. valve-group W. war-nose Z. strengthening-band

The emergence and development of the destroyer was related to the invention of the self-propelled torpedo in the 1860s. A navy now had the potential to destroy a superior enemy battle fleet using steam launches to fire torpedoes. Cheap, fast boats armed with torpedoes called torpedo boats were built and became a threat to large capital ships near enemy coasts. The first seagoing vessel designed to launch the self-propelled Whitehead torpedo was the 33-ton HMS Lightning in 1876. She was armed with two drop collars to launch these weapons, these were replaced in 1879 by a single torpedo tube in the bow. By the 1880s, the type had evolved into small ships of 50–100 tons, fast enough to evade enemy picket boats.

Torpedo self-propelled underwater weapon

A modern torpedo is a self-propelled weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with its target or in proximity to it.

Launch (boat) open motorboat

A launch is an open motorboat. The forward part of the launch may be covered. Prior to the era of engines on small craft, a launch was the largest boat carried on a sailing vessel, powered by sail or by oars. In competitive rowing, a launch is a motorized boat used by the coach during training.

Torpedo boat small and fast naval vessel armed with torpedoes

A torpedo boat is a relatively small and fast naval ship designed to carry torpedoes into battle. The first designs rammed enemy ships with explosive spar torpedoes, and later designs launched self-propelled Whitehead torpedoes. They were created to counter battleships and other slow and heavily armed ships by using speed, agility, and the power of their torpedo weapons. A number of inexpensive torpedo boats attacking en masse could overwhelm a larger ship's ability to fight them off using its large but cumbersome guns. An inexpensive fleet of torpedo boats could pose a threat to much larger and more expensive fleets of capital ships, albeit only in the coastal areas to which their small size and limited fuel load restricted them.

At first, the threat of a torpedo boat attack to a battle fleet was considered to exist only when at anchor; but as faster and longer-range torpedoes were developed, the threat extended to cruising at sea. In response to this new threat, more heavily gunned picket boats called "catchers" were built which were used to escort the battle fleet at sea. They needed significant seaworthiness and endurance to operate with the battle fleet, and as they necessarily became larger, they became officially designated "torpedo boat destroyers", and by the First World War were largely known as "destroyers" in English. The anti-torpedo boat origin of this type of ship is retained in its name in other languages, including French (contre-torpilleur), Italian (cacciatorpediniere), Portuguese (contratorpedeiro), Czech (torpédoborec), Greek (antitorpiliko,αντιτορπιλικό), Dutch (torpedobootjager) and, up until the Second World War, Polish (kontrtorpedowiec, now obsolete). [7]

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Italian language Romance language

Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire and, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to it of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it still plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. Italian is included under the languages covered by the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Romania, although Italian is neither a co-official nor a protected language in these countries. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both Italian and other regional languages.

Portuguese language Romance language that originated in Portugal

Portuguese is a Western Romance language originating in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the sole official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe. It also has co-official language status in East Timor, Equatorial Guinea and Macau in China. As the result of expansion during colonial times, a cultural presence of Portuguese and Portuguese creole speakers are also found in Goa, Daman and Diu in India; in Batticaloa on the east coast of Sri Lanka; in the Indonesian island of Flores; in the Malacca state of Malaysia; and the ABC islands in the Caribbean where Papiamento is spoken, while Cape Verdean Creole is the most widely spoken Portuguese-based Creole. A Portuguese-speaking person or nation is referred to as "Lusophone" (Lusófono).

Once destroyers became more than just catchers guarding an anchorage, it was realized that they were also ideal to take over the role of torpedo boats themselves, so they were fitted with torpedo tubes as well as guns. At that time, and even into World War I, the only function of destroyers was to protect their own battle fleet from enemy torpedo attacks and to make such attacks on the battleships of the enemy. The task of escorting merchant convoys was still in the future.

Early designs

The Imperial Japanese Navy's Kotaka (1887) Kotaka.jpg
The Imperial Japanese Navy's Kotaka (1887)

An important development came with the construction of HMS Swift in 1884, later redesignated TB 81. [8] This was a large (137 ton) torpedo boat with four 47 mm quick-firing guns and three torpedo tubes. At 23.75 knots (43.99 km/h; 27.33 mph), while still not fast enough to engage enemy torpedo boats reliably, the ship at least had the armament to deal with them.

Another forerunner of the torpedo boat destroyer was the Japanese torpedo boat [9] Kotaka (Falcon), built in 1885. [10] Designed to Japanese specifications and ordered from the Glasgow Yarrow shipyards in 1885, she was transported in parts to Japan, where she was assembled and launched in 1887. The 165-foot (50 m) long vessel was armed with four 1-pounder (37 mm) quick-firing guns and six torpedo tubes, reached 19 knots (35 km/h), and at 203 tons, was the largest torpedo boat built to date. In her trials in 1889, Kotaka demonstrated that she could exceed the role of coastal defense, and was capable of accompanying larger warships on the high seas. The Yarrow shipyards, builder of the parts for Kotaka, "considered Japan to have effectively invented the destroyer". [11]

Torpedo gunboat

HMS Spider, an early model of torpedo gunboat HMS Spider.png
HMS Spider, an early model of torpedo gunboat

The first vessel designed for the explicit purpose of hunting and destroying torpedo boats was the torpedo gunboat. Essentially very small cruisers, torpedo gunboats were equipped with torpedo tubes and an adequate gun armament, intended for hunting down smaller enemy boats. By the end of the 1890s torpedo gunboats were made obsolete by their more successful contemporaries, the torpedo boat destroyers, which were much faster.

The first example of this was HMS Rattlesnake, designed by Nathaniel Barnaby in 1885, and commissioned in response to the Russian War scare. [12] The gunboat was armed with torpedoes and designed for hunting and destroying smaller torpedo boats. Exactly 200 feet (61 m) long and 23 feet (7.0 m) in beam, she displaced 550 tons. Built of steel, Rattlesnake was un-armoured with the exception of a 34-inch protective deck. She was armed with a single 4-inch/25-pounder breech-loading gun, six 3-pounder QF guns and four 14-inch (360 mm) torpedo tubes, arranged with two fixed tubes at the bow and a set of torpedo dropping carriages on either side. Four torpedo reloads were carried. [12]

A number of torpedo gunboat classes followed, including the Grasshopper class, the Sharpshooterclass, the Alarmclass and the Dryadclass – all built for the Royal Navy during the 1880s and the 1890s.

Fernando Villaamil, second officer of the Ministry of the Navy of Spain, designed his own torpedo gunboat to combat the threat from the torpedo boat. [13] He asked several British shipyards to submit proposals capable of fulfilling these specifications. In 1885 the Spanish Navy chose the design submitted by the shipyard of James and George Thomson of Clydebank. Destructor (Destroyer in Spanish) was laid down at the end of the year, launched in 1886, and commissioned in 1887.

Spanish warship Destructor in 1890, the first destroyer ever built Contratorpedero Destructor (en 1890).svg
Spanish warship Destructor in 1890, the first destroyer ever built

She displaced 348 tons, and was the first warship [14] equipped with twin triple-expansion engines generating 3,784 ihp (2,822 kW), for a maximum speed of 22.6 knots (41.9 km/h), [15] which made her one of the faster ships in the world in 1888. [16] She was armed with one 90 mm (3.5 in) Spanish-designed Hontoria breech-loading gun, [1] four 57 mm (2.2 in) (6-pounder) Nordenfelt guns, two 37 mm (1.5 in) (3-pdr) Hotchkiss cannons and two 15-inch (38 cm) Schwartzkopff torpedo tubes. [15] The ship carried three torpedoes per tube. [1] She was manned by a crew of 60. [15]

In terms of gunnery, speed and dimensions, the specialised design to chase torpedo boats and her high seas capabilities, Destructor was an important precursor to the torpedo boat destroyer. [17]

Development of the modern destroyer

HMS Havock, the first modern destroyer, commissioned in 1894 HMS Havock (1893).jpg
HMS Havock, the first modern destroyer, commissioned in 1894

The first ships to bear the formal designation "torpedo boat destroyer" (TBD) were the Daring-class of two ships and Havock-class of two ships of the Royal Navy.

Early torpedo gunboat designs lacked the range and speed to keep up with the fleet they were supposed to protect. In 1892, the Third Sea Lord, Rear Admiral John "Jacky" Fisher ordered the development of a new type of ships equipped with the then novel water-tube boilers and quick-firing small calibre guns. Six ships to the specifications circulated by the Admiralty were ordered initially, comprising three different designs each produced by a different shipbuilder: HMS Daring and HMS Decoy from John I. Thornycroft & Company, HMS Havock and HMS Hornet from Yarrows, and HMS Ferret and HMS Lynx from Laird, Son & Company. [18]

These torpedo boat destroyers all featured a turtleback (i.e. rounded) forecastle that was characteristic of early British TBDs. HMS Daring and HMS Decoy were both built by Thornycroft, displaced 260 tons (287.8 tons full load) and were 185 feet in length. They were armed with one 12-pounder gun and three 6-pounder guns, with one fixed 18-in torpedo tube in the bow plus two more torpedo tubes on a revolving mount abaft the two funnels. Later the bow torpedo tube was removed and two more 6-pounder guns added instead. They produced 4,200 hp from a pair of Thornycroft water-tube boilers, giving them a top speed of 27 knots, giving the range and speed to travel effectively with a battle fleet. In common with subsequent early Thornycroft boats, they had sloping sterns and double rudders. [19]

The French navy, an extensive user of torpedo boats, built its first torpedo boat destroyer in 1899, with the Durandal-class 'torpilleur d'escadre'. The United States commissioned its first torpedo boat destroyer, USS Bainbridge, Destroyer No. 1, in 1902 and by 1906 there were 16 destroyers in service with the US Navy. [20]

Subsequent improvements

Builders' plans for the British Charger class, built 1894-95. Yarrow plan.png
Builders' plans for the British Chargerclass, built 1894–95.

Torpedo boat destroyer designs continued to evolve around the turn of the 20th century in several key ways. The first was the introduction of the steam turbine. The spectacular unauthorized demonstration of the turbine powered Turbinia at the 1897 Spithead Navy Review, which, significantly, was of torpedo boat size, prompted the Royal Navy to order a prototype turbine powered destroyer, HMS Viper of 1899. This was the first turbine warship of any kind and achieved a remarkable 36 knots (67 km/h) on sea trials. By 1910 the turbine had been widely adopted by all navies for their faster ships.

The second development was the replacement of the torpedo-boat-style turtleback foredeck by a raised forecastle for the new River-class destroyers built in 1903, which provided better sea-keeping as well as more space below deck.

The first warship to use only fuel oil propulsion was the Royal Navy's torpedo boat destroyer HMS Spiteful, after experiments in 1904, although the obsolescence of coal as a fuel in British warships was delayed by its availability. [21] [22] Other navies also adopted oil, for instance the USN with the Pauldingclass of 1909. In spite of all this variety, destroyers adopted a largely similar pattern. The hull was long and narrow, with a relatively shallow draft. The bow was either raised in a forecastle or covered under a turtleback; underneath this were the crew spaces, extending 14 to 13 the way along the hull. Aft of the crew spaces was as much engine space as the technology of the time would allow: several boilers and engines or turbines. Above deck, one or more quick-firing guns were mounted in the bows, in front of the bridge; several more were mounted amidships and astern. Two tube mountings (later on, multiple mountings) were generally found amidships.

Between 1892 and 1914 destroyers became markedly larger: initially 275 tons with a length of 165 feet (50 m) for the Royal Navy's first Havockclass of torpedo boat destroyers, [23] up to the First World War with 300-foot (91 m) long destroyers displacing 1000 tons was not unusual. However, construction remained focused on putting the biggest possible engines into a small hull, resulting in a somewhat flimsy construction. Often hulls were built of steel only 1/8 in thick.

By 1910 the steam-driven displacement (that is, not hydroplaning) torpedo boat had become redundant as a separate type. Germany nevertheless continued to build such boats until the end of World War I, although these were effectively small coastal destroyers. In fact Germany never distinguished between the two types, giving them pennant numbers in the same series and never giving names to destroyers. Ultimately the term torpedo boat came to be attached to a quite different vessel – the very fast hydroplaning motor driven MTB.

Early use and World War I

Navies originally built torpedo boat destroyers to protect against torpedo boats, but admirals soon appreciated the flexibility of the fast, multi-purpose vessels that resulted. Vice-Admiral Sir Baldwin Walker laid down destroyer duties for the Royal Navy: [24]

Early destroyers were extremely cramped places to live, being "without a doubt magnificent fighting vessels... but unable to stand bad weather". [25] During the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, the commander of the torpedo boat destroyer IJN Akatsuki [26] [27] [28] described "being in command of a destroyer for a long period, especially in wartime... is not very good for the health". Stating that he had originally been strong and healthy, he continued, "life on a destroyer in winter, with bad food, no comforts, would sap the powers of the strongest men in the long run. A destroyer is always more uncomfortable than the others, and rain, snow, and sea-water combine to make them damp; in fact, in bad weather there is not a dry spot where one can rest for a moment." [29]

The Japanese destroyer-commander finished with, "Yesterday I looked at myself in a mirror for a long time; I was disagreeably surprised to see my face thin, full of wrinkles, and as old as though I were fifty. My clothes (uniform) cover nothing but a skeleton, and my bones are full of rheumatism." [29]

In 1898 by the US Navy officially classified USS Porter, a 175-foot (53 m) long all steel vessel displacing 165 tons, as a torpedo boat. But her commander, LT. John C. Fremont, described her as "...a compact mass of machinery not meant to keep the sea nor to live in... as five sevenths of the ship are taken up by machinery and fuel, whilst the remaining two sevenths, fore and aft, are the crew's quarters; officers forward and the men placed aft. And even in those spaces are placed anchor engines, steering engines, steam pipes, etc. rendering them unbearably hot in tropical regions." [30]

Early combat

HMS Loyal, of the Laforey class HMS Loyal (1913) IWM SP 001136.jpg
HMS Loyal, of the Laforeyclass

The torpedo boat destroyer's first major use in combat came during the Japanese surprise attack on the Russian fleet anchored in Port Arthur at the opening of the Russo-Japanese War on 8 February 1904.

Three destroyer divisions attacked the Russian fleet in port, firing a total of 18 torpedoes. However, only two Russian battleships, Tsesarevich and Retvizan, as well as the protected cruiser Pallada, were seriously damaged due to the proper deployment of torpedo nets. Tsesarevich, the Russian flagship, had her nets deployed, with at least four enemy torpedoes "hung up" in them, [31] and other warships were similarly saved from further damage by their nets. [32]

While capital ship engagements were scarce in World War I, destroyer units engaged almost continually in raiding and patrol actions. The first shot of the war at sea was fired on 5 August 1914 by a destroyer of the 2nd Flotilla, HMS Lance, in an engagement with the German auxiliary minelayer Königin Luise.

Destroyers were involved in the skirmishes that prompted the Battle of Heligoland Bight, and filled a range of roles in the Battle of Gallipoli, acting as troop transports and as fire-support vessels, as well as their fleet-screening role. Over 80 British destroyers and 60 German torpedo-boats took part in the Battle of Jutland, which involved pitched small-boat actions between the main fleets, and several foolhardy attacks by unsupported destroyers on capital ships. Jutland also concluded with a messy night action between the German High Seas Fleet and part of the British destroyer screen.

USS Wickes, a Wickes-class destroyer Wickes dd75.jpg
USS Wickes, a Wickes-class destroyer

The threat evolved by World War I with the development of the submarine, or U-boat. The submarine had the potential to hide from gunfire and close underwater to fire torpedoes. Early-war destroyers had the speed and armament to intercept submarines before they submerged, either by gunfire or by ramming. Destroyers also had a shallow enough draft that torpedoes would find it difficult to hit them.

HMS Badger was the first destroyer to successfully ram a submarine HMS Badger (1911).jpg
HMS Badger was the first destroyer to successfully ram a submarine

The desire to attack submarines underwater led to rapid destroyer evolution during the war. They were quickly equipped with strengthened bows for ramming, and depth charges and hydrophones for identifying submarine targets. The first submarine casualty to a destroyer was the German U-19, rammed by HMS Badger on 29 October 1914. While U-19 was only damaged, the next month HMS Garry successfully sank U-18. The first depth-charge sinking was on 4 December 1916, when UC-19 [33] was sunk by HMS Llewellyn.

The submarine threat meant that many destroyers spent their time on anti-submarine patrol. Once Germany adopted unrestricted submarine warfare in January 1917, destroyers were called on to escort merchant convoys. US Navy destroyers were among the first American units to be dispatched upon the American entry to the war, and a squadron of Japanese destroyers even joined Allied patrols in the Mediterranean. Patrol duty was far from safe; of the 67 British destroyers lost in the war, collisions accounted for 18, while 12 were wrecked.

At the end of the war, the state-of-the-art was represented by the British W class.

1918–1945

V-class destroyer, HMS Velox Velox.jpg
V-class destroyer, HMS Velox

The trend during World War I had been towards larger destroyers with heavier armaments. A number of opportunities to fire at capital ships had been missed during the War, because destroyers had expended all their torpedoes in an initial salvo. The British V and W classes of the late war had sought to address this by mounting six torpedo tubes in two triple mounts, instead of the four or two on earlier models. The 'V' and 'W's set the standard of destroyer building well into the 1920s.

The two Romanian destroyers Mărăști and Mărășești, on the other hand, had the greatest firepower of all destroyers in the world throughout the first half of the 1920s. This was largely due to the fact that, between their commissioning in 1920 and 1926, they retained the armament that they had while serving in the Italian Navy as scout cruisers ( esploratori ). When initially ordered by Romania in 1913, the Romanian specifications envisioned three 120 mm guns, a caliber which would eventually be adopted as the standard for future Italian destroyers. Armed with three 152 mm and four 76 mm guns after being completed as scout cruisers, the two warships were officially re-rated as destroyers by the Romanian Navy. The two Romanian warships were thus the destroyers with the greatest firepower in the world throughout much of the interwar period. As of 1939, when the Second World War started, their artillery, although changed, was still close to cruiser standards, amounting to nine heavy naval guns (five of 120 mm and four of 76 mm). In addition, they retained their two twin 457 mm torpedo tubes as well as two machine guns, plus the capacity to carry up to 50 mines. [34]

Fubuki-class destroyer, Uranami Uranami II.jpg
Fubuki-class destroyer, Uranami

The next major innovation came with the Japanese Fubukiclass or 'special type', designed in 1923 and delivered in 1928. The design was initially noted for its powerful armament of six five-inch (127 mm) guns and three triple torpedo mounts. The second batch of the class gave the guns high-angle turrets for anti-aircraft warfare, and the 24-inch (61 cm) oxygen-fueled 'Long Lance' Type 93 torpedo. The later Hatsuharuclass of 1931 further improved the torpedo armament by storing its reload torpedoes close at hand in the superstructure, allowing reloading within 15 minutes.

Most other nations replied with similar larger ships. The US Porterclass adopted twin five-inch (127 mm) guns, and the subsequent Mahanclass and Gridleyclasses (the latter of 1934) increased the number of torpedo tubes to 12 and 16 respectively.

France's Fantasque class, the fastest destroyer class ever built. Fantasque.jpg
France's Fantasqueclass, the fastest destroyer class ever built.

In the Mediterranean, the Italian Navy's building of very fast light cruisers of the Condottiericlass prompted the French to produce exceptional destroyer designs. The French had long been keen on large destroyers, with their Chacalclass of 1922 displacing over 2,000 tons and carrying 130 mm guns; a further three similar classes were produced around 1930. The Fantasqueclass of 1935 carried five 138 millimetres (5.4 in) guns and nine torpedo tubes, but could achieve speeds of 45 knots (83 km/h), which remains the record speed for a steamship and for any destroyer.[ citation needed ] The Italians' own destroyers were almost as swift, most Italian designs of the 1930s being rated at over 38 knots (70 km/h), while carrying torpedoes and either four or six 120 mm guns.

Germany started to build destroyers again during the 1930s as part of Hitler's rearmament program. The Germans were also fond of large destroyers, but while the initial Type 1934 displaced over 3,000 tons, their armament was equal to smaller vessels. This changed from the Type 1936 onwards, which mounted heavy 150 millimetres (5.9 in) guns. German destroyers also used innovative high-pressure steam machinery: while this should have helped their efficiency, it more often resulted in mechanical problems.

Once German and Japanese rearmament became clear, the British and American navies consciously focused on building destroyers that were smaller but more numerous than those used by other nations. The British built a series of destroyers (the Aclass to Iclass) which were about 1,400 tons standard displacement, had four 4.7-inch (119 mm) guns and eight torpedo tubes; the American Bensonclass of 1938 similar in size, but carried five 5-inch (127 mm) guns and ten torpedo tubes. Realizing the need for heavier gun armament, the British built the Tribalclass of 1936 (sometimes called Afridi after one of two lead ships). These ships displaced 1,850 tons and were armed with eight 4.7-inch (119 mm) guns in four twin turrets and four torpedo tubes. These were followed by the J-class and L-class destroyers, with six 4.7-inch (119 mm) guns in twin turrets and eight torpedo tubes.

Anti-submarine sensors included sonar (or ASDIC), although training in their use was indifferent. Anti-submarine weapons changed little, and ahead-throwing weapons, a need recognized in World War I, had made no progress.

Later combat

USS McGowan, a Fletcher-class destroyer during World War II USS McGowan (DD-678) at sea, circa in 1945.jpg
USS McGowan, a Fletcher-class destroyer during World War II

During the 1920s and 1930s destroyers were often deployed to areas of diplomatic tension or humanitarian disaster. British and American destroyers were common on the Chinese coast and rivers, even supplying landing parties to protect colonial interests.

By World War II the threat had evolved once again. Submarines were more effective, and aircraft had become important weapons of naval warfare; once again the early-war fleet destroyers were ill-equipped for combating these new targets. They were fitted with new light anti-aircraft guns, radar, and forward-launched ASW weapons, in addition to their existing dual-purpose guns, depth charges, and torpedoes. In most cases torpedo and/or dual-purpose gun armament was reduced to accommodate new anti-air and anti-submarine weapons. By this time the destroyers had become large, multi-purpose vessels, expensive targets in their own right. As a result, casualties on destroyers were among the highest.

The need for large numbers of anti-submarine ships led to the introduction of smaller and cheaper specialized anti-submarine warships called corvettes and frigates by the Royal Navy and destroyer escorts by the USN. A similar programme was belatedly started by the Japanese (see Matsu-class destroyer). These ships had the size and displacement of the original torpedo boat destroyers that the contemporary destroyer had evolved from.

Post-World War II

Polish destroyer ORP Blyskawica, currently preserved as a museum ship in Gdynia. Blyskawica l d.jpg
Polish destroyer ORP Błyskawica, currently preserved as a museum ship in Gdynia.

Some conventional destroyers were completed in the late 1940s and 1950s which built on wartime experience. These vessels were significantly larger than wartime ships and had fully automatic main guns, unit Machinery, radar, sonar, and antisubmarine weapons such as the Squid mortar. Examples include the British Daring-class, US Forrest Sherman-class, and the Soviet Kotlin-class destroyers.

Some World War II–vintage ships were modernized for anti-submarine warfare, and to extend their service lives, to avoid having to build (expensive) brand-new ships. Examples include the US FRAM I programme and the British Type 15 frigates converted from fleet destroyers.

The advent of surface-to-air missiles and surface-to-surface missiles, such as the Exocet, in the early 1960s changed naval warfare. Guided missile destroyers (DDG in the US Navy) were developed to carry these weapons and protect the fleet from air, submarine and surface threats. Examples include the Soviet Kashinclass, the British Countyclass, and the US Charles F. Adamsclass.

21st century destroyers tend to display features such as large, slab sides without complicated corners and crevices to keep the radar cross-section small, vertical launch systems to carry a large number of missiles at high readiness to fire and helicopter flight decks and hangars.

Operators

A Chinese Navy Luyang II-class (Type 052C) destroyer Luyang II (Type 052C) Class Destroyer.JPG
A Chinese Navy Luyang II-class (Type 052C) destroyer
The People's Liberation Army Navy operates the Sovremennyclass, a class of large multi-purpose missile destroyers. They are powered by pressure-fired boilers, making them capable of speeds in excess of 30 knots (56 km/h). China has started building the Type 055 destroyer packed with 112 VLS, described to be of possessing a Universal Launch function. The VLS system integrated in this type of ship is said to be larger in volume compared to similarly dense VLS systems of the United States Ticonderoga-classcruiser and South Korea's Sejong the Great-class destroyer. The class of ships however lack an integrated electric propulsion (IEPS) and this facility is likely to be deployed on an upgraded series which would act as a development platform for new technologies to be deployed in the future. [35]
A Kolkata-class guided missile destroyer of the Indian Navy. Sideview of INS Kolkata (D63).jpg
A Kolkata-class guided missile destroyer of the Indian Navy.
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Akizuki JS Akizuki in the Sagami Bay during the SDF Fleet Review 2012, -14 Oct. 2012 a.jpg
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Akizuki
A Russian Navy Udaloy-class destroyer AdmiralVinogradov2009.jpg
A Russian Navy Udaloy-class destroyer
The modern Udaloy-class destroyers of the Russian Navy can displace about 7,900 tonnes, can travel at 35 knots (65 km/h), and have a maximum range of 10,500 nmi (19,400 km) at 14 knots (26 km/h). The original class (Udaloy I) was designed for anti-submarine warfare, which can be seen in their two quadruple launchers of the Metel Anti-Ship Complex (SS-N-14), two quadruple 533 millimetres (21 in) launchers equipped with either the Type 53 torpedo on the Udaloy I class or RPK-2 Viyuga (SS-N-15) on the Udaloy II class, and the two RBU-6000 anti-submarine launchers. The Udaloy II class is Russia's only multipurpose destroyer. The armament of the class has been modified. The Metal Anti-Ship Complex is replaced with eight P-270 Moskit (SS-N-22 Sunburn) supersonic sea-skimming anti-ship missile. For air defense, each Udaloy is armed with four AK-630 CIWSs, mounted parallel to each other mid ship. They also have two Kashtan CIWSs, each capable of engaging six targets automatically by either its armament of two GSh-6-30 Gatling guns or four 9M311 (SA-N-11) surface-to-air missiles. Finally, 64 3K95 Kinzhal (SA-N-9) medium-range point defense SAMs can be fired from vertical launching system. Russia also operates a single Kashin-class destroyer.
HMS Daring, a Type 45 guided missile destroyer of the Royal Navy. HMS Daring-1.jpg
HMS Daring, a Type 45 guided missile destroyer of the Royal Navy.
The addition of cruise missile launchers has greatly expanded the role of the destroyer in strike and land-attack warfare. As the expense of heavier surface combatants has generally removed them from the fleet, destroyer tonnage has grown (a modern Arleigh Burke-class destroyer has the same tonnage as a World War II light cruiser). Their anti-submarine role is handled primarily by their embarked helicopters, which in addition to anti-submarine warfare can also be used for maritime rescue and vertical replenishment.

Future development

Baden-Wurttemberg, an F125-class frigate of the German Navy; currently the biggest frigates worldwide. In size and role they are qualified as destroyers BADEN-WURTTEMBERG 00257 (cropped).jpg
Baden-Württemberg, an F125-class frigate of the German Navy; currently the biggest frigates worldwide. In size and role they are qualified as destroyers

Naval Ensign of Australia.svg  Royal Australian Navy is currently building three Hobart-class destroyers. These ships are to replace the aging Adelaide-class frigates. Their design is similar to that of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and the Álvaro de Bazán-class destroyer. They will also use the AEGIS Combat System. The first unit, HMAS Hobart, was commissioned on 23 September 2017.

Naval ensign of China.svg  People's Liberation Army Navy is currently in the process of adding up to 18 ships of the Type 052D destroyer class. Serial construction is underway for at-least 6 of the larger and more powerful Type 055 destroyer, which at the current rate of production, should be complete by late 2019 or early 2020.

Civil and Naval Ensign of France.svg  French Navy is adding eight more FREMM multipurpose frigates to their fleet, while also negotiating plans to export a number of units to the Hellenic Navy and attempted to sell units to the Royal Canadian Navy. [43]

Naval Ensign of Germany.svg  German Navy is currently building four F125-class frigates. Although classified by Germany as frigates, they are destroyers in terms of size.[ citation needed ] They are to replace the aging Bremen-class frigates. The first unit, Baden-Württemberg, was planned to be commissioned in 2017 with "F" being the NATO hull, but was returned to the builder after problems were found.

In addition, six multi-mission surface combat ships are planned under the name 'Mehrzweckkampfschiff 180' (MKS 180), which will have destroyer-size and corresponding capabilities [44]

Naval Ensign of India.svg  Indian Navy is constructing three Visakhapatnam-class destroyers, with first being commissioned in July 2018. It is an improved version of the Kolkata-class destroyers

Flag of Iran.svg  Islamic Republic of Iran Navy is currently adding four more Moudge-class frigates to its fleet. Iran is also building six Khalije Fars-class destroyers, these ships are to become the largest vessels in the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy and are expected to enter service in the coming years.

Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg  Royal Navy is currently building the first 3 of a planned 8 Type 26 frigates that will specialise in anti-submarine warfare. These will compliment the Type 45 destroyer already in service.

Naval Ensign of Italy.svg  Marina Militare is adding six more FREMM multipurpose frigates to their fleet, while also negotiating plans to export a number of units to the Hellenic Navy and attempting to sell units to the Royal Canadian Navy. [43]

Naval Ensign of Japan.svg  Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force is currently developing plans for its 25DD destroyers [45] and its DDR Destroyer Revolution Project. Japan is also planning the construction of four new AEGIS-equipped destroyers, whose class is yet to be named. [46] Additionally, plans have been laid out for Japan's new 30FF anti-submarine destroyer. These ships are expected to enter service between 2018–2019. [47] Japan also recently launched JDS Asahi, the lead ship of her new class of destroyers. She will be commissioned in 2018.

Flag of South Korea.svg  Republic of Korea Navy has begun development of its KDX-IIA destroyers. These ships are to be a subclass of South Korea's Chungmugong Yi Sun-shin-class destroyers. The first unit is expected to enter service in 2019. Additionally, three more Sejong the Great-class destroyers are being built.

Naval Ensign of Russia.svg  Russian Navy has begun development into its Leader-class destroyer. These ships will be the first destroyers built in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union and will be nuclear powered. The first unit is expected to enter service in 2023, with 11 more units to follow in the coming years. [48] Additionally, Russia is also developing it's Yuschchenko-class destroyers. [49] These ships are expected to be multi-purpose destroyers tasked with reinforcing a modern Russian surface combat fleet.

Flag of the United States.svg  United States Navy, as of 2018, has 67 active Arliegh Burke destroyers and 15 planned or under construction. The new ships will be the upgraded "flight III" version. [50] Each Arleigh Burke will remain in commission for at least 45 years, with the oldest operating until after 2035 and the newest operating until after 2080. There are no plans for any additional Zumwaltclass destroyers beyond the third.

Preserved destroyers

A number of countries have destroyers preserved as museum ships. These include:

See also

Related Research Articles

Cruiser Type of large warships

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<i>Fletcher</i>-class destroyer 1940s class of destroyers of the United States Navy

The Fletcher class was a class of destroyers built by the United States during World War II. The class was designed in 1939, as a result of dissatisfaction with the earlier destroyer leader types of the Porter and Somers classes. Some went on to serve during the Korean War and into the Vietnam War.

<i>Benham</i>-class destroyer

The Benham class of ten destroyers was built for the United States Navy (USN). They were part of a series of USN destroyers limited to 1,500 tons standard displacement by the London Naval Treaty and built in the 1930s. The class was laid down in 1936-1937 and all were commissioned in 1939. Much of their design was based on the immediately preceding Gridley and Bagley-class destroyers. Like these classes, the Benhams were notable for including sixteen 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, the heaviest torpedo armament ever on US destroyers. They introduced a new high-pressure boiler that saved space and weight, as only three of the new boilers were required compared to four of the older designs. The class served extensively in World War II in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Pacific theaters, including Neutrality Patrols in the Atlantic 1940-1941. Sterett received the United States Presidential Unit Citation for the Battle of Guadalcanal and the Battle of Vella Gulf, and the Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation for her World War II service. Two of the class were lost during World War II, three would be scrapped in 1947, while the remaining five ships would be scuttled after being contaminated from the Operation Crossroads atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific.

<i>Clemson</i>-class destroyer ship class

The Clemson class was a series of 156 destroyers which served with the United States Navy from after World War I through World War II.

<i>Wickes</i>-class destroyer ship class

The Wickes-class destroyers were a class of 111 destroyers built by the United States Navy in 1917–19. Along with the 6 preceding Caldwell-class and 156 subsequent Clemson-class destroyers, they formed the "flush-deck" or "four-stack" type. Only a few were completed in time to serve in World War I, including USS Wickes, the lead ship of the class.

<i>Allen M. Sumner</i>-class destroyer 1943 class of destroyers of the United States Navy

The Allen M. Sumner class was a group of 58 destroyers built by the United States during World War II. Another twelve ships were completed as destroyer minelayers. Often referred to as simply the Sumner class, this class was characterized by their twin 5-inch/38 caliber gun mounts, dual rudders, additional anti-aircraft weapons, and many other advancements over the previous Fletcher class. The Allen M. Sumner design was extended 14 feet (4.3 m) amidships to become the Gearing class, which was produced in larger numbers.

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Japanese cruiser <i>Takao</i> (1930) Takao-class heavy cruiser

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<i>Gleaves</i>-class destroyer class of 66 destroyers of the United States Navy

The Gleaves-class destroyers were a class of 66 destroyers of the United States Navy built 1938–42, designed by Gibbs & Cox. The first ship of the class was USS Gleaves. They were the production destroyer of the US Navy when it entered World War II.

<i>Gridley</i>-class destroyer ship class

The Gridley-class destroyers were a class of four 1500-ton destroyers in the United States Navy. They were part of a series of USN destroyers limited to 1,500 tons standard displacement by the London Naval Treaty and built in the 1930s. The first two ships were laid down on 3 June 1935 and commissioned in 1937. The second two were laid down in March 1936 and commissioned in 1938. Based on the preceding Mahan-class destroyers with somewhat different machinery, they had the same hull but had only a single stack and mounted sixteen 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, an increase of four. To compensate for the increased torpedo armament weight, the gun armament was slightly reduced from five 5"/38 caliber guns (127 mm) to four. USS Maury (DD-401) made the highest trial speed ever recorded for a United States Navy destroyer, 42.8 knots. All four ships served extensively in World War II, notably in the Solomon Islands and the Battle of the Philippine Sea, with Maury receiving a Presidential Unit Citation.

HMS <i>Undaunted</i> (R53)

HMS Undaunted was a U-class destroyer of the British Royal Navy that saw service during World War II. She was later converted into a Type 15 fast anti-submarine frigate, with the new pennant number F53.

HMS <i>Balfour</i> (K464)

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HMS <i>Valentine</i> (L69) V class destroyer flotilla leader, built in 1917

HMS Valentine was a V and W-class destroyer, built in 1917 for the Royal Navy. She fought in both world wars, serving in several capacities. She was heavily damaged by air attack and beached in 1940 near Terneuzen. Her hulk remained there until it was broken up in 1953.

Torpedo cruiser

A torpedo cruiser is a type of warship that is armed primarily with torpedoes. The major navies began building torpedo cruisers shortly after the invention of the locomotive Whitehead torpedo in the 1860s. The development of the torpedo gave rise to the Jeune École doctrine, which held that small warships armed with torpedoes could effectively and cheaply defeat much larger battleships. Torpedo cruisers fell out of favor in most of the great power navies in the 1890s, though many other navies continued to acquire them into the early 1900s.

HMS <i>Albrighton</i> (L12)

HMS Albrighton was a Type III Hunt-class destroyer built for the British Royal Navy. She entered service in February 1942, first carrying out an attack on German ships in the English Channel then taking part in the Dieppe Raid, rescuing survivors from the sinking destroyer HMS Broke. Albrighton was next assigned to search for and destroy the German auxiliary cruiser Komet, then escorted a convoy to Gibraltar in prevision of the Allied landings in North Africa. Between December 1942 and April 1943, she participated in the sinking of three more Axis ships with the First Destroyer Flotilla. During the Normandy Landings in June 1943, Albrighton served as a headquarters ship, then sank two German trawlers in the weeks after the invasion. After being converted to a destroyer in early 1945, she was damaged in a collision with a Landing Ship, then was assigned to the British Eastern Fleet. However, the war ended before she was deployed and Albrighton went into reserve.

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  51. Blyskawica is still a commissioned warship within the Polish Navy, but is strictly ceremonial and no longer sees action.

Further reading

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