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USS Caron (DD-970)
USS Caron (DD-970)
Career (US)
Namesake: Wayne Caron
Ordered: 15 January 1971
Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding
Laid down: 1 July 1974
Launched: 24 June 1975
Acquired: 5 September 1977
Commissioned: 1 October 1977
Decommissioned: 15 October 2001
Struck: 5 June 2002
Fate: Disposed of in support of Fleet training exercise on 4 December 2002.
General characteristics
Class & type: Spruance-class destroyer
Displacement: 8,040 (long) tons full load
Length: 529 ft (161 m) waterline; 563 ft (172 m) overall
Beam: 55 ft (16.8 m)
Draft: 29 ft (8.8 m)
Propulsion: 4 × General Electric LM2500 gas turbines, 2 shafts, 80,000 shp (60 MW)
Speed: 32.5 knots (60 km/h)
Range:
  • 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km; 6,900 mi) at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
  • 3,300 nautical miles (6,100 km; 3,800 mi) at 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Complement: 19 officers, 315 enlisted
Sensors and
processing systems:
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
  • AN/SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare System
  • AN/SLQ-25 Nixie Torpedo Countermeasures
  • Mark 36 SRBOC Decoy Launching System
  • AN/SLQ-49 Inflatable Decoys
  • Armament:
  • 2 x 5 in (127 mm) 54 calibre Mark 45 dual purpose guns
  • 2 x 20 mm Phalanx CIWS Mark 15 guns
  • 1 x 8 cell ASROC launcher (removed)
  • 1 x 8 cell NATO Sea Sparrow Mark 29 missile launcher
  • 2 x quadruple Harpoon missile canisters
  • 2 x Mark 32 triple 12.75 in (324 mm) torpedo tubes (Mk 46 torpedoes)
  • 1 x 61 cell Mk 41 VLS launcher for Tomahawk missiles
  • Aircraft carried: 2 x Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk LAMPS III helicopters.
    Motto: Vision, Victory, Valor

    USS Caron (DD-970) was a Spruance-class destroyer, named for Hospital Corpsman Third Class Wayne M. Caron (1946–1968), who was killed in action during the Vietnam War, and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

    Service History[edit | edit source]

    Caron was laid down by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries at Pascagoula, Mississippi on 1 July 1974. She was commissioned on 1 October 1977.

    In August 1979 Soviet planes staged a mock missile attack against the Caron in the Black Sea. In October 1983 the Caron participated in Operation Urgent Fury in the vicinity of Grenada. From November 1983 to March 1984 she was part of the Multi National Peacekeeping Force in Beirut, Lebanon.

    On 10 March 1986, Caron departed Norfolk, Virginia with the America carrier battle group, for a Mediterranean deployment. During this deployment, the Action in the Gulf of Sidra took place during a freedom of navigation exercise in the Gulf of Sidra. This action saw U.S. Navy fighter aircraft shoot two Libyan Air Force fighters down. On 23 March 1986 - Operating with Ticonderoga and Scott, Caron moved south of the Libya–claimed "Line of Death". Libya reacted with two days of low intensity conflict in which Caron did not fire any weapons.

    On 12 February 1988 Caron was lightly rammed by Soviet Mirka II class light frigate (FFL 824) in the Black Sea (see Incident in Soviet waters below).

    On 15 February 1990 Caron completed a regular overhaul.

    Caron was deployed to the Middle East after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and from 14 January 1991 she participated in Operation Desert Storm.

    On 14 October 1993 she began participation in United Nations-mandated U.S.-executed sanctions enforcement operations against Haiti. She was one of six US Navy ships prepositioned off Haiti as a result of an order by President Bill Clinton.[1] Clinton's order allowed the ships to be in position to enforce United Nations sanctions fully on the date at which they went into effect. In April 1995 Caron took part in NATO mine countermeasures exercise off Denmark. From January to July 1996 she deployed to Persian Gulf upholding United Nations sanctions against Iraq and aiding in Operation Southern Watch.

    From February to 3 July 1998 she deployed to the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf, operating with John C. Stennis and Carrier Group Seven. During this deployment, Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Light 46 (HSL-46) Detachment 3 maintained 2 SH-60B Seahawk onboard Caron.[2] One of the first exercises during this deployment was Exercise Shark Hunt 98 in April 1998 off the coast of Spain.

    From January to 4 June 1999 she completed a regular overhaul at Newport News Shipbuilding. This overhaul included modifications to accommodate female crew. In June to December 2000 she deployed to the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf, operating with the George Washington battle group.

    On 15 October 2001 the ship was decommissioned. On 4 December 2002 Caron was sunk prematurely off the coast of Puerto Rico as a result of explosives tests.

    USS Caron sinking off Puerto Rico

    Incident in Soviet waters[edit | edit source]

    In February 1988, Caron operating with Yorktown, entered Soviet 12 miles (19 km) territorial waters limit in the Black Sea off the Crimean Peninsula. Under international law, this act could be permissible if the ship was progressing from one point in international waters to another point in international waters via the shortest course possible, but according to the Soviet Union, it was the right of the USSR to authorize or prohibit travel in selected areas within the 12 mile limit. The United States however did not recognize the Soviet's claim in this case. To prevent it from becoming accepted precedent, the US Navy claimed that it had sailed warships through such areas at regular intervals in the past, although no reference was provided.

    On this occasion, Caron had on board a Ship's Signal Exploitation Spaces (SSES) system, operated by a crew of 18, supporting the U.S. National Security Agency. This system was capable of recording data on Soviet defense radars and communications. In response, the Soviets deployed a destroyer and a Mirka II class light frigate as well as many other Soviet Navy, Coast Guard, KGB and "civilian" ships to intercept the U.S. ships. Soviet aircraft continuously buzzed the Caron and Yorktown as smaller vessels weaved to and fro in front of the American ships. Several times, Soviet vessels and aircraft obtained radar "lock" on the Caron and Yorktown. Both American ships maintained a constant course and speed throughout the incident. Eventually, the Soviets lightly rammed both ships. No significant damage resulted to any of the ships involved. The Captain of the Caron Lou Harlow, ordered that painters go over the side to paint over the superficial marks created by the "ramming" within minutes of the event.

    The Soviets depict the outcome of the incident slightly differently. Following is a transcript of a report by Russian officers Nikolay Mikheev and Vladimir Bogdashin:[citation needed]

    By the moment they approached our waters, the Americans followed in radio order distanced at 2700–3600 meters from each other. Cruiser was leading and more to seaside, destroyer closer to seashore at the cruiser's angle of 140-150 degrees left board. Coast Guard ship "Honest" ("Bezzavetny"), which was 8 times lighter than its American counterpart, and Coast Guardship "SKR-6" (equally lighter) were following the cruiser and destroyer at their course angles of left boards 100-110 degrees at the distance of 90–100 meters. Behind that group an additional two USSR coast guardships followed.

    When we received the order to start push out the US invaders, we run "All sailors man their battlestations", we sealed the bow sections, moved personnel out of bow sections, armed torpedoes, primed the machine guns, fielded the fire-fighting crews, sent "ready to engage" to shock troopers, rest of the sailors manned their stations. Right anchors were moved out the hawseholes. At the bridge of the "Honest" was Mikheev in contact with headquarters and managing the battle group, Bogdashin is helming the ship, translation officer keeps constant radiocontact with US group.

    Closed in at distance of 40 meters, then closed to 10 meters (SKR-6 does the same with the destroyer). At the US cruiser's deck jolly sailors and officers waving, shouting, taking pictures, making obscene gestures as US sailors normally do. US cruiser's captain walked out to the left open part of the bridge.

    When we've been confirmed "Act as planned" we started to "shove" the cruiser, simultaneously SKR-6 "shoved" the destroyer. Bogdashin steered the ship in such a way that the first contact was at tangent to the US cruiser's left board. After the impact as a result of the shock, sparkles flew, and American's board paint started to burn. For a moment, the fireball appeared, and then deep clouds of smoke trailed our movements. After the hit, our anchor has torn up the cruiser's board and made a pretty dent in our bow. The aftershock threw our bow away, while our stem went left, and our aft got dangerously close to enemy's board.

    The US cruiser sounded full alarm, personnel rushed from decks down to holes, cruiser's captain rushed inside from the outer bridge. At that moment Americans obviously were unable to control the ship, so the cruiser turned right, which made it even more dangerous for the "Honest". After that Bogdashin commanded "right on board" increased the speed to 16 knots, which allowed somehow to lean our aft away from the enemy, but at the same time the US cruiser turned left and the most devastating (for Americans) impact occurred - what we wanted as "showing" turned into full ramming.

    We've hit the cruiser into the helideck - our high and sharp bow, so to speak, "crawled" onto cruiser's helicopter deck, and at angle of 15-20 degrees to the left started to crush everything in its way, gradually sliding down to the cruiser's aft. The "show" tore up the deckhouse, cut down all the rails of helipad deck, destroyed the commander's cutter, further crawled to the aft deck, and also destroyed all guardrails. After that we broke the "Harpoon" launcher—we thought we're going to cut it off completely, but we just cut it in half. Then the anchor tore loose off the chain. It flew within inches from cruiser's firefighters crew and fell into water. Out of four US "Harpoon" launch pads, two were cut in half, the missiles' warheads hanging on the wires. One more "Harpoon" launch pad was bent.

    Finally, our forecastle fell on water from the cruiser, we've parted with the cruiser and started to follow it at 50–60 meters. We've informed Americans that we will repeat a "show" if they don't leave our territorial waters. Strange activity was observed at the cruiser's decks. Firefighting crews (all of them Afro-Americans) first unrolled the fire hoses, but then disappeared into the holes - the US "Harpoons" didn't catch fires, so all men went into ship's inner spaces.

    As intelligence reported later, US cruiser developed a fire in "Harpoon" support bunks deep in the hull, and also in "Asrock" anti-submarine missile bunks.

    Ship's crest[edit | edit source]

    Ship's crest

    The design of the shield and crest of the coat of arms is based on service of Wayne Maurice Caron, Hospital Corpsman Third Class, United States Navy, who heroically sacrificed his life on 28 July 1968 while aiding wounded Marines on the field of fire in Vietnam. The Medal of Honor was awarded him posthumously. Caron is named in his honor.

    The light blue center section and the white five-pointed star allude to the Medal of Honor ribbon; the star is also inverted in reference to the silhouette of the Medal of Honor pendant. The one light blue and the two Navy blue sections refer to the courage, steadfast determination and selfless dedication of Petty Officer Caron in performance of duty while serving as Platoon Corpsman with Company K, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, 1st Marine Division. The sweep of his unit through an open rice field in Quang Nam Province is indicated by the scarlet base and the embattled gold chevron. Navy blue and gold and scarlet and gold are the colors of the Navy and Marine Corps.

    The Navy-blue caduceus is the insignia worn on white uniforms by Hospital Corpsmen, United States Navy. This insignia and the crossed bayonets (in the colors of the Marine Corps) allude to the medical services customarily provided to the Marine Corps by the Navy. In particular, the caduceus and bayonets symbolize the combat operation in which Petty Officer Caron, though grievously wounded, was killed while giving medical assistance to his wounded comrades.

    See also[edit | edit source]

    References[edit | edit source]

    1. * united-states-navy.com: USS Caron, accessed January 2011
    2. Curtis A. Utz and Mark L. Evans (July–August 2002). "The Year in Review 1998, Part 2" (PDF). Naval Aviation News. Washington, DC: U.S. Navy. p. 18. http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1990s/1999/ja99/yirpart2.pdf. Retrieved 2010-08-22. "LAMPS MK III Ship Deployments, 2000" 

    External links[edit | edit source]


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