Navy Admiral Raymond Spruance will forever be remembered for his decisive leadership at the Battle of Midway, a pivotal American victory during World War II.
And the admiral’s legacy will continue with the commissioning Saturday in Key West of the USS Spruance, the newest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missle destroyer. This is the second Navy ship to carry his name. USS Spruance (DD 963) was the lead ship of Spruance class destroyers serving from 1973 to 2005.
Born in Baltimore, July 3, 1886, Spruance graduated from the Naval Academy in 1906. His Navy career was extensive, including command of five destroyers and the battleship Mississippi. Spruance led Task Force 16, with two aircraft carriers, during the 1942 Battle of Midway, where his disposition of forces and management of aircraft was crucial to a victory that is regarded as the turning point in the Pacific war with Japan.
He later directed campaigns that captured the Gilberts, Marshalls, Marianas, Iwo Jima and Okinawa and defeated the Japanese fleet in the 1944 Battle of Philippine Sea. After commanding the Pacific Fleet in 1945-46, Spruance served as president of the Naval War College until retiring in 1948. In 1952-55, he was ambassador to the Philippines. Spruance died at Pebble Beach, Calif., Dec. 13, 1969.
Designated DDG 111, the new destroyer is a multi-mission ship that carries Tomahawk cruise missiles, a 5-inch gun, sonar systems and two helicopters. It is powered by four gas-turbine engines and is capable of speeds in excess of 30 knots.
Spruance’s granddaughter, Ellen Spruance Holscher, was scheduled to serve as the ship’s sponsor and give the traditional first order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”