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USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81)
USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81)
Career (US)
Name: USS Winston S. Churchill
Namesake: Sir Winston S. Churchill, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Ordered: 6 January 1995
Builder: Bath Iron Works
Laid down: 7 May 1998
Launched: 17 April 1999
Commissioned: 10 March 2001
Motto: In war: Resolution;
In peace: Good Will
Status: in active service, as of 2022
Badge: DDG-81 USS Winston Churchill Coat Of Arms
General characteristics
Class & type: Arleigh Burke class destroyer
Displacement: 9,200 tons (9,350 t)
Length: 509.5 ft (155.3 m)
Beam: 66 ft (20 m)
Draft: 31 ft (9.4 m)
Propulsion: 4 × General Electric LM2500-30 gas turbines, 2 shafts, 100,000 shp (75 MW)
Speed: 30+ knots (56+ km/h)
Complement: 32 officers, 348 enlisted
Armament: 1 × 32 cell, 1 × 64 cell Mk 41 vertical launch systems; 96 × RIM-66 SM-2 Standard, BGM-109 Tomahawk, or RUM-139 VL-Asroc missiles;
1 × 5" (127 mm)/62 cal., 2 × 25 mm, 2 × .50 cal. guns (single), 2 × .50 cal. (dual), 2 × 7.62mm M240 +1 on flight deck (if req) guns, 2 × 20 mm Phalanx CIWS;
2 × Mk 46 triple torpedo tubes
Aircraft carried: 2 × SH-60 Sea Hawk helicopters

USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81) is a $1 billion[1] Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer of the United States Navy. She is the 31st destroyer of an originally planned 62-ship class. The Churchill is named after British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. Her home port is in Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. She is a component of Carrier Strike Group Ten.


  • The ship is fitted with the Mark 45 Mod 4 Naval Gun System which can fire a 5-inch 62-caliber extended-range guided munition (ERGM) - this is designed to hit targets more than 60 nautical miles away. The guns' longer barrels allows more complete combustion of the propellant, reducing barrel flare and improving projectile velocity and firepower against ship and shore targets; additionally, the Mk. 45 mod 4 uses a modified gunhouse, designed to reduce its radar signature.
  • The vessel additional contains two hangars, not present in earlier destroyers; these can house Light,Airborne,Multipurpose System (LAMPS) Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk helicopters. These LAMPS can be fitted with air-to-surface missiles for submarine and surface ship attacks.
  • The ship is also fitted with the AN/SPY-1D phased array radar - this represents a significant advancment in the detection capabilities of the Aegis weapon system and provides enhanced resistance to electronic countermeasures. The radar can guide more than one hundred missiles at once to targets as far as 600 nautical miles.
  • The Churchill is armed with Tomahawk, Standard and ASROC (VLA) Missiles.[1]


Sir Winston Spencer-Churchill

On 29 November 1995, on a visit to the United Kingdom, President Bill Clinton announced to both Houses of Parliament that the new ship would be named after former British Prime Minister and Honorary Citizen of the United States, Sir Winston Churchill. It would make it technically the first warship of the United States Navy to be named after a non-American citizen since 1975, and the first destroyer and only the fourth American warship named after a British citizen. Other American warships named after Britons were Alfred, an armed merchantman named after King Alfred the Great; Raleigh, a continental frigate, named after Sir Walter Raleigh (though three later USS Raleighs—and two Confederate warships—would be named for the North Carolina city, which did not exist at the time) and Effingham, named after The 3rd Earl of Effingham who resigned his commission rather than fight the Americans during the American Revolutionary War. The former frigate Harold E. Holt was also named after a person from a country in the Commonwealth of Nations, the ill-fated Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt, however, this is the first ship to be named for a modern British hero, and British Prime Minister.


The contract to build Churchill was awarded to the Bath Iron Works Corporation on 6 January 1995, and the keel was laid down on 7 May 1998. Churchill was launched 17 April 1999, delivered 13 October 2000, and commissioned 10 March 2001. The launch and christening of the ship was co-sponsored by Lady Soames, the daughter of Winston Churchill, and Mrs. Janet Cohen, wife of the Secretary of Defense. Her first commanding officer was Commander (now Rear Admiral) Michael T. Franken.[2]

A Royal Navy officer assists on the bridge

Churchill is the only U.S. Navy vessel to have a Royal Navy Officer permanently assigned to the ship's company.[3] The U.S. Navy had a permanent U.S. Navy Officer on the Royal Navy ship, HMS Marlborough, until its decommission on 8 July 2005. Churchill is also the only U.S. Naval vessel to fly a foreign ensign. The Royal Navy's White Ensign is flown as well as the Stars and Stripes (as shown in the photograph).

Notable incidents

  • On 14 May 2001, the Churchill underwent shock trials off the coast of Florida. These trials subjected the ship to several close-range underwater detonations, each consisting of 7 tons of high explosives, and were performed to collect data concerning ship survivability and damage resistance in a modern threat environment. The Churchill sustained minor damage during these three tests.[4]
  • On 14 September 2001, (three days after the 11 September 2001 attacks), the German Navy destroyer Lütjens passed close abeam Churchill and rendered honors by manning the rails, flying the Stars and Stripes at half-mast, and the display of a banner reading "We Stand By You." An e-mail sent by an ensign on board Churchill described the occasion.[5]
  • In January 2003, WSC deployed with the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) battle group in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, firing several Tomahawk Missiles. WSC returned to Norfolk at the end of May 2003.
  • On 22 August 2005, Churchill was involved in a minor collision with McFaul off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida. Both ships suffered minor damage, and no injuries were reported. Both ships returned to their homeport at Naval Station Norfolk under their own power.
  • On 22 January 2006 Winston S. Churchill captured a suspected pirate vessel in the Indian Ocean as part of an ongoing effort to help maintain law and order in the region.[6]
  • On 26 September 2010, Winston S. Churchill came across a disabled skiff in the Gulf of Aden. After attempts to repair the skiff's engines failed the Churchill took the vessel under tow towards Somalia. On 27 September the skiff sank when the 85 passengers rushed to one side of the skiff during a food delivery causing the vessel to capsize.[7] The Churchill was able to rescue 61 of the passengers and continued towards Somalia on 28 September.[8]



This article includes information collected from the Naval Vessel Register, which, as a U.S. government publication, is in the public domain.

  1. 1.0 1.1 National Defense Magazine
  3. Kennedy, Harold (April 2001). "USS Churchill Shows Off High-Tech Gear". National Defense. NDIA. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 15 April 2007. "She also is the only U.S. Navy ship to have a British Royal Navy officer permanently assigned as a member of the ship’s company. Lieutenant Angus Essenhigh, RN, of Portsmouth, England, is serving as ship’s navigator during his two-year tour of duty." 
  5. United States Navy (2001). "This is an e-mail from an Ensign stationed aboard the ship during the UK deployment". Archived from the original on 29 December 2005. Retrieved 15 March 2006. 
  6. "Suspected Pirates Captured Off Somali Coast". Headquarters, United States Central Command. 22 January 2006. Retrieved 15 December 2006. 
  7. Mười ba thuyền nhân Phi Châu chết đuối (Vietnamese)
  8. "Tragic end to US rescue bid off Somali coast". BBC News. 28 September 2010. 
  • International Festival of the Sea Official Souvenir Programme ( 24–27 August 2001)

External links

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