- USS David R. Ray (DD-971)
USS "David R. Ray" (DD-971), named for Hospital Corpsman Second Class David Robert Ray a sailor killed in 1969 and posthumously awarded the
Medal of Honor, was a "Spruance"-class destroyer built by the Ingalls ShipbuildingDivision of Litton Industriesat Pascagoula, Mississippi.
USS "David R. Ray" (DD-971) was commissioned on
19 November 1977in Pascagoula. The principal speaker was the Honorable James R. Sasser, U.S. Senator from Tennessee. Mrs. Donnie M. Ray, HM2 Ray’s mother and the ship’s sponsor, was also in attendance.
On the voyage from Pascagoula to her new homeport of
San Diego, the "David R. Ray" passed through the Panama Canal. "David R. Ray", nicknamed "Sting Ray", crossed the equatorfor the first time on 16 May 1978. On 19 February 1979, she became the first ship to intercept a supersonic drone with the NATORIM-7 Seasparrow Missile System. The ship first deployed on 8 September 1979and made port calls in Pearl Harbor, Guam, Yokosuka, Inchon, Subic Bay, and Hong Kong. In 1982, "David R. Ray" went through her first major overhaul in Seattle, Washington. On 18 October 1983, "David R. Ray" began another "WESTPAC" to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean. After port visits to Pearl Harbor, Subic Bay, Pusan, Chinhae, Hong Kong and Pattaya, the ship participated in a joint Thailand-U.S. naval exercise. Later, the "Ray" spent 54 continuous days underway, spanning from the northwest Indian Ocean to northernmost Sea of Japan following and performing surveillance operations (SURVOPS) on the newest Soviet carrier, "Novorossiysk".
Late in 1984, "David R. Ray" became the Navy’s primary test platform for the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) System. On
15 January 1986, "David R. Ray" deployed with Battle Group Foxtrot. During this deployment, the ship made worldwide news when it prevented the boarding of the U.S. Vessel President McKinley by an Iranian Saam class frigateon 12 May 1986.
"David R. Ray"'s second major overhaul began in June 1988, which coincided with the ship’s shift of homeport from San Diego to
Long Beach, California. During this overhaul, the ship received a Vertical Launch System. After the overhaul, the ship completed four CNO projects, including RAM, NATO Seasparrow RIM-7P, BGM-109 Tomahawk Block 2 and ASROC. "David R. Ray" deployed on 27 April 1990and was in the Persian Gulfat the onset of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The ship played a critical role in the early stages of Operation Desert Shield before returning to the United States. Deploying again to the Middle East Force on 22 April 1992, the ship served as flagship during Maritime Interception Force Operations before returning to Long Beach, Californiaon 22 October 1992.
"David R. Ray" deployed to the Persian Gulf in October 1994 and served as flagship to Commander, Destroyer Squadron Fifty conducting Maritime Interception Operations in boarding numerous suspect vessels resulting in the diversion and detention of three vessels. Upon return from deployment in April 1995, the ship continued a very fast operational tempo, including trips to
Catalina Island, Seattle Sea Fair, and San Francisco Fleet Week.
"David R. Ray" completed a nine month regular overhaul at
Long Beach Naval Shipyardin June 1996 and then a homeport change to Everett, Washingtonin July 1996. The ship completed a full workup cycle before deploying on 20 May 1997to the Western Pacific and Persian Gulf as senior ship of a Middle East Force / Surface Action Group. During this deployment, the ship conducted 49 boardings and over 700 flight hours in support of Maritime Interception Operations. Upon return in November 1997, the ship went into holiday stand down and commenced a nine week maintenance availability on 11 February 1998which ended 15 April1998. "David R. Ray" spent the remainder of 1998 preparing for its next deployment. On 9 March 1999, "David R. Ray" received no notice tasking to act as the Surface Action Group Commander for the sinking of the M/V New Carissa off the coast of Oregon. The ship’s quick response and control of the elements of the Surface Action Group averted a potentially disastrous oil spill. The ship and her crew earned the Coast Guard Unit Commendation with Operational Device for its participation in this effort.
16 April 1999the "David R. Ray" deployed to the Persian Gulf on PACMEF 99-2 as the Surface Action Group Commander. The ship and crew conducted 55 boardings and over 850 hours of flight operations. "David R. Ray" was again in the news when her crew helped to delivery a healthy baby girl on aboard an Iraqi ferry. The ship returned to its homeport on 4 October 1999. Since returning from deployment, "David R. Ray" participated in various training opportunities, including Anti-Air Warfare and Naval Surface Fire Support exercises. Prior to the ship’s change of command on 29 April 2000, "David R. Ray" visited Puerto Vallartaand escorted the ex-USS "South Carolina" (CGN-37) as she was towed to Bremerton, Washingtonfor deactivation and nuclear-powered vessel recycling.
On 28 February 2002, USS "David R. Ray" was decommissioned and spent its remaining years anchored in Sinclair Inlet off Highway 303 in Bremerton, Washington. On
17 June 2008, the ex-USS "David R. Ray" was towed by fleet tug to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii where she was to be sunk as a target as part of the annual RIMPACexercises. [Navy Times. [http://www.navytimes.com/news/2008/06/ap_destroyer_062708/ Destroyer Ray headed for sinking in RimPac] . June 30, 2008] ex-"David R. Ray" was sunk during RIMPAC 2008 on July 11, 2008by fire from eight U.S. and Japanese ships along with three aircraft using naval artillery and Harpoon missiles. ex-"David R. Ray" sank after sunset that night. [Lake Erie Ohana, official USS Lake Erie (CG-70)blog. [http://www.lke-ohana.org/lke/2008/07/lake-erie-havin.html LAKE ERIE Having A “Blast” During RIMPAC] . July 23, 2008. [http://www.lke-ohana.org/photos/sinkex/index.html SINKEX gallery] .]
The coat of arms of "David R. Ray" serves as a heraldic reminder of the ship's namesake. The light blue center section and white inverted star allude to the Medal of Honor pendant. The light blue and two Navy blue stripes represent the courage, perseverance and selfless devotion of Petty Officer Ray in the performance of his duties as corpsman with Battery D, Second Battalion, Eleventh Marine Division (reinforced), Fleet Marine Force in Vietnam. The battery's position is indicated by the scarlet and gold embattled border.
Navy blue, gold and scarlet are the colors of the Navy and Marine Corps. The navy blue caduceus, the insignia worn by hospital corpsmen in the navy, along with the howitzer cartridges allude to the medical services the Navy provides to the Marine Corps. In particular, they symbolize the action in which Petty Officer Ray, though fatally wounded, gave medical assistance and protection to wounded Marine comrades. The ship's motto, "Determined, Ready, Resourceful" alludes to the initials of Petty Officer Ray and epitomizes his legacy to the ship that bears his name. The motto served as a guide and inspiration for the men and women who served on the "David R. Ray" throughout the years.
List of United States Navy destroyers
* [http://www.nvr.navy.mil/nvrships/details/DD971.htm Naval Vessel Register entry for "David R. Ray"]
* [http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/971.htm navsource.org: USS "David R. Ray"]
* [http://www.united-states-navy.com/dd/dd971.htm united-states-navy.com: USS "David R. Ray"]
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