The Kidd ( DDG ) Class
Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding Power plant: Four General Electric LM 2500 gas turbines, two shafts, 80,000 shaft hp Length: 563 feet Beam: 55 feet Displacement: 8,168 metric tons full load Speed: 30+ knots Aircraft: Two SH-60 Seahawk LAMPS III helo's Armament: Standard Missile SM-2 (MR); 8 Harpoon (from 2 quad launchers); Tomahawk ASM/LAM, VLS; ASROC (VLA) missiles; six Mk-46 torpedoes (2 triple mounts); two 5"/54 caliber Mk-45 (lightweight gun); two 20mm Phalanx CIWS
Lead ship laid down June 26, 1978; all four ships originally contracted for the Iranian navy. Ships feature increased air-conditioning capability. Taken over by the US Navy by Executive Order after the fall of the Shah in July 1979. Reclassified Guided Missile Destroyers (DDG) August 8 1979.
During their careers, these ships saw extensive operations with carrier battle-groups and extensive modernization, including the “New Threat Upgrade” (NTU). All four decommissioned in 1998-99; scheduled for refit and transfer to Taiwan.
Mark Roberts is handling the e-mails for the Kidd class.
Breathing Life Back Into the KIDDs
The ships, currently berthed in Philadelphia and Bremerton, will be towed to Charleston, South Carolina, where the reactivation industrial availabilities will be conducted. During the maintenance periods, the Taiwan crews will be trained in operation and maintenance of the ships. After completion of the reactivation, the crews receive intensive underway training to ensure their proficiency in operations before sailing the ships home to Taiwan.
Jerry Cook, KIDD Reactivation Project Manager at VSE Corporation in Alexandria, Virginia says, “I have spoken with many KIDD sailors recently, and repeatedly hear the same thoughts: ‘They should have never decommissioned these ships.’ Everyone who sailed on or supported these powerful combat systems is eager to see them back in operation.”
BAV Division of VSE Corporation was awarded the contract for reactivating retired USN ships for foreign customers in 1995. Since then, they have supported Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) in the transfer of 30 ships to navies around the world. KIDD, CHANDLER, SCOTT, and CALLAHAN were originally built for the Shah of Iran. Shortly before the ships were to be delivered, the Shah was overthrown, and the succeeding government chose to not take delivery. The ships served for nearly 20 years of service in the US Navy, providing support in the Gulf War, before being retired.
“This will be the single largest FMS ship transfer and reactivation project that BAV and NAVSEA have undertaken,” says Cook. “Reactivating four very complex ships, training nearly 1200 foreign sailors, and integrating these ships into the Taiwan Naval force will be an exciting and challenging effort.”
Having been in “mothballs” for over four years, the ships have suffered varying levels of corrosion and degradation. The US Navy does not invest much money in the maintenance of retired ships not being held as reserve assets for the US. As part of the decommissioning process, ship systems are placed in long-term lay-up. This provides the best environment for the equipment and systems to prevent damage. As these ships were offered to Greece, and subsequently, Australia, during the period they were being decommissioned, not all lay-up steps were completed, to preclude additional work to reactivate them. Both Greece and Australia declined the offer of the ships.
“The lay-ups were left in varying stages of completion, adding to the challenge,” says Cook, a retired Navy LDO engineer. “But, the conditions inside the ship are surprisingly good. Many of the spaces look like the crew just walked off the ship yesterday. That is a good indication that the sailors were proud of these ships and took good care of them.”
The transfer and training efforts require the coordinated teamwork of Navy and industry to deliver the ships to their new home, fully mission capable, outfitted and stocked, with well-trained crews. USN schools provide some of the training, and other Navy field activities provide training while working on selected systems. Where training is required that the US Navy no longer supports, equipment and system manufacturers, often the best source of expertise, provides OJT. Industrial training is also provided to the receiving navy’s maintenance organization. Crew training is conducted at the reactivation site by a staff of technical experts, many of whom operated these very ships.
In a “hot turnover,” where the ship has not been deactivated, the incumbent US Navy crew often provides the bulk of the foreign crew training during the decommissioning process. However, if the ship has been laid up, and the USN crews have long since been reassigned, foreign crew training in ship operations is the responsibility of BAV.
“We devote a great deal of effort to finding the right mix of personnel to staff our waterfront operations. We always look for past experience on the platform as a primary requirement.”
But just having served on that ship isn’t enough.
“Not every operator makes a good trainer, particularly when training a foreign crew who relies heavily on translators to understand the material. It can be very rewarding, or very frustrating, depending on the temperament of the staff.”
The rewards are experienced throughout the process, as equipment is brought back to life successfully, systems are integrated, and the testing programs prove that mission capabilities have been re-established.
“The biggest reward is at the end of the project, when the foreign crew takes the ship out and demonstrates their capability in operating their new ships. A lot of blood and sweat goes into these projects, and the tears are fought back when saying goodbye to friends and fellow sailors as the ships sail home to their new port.”