A VERSATILE VESSEL
Imagine, if you will, a vessel that could provide fire support, conduct anti-submarine warfare, launch Tomahawk cruise missiles at enemy targets, and could even fight a number of enemy surface vessels. It displaces about 9,100 tons, and could go 33 nautical miles per hour.
Sound like a useful asset? You’d probably say yes. Now, here is the part that will knock yoru socks off. The United States Navy actually had 31 of these vessels in service – and threw thirty of them away in the 2000s, some of which still had decades of life left.
Those vessels were the Spruance-class destroyers. The lead ship entered service in 1975, and would be less than forty years old. The youngest of these vessels, USS Hayler (DD 997), was only twenty years old when she was decommissioned, stricken, and sunk as a target.
I have a strong suspicion that the Navy deliberately let the SpruCans deteriorate in service, then quickly sank them (as opposed to selling them to friendly nations) to ensure that the DDG-51 Burke class would remain in high rate serial production. Having 31 capable destroyers would make it that much harder to buy 60+ Burkes.