Destroyer Squadron TWO EIGHT

DESRON 28 was re-established on 1 September 1995, during the most recent reorganization of the Atlantic Fleet surface force. The mission of DESRON 28 is to provide a fully trained, combat ready force of surface combatants to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Administratively, COMDESRON 28 reports directly to Commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Atlantic Fleet; operationally, COMDESRON 28 reports to the Commander, Second Fleet through a designated Battle Group Commander.

USS ELROD (FFG 55), USS PETERSON (DD 969), USS HAYLER (DD 997), USS RAMAGE (DDG 61), and USS ROSS (DDG 71) comprised DESRON 28 as of late 2000. The ships assigned to the squadron in 1997 included: USS ELROD (FFG 55), USS HALYBURTON (FFG 40), USS PETERSON (DD 969), and USS ROSS (DDG 71). USS RAMAGE (DDG 61) joined DESRON 28 in January 1998, and USS HAYLER (DDG 997) joined DESRON 28 in May 1998.

Destroyer Squadron 28 (DESRON 28) was first established on 15 August 1951. Although located in San Diego, the squadron was a component of the Atlantic Fleet. DESRON 28 originally consisted of eight general purpose rescue destroyers whose missions included anti-submarine warfare, shore bombardment, air defense and routine training. DESRON 28 operated until 1954 when the ships were reassigned and the squadron was disestablished.

Reorganization of the Navy in support of the Korean War brought DESRON 28 into service again. On 1 July 1956, Escort Destroyer Squadron TWO was redesignated as DESRON 28. The command consisted of Escort Destroyers (DDEs), with Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) as their specialty. DESRON 28 continued as a special ASW squadron in support of the Atlantic Fleet ASW effort until disestablished in the early 1960’s. On 1 December 1971, DESRON 28 was re-established at the Naval Base, Newport, RI. The primary mission was training of Naval Reservists.

COMDESRON 28 began 1997 with three ships assigned: USS HALYBURTON (FFG 40) was deployed to the Arabian Gulf, and the other two - USS ELROD (FFG 55) and USS PETERSON (DD 969) - were in an upkeep status at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia. However, both ships got underway during the last week in January. The Commodore and COMDESRON 28 Staff embarked in USS PETERSON for the ship’s second Tailored Ship Training Availability from 27-31 January (TSTA II), specifically focusing on underwater warfighting skills. During TSTA II, the ship simulated tracking and engaging diesel and nuclear submarine contacts as well as evasion of inbound torpedoes. USS PETERSON then rendezvoused with USS ELROD for divisional tactics (DIVTACS), a series of ship handling drills that maneuver the ships in various formations, and signal drills. COMDESRON 28 subsequently returned to Portsmouth for upkeep through the end of March.

At the beginning of April, COMDESRON 28 embarked in USS PETERSON for the Final Evaluation Period (FEP) for both USS PETERSON and USS ELROD. FEP was conducted from 1-4 April in the Virginia Capes. This was followed by another upkeep period in Portsmouth. On 21 April, COMDESRON 28 officially acquired its fourth combatant following the Ship Custody Transfer of the PRECOM unit USS ROSS (DDG 71) from Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi. COMDESRON 28 also conducted two Command Inspections in the second half of April; USS ELROD successfully completed their inspection on 22 April, and USS PETERSON completed theirs on 29 April.

The first 1997 Blakely Cup competition between ships of Destroyer Squadrons 18 and 28 began on 1 May, and ran through 30 June. This semiannual competition involving professional and athletic events was eventually won by USS STOUT (DDG 55) of DESRON 18.

On 9 May, COMDESRON 28 embarked on USS ELROD for a four-day transit to Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. After arrival on 12 May, the Commodore shifted his pennant to USS COLE (DDG 67), which served as his flagship for a missile exercise with the German Navy (USN-FGN MISSILEX 97). MISSILEX 97 was a two day even in which ships from both the U.S. and Federal German Navies engaged inbound Exocet and Kormoran missiles launched from German and Belgian ships and German Naval aircraft. As officer in Tactical Command (OTC), COMDESRON 28 was responsible for planning and executing this complex event. Participants included the USS COLE, USS ELROD, USS CONOLLY (DD 979), the German Ships FGS BRANDENBURG, FGS KALRSRUHE, FGS LUETJENS, FGS OKER, and the Belgian ship BNS WESTDIEP. This exercise was very successful, as over 41 missiles were safely launched and engaged from ships and aircraft. The exercise was observed by Admiral Horten, Commander-in-Chief of the Federal German Navy.

USS PETERSON left Portsmouth, Virginia on 15 May to join USS ELROD, USS OBANNON (DD 987), and the Staff for TACDEVEX, an Undersea Warfare exercise also held off of Puerto Rico. COMDESRON 28 embarked in USS PETERSON after her arrival 18 May. During TACDEVEX, USS PETERSON, USS ELROD, and USS OBANNON were joined by USS KLAKRING (FFG 42) and USS CLARK (FFG 11), and were opposed by German diesel submarines and U.S. submarines in a USW "Freeplay" scenario designed to simulate actual combat conditions. TACDEVEX was conducted 19-23 May. Upon completion, USS PETERSON, USS ELROD, and USS OBANNON immediately began their Independent Deployer Exercise (INDEX), designed to prepare USS ELROD and USS OBANNON for upcoming deployments to the Middle East Force (MEF) in the Arabian Gulf, and USS PETERSON for the Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT). COMDESRON 28 was again OTC and put the ships through a rigorous eight-day period of drills and exercises which tested all the ships’ major mission areas. COMDESRON 28 remained embarked in USS PETERSON and returned to Portsmouth on 3 June.

Several other major events for DESRON 28 ships also occurred in June. USS HALYBURTON returned to Portsmouth on 9 June after a successful six-month deployment to the Arabian Gulf. Then on 28 June, USS ROSS was commissioned in Galveston, Texas, becoming the 21st ship of the Arleigh Burke Class, the Navy’s most modern surface ship. This was the first time a ship was commissioned in the coastal Texas community of Galveston, and the Navy’s first night commissioning since World War II.

July was an extremely busy month for the Squadron and its ships. July began with COMDESRON 28’s Command Inspection by Commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. The Inspection went extremely well, with no major discrepancies noted. On 7 July, USS PETERSON departed for its deployment with the Standing Naval Forces Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT). Then on 10 July, the USS ROSS arrived at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia for the first time. This was followed by a two-week Atlantic Ocean transit by COMDESRON 28. Embarked on the USS OBANNON for Independent Deployer Exercise (INDEX) Phase III, and accompanied by USS ELROD, COMDESRON 28 was assigned as CTG 024.10. The Squadron and ships departed Mayport, Florida on 15 July, conducted brief stops for fuel in Bermuda on 17 July and in Ponta Delgada, Azores on 24 July, and arrived in the Mediterranean after transiting the Straits of Gibraltar on 28 July. COMDESRON 28 conducted intensive training of the USS OBANNON and USS ELROD crews in all warfare areas during the transit, especially in Maritime Interception Operations (MIO), which would be the primary duty of the ships in the Arabian Gulf while operating as part of the MEF. The MIO training included Rules of Engagement exercises, gun shoots, queries, numerous boardings between the two ships, and other related exercises. After arrival in the Mediterranean, COMDESRON 28 and both ships conducted a port visit to Palma de Mallorca, Spain from 28-31 July. COMDESRON 28 departed Palma de Mallorca on 31 July, returning via military air to Portsmouth, while the ships continued on their deployment.

COMDESRON 28 spent August and September embarked on ships undergoing upkeep at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia. Several events of note occurred during August. COMDESRON 28 conducted a Command Inspection of the USS HALYBURTON from 28-29 August. From 26-29 August, Phase I of Exercise UNIFIED ENDEAVOR (a Joint Exercise sponsored by the U.S. Atlantic Command) was conducted. COMDESRON 28 served as the Sea Combat Commander for this synthetic exercise under Commander, Carrier Group Eight - the Navy’s battlegroup commander. Naval participation in UNIFIED ENDEAVOR occurred at Fleet Combat Training Center Atlantic, Dam Neck, Virginia in three different phases between July and November 1998. Phase I involved high-level planning of all aspects of the event.

The primary event for COMDESRON 28 in September was Phase II of UNIFIED ENDEAVOR, which occurred from 16-26 September. COMDESRON 28 actively participated in this planning phase for the warfare commanders, helping to define naval participation in the exercise. This involved designing requirements for naval forces, defining the parameters of their capabilities and limitations, and formulating the command structure and operational relationships for their employment.

COMDESRON 28 spent the remainder of 1997 embarked on ships undergoing upkeep at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia. Several events occurred during this period. The second 1997 Blakely Cup competition among ships of Destroyer Squadrons 18 and 28 began on 1 October. A Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) was conducted on USS HALYBURTON with COMDESRON 28 embarked from 6-10 October, including an underway period on 8 October for USS HALYBURTON’s Underway Material Inspection. COMDESRON 28 also participated in Phase III of UNIFIED ENDEAVOR during this period. This final phase of the exercise took place at Dam Neck, Virginia from 27 October through 4 November, and COMDESRON 28 provided a 24-hour watch team throughout this phase of the synthetic exercise. The second 1997 Blakely Cup Competition ended on 30 November, and USS STOUT was declared the winner. Finally, USS PETERSON returned to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard from its very successful STANAVFORLANT deployment on 20 December.

The Squadron returned from Mediterranean Deployment 99-2 with the THEODORE ROOSEVELT BATTLE GROUP 22 September 1999. The ships of the Squadron began preparing for the next deployment with the THEODORE ROOSEVELT BATTLE GROUP.