USS Spruance deploys on maiden voyage

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. — The guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance departed San Diego Wednesday morning for its maiden deployment.

The Arleigh Burke-class vessel and its crew of 260 officers and enlisted personnel are headed to the Western Pacific to conduct security operations with other nations, according to the Navy.

“It is with great pride that we set sail after four years of hard work and effort to bring this ship to life,’ said Cmdr. George Kessler, the ship’s commanding officer. “Although it is with a heavy heart that we leave family, friends and loved ones, I can think of no group of men and women with whom I would rather go to sea.”

Commissioned two years ago, the 509-foot ship is named after Adm. Raymond Spruance, a cruiser division commander who substituted for the ill Adm. William “Bull” Halsey to lead an aircraft carrier task force at the crucial Battle of Midway during World War II.

Spruance and Halsey went on to split command of the Navy’s prime carrier strike force in the Pacific in later battles against the Japanese. Besides giving command staffs a chance to rest and plan for upcoming missions, the arrangement also served to make the Japanese think the U.S. actually had two different task forces.

Spruance later succeeded Adm. Chester Nimitz as the commander of the Pacific Fleet, led the Naval War College and was the U.S. ambassador to The Philippines. He died in 1969 in Pebble Beach.

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