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USS Winston S. Churchill

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USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81), in 2008
United States
NameWinston S. Churchill
NamesakeWinston S. Churchill
Ordered6 January 1995
BuilderBath Iron Works
Laid down7 May 1998
Launched17 April 1999
Commissioned10 March 2001
MottoIn war: Resolution; In peace: Good Will
Statusin active service
BadgeDDG-81 USS Winston Churchill Coat of Arms
General characteristics
Class and typeArleigh Burke-class destroyer
Displacement9,496 long tons (9,648 t) (Full load)
Length509.5 ft (155.3 m)
Beam59 ft (18 m)
Draft31 ft (9.4 m)
Installed power
Propulsion2 × shafts
SpeedIn excess of 30 kn (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Complement32 officers, 348 enlisted
Electronic warfare
& decoys
Aircraft carried2 × MH-60R Seahawk helicopters

USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer of the United States Navy. She is named after Sir Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. This ship is the 31st destroyer of her class and the 18th ship of be built at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. Construction began on 7 May 1998, and the vessel launched and christened on 17 April 1999. On 10 March 2001, she was commissioned during a ceremony at Town Point Park in Norfolk, Virginia.


Sir Winston Churchill

On 29 November 1995, on a visit to the United Kingdom, President Bill Clinton announced to their Parliament that the new ship would be named after Sir Winston Churchill, a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. She was the first destroyer and only the fourth U.S. Navy warship named after a British citizen, and the first since 1976 named after a non-U.S. citizen (that being USS Comte de Grasse), though Churchill was an honorary U.S. citizen and his mother was American.

Other U.S. warships named after Britons were Alfred, an armed merchantman named after King Alfred the Great; Raleigh, a continental frigate, named after Sir Walter Raleigh (though three later USS Raleighs—and two Confederate warships—would be named after the North Carolina city, which did not exist at the time); and Effingham, named after The 3rd Earl of Effingham who resigned his commission rather than fight the colonists during the American Revolutionary War. The former frigate Harold E. Holt was also named after a person from a country in the Commonwealth of Nations, Harold Holt, the Australian Prime Minister, who disappeared, (presumed drowned), while still in office just a year before Harold E. Holt was laid down. Winston S. Churchill is the first ship to be named after a British citizen or British Prime Minister of the modern era.

Winston S. Churchill is the only U.S. Navy vessel to have a Royal Navy exchange officer permanently assigned to the ship's company (usually a Navigation Officer).[1] The U.S. Navy had a permanent U.S. Navy Officer on the Royal Navy ship, HMS Marlborough, until her decommissioning on 8 July 2005. Winston S. Churchill is also the only U.S. Naval vessel to fly a foreign ensign. Being named after a Briton, the Royal Navy's White Ensign is honorarily flown on special occasions from the ship's mast, on the port side, whereas the U.S. flag is flown from the starboard side. However, during normal operations, only the U.S. flag is flown on the center of the main mast.[2]


The ship is the first of the Flight IIA variants fitted with the 62-caliber Mark 45 Mod 4 naval gun system. The guns' longer barrels allow more complete combustion of the propellant, reducing barrel flare and improving projectile velocity and firepower against ship and shore targets; additionally, the Mk 45 mod 4 uses a modified gun-house, designed to reduce its radar signature. Winston S. Churchill is armed with Tomahawk, Standard and ASROC (VLA) missiles.[3]

The vessel additionally contains two hangars, not present in earlier destroyers; these can house Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) Sikorsky SH-60B or MH-60R Seahawk helicopters. These LAMPS can be fitted with air-to-surface missiles for surface ship attacks, and torpedoes for submarine attacks.

The ship is also fitted with the AN/SPY-1D phased array radar—this represents a significant advancement in the detection capabilities of the Aegis weapon system and provides enhanced resistance to electronic countermeasures. The radar can guide more than one hundred missiles at once to targets as far as 600 nautical miles (1,100 km; 690 mi).

Service history[edit]

The contract to build Winston S. Churchill was awarded to the Bath Iron Works Corporation on 6 January 1995, and the keel was laid down on 7 May 1998. Winston S. Churchill was launched on 17 April 1999, delivered 13 October 2000, and commissioned 10 March 2001. The launch and christening of the ship was co-sponsored by Lady Soames, the daughter of Winston Churchill, and Mrs. Janet Cohen, wife of the Secretary of Defense. Her first commanding officer was Commander (and future Vice Admiral) Michael T. Franken.[4]

On 14 May 2001, Winston S. Churchill underwent shock trials off the coast of Florida. These trials subjected the ship to several close-range underwater detonations, each consisting of 7 tons of high explosives, and were performed to collect data concerning ship survivability and damage resistance in a modern threat environment. Winston S. Churchill sustained minor damage during these three tests.[5]

Crew of German destroyer Lütjens pay homage as they bid farewell to the crew Winston S. Churchill

On 14 September 2001, (three days after the 11 September 2001 attacks), the German Navy destroyer Lütjens passed close abeam Winston S. Churchill and rendered honors by manning the rails, flying the Stars and Stripes at half-mast, and the display of a banner reading "We Stand By You". An e-mail sent by an ensign on board Winston S. Churchill described the occasion.[6]

In January 2003, Winston S. Churchill deployed with the USS Theodore Roosevelt battle group in support of the Iraq War's Operation Iraqi Freedom, firing several Tomahawk missiles. Winston S. Churchill returned to Norfolk at the end of May 2003.

On 22 August 2005, Winston S. Churchill was involved in a minor collision with the destroyer USS McFaul off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida. Both ships suffered minor damage, and no injuries were reported. Both ships returned to their homeport at Naval Station Norfolk under their own power.[7]

On 22 January 2006 Winston S. Churchill captured a suspected pirate vessel in the Indian Ocean as part of an ongoing effort to help maintain law and order in the region.[8]

On 26 September 2010, Winston S. Churchill came across a disabled skiff in the Gulf of Aden. After attempts to repair the skiff's engines failed Winston S. Churchill took the vessel under tow towards Somalia. On 27 September the skiff sank when the 85 passengers rushed to one side of the skiff during a food delivery causing the vessel to capsize.[9] Winston S. Churchill was able to rescue 61 of the passengers and continued towards Somalia on 28 September.[10]

Her homeport was formerly Naval Station Norfolk became Naval Station Mayport, Florida on 19 July 2021. She is currently a part of Carrier Strike Group 12.[citation needed]


Coat of arms[edit]


The shield features an inescutcheon of his ancestral coat of arms and the cross of St. George. The traditional Navy colors were chosen for the shield because dark blue and gold represents the sea and excellence respectively. Red signifies sacrifice and valor. The cross of St. George and the fleur-de-lis are from Churchill's augmentation from his ancestor's coat of arms. The red cross on the white field is a reference to the flag of St. George. The gold lion over the field of red is a reference to the heritage of Great Britain. The lion shows strength, courage and determination. The nebuly is representative to the sky and clouds, which recall Britain enduring German airpower in the Battle of Britain. Winston Churchill's reputation of an inspiring war leader, talented statesman, orator and author is referred to by the stylized book.


The crest consists of a trident encompassed by a chevron, laurel and oak. The trident is a symbol for sea prowess and represents the ship's vertical launch capabilities. The tridents tines denote air, surface, and anti-submarine warfare capabilities. A chevron divides the trident which suggests a "V" to signify victory in way and strength of defense in peace. The laurel symbolizes honor and achievement while the oak represents strength and resolve.


The motto is written on a double scroll of red that has a white reverse side. The ship's motto, "In war: Resolution. In peace: Good Will", is taken from the epigraph of Churchill's The Second World War.[12][13]


The coat of arms in full color as in the blazon, upon a white background enclosed within a dark blue oval border edged on the outside with a gold rope and bearing the inscription "USS Winston S. Churchill" at the top and "DDG 81" in the base all gold.



Public Domain This article includes information collected from the Naval Vessel Register, which, as a U.S. government publication, is in the public domain.

  1. ^ Kennedy, Harold (April 2001). "USS Churchill Shows Off High-Tech Gear". National Defense. NDIA. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 15 April 2007. She also is the only U.S. Navy ship to have a British Royal Navy officer permanently assigned as a member of the ship's company. Lieutenant Angus Essenhigh, RN, of Portsmouth, England, is serving as ship's navigator during his two-year tour of duty.
  2. ^ Stilwell, Blake (2023). "The Only US Navy Warship Authorized to Fly a Foreign Flag at Sea". Military.com. Retrieved 13 November 2023.
  3. ^ Kennedy, Harold (April 2001). "USS Churchill Shows Off High-Tech Gear". National Defense Magazine. Archived from the original on 20 April 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Vice Admiral Michael T. Franken, Deputy Commander for Military Operations U.S. Africa Command". United States Navy. Archived from the original on 3 October 2015. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  5. ^ "DDG 81 Winston Churchill". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  6. ^ "This is an e-mail from an Ensign stationed aboard the ship during the UK deployment". United States Navy. 2001. Archived from the original on 29 December 2005. Retrieved 15 March 2006.
  7. ^ "USS McFaul (DDG 74) and USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) Collision". Damage Control Museum. Archived from the original on 13 March 2016. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  8. ^ "Suspected Pirates Captured Off Somali Coast" (Press release). Headquarters, United States Central Command. 22 January 2006. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 15 December 2006.
  9. ^ Mười ba thuyền nhân Phi Châu chết đuối[permanent dead link] (in Vietnamese)
  10. ^ "Tragic end to US rescue bid off Somali coast". BBC News. 28 September 2010.
  11. ^ "USS Winston S. Churchill: The Navy's Most Combat Ready Ship".
  12. ^ "USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81)". U.S. Navy. Retrieved 12 October 2022.
  13. ^ Churchill, Winston (1948). The Gathering Storm. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0-395-41055-X.

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