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1963 -- 1990

Length: 437 ft Draft 15 ft
Beam: 47 ft Speed: 32+ kts
Displacement: 4500 tons
Complement: 24 Officers 330 Enlisted

  • Tartar Missile System
  • Two 5"/54 Caliber Gun Mounts
  • One Eight-Cell ASROC Launcher
  • Two Three-Tube Torpedo Launchers

The third CONYNGHAM, DDG 17, was a guided missile destroyer built by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation. Camden, New Jersey. Her keel was laid 1 May 1961 and was launched on 19 May 1962. She was commissioned 13 July 1963 as the sixteenth ship in the Charles F. Adams class.

During her 27 years of commissioned service. CONYNGHAM lived up to her motto, "Ready to Serve". Her presence exerted a powerful influence during times of crisis and helped maintain peace as a component of NATO seapower throughout the Cold War period. CONYNGHAM made 15 Mediterranean deployments--three to the Persian Gulf, seven to Northern Europe, and 11 deployments to the Caribbean. She distinguished herself during crises in Cyprus (1964, 1974); provided air cover for planes evacuating Americans from an insurrection in Amman, Jordan (1970); took part in contingency operations during the Arab-Israeli Yom-Kippur War (1973); was the escort combatant during the evacuation of Americans from Beirut, Lebanon (1976); and conducted Black Sea Freedom of Navigation operations (1979).

During the 1980' s, CONYNGHAM continued to support United States foreign policy when she served off the coast of Libya (1982); was awarded the Navy Expeditionary Medal for providing naval gunfire support of Marines stationed in, and off the coast of, Beirut, Lebanon (1983) and monitored maritime traffic off the coast of Nicaragua (1983). She sailed with the USS AMERICA (CV-66) Baffle Group in support of U. S. intervention forces in Grenada (1983). While deployed to the Caribbean, CONYNGHAM was credited with four drug interdictions and was awarded the Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal (1986).

CONYNGHAM continued superior performance as she escorted U. S. Flag merchant shipping through the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq War in 1987. During that deployment she sortied from Bahrain on short notice and provided assistance to USS STARK (FG-31) after she was hit by two anti-ship missiles launched by an Iraqi F-1. CONYNGHAM was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for her efforts in saving the crippled ship. In 1988, CONYNGHAM continue the "Gus Can Do" tradition during her deployments to the Fjords of Norway and Northern Europe. She completed her fifteenth Mediterranean deployment and received her fourth Battle Efficiency "E" in 1989.

On 8 May 1990, while conducting pre-deployment operations off the Virginia coast, CONYNGHAM met her greatest challenge. A major fuel oil fire erupted from the ship's Forward Fire Room into the ship's superstructure, isolating the crew forward and aft. requiring an all-hands effort to extinguish it. During the mass conflagration, the Operations Officer was killed and 18 men were injured. CONYNGHAM was decommissioned 30 October 1990 in Norfolk, Virginia.

USS CONYNGHAM DDG 17 was awarded the Battle Efficiency "E" in 1964, 1965, 1969, and 1989.

Commanding Officers -- DDG 17

Commander Edwin P. Smith*

13 Jul 1963 - 15 Sep 1964

Commander George B. Lingren

15 Sep 1964 - 7 Apr 1966

Commander Carl H. Herrick

7Apr1966-24 Nov 67

Commander Harry D. Train II

24 Nov 1967 - 7 Dec 1968

Commander Walter R. Shafer*

7 Dec 1968 - 21 Aug 1970

Commander Richard C. Berry*

21 Aug 1970 - 22 Jan 1972

Commander Lloyd W. Fernald, Jr.

22 Jan 1972 - 30 Jul 1973

Commander Donald S. Campbell, Jr.*

30 Jul 1973 - 29 Jun 1974

Commander A. Robin Battaglini

29 Jun 1973 - 14 Oct 1976

Commander John F. Leder*

14 Oct 1976 - 12 Jul 1978

Commander John W. Hilt

12 Jul 1978 - 10 Aug 1979

Commander Raymond A. Helbig*

10 Aug 1979 - 21 Oct 1981

Commander Gary W. Zwirschitz

21 Oct 1981 - 1 Oct 1983

Commander Morton W. Kenyon

1 Oct 1983 - 9 Nov 1985

Commander Don P. Pollard

9 Nov 1985 - 14 Nov 1987

Commander David O. Rose

14 Nov 1987 - 15 Dec 1989

Commander William R. Williams

15 Dec 1989 - 30 Oct 1990

(*) Deceased

Copyright George Columbo, 2004

Last Updated on 10/4/2013
By George Columbo