USS Coontz (DLG-9/DDG-40)
(DLG-9/DDG-40) was a Farragut-class destroyer leader/frigate
in the United States Navy. She was named after Admiral Robert
Coontz, the US Navy's second chief of naval operations.
in 1960, she spent the early part of her career in the Pacific,
participating in four tours of duty during the VietNam War.
In the early 1970s she transferred to the east coast and spent
the remainder of her service years in the Caribbean, Atlantic,
Mediterranean, and Persian Gulf. She assisted in saving USS
Stark after that ship was hit by Iraqi missiles. In 1975,
as part of the Navy's reclassification process, all ships
of her class were reclassified as guided missile destroyers
was decommissioned in 1989, and sold for scrap five years
later. Her transom nameplate was salvaged and donated to the
city of Hannibal, Missouri, birthplace of Admiral Coontz.
keel was laid at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in March 1957,
just 39 years after Admiral Coontz left his post as the shipyard's
commander. The first guided-missile frigate to be built on
the West Coast, and the second ship to bear the name of the
Navy’s second chief of naval operations, Coontz was
christened by Mrs. Robert J. Coontz, wife of the admiral’s
grandson, on 6 December 1958.
by Commander H.H. Reis, Coontz was commissioned on 15 July
1960 and completed post-shakedown training in April 1961.
Coontz was commissioned 6 months ahead of Farragut, the lead
ship of the class, some references refer to the class as Coontz-class
frigates/destroyers. Coontz then became a unit of the Cruiser-Destroyer
Force U.S. Pacific Fleet and joined the First Fleet as flagship
of Destroyer Division 152, home port in San Diego, California.
Commander, Destroyer Squadron 15 flew his flag in Coontz from
4 May to 12 July 1961.
departed from San Diego on 10 August 1961 and joined the U.S.
Seventh Fleet as a unit of the fast carrier task force. Remaining
with the Seventh Fleet for more than seven months, Coontz
steamed 55,000 miles (89,000 km) and visited ports in Japan,
Korea, Hong Kong, B.C.C, Australia and American Samoa. While
conducting training exercises to maintain full combat readiness,
Coontz received the coveted “E” award for excellence
returned to the United States on 23 March 1962 to rejoin the
U.S. First Fleet and became the flagship of the Commander,
Destroyer Squadron 17 in April 1962. On the second anniversary
of her awards for excellence in Operations, Engineering and
Gunnery, Coontz flew the flag of the Commander, Cruiser-Destroyer
Flotilla 11 from 1 August to 11 November 1962, when she again
became the flagship for Commander, Destroyer Squadron 17.
James R. Collier relieved Captain Reis in July 1962. The Coontz
sailed with the Seventh Fleet in Asiatic waters, visiting
Yokosuka, Kobe, Kure and Beppu in Japan and Hong Kong, B.C.C
in China. During this time the Coontz was also designated
a stand-by recovery ship for NASA’s Mercury-Atlas 8
space mission. During the space flight on 3 October 1962,
Wally Schirra orbited the Earth at an altitude of 100 miles
(160 km). Although Coontz was listed as a stand-by ship for
recovery operations, it was not activated. The Coontz returned
to the U.S. in May 1963. In June 1963, the Coontz demonstrated
the kill capability of the Terrier surface-to-air missile
in a sea power demonstration for President John F. Kennedy.
was overhauled and her missile weapons systems were extensively
modernized from October 1963 to April 1964 at the Long Beach
Naval Shipyard. Commander Eugene C. Kenyon, Jr. relieved Commander
Collier on 7 March 1964.
the Pacific Fleet in April 1964, Coontz successfully completed
comprehensive weapons systems qualification trials and refresher
training. Prior to departure for the Western Pacific on 5
August 1964, Coontz was awarded the Missile, Gunnery and engineering
“E” award for combat excellence in these areas.
On 3 August 1964, Coontz again became the flagship for Commander,
Destroyer Squadron 17.
joined the U.S. Seventh Fleet on 16 August 1964 as a unit
of the fast carrier task force for six months. She steamed
41,000 miles (66,000 km) and visited Subic Bay, Philippines,
Hong Kong, B.C.C., Sasebo and Yokosuka, Japan. In December
1964, Coontz was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
for support of Vietnam War operations in the South China Sea.
Her third Western Pacific tour completed, Coontz returned
to the operational control of the Commander, First Fleet and
returned to the United States on 6 February 1965.
in the First Fleet included participation in the 1965 summer
midshipmen training cruise. Coontz visited Bellingham, Washington;
San Francisco, California; and Hilo and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
during this cruise. The “E”, “C” and
“A” awards were received during this period for
excellence in engineering, communications and anti-submarine
warfare. On 14 August 1965, Commander W. Cummings relieved
Commander Kenyon as commanding officer.
1965 to January 1966, the Coontz received a Helicopter Landing
and Handling Capability in San Diego. This conversion included
relocation of deck vents, clearing all fantail obstructions,
installation of a JP-5 fuel handling and purification system,
and the introduction of equipment to provide Helicopter Starting
and Service power. Coontz was the first of her class to receive
the conversion and proudly boasted the addition of a helicopter
to her many-faceted capabilities.
departed San Diego in January 1966 for a regular deployment
as a unit of the U.S. Seventh Fleet for a total of six months.
Coontz visited Shimoda, Shizuoka and Yokosuka, Japan; Subic
Bay, Philippines, and Kaohsiung, Formosa. In March 1966, Coontz
was awarded the Unit Commendation Ribbon for her WESTPAC performance.
After completing her fourth Western Pacific route, Coontz
changed operational control of Commander, First Fleet and
returned to the United States 1 August 1966. In late September,
Coontz entered Long Beach Naval Shipyard for a regular overhaul.
departing Long Beach Naval Shipyard in March 1967, Coontz
returned to San Diego and commenced a training and upkeep
departed San Diego for WESTPAC on 25 July 1967. While deployed
in the Western Pacific, Coontz was again attached to the U.S.
Seventh Fleet and on search-and-rescue duty as well as aircraft
carrier operations and special assignments. Commander E. Dale
Geiger relieved Commander Cummings as Commanding Officer on
28 July 1967 while Coontz was en route to WESTPAC on her fifth
tour with the U.S. Seventh Fleet. In August 1967, Coontz made
an operational visit to Jakarta, Indonesia; the first U.S.
Naval warship to visit the nation since early 1963. Coontz
then spent two 30-day periods in the Northern Search and Rescue
Station in the Tonkin Gulf and participated in the rescue
of nine aviators. After a brief visit to Hong Kong, B.C.C.,
Coontz headed for her home port, San Diego, via Sydney, Australia
and Wellington, New Zealand, Pago Pago American Samoa and
Pearl Harbor, arriving in San Diego 8 February 1968.
the leave and upkeep period a Test and Evaluation Monitoring
System (TEAMS) was installed for evaluation during operations
with the First Fleet. This was the first automatic test system
to be installed in the surface fleet. The operations included
participation in the summer midshipmen cruise. Ports visited
during this cruise were San Francisco, Seattle, and Pearl
Harbor. Coontz then took part in First Fleet operations; including
exercise Beat Cadence until Deploying on 15 November 1968.
arrived on Yankee Station one month later and spent Christmas
on the line. On 8 February 1969, Commander Donald P. Roane
relieved Commander Geiger as Commanding Officer before Coontz
made a visit to Hong Kong, B.C.C.
returned to the Gulf of Tonkin for another Search and Rescue
mission before going north for upkeep in Yokosuka, Japan.
After an EC-121 aircraft was shot down by North Korean jets,
Coontz was rushed into the Sea of Japan. From that assignment,
Coontz returned to San Diego via Subic Bay on 18 May.
In September 1969, Coontz participated
in a HUKASWEX operation at sea as a unit of the First Fleet.
After several more sea periods, Coontz went into an extensive
upkeep period. During the year of 1969, Coontz won awards
for excellence in Supply, Operations and ASW. The upkeep continued
until deployment on 3 March 1970. On 8 July 1970, Commander
Roane was relieved as Commanding Officer by Commander T.J.
1971, shortly after her last Seventh Fleet tour, Coontz departed
San Diego via the Panama Canal for Atlantic waters and a major
overhaul and modernization at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.
In conjunction with this work, Coontz DLG-9 was decommissioned
on 23 February 1971. After extensive Anti Air Warfare modification,
Coontz was recommissioned on 18 March 1972 and transferred
to her new home port of Newport, Rhode Island. Commander T.R.M.Emery
is assigned to the Coontz as its Commanding Officer on 8 March
a six-month test period in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and other
operations in the Caribbean, Coontz sailed on a "show
the flag" cruise to South America and Africa. Subsequently
she entered Boston Naval Shipyard for a three-month Post Shakedown
Availability. Following extensive training and preparation,
Coontz departed on 6 July 1973 for her first deployment with
the US Sixth Fleet, operating in the Eastern and Western Mediterranean
Sea. Commander Emery was relieved as Commanding Officer by
Commander F.N. Howe on 20 December 1973.
1974 Coontz changed home port from Newport to Norfolk, Virginia.
She departed 15 November 1974 for a Mediterranean Sea deployment,
participating in numerous U.S. and NATO exercises.
of a major re-designation of several classes of ships, Coontz
was designated guided-missile destroyer 40 (DDG 40) on 1 July
1975. The ship’s next deployment was on 17 January 1976
as part of the Standing Naval Forces Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT).
The force operated in Caribbean, U.S. and Canadian waters
with ships from 4 NATO navies prior to a transit to Northern
Europe where Coontz visited 8 countries and participated in
numerous NATO exercises. Commander Howe was relieved as Commanding
Officer by Commander Silas O. Nunn III on 6 March 1976. Nunn
was later relieved as Commanding Officer by Commander W. P.
Martin on 8 April 1978.
a one year regular overhaul in Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Coontz
departed on 21 July 1978 for comprehensive gunnery, missile
and Harpoon system qualifications and refresher training at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
returning home, Coontz participated in six months of local
operations including GULFEX 78 in November 1978. In 1979 she
served again with STANAVFORLANT, as flagship, hosting more
than 35,000 visitors in 8 NATO countries and participating
in various exercises with over 30 NATO ships. STANAVFORLANT
operations included areas above the Arctic Circle, in the
Baltic Sea, North Sea and the Norwegian Sea. Commander Martin
was relieved as Commanding Officer by Commander C.P. Willoz
on 28 September 1979.
July 1981, Coontz accidentally fired a live Harpoon missile
about 60 nautical miles (110 km) off St. Croix. The island
was in range of the missile and it was fired toward the island,
but a search by Coontz and aircraft from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower
(CVN-69) found no debris. The US Navy concluded that the Harpoon
harmlessly impacted the sea since no trace of it was ever
fall of 1981, Coontz deployed again. This cruise included
port visits in Western Africa as part of the West African
Training Cruise, operations in the Mediterranean Sea and a
transit into the Black Sea followed by a port visit to Dubrovnik,
Yugoslavia. Commander Willoz was relieved as Commanding Officer
by Commander J.P. Reason on 6 September 1981.
participated in operations around the Eastern coast of Central
America in mid 1982 making the first visit to Bonaire, Netherlands
Antilles by a U.S. Navy ship in more than 13 years. In July
of that year Coontz entered the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard
for a one year regular overhaul, undergoing various configuration
changes and equipment additions. During this yard period,
Commander Reason was relieved as Commanding Officer by Commander
L.P. Brooks, Jr. on 17 December 1982. Coontz completed overhaul
on time in July 1983.
months out of overhaul in October 1983, Coontz steamed to
the Caribbean Sea for weapons systems testing. While undergoing
tests, Coontz received immediate tasking and altered course
to join Operation Urgent Fury, the liberation of Grenada.
The ship provided gunfire support and small boat interdiction
for ten consecutive days in support of the amphibious assault.
For this action, Coontz was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary
medal and the Meritorious Unit Commendation.
Coontz underwent pre-deployment work up including refresher
training and a major fleet exercise. Upon completion, Coontz
deployed to the Mediterranean Sea in October conducting operations
in the Eastern Mediterranean off the coast of Beirut, Lebanon
and in the Black Sea. Commander Brooks was relieved as Commanding
Officer by Commander Charles H. Gnerlich on 25 February 1985.
Coontz returned to Norfolk in May 1985.
to October 1985, Coontz underwent her first Phased Maintenance
Availability, a new concept involving short periods of intense
industrial work designed to maximize operational availability
rather than placing ships in prolonged overhauls.
1985, Coontz participated in Operation Bold Eagle, a joint
exercise conducted with the US Army and US Air Force in Florida
and the Gulf of Mexico. Coontz was a vital link in maintaining
air defense, coordinating with airborne Air Force AWACS aircraft
and Army ground units.
next joint exercise was Ocean Venture '86. Coontz, along with
Navy ships and Coast Guard cutters conducted quarantine operations
exercises in the Caribbean operating areas. During this time
Coontz requalified her Naval Gunfire Support Team at the Vieques
Island Range near Puerto Rico.
1986 Coontz was awarded her first and only Battle Efficiency
Award. In addition she earned all eight line department awards
in the areas of Navigation/Deck Seamanship, Main Propulsion,
Damage Control, Anti-Air Warfare, Anti-Submarine Warfare,
Anti-Surface Warfare, Electronic Warfare, and Communications.
1986 and early 1987, Coontz underwent a work up period in
preparation for deployment to the Persian Gulf on 5 February
1987. During her deployment, she served under the Commander,
Middle East Forces. Coontz was tasked with ensuring the safe
passage of all U.S. vessels as well as maintaining U.S. presence
in the Persian Gulf during the escalation of the Iran–Iraq
War. Commander Gnerlich was relieved as Commanding Officer
by Commander William W. Cobb, Jr. on 11 April 1987. During
deployment in the Persian Gulf, Coontz provided firefighting
teams which aided in the rescue of the USS Stark and her crew
after she was struck by Iraqi Exocet missiles. Coontz returned
to her home port of Norfolk, Virginia on 5 August 1987. Following
a three-month maintenance availability (SRA) she operated
as part of the U.S. Second Fleet until the end of her career.
Cobb was relieved as Commanding Officer by Commander W.E.
Cox on 21 July 1989. Commander Cox oversaw the decommissioning
of the Coontz in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 2 October 1989.
She was sold for scrap in April 1994, but had to be repossessed
in October 1996. The ship was sold again in February 1999
to Metro Machine of Philadelphia. Although a few bits and
pieces of her remain in private collections, the bulk of the
ship was dismantled. The scrapping of the USS Coontz was completed
on 26 March 2003 in Philadelphia, with the scrap metal being
sold to Camden Iron and Metal in Camden, New Jersey.
the USS Coontz Association, composed of former officers and
crew of the USS Coontz, obtained the transom of ship from
a private collector who had saved it from the scrap heap.
The transom, which bears the name of the ship, was then donated
to the city of Hannibal, MO, birthplace of the ship's namesake,
Admiral Robert. E. Coontz. On 31 March 2007, several former
crew members of the USS Coontz, Navy deputy chief of information
Admiral Nathan Jones and Hannibal city officials dedicated
the transom at Nipper Park. The dedication occurred 50 years
to the month after the laying of the keel of the ship.
2007, the USS Coontz Association launched an online petition
drive in an effort to convince the Secretary of the Navy to
name another U.S. Navy ship for Admiral Coontz. The last Arleigh
Burke class destroyer name was selected in May 2008, USS Michael