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Author Topic: Farragut Class or Coontz Class  (Read 5488 times)

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Offline Mark D

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Farragut Class or Coontz Class
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2005, 14:10:34 PM »
There have been many heated discussions as to whether this class of ships was the Farragut Class or the Coontz Class. It has long been the tradition of the U.S. Navy to name the class after the lowest numbered ship of the class. Following this logic, there should be no dispute that it is the Farragut Class. On the other hand, the USS Farragut's keel was laid more than three months after the USS Coontz and the USS Coontz was placed into commission on July 15, 1960, also three months before the USS Farragut. Even the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS) from the Naval Historical Society lists the USS Farragut as belonging to the Coontz Class. Couple that with the fact that all of the USS King's ship's blueprint drawing numbers start with "DLG9" and you would assume that the class should be the Coontz Class.

   The fact is that you will be hard pressed to find an official ruling on what to call the class, but most naval historians agree that it is the Farragut Class. The question as to why there was any confusion in the first place goes back to the rush to develop missile technology and the Ship Characteristics Board (SCB) meetings of the mid 1950's.

   Without going too much into depth on the evolution of the SCB 142 specifications (the document from which the class was designed and built -a topic for another time), suffice it to say that there were many arguments over the readiness of the new Terrier Missile System.

   The perceived air threat of the 1950's led to such rapid development of technologies that systems often had very little time to go from the drawing boards into the prototype and testing phases. The Terrier system was officially designed for the larger Cruiser hulls although it was expected to eventually be utilized on the smaller Frigates. In preparation for this a Terrier system was installed aboard the modified Gearing Class destroyer USS Gyatt in 1956.   At the same time, the Frigate specification (known as SCB 129) was being designed. When the Terrier system became available, some proposed that SCB 129 include missiles. Instead a new gun and missile Frigate was designed in parallel as SCB 142.

The Navy was given six Frigates for FY 56. The CNO, Admiral Carney, personally decided that three of them, DL-9 through 11, would be built to the gun and missile SCB 142 specification while the other three, DL-6 through 8, would be the all gun SCB 129 specification as insurance against the possible failure of the Terrier system. When the Terrier system was accepted for fleet use in 1956, all of the ships were switched to the SCB 142 specification.

The FY 56 plans of Admiral Carney clearly showed the development of two different classes of Frigates. These two classes would have had three ships of the Farragut Class, DL-6 through 8, and three ships of the Coontz Class, DLG-9 through 11. Since DL-6 through 8 were changed to be built to the specifications of DLG-9, many preferred to call this the Coontz Class. However, since the change was made in 1956 before any of the ships were built, historians refer to the lowest number in the class to be the Class leader - the USS Farragut (DLG-6).

Note: Much of this information is taken directly from the book U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History by Dr. Norman Friedman.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2008, 15:00:20 PM by Mark D »
FC1(SW), WF / CF Division, 1986 - 1990
USS King (DLG-10/DDG-41) Association Historian


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