The USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53) is a guided missile destroyer currently in service with the United States Navy and is the third of the 75 planned Arleigh Burke-class of surface ships ("DD" represents basic destroyers per US Navy classifications, the "G" being added for its guided missile armament design). Some 62 have been completed to date (2012) with 61 of these in active service. The John Paul Jones was ordered on September 25th, 1987 and had her keel laid down on August 8th, 1990 by the Bath Iron Works. She was officially launched on October 26th, 1991 and was formally commissioned on December 18th, 1993. The John Paul Jones makes her homeport out of Naval Base San Diego and fights under the motto of "In Harm's Way". The vessel has seen several tours in Persian Gulf Waters and took part in Operation Enduring Freedom, credited with launching the first Tomahawk cruise missiles of the war.
Design of the USS John Paul Jones follows the basic design of the Arleigh Burke class of fighting ships. She sports a streamlined hull with a raised, pointed bow to which the deck gun is fitted to a powered turret. The bridge superstructure is just aft of the deck gun with commanding views over the bow, port and starboard. The superstructure is capped by a tall mast containing various antenna and sensors. One of the two smoke funnels is visible just aft of the mast. There is a noticeable gap between the bridge superstructure and the aft superstructure. The aft superstructure is home to the second smoke funnel. Aft of this superstructure is the helicopter landing deck. The landing deck can recover or launch a single Sikorsky SH-60 Sea Hawk type navy helicopter. The John Paul Jones is powered by 4 x General Electric LM2500-30 gas turbines delivering upwards of 100,000 shaft horsepower to twin shafts. Top speed is approximately 30 knots in ideal conditions with a range out to 4,400 nautical miles. The USS John Paul Jones is crewed by 280 personnel made up of at least 70 officers and over 200 enlisted personnel.
As a destroyer, the USS John Paul Jones is a vessel designed for open-water travel in support of the main fleet or capable of independent operation in the search-and-destroy role. Historically, destroyers have been used in the hunting of enemy submarines (as in World War 2) but can also be called upon to engage aerial and surface threats due to the broad armament options available to the commanding party. The vessel is protected from Chemical, Biological and Radiological (CBR) threats.
The John Paul Jones is therefore armed with a Mark 45 127mm deck gun which can be used against surface targets at medium-to-short ranges and is digitally controlled from the fire room. For shorter ranged threats, the crew can call upon 2 x 25mm chain guns for automatic, repeating fire. Short-ranged aerial threats must also counter the John Paul Jones' 2 x 20mm Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWSs). The bulk of the John Paul Jones armament is the twin banks of vertical launching systems comprised of a 29-cell and 61-cell collection. These tubes can be outfitted with the RIM-156 SM-2 surface-to-air/anti-ship missile, the BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missile, the RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile or the RUM-139 VL-ASROC anti-submarine missile. Up to 90 total missiles can be stored in these launch cells. The John Paul Jones also featured 2 x Mk 32 triple torpedo tubes for engaging surface and below-surface threats.
While designed to be a threat to the enemy, the USS John Paul Jones is also outfitted with an array of sensors and processing systems, electronic warfare equipment and decoys for self-preservation. The ship sports the AN/SPY-1D 3D radar system, several surface search radar installations, the AN/SQS-53C Sonar array, the AN/SQQ-19 Tactical Towed Array Sonar system and the AN/SQQ-28 LAMPS III Shipboard System. LAMPS III allows the onboard helicopter to work in conjunction with the vessel in identifying, tracking and engaging underwater threats (the Sikorsky SH-60 Sea Hawk is equipped as such). The electronic warfare suite is comprised of the AN/SLQ-32(V)2 series system. The vessel also stocks torpedo countermeasures, a decoy launching system and the AN/SLQ-39 CHAFF Buoy dispenser.