The Arleigh Burke-class of guided missile destroyers is one of the largest United States Navy (USN) surface fighting ship groups with 61 of the 62 completed ships currently in active service (2012) and 75 total vessels planned in all. The class makes use of a variable array of weaponry coupled with the powerful AEGIS system which allow it to tackle aerial, surface and underwater threats with regular accuracy. The USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110) is the 60th ship of the class and was ordered on September 13th, 2002. Her keel laid down on September 16th, 2008, and she was officially launched on December 15th, 2009 to undergo the requisite sea trials and evaluation period. The vessel was formally commissioned on June 4th, 2011 with Commander Thomas R. Williams II at the helm and, today (2012), remains in active service. The vessel was constructed by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding at the Ingalls Shipbuilding ship yard of Pascagoula, Mississippi. The USS William P. Lawrence makes her homeport out of San Diego, California and fights under the motto of "Never Give In".
The USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110) is named after the US Navy's own William P. Lawrence (1930-2005) who led a storied aviation career during his active service term. He was shot down over Vietnam during the Vietnam War and remained a prisoner of war from 1967 to 1973 before his release. He retired from service to the USN in 1986 at the rank Vice Admiral and is fondly remembered as a strong leader of men and a "People's Admiral".
As a destroyer class vessel, the Lawrence is required to support larger class vessels of the main fleet while being called upon to fight on her own as the situation requires. Destroyers, by USN standards, are typically fast and agile watercraft for their size, capable of keeping pace with the accompanying convoy or tracking down enemy combatants with equal fervor. The guided missile inventory (primarily made up of Tomahawk cruise missiles) is what graduates the basic destroyer (DD) to the guided missile destroyer classification (DDG) in the United States Navy classification system. Historically, the destroyer as a naval surface fighting ship has been a multirole vessel intended to supply a variety of solutions to growing issues in open water - in this way, the Lawrence does not disappoint, her crew recognizing her appropriately as a "multi-mission" platform.
As part of the Arleigh Burke-class of guided missile destroyers, the USS William P. Lawrence utilizes much of the same design lines, internal arrangement and external configuration as her sister ships. The vessel is crewed by 270 personnel made up of officers and enlisted personnel - many trained in multiple duties to keep operational costs down while allowing for crew flexibility. Her forecastle is relatively featureless, only disrupted by the 5" gun emplacement on the deck and the first of two vertical launch missile cells directly behind. The deck gun is purposely given complete unobstructed access to targets ahead of the bow, to portside and to starboard. The bridge sits high atop the main superstructure (noted by its large, rectangular window array) which is also home to the main mast serving powerful communication and air/surface search radar as well as the Fire Control System. Just aft of the main superstructure is the first of two funnels exhausting the turbine arrangement within, the funnel encased in a slab-sided structure. Aft of this is the second covered funnel with a noticeable design gap found between the two structure. The second funnel sits atop the aft superstructure which is attached to the second VLS emplacement and this connects to the open-air helicopter flight deck in a stepped arrangement. A pair of watercraft are stored along the starboard side and these can be used for active nearby patrolling, armed investigation and general interception. As a weapon of war, the Lawrence certainly looks the part and is equally capable of running down Somali pirates as it is in hunting North Korean submarines. An AN/SQQ-89 A(V) 15 series sonar system is fitted to the underwater portion of the bow in a bulbous assembly.
Power for the USS William P. Lawrence is made possible by the internal conventional arrangement of 4 x General Electric LM2500-30 series gas turbines delivering up to 100,000 shaft horsepower to 2 x shafts at the stern. Maximum speed in ideal conditions is approximately 30 knots and she displaces at 9,200 tons. She features a running length of 509.5 feet from bow to stern and a beam of 66 feet while her draught runs 31 feet.
The armament of a destroyer is the heart and soul of the vessel. As such, the Lawrence makes use of a 32- and 62-cell Mk 41 series vertical launch system (VLS) capable of firing BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles, RIM-66 SM-2 medium-range surface-to-air-missiles or RUM-139 VL-ASROC anti-submarine missiles to fulfill a variety of mission requirements. Utilizing a combination of these missile types, a single Arleigh Burke-class destroyer can engage land-based, sea-based and aerial targets with proven lethality. Along her forward deck is the 5" (127mm) /62 deck gun for principle engagement of surface/land-based targets at range including offshore bombardment in support of amphibious landings. This armament is backed by a pair of 25mm guns for supporting defense. A 20mm Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) is used against incoming aerial threats (be they enemy aircraft or cruise missiles) at close-range. 4 x 12.7mm heavy machine guns protect the vessel from short-ranged incoming threats such as those proposed by Al Qaeda operatives using personal watercraft to reach the vessel. To counter both surface and underwater threats at range, the Lawrence is further equipped with 2 x Mk 46 triple torpedo tubes which can hone in on unsuspecting targets wherever they may be.
The air arm of the USS William P. Lawrence consists of up to 2 x Sikorsky SH-60 Sea Hawk naval helicopters. The Sea Hawk is a specially-bred navy model of the famous land-based Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk series and developed specifically for over-water operations in conjunction with the scanning, tracking and engagement systems aboard the USS William P. Lawrence itself.