After World War 2 (1939-1945), the threat of the Soviet Navy to Western interested grew considerably as the service graduated from a limited, coastal-minded defense force to one that could project its power around the world - made possible in large part by a heavy investment in a surface and submarine fleet. This prompted the West, led by the United States, to match its potential enemy and the Charles F. Adams-class of guided-missile destroyers was born. These 3,300 ton warships, twenty-nine in all with 23 serving the USN and three apiece delivered to West Germany and Australia, were offshoots of the preceding Forrest Sherman-class vessels with their battlefield role rewritten to fulfill that of guided-missile destroyer - adding a focus on missile weaponry which became the "Tartar" Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) system.
USS Conyngham (DDG-17) was counted as one of the class's number, the warship being laid down on May 1st, 1961, launched on May 18th, 1962, and commissioned into the USN on July 13th, 1963 (carrying the fighting motto of "Ready to Serve"). The vessel would serve the USN until October 30th, 1990, stripped of her usefulness and eventually sold off to be scrapped.
Named after the Irish-American American Revolutionary of the Continental Navy, Gustavus Conyngham (1747-1819), USS Conyngham followed the Adams-class design standard, displacing 3,300 tons under standard load, up to 4,525 tons under full load, and having a length of 437 feet with a beam of 47 feet, and a draught of 15 feet.
The last commissioned ships to be operated by steam power, the Adams-class was outfitted with 2 x General Electric steam turbines outputting 70,000 horsepower. These were fed by 4 x Combustion Engineering boiler units and drove power to 2 x Shafts under stern. Conyngham could make headway speeds in ideal conditions reaching 33 knots and range out to 4,500 nautical miles - giving her Blue Water capability.
Aboard was a complement of 354. The vessel was stocked with all manner of sensors, processing, and communication systems of the day including sonar, 3D air-search radar, surface-search radar, and fire control assistants. Armament including the Mk 13 single-armed missile launcher as well as 2 x 5" /24 caliber Mark 42 turreted deck guns. There was also 1 x RUR-5 Anti-Submarine ROCket (ASROC) launcher and w x Mark 32 triple torpedo tubes.
Conyngham's career took her throughout the world with patrols and goodwill stops across the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. Notable actions included Libya (1982), Lebanon (1983), and Grenada (1983). In all, she would receive four Battle Efficiency (E) awards for her commitment in operations upholding American interests.
In May of 1990, a fire aboard the ship cost the life of one officer while injuring eighteen. Damage was such that the ship, just having completed her maintenance / refit, was not repaired and saved. This last event led to her official decommissioning. The cause of the fire was ignition of fuel oil due to improper assembly of a fuel oil strainer.