The modern American Navy is second to none, boasting a broad collection of surface and undersea units complemented by over-water helicopters and combat aircraft. One key component of the service is its Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer group, numbering sixty-seven total vessels as of July 2020 and one of this number is USS Ramage (DDG-61). The warship, named after World War 2 veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Vice Admiral Lawson Ramage, was ordered on February 21st, 1990 and laid down by Ingalls Shipbuilding of Pascagoula, Mississippi on January 4th, 1993. She was launched on February 1st, 1994 and formally commissioned on July 22nd, 1995. The vessel maintains an active status in the United States Navy (USN) fleet as of July 2020 and homeports out of Norfolk, Virginia - fighting under the motto of "Par Excellence".
The guided-missile destroyer is a potent surface combatant capable of engaging aerial, land, and undersea targets with equal lethality to a primary weapons suite of smart missiles. Hull designs allow such warships to operate independently or as part of a task force / main fighting fleet. Some guided-missile platforms are used as air deterrence solutions while others are equipped to engage enemy naval components at range. Beyond their obvious missile armament, these warships continue to rely on ballistic weapons as a more conventional means.
USS Ramage (DDG-61) displaces 6,900 tons under light loads and up to 8,900 tons under full loads. Overall length reaches 505 feet with a beam measuring 66 feet and a draught down to 31 feet. Power is from 4 x General Electric LM2500-30 series gas turbines developing 100,000 horsepower to 2 x Shafts astern. Speeds under ideal conditions can reach just over 30 knots with a range out to 4,400 nautical miles.
Aboard is a complement of 281 made up of offices and enlisted. Installed systems include 3D combat radar, surface-search radar, fire control support, sonar (towed and hull-mounted), and the LAMPS III Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) suite. Electronic Warfare (EW) is handled through the AN/SLQ032(V)2 suite while AN/SLQ-25 "Nixie" is the torpedo countermeasures solution. The Mk 36 Mod 12 serves as a decoy-launching system and AN/SLQ-39 is used to dispense radar-disrupting chaff.
Armament includes 1 x 127mm /54 caliber Mark 45 turreted main gun over the forecastle, 1 x 61-cell and 1 x 29-cell Mk 41 Vertical Launching Systems (VLSs) supporting up to 90 x RIM-156 SM-2 Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs), BGM-109 "Tomahawk" cruise missiles, and RUM-139 Vertically-Launched, Anti-Submarine ROCket (VL-ASROC) missiles. There are also 2 x Mk 141 launchers for the "Harpoon" anti-ship missile. More traditional weaponry consists of 2 x Mk.32 triple torpedo tubes, 2 x 25mm chain guns, 2 x 20mm Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWSs), and up to 4 x 12.7mm Browning Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs).
To better handle the ASW role, the warship can take on a stock of 2 x Sikorsky MH-60R naval combat helicopters. These rotary-wing systems provide a much-needed eye in the sky, over-the-horizon capability and works closely with the vessel to spot potential enemies before they can become lethal.
The ship's profile includes a largely unobstructed forecastle mounting the turreted main gun. The bridge sits atop a superstructure aft of the gun and is identified through its tripod main mast works seating all manner of sensors, radar, and communications equipment. The smoke funnels are divided into two low-profile structures at midships, resulting in a noticeable gap. The aft section of the hull superstructure is stepped and houses a full-service hangar and helicopter pad.
USS Ramage began her first deployment in November of 1996 when sent to Mediterranean waters and various port-of-calls and exercises followed. After the events of 9/11 (September 2001), the ship was used off the coast of the eastern United States as a deterrent and then later deployed to the Middle East to take part in actions related to Operation Enduring Freedom - the invasion of Afghanistan. More recently, she has been stationed in Mediterranean waters in response to chemical weapons used by the Assad Regime during the ongoing Syrian Civil War. In 2014, the warship operated as security during the Sochi Olympics. She was given a mid-life upgrade during 2016-2017. In October of 2018, she, again, provided security, this time for the G-20 summit held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
For her time on the water, USS Ramage has been awarded the Navy Unit Commendation, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, and Battle E recognitions.