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NavSource Naval History
Photographic History of the United States Navy


Flag Hoist/Radio Call Sign - NHKX

Tactical Voice Radio Call Sign - SCOUTMASTER

Displacement 7800 Tons (Full), Dimensions, 563' (oa) x 55' x 20' 6" (Max)
Armament 2 x 5"/54 RF (2x1), 1 Sea Sparrow SAM (1x8) ASROC ASW (1x8),
6 x 12.75" Mk 32 ASW TT (2x3). 1 Helicopter.
Machinery, 80,000 SHP; 4 LM 2500 Gas Turbines, 2 screws
Speed, 30 Knots, Range 6000 NM@ 20 Knots, Crew 296.
Operational and Building Data
Laid down by Litton Ingalls, Pascagoula Miss. June 16 1975.
Launched September 1 1976 and commissioned March 11 1978.
Decommissioned and Stricken March 26 1998.
Fate Sunk as a target August 1 2003, 022° 43' 53.0" North, 160° 29' 23.0" West.

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Vice Admiral Aaron Stanton Merrill. After graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1912, Merrill taught naval science at Tulane University during the first two years of World War II until being assigned command of the USS Indiana. After promotion to read admiral in January 1943, Merrill would lead a cruiser-destroyer task force participating in the Battle of Guadalcanal and would later win distinction during the Bougainville campaign at the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay successfully defending ground forces against an assault by the Japanese fleet in a hard fought night battle. In March 1943, during the Solomon Island campaign, he would first introduce the use of radar against enemy naval forces at the Battle of Kula Gulf. For his efforts he received both the Legion of Merit and the Navy Cross. Serving as Director of Office of Public Relations for the Navy Department from June 15, 1944 until April 23, 1945, Merrill would join a diplomatic delegation to meet with members of the Chilean government to discuss mutual defence policies in Santiago, Chile. While in attendance, Merrill's efforts to establish an American naval mission to Chile in place of the former British presence would earn him the title of Grand Officer of the Order of Merit by Chile. In June 1946, after briefly serving for several months as commandant of the Eight Naval District in New Orleans, Louisiana, Merrill assumed command of Gulf Sea Frontier remaining in this post until being placed on the retired list in November 1947, eventually retiring a Vice Admiral. Moving first to Natchez, Mississippi and later to New Orleans following his retirement. [1] Photo #: 80-G-57539. Rear Admiral Aaron S. Merrill, USN (left) Working with a maneuvering board on USS Montpelier (CL-57), during operations in the Solomon Islands, 23 December 1943. Captain W.D. Brown is also present. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.Bill Gonyo
Merrill 92kUndated, location unknown.-
Merrill 109kUndated, location unknown.-
Merrill 105kUndated, location unknown. Merrill was the first surface ship to fire a Tomahawk misile.RM2 Cliff Schuchart/Jerry Hays
Merrill 64kUndated, location unknown. Firing a tomahawk missile.RM2 Cliff Schuchart
Merrill 54kUndated postcard Copyright © Marine Photos, San Diego, CA.Mike Smolinski
Merrill 84kUndated off San Diego.Bill Gonyo
Merrill 74kUndated, location unknown.Daniel Carter
Merrill 189kUndated, at Vancouver. Photo by Rick Garcia.Chris Howell
Merrill 165kUndated, location unknown.Richard Miller, BMCS, USNR (Ret.)
Merrill 100kMarch 19 1980, first test firing of a Tomahawk missle from the Merrill.Robert Hurst
Merrill 44kAugust 1 1981, Pacific Ocean, aA view of an RIM-7 Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missile silhouetted against the superstructure of the destroyer USS Merrill (DD-976) during a test launch.Fred Weiss
Merrill 68kLongview, WA June 1984.Marc Piché
Merrill 62kJanuary 24 1985, location unknown: An aerial port quarter view of the Spruance class destroyer USS Merrill (DD 976) underway. An Anti-submarine Squadron 6 (HS-6) SH-3 Sea King helicopter is parked on the deck.Fred Weiss
Merrill 167kUSS New Jersey Battle Group Romeo from 1986 Westpac.RM2 Cliff Schuchart
Merrill 109kAt anchor off of the beach of Pattaya, Thailand, circa 1986-1988.RM2 Cliff Schuchart
Merrill   Merrill   Merrill   Merrill
Merrill   Merrill   Merrill   Merrill
Welcome Aboard pamphlet - circa 1988
Darryl Baker
Merrill 90kVancouver, BC August 1989.Marc Piché
Merrill 80kSubic Bay, Philippines circa 1991.AMS3 Rowan
Merrill 68kJune 1 1991, location unknown, a starboard bow view of the destroyer USS Merrill (DD-976) underway.Fred Weiss
Merrill 97kAs above.AMS3 Rowan
Merrill 54kVancouver, BC August 15 1992.Marc Piché
Merrill 59kColumbia River July 1994.Marc Piché
Merrill 146kView from the USS Sacramento (AOE-1) off Southern California in the fall/winter 1994-1995 during Battlegroup workups prior to the 1995 WESTPAC.Douglas Brown
Merrill 140kSeptember 11 1997, location unknown.Bill Gonyo
Merrill 126kSeptember 30 1997, an SH-60 Seahawk helicopter from HSL-43 prepares to land aboard the USS Merrill (DD-976) during fleet operations in the Western Pacific.Bill Gonyo
Merrill 73kJune 4 2000, Middle Loch, Pearl Harbor, Oahu Hawaii, starboard bow view of four decommissioned Spruance class destroyers. They are: USS Ingersoll (DD 990 ), USS Harry W. Hill (DD 986), USS Leftwich (DD 984) and USS Merrill (DD 976). The ships are moored at the Naval Ships Intermediated Maintenance Facility.Fred Weiss
Merrill 49kLeft to right - USS Ingersoll (DD-990), USS Harry W. Hill (DD-986), USS Merrill (DD-976) and USS Leftwich (DD-984) at NISMF Pearl Harbor August 1 2000. Thanks to Michael C. Potter who gave us the proper ID's.Jim Bedient
Merrill 58kSame as above, different angle.Jim Bedient
Merrill 79kThe ship's commissioning plaque.RM2 Cliff Schuchart
Merrill 70kShip's patch.Mike Smolinski
Merrill 104kShip's Zippo.Tommy Trampp

USS MERRILL DD-976 History
Note: History is unavailable at this time
This ship was built too late to be covered by the DANFS project

Commanding Officers
Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler & Ron Reeves

CDR George Nicholas Gee    Mar 11 1978 - Jun 8 1980 (Later RADM)

CDR Gaylord Oscar Paulson    Jun 8 1980 - Dec 12 1981

CDR John Walter McHenry    Dec 12 1981 - Nov 19 1983

CDR Martin Harvey Newman    Nov 19 1983 - Feb 5 1986

CDR Roger Lee Miller    Feb 5 1986 - Apr 1 1988

CDR Clifford Craig Covington    Apr 1 1988 - May 25 1990

CDR José Luis Betancourt Jr.    May 25 1990 - Jun 19 1992 (Later RADM)

CDR Steven John Busch    Jun 19 1992 - Mar 25 1994

CDR Richard Ray Arnold    Mar 25 1994 - Jan 11 1996

CDR Timothy Vickers McCully    Jan 11 1996 - Sep 7 1997

CDR Peter Joseph Healey    Sep 7 1997 - Mar 26 1998

Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
Tin Can Sailors Website
Destroyer History Foundation
Destroyers Online Website
Official U.S.Navy Destroyer Website

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