DESRON FIFTEEN is the Navy's largest forward deployed Destroyer Squadron and is responsible for the readiness, tactical and administrative responsibilities for eight Arleigh Burke Class Destroyers. The Destroyer Squadron Commodore serves as the Immediate Superior in Command (ISIC) of the ships assigned to the squadron.
DESRON FIFTEEN ships are the principal surface forces of Battle Force Seventh Fleet in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans
In addition to duties as ISIC for the seven ships assigned to the squadron, the DESRON FIFTEEN staff also deploys with the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG). During these deployments, the Commodore serves as Sea Combat Commander (SCC) for the CSG. The SCC responsibilities include Surface Warfare Commander (SUWC), Anti Submarine Warfare Commander (ASWC), Maritime Intercept Operations Coordinator (MIO), Mine Warfare Coordinator (MIW), and Submarine Operational Controlling Authority (SOCA) (responsible for coordinating employment of attack submarines assigned to the CSG). DESRON FIFTEEN has additional assignments in the Seventh Fleet as the Maritime Counter - Special Operations Force Commander (MCSOF), Strike Force ASW Commander (SFASWC) and Deputy Ballistic Missile Defense Commander (BMDC).
Destroyer Squadron FIFTEEN was first established in 1920 as a unit of the reserve fleet based at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Although the squadron was disestablished IN 1922, an Atlantic Destroyer Squadron was re-designated Destroyer Squadron FIFTEEN in 1928. Following patrol and training operations in the Pacific, Destroyer Squadron FIFTEEN was re-designated Destroyer Squadron FIVE in 1931.
Following the declaration of war in 1941, Destroyer Squadron FIFTEEN was again commissioned and fought in the battles for North Africa and Sicily. Additionally, the squadron participated in 19 round-trip convoy crossings of the Atlantic during the war. In 1945, the squadron converted to Destroyer Minesweepers (DMS), and was re-designated MINERON 21.
Reactivated in 1946 for service with the Pacific Fleet through 1949, the squadron was briefly disestablished during 1950. However, the squadron was again commissioned for service late in the same year following the outbreak of the Korean War and continues in commission today.
Destroyer Squadron FIFTEEN departed San Diego in late October 1971 for permanent forward deployment to Yokosuka, Japan as the destroyer squadron component of Battle Force Seventh Fleet. Squadron combatants in service at that time included the destroyers USS RICHARD B. ANDERSON, USS BAUSELL, USS GURKE, and USS ROWAN. Destroyer Squadron FIFTEEN ships quickly established an enviable record of service, ranging the Pacific and Indian Oceans and serving off the coasts of many countries in support of national objectives. Squadron operations during the early to mid-1970’s included combat operations off Vietnam and intermittent deployments to the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf.
In 1975, the older World War II era destroyers of Destroyer Squadron FIFTEEN began to be replaced by newer KNOX Class frigates USS LOCKWOOD, USS FRANCIS HAMMOND, USS KNOX, and USS KIRK. By 1978 this conversion was complete, and in 1980, the guided missile destroyer USS PARSONS was replaced by USS TOWERS. Squadron operations during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s were highlighted by ASW operations, support of contingency operations, and a number of deployments to the Arabian Gulf during the Iranian Hostage Crisis, and later, the Iran-Iraq war. Squadron combatants also participated in exercises with port visits to numerous countries throughout the region.
During the 1980’s, the SPRUANCE Class destroyers USS FIFE, USS HEWITT, and USS OLDENDORF as well as the PERRY Class Guided missile frigates USS CURTS, USS MCCLUSKY, USS THACH, and USS RODNEY M. DAVIS replaced the aging KNOX Class frigates. In 1989, the SPRUANCE Class destroyer USS O’BRIEN replaced USS OLDENDORF.
In addition to combat operations during Operation DESERT STORM in 1991, the squadron participated in initial enforcement of the no-fly zone over Iraq during Operation SOUTHERN WATCH in 1992, the evacuation of the Republic of the Philippines following Mount Pinatubo’s eruption, and many operations and exercises with countries throughout the region.
In the years following, Destroyer Squadron FIFTEEN continued supporting National Interests throughout the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans, and the Arabian Gulf.
Several scheduled ship rotations took place during the 1990’s including the addition of the new ARLEIGH BURKE Class guided missile destroyers USS CURTIS WILBUR and USS JOHN S. MCCAIN and the TICONDEROGA Class guided missile cruiser USS VINCENNES.
In addition to these new classes of ships being assigned to the Forward Deployed Naval Force, the upgraded PERRY Class guided missile frigate USS VANDEGRIFT replaced USS RODNEY M. DAVIS and the SPRUANCE Class destroyer USS CUSHING replaced USS FIFE. Also rotated, as planned, back to the United States were USS MCCLUSKY, USS HEWITT, and USS CURTS.
In 1999, the crew of the PERRY Class guided missile frigate USS THACH swapped hulls with the upgraded PERRY Class guided missile frigate USS GARY. USS THACH then returned to the United States.
Following the September 11, 2001 attacks Destroyer Squadron Fifteen conducted deployments to the Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In 2003 the DESRON again deployed to the Arabian Gulf, this time in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
From 2004 to 2007 USS VINCENNES, USS CUSHING and USS O'BRIEN were decommissioned and replaced by USS FITZGERALD, USS STETHEM and USS LASSEN. Also USS VANDEGRIFT and USS GARY rotated back to the United States and were replaced by USS MUSTIN and USS McCAMPBELL. In 2016 USS LASSEN transferred to Mayport, Florida and in 2018 USS MILIUS joined Destroyer Squadron FIFTEEN.
Today, the seven surface combatants that comprise Destroyer Squadron
FIFTEEN are: USS BARRY, USS BENFOLD, USS CURTIS WILBUR, USS JOHN S. McCAIN,
USS McCAMPBELL, USS MILIUS, and USS MUSTIN. Together we continue to
champion the cause of freedom and serve proudly in the Western Pacific,
Indian Ocean, and the Arabian Gulf as part of Battle Force SEVENTH FLEET.