USS Decatur
Bold and Daring
Named for Stephen Decatur

Steven Decatur
Captain Steven Decatur


USS Decatur (DDG 73) is named for Stephen Decatur, warranted as a midshipman at the age of 19 and grew to be one of the greatest warfighters to serve in the United States Navy, attaining the rank of Captain in the US Navy at the age of twenty-five.

USS Decatur (DDG 73) is named for Stephen Decatur, born 5 January 1779 in Sinepuxent, Md. Decatur was warranted as a midshipman at the age of 19 and grew to be one of the greatest warfighters to serve in the United States Navy. He made his first cruise in the frigate United States. Decatur was the youngest man to be promoted to the rank of Captain in the US Navy at the age of twenty-five.

Stephen Decatur was in command of the schooner Enterprise at the outbreak of the Tripolitan War, he captured the bomb ketch Mastico on 23 December 1803. He used the Mastico, renamed USS Intrepid, in his daring raid to burn the captured frigate Philadelphia in the harbor of Tripoli on 16 February 1804. He also distinguished himself during the attacks on Tripoli in command of a gunboat division. Promoted to captain, he was assigned command of the USS Constitution, and later, in November 1804, the USS Congress. At the conclusion of the Tripolitan War Decatur negotiated with the Bey of Tunis and returned to the United States in September 1805 with the Tunisian envoy.

During the War of 1812 Decatur commanded USS United States, capturing HMS Macedonian in one of the greatest single-ship actions of naval history. He took command of USS President at New York and attempted to slip through the blockade. A British squadron of five heavy ships engaged USS President. After two hours of furious combat the frigate HMS Endymion was silenced but President had suffered such extensive damage that it was impossible to execute an escape. The twice-wounded Decatur reluctantly surrendered, but was paroled, landing at New London 22 February 1815.

Stephen Decatur is most noted for his heroism during the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812. Returning to the Mediterranean in 1815, Decatur negotiated a treaty with the Dey of Algiers which ended tribute and exacted full payment for injuries to Americans, then concluded similar agreements with the Bey of Tunis and the Bashaw of Tripoli. He not only put a stop to the practice of tribute in the area, he also received reimbursement from the local governments for the War of 1812. After these accomplishments he was known as the "Conqueror of the Barbary Pirates." From 1816 until 1820, he served as a Navy commissioner, and became a prominent figure in Washington DC’s social scene.

Commodore Stephen Decatur died on March 24, 1820, only 41 years old, from a wound sustained in a duel against Commodore James Baron which was fought mostly due to the comments Decatur made during Baron’s court martial 13 years earlier. An excellent shot Stephen Decatur shot Baron in the hip, intending only to wound him, but Decatur was in turn struck fatally in the abdomen which took two days to kill him. He was buried temporarily in Washington, where many notable figures including President James Monroe and 10,000 citizens attended his funeral. His body was finally interred at St. Peters Church in Philadelphia.

Current USS Decatur

The most recent warship named after Steven Decatur is DDG-73, an Arleigh Burke class destroyer commissioned on 29 August 1998. Her home port is San Diego, California. With a vast array of weapons and support capabilities USS Decatur is an extremely versatile and powerful craft. Her ability to carry the Tomahawk Cruise Missile gives her the capability to strike with pinpoint accuracy from hundreds of miles away. She can also support in-land operations by using her 5 inch-54 caliber gun mount. Defending herself and other friendly ships is made significantly easier thanks to her advanced Aegis weapons system. The ability to detect targets far beyond the horizon with the SPY 1-D radar and engage multiple enemies with the SM-2 missile makes the Decatur an unparalleled air defense ship. To deal with the dangers of an underwater attack the Decatur comes equipped with the latest in sonar detection, torpedoes, and torpedo countermeasures. The latest addition to Decatur’s arsenal is the capability to carry the SM-3 missile which is used in the defense against intercontinental ballistic missiles. Decatur was the first destroyer to successfully engage an exo-atmospheric ballistic missile and she was crucial to the destruction of a satellite in a decaying orbit during OPERATION BURNT FROST in February of 2008.

DECATUR is designed to operate with Expeditionary Strike Groups and Carrier Strike Groups in high-threat environments. She can also provide essential escort capabilities to Navy and Marine Corps amphibious forces, combat logistics ships and convoys. DDG 73's Aegis Combat System includes the AN/SPY-1D phased array radar which scans in all directions simultaneously to detect, track and engage hundreds of aircraft and missiles while continuously watching the sky for new targets from wavetop to the stratosphere.

The ship is equipped with the MK41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) which fires a combination of up to 90 Standard surface-to-air missiles, Tomahawk surface-to-land missiles, and Vertically Launched Antisubmarine rockets(ASROC) (VLA); the AN/SQQ-89 Antisubmarine Warfare System with bow-mounted AN/SQS-53C sonar and AN/SQR-19 towed array; and the AN/SQQ-28 LAMPS MK III. DECATUR also has deck-mounted Harpoon antiship missile launchers and MK 32 torpedo tubes as well as two MK 15 Phalanx Close-in Weapons Systems and a 5-inch 54-cal Mk 45 rapid-firing deck gun. Aegis destroyers match maximum survivability with a potent offensive capability. Extensive topside armor placed around vital combat systems and machinery spaces, and a large waterplane area hull significantly improve seakeeping ability. Acoustic, infrared and radar signatures have been reduced and vital shipboard systems are hardened against electromagnetic pulse and over-pressure.

A comprehensive Collective Protection System guards against nuclear, chemical and biological agents. State-of-the-art propulsion and damage control systems are managed by a complex data multiplexing system. Truly multi-mission surface combatants, Aegis destroyers are the most balanced surface warships ever built, possessing the weapons, electronics, helicopter support facilities, propulsion, auxiliary, and survivability systems to carry out the U. S. Navy's missions today and into the next century.

1st USS Decatur

1st Decatur USS Decatur sailed from Hampton Roads 1 March 1847 and, after a brief stay at the Pensacola Navy Yard, arrived off Castle Juan de Uloa, Mexico, 14 April for duty in the Mexican War. She, continued to cruise in Mexican waters until 2 September when she sailed for Boston. Rejoining the African Squadron, USS Decatur cruised on the northwest coast of Africa on the lookout for slave ships and protecting American interests from 2 February 1848 to 15 November 1849. Then she sailed from Portsmouth, N.H., for duty with the Home Squadron, cruising off the Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean until arriving at Boston 21 August 1852 where she was decommissioned for repairs.

Recommissioned 12 July 1853 Decatur joined a Special Squadron to guard the fishing interests of American citizens in north Atlantic waters. She sailed from Norfolk 16 June 1853 to join the Pacific Squadron. The transit through of the Straits of Magellan was rough and she didn’t arrive at Valparaiso, Chile, until 15 January 1855. USS Decatur went on to Washington Territory and remained in the Pacific Northwest to deter Indian outbreaks until 2 June 1856. On 8 January 1857 USS Decatur sailed for Panama. She cruised off Panama, Peru, and Chile until 23 March 1859 when she was ordered to return to Mare Island. She was decommissioned there 20 June 1859 and remained in ordinary until March 1863 when she was fitted as a harbor battery and stationed off San Francisco.

For more detailed history on the first USS Decatur visit the Navy Archive page at

2nd USS Decatur

2nd Decatur Decatur was designated lead vessel of the 1st Torpedo Flotilla with whom she conducted drills and maneuvers along the eastern seaboard and in the Caribbean until December 1903 when the flotilla departed Norfolk for the Asiatic Station, sailing by way of the Suez Canal. Arriving at Cavite, P.I., 14 April 1904, Decatur exercised along the China coast and cruised in Philippine waters until placed in reserve at Cavite 5 December 1905. For the next 3 years she made infrequent cruises, including one to the southern Philippines in January and February 1908 and Saigon in May 1908.

Placed out of commission 18 February 1909, Decatur was placed in commission in reserve 22 April 1910 and in full commission 22 December 1910. She resumed operations with the Torpedo Flotilla, cruising in the southern Philippines and between ports of China and Japan until 1 August 1917 when she departed for the Mediterranean. Assigned to U.S. Patrol Squadrons she arrived at Gibraltar 20 October 1917 for patrol and convoy duty in both the Atlantic and Mediterranean until 8 December 1918. Decatur arrived at Philadelphia 6 February 1919 and was decommissioned 20 June 1919.

For more detailed history on the second USS Decatur visit the Navy Archive page at

3rd USS Decatur

3rd Decatur After completing her trials Decatur sailed to San Diego where she was placed out of commission on 17 January 1923. She was recommissioned on 26 September 1923 and became flagship of Destroyer Squadron 11, Battle Fleet. Until 1937 she operated along the western seaboard, and in Caribbean and Hawaiian waters. From April to September 1925 she cruised to Samoa, New Zealand, and Australia and the Mexican coast as well as cruises to Alaska, Santiago, Cuba, New York and Chesapeake Bay for the Presidential Fleet Review of 19 May before returning to the west coast in June 1936. Decatur arrived at Norfolk, VA on 22 February 1937 for duty with the Training Detachment of the U.S. Fleet. She provided escort services and served in Midshipman and Naval Reserve training cruises and on neutrality patrol along the eastern seaboard to Cuba until September 1941.

Arriving at Argentia, Newfoundland, 14 September 1941, Decatur served on convoy escort and patrol to ports in Iceland until returning to Boston on 17 May 1942. From 4 June to 25 August she operated on convoy duty between Norfolk and Key West, then between New York and Guantanamo Bay from 30 August to 13 October. Until 14 January 1943 she escorted ships out to sea and to Boston from New York, then departed 11 February for the Mediterranean sailing by way of and returning to Aruba, Netherlands West Indies. She made four more voyages from New York and Aruba to the Mediterranean until 1 October 1943.

Decatur joined the task group centered about the USS Card (CV-11) and sailed from Norfolk 24 November 1943 for an antisubmarine sweep, returning to New York 3 January 1944. From 26 January to 17 February she escorted a convoy to Panama, returning with another to Hampton Roads. On 13 March she cleared Norfolk as flagship of TF 64, escorting a large convoy to Bizerte, Tunisia. On the last day of March while sailing between Oran and Algiers, the force successfully repelled a coordinated strike of German submarines and planes, to arrive at its destination 3 April.

Arriving at Norfolk 2 July 1944 Decatur sailed from this port on escort and training duty in the Caribbean Sea until the last day of June 1945 when she entered Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for inactivation. She was decommissioned there 28 July 1945 and sold 30 November 1945.

Decatur received two battle stars for World War II service.

For more detailed history on the third USS Decatur visit the Navy Archive page at

4th USS Decatur

4th Decatur USS Decatur sailed from Newport 3 September 1957 to take part in NATO Operation "Strikeback". She served on local operations until 1 February 1958 when she sailed to the Mediterranean for a tour of duty with the 6th Fleet. She returned to her home port 28 August 1958 for east coast operations. She returned to the Mediterranean for duty between 7 August 1959 and 26 February 1960, then joined in antisubmarine exercises and a midshipman cruise in the Atlantic between March and September 1960. On 6 September 1960 Decatur sailed to the Arctic Circle, through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal, into the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, and back to the Mediterranean where she operated with the 6th Fleet. The destroyer returned to Newport in mid-December. She would continue this pattern of operations--a six-month deployment to the Mediterranean followed by year or so in home waters--for the next three years. A highlight of this period was Decatur's recovery, the first of its kind, of a NASA spacecraft at sea in September 1961.

Tapped for conversion to a new class of guided-missile destroyers, Decatur was placed in reserve on 1 November and then decommissioned on 15 June 1965. While in the yard, conversion included the installation of the TARTAR missile system, new fire control radars, an ASROC system, and new sonar and other electronics equipment--and she was reclassified DDG-31 on 15 September 1966.

Recommissioned on 29 April 1967, Decatur passed her acceptance trials and sailed to her new home port of Long Beach, Calif., on 22 August. After she received a post-shakedown availability and conducted several months of missile firing tests USD Decatur (DDG 31) was pronounced ready for service on 10 June 1968.

On 18 July, Decatur began her first deployment in the Pacific in the Gulf of Tonkin providing six months of task force air defense and air traffic control for the carriers and their air groups. Following almost a year of local operations, which included visits to Seattle, Pearl Harbor and Acapulco, she returned to western Pacific operations on 10 February 1970. During this deployment Decatur supported operations off Vietnam before sailing for home on 27 July. After an overhaul the following spring, Decatur spent the summer of 1971 conducting refresher training off the coast of southern California. She got underway for her third WestPac deployment on 1 October 1971. Decatur continued this pattern--a Vietnam cruise followed by refresher training off California--for her next two deployments. Although the guided-missile cruiser still deployed to the western Pacific following the end of the Vietnam war, Decatur concentrated on operations in the south Pacific and in the South China Sea during her September 1976 to May 1977 WestPac cruise.

She returned to the area in December of 1978, though she then continued on into the Indian Ocean for operations off India and Pakistan. In February 1979, Decatur ventured into the Persian Gulf for a brief visit to Bahrain before sailing on the long voyage home and mooring in San Diego on 8 April. The guided-missile destroyer started her next deployment on 27 April 1979 sailing to Japan and Korea for exercises before heading south to the Philippines. In August she steamed south across the equator to Australia and New Zealand before returning home on 20 October. Decatur's last deployment began on 30 October 1982, when she sailed to the Sea of Japan for a complex "War at Sea" exercise. Then she sailed south for exercises off Thailand before moving on to the Persian Gulf. Once there, she helped cover tanker traffic imperiled by the Iran-Iraq war, before returning across the Pacific to Pearl Harbor on 7 May 1983. Owing to her aging machinery and old weapon systems, Decatur was decommissioned at Pearl Harbor on 30 June 1983. Struck from the Navy list on 16 March 1988, she was transferred to Naval Sea Systems Command for use as an experimental test platform out of Port Hueneme, Calif. The ship was sunk as a target off Hawaii on 21 July 2004.

Decatur received six battle stars for Vietnam service.

For more detailed history on the fourth USS Decatur visit the Navy Archive page at

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