Tomorrow morning, at Manhattan’s Pier 88, the Navy will commission its newest destroyer, DDG-112. The USS Michael Murphy‘s namesake was uncompromisingly heroic, a Navy SEAL who died earning the Medal of Honor in Afghanistan. The ship itself, however, embodies a series of cost-conscious compromises that will keep the Navy sailing a 1980s design — albeit much upgraded –until at least 2072.
These destroyers are and will long remain the Navy’s mainstay. The Arleigh Burke class to which the Murphy belongs is built to carry the Aegis anti-aircraft system that defends the entire fleet, including the prized aircraft carriers. The Chief of Naval Operations himself, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, has explicitly said that the Navy is building the smaller, cheaper Littoral Combat Ships to take on supporting missions, so the fleet can free up destroyers to face the most dangerous and high-tech foes: submarines, long-range missiles, jet fighter-bombers, and more, all integrated into “anti-access” networks like those being developed by the Chinese. Updating the Arleigh Burkes to keep up with the threat will be a heroic effort. Keep reading →