Destroyer leader (DL) was the United States Navy designation for large destroyers from 9 February 1951 through the early years of the Cold War. United States ships with hull classification symbol DL were officially frigates from 1 January 1955 until 1975. The smaller destroyer leaders were reclassified as destroyers and the larger as cruisers by the United States Navy 1975 ship reclassification; so destroyer escorts could be reclassified as frigates (FF) in conformance with international usage of the term.
By the end of World War I the destroyers intended to screen formations of battleships had evolved to a displacement of approximately 1,100 tons armed with four 4-inch (10 cm) guns and six or more torpedoes. Italy had built three Mirabello-class esploratori (scout cruisers) approximately 70% larger than contemporary destroyers. The Washington Naval Treaty encouraged United Kingdom satisfaction with its traditional fleet of V and W-class destroyers and United States contentment with similar Wickes and Clemson-class destroyers, while the signatories with smaller fleets explored alternative warship configurations between the classical definitions of destroyer and cruiser. Italy launched three more Leone-class esploratori and France responded with six Chacal-class contre-torpilleur super destroyers. Japan launched the minimum light cruiser Yūbari followed by the Fubuki-class special type destroyers 特型 (Tokugata) with endurance to escort the Kido Butai mobile force of aircraft carriers over the wide reaches of the Pacific.
Germany built similarly enlarged Zerstörer when it commenced naval rearmament. With the exception of the Tribal class and a few flotilla leaders, most British and American destroyers built between the world wars were smaller than contemporary Axis destroyers; but as the battleships for which the smaller destroyers had been designed as escorts faded into restricted roles in the combat experience of World War II, United States destroyer displacement increased to 2100-tons, 2200-tons, and 2400-tons to support Fast Carrier Task Force operations.
As the United States Navy thinned its wartime fleet following World War II, the smaller destroyers were discarded until only those over 2,000 tons remained in active service. Naval architects had a few years to evaluate captured ships and combat experience before there was any need for more warships. With large inventories of destroyers and cruisers, new surface warship designs explored placing high-efficiency boilers in hulls of intermediate size. The first destroyer leader USS Norfolk was authorized in 1948 and laid down in 1949 as an anti-submarine hunter-killer cruiser based on the Atlanta-class anti-aircraft cruiser, themselves originally conceived as destroyer leaders. She was designated EDL-1 while engaged in experimental work with new sensors and weapons systems including SQS-23 sonar, Weapon Alpha, RUR-5 ASROC and automatic 3 inch/70 Mark 26 guns. She served entirely in the Atlantic except for a single deployment to the Indian Ocean and cruise around the world in 1968 shortly before she was retired from active service. A sister ship was authorized, but not completed after experience with the prototype did not justify repetition of the design.
The next design was for an unarmored cruiser of displacement similar to Italian Capitani Romani-class cruisers to carry the new 5 inch/54 caliber Mark 42 gun. Each of the four Mitscher-class ships received somewhat different experimental propulsion machinery powered by 1,200 pounds per square inch (82 atm) (8.3 MPa) Combustion Engineering forced-circulation boilers in DL-2 and DL-3; and Foster Wheeler boilers in DL-4 and DL-5. DL-2 and DL-3 had General Electric turbines while DL-4 and DL-5 had Westinghouse turbines. All four ships began operations in the Atlantic. DL-3 and DL-5 were transferred to the Pacific in 1956. DL-3 made routine deployments to the western Pacific for as long as she remained in commission, but DL-5 was transferred back to the Atlantic in 1963 after making a few western Pacific deployments. DL-2 and DL-4 made routine deployments to the Mediterranean Sea. The ships were built with AN/SPS-6 air search radar, AN/SPS-8 height finding radar, AN/QHBa scanning sonar and AN/SQG-1 attack sonar. During their first refit in the mid-1950s the AN/SQG-1 and AN/QHBa were replaced by AN/SQS-4 sonar and the secondary open 3 inch/50 caliber guns were replaced by 3 inch/70 Mark 26 guns. Later refits removed the unsatisfactory 3 inch/70 guns and Weapon Alpha. After experimental flight operations with the Bell HUL-1 and Kaman HTK-1 aboard Mitscher in 1957, helicopter decks and hangars for the Gyrodyne QH-50 DASH were installed where the aft 3 inch guns had been. DL-2 and DL-3 underwent major overhaul at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard beginning in 1966 including new Foster Wheeler boilers, AN/SQS-23 sonar, AN/SPS-37 air search radar, AN/SPS-48 height finding radar, and the Tartar Guided Missile Fire Control System for RIM-24 Tartar missiles. DL-4 and DL-5 had earlier received a new 70-foot bow section mounting the AN/SQS-26 sonar and spent the remainder of their service lives testing these prototypes until retirement, when their sisters emerged from overhaul at Philadelphia in 1968 for another decade of service as guided missile destroyers.
A third class of destroyer leaders was designed after observing the performance of propulsion and weapons systems tested aboard the Mitscher class. The first three ships were ordered with three 5 inch/54 caliber guns shortly after the name change to frigates. The next three were ordered with two 5 inch/54 guns forward, and a RIM-2 Terrier missile system aft, marking the transition to guided missile frigates (hull classification symbol DLG), intended to defend aircraft carriers against anti-ship cruise missiles. All ten ships were completed with a single 5 inch/54 gun forward, an ASROC launcher where the B gun would have been, and the missile system aft; but the class was variously named Coontz for the first ship to be ordered with a missile system, or Farragut for the lowest numbered ship to be completed in that configuration. ASROC and sonar gave the guided missile frigates an anti-submarine capability that most of the World War II cruiser conversions lacked. All were reclassified as guided missile destroyers in 1975.
|Mirabello class||1917||3||Italy||1,811 tons||35 knots||8 × 4-inch (10 cm) guns||4|
|Yūbari||1923||1||Japan||2,890 tons||35 knots||6 × 14-centimetre (5.5 in) guns||4|
|Leone class||1924||3||Italy||1,743 tons||34 knots||8 × 12-centimetre (4.7 in) guns||4|
|Chacal class||1926||6||France||2,126 tons||35 knots||5 × 13-centimetre (5.1 in) guns||6|
|Fubuki class||1927||20||Japan||2,090 tons||34 knots||6 × 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun||9|
|Guépard class||1929||18||France||2,441 tons||35 knots||5 × Canon de 138 mm Modèle 1927||7|
|Navigatori class||1929||12||Italy||1,900 tons||38 knots||6 × 12-centimetre (4.7 in) guns||6|
|Regele Ferdinand class||1930||2||Romania||1,785 tons||35 knots||5 × 12-centimetre (4.7 in) guns||6|
|Akatsuki class||1931||4||Japan||2,090 tons||38 knots||6 × 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun||9|
|Leningrad class||1932||6||Soviet Union||2,180 tons||40 knots||5 × 130 mm/50 B13 Pattern 1936||4|
|Porter class||1935||8||US||1,850 tons||37 knots||8 × 5"/38 caliber gun||8|
|Le Fantasque class||1936||6||France||2,569 tons||37 knots||5 × Canon de 138 mm Modèle 1929||9|
|Asashio class||1936||10||Japan||1,961 tons||35 knots||6 × 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun||8|
|Tribal class||1936||27||UK||1,870 tons||36 knots||8 × 4.7 inch QF Mark XII gun||4|
|Zerstörer 1934||1937||16||Germany||2,200 tons||38 knots||5 × 12.7 cm SK C/34 naval guns||8|
|Somers class||1937||5||US||1,850 tons||37 knots||8 × 5"/38 caliber gun||12|
|Tashkent class||1937||1||Soviet Union||2,893 tons||43.5 knots||6 × B-2LM||9|
|Kagerō class||1938||18||Japan||2,033 tons||35 knots||6 × 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun||8|
|Tromp class||1938||2||Netherlands||3,787 tons||32 knots||6 × 15-centimetre (5.9 in) guns||6|
|Zerstörer 1936||1938||6||Germany||2,400 tons||38 knots||5 × 12.7 cm SK C/34 naval guns||8|
|Mogador class||1939||2||France||2,994 tons||39 knots||8 × Canon de 138 mm Modèle 1929||10|
|L and M class||1939||16||UK||1,920 tons||36 knots||6 × 4.7 inch QF Mark XII gun||8|
|Zerstörer 1936A||1940||15||Germany||2,600 tons||38 knots||4 × 15 cm TbtsK C/36 naval guns||8|
|Yūgumo class||1941||20||Japan||2,077 tons||35 knots||6 × 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun||8|
|Gerard Callenburgh class||1941||2||Netherlands||1,922 tons||36 knots||5 × 12-centimetre (4.7 in) guns||8|
|Akizuki class||1942||12||Japan||2,701 tons||33 knots||8 × 10 cm/65 Type 98 naval gun||4|
|Shimakaze||1942||1||Japan||2,567 tons||39 knots||6 × 12.7 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun||15|
|Fletcher class||1942||175||US||2,050 tons||37 knots||5 × 5"/38 caliber gun||10|
|Capitani Romani class||1942||4||Italy||3,750 tons||36 knots||8 × 13.5-centimetre (5.3 in) guns||8|
|Allen M. Sumner class||1943||58||US||2,200 tons||36 knots||6 × 5"/38 caliber gun||10|
|Gearing class||1944||98||US||2,425 tons||35 knots||6 × 5"/38 caliber gun||10|
|Battle class||1944||26||UK||2,315 tons||35 knots||4 × QF 4.5-inch Mk III naval gun||10|
|DL-1||1953||1||US||5,600 tons||32 knots||8 × 3"/70 Mark 26 gun||4 + Mk 32|
|DL-2 class||1953||4||US||3,675 tons||35 knots||2 × 5"/54 caliber Mark 42 gun||4 + Mk 32|
|DL-6 class||1960||10||US||4,700 tons||34 knots||1 × 5"/54 caliber Mark 42 gun||Mk 32|
Two additional DLG classes and two similar nuclear-powered ships (DLGN) were completed by 1975 for a total of twenty additional guided missile frigates. These significantly larger ships were reclassified as guided missile cruisers (CG/CGN) in 1975. By 1995 the former guided missile frigates were replaced by the Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.
The Admiralty type leader, sometimes known as the Scott class, were a class of eight destroyer leaders designed and built for the Royal Navy towards the end of World War I. They were named after Scottish historical leaders. The function of a leader was to carry the flag staff of a destroyer flotilla, therefore they were enlarged to carry additional crew, offices and signalling equipment, allowing a fifth gun to be carried. These ships were very similar to the Thornycroft type leader, but the latter had broad, slab-sided funnels characteristic of Thornycroft designs, the Admiralty type having two narrow funnels of equal height.
All except Mackay and Malcolm were completed in time for wartime service, Scott being a war loss. The two final orders - Barrington and Hughes - were cancelled with the end of the War; these two had originally been ordered to the Thornycroft leader design. Stuart was transferred to Australia in 1933. All the remaining ships except Bruce (expended as a target ship in 1939) survived service in World War II, being converted to escort ships. Montrose and Stuart had Brown-Curtis steam turbines, giving 43,000 shp (32,000 kW) for an extra ½ knot.Belknap-class cruiser
The Belknap-class cruiser was a class of single-ended guided missile cruisers (their missile armament was installed only forward, unlike "double-ended" missile cruisers with missile armament installed both forward and aft) built for the United States Navy during the 1960s. They were originally designated as DLG frigates (destroyer leaders; the USN use of the term frigate from 1950 to 1975 was intended to evoke the power of the sailing frigates of old), but in the 1975 fleet realignment, they were reclassified as guided missile cruisers (CG).Farragut-class destroyer (1958)
The Farragut-class destroyer was a group of 10 guided missile destroyers built for the United States Navy (USN) during the 1950s. They were the second destroyer class to be named for Admiral David Farragut. The class is sometimes referred to as the Coontz class, since Coontz was first to be designed and built as a guided missile ship, whereas the previous three ships were designed as all-gun units and converted later. The class was originally envisioned as a Destroyer Leader class (DL/DLG, verbally referred to as "Frigates"), but was reclassified as Guided Missile Destroyers following the 1975 ship reclassification.Faulknor-class flotilla leader
The Faulknor class were a class of flotilla leaders that were under construction in the United Kingdom for the Chilean Navy at the outbreak of World War I. Six ships were ordered by Chile, of which the first two (Almirante Lynch and Almirante Condell) were delivered to Chile before the outbreak of the war. The remaining four ships were purchased by the British, taken over and completed for the Royal Navy for wartime service. In common with Royal Navy convention, they were named after famous Royal Navy captains of the past, in this case the members of the Faulknor family.Flotilla leader
A flotilla leader was a warship late of 19th century and early 20th century navies suitable for commanding a flotilla of destroyers or other small warships, typically a small cruiser or a large destroyer (known as a destroyer leader). The flotilla leader provided space, equipment and staff for the flotilla commodore (who typically held the rank of captain), including a wireless room, senior engineering and gunnery officers, and administrative staff to support the officers. Originally, older light or scout cruisers were often used, but in the early 1900s, the rapidly increasing speed of new destroyer designs meant that such vessels could no longer keep pace with their charges. Accordingly, large destroyer designs were produced for use as leaders.
As destroyers changed from specialized anti-torpedo boat vessels that operated in squadrons to larger multi-purpose ships that operated alone or as leaders of groups of smaller vessels, and as command and control techniques improved (and the technology became more readily available), the need for specialized flotilla leaders decreased and their functions were adopted by all destroyers. The last specialized flotilla leader to be built for the Royal Navy was HMS Inglefield, launched in 1936. Subsequent leaders used the same design as the private ships of the class, with minor detailed changes to suit them to their role. In the Royal Navy, the flotilla leader and commanding officer were known as Captain (D). In the Royal Navy, flotilla leaders and divisional leaders could be identified by particular coloured bands painted on their funnels.HMAS Anzac (G90)
HMAS Anzac was a Parker-class destroyer leader that served in the Royal Navy (as HMS Anzac) and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Launched in early 1917 and commissioned into the Royal Navy, Anzac led the 14th Destroyer Flotilla of the Grand Fleet during the First World War. In 1919, she and five other destroyers were transferred to the RAN, with Anzac commissioning as an Australian warship in 1920. Except for three visits to New Guinea and one to the Solomon Islands, Anzac remained in southern and eastern Australian waters for her entire career. The destroyer was decommissioned in 1931, sold for scrapping four years later, stripped for parts, then towed outside Sydney Heads and sunk as a target ship in 1936.HMS Broke (1914)
HMS Broke was a Faulknor-class destroyer leader of the Royal Navy, initially built for the Chilean Navy as the Almirante Lynch-class destroyer Almirante Goñi. The outbreak of the First World War led to her being purchased by the Admiralty in August 1914 shortly after her launching, and renamed HMS Broke. All of the class were present at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May to 1 June 1916 where Broke, out of control after hits from German ships, collided with the Acasta-class destroyer HMS Sparrowhawk leading to the latter's loss. Broke saw action in several battles, and was resold to Chile after the conclusion of the war.HMS Swift (1907)
HMS Swift was a unique destroyer leader designed and built for the Royal Navy prior to World War I, another product of Admiral "Jackie" Fisher's relentless quest for speed. The class was envisioned as a large ocean-going destroyer, capable of both the usual destroyer requirements and of high-speed scouting duties for a major fleet.HMS Valkyrie (1917)
HMS Valkyrie was a First World War V-class flotilla leader of the Royal Navy. She was one of two destroyers ordered in July of 1916 from William Denny & Bros. Ltd shipyard under the 9th Order for Destroyers of the Emergency War Program of 1916-17. She was originally to be called HMS Malcolm but was renamed before being completed. The name Malcolm was later assigned to another destroyer leader.HNLMS Tromp (1937)
HNLMS Tromp was the lead ship of the Tromp-class destroyer leaders built for the Royal Netherlands Navy. Built just prior to World War II, the ship served mainly in the Pacific and Indian Oceans against the Japanese, being based out of Sydney, Fremantle and Trincomalee where she served alongside British, Australian and US warships. After the war, the she returned to the Netherlands and after 1949 Tromp was used as a training and accommodation ship, before being decommissioned in 1955, and scrapped in 1969.Leahy-class cruiser
Leahy-class cruisers were a class of guided missile cruisers built for the United States Navy. They were originally designated as Destroyer Leaders (DLG), but in the 1975 cruiser realignment they were reclassified as guided missile cruisers (CG).
They were a new "double-ender" class fitted with Terrier (later Standard ER) missile launchers fore and aft, and the first and only frigate class designed without a main gun battery for shore bombardment or ship-vs.-ship engagements—the gun armament was reduced in order to carry a larger missile load. One of the principal missions of these ships, like their predecessors the Farragut class, was to form part of the anti-air and antisubmarine screen for carrier task forces, while also controlling aircraft from the carrier by providing vectors to assigned targets.
The ships carried over the propulsion plant of the Farragut class, fitted into a longer hull designed with a knuckled “hurricane” bow that reduced plunging in a rough sea, thus keeping the forecastle dry as needed to operate the forward missile launcher. Other features included an expanded electrical plant and increased endurance. A major design innovation was the use of "macks"—combined masts and stacks—on which the radars could be mounted without smoke interference.Leningrad-class destroyer
The Leningrad-class destroyer leaders were built for the Soviet Navy in the late 1930s. They were inspired by the contre-torpilleurs built for the French Navy. They were ordered in two groups of three ships each; the first group was designated Project 1 and the second Project 38. These ships were the first large vessels designed and built by the Soviets after the revolution.
Both ships in the Baltic Sea bombarded Finnish coast defense positions during the Winter War. During Operation Barbarossa they provided fire support during the German siege of Tallinn and escorted the convoys when it was evacuated at the end of August 1941. Again they provided fire support during the Siege of Leningrad as they were blockaded in Leningrad and Kronstadt by Axis minefields. Minsk was sunk by German air attack in September 1941, but was later raised and recommissioned. Neither ship did anything notable after the siege was lifted in January 1944. Moskva had a very short career in the Black Sea Fleet as she was sunk on 26 June 1941. Kharkov participated in most of the battles on the Black Sea coast, but was sunk by Stukas in October 1943 as she returned from a bombardment mission. Baku began the war in the Pacific, but was transferred to the Soviet Northern Fleet via the Northern Sea Route between 15 July and 14 October 1942, where she spent the rest of the war escorting Arctic convoys and attempting to intercept German convoys to their ports on the Arctic Ocean. Tblisi had little to do until after the Soviet invasion of Manchuria when she transported naval infantry.
Not much is known of the details of their post-war careers. Most underwent a lengthy modernization in the early 1950s before being relegated to roles as training or target ships in the late 1950s. They were scrapped or expended as targets in the early 1960s.Parker-class flotilla leader
The Parker-class leaders or improved Marksman-class leaders were a class of six destroyer leaders built for the Royal Navy during 1916-17 for World War I service. They were named after famed historical naval leaders, except for Anzac, which was named to honour the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and was later transferred to the Royal Australian Navy. They were the last major Royal Navy warships to be ordered with three propeller shafts, a design that was never widely adopted in British warships.Soviet destroyer Baku
Baku (Russian: Баку) was one of six Leningrad-class destroyer leaders built for the Soviet Navy during the 1930s, one of the three Project 38 variants. Completed in late 1939, the ship was assigned to the Pacific Fleet. About a year after the German invasion of Russia in June 1941, she was ordered to join the Northern Fleet, sailing through the Arctic Ocean. Together with several other destroyers, Baku left the Soviet Far East in July 1942 and arrived off Murmansk three months later where she began escorting convoys, mostly in the White and Barents Seas. The ship was badly damaged in a storm that sank another Soviet destroyer in November and was under repair several months. Baku spent most of the rest of the war on convoy escort duties, although she did bombard several German-occupied towns during the Petsamo–Kirkenes Offensive of October 1944. The ship and her crew were awarded the Order of the Red Banner in early 1945 for their performance during the war.
After the war, she was refitted and rejoined the Northern Fleet in 1946. For the next several years she exercised during the warm months and was put in reserve during winter. The following year she starred in a movie about a fictional destroyer during the war. Baku began a lengthy overhaul in 1948 that lasted until 1954. Upon its completion she was used for experimental work and was formally reclassified as an experimental ship two years later. Baku was converted into a target ship in 1958, but was hulked as a depot ship a few weeks later. She became an accommodation ship in 1959 and was finally struck from the Navy List in 1963 and scrapped the following year.Soviet destroyer Opytny
Opytny (Russian: Опытный, lit. 'Experimental') was the only member of her class of destroyers built for the Soviet Navy during the 1930s. The Soviet designation for her class was Project 45. She was completed in 1941 and fought in World War II as part of the Baltic Fleet. She was indigenously designed in contrast to the Type 7 which was built with Italian assistance and intended as a prototype for future Soviet destroyers. She was not a successful ship, with severe problems with her machinery and stability. Her intended armament of twin-gun turrets were transferred to the destroyer leader Tashkent and replaced by single gun mounts.Tashkent-class destroyer
The Tashkent class (officially known as Project 20) consisted of a single destroyer leader, built in Italy for the Soviet Navy just before World War II. Three others were ordered from shipyards in the Soviet Union, but they were cancelled before they were laid down as they were too difficult to build with the existing technology in Soviet shipyards. Completed in 1940, Tashkent participated in the Sieges of Odessa and Sevastopol in 1941–1942, during which she ferried reinforcements and supplies into those cities, evacuated wounded and refugees, and provided naval gunfire support for Soviet troops. The ship was badly damaged twice by Axis bombers before she was sunk in harbor in mid-1942. Her wreck refloated in 1944, but it was too badly damaged to be worth repairing and was scrapped after the war.Thornycroft type destroyer leader
The Thornycroft type leader or Shakespeare class were a class of five destroyer leaders designed by John I. Thornycroft & Company and built by them at Woolston, Southampton for the Royal Navy towards the end of World War I. They were named after historical naval leaders. Only Shakespeare and Spenser were completed in time for wartime service. The other three were completed after the war, Broke and Keppel after being towed to Royal dockyards for completion, and two further ships - Saunders and Spragge - were cancelled. The function of a leader was to carry the flag staff of a destroyer flotilla, therefore they were enlarged to carry additional crew, offices and signalling equipment, allowing a fifth gun to be carried. These ships were very similar to the Admiralty type leader, but had broad, slab-sided funnels characteristic of Thornycroft designs.
The design was used as the basis for several ships built for foreign navies in the 1920s.
Regele Ferdinand-class destroyer built in Italy for the Romanian Navy
Churruca-class destroyer built in Spain for the Spanish Navy and Argentine Navy
Mendoza-class destroyer built in Britain for the Argentine NavyUSS Bainbridge (CGN-25)
USS Bainbridge (DLGN-25/CGN-25) was a nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser in the United States Navy, the only ship of her class. Named in honor of Commodore William Bainbridge, she was the fourth US Navy ship to bear the name. With her original hull classification symbol of DLGN (nuclear-powered guided missile destroyer leader, called a "frigate" at the time), she was the first nuclear-powered destroyer-type ship in the US Navy, and shared her name with the lead ship of the first US Navy destroyer class, the Bainbridge-class destroyers.
Bainbridge was re-designated as a guided missile cruiser in 1975. She was commissioned in 1962, and served for over 30 years in the Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean, and Middle East before being decommissioned in 1996.USS King (DDG-41)
USS King (DL-10/DLG-10/DDG-41) was a Farragut-class guided missile destroyer in the United States Navy. She was named for Fleet Admiral Ernest Joseph King (1878-1956),
King was laid down by the Puget Sound Navy Yard at Bremerton in Washington on 1 March 1957, launched on 6 December 1958 and commissioned on 17 November 1960.
King was reclassified as a guided missile destroyer leader on 14 November 1956 and designated DLG-10. King was again reclassified as a guided missile destroyer on 30 June 1975 and designated DDG-41.
|Fast attack craft|
|Command and support|