United States Navy 1975 ship reclassification

The United States Navy reclassified many of its surface vessels in 1975, changing terminology and hull classification symbols for cruisers, frigates, and ocean escorts.

USS Bainbridge (CGN-25) 1986
Guided Missile Cruiser USS Bainbridge (CGN-25) – formerly Frigate (DLGN-25)

Classification prior to 1975

From the 1950s to 1975, the US Navy had three types of fast task force escorts and one type of convoy escort. The task force escorts were cruisers (hull classification symbols CAG/CLG/CG), frigates or destroyer-leaders (DL/DLG), and destroyers (DD/DDG); the convoy escorts were ocean escorts (DE/DEG), often called destroyer escorts as they retained the designation and number series of the World War II vessels. Added in the early 1970s was a new ocean escort called the patrol frigate (PF), another designation previously used in World War II, which was the initial designation of the Oliver Hazard Perry class.[1] In 1975, these classifications were simplified to cruiser (CG), destroyer (DD/DDG), and frigate (FF/FFG).

Under the pre-1975 classification, cruisers were large vessels, the size of World War II gun cruisers, intended as the primary surface combatants. All but one (USS Long Beach (CGN-9)) were converted World War II gun cruisers (CL/CLG or CA/CAG), carrying either Talos or Terrier surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and in some cases also Tartar missiles. The primary mission of these ships and the guided missile frigates was to intercept Soviet anti-ship cruise missiles. One cruiser was to be assigned to each carrier group. Most of the cruiser conversions were performed to rapidly deploy the new naval SAMs while the guided missile frigates were being designed and built. There were relatively few cruiser conversions, due to their cost and because the frigates could carry almost as many weapons as a cruiser.[2]

USS William V. Pratt (DLG-13) underway in the Mediterranean Sea on 27 May 1969 (NH 98025)
Guided Missile Destroyer USS William V. Pratt (DDG-44) Farragut class – formerly Frigate (DLG-13)
USS Reasoner (FF-1063)
Frigate USS Reasoner (FF-1063), formerly Ocean Escort (DE-1063)

From 1950 to 1975, frigates were a new type, midway between cruiser and destroyer sizes, intended as major task force escorts. The first ship of the type was a redesignated ASW cruiser; the next four were very large AAW (gun) destroyers (DL), and the remainder were essentially oversize guided missile destroyers classified as DLGs. They carried the mid-range Terrier missile, but no offensive (strategic) weapons.

Destroyers were developed from the World War II designs as the smallest fast task force escorts. DDs were fast ASW ships; DDGs were AAW ships carrying the short-range Tartar missile.

Ocean escorts were an evolution of the World War II destroyer escort types. They were intended as convoy escorts and were designed for mobilization production in wartime or low-cost mass production in peacetime. DEs were ASW vessels; DEGs were AAW vessels with Tartar missiles.

The U.S. frigate classification was not used by any other navy; similar vessels were either cruisers or destroyers in foreign service.[3] The ocean escort type corresponded to foreign frigates (convoy escorts).

The "cruiser gap"

The Soviets defined "cruiser" differently, considering ships equivalent to U.S. frigates to be "cruisers". By 1974, there were only six ships in U.S. service classified as cruisers, but the Soviets had 19 ships classified as cruisers in service with seven more building. (All totals exclude gun-only cruisers). All but two of the Soviet ships were relatively small vessels, roughly equivalent to U.S. frigates and far smaller than U.S. cruisers. However, most included a heavy anti-ship cruise missile battery that US surface combatants lacked until the introduction of the Harpoon missile circa 1980.

The differing U.S. and Soviet definitions of "cruiser" caused political problems when comparisons were made between U.S. and Soviet naval forces. A table comparing U.S. and Soviet cruiser forces showed six U.S. ships vs. 19 Soviet ships, despite the existence of 21 U.S. "frigates" equal or superior in size to the Soviet "cruisers". This led to the perception of a non-existent "cruiser gap".

Closing the gap

To close this "gap," the U.S. frigate (DL/DLG) classification was eliminated on 30 June 1975. All the gun frigates (DL) had already been stricken or converted to DDGs. Most of the DLGs became cruisers (CG), but the smaller Farraguts became destroyers (DDG). All of the nuclear-powered DLGNs, existing or in construction, were redesignated as CGNs. The change from DLG to CG redefined "cruiser" as smaller ships, more like large destroyers. Cruiser classifications were also simplified, with the guided missile light cruisers (CLG) simply becoming CGs. Gun cruisers were provided the designation "CA" at this time, but the last remaining gun cruiser, Newport News, was decommissioned in three days earlier on 27 June 1975, so the designation was and remains theoretical.

The ocean escorts (DE/DEG) and patrol frigates (PF) became frigates (FF)/ guided missile frigates (FFG).[1]

These changes brought U.S. Navy classifications into line with foreign classifications, and eliminated the perceived "cruiser gap."

Pre-30 June 1975 Post-30 June 1975
Cruiser (CA/CLG/CGN) Guided Missile Cruiser (CG/CGN)
Frigate (DL/DLG/DLGN) Guided Missile Cruiser (CG/CGN), Destroyer (DD), or Guided Missile Destroyer (DDG)
Destroyer (DD/DDG) Destroyer (DD) or Guided Missile Destroyer (DDG)
Ocean Escort (DE/DEG) Frigate (FF) or Guided Missile Frigate (FFG)
Patrol Frigate (PF) Guided Missile Frigate (FFG)

A final change came on 1 January 1980, when the Ticonderoga class guided missile destroyers (DDG) became guided missile cruisers (CG).


  1. ^ a b Bauer and Roberts, pp. 251-252
  2. ^ Friedman cruisers, pp. 377-378
  3. ^ The French Navy does not use a class name "destroyer" and classifies both guided missile destroyers and frigates as frigates


  • sci.military.naval, "F.8", Part F Surface Combatants FAQ, Hazegray.
  • Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775-1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-26202-0.
  • Friedman, Norman (1984). U.S. Cruisers: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-718-6.
Bronstein-class frigate

The Bronstein-class frigates were United States Navy warships, originally laid down as ocean escorts (formerly called destroyer escorts), but were all redesignated as frigates on 30 June 1975 in the United States Navy 1975 ship reclassification and their hull designation changed from DE to FF.

The lead ship of the class was Bronstein, laid down 16 May 1961 and commissioned 15 June 1963, at Avondale Shipyards, Louisiana. A second and final ship, USS McCloy, was laid down in parallel with Bronstein.

This class comprised the second generation of post-World War II destroyer escorts. These ships can be considered developmental vessels as many new systems were installed to test for future use, such as a new hull design, larger bow-mounted AN/SQS-26AX sonar system, and ASW weaponry. This class was a new design from the keel up, incorporating the FRAM improvements, and was specifically designed to operate the DASH drone helicopter. The sonar was later upgraded to the AN/SQS-26AX(R).

The top weight of the new ASW equipment and the large bow-mounted sonar made the Bronstein frigates too slow to operate with the ASW task forces for which they had been designed. Thus the US Navy decided against any further procurement of ships of this class. The later Garcia-class frigates were given a larger power plant and greater speed.

Buckley-class destroyer escort

The Buckley-class destroyer escorts were 102 destroyer escorts launched in the United States in 1943–44. They served in World War II as convoy escorts and anti-submarine warfare ships. The lead ship was USS Buckley which was launched on 9 January 1943. The ships had General Electric steam turbo-electric transmission. The ships were prefabricated at various factories in the United States, and the units brought together in the shipyards, where they were welded together on the slipways.

The Buckley class was the second class of destroyer escort, succeeding the Evarts-class destroyer escorts. One of the main design differences was that the hull was significantly lengthened on the Buckley class; this long-hull design proved so successful that it was used for all further destroyer escort classes. The class was also known as the TE type, from Turbo Electric drive. The TE was replaced with a diesel-electric plant to yield the design of the successor Cannon class ("DET").A total of 154 were ordered with 6 being completed as high speed transport ("APD"). A further 37 were later converted after completion while 46 of the Buckleys were delivered to the Royal Navy under the Lend-Lease agreement. They were classed as frigates and named after captains of the Napoleonic Wars, and formed part of the Captain-class frigate along with 32 ships of the Evarts class.

After World War II, most of the surviving units of this class were transferred to Taiwan, South Korea, Chile, Mexico and other countries. The rest were retained by the US Navy's reserve fleet until they were decommissioned.


In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast, maneuverable, long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller powerful short-range attackers. They were originally developed in the late 19th century by Fernando Villaamil for the Spanish Navy as a defense against torpedo boats, and by the time of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, these "torpedo boat destroyers" (TBDs) were "large, swift, and powerfully armed torpedo boats designed to destroy other torpedo boats". Although the term "destroyer" had been used interchangeably with "TBD" and "torpedo boat destroyer" by navies since 1892, the term "torpedo boat destroyer" had been generally shortened to simply "destroyer" by nearly all navies by the First World War.Before World War II, destroyers were light vessels with little endurance for unattended ocean operations; typically a number of destroyers and a single destroyer tender operated together. After the war, the advent of the guided missile allowed destroyers to take on the surface combatant roles previously filled by battleships and cruisers. This resulted in larger and more powerful guided missile destroyers more capable of independent operation.

At the start of the 21st century, destroyers are the global standard for surface combatant ships, with only two nations (United States and Russia) operating the heavier class cruisers, with no battleships or true battlecruisers remaining. Modern guided missile destroyers are equivalent in tonnage but vastly superior in firepower to cruisers of the World War II era, and are capable of carrying nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. At 510 feet (160 m) long, a displacement of 9,200 tons, and with armament of more than 90 missiles, guided missile destroyers such as the Arleigh Burke-class are actually larger and more heavily armed than most previous ships classified as guided missile cruisers.

Some European navies, such as the French, Spanish, or German, use the term "frigate" for their destroyers, which leads to some confusion.

Destroyer escort

Destroyer escort (DE) was the United States Navy mid-20th-century classification for a 20-knot (23 mph) warship designed with endurance to escort mid-ocean convoys of merchant marine ships. Kaibōkan were designed for a similar role in the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Royal Navy and Commonwealth forces identified such warships as frigates, and that classification was widely accepted when the United States redesignated destroyer escorts as frigates (FF) in 1975. From circa 1954 until 1975 new-build US Navy ships designated as destroyer escorts (DE) were called ocean escorts. Destroyer escorts, frigates, and kaibōkan were mass-produced for World War II as a less expensive antisubmarine warfare alternative to fleet destroyers. Other similar warships include the 10 Kriegsmarine escort ships of the F-class and the two Amiral Murgescu-class vessels of the Romanian Navy.

Postwar destroyer escorts and frigates were larger than those produced during wartime, with increased antiaircraft capability, but remained smaller and slower than postwar destroyers. As Cold War destroyer escorts became as large as wartime destroyers, the United States Navy converted some of their World War II destroyers to escort destroyers (DDE).

Destroyer leader

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.

Evarts-class destroyer escort

The Evarts-class destroyer escorts were destroyer escorts launched in the United States in 1942–44. They served in World War II as convoy escorts and anti-submarine warfare ships. They were also known as the GMT or "short hull" DE class, with GMT standing for General Motors Tandem Diesel drive.

The lead ship was USS Evarts, launched on 7 December 1942. The first ship to be completed was commissioned on 20 January 1943 at the Boston Navy Yard; it was delivered to the Royal Navy under the Lend-Lease provisions and became HMS Bayntun. Evarts-class ships were driven by diesel-electric power with four diesel engines mounted in tandem with electric drives. The ships were prefabricated at various factories in the United States and the units brought together in the shipyards, where they were welded together on the slipways. The original design specified eight engines for 24 knots but other priority programs forced the use of only four with a consequent shortening of the hull.In all, 105 Evarts-class ships were ordered with 8 later being cancelled. The United States Navy commissioned 65 while 32 Evarts-class ships were delivered to the Royal Navy. They were classed as frigates and named after captains of the Napoleonic Wars and formed part of the Captain class along with 46 ships of the Buckley class.


A frigate () is a type of warship, having various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.

In the 17th century, a frigate was any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built". These could be warships carrying their principal batteries of carriage-mounted guns on a single deck or on two decks (with further smaller carriage-mounted guns usually carried on the forecastle and quarterdeck of the vessel). The term was generally used for ships too small to stand in the line of battle, although early line-of-battle ships were frequently referred to as frigates when they were built for speed.

In the 18th century, frigates were full-rigged ships, that is square-rigged on all three masts, they were built for speed and handiness, had a lighter armament than a ship of the line, and were used for patrolling and escort. In the definition adopted by the British Admiralty, they were rated ships of at least 28 guns, carrying their principal armaments upon a single continuous deck – the upper deck – while ships of the line possessed two or more continuous decks bearing batteries of guns.

In the late 19th century (beginning about 1858 with the construction of prototypes by the British and French navies), the armoured frigate was a type of ironclad warship that for a time was the most powerful type of vessel afloat. The term "frigate" was used because such ships still mounted their principal armaments on a single continuous upper deck.

In modern navies, frigates are used to protect other warships and merchant-marine ships, especially as anti-submarine warfare (ASW) combatants for amphibious expeditionary forces, underway replenishment groups, and merchant convoys. Ship classes dubbed "frigates" have also more closely resembled corvettes, destroyers, cruisers and even battleships. Some European navies such as the Dutch, French, German or Spanish ones use the term "frigate" for both their destroyers and frigates. The rank "frigate captain" derives from the name of this type of ship.

Garcia-class frigate

Garcia-class frigates were United States Navy warships. These frigates were originally ocean escorts bearing the hull classification DE until 1975. The ships were commissioned between 1964 and 1968 and decommissioned between 1988 and 1990.

Guided missile destroyer

A guided-missile destroyer is a destroyer designed to launch guided missiles. Many are also equipped to carry out anti-submarine, anti-air, and anti-surface operations. The NATO standard designation for these vessels is DDG. Nations vary in their use of destroyer D designation in their hull pennant numbering, either prefixing or dropping it altogether. The U.S. Navy has adopted the classification DDG in the American hull classification system.

In addition to the guns, a guided-missile destroyer is usually equipped with two large missile magazines, usually in vertical-launch cells. Some guided-missile destroyers contain powerful radar systems, such as the United States’ Aegis Combat System, and may be adopted for use in an anti-missile or ballistic-missile defense role. This is especially true of navies that no longer operate cruisers, so other vessels must be adopted to fill in the gap.

Hull classification symbol

The United States Navy, United States Coast Guard, and United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) use a hull classification symbol (sometimes called hull code or hull number) to identify their ships by type and by individual ship within a type. The system is analogous to the pennant number system that the Royal Navy and other European and Commonwealth navies use.

List of destroyer escorts of the United States Navy

This is a list of destroyer escorts of the United States Navy, listed in a table sortable by both name and hull-number. It includes the hull classification symbols DE (both Destroyer Escort and Ocean Escort), DEG, and DER.

The Lend-lease Act was passed into law in the US in March 1941 enabling the United Kingdom to procure merchant ships, warships and munitions etc. from the US, in order to help with the war effort. This enabled the UK to commission the US to design, build and supply an escort vessel that was suitable for anti submarine warfare in deep open ocean situations, which they did in June 1941. Captain E.L. Cochrane of the American Bureau of Shipping came up with a design which was known as the British Destroyer Escort (BDE). The BDE designation was retained by the first six Destroyer Escorts transferred to the United Kingdom (BDE 1, 2, 3, 4, 12 and 46); of the initial order of 50 these were the only ones the Royal Navy received, the rest being reclassified as Destroyer Escort (DE) on 25 January 1943 and taken over by the United States Navy.Ships that were classified DE or DEG were reclassified in 1975 as FF or FFG (frigates). This affected hull numbers DE-1037 and higher as well as all DEGs.

Rudderow-class destroyer escort

The Rudderow-class destroyer escorts were destroyer escorts launched in the United States in 1943 to 1945. Of this class, 22 were completed as destroyer escorts, and 50 were completed as Crosley-class high speed transports and were re-classified as high speed transport APDs. One ship was converted to an APD after completion. They served in World War II as convoy escorts and anti-submarine warfare ships.

USS Leahy (DLG-16)

USS Leahy (DLG/CG-16) was the lead ship of a new class of destroyer leaders in the United States Navy. Named for Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, she was commissioned on 4 August 1962 as DLG-16, a guided missile frigate, and reclassified as CG-16, a guided missile cruiser, on 30 June 1975.

From 1962 to 1976, Leahy operated as a unit of the Atlantic Fleet and from 1976 to 1993 as a unit of the Pacific Fleet. She made six Mediterranean deployments (Sixth Fleet), two UNITAS Latin America cruises and eight Western Pacific deployments (Seventh Fleet), completed three Panama Canal transits, and crossed the equator over a dozen times. She traveled the seas from the easternmost end of the Mediterranean to the westernmost edge of the Indian Ocean. She steamed far north to Leningrad, Russia, and the Aleutian Islands; and far south for two passages through the Straits of Magellan. Over the course of her sixteen major deployments, Leahy made port calls on six continents—North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

Leahy served longer than any other ship of her class. After more than 31 years of active service all over the globe, the "Sweet 16" was decommissioned on 1 October 1993. After another 11 years in the reserve fleet, she was scrapped in Brownsville, Texas, in 2005.


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