This Ship Shoots Back
Ex-Spruance destroyer is realistic platform for ship self-defense tests
By EDWARD LUNDQUIST, Special Correspondent
New Test Bed
evaluating aspects of naval systems,” said NSWC Port Hueneme
Commander Capt. William DeBow.
He added that the test ship recent-
ly was used to conduct a biofuel test,
where “a 50/50 blend of hydrotreat-
ed renewable diesel and petroleum
F- 76 was burned in transit from San
Diego to Port Hueneme, Calif.”
The test engineers at Port Hue-
neme have used retired Navy ships
as test platforms before. The 2,000-
ton USS Stoddard was one of last of
the U.S. Navy’s Fletcher-class
destroyers when it was decommis-
sioned in 1969. It went on to serve as
the first test ship, although the propulsion system was no
longer functional and it had to be towed.
From 1994 to 2003, the ex-USS Decatur was the test
ship. It was twice the size of Stoddard, and while the
steam plant was no longer used, it was retrofitted with
outboard diesel engines for power.
Decatur could be operated remotely as an unmanned
target to better simulate realistic conditions. It was used
to test systems that are found in the fleet today, such as
the Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), Rolling Airframe
Missile (RAM) and Shipboard Self Defense System
With Paul F. Foster, there is more space and power.
In fact, the ship was the only Spruance-class destroyer
to have an additional ship service generator — with
four Ship Service Turbo Generators instead of the typical three — and an all-electric system, which provides
more electric power for weapons testing. And the ship
still has the four LM2500 gas turbines and can achieve
speeds up to 30 knots, although most tests are accomplished at around 14 knots.
“Foster has ample real estate to install all of the combat and weapon systems we need,” said Roger Yoshida,
NSWC Port Hueneme branch manager for the Test Ship
The former USS Paul F. Foster is the latest retired U.S. Navy
vessel to serve as a floating laboratory for the testing of existing
and emerging combat and weapon systems.
; Naval Surface Warfare Center at Port Hueneme can conduct
realistic scenarios without putting lives at risk.
; The ship recently was employed for an at-sea test of the
Office of Naval Research’s Maritime Laser Demonstrator.
; With a dedicated testing platform, active ships are not taken
away from their normal operations.
When it comes to evaluating shipboard defen- sive weapons, the Self Defense Test Ship (SDTS) team at the Naval Surface Warfare
Center (NSWC) in Port Hueneme, Calif., says, “give it
your best shot.”
The “test ship” is the former U.S. Navy destroyer
USS Paul F. Foster. Decommissioned in 2003 after 27
years in the fleet, the 8,000-ton ship continues to serve
as a unique floating laboratory to conduct live-fire tests
and evaluation on systems that will eventually find
their way into the surface fleet.
The test ship recently was employed for the successful demonstration of the Office of Naval Research’s
Maritime Laser Demonstrator (MLD), when it was
fired for the first time at a target at sea last March, sinking a small boat about a mile away.
“The test ship itself provided a unique capability for
testing this experimental system without the complications of using a commissioned Navy ship,” said Terry
Robinson, NSWC Port Hueneme engineer and test
director for the MLD trials.
“Originally designed as a platform to strictly test
self-defense weapons, the test ship now supports multiple types and all levels of engineering, testing and