SEAPOWER / MARCH 2014 52
Marking the 50th Anniversary
Of the Mixed Manning Demonstration
By DAVID F. WINKLER
It is not unheard of for the secretary of the Navy to approve of a ship name change while a ship is under
construction to honor a noted individual who has
passed on. For example, the aircraft carrier CV 42,
christened on April 29, 1945, as Coral Sea, would be
commissioned six months later as USS Franklin D.
Roosevelt to honor the recently deceased president.
However, changing a name of a commissioned warship is practically unprecedented, but that was what
happened on July 28, 1964, when the missile destroyer
DDG 5 changed names from Biddle to Claude V.
Ricketts. That the DDG 5 would be suddenly renamed
for ADM Ricketts, the vice chief of naval operations
(VCNO) who was felled by a heart attack earlier that
month, had much to do with Ricketts’ role with a
unique situation particular to DDG 5.
As various dignitaries at the renaming ceremony in
Norfolk, Va., took turns at the podium to praise the
former VCNO, standing behind them were sailors from
Germany, Italy, Greece, Britain, the Netherlands and
Turkey, as well as the United States, who comprised the
ship’s company participating in an 18-month Mixed
The genesis of the concept that led to the placement
of a multinational crew on an American warship dated
to December 1960, when Secretary of State Christian
Herter, addressing the NATO Council, proposed the
establishment of a flotilla of jointly crewed and controlled nuclear-armed warships to be known as the
Multilateral Force (MLF).
But could sailors from different navies combine to
form a cohesive crew on a complex afloat fighting
machine? President John F. Kennedy thought the common bonds shared among those who served at sea
could overcome national differences and offered a
recently commissioned DDG as a test platform.
Working with ADM Ricketts in the latter months of
1963, officers of the interested countries developed a
memorandum of understanding.
On Feb. 26, 1964, Secretary of Defense Robert
McNamara publicly announced the plan that would
embark 152 foreign sailors on an American warship —
nearly half the crew — that following June. During
spring, many of the European enlisted men travelled to
the states to receive technical training at U.S. Navy
During June, DDG 5 left Hampton Roads for several
short training cruises to build teamwork and competence. In July, the ship steamed to New York to participate in an OpSail event. As part of the festivities, the
ship hosted many visitors interested in the multinational nature of the crew.
The positive public relations aspect of the Mixed
Manning Demonstration was not lost on the Navy.
Following a dependents’ cruise, the renamed Claude V.
Ricketts returned to New York to be showcased at the
In October, the ship arrived at the Washington
Navy Yard for ceremonies led by Secretary of State
Dean Rusk. In November, Claude V. Ricketts
participated in exercises in the Caribbean that included missile
shoots and departed Norfolk on three short cruises to
accommodate media from the participating nations in
In preparation for overseas deployment, Claude V.
Ricketts steamed back to the Caribbean to undergo an
Operational Readiness Inspection at Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba. For the 164 American Sailors embarked, the
four-month Mediterranean and northern Europe cruise
must have been quite the adventure as their respective
shipmates were welcomed by their home nations.
From early March through the end of June, Claude V.
Ricketts served as a NATO goodwill ambassador during
12 port calls to six nations.
Once back in Norfolk, it was the foreign sailors’ turn
to experience American culture as the missile destroyer steamed to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, New
Orleans, Houston and Palm Beach, Fla.
As agreed upon by the memorandum of understanding, the Mixed Manning Demonstration ended on Dec.
While the concept of an afloat MLF never was implemented due to the complexities of command and control of nuclear weapons, the 50th anniversary of the
Mixed Manning Demonstration is worth remembering
in view of the continuing NATO alliance. ■
Source: Mixed Manning Demonstration USS Claude V. Ricketts
(DDG 5) 1964-1965, Cruisebook, Navy Department Library.
Dr. David F. Winkler is a historian with the Naval Historical