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USS O'Bannon (DD 987)

- decommissioned -
- sunk as a target -



USS O'BANNON was the 25th SPRUANCE - class destroyer and the last east coast destroyer of her class decommissioned. USS O'BANNON was last homeported in Mayport, Fla., and was originally scheduled to be transfered to Turkey. The transfer was canceled and the O'BANNON was sunk as a target on October 6, 2008, by the USS STOUT (DDG 55).

General Characteristics:Awarded: January 15, 1975
Keel laid: February 21, 1977
Launched: September 25, 1978
Commissioned: December 15, 1979
Decommissioned: August 19, 2005
Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding, West Bank, Pascagoula, Miss.
Propulsion system: four General Electric LM 2500 gas turbine engines
Propellers: two
Blades on each Propeller: five
Length: 564,3 feet (172 meters)
Beam: 55,1 feet (16.8 meters)
Draft: 28,9 feet (8.8 meters)
Displacement: approx. 9,200 tons full load
Speed: 30+ knots
Aircraft: two SH-60B Seahawk (LAMPS 3)
Armament: two Mk 45 5-inch/54 caliber lightweight guns, one Mk 41 VLS for Tomahawk, ASROC and Standard missiles, Mk 46 torpedoes (two triple tube mounts), Harpoon missile launchers, one Sea Sparrow launcher, two 20mm Phalanx CIWS, one Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) System
Crew: approx. 340


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Crew List:

This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard USS O'BANNON. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.


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About the Ship's Coat of Arms:

Blue and Gold are the colors traditionally associated with the U.S. Navy and both are symbolic of the Navy's element, the sea and it's goal of excellence. The Shield symbolizes an event in 1805 during the Tripolitan War when LT Presley O'Bannon (USMC), at the head of an escort of seven Marines and one midshipman, stormed the fort at Derna in present day Libya. This fort is represented by the embattled partition line. With his own hands, O'Bannon hoisted an American Flag over a captured position for the first time in the history of the US. At Malta, according to tradition, Hamet presented O'Bannon with the jeweled sword he carried while a refugee with the Mameluke in Egypt. This type of blade, known as a Mameluke sword, is worn by Marine Officers today and is the oldest weapon in continuous use by the Armed Forces of the United States.

On his return home, O'Bannon was presented a second sword, this time a ceremonial one, by his native state of Virginia. The crossed sword and cutlass on the shield have been adopted from the Enlisted and Officers surface warfare badges and represent the two swords presented O'Bannon as well as the mission, capabilities, and personnel of the Spruance Class Destroyer. Three shamrocks refer not only to the O'Bannon's Irish heritage, but also the three ships to bear this name DD 177, DD/DDE 450 and DD 987. The globe and the anchor, adapted from a USMC seal, are direct references to Presley O'Bannon's outstanding service in the USMC.


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About the Ship's Name:

Presley Neville O'Bannon was born on 1776, in Fauquier County, Virginia. First appointed a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps on 18 January 1801, he served in various stations in the United States prior to assignment onboard USS ADAMS. Following a deployment to the Mediterranean on the ADAMS, First Lieutenant O'Bannon returned to the United States in November 1803. He was assigned to duty at Marine Barracks, Washington D.C.

In 1804, First Lieutenant O'Bannon was again called to sea duty, this time onboard PRESIDENT. Setting sail for the Mediterranean in May 1804, the USS PRESIDENT arrived at Gibraltar in August. Following several months in the Mediterranean, First Lieutenant O'Bannon was transferred to another warship, USS CONSTITUTION, and then to USS ARGUS. While serving as the Marine Officer on the later vessel, he was selected for a mission that later was commemorated in the colors of the Marine Corps and recorded in the Marine Hymn in the words "to the shores of Tripoli".

For many years the United States had maintained peace with the Barbary States by "buying" treaties and paying tributes to the Pasha. The states of Algiers, Morocco, and Tunis remained reasonably complacent under this system, though Tripoli continued to demand larger payments and make threats against the United States.

Finally, (May 14th 1801) the Pasha of Tripoli, Yousuf, demonstrated his dissatisfaction by cutting down the flag staff in front of the U.S. Consulate. This led to a declaration of war by the United States and more warships being dispatched to the Mediterranean. During a storm, one of these, USS PHILADELPHIA, went on the rocks off Tripoli, with her crew being captured and imprisoned at Derna.

This event, and the inability of U.S. agents to ransom the crew of the Philadelphia, led to the formation of a bold rescue plan, which included First Lieutenant O'Bannon. The plan, conceived by Naval Agent William Eaton, proposed the formation of an alliance with Prince Hamet of Tripoli, elder brother of the Pasha of Tripoli.

In January of 1805, First Lieutenant O'Bannon, in command of a Marine Detachment consisting of one sergeant and six privates, joined Eaton's allied force at Alexandria, Egypt. This army of 500 men then began an expedition against Derna. The ships HORNET, NAUTILUS, and ARGUS further augmented the force. Under a bombardment provided by these ships, Lt. O'Bannon led his force on March 27th 1805 through a shower of musketry and stormed the principal edifices, routing the enemy in such haste that their guns were left loaded and primed. First Lieutenant O'Bannon planted the United States Flag upon the ramparts and then turned the guns upon the enemy. After some two hours of hand-to-hand fighting, the stronghold was occupied and for the first time in history the flag of the United States flew over a fortress of the Old World.

The Tripolitains counter-attacked the fortress a number of times, but were repelled with heavy losses. Finally, through a spirited bayonet charge, the enemy was driven from the vicinity of Derna. This stubbornness and pugnacity by the Americans led to an almost mythical belief in their fighting ability.

On the occasion of his departure, Prince Hamet of Tripoli honored LT Presley O'Bannon by giving him his jeweled sword with a Mameluke Hilt. This sword was the model for the dress sword used by Marine Corps Officers today, making it the oldest continuously used weapon in the U.S. Military Arsenal. Upon his return to the United States, the state of Virginia presented O'Bannon a sword modeled after the original Mameluke blade given him by Prince Hamet of Tripoli.

Hailed as a national hero, "the hero of Derna", Presley O'Bannon resigned from the Marine Corps on March 6th, 1807. He went to Kentucky and served in the State Legislature. He died on September 12th, 1850 at the age of 74. A monument to his memory was erected over his grave in the state cemetery in Frankfort, Kentucky.


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USS O'BANNON Patch Gallery

Med/Persian Gulf 1989HSL-46 Det. 1 - MEF 97-3


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