USS Paul F. Foster

USS Paul F. Foster (DD-964), named for Vice Admiral Paul F. Foster USN (1889–1972), is a Spruance-class destroyer built by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries at Pascagoula, Mississippi. She was commissioned on 21 February 1976 and decommissioned on 27 March 2003. She is now ex-Paul F. Foster, serving as a Self Defense Test Ship for experimental U.S. Navy weapons and sensors.

USS Paul F. Foster (DD-964)
USS Paul F. Foster
USS Paul F. Foster sailing through smooth seas in 1986.
United States
Namesake: Paul F. Foster
Ordered: 1 June 1970
Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding
Laid down: 6 February 1973
Launched: 22 February 1974
Sponsored by: Mrs. Isabelle L. Foster, widow of namesake.[1]
Acquired: 1 February 1976
Commissioned: 21 February 1976
Decommissioned: 27 March 2003
Reclassified: 16 March 2005 as EDD-964
Struck: 6 April 2004
Motto: Honor, Valor, Service
Status: Assigned to NSWC Port Hueneme as SDTS ship, as of 2019.
Badge: DD964crest.png
General characteristics
Class and type: Spruance-class destroyer
Displacement: 8,040 (long) tons full load
Length: 529 ft (161 m) waterline; 563 ft (172 m) overall
Beam: 55 ft (16.8 m)
Draft: 29 ft (8.8 m)
Propulsion: 4 × General Electric LM2500 gas turbines, 2 shafts, 80,000 shp (60 MW)
Speed: 32.5 knots (60.2 km/h; 37.4 mph)
  • 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km; 6,900 mi) at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
  • 3,300 nautical miles (6,100 km; 3,800 mi) at 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Complement: 19 officers, 315 enlisted
Sensors and
processing systems:
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
Aircraft carried: 2 x Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk LAMPS III helicopters.


As the initial Spruance-class destroyer assigned to the Pacific Fleet, Paul F. Foster had many milestone firsts, including successfully firing a NATO Sea Sparrow missile, demonstrating the feasibility of landing H-46 helicopters, and determining the operational limits of the SH-3 helicopter.[2]

Operating out of San Diego, Paul F. Foster became the first Spruance-class destroyer to deploy to the Western Pacific in March 1978. The ship deployed again in 1979 and 1982, serving in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific.[2]

Paul F. Foster joined Destroyer Squadron Nine and moved to its new home port of Long Beach, California, in August 1983. She became the Navy's first "all electric destroyer" after major modifications at Long Beach Naval Shipyard, which included the addition of a fourth ship's service gas turbine generator.[2]

On 29 August 1984, Paul F. Foster began its fourth Western Pacific deployment as Destroyer Squadron Nine's flagship, with then Desron Nine Commodore, T.O. Gabriel and his staff embarked aboard, leading a five-ship surface action group and participating in several major allied fleet exercises.[2]

During a fifth deployment beginning in August 1986 with Desron Nine as part of the Carl Vinson Battle Group, Paul F. Foster was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for her performance in Operation Kernel Potlatch in the North Pacific and Bering Sea.[2]

From July 1987 through July 1988, Paul F. Foster completed a regular overhaul at Northwest Marine Iron Works in Portland, Oregon. During the overhaul the ship received over 55 major ship alterations, including installation of the Mk 41 Vertical Launch System for Tomahawk cruise missiles, the AN/SQQ-89 Anti-Submarine Warfare Detection System, and facilities to employ the Navy's most sophisticated submarine helicopter, the LAMPS MkIII.[2]

Paul F. Foster departed on its sixth Western Pacific/Indian Ocean deployment on 24 February 1989 in company with the Ranger Battle Group. Conducting operations in the northern Arabian Sea, she was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.[2]

1990 to 2003Edit

On 8 December 1990, Paul F. Foster departed Long Beach on its seventh overseas deployment to the Persian Gulf in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The first ship to fire Tomahawk missiles against Iraqi targets, she was instrumental in the liberation of Kuwait and in winning the campaign. Deploying for the eighth time on 20 July 1992, she returned to the Arabian Sea, where she operated in support of Persian Gulf Operations-Southern Watch while participating in numerous bilateral exercises with Persian Gulf Nations.[2]

During the ship's ninth deployment, Paul F. Foster again served with the Carl Vinson Carrier Battle Group and was the first ship on the scene to provide assistance to a burning ocean tug, Glorious City, putting out the fire and saving its crew of seven.[2]

Upon returning from deployment on 20 October 1994, Paul F. Foster entered into a regular overhaul at Long Beach Naval Shipyard where several of the latest technological weapons, sensors and engineering systems were added. A major change implemented during this overhaul was a retrofit of a berthing, to accommodate her first female crew members. After completion of overhaul, she moved to her new home port of Everett, Washington arriving November 1995.[2]

During the ship's tenth deployment which began 21 February 1997, Paul F. Foster was a part of the multinational force during Persian Gulf Operations, enforcing United Nations sanctions against Iraq.[2]

Paul F. Foster departed for her eleventh deployment on 27 January 1999. While serving as part of the Pacific Middle East Force, she participated in Operation Iron Siren, Eager Sentry, and Arabian Gauntlet. In addition, the ship conducted boarding's in support of United Nations sanctions against Iraq.[2]

Paul F. Foster departed for her twelfth deployment on 11 January 2001, where the ship once again conducted numerous boarding operations in support of the United Nations sanctions against Iraq.[2] Her thirteenth and final deployment began on 18 June 2002.[citation needed]

Decommissioning and Self Defense Test Ship roleEdit

Ex-Paul F. Foster (EDD-964) underway in 2011.
The US Navy Self Defense Test Ship (SDTS) - Formerly the USS Paul F. Foster (DD-964) moored at Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme, CA in 2014

Paul F. Foster was decommissioned on 27 March 2003. In 2004, Paul F. Foster was designated to replace ex-Decatur as a test ship for the Navy, a role she assumed in 2005. In support of this new role, the now ex-Paul F. Foster was assigned to Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division.[3] She is the only ship of her class that exists as of 2019, as all of her sister ships we either scrapped or sunk as targets upon decommissioning.[citation needed]

On 8 April 2011, reported that ex-Paul F. Foster had successfully used the Maritime Laser Demonstrator for the first time in a sea-to-sea target test, sinking a small inflatable motorboat at a range of one mile in rough seas.[4]

On 17 November 2011, ex-Paul F. Foster demonstrated the use of shipboard alternative fuel, while underway in the Pacific Ocean on a 50–50 blend of an algae-derived, hydro-processed algal oil and petroleum F-76.[5] The ship arrived Thursday morning to the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Port Hueneme in Southern California after traveling for 17 hours on a maiden trip from San Diego.[6]

On 18 July 2016, ex-Paul F. Foster performed a test launch of the LRASM Anti-ship missile from her Mark 41 Vertical Launching System while underway in the Pacific Ocean.[7]


According to the Navy unit Awards site, Paul F. Foster received the following awards:

In popular cultureEdit

A season 1 episode of NCIS, "The Immortals" (episode 4), is set aboard Paul F. Foster (though the stock footage of the destroyer used shows USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51)—the hull number is clearly visible).[9] In 2008, Foster was used in the episode "Road Kill" (season 6, episode 10) portraying USS Rubicon, a ship about to be decommissioned.[10] In the 2013 episode "Squall", in the final scenes resolving the mystery, the bow of Foster is seen in the background, her number plainly visible.[11]

In the movie "The Final Countdown" (1980), she was shown as part of the Nimitz' battle group before the carrier went back in time to assist the Americans during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

In a season 4 episode of Bones, "The Hero in the Hold" (episode 13), FBI Agent Seely Booth escapes from a Naval ship rigged with explosives, intended to be sunk to create an artificial reef. The ship can be seen in an aerial shot just a moment after explosion, but any identifying marks are blocked from view by the fireball of the explosion itself. Thanks is given (THIS EPISODE COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MADE WITHOUT THE SUPPORT AND GENEROSITY OF THE...) to "THE CREW OF THE SELF DEFENSE TEST SHIP, EX-PAUL F. FOSTER (DDG 964)", among other Naval and Department of Defense entities.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Launching". USS Paul F. Foster (DD-964). U.S. Navy Cruise Books, 1918-2009: 12. 1977.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Command History". Archived from the original on 2 December 2002.
  3. ^ "NSWC Port Hueneme Welcomes New Self Defense Test Ship". 2 April 2003. Retrieved 25 December 2014.
  4. ^ Ackerman, Spencer (8 April 2011). "Video: Navy Laser Sets Ship on Fire". Retrieved 25 December 2014.
  5. ^ "Navy launches its largest biofuel test for ship". 17 November 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2014.
  6. ^ "Paul F Foster EDD-964 Final DOI Naval Vessel Historical Evaluation" (PDF). 5 March 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 February 2015.
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Unit Awards Query". Archived from the original on 14 October 2004. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  9. ^ "The Immortals". NCIS. Season 1. Episode 4. 14 October 2003. CBS.
  10. ^ "Road Kill". NCIS. Season 6. Episode 10. 2 December 2008. CBS. Archived from the original on 17 July 2010.
  11. ^ "Squall". NCIS. Season 10. Episode 19. 14 October 2003. CBS.

External linksEdit