Monday, September 28, 2015

Guided-missile destroyer of the Arleigh Burke-class of warship - USS Cole

Design of the USS Cole is consistent with the Arleigh Burke-class of warships. She sports a sharp, high-angled bow with her major superstructure covering amidships and a flight deck positioned along her stern. The 5-inch main gun is mounted between the bow and the superstructure with the first of two VLS missile cell collections located between this turret and the superstructure. The second VLS emplacement is set just forward of the flight deck to the rear of the design. The superstructure is identifiable by its large slab, three-sided forward face and maintains the bridge and major sensors, equipment and communications arrays. The mainmast caps the superstructure and slopes towards the stern.

The USS Cole is perhaps best known for the Al-Qaeda attack that left 17 US sailors dead back on October 12th, 2000. She represents one of the sixty-two total guided-missile destroyers making up the Arleigh Burke-class of warship. She further makes up one of the twenty-one ships as part of the Arleigh Burke "Flight I-Class" (these featuring the 5"/54 turreted main gun). These were followed into service by the Flight II and Flight IIA ships making up the other seven-plus-thirty-four vessels in the Arleigh Burke-class.

Her suite of sensors and processing systems include the AN/SPY-1D radar, the AN/SPS-67(V)2 Surface Search Radar, the AN/SPS-73(V)12 Surface Search Radar, the AN/SQS-53C sonar array, the AN/SQR-19 tactical towed sonar array and the AN/SQQ-28 LAMPS III shipboard system. Her countermeasures suite is made up of the AN/SLQ-32(V)2 electronic warfare system, the AN/SLQ-25 Nixie torpedo countermeasures, the MK 36 MOD 12 decoy launching system and the AN/SLQ-39 CHAFF bouys. As part of the Aegis defense system, the USS Cole can use her powerful radar and tracking software to maintain an eye on up to 100 targets at once.

Power to the Cole is supplied by four large General Electric LM2500-30 series gasoline-fueled turbines feeding two shafts a combined 100,000 shaft horsepower. Her top speed is listed at just over 30 knots with a range of 4,400 nautical miles at 20 knots. Her crew complement is made up of 210 enlisted personnel along with 38 Chief Petty Officers and 33 Officers. The Cole maintains a running length of 505 feet with a beam of 66 feet and a draught of 31 feet. Displacement is approximately 6,794 tons light and 8,885 tons full.

As a gasoline-powered vessel, the Cole makes use of twin funnel structures each showcasing stealth-like sharp angles. Each funnel assembly is identified by their black funnel stack exhaust ports that are clearly visible when in profile, protruding ever so slightly. One of the two 20mm Vulcan Phalanx systems sit just ahead and below the bridge while another sits aft overlooking the flight deck and stern VSL missile cells.

The Cole can make room for up to one Sikorsky-class SH-60 Sea Hawk helicopter along a stern deck helipad.

Armament consists of two individual missile cell collections: the 1 x 29 and 1 x 61 cell Mk 41 vertical launch systems are compatible with RIM-156 SM-2, BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise or RUM-139 VL-ASROC missiles. This potent firepower is augmented by 2 x 25mm chain guns, the aforementioned Mark 45 5/54 inch cannon, 2 x 20mm Phalanx CIWS (Close-In Weapon System) for anti-aircraft/anti-missile defense and up to 4 x 12.7mm heavy machine guns for close-in defense and boarding. The Cole can make use of 2 x Mk 32 triple torpedo launch tubes fitted aft of amidships along the port and starboard sides to combat enemy surface vessels. At any one time, the Cole has access to some 100 missiles of varying types for any given situation at hand. With all this in tow, she makes up the strong arm of the United States Navy on the high seas.

The USS Cole was constructed by Ingalls Shipbuilding (now part of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding) of Pascagoula, Mississippi. She was ordered on January 16th, 1991 and laid down on February 28th, 1994. She was launched on February 10th in 1995 and delivered to the United States Navy on March 11th, 1996. Official commissioning occurred on June 8th, 1996. In 2013, the USS Cole is expected to receive upgraded missile capability to the RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) series as part of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, a sort of mobile sea-borne protection net against enemy ballistic missiles with direction provided by the US DoD's Missile Defense Agency.



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