As a member of the Arleigh Burke class destroyer, USS Mason has the full power as her sister in this class.

Introduce

The USS Mason DDG 87 is the third ship to bear the name and is the 37th ship of the Arleigh Burke Class of AEGIS Guided Missile Destroyers. She is named for two men: former Secretary of the Navy John Young Mason and Distinguished Flying Cross recipient Ensign Newton Henry Mason.

USS Mason was built at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, and construction began on 19 January 2000. She was launched and christened on 23 June 2001. On 12 April 2003, a commissioning ceremony was held at Port Canaveral, Florida. She is currently homeported in Norfolk, Virginia.

In its history, the US Navy had two other warships named USS Mason. The first Mason DD-191, in service from 1920 to 1941, was named for John Young Mason, well known for his service as the Secretary of the Navy for two American Presidents. The second Mason DE-529, was named for Ensign Newton Henry Mason, a Naval Aviator who was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

USS Mason DDG-87
USS Mason DDG-87

Design

As a member of the Arleigh Burke class destroyer, USS Mason has the full power as her sister in this class. The USS Mason follows in line design-wise with other Arleigh Burke-class vessels. The entire vessel is constructed from steel, with vital areas protected by two layers of steel and 70 ton of Kevlar armour. She sports a well-contoured hull with the bow raised slightly ahead.

The major internal sections are concentrated along amidships and include the bridge, communications facilities and turbine smoke stacks. The sides of the vessel’s superstructure area are fused into the hull sides to promote inherent stealth characteristics against scanning surface radar – a common design element in modern surface ships.

The stern area of the vessel can accept or launch helicopters as needed while an onboard hangar supports their operation. The main mast atop the major superstructure is home to a plethora of antenna, communications and sensor systems pertinent to her operating facilities. A naval gun is fitted ahead of the bridge superstructure along the forecastle.  The vessel also to be fitted out with anti-NBC warfare protection.

The destroyer has an overall length of 155.3m, beam of 20m and draft of 9.4m. The vessel can accommodate up to 380 crew members. USS Mason has 9,200 tons standard displacement.

Propulsion

Its propulsion system is made up of 4 General Electric LM2500 gas turbines delivering up to 100,000 shaft horsepower driving two shafts arrangement – two gas turbines coupled to a single shaft with a gearbox allowing one or both engines to function at any one time – a proven fuel efficient measure. This offers the vessel a speed of over 30 knots and a range out to 5,500 nautical miles.

Electronic systems

The soul of USS Mason as well as her sisters is the Aegis combat system which integrates the ship’s sensors and weapons systems to engage anti-ship missile threats.

The Aegis system has a federated architecture with four subsystems, namely an AN/SPY-1 multifunction radar, a command and decision system, an Aegis display system, and the weapon control system. The SPY-1 is one of the world’s most advanced and versatile maritime radar.

Armament

The USS Mason is armed with a bevy of surface-to-surface and surface-to-air guided missiles. The missiles can engage airborne threats as well as naval vessels as needed. The missiles are stored and launched in vertically-set “cells” – one 64-cell collection and another 32-cell arrangement – numbering 96 missiles in all of various types. These include the venerable BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missile to be used against land-based targets, the RIM-66 SM-2 medium range surface-to-air missile for use against aerial threats, and the Rum-139 VL-Asroc anti-submarine missile.

Close-in threats are dealt with the 130mm Mk38 naval gun. There are 4 of 12.7mm heavy machine guns defend the crew from even closer threats requiring automatic fire. There are also 2 Mk 46 series triple torpedo tubes. 1 20mm Phalanx CIWS providing an increased rate of fire of 4,500 Revolutions per minute.

Countermeasures

The ship’s electronic countermeasures system is the Raytheon AN/SLQ-32, which performs radar warning and jamming. Decoys include two Lockheed Martin Sippican SRBOC six-barrelled launchers for chaff and infrared flares and the AN / SLQ-25A Nixie torpedo decoy system.

USS Mason is capable of operating two SH-60 Sea Hawk helicopters at the same time. Sea Hawks are multi-mission helicopters utilized by the United States Navy and based on the US Army UH-60 Black Hawk model – both originally of the Sikorsky S-70 model family.

Operations

During her active life, USS Mason conducted her maiden deployment with the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in late 2004.

On October 3, 2006, Mason departed Naval Station Norfolk for a seven-month deployment to the Persian Gulf in support of the Global War on Terrorism.

On March 2011, she sailed through the Suez Canal en route to the Mediterranean, to support possible humanitarian or military action in response to the Libyan Civil War.

One of the USS Mason’s outstanding events was on October 2016, USS Mason fired three missiles to defend themselves after being attacked in the Red Sea by two presumed cruise missiles fired by Iran-backed Houthi-forces.

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