DLG-2 USS Willis Lee Jr

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A mid-1950s destroyer leader designed during the initial construction of the USS Norfolk. While Anti-Submarine Warfare was the focus of the Norfork, this new class was to concentrate on getting new weapons to the battle fleet. This new designs focus was to provide modern defense and very little offense to the Carrier groups in the post-war world. Both launched in 1954 and after a shakedown were taken into the Atlantic fleet in late 1955. Initially planned for a class of 6 ships, it was reduced to 4 after the USN went forward with plans to reconfigure WWII gun cruisers into guided missile ships. After budget problems and technology advances the two final ships barely started were canceled and all effort put toward more modern missile destroyers. Unknown at the time but their construction and weapons systems were serve as a roadmap for future DDG modification and construction. Her armament consisted of two 5"/42 gun mounts & one ASW weapon Alpha mount forward, one twin arm terrier launcher aft along with 50 missiles in the magazine & multiple twin 20mm anti-aircraft guns mounted throughout its superstructure. Port and Starboard you will find torpedo tubes and 3" AAA mounts to round out its armament.

The DLG-2 USS Willis Lee Jr & DLG-3 USS Russell Willson were staged exclusively in Atlantic to start, but in 1962 were moved to the Pacific where they escorted CV groups. They were to stay there until their decommissioning in 1974/5. Their early retirement was due to more modern vessels becoming available and budgetary concerns with a Vietnam war sucking funds up left and right. In 1980 they were considered to be sold but 1982 a fire broke out inside USS Willis Lee Jr. She burned until extinguished but it destroyed much of her superstructure forward and damaged two other vessels tied up to her. USS Russell Willson was sold in 1984 to Mexico and was modified extensively to become their Gulf & Caribbean Sea Naval Force flagship. She serves as this day their command and control vessel.

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