When the Spruance-class destroyer USS Paul F. Foster (DD 964) is decommissioned next March, it will find new life as the next Self Defense Test Ship (SDTS) at Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme.
The Chief of Naval Operations' Surface Warfare Division announced that Paul F. Foster would become the next dedicated ship self defense test and evaluation platform assigned to Port Hueneme, in a message to Commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet
. Paul F. Foster would replace the ex-USS Decatur (DDG 31), which has been assigned to Port Hueneme since 1994.
The SDTS plays a significant role in the testing and evaluation of sensors, weapons, and combat systems before they are introduced to the fleet. The ex-Decatur has supported testing of such systems as RAM Block 0 and Block 1, Close In Weapons System Block 1A and Block 1B, Ship Self Defense System Mark 1, and the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile.
A dedicated test and evaluation platform alleviates scheduling difficulties of obtaining an active fleet asset and allows the project sponsor to have greater control over the installation and test schedule.
Additionally, since the test ship is unmanned and remotely controlled, it allows for more realistic testing without crew safety concerns. Using the
SDTS allows project sponsors to identify possible problems before the system gets to the fleet. Program managers have estimated significant cost savings when a problem is discovered and corrected during testing vice production.
Since many combat systems elements are already installed aboard Paul F. Foster, a direct turnover will reduce conversion costs. The destroyer also provides an all-electric plant configuration, a sizeable superstructure to
support possible future Multi-Function Radar and SPS-48E installations, and has a logistical support infrastructure in place.
The ex-Decatur will continue testing operations through the end of fiscal year 2003. Following the necessary modifications, Paul F. Foster will be ready to perform its test and evaluation mission in fiscal year 2005.
Source: NAVSEA News Wire