USA

USS The Sullivans: The US Destroyer On CSG21 Named After Inspiring Story Of Five Brothers

The warship is named after the Sullivan brothers who fought and died together during the Second World War.

Forces News has gained exclusive access to USS The Sullivans, an American destroyer which has deployed to protect the Royal Navy's HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The ship has been part of the maiden UK Carrier Strike Group (CSG21) deployment, one of several vessels and aircraft escorting the British aircraft carrier across the globe.

For the captain and crew on board USS The Sullivans, the story of where the warship's name comes from - a group of brothers who served with the US Navy - is a source of inspiration when tackling missions of "historic" significance. 

History of the ship and its name

The Sullivans were five brothers who signed up to the US Navy at the height of the Second World War after the bombing of Pearl Harbour.

George Sullivan and his younger brothers Francis, Joseph, Madison and Albert, from Waterloo in Iowa, petitioned the navy for a guarantee in their enlistment contracts that they would be stationed together.

The navy obliged and the five brothers joined the crew of USS Juneau.

Their ship would go on to participate in a number of engagements at sea until its last, during the Guadalcanal campaign in November 1942.

It was hit by Japanese torpedoes and eventually sank, taking the lives of all five brothers on board in what was the single greatest military loss by one American family during the conflict.

Watch: On board USS The Sullivans. 

In honour of their sacrifice, a Fletcher-class destroyer was named USS The Sullivans.

The vessel was commissioned in September 1943 and was sponsored by the men's mother, Alleta Sullivan.

It was the first ship commissioned in the US Navy to honour more than one person. 

The destroyer went on to have a distinguished career, earning 9 Battle Stars during the remainder of the Second World War and two during the Korean War.

It now serves as a memorial at the Naval and Military Park in Buffalo, New York. 

Nowadays, the brothers' legacy continues to live on through the latest USS The Sullivans, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, commissioned in April 1997, which is currently deployed on CSG21.

Part of the ship's motto - 'we stick together' - is inspired by the Sullivan brothers and throughout the vessel, there are nods to them, including clovers reflecting their Irish heritage.

Speaking about the motto phrase, USS The Sullivans' Captain, Commander David Burkett, said: "In the letters that they [the brothers] wrote, imploring the navy to allow them serve together, in one of the letters specifically it said: 'If you let us serve together, we will be a team that can't be beaten.'

"And they took it upon themselves to make themselves a team and they grew up together and they served together on the Juneau... and they all died together."

UK Carrier Strike Group Phase 2 in convoy as they transit through the Suez Canal. HMS Queen Elizabeth transits in the convoy 20210706 Credit MOD Crown Copyright.jpg
The Carrier Strike Group sailing through the Suez Canal (Picture: MOD).

Operations Specialist Karina Marquez, who serves on board the 505-foot vessel, explained how the brothers' story of sticking together through service stirs the crew today.

"The strong heritage really plays a big part on the crew, mostly because we know that when there's a time to execute something we've all got to be there for each other," she said.

"I know that I have sailors on board that I can call family," she added.

The US Navy destroyer possesses a broad armament, including a vertical launch system, two Phalanx Close-In Weapons Systems, eight harpoon missile launchers and six torpedo tubes.

It has a top speed of more than 30 knots and has a range of 4,400 nautical miles.