Weapons Test Platform Years

Missile Test Programs

On 30 June 1976, Ex USS Stoddard was transferred from the inactive ship facility, Mare Island, California to the Pacific Missile Test Center at Point Mugu. The required equipment removals were accomplished, and the ship was modified to perform a new service. During the next few years she served as a target in various weapons test programs, including the Tomahawk Project.

Having survived this first group of test assignments, Stoddard was given a new challenge.


Block 0 Phalanx (1983)

Even though her flag may have been lowered for the last time and her boilers are silent, the Ex-Stoddard has continued to serve in the tradition of her proud heritage. A new crew of test engineers, technician, cameramen, and weapons experts have replaced the many Navy crews, which served the Stoddard. At watch on the helm is a remote control system and outboard motors propel the ship at less than exhilarating speed, but the Ex Stoddard has continued to go in harms way, facing threats that were not even conceived of when she slipped down the waves for the first time.

She has weathered the onslaught of tactical missiles in a manner that surely makes the ghosts of her past crews proud. No longer able to maneuver or speed to safe haven, she has stood and waited as a small white domed object has stood watch on her rear deck. That object that General Dynamics lovingly calls R2D2, and the Navy calls Phalanx, has made many cruises on board the Ex Stoddard. In November of 1983, a block O Phalanx went aboard the Ex Stoddard for the first time to prove that it would in fact negate the threat of real tactical missile targets and not just lab-contrived test targets.

The Phalanx Close-in Weapon System is the U.S. Navy's last line of defense against airborne threats to the fleet. It is a fast-reaction, rapid fire, computer controlled radar and gun system capable of operating in an all-weather, closed in environment. It was designed and developed by General Dynamics in 1979 and manufactured at the company's Air Defense Systems Division facilities in Pomona, CA.

As a self-contained package, Phalanx automatically carries out search, detection, target threat evaluation, tracking, firing and kill assessment. The system's unique defensive capability is based on closed-loop spotting, a radar technology breakthrough. This technique uses advanced radar and computer technology to locate, identify and direct a stream of armor piercing projectiles to destroy missiles and low altitude aircraft.


It uses an electrically controlled, hydraulically driven 20mm six-barrel Gatling-type gun capable of firing more that 4,500 rounds per minute.

The Block I version incorporates major performance upgrades to the close-in weapon system, including increased search capability, an enhanced fire control system, larger ammunition magazine, increased fire power, and improved reliability and maintainability. 

The Block I version incorporates major performance upgrades to the close-in weapon system, including increased search capability, an enhanced fire control system, larger ammunition magazine, increased fire power, and improved reliability and maintainability. The Block I Phalanx also has high-elevation coverage against high altitude diving targets while maintaining low altitude sea-skimmer coverage. More than 700 systems have been produced to date (1991) and have been installed on more than 400 U.S. Navy Ships. Phalanx has been purchased by 10 foreign navies. (Press Release: March 1991, Public Affairs Office, Air Defense Systems Division, P.O. Box 50800, Ontario, CA. 91761-1085, (714-945-8861 or (714-868-3736)

Block 1 Phalanx (1984)

In November 1984, after a summer of facing a vast array of tactical targets, the Ex Stoddard proudly returned to Port Hueneme, intact to await her next trial. In June of 1985, the Ex Stoddard again set sail, this time with a block I baseline O Phalanx to protect her. After facing supersonic diving targets, she again returned to Port Hueneme, unscathed, in September of 1985.

Still ready to answer the call, Ex Stoddard again headed for the open sea in October of 1987, this time sporting a block I baseline Phalanx on her fantail. Again the Stoddard Phalanx Team faced skimming and diving tactical targets and the supersonic vandal diving and sea-skimming target. After six months of this war-like punishment, the team proudly returned to port with barely a scratch.

Never willing to surrender, the Ex Stoddard again braved the elements and man in the winter of 1989-1990 to prove herself once more. With a block I baseline 1 Phalanx on board, she again headed for the test range and unknown threats. With a new special software program and a new kitchen and quarters aboard, this proud ship was again positioned in harms way. After the smoke cleared and the last missile was expended, the Stoddard Phalanx Team again returned to port after a job well done. During the testing outlined above, the Ex USS Stoddard was subjected to attack by no less than forty-three targets, from subsonic BQM drones to supersonic vandals. She also faced the best and newest tactical targets in today’s missile arsenal. The knowledge and experience gained from these tests would not have been possible without the help of this fine ship.

ex-Stoddard Hull Layout during testing

This drawing shows the mechanical and electronic configuration sometime during this test program. Notice the diesel outboard motor and generators on the bow. 

TestHull.jpg (86081 bytes)