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Voyaging

Admiral Philip A. Dur Interview

Admiral Philip A. Dur, USN, (Ret.)
Admiral Philip A. Dur, USN, (Ret.)

A retired Navy admiral has certainly earned the right to kick back and relax aboard his Maritimo C50.

Admiral Philip A. Dur, USN, (Ret.), spent his youth traveling the world with his family. He returned to the U.S. for high school, and eventually earned both a bachelor’s and master’s from University of Notre Dame in Government and International Studies, with a concentration in Soviet and Eastern European Studies. Upon graduation in 1965, he embarked upon an illustrious 30-year military career that would see him reach the rank of rear admiral. After retiring from the Navy he worked as an executive in the civil sector while continuing to enjoy the sea. Today he is fully retired and cruises his Maritimo C50 out of Destin, Florida, with his wife, Judy, and their golden doodle, Cody.

Power & Motoryacht: Where did you grow up? 

Admiral Dur: I was born in Bethesda, Maryland, on June 22, 1944. My father was a naval officer. Shortly after the war in 1948 he joined the diplomatic service for the U.S. and we went on an 11-year odyssey abroad living in France, Germany, Panama, and Japan. We returned to America when I was 15, and I started high school and then Notre Dame.

Power & Motoryacht: Tell me about your naval career. 

Admiral Dur: While at Notre Dame I was a member of NROTC. After graduating I commenced my active duty in 1965. I served as a surface warfare officer on seven cruisers and destroyers, ultimately ending up as commander of Comte de Grasse (DD-974), a destroyer. While I was a captain I also commanded the AEGIS guided missile cruiser, USS Yorktown (CG-48) [not to be confused with the aircraft carrier of the same name]. My Navy service brought me to all Seven Seas, as I was a member of both the Atlantic and the Pacific fleets. 

As a flag officer I served as the U.S. defense attaché accredited to France. I commanded cruiser-destroyer group EIGHT. So all the cruisers and destroyers and battleships in Norfolk, Virginia, were under my command—a total of 38 ships. I also commanded the USS Saratoga carrier battle group. That was seven ships deployed to the Med and North Atlantic. I finished my career as the Assistant Deputy CNO [Chief of Naval Operations] for Plans, Policy, and Operations before retiring from the Navy in May 1995. 

Power & Motoryacht: How did you get started in pleasure boating? 

Admiral Dur: The first boat I owned was an admiral’s barge. It was put up for auction by the Navy in 1998. It was the same barge I had used when I was commanding the USS Saratoga battle group, and I thought it was kind of interesting that my old barge was up for sale, so I put in a bid and I got it. It was in a very sad state of disrepair, so I put in a lot of money, and I restored it—De Grasse was her name.

After that I had a Cruisers Sport 390 we owned for three years, and then in 2010 we saw the Maritimos for the first time, and we thought of buying a bigger boat, specifically with two cabins so we could have guests cruise overnight. In fall, 2011 we bought the Maritimo C50 that is the De Grasse III. The Cruisers was De Grasse II.

Power & Motoryacht: What are good lessons leisure boaters can learn from the Navy? 

Admiral Dur: Love of the sea, respect for high wind and waves, and a tremendous sense of adventure. Those are the qualities that you learn in the Navy that you can apply directly to pleasure boating. Oh, and my wife works as crew on our boat, she’d like me to add that the Navy taught me to be bossy. 

Click here to see a video of the USS Yorktown being rammed by a Soviet destroyerPower & Motoryacht: You’ve spent countless hours at sea, what’s the strangest thing you’ve seen on the water?

Admiral Dur: I was rammed by a Soviet destroyer in February of 1988 while in command of the Yorktown. We were in the Black Sea. We were exercising the right of innocent passage in waters that they had declared to be closed in violation of international law.

Power & Motoryacht: Does that happen often in the Navy? To ram another ship? 

Admiral Dur: No. Ramming happened about half a dozen times during the course of the Cold War. The Soviet commander said he was going to “strike” us. I didn’t know if it was with missiles or guns or what, but when the ship got closer and I saw the anchor unhoused, I got the picture pretty quickly, because that’s what he rammed us with! They damaged my ship, but they were not able to force us out of those waters. But yeah, it got pretty tense there for a while.

This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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