Life on a Fletcher Class Destroyer in the 1950’s

USS Halsey Powell NH 91903

The author served in USS Halsey Powell (DD 686), shown here in an undated post-World War II photo. NHHC image NH 91903.

 

By Captain George Stewart, USN (Retired)

This is the first of a series of articles describing life in the 1950s on a World War II built Fletcher Class Destroyer. My connection to these ships began as I was approaching graduation from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in August of 1956. Due to a change in legislation it was suddenly announced that all of my class would be required to serve on active duty in the Navy for 3 years upon graduation. My orders turned out to be to the USS Halsey Powell (DD 686), a Fletcher Class Destroyer home ported in San Diego, California. At the time I had not quite reached my 21st birthday.

The Fletcher class destroyers were authorized as part of the 1941-42 Shipbuilding Program. They incorporated many lessons learned from earlier classes of destroyers built during the 1930s and in the early stages of World War II, particularly relating to stability and sea keeping ability. During the 1930s, the Navy had produced a succession of “step deck” destroyer designs with raised forecastles. But the Fletcher Class reverted to a “flush deck” design like the destroyers of World War I. Most of the ships were initially assigned to the Pacific Fleet where they were to play a major role in the war.

A total of 175 Fletcher Class Destroyers were commissioned between 4 June 1942 and 22 February 1945. The lead ship of the class was USS Fletcher (DD 445). Hull numbers ranged between 445 and 691 plus an additional block between 792 and 804. The ships were built in 11 different shipyards. A total of 19 ships of the class were lost to war action and 6 more were damaged beyond repair. My ship, USS Halsey Powell (DD 686) was built at Bethlehem Steel, Staten Island. It was commissioned in October 1943.

The major ship characteristics were as follows:

  • Length – 376.5’
  • Beam – 39’7”
  • Draft – 18’
  • Standard Displacement – 2150 Tons
  • Screws – 2
  • Rudders – 1
  • Power – 60,000 HP
  • Design Speed – 36 Knots
  • Range – 4790 nautical miles at 15.8 knots
  • Wartime Complement – 329 Personnel
  • Normal peacetime – 14 Officers – 236 Enlisted

The Main Battery consisted of five single dual purpose (Surface to surface and Anti-Air) 5”/38 Gun Mounts. Two mounts were located forward and three aft. Mounts were numbered consecutively from forward to aft (51, 52, 53, 54, and 55). These mounts had a firing rate up to 18 rounds per minute. Effective range was 17,306 yards at 45° elevation and altitude of 32,250 feet at 85° elevation. The total crew for reach mount was approximately 20, counting personnel in the mount, upper and lower handling rooms, and projectile & powder magazines. The guns used semi-fixed ammunition (projectile and powder loaded separately). Guns could be fired using radar, computer generated, or visual information. All training, elevation, and firing was normally controlled from the Mk 37 Director on top of the pilot house. However all loading functions were accomplished manually. There was a 5 inch loading machine on the main deck amidships that replicated the loading mechanism of the guns. These were used for training gun crews.

Occasionally I was assigned duties as check sight observer during live firing exercises. My purpose was to look through a telescope and ensure that the gun was pointed where it should be. This was an assignment that I absolutely loathed.

The destroyer was originally conceived as a counter to high speed torpedo boats around the turn of the century. The first US Navy destroyer was USS Bainbridge (DD 1), which entered service in 1903. By the time of World War I, the destroyer had become a major part of the fleet. During that war its primary duties were convoy escort and antisubmarine patrol. Originally, the primary purpose of the ships was to deliver torpedoes against surface targets and this thinking carried over into World War II. Therefore, the Fletchers were originally fitted with two five tube surface to surface torpedo mounts, each located immediately aft of one of the stacks. As the threat imposed by aircraft became more apparent, one of the mounts was later removed and replaced with anti-aircraft protection.

Another reason for the demise of the surface to surface torpedo was the invention of radar which essentially destroyed any stealth advantages that the destroyer possessed. I only remember a couple of live firing exercises. The approach was by the “John Wayne” method consisting of a 25 knot approach, delivery of the weapon, and a high speed retreat.

The surface to surface torpedo essentially disappeared from the post war fleet, although destroyer types were later fitted with anti-submarine homing torpedoes.

Other weaponry included:

  • Two quad (4 barrel) 40 MM AA gun mounts – These replaced the forward torpedo mount.
  • Three twin (2 barrel) 40 MM gun mounts
  • Two depth charge tracks
  • Six depth charge projectors
  • Six 20 MM gun mounts

After the war all 20 MM gun mounts were removed and the forward 40 MM mounts were replaced by a pair of ahead thrown anti-submarine projectile (Hedgehog) mounts. Additionally, a number of the ships had their 40 MM mounts replaced by 3”/50s.

Fletchers were the first destroyers to be fitted with radar. The ships carried surface search, air search, and fire control radars. The surface search radar had a range out to the horizon (about 10-12 miles) while the air search (when it worked) could see out to about 40-45 miles. The fire control radar was used strictly for control of the 5” gun battery.

The advent of radar resulted in a new space being created, called the Combat Information Center (CIC). On Halsey Powell, it had been converted from what was originally the unit commander’s cabin. The CIC later evolved into the major nerve center for conducting all surface, subsurface, and anti-air/missile operations aboard naval ships.

The ships were propelled by a twin screw steam propulsion plant rated at 60,000 HP that could produce a maximum speed somewhere between 35 and 37 knots. Considering that this was with 1930s technology, this was a very respectable level of power and it would still be considered as such today.

Superheated steam was generated in four oil burning boilers at a pressure of 600 pounds per square inch and a temperature of 850° F. Two boilers were installed in each fire room. Each of the two stacks served a pair of boilers. The boilers were of the divided furnace or “M” type with separate furnaces for control of steam pressure and temperature (superheat). These boilers were used on nearly all World War II era carriers, battleships, cruisers, and destroyers. A disadvantage of this type of boilers was that they imposed some definite limitations on the ability to conduct low speed maneuvering on short notice.

There were two cross compounded geared steam turbine main engines. Each engine consisted of a high pressure (HP) and low pressure (LP) turbine set driving its associated propeller shaft through a double reduction gear.  The rated output of each engine was 30,000 HP at a propeller speed of 395 RPM. The HP and LP turbines were connected in series with respect to steam flow and in parallel mechanically into the reduction gear. A smaller cruising turbine was mounted on the front end of the HP turbine. Astern elements were provided in the LP turbine. To go astern you had to shut off steam to the ahead turbines before you could admit steam to the astern turbine. Control was manual; by hand wheels mounted on a large gage board adjacent to the engine in response to engine order telegraph signals from the bridge.

The electrical plant consisted of two 350 kW 450 VAC steam turbine driven ship service generators (SSTG), one in each engine room plus a 100 kW emergency diesel generator located in the forward part of the ship. By comparison, a modern destroyer has three 2500 to 3000 kW generators.

Machinery spaces were in an echelon arrangement, with alternating fire rooms and engine rooms. The starboard shaft was about 75’ longer than the port shaft. This provided for redundancy in the event of battle damage and it remains the practice today on twin screw naval vessels. From forward to aft, the spaces were:

  • Forward (#1) Fire Room containing #1 and #2 Boilers and associated forced draft blowers, fuel pumps, and associated equipment.
  • Forward (#1) Engine Room containing the Starboard (#1) Main Engine, #1 ship service generator, a 12,000 gallon per day distilling plant, and associated auxiliary equipment. This was designated as the Control Engine Room and it was the station for the Engineering Officer of the Watch (usually a CPO) who was responsible for coordinating the operation, including communications with the bridge. This was the Chief Engineer’s station when entering or leaving port or under battle conditions.
  • After (#2) Fire Room containing #3 and #4 Boilers and associated equipment. Except for the starboard shaft running through it, the space was essentially the same as the Forward Fire Room.
  • After (#2) Engine Room, essentially a mirror image of the Forward Engine Room containing the Port (#2) Main Engine, #2 generator, and associated equipment.

Normal steaming configuration was with two boilers on the line in a “Split Plant” configuration with one boiler in each fire room supplying its associated engine and all valves connecting the forward and after plants closed. Essentially this provided two completely independent engineering plants. Two boilers were capable of providing speeds up to 28 knots which was adequate for most operations.

Access to each of these spaces was by hatches and vertical ladders to the Main Deck above. There were two means of egress from each space, one port and one starboard. There was no access between spaces below the Main Deck. To go between machinery spaces it was “up and over”.

An environmentalist would look askance at ships of this era. All commodes and urinals discharged directly overboard. When I was Chief Engineer, my night orders told my sailors to only pump bilges at night while in port. We still had the capability to lay smoke screens. All trash and garbage was dumped overboard at sea. The ships had to take on sea water ballast directly into the fuel tanks to maintain stability under light loading conditions and deballasting operations at sea took several hours during which we would be discharging a nasty looking oil slick. The machinery spaces were loaded with asbestos insulation. Fortunately, we do much better today at protecting the environment.

Living accommodations were nothing to brag about. Sailors were berthed by division in 4 high tiers of canvas bunks with upright lockers. The practice of placing portholes in the side for ventilation had gone away and there was no air conditioning. The galley was on the main deck and all food had to be carried down in large trays to the mess deck below. A drawback to the ship design was the lack of a fore and aft passage inside the ship, making it possible for the two ends of the ship to be cut off from each other during bad weather when it was unsafe to go out on deck.

The Chief Petty Officers had their own mess. But their berthing accommodations were not much better than those of the crew. As officers we lived somewhat better, but our accommodations were not very sumptuous either. The captain had his own cabin and head. He also had a small sea cabin adjacent to the bridge. The wardroom and officers mess was on the Main Deck forward, just aft of Mount 52. All of the rest of us lived one deck down in “Officer’s Country” in small two man staterooms. We all shared the same head. Only the Executive Officer had his own stateroom.

The Fletcher class destroyers are still regarded as the best destroyers produced by any navy during World War II. The Sumner (DD 692) and Gearing (DD 710) class ships were essentially improved versions of the Fletchers. But they did not really get into the war soon enough to make as much of an impact. Because the navy had a surplus of ships after the war, many of the Fletcher Class destroyers, including Halsey Powell were decommissioned, and placed into reserve fleets in 1946.

Halsey Powell and many of her sister ships were re-commissioned in 1952 at the outbreak of the Korean War. By the 1960s a number of them, including Halsey Powell had been assigned to Naval Reserve training duties. In the early 1960s the navy embarked on a major effort referred to as the FRAM (Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization) program. But the majority of the ships upgraded under this program were of the Sumner and Gearing classes.

Some Fletchers were still around during the Vietnam War, but all had been decommissioned by 1971. Thirty Two were sold to foreign navies, including my old ship, USS Halsey Powell  which became the ROK Seoul. The last active Fletcher was the USS John Rogers (DD 574) which served in the Mexican Navy until 2001. For those interested in visiting a Fletcher class museum ship, there are three located around the United States: USS Cassin Young (DD 793) in Boston, MA, USS Kidd (DD 661) in Baton Rouge, LA, and USS The Sullivans (DD 537)  in Buffalo, NY.

More details concerning life on a Fletcher Class destroyer will be provided in upcoming articles.

(read part 2 here)

George W. Stewart is a retired US Navy Captain. He is a 1956 graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. During his 30 year naval career he held two ship commands and served a total of 8 years on naval material inspection boards, during which he conducted trials and inspections aboard over 200 naval vessels. Since his retirement from active naval service in 1986 he has been employed in the ship design industry where he has specialized in the development of concept designs of propulsion and powering systems, some of which have entered active service. He currently holds the title of Chief Marine Engineer at Marine Design Dynamics.

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80 Responses to Life on a Fletcher Class Destroyer in the 1950’s

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  3. vince marino says:

    This is a great article. I tour the Cassin Young quite often and getting first hand accounts of life on board brings the ship alive ( sadly, she may not have much longer to “live” as the Navy doesn’t have the funds to continue needed repairs to keep her afloat). For example, I did not know you couldn’t go from one end to the other without being outside on deck. I also assumed food from the galley had an unseen elevator available. Carrying heavy trays of hot food in bad seas had to be hard. I look forward to the next chapters.

    • geoge monaghan says:

      I was on the Fletcher DD445. Our food was served to us down below on the Mess Decks. It was brought below by the mess cooks. Your right the idea of carry food below is crazy ??
      We finally got A/C in 1966. Also I was a Boilerman. On the Fletcher we had D type boilers.

      • Mike Kelly says:

        On the “D” type boilers was that uncontrollable superheat?

        • George W. Stewart says:

          Virtually all of the major combatants of destroyer size and above including the Fletcher, Sumner, and Gearing classes that entered service during World War II were fitted with M Type boilers with divided furnaces, one of which contained separate burners for control of superheat. At least one ship in Our Squadron, the USS Shields had been back fitted with D type single furnace boilers with integral superheaters as an experimental installation. D type boilers were used on World War II built steam powered destroyer escorts and they became virtually universal on all conventional steam powered vessels that entered service after the war. An exception being the pressurized furnace boilers that were fitted on the Garcia (DE/FF 1040) class ocean escorts built in the 1960s.

          • william clark says:

            All Gearing class and most all Fletcher class had M -type superheat controlled 600 psi boilers or they could not have reached 32+ knots . I was on The USS Furse DDR 882 and the Richard E Krause DD 849 back in 1957 to 1970, also on the DLG 8 MacDonough, and DLG 32 Stanley which had Foster wheeler Boilers of 1200 PSI with Auto combustion controls. I cannot count the times I had to clean the firesides and watersides over those period of times on those 600 PSI M-Type Boilers. Not to mention all those Handhole plates that had to be replaced with new gaskets for Hydro test afterwards.

      • Steve Krenz says:

        I was a BT aboard the USS Sproston DD-577 in the same unit as the Fletcher. Our home port was Pearl Harbor. We had B&W M type boilers not D types.

      • Jerry Stephenson BTC UJSN Ret says:

        Were you on the Shields? Only 2100 ton DD that I’m aware of having the “D” type boilers.

        • George Stewart says:

          I did not serve on Shields. But it was in our squadron. I visited the ship once to take a look at its boilers. If I remember correctly they had 8 burners which we felt were far too many.

      • Joe Gatlin says:

        Sorry George. Fletcher had “M” type boilers. That is, one side of the boiler produced saturated steam and the other side produced superheated steam. I was among the last crew of Fletcher and later served as Engineer Officer on USS Braine DD-630 and USS W L Lind DD-703.
        To answer the question below, these DD’s had controlled superheat, usually at 750 or 850 deg F. The temperature of 600 psi sat steam is 489 deg F.

  4. I served on a Gearing long hull during the Viet Nam war, and it was essentially just as you descrbed. We had ASROC launchers mounted amidships and had a helo deck and hanger for anti-sub helo ops, but mostly lived just as you had in the 1950’s.

    See the website above for an indication of how well they could survive modern mines.

  5. Dave Shirlaw says:

    Uhlmann was the last in US service as NRF ship in Tacoma.

    • Steve Winters says:

      I was an active duty Gunners Mate aboard Uhlmann until she was decommissioned and replaced as a Naval Reserve Trainer in Tacoma, WA by a Gearing, USS Brinkley Bass, DD887. She was scrapped in Portland, Oregon so I stopped by to get a couple of pictures and they cut a chunk of 1″ thick steel and gave to me, so a piece of her is still here!

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  7. Pete Smith says:

    This a wonderful website and that is a great article by Capt. Stewart. I was a radioman on the USS Knapp DD-653 and my brother was an Ensign on the USS Cogswell DD-651 and we both served in the early 50’s. My other brother was in the army and he was also serving at the same time during the Korean War. I have a question regarding REPUN. How often did a Fletcher have to refuel while underway and was it an actual need for fuel or to keep the ballast up for stability?
    Thanks,
    Pete Smith RM2c USS Knapp

    • George W. Stewart says:

      In response to Pete Smith’s question, here is what I remember.
      How often we were refueled depended a great deal on the operating circumstances. In a battle group, they tried to not let us get below 60%. This was for both operational and stability reasons. The weather in the South China Sea could be rather unpredictable. I described the circumstances in which we got caught in a typhoon and snapped our mast in a later article. We were always required to take on ballast during transits between Pearl Harbor and San Diego.
      Interestingly, my CO, Cdr Dave Loomis had served as XO aboard the USS Aylwin (DD 355) during WW II when it got caught in what was referred to as “Halsey’s Typhoon” and he had very strong views on ballastin. He is listed as one of the consultants in a book on this subject.
      We absolutely hated the exercise. In those days we had no tank level indicators and when deballasting we had to take the tank covers off and shine flashlights down into

      • Pete Smith says:

        You answered my question completely and I appreciate your response. My ship, the USS Knapp DD-653 was also in Typhoon Cobra and picked up some of the survivors from the destroyers that capsized. Most people don’t realize that refueling at sea was difficult and dangerous.

  8. George W. Stewart says:

    (Continued) the tanks to make sure we had gotten all of the water out. If we were steaming in a column, the commodore had to put us in a line abreast foundation so we would not contaminate the distilling plants on ships astern of us with our oil slick.
    Hope this answers the question.

  9. John Bailey says:

    Captain

    I served aboard the USS Nicholas (DD-449) in the late 60s as DASH and Gunnery Officer both, reporting to Weaps. This morning I plugged into Google’s search window “Fletcher destroyer longitudinals” hoping for information on Fletcher-class hull design and pulled up your articles. What a surprise and what a delight.

    My stateroom-mate was the Nick’s Chief Engineer. Did he have his work cut out for him!

  10. Harry Curtis says:

    Is a good read…
    I served in Ammen DD 527 in the late 50’s until the collision 19 July 1960 , with the USS Collett and her decommisioning in Sept 1960.The Fletcher’s were a wonderful little ship, one of my favorite’s that I served on.

  11. Richard Lingenfelter says:

    I served aboard the U.S.S. Henley D.D. 762 from Sept. 1952—May 26,1956. I was a BT in the after firerroom under Chief Richard Branch. Many remarks have been made about Destroyer duty, but I loved it, and would do it again.

  12. warren mitchell says:

    I served for 2 years on the USS Owen DD536 in CIC. 1953 – 1955. We were still all WW2 except for upgrades on electronics, no 20mm, and a tripod mast. It was a fine ship and I enjoyed my time on her as we were on the go a lot. Home port was Norfolk and later Long beach.

  13. HENRY WATSON says:

    I was on the Vammen DE644 & the Isbell DD869. My buddy was on the Marshel DD676& He only rembers one way in &out but they were one port & one starbard. Am i right

    Thanks Hank
    1960-1964

  14. HENRY WATSON says:

    I was on the Vammen DE644 & the Isbell DD869. My buddy was on the Marshel DD676& He only rembers one way in &out of the Eng rm but they were one port & one starbard. Am i right

    Thanks Hank
    1960-1964

    • There were always two ways in and out of the machinery spaces on the Fletcher Class Destroyers, one port and one starboard. The main entrances to the spaces were located on the Main Deck as follows:
      Forward Fire Room – Starboard
      Forward Engine Room -Port
      After Fire Room – Port
      After Engine Room – Starboard
      Each space also had a ladder on the opposite side of the space from the main entrances leading up to an emergency escape scuttle on the main deck.
      On ships designed in the early 1930s there was direct access between spaces through water tight doors in the bulkheads. By World War II direct access was prohibited and it was necessary to go “Up and Over” between spaces.
      George W. Stewart

  15. Howard Bennett Jr says:

    I served on the Fletcher Class Ship, USS Saufley DD DDE EDDE 465 in the early 1960’s thru the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was a Radioman (RM 3). I was aboard when JFK came on the Saufley for a review of the ships involved in the Blockade, in November 26, 1962.

    • richard bonnett says:

      hey shipmate… I was aboard 1963 up through mothballs in Portsmouth in 1965 …. contact me on cell phone at 301-674-0181 … I also have some pictures of President Kennedy visiting the ship … Are you planning to go to any reunions ? ..and did you make a career of the Navy ? What state do you live in ? And is your contact info with the reunion group ?

      • Tony Nardone says:

        Richard, I was on the repair ship in Portsmouth,helped put the Saufley out of commission. She was a good ship…TN

  16. Thom Lakso says:

    My father was a fire controlman on the McCord. He was one of the first Navy nerds. Fire control is an all to often forgotten inovation, but the Fletchers had the first Navy computers that gave greater accuracy to gun control.
    I served on the Prichett and Preston for almost six years. I am probably one of the last torpedomen to fire the old steam torpedoes before they were replaced with more modern ASW systems.
    You also right about cramped living and absence of privacy. “Where do you go for privacy?” This was the first question my wife asked when we toured the Kidd. Also I am very claustrophobic, but I only remember three bunk stacks not four.

  17. Michael Bell says:

    I was a Communications Technician Operator in the early 1970s on the USS FORRESTAL and was exclusively a teletype/crypto operator. I am curious about the radio work done in the 1950s. From what little I’ve found, I think each watch would have a couple of morse code operators copying the fleet broadcast and possibly ship to ship or ship to shore. There would also have been a couple of RMs copying teletype. Encryption was via a roto disk system (KL7?) as the tube or transistor crypto would have come some what later..

    Was the ship to shore comms via manual morse or was it teletype?

    I can see them using manual morse nets between ships but somehow using teletype in a ship to ship net seems unlikely (unless there was a strong net control operator!)

    I enjoyed your article and admit the FORRESTAL was much more pleasant.

    Michael Bell

    • Ed Vallette says:

      I was lead Radioman aboard the USS STEPHEN POTTER DD538 from 1956 to 1958. We had 6 RM’s and ship to ship and ship to shore was by CW. In good conditions we copied FOX on 2 teletypes (receive only)slightest bit of rough seas and teletype went out Then we copied FOX by CW. This was a rough hard trip; I had one RM3 the rest were RMSN….

  18. Kenneth foerster says:

    Re CT operator Michael Bells comments re 1950’s radio work. I was a RM2. In the
    Late 50’s , and we had teletype, CW, and crypto (I was a crypto operator) stationed
    In NSA Naples, Italy serving the Sixth fleet. We mainly copied teletype msgs, but once in a while we wud get a fleet operator on CW. All crypto msgs wereon teletype
    Our mid watch msgs, we’re limited to probably 2400 hrs to 0200/0300, and then we
    Lost our frequency contact, knocking everything out. We paid for this outage around
    0500 when everything came back on line, and it was nonstop until relieved at 0800…
    Does the code MVRIN mean anything to you???? Reply

  19. jerry burbridge says:

    I served on the U.S.S. Conway D.D. 507. I remember tying an uncapped fuel hose into the trunk when refueling at sea. When refueling was completed the station crew were the only ones to get a fresh water shower to get that black fuel off. Does anyone know the exact type of fuel we received?

    • George W. Stewart says:

      In those days we were burning Navy Special Fuel Oil (NSFO) which was a blend of Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) and Navy Distillate. In the early 1970s the navy shifted over to a single fuel called DFM (Distillate Fuel Marine) that was much cleaner and could be burned in any type of plant aboard surface ships. This was a major factor that allowed a changeover from steam to gas turbine propulsion aboard surface combatants.

      • George W. Stewart says:

        Just one thing to add.

        The navy would have liked to go to a single fuel for everything but it is necessary to use a separate fuel, JP-5 for aircraft. DFM and JP-5 have many similar characteristics including the same flash point.But JP-5 contains additives to prevent congealing when the aircraft is operating in cold air at high altitudes. So now we have a two fuel navy, DFM & JP-5.

    • william clark says:

      Most likely Naval Special # 6 oil.

    • Bob Crocker BT2 says:

      I remember salt water showers. We were always on water hours before clearing port. I was on decom crews of DD-447 & DD-450, these were good ships
      Bob Crocker BT-2

  20. Mike says:

    Could people have gone fore to aft (and vice versa) by going through engineering? I suspect that few non-snipes would either want to or would be allowed to do so.

    • George W. Stewart says:

      No. By World War II direct access between engineering spaces was prohibited and it was necessary to go “Up and Over. To get from forward to aft or vice versa it was necessary to go up on the main deck. On the Fletchers it was necessary to go out into the weather but the Sumner and Gearing class ships were fitted with enclosed passages.

  21. Bill Spillman says:

    I served on the Ammen DD527 (’59, ’60) and was also on it when it collided with the Collette in 1960. Also, on the Radford DD446 (CIC) out of Pearl from late ’60 thru 63. Four Wespac cruises and three typhoons. Loved it all!!! Radford Reunions every year since 1990. Losing a lot of shipmates as the years go by. One saying that applies to all of us and our Ships, is that as long as one of us is still alive, so are our ships.

  22. Robert Ulery says:

    I was an et on the Black DD 666, ’65 to ’67. We did gunfire & river boat support.
    She was sort of ratty by then & needed frequent patching up, but did 38.6 knots.
    In 1967 the navy offered to sell her to Uruguay, but the decided she was not in good enough condition & bought the USS Chickadee instead.

    The Black has an annual reunion. Contact: Nancy West of Placerville CA.

  23. Best years of my life were in the U.S.S. Heermann DD 532. After fortunately attaining sea duty as the Korean conflict started, was able to depart NAS Agana, Guam and be assigned and be part of the commissioning of the U.S.S. Heermann DD 532 in San Diego, CA in 12 September, 1951. We sailed to England in July of ’53 for exercises during the Queen’s Coronation. Made our World Cruise on 7 December, 1953. I served aboard the Heermann till June of 1955 as GM2. Will always have fond memories of my days aboard a Fletcher Class destroyer. Our sister ship was the U.S.S. Hazelwood DD 531. Check out my website members.tripod.com/~WaipahuHaole1/heermann.html

  24. Ed Young says:

    I served on the USS Black DD666, ’59-’60, and the USS Allen M. Sumner DD692, ’64-’65. Have to admit the enclosed passageway fore and aft was a big improvement on Sumner. I can remember spending a lot of time in rough weather in the aft berthing compartment waiting for a break to try and go forward for food. Great tours on both ships though.

  25. Joseph N. Rich says:

    I went into navy in 6/23/5,at the age of 17 yrs.took my basic at Bainbridge, Md.,upon completion of same,was order to serve on the tender AD-19. Arrived on board in 10/22/52.Was assigned to 1st div. which was the deck apes. As time moved on I got luckily & was picked to go on temp. assignment aboard The U.S.S. Rich DDE 820 for helmsman training.(No Relation) to individual to whom the ship was named after. Six of my shipmates went along.We were on her for eight weeks plane guarding with the carrrier Lake Champlain CV39.off the coast of Virgina. The first week we were all sea sick & even forgotten that we were there. Then one day whle out & under way during take off & landing excercise & the weather being nasty,the helmsman that were on duty were not having a good day of keeping on course. The Captain was also having a bad hair day. Some unknown Quartermaster the mention to the Captain that there were six trainees on board to be helmsman. The Captain made a quick decision & order that we start are training right then & there.The reason being that we would do a better job at staying on course. It was just my luck that I would be first! The only wheel I ever had was the steering of a tractor up to that momment of time. I took hold of the wheel from Qm3, & was given the correct course to steer. Well let me tell you if the more experience QM could not stay on course by 5 degrees ,what did he expect of six rookies. There I was frozen at the wheel watching the gryo needle going to starborad then coming back to port the sea was I thought were fifty high, here we are bouncing, rolling,& the Captain expects me to do a better job of staying the course! Well I manged to stay within 20 . Well that was some day for me & the rest of my mates. We all made it . We went back to our luxury liner. We did get underway for operation spring board, Brooklyn Naval,& Hurricane
    anchorage that seem to come every weekend in Norfolk during the 1950’s. We got must of our sea duty during that period. That was my short time served on a “TinCan”. Then I took a Tiger Cruise in 1970 from Pearl Harbor, HW. to SanDigo,CA. on board the U.S.S. Hewtt 966, asa guest of Captain Mayberry. That was great!

  26. Frank Schoenbeck says:

    Great article. Information that I very much appreciate.
    I served on two Fletcher’s, the Philip, DD498, (1967-68) and the Fletcher herself. (1968-69). I was a DC3 on her last WesPac cruise and was volunteered for her decommissioning crew, setting flooding alarms under the boilers. A fresh air snipe that deep in the hole. Sure glad it was VERY cold iron.
    As a Sounding and Security watchstander, I made that fore and aft trip across the 01 deck, no matter what weather, 8 times in 4 hours. Hard way to earn sea legs. I ended my hitch on the Dennis J. Buckley, DD808. She had the luxury on an interior passageway. I died and gone to heaven. Pumping the chain locker on any of them was a major seasick test which I failed on occasion.
    Thanks again for your article!
    Frank Schoenbeck

    • Joe Gatlin says:

      Frank, we were shipmates. Made the same WestPac cruise that you did. Our skipper made flag rank. Also, Ensign Bill Cobb, the EMO, made flag rank.

  27. Tony Cirillo says:

    I served aboard the USS KIDD 661 as part of her decommissioning crew. Just prior to that we took her on her last voyage from Philadelphia to Boston where we were greeted by a number of ex KIDD crew members (Korea and WWII). If you want to learn all the workings of a ship decommissioning is the way to do it. As a machinist mates we were responsible to decommission all engineering components. That is, other than boilers. For example, the emegency diesel was dismantled, thoroughly cleaned with spirits. New piston rings and a new head gasket were installed. However, not before everything was coated with cosmoline for protection. The head gasket was not torqued as the head will have to be removed remove the cosmoline. All valve stem packing was removed from each manual valve. New, cut to size, packing was place in water proof bags and attached, by wire, to each valve. All tools, spanner, cresent, open end/closed end wrenches, rachetts, etc. were coated with cosmoline and wrapped in heavy wax cloth and stored in the engine room work bench. This also went for the reduction gears and associated oil sump. Why you ask, did we do all this. We were told the ship had to be put in such a capacity that she could be put back in action in 30 days if called upon. Well she’e now a living museum in Baton Rouge, LA. She was brought back to her WWII armament. They have air conditioned some spaces to allow sleep overs by scouts. It’s amazing all the memories walking her decks brought back. Only a tin can sailor can appreciate this sea going grey hound for what she really is, home.

  28. David FOGG U.S.N. Ret. says:

    I served 4 years on the Caperton DD650 went on right out of boot camp I was there for a week and the CO asked me if I wanted to be a cook. Good job I had a lot of buddies and a lot of cold beer in port went on for 20 that was the best duty God Bless Dave

  29. Donald W Hansen says:

    Was on the USS Saufley… DD 465….. I was a Water Tender 3rd class in forward fire room….. We all took turns at the four functions and each of us “blew a safety valve” at least once when we could not shut oil valves fast enough (steam pressure over 615 pounds.) Our bunks were 3-high with lockers under bottom bunk. Served mostly Ithe Phillipines from OCT44 to end of war. I lament the fact there are not many of us WWII vets left! The

  30. Donald W Hansen says:

    I was on the USS Saufley DD465 from MAY44 thru JULY46….. Was a Water Tender 3rd class and served in the forward fire room. …. We took turns on the 4 four functions and each of us blew at least 1 safety valve (615 pounds) when not getting oil valve/s shut off fast enough! Our bunks were mostly 3 high with lockers under….. I have 4 battle stars…. I really lament the fact that there are so few of us WWII veterans left!

  31. Bob Crocker BT2 says:

    I remember saltwater showers, we won’t even clear port until we were on water hours! I served on DD-450 & DD-447 From 1967-1970, then finished on a cruiser.
    The Fletcher’s were good ships, started my life’s work as a process operator @ petro-
    chemical facilities . Wonderful experience!!

  32. Richard L. Orton says:

    I served aboard the Fletcher class Destroyer USS Bache from July 1952 to August 1955 out of Norfolk Va. The ship spent time in the Caribbean during the cold weather months in Norfolk. We made two trips to the Med. I made MM2 in a little less than 3 years. It was a fast little ship but some times a real rough rider. I saw a lot of the world while aboard and wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. We spent three months in the Brooklyn navy yard and that was also a real experience. Ten years after I was discharged the ship went aground in Rhodes Greece. It was scraped there. I treasure the pictures I have of her. She saw a lot of action during WW2. Was hit by a Kamikaze. Killed a number of people.

  33. Richard L. Orton says:

    An after thought. The order came down to vacate the CE piers (Norfolk) and anchor out in the bay because a Hurricane was on the way. When arrived the anchor site someone decided to drop only one anchor. The engine rooms were tasked with keeping the strain off the anchor chain which we were doing until someone didn’t give the throttle man a bell to add more RPMs when suddenly,
    Thud. The anchor chain parted and nearly put us all on the deck. Then the bells started coming down faster than they could be recorded. The worst part was the deck crew had to go out and free up the other anchor. I think they were tied off some how. After the storm the Sonar crew looked for the anchor but never found it.

  34. Chuck Stoudt says:

    I served on the U.S.S.Taylor DDE 468 from September 1956 to September 1960, I loved Her like the finest woman in the world. I was a Gunners Mate, as you all know, doesn’t exist anymore. Had some bad typhoons in the South China Sea but great liberties in Japan, Subic Bay,Austrailia, and yes, I am a Shellback. They don’t do all the celebration anymore when the ship crosses any important meridians, it would probably be a violation of a crewmans personal rights..I thank God for being a part of my Brothers lives for those four years, they were some of the finest, crazyiest but most dependable men in this World.

    • Chuck Stoudt says:

      I can be reached at 404-520-9100..

    • Joe Gatlin says:

      You will be interested to know that Taylor was in Tokyo Bay for the surrender ceremonies. She was used to ferry the flag officers to Missouri for the Japanese surrender. My father was served in the Army was in Tokyo Bay for the ceremonies, too, but he was not on the Missouri. He served a year in the occupation forces in Japan on MacArthur’s staff.
      In 1969, after I got off the Fletcher, I was assigned to the Taylor which had been sold to the Italian Navy. I was with one other officer and about 17 enlisted men in the turnover crew. The new name was “Lanciere,” I think. When the ship left San Diego, there had to be at least two women for every Italian sailor attached to the ship. The women were of all ages and they were all crying. I can’t tell you how many phone calls I got from irate fathers, whose daughters were going to marry some Italian sailor, making $45 per month, and who couldn’t speak English. They were looking to me to intercede.

  35. Edward C Bowman Jr. MM 2 says:

    Was on board uss Bache dd470 from may of 62 till nov. 63.Most of the time I was in charge of the ships evaporator. ( water king).I remember the throttle board still had the holes in it from when the turbines blew up from the kamkazi attack.all in the forward engine room were killed.In November 1962 we were operating off the coast of New England in a terrible storm. The orders were all fore and aft traffic was to be done on the O-1 level for safety.I was on watch in the fwd. engine room with the messenger sitting beside me when it became time to call the next watch.He went up the ladder to call the watch.less than a minute later the ship took a tremendous roll to port, everyone had a frightened look as this was the worst roll we had ever taken.All of a sudden the man overboard alarm was sounded.The messengers hat had blown off and he went down to the main deck to retrieve it when the ship rolled.We had him sighted for 45 minutes but the sea was just too rough for him. He was lost.May God hold him in His loving arms forever. His name was George Hyduck ICFA. He was eighteen years old from Philadelphia,PA.

  36. Don Bruschi says:

    I served aboard the USS STOCKHAM DD683 homeported in NEWPORT, r.i. from April 1953 to June 6, 1956 as a Radioman P.O. After graduating from Class A Radioman school in Bainbridge,Md, I reported aboard ship and we made a shakedown cruise to Guantnamo Bay, Cuba, After departing Gitmo, we started on our round the world cruise on Dec. 7th ,1953. This included four months in the combat zone in Korea. Our duties were to escort and plane guard six attack carriers and to pick up any downed carrier aviators. We blockaded several Korean ports and were ready for shore bombardment if if called upon. We returned to Newport on July13, 1954. We conducted anti-submarine hunter-killer operations in the Atlantic until October,1955. During this time, we were the first destroyer to play hunter-killer with Americas first nuclear sub, the Uss Nautilaus along with Heerman, Hazelwood and C.J. Badger. after operations were over, all engines were stopped and the Nautilus surfaced alongside of us and we were amazed to see that she was longer and bigger than we were. I never will forget that. In October,1955, we departed for the Suez Canal, Isreal, Lebanon, Egypt. Arabia, Greece, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Gibralter. We returned to Newport in May and I was dicharged June 6, 1956. This was the best years of my life and I loved being on a destroyer – that was the real Navy.

  37. Mike Owens says:

    Us Halsey Powell DD686
    My father served as a electrician from
    About 1949 to 1964. I was no in Jan 27
    @955.in 1951 and 1952 my father and 64 other sailor’s were told that they would participate in Nuclear testing of A- bomds

    Mike Owens his Bennie
    64 sailor’s stood on deck so the navy could register the amount of radiation they would be exposed to. 1st day 5 miles
    Navy said too close over exsposed 2nd dsy 15 miles. My dad and 64 other sailor’s died with leukemia. My dad was 48 when he died in 1978. My dad had a country music band and he looked like Hank Williams Sang like Hank Williams and drank like him. The ship was requested to different ports where would sing for the admirals and their parties
    He was an alcoholic all my life. And their band would be drunk all the time. He brought Hank Williams music to different countries. He was good but he would be drunk all the time and spend all our money on guitars ,cowboy hats and new suit. We were poor and went hungry sometimes. He drank badly when they the navy exsposed him to the radiation. There are 6 kids in my family and 4 of the older including me have birth defects associated with radiation exposure. In my Jr high school and
    High school My father drank all the time. I was embarrassed. When we lived in San Pedro he would sing in all the bars in Los Angeles. He brought Hank Williams to LA and was in high demand. We were poor and me in the 4th grade I would steel news papers from the box and go into the bars and sell them to the drunks for 1 Dollars and some drunks gave me 10 s and20s. That’s where my mother got money to feed us. And I would return all the newspaper back to the box but before I did that I would get a free taxi ride across the harbor then go on the ships and sell papers to the people aboard them I would eat in the mess hall where they would give me food to eat. And the taxi would bring me back to Port acall where I would Fish around the docks and piers next to yahts and catch King Fish to bring home and give them to My mother to feed us because daddy would spend all our money all this was done when I was in the 4th grade at 10 year’s old.he died in 1978 at the VA hospital in Pineville, LA. With leukemia. I knew him as Hank Williams.

  38. Fred says:

    Anyone know the maximum roll angle and the angle that the gyro alarm sounded?
    On a sumner class. Dd759

    • william Clark says:

      I can remember in the North Atlantic with the NATO standing force doing almost a scoop by the Bridge wing in a real bad storm. Someone said that we just about did a 70 roll , that would mean another wave had to push us back upright . But in the Boiler-room it sure was rough, the worse I have ever seen in all my service time on Destroyers which was about 13 years total at sea, shore duty was at Great Lakes Recruit Training center as a C/C and classroom instructor . Retired in 1975, spent time after Boot camp at Webster Field in Branchville Md. Attached to Pax. River Naval Air test center.

      • Sam M says:

        Hi, William. I was wondering if you recall what boilers were installed at the Great Lakes Training Center (for the boiler training?) Any help you can provide will be appreciated.

  39. Michael Vaughan says:

    Capt. Stewart, my dad was CO of Halsey Powell from 54 to 56. Did you know him? Henry “Hank” Vaughan, USNA ’40. He had an XO who was a real piece of work plus a tough commodore! He made two WestPac deployments on HP. He retired in ’60 in “the Hump”. I was 10 when dad took me out for a gun shoot on board. Probably broke a few rules but I was in awe!
    Mike (retired O-6 myself)

    • George Stewart says:

      I reported to the Halsey Powell in August 1956. My CO was Cdr Garrison Brown. Your dad was his predecessor. There were still plenty of crew members who served under him. I never met him but I do remember frequently hearing his name.

      George Stewart

    • George Stewart says:

      More Stuff
      If you go to a website called E-Yearbook it contains a selection of Navy Cruise Books. If you go to that page you will find a large number of them, sorted by the first letter of the ships name. Hit the letter H and you will see the Halsey Powell’s name come up. You will find ones from 1956 and 1958. I still have my copy of the 1958 edition. If you open up the 1956 version and scroll down a few pages you will find a prominent picture of your dad, accompanied by a brief biography. You may also see some other familiar faces. His XO, Lcdr Joe Kington was still there when I arrived. I heard that his commodore was pretty tough.

      The website NAVSOURCE contains a list of commanding officers for each ship. Your dad was there from July 1954 through July 1956. I did not arrive until the end of September 1956. So I just missed him.

      I do remember the Hump. A lot of the officers, particularly LCDR aviators were pretty bitter about it.

      Do not hesitate to ask questions. I can be reached at 703 960 0489
      George Stewart

  40. My dad, EC2 Leo Helmboldt, served on USS Bache DD470 in WWII. He swears that they exceeded 40 knots in the Battle of Surigao Straits by holding/tying the safeties down.

  41. Dan Brown says:

    I served on the USS SHELDON DD 790 in 1971. I was an SK3, but spent most of my time in the upper handling room of mount 52. This was during Vietnam. We won many citations and awards for outstanding service. We blew the hell out of the enemy.

  42. Phil Becker says:

    I served on the USS Luce DD522 in 1942 as a Seaman 1rst striking for Signalman-my GQ station was in After Steering which was a small hot place–it was just me and an Electricians mate. It was a rough riding ship and the “No passageway from aft to forward” was a drawback as in foul weather the trip to the bridge from aft crews quarters could be wet and exciting.

  43. I served 0n the C,J,BADGER (DD657) 43 45 went on ship out of bklyn navy yard, she was built in staten island, went to west coast up to kerille islands for six months, then to frisco got camofloged and headed to south pacific , three invasions layte Luzon okanowa never saw a thing was in forward engine room, ship got hit by small boat with bomb in bow, got called back in 50 on a LSD BELLE GROVE 2 discharged in 51!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  44. Leon "HUD" Hudlin MM3 says:

    Sorry no one mentioned the Renshaw DD499. Made two Westpac trips and was on board till decom. Still trying to find a few buddies that were on the RINKI DINK. Full steam ahead!!

  45. John Todd says:

    Class 22 at Destroyer School, graduating in 4/68. Asked for a new FF and Weps, but first was home port which I wrote down as Pearl Harbor. Got the home port and CHENG in O’Bannon (DD-450)! Best tour of my 20 year career save for command. There were no “snipes” on board, just engineers. Proudest most can-do guys with whom I’ve ever served. One short vignette:

    A full power run off Hawaii… And all four throttled wide open. Over the 21MC from the bridge to Main Control: you up to full power yet? A chief BT had the watch (he had the driest sense of humor I’d ever experienced, and he hailed from a mountain town in Tennessee) replied with a slow lazy drawl “on Auxiliary and about to bring the plant onto the main.” We were already up to 33 knots….

  46. Gary says:

    My dad was on the U.S.S. Shaw (DD 373) at Pearl Harbor during attack. He was Chief Boiler Tender and passed in 2007. I believe the Shaw was a Spruance Class tin can. Anybody know about these destroyers?

  47. Gary says:

    Correction: the Shaw was a Mahan class destroyer. Dad was a Chief Boiler Tender from ’34-’54… Shaw, Cassin, other tin cans.

    • Shaw was a Mahan Class destroyer that entered service in 1936. At the end of the war the navy had too many destroyers so ships of this vintage were decommissioned. Shaw was scrapped in 1946. If you go to the website NAVSOURCE and type Shaw into the search box you will get a brief ship history accompanied by lots of photographs,

  48. Joe Gatlin says:

    Captain Stewart, technical question for you. Do you know the RPM that the SSTG’s operated at? Is there any reference where I could get the technical specifications for the SSTG’s in each engine room? Thanks in advance

  49. Joe Gatlin says:

    As I stated in an earlier post, I was Engineer Officer on USS Braine DD-630. One day we off loaded our ammo at Seal Beach and then headed south to San Diego. It was a beautiful SoCal day and the sea was like glass. The skipper said we could put on liberty turns and all the sailors were anxious to go liberty in San Diego. I was the OOD on the bridge. My guys cranked up the turns and we were doing 29 knots on two boilers. I was taking fixes along the coast and verified the speed! A great memory from my time in the Navy.
    I loved the Dirty 630. Later, we sold the ship to the Argentine Navy. The Argentines came on board one day and wanted only to talk to me. I told my wife that evening that I had just sold a ship! Don’t know if she was in the Falklands War or not.

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