1968

USS Fletcher DD-445 Command History

January 1, 1968 to December 31, 1968

U.S.S. FLETCHER DD-445
FPO San Francisco 96601

In reply refer to: DD445/AEW:ne 5750 ser: 86 14 Mar 1969

From: Commanding Officer, USS FLETCHER (DD-445)
To: Director of Naval History (OP-09B9)

Subj: USS FLETCHER (DD-445) Command History, submission of

Ref: (a) OPNAV 5750.12A

Encl: (1) USS FLETCHER Command History for 1968.

1. In accordance with reference (a) enclosure (1) is hereby submitted.

/s/ H. F. BOYLE

Copy to:
COMCRUDESPAC (w/encl)

PART I
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS 1968 
(includes portion of "Detailed Schedule" from 1969 WestPac Cruise Summary)

8 JAN - 19 JAN: Training operations in the Hawaiian area preparing for deployment
19 JAN: ORI Battle Problem conducted successfully
12 FEB - 24 FEB: Enroute Yokosuka, Japan via Midway for WESTPAC deployment
25 FEB - 2 MAR: Inport Yokosuka, Japan for voyage repairs
4 MAR - 7 MAR: Operations with TG 71.3 off the coast of Korea
8 MAR - 15 MAR: Inport Sasebo, Japan for R and R and upkeep
16 MAR - 8 APR: Operations with TG 77.7 and TG 77.6 in the Tonkin Gulf
10 APR - 15 APR: Inport Singapore for Rest and Recuperation
17 APR - 29 APR: Inport Subic Bay, R.P. for upkeep
1 MAY - 6 MAY: NGFS operations II CTZ, RVN as part of Task Unit 70.8.9
7 MAY - 13 MAY: Operations with TG 77.6 on Yankee Station in the Tonkin Gulf
14 MAY - 22 MAY: Drydocked in AFDM-5 at SRF, Subic Bay, R.P. for hull repairs
1 JUN - 10 JUN: On Piraz Station with the USS LONG BEACH (CGN-9)
10 JUN - 15 JUN: Operations with TG 77.6 in the Tonkin Gulf
19 JUN - 25 JUN: Inport Hong Kong, B.C.C. for R and R
27 JUN - 12 JUL: Operations with TG 77.8 on Yankee Station in the Tonkin Gulf
14 JUL - 20 JUL: Inport Subic Bay, R.P. for upkeep
21 JUL - 11 AUG: Operations with TG 77.4 on Yankee Station in the Tonkin Gulf
13 AUG - 17 AUG: Inport Subic Bay, R.P. for upkeep prior to proceeding to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
18 AUG - 28 AUG: Enroute Pearl Harbor via Guam and Midway
3 SEP - 26 SEP: Drydocked in Drydock #3 Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard
13 SEP: Exchange of crews with USS PHILIP (DD-498)
1 OCT - 17 OCT: Training operations Hawaiian area preparing for re-deployment to Western Pacific
25 OCT: FORACS III Tests
28 OCT - 30 OCT: COMPUTEX 20-68
31 OCT: ORI Battle Problem
1 NOV - 15 NOV: Tender availability with USS BRYCE CANYON (AD-36) at Pearl Harbor
22 NOV - 29 NOV: Enroute Guam, M.I.
25 NOV: BSF Midway
29 NOV: Chop to COMSEVENTH Fleet
1 DEC: Arrive Guam, M.I.
2 DEC - 4 DEC: Enroute Subic Bay, R.P.
5 DEC - 9 DEC: Inport Subic Bay, R.P. for upkeep
10 DEC: Type Training, Subic Bay
11 DEC: Enroute Yankee Station
12 DEC: Chop to CTF 115
12 DEC - 13 DEC: Enroute Cam Ranh Bay
14 DEC: Arrive Cam Ranh Bay/Barrier Patrol
(anchored in morning)
15 DEC: Enter Nha Trang/Barrier Patrol (anchored)
16 DEC - 31 DEC: MARKET TIME Patrol Operations with TG 115.2

PART II
NARRATIVE HISTORY AND SPECIAL EVENTS

USS FLETCHER (DD-445) is a 2100-ton destroyer of the class that bears her name. First commissioned on 30 June 1942, FLETCHER was named for Admiral Frank F. Fletcher. The ship saw heavy action in World War II and has an enviable record. Decommissioned in 1945, the ship was modernized and re-commissioned as an ASW Escort Destroyer (DDE) on 3 October 1949. FLETCHER saw considerable action during the Korean Conflict. In 1960 FLETCHER was redesignated as a Destroyer (DD).

FLETCHER now operates as a unit of Destroyer Squadron ELEVEN assigned to Destroyer Division ONE HUNDRED TWELVE with her homeport at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. From 1 January 1968 to 30 September 1968 FLETCHER operated as a unit of Destroyer Squadron TWENTY-FIVE, under the command of Commander Leslie A. TAYLOR, USN. On 1 October 1968, FLETCHER was administratively transferred to Destroyer Squadron ELEVEN and on 8 October 1968, Commander H. F. Boyle, Jr. assumed command during change of command ceremonies that took place in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Midnight, 1 January 1968, found USS FLETCHER (DD-445) alongside berth B-22, U.S. Naval Station, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, outboard of USS EPPERSON (DD-719) and USS RENSHAW (DD-499). The month of January was to be spent in preparation for deployment to WESTPAC.

On 8 January, FLETCHER got underway to conduct type training in the Hawaiian operating areas. Preparation for overseas movement began with an ammunition load-out at NAD Oahu on 19 January. Also on 19 January, the ship was given the final battle problem phase of an Operational Readiness Inspection conducted by COMDESRON 25. The ORI battle problem was completed with an average mark of GOOD proving that FLETCHER was once again ready to deploy with the SEVENTH Fleet in WESTPAC.

The remainder of January and the first 12 days of February were spent in port at Pearl Harbor. During this period, preparations for overseas movement were completed and personnel were given a final opportunity for leave prior to deployment. On 12 February, FLETCHER in company with USS COCHRANE (DDG-21), USS EPPERSON (DD-719) and COMDESRON 25, embarked in USS COCHRANE, got underway for WESTPAC. On the night of 12 February, USS COCHRANE and COMDESRON 25 detached to proceed independently to Subic Bay, R.P. via Guam, Marianas Islands. Commanding Officer, USS FLETCHER (DD-445) assumed tactical command of USS EPPERSON as CTE 15.8.3.1 in order to proceed to Yokosuka, Japan via the Midway Islands. FLETCHER and EPPERSON arrived in the vicinity of Midway on 15 February but were unable to enter the harbor due to high winds and heavy surf in the passage through the reef. On the afternoon of 16 February, both ships were able to enter Midway and fuel. After fueling, FLETCHER and EPPERSON took departure from Midway. On 22 February, enroute to Yokosuka, Japan, FLETCHER and EPPERSON changed operational commanders to COMSEVENTHFLT and activated TE 70.8.2.4. Throughout the transit from Midway to Yokosuka, FLETCHER encountered extremely high winds and heavy seas causing considerable storm damage to fittings and equipment on the weather decks. After riding out the storm, FLETCHER was extremely short on fuel. On 24 February rendezvous was made with USS NAVASOTA (AO-106) to refuel. USS EPPERSON detached an completion of fueling to proceed to duties assigned. FLETCHER arrived at Yokosuka on 25 February.

The period from 25 February to 2 March was spent undergoing voyage repairs at Yokosuka. On 2 March, FLETCHER got underway to join the USS RANGER (CVA-61) in the Sea of Japan. While enroute, early on the morning of 4 March, FLETCHER was closed and illuminated by an unidentified ship. When the unidentified vessel failed to identify herself, she was illuminated by FLETCHER. After illumination the vessel proved to be a Soviet Destroyer of the RIGA Class DE-800.

FLETCHER joined Task Group 71.3 on the morning of 4 March and assumed duties as CTU 71.3.2, screen commander. FLETCHER operated as a unit of TG 71.3 and entered Sasebo, Japan, with the task group on 7 March.

FLETCHER remained in Sasebo alongside USS SAMUEL GOMPERS (AD-37) until 15 March when she got underway once again as a unit of TG 71.3 with USS RANGER (CVA-61) enroute to Yankee Station in the Tonkin Gulf. On 16 March the task group was designated Task Group 77.7. FLETCHER and TG 77.7 arrived on Yankee Station on 19 March. FLETCHER remained with TG 77.7 until 4 April with the exception of 3 days spent in ASW training operations with USS JOHN A. BOLE (DD-755), USS STRONG (DD-758) and USS STERLET (SS-392). On 4 April FLETCHER joined Task Group 77.6 with USS TICONDEROGA (CVA-14). FLETCHER remained on Yankee Station until 8 April at which time TG 77.6 departed the Tonkin Gulf for Singapore. During the morning hours of 9 April the task group crossed the Equator and all pollywogs on board FLETCHER were duly initiated in the rites of the ancient order of loyal shellbacks.

On 10 April FLETCHER arrived in Singapore with USS TICONDEROGA (CVA-14), USS DEHAVEN (DD-727) and USS PICKING (DD-685). FLETCHER remained in Singapore for 5 days during which all hands took advantage of a well deserved R and R period. Departing Singapore in company with TG 77.6 on 15 April, FLETCHER proceeded to Subic Bay, R.P. FLETCHER arrived at Subic Bay on 17 April and commenced a repair and upkeep period.

The ship again put out to sea on 29 April enroute to Naval Gunfire Support station off the coast of the Republic of Vietnam. As an element of TU 70.8.9 FLETCHER commenced NGJS operations on the night of 1 May with harassment and interdiction fire against targets in the II Corps tactical zone. On 6 May FLETCHER detached from TU 70.8.9 after turnover of equipment and proceeded to rejoin task group 77.6 in the Tonkin Gulf. FLETCHER joined TG 77.6 and USS TICONDEROGA (CVA-14) on 7 May and remained on station with that task group until 12 May with the exception of one day of ASW operations on 9 May with TU 77.9.4. 13 May found FLETCHER and TG 77.6 enroute to Subic Bay, R.P.

FLETCHER arrived at Subic Bay on 14 May and commenced off-loading all ammunition prior to dry-docking. The ship was placed on keel blocks in AFDM-5 at Subic Repair Facility, Subic Bay on the afternoon of 14 May, for repairs to her hull and rudder required as a result of age and metal deterioration. The repairs were completed on 22 May, the drydock flooded, and FLETCHER was once again waterborne. On 30 May FLETCHER put to sea for sea trials on her recently repaired rudder. After successful completion of sea trials, FLETCHER returned briefly to Subic Bay. Ammunition was taken aboard at the ammunition anchorage after which FLETCHER got underway for Piraz Station and rendezvous with USS LONG BEACH (CGN-9). FLETCHER arrived on station on 1 June and operated with USS LONG BEACH (CGN-9) and USS BIDDLE (DLG-34) until 10 June at which time she again joined task group 77.6 and USS TICONDEROGA (CVA-14).

On 14 June Task Group 77.6 and FLETCHER left station for Subic Bay, R.P. FLETCHER arrived at Subic Bay on 15 June and on 17 June departed for Hong Kong, B.C.C. in company with USS DEHAVEN (DD-727) and entered Hong Kong for an R and R period on 19 June.

On 25 June FLETCHER got underway from Hong Kong with USS TICONDEROGA (CVA-14) forming Task Group 77.6 enroute to Yankee Station in the Tonkin Gulf. The task group arrived on station on 26 June. On 27 June FLETCHER was detached and proceeded to join Task Group 77.8 and USS BON HOMME RICHARD (CVA-31). FLETCHER operated with TG 77.8 until 2 July when she again joined TG 77.6. ASW training operations were conducted on 5-7 July with USS MENHADEN (SS-377). One Mark 44 exercise torpedo was fired on 6 July. Once again with USS TICONDEROGA (CVA-14) and TG 77.6, FLETCHER remained on station until 12 July when more ASW training was conducted with USS GREENFISH (SS-351). On completion of exercises on 12 July FLETCHER set course for Subic Bay, R.P.

FLETCHER entered Subic Bay on 14 July and remained in port until 21 July when she got underway and joined USS INTREPID (CVS-11) and Task Group 77.4 enroute to Yankee Station. The task group arrived on station on 24 July. FLETCHER remained with USS INTREPID (CVS-11) until 11 August when she departed Yankee Station in company with USS COCHRANE (DDG-21) under the tactical command of COMDESRON 25 enroute to Subic Bay.

At Subic Bay FLETCHER off-loaded ammunition down to Mid-Pacific allowances on 13 August immediately after arrival. On 18 August FLETCHER joined USS COCHRANE (DDG-21), USS EPPERSON (DD-719), USS NICHOLAS (DD-449) with COMDESRON 25 embarked in USS COCHRANE, to form Task Element 70.8.2.1 and got underway for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, via fueling stops at Guam and Midway. Proceeding through San Bernardino Straits FLETCHER and units in company arrived at Apra Harbor, Guam on 20 August. FLETCHER, COCHRANE, NICHOLAS, EPPERSON and COMDESRON 25 changed operational commanders to COMFIRSTFLT and Task Unit 15.9.4 was formed. The new task unit entered Midway to fuel on 26 August. After fueling all units got underway for Pearl Harbor for the last leg of their transit home.

FLETCHER entered Pearl Harbor on 29 August after a deployment of 200 days, and began what was to be one of the most unique experiences of her long career.

As a result of decommissioning of numerous ships, under DOD Project 693, FLETCHER was selected to re-deploy in order to meet commitments in WESTPAC. FLETCHER commenced a restricted availability for repairs when she entered drydock number 3, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard on 6 September after having off-loaded all ammunition and fuel.

The entire crew of USS PHILIP (DD-498) was transferred on board on 13 September and the men of FLETCHER moved on board PHILIP to serve as decommissioning crew. Several officers and men of the original FLETCHER crew remained on board and helped to provide continuity during the exchange of crews.

During the restricted availability and crew exchange, equipment and material was removed from PHILIP primarily on an exchange basis, and installed aboard FLETCHER in order to upgrade or add to existing systems and stocks. Also during the availability the ship's MK-23 torpedo tubes were removed. FLETCHER departed from drydock on 26 September and was underway to load ammunition at NAD Oahu on 1 October. After loading ammunition the ship proceeded to sea for shakedown and to begin familiarization of the crew with their new ship. FLETCHER was transferred from DESRON 25 to DESRON 11 on 1 October and was assigned to DESDIV 112.

On 8 October Commander L.A. TAYLOR, USN, was relieved by Commander H.F. BOYLE, Jr., USN, as Commanding Officer, USS FLETCHER. FLETCHER was underway for training in the Hawaiian area on 14 October. ASW training exercises were conducted with USS TANG (SS-563) and USS TAUTOG (SS-637) on 16 and 17 October. Test firing of the guns and ASW weapons systems were also conducted on 17 October. On 25 October accuracy and calibration tests were conducted on the FORACS III Range off the western coast of Oahu.

FLETCHER got underway on 28 October to participate in COMPTUEX 20-68. During the COMPTUEX, FLETCHER participated in tactical maneuvering drills, surface and air gunnery and anti-air warfare exercises under the direction of COMDESDIV 112. During the COMPTUEX, Naval Gunfire Support Qualification was achieved while conducting exercises at the Kahoolawe firing range. On 31 October the final battle problem phase of an Operational Readiness Inspection was conducted and observed by COMDESDIV 112 utilizing the services of Fleet Training Group, Pearl Harbor. On 1 November, FLETCHER conducted ASW training exercises with USS GOLDSBOROUGH (DDG-20) and HMS AMPHION (S-43). One Mark 44 exercise torpedo was fired.

Upon returning to port on 1 November, FLETCHER commenced a tender availability alongside USS BRYCE CANYON (AD-36). Major work was completed on the ship's boilers, fuel oil transfer system and fire pumps. On 9 November Rear Admiral Mason FREEMAN, COMCRUDESPAC, visited the ship. While alongside USS BRYCE CANYON work was completed by Naval Shipyard, Pearl Harbor, to overhaul the battery of 3"/50 cal. guns.

Upon completion of her tender period on 15 November, FLETCHER moved to NAD, Oahu, to load ammunition in preparation for deployment to WESTPAC. FLETCHER was underway on 19 November for test firing of the 3"/50 cal. guns and additional training.

On 22 November FLETCHER in company with USS GOLDSBOROUGH (DDG-20), USS LOFBERG (DD-759) with COMDESDIV 112, embarked in USS GOLDSBOROUGH forming Task Unit 15.8.3, got underway for Subic Bay, Philippines via fueling stops at Midway and Guam, Marianas Islands. The Task Unit fueled at Midway on 25 November. On 27 November Task Unit 15.8.3 was dissolved and all units changed operational commanders from COMFIRSTFLT to COMSEVENTHFLT. FLETCHER and units in company entered Apra Harbor, Guam on 1 December and departed on 2 December. A transit of San Bernardino Straits was made on 4 December and all units arrived in Subic Bay, Philippines on 5 December.

On 10 December FLETCHER got underway for Yankee Station in the Tonkin Gulf to rendezvous with Task Group 77.6 and USS RANGER (CVA-61). Anti-aircraft gunnery exercises were conducted in the Philippine operating areas while enroute. On 12 December FLETCHER was reassigned to Task Force 115 before rendezvous was made with the CVA on Yankee Station and proceeded to Cam Ranh Bay, Republic of Vietnam to report for duty as a unit of Operation Market Time forces. FLETCHER entered Cam Ranh Bay on 14 December. After reporting for duty and briefings by CTF 115, FLETCHER put to sea and took up a Barrier Patrol off Nha Trang, RVN as part of Task Group 115.2. FLETCHER entered Nha Trang early 15 December for further briefings by CTG 115.2 and his staff. Later on the same date, after operational and intelligence briefings, FLETCHER returned to sea to resume her patrol. FLETCHER remained on operation Market Time through the end of 1968. Naval Gunfire Support missions were conducted on 20, 21, 22 and 29 December in the Nha Trang area.

FLETCHER completed 1968 on station off the coast of the Republic of Vietnam as a unit of CTG 115.2, on her second deployment of the year.

PART II
SPECIAL TOPICS 

A.  UNDERWAY REPLENISHMENTS

      38 UNREPS from 13 AOs
       7 UNREPS from 1 AOE
       4 UNREPS from 4 CVAs
       3 UNREPS from 2 AEs
       2 UNREPS from 1 AF
       2 UNREPS from 1 AKS

TOTAL    56 UNREPS from 23 ships

B.  ASW WEAPONS FIRED IN TRAINING
      2 MK 44 MOD 1 exercise torpedoes

C.  AMMUNITION EXPENDED

      1116 rounds 5"/38 cal.     OPERATIONAL
       309 rounds 5"/38cal.      TRAINING

          18 rounds 3"/50 cal.      OPERATIONAL
        139 rounds 3"/50 cal.     TRAINING

TOTAL ammunition expended = 1582 rounds.

D.  AREAS OF OPERATION

      Hawaiian operating areas
      Philippine operating areas
      Tonkin Gulf
      Sea of Japan

E.  SPECIAL TRAINING

On 13 June two midshipmen 1/C of the NROTC program were embarked for at-sea training as part of WESTPACTRAMID-68. While on board each midshipman was rotated between the departments and training was accomplished in Operations, Weapons, Engineering, Navigation and Supply. The midshipmen worked closely with each division officer in an effort to become familiar with as many different billets as possible. On completion of training on 25 July the midshipmen were detached to return to their NROTC units.

H. F. BOYLE

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