01-11-2009, 03:38 PM
The U.S.S. Blandy(DD-943) was named in honor of Admiral William Henry Purnell Blandy, and built by Bethlehem Steel Co. in Quincy, MA. Admiral Blandy served as Chief of the Bureau of Ordinance from 1941 to 1943 and was the brilliant commander of Amphibious Group ONE during the Pacific island hopping campaign. After World War II, he served as Commander in Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet from 1947 to 1950.
Blandy's keel was laid on 29 December 1955. She was launched 19 December 1956 with Admiral Blandy's daughter, Mrs. James M. Lee, her sponsor. She was Commissioned at the Boston Naval Shipyard 26 November 1957 with Commander William F. Cafferata, USN, her first Commanding Officer. The Executive Officer was LCDR Julien J. LeBourgeois, USN. Her complement was 240 men with 13 officers. Her Pre-Commissioning Detail reported in 1957, either to Captain Cafferata in Quincy, MA or to the Executive Officer at the Naval Base, Newport, R.I. It was in Newport where under the eye of Commander LeBourgeois the operating manuals were written and organizational preparations were made for the day when the ship was to be delivered and ship's company prepared for Blandy's Commissioning Ceremony.
As a member of the Forrest Sherman(DD-931) Class Destroyers, Blandy was 418.5 feet long and 45 feet at the beam. Maximum draft was 19.5 feet. She displaced 3960 tons (full load). She had four Foster Wheeler boilers and was driven by two turbine engines, each capable of generating 35,000 shaft horsepower for the ship's two propellers. At full power, her 1200 pound steam turbine propulsion plant propelled her in excess of 33 knots. Twin screws and twin rudders made her highly maneuverable and well suited for a multi-purpose role of anti-submarine warfare, anti-air warfare and naval gunfire support. Her aluminum superstructure provided for increased stability while reducing displacement. She was fitted with three 5"/54 calibre single, rapid fire guns, two Twin 3"/50 calibre rapid fire guns, two ahead thrown hedgehogs launchers, two torpedo launchers amidships and one depth charge racks aft. A Welcome Aboard Tour handout from the early days read,
"All hands enjoy complete air-conditioned living, berthing and messing spaces."
After Commissioning, Blandy remained in the Boston Naval Shipyard. Most of this time, the Navy's newest ship was across the pier from the Navy's oldest ship, "Old Ironsides" the U.S.S. Constitution. In late January 1958, after trials at sea, Blandy proceeded to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, for Shakedown Training. Enroute, the ship experienced extremely heavy, high seas rounding Hatteras. The aluminum super-structure received damage that was soon repaired upon arrival in Cuba. On the final Operations Readiness Inspection(ORI), Blandy received the highest score ever recorded to date by a ship of the Forrest Sherman class. During training, the crew enjoyed visits to Kingston, Jamaica and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Blandy visited St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix as the official ship for the Governor's Inaugeration in 1958. A platoon from the ship marched in the Inaugural Parade, and the festivities were enjoyed by all.
With training in Guantanamo complete, Blandy headed for an independent shakedown cruise to Northern Europe, Morocco, and the Mediterranean Sea. Enroute, a stop was made in Bermuda. Ports of call in Europe, Scandinavia, and Northern Africa were: Rotterdam, Portsmouth, Goteborg, Copenhagen, Casablanca and finally Naples.
In Naples, Blandy picked up the World War II European Unknown Soldier. An around-the-clock watch was set as Blandy proceeded, with one stop in Gibraltar, to a rendezvous off the Virginia Capes with U.S.S. Boston. Boston had come from the Pacific through the Panama Canal and had aboard the World War II Pacific Unknown and the Korean War Soldiers. A highline transfer was made with Boston, where provisions were made to assure complete anonymity in the final selection of the World War II Unknown Soldier. The selection was held that day aboard U.S.S. Canberra. The 3 ships steamed together throughout the day. Following the selection service aboard Canberra by a World War II Medal of Honor recipient, a burial at sea was conducted for the other World War II Unknown Soldier. A highline transfer from Canberra of the World War II and Korean War Unknown Soldiers was made to the O-1 level of Blandy. The honor guard was re-set and Blandy proceeded to an anchorage in Cheasapeake Bay at the mouth of the Potomac River to make final preparations for the trip up the Potomac to Washington and a birth at the Naval Gun Factory.
The trip up the Potomac was memorable. In keeping with Navy Tradition, the crew manned the rail and the ship's bell was tolled as the ship passed Mount Vernon, with full honor guard for the Unknown Soldiers. The ship was also under cover of TV news helicopters. On arrival around noon at the Gun Factory, the Unknown Soldiers were transferred to the fantail and final preparations were made for the transfer ceremony the following morning televised on the NBC Today Show. From Blandy, the Unknown Soldiers were taken to Arlington Cemetery for entombment at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Nearby, a plaque can be seen acknowledging Blandy's role in bringing the Unknowns to Washington.
In June, the Washington Ceremonies were followed by Post-Shakedown Availabilty at the Boston Naval Shipyard. With repairs and modifications complete, the ship reported in late Summer to her first homeport in Newport, R.I. "Home" for the next years would be Pier One and Pier Two. In September, Blandy was assigned to Destroyer Squadron Twenty Four and became flag ship for ComDesRon Twenty Four. With the Commodore and Squadron Staff Aboard, Blandy joined Anti-Submarine Warfare Task Group Bravo along with the other ships in the squadron, DESRON 24: Berry, McCaffery, Norris, and Lloyd Thomas.
Commander Task Group Bravo was aboard U.S.S. Wasp, an ASW Carrier with AD 4 and S2F aircraft and helicopters capable of dropping sonar bouys. Wasp operated out of Quonset Pt. Navy Base across Narragansett Bay from Newport. On two week rotations, Task Group Bravo would relieve Task Group Alpha homeported out of Norfolk. The Blandy crew had trained hard for all phases of her role as a warship and was ready to join the older World War II vintage ships.
In 1959, CDR George Davis relieved Captain Cafferata. At Captain Davis's request, a bagpiper, complete with kilt, was assigned to Blandy. He played whenever the ship proudly went alongside for re-fueling and highline transfers to cruisers and carriers as well as for all ceremonial occasions. The piper became the leader of the band!
In late May 1959, while conducting ASW Exercises off the coast of Georgia, Blandy was ordered to proceed at flank speed to a position in the North Atlantic due to a "Berlin Crisis." At the conclusion of this assignment, Blandy visited Argentia, Newfounderland. The ship made a Midshipmen Cruise that Summer, and the crew had a great time visiting Quebec and New York City.
Under Captain Davis's leadership, Blandy was one of only two Atlantic Fleet destroyers to win the coveted Battle Efficiency "E", an award given only to those destroyers who have scored grades of excellent or above in all departmental exercises. The Arleigh Burke Leadership Program was inauguated and Captain George Davis received the Arleigh Burke Leadership Award awarded to the top leader in the Atlantic Fleet. Soon after, Admiral Arleigh Burke, Chief of Naval Operations, awarded Blandy and U.S.S. Sommers the 1960 Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Award as the outstanding destroyers in the Atlantic and Pacific Fleet(See Appendix A, Dept. of Defense announcement).
In 1960, Blandy operated with Task Group Bravo with sister ships of Desron 24 until they were deployed in June to the Mediterranean with Midshipmen aboard. Ports of Call in the Mediterranean were: Barcelona, Palma, Majorca, Naples and Cannes. In August, Blandy continuing a tradition of leadership was additionally honored as the first recipient of a trophy awarded by the Navy League of Rhode Island to the ship in the Atlantic Fleet displaying the greatest proficiency in the art of anti-submarine warfare. She operated with Task Group Bravo again until return to the Boston yard for overhaul. Then, it was back to Guantanmo Bay for 8 weeks of extensive training. From there, Blandy reported for duty in Key West as the School Ship at the Fleet Sonar School. 6 weeks were spent at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, VA. while parts of the engineering plant were renewed. Late in 1960, she was assigned to Task Group Alfa and participated in a feasibility study that proved Forrest Sherman Destroyers were capable of recovering an astronaut capsule for NASA.
l961 was an eventful year, CDR Ed Kelly, USN relieved Captain George Davis in July. During a deployment early in the year, Blandy was sent to respond to the Texas Oil Platform #4 distress call. When Blandy was about 30 miles away, the platform went down on January 15tth.. Blandy sent the whale boat to the scene with divers aboard. Unfortunately, there were no survivors of the collapse, and 28 men perished. Later in 1961, Blandy obtained Sonar contact on a suspected Soviet submarine and held the contact submerged for more than 71 hours. For this fete, the ship received an unofficial prize of a case of whiskey from Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet. Following an overhaul in late 1961, Blandy participated in Refresher Training in and out of Guantanamo Bay.
In 1962, Blandy participated in Operation Springboard out of San Juan for a month. On the way back to Newport, she was assigned to the Astronaut/Capsule Recovery Group. On February 15, 1962, while operating with the Mercury Capsule Recovery Group and about 500 miles east of Cape Canaveral, Seaman William E. Hunt was stricken with appendicitis. As the ship steamed in five foot seas, a team of U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force doctors assisted by Navy Corpsman successfully removed Seaman Hunt's appendix using the wardroom table for the surgery. In April, she took part in Operation LANTPHIBEX off the coast of Puerto Rico. Operation QUICKKICK was next. Some remember Captain Kelly flying a "Go To Hell" flag on "special" occasions. On October 22nd , Blandy was on one of the first ships to get underway for the Cuban Quarantine and gained the distinction of forcing a Russian submarine to surface. Again, Blandy was the recipient of the Navy League's Anti-Submarine Warfare trophy. After tender availability and some time home, she and her crew were off to the MED for a 3 month Mid-Shipman Cruise.
In 1963, the Sonarmen picked up the wreckage of the U.S.S. Thresher, a nuclear submarine lost tragically off the coast of New England. Blandy was one of the first ships on the scene. This allowed the Woodshole Laboratory people to go down in a miniature submarine and make positive identification.
In the Fall of 1963, Blandy with four sister ships of Desron 24 and the Anti-Submarine Warfare Carrier Essex, participated in the Central Treaty Organization naval exercises, MIDLING VI, in the Indian Ocean. In addition to the valuable experience of operating with the navies of Pakistan, Iran and Great Britain, the crew had the opportunity to enjoy visiting Barcelona, Spain; Valetta, Malta; Aden, Aden Protectorate; Karachie, Pakistan; Massawa, Ethiopia; and Naples, Italy.
During l963 and 1964, Blandy deployed to the Mediterranean where she operated with the U.S. SIXTH Fleet. During this period she transitted the Suez Canal and operated as a unit of the Middle East Forces in the Red Sea. She conducted anti-submarine exercises in the Winter and Spring of 1964 and participated in the Navy's annual SPRINGBOARD operation in the Caribbean. She visited the ports of Key West, San Juan and St. Thomas.
At the end of June 1964, Blandy was detached from DESRON 24 and left her homeport in Newport. Blandy was reassigned to DESRON 2 homeported in Norfolk. Immediately, the ship proceeded to Boston for a four month overhaul. Refresher training followed in the Caribbean. She arrived in Norfolk in mid-March 1965 after visits to Montego Bay, Jamaica, St. Thomas and San Juan. Immediately upon arrival in her new homeport, Commander Destroyer Squadron Two shifted his flag to Blandy. In May 1965, she participated in NASA's Gemini 4 operations, and afterwards visited Lisbon, Portugal and Bermuda before returning to Norfolk on 30 June 1965. Later the ship participated in the U.S. SECOND Fleet Blue-Gold operations. Commander I.N. Franklin,USN, relieved Commnander G.S. Grove, USN as Commanding Officer on 30 July, l965. In early November 1965, Blandy started her periodic maintenance to ready herself for a coming Mediterranean deployment with the SIXTH Fleet. Blandy participated in Second Fleet Blue-Gold Operations and then departed Norfolk on 27 November 1965 for operations with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.
Blandy returned to Norfolk in March 1966 and an availability in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for extensive modifications and repairs to her boilers. In the Cruise Book from this period, the following men were memorialized: Phillip James Mastripolito, FN and Lee Edward Manning, BT2. The notation reads, "Killed in the line of duty." Shipmates have confirmed that their deaths were the result of a boiler fire. Following the modifications and repairs, it was Refresher Training in October and November in the Carribbean. Returning to Norfolk in early December, preparations began for another assignment with the U.S. Sixth Fleet in early 1967.
In 1967, CDR Joel H. Berry took Command. From January to May 1967, Blandy was once again deployed to the Mediterranean. There she proved valuable in extensive international exercises, SPANEX 1-67 AND FAIRGAME V, as a unit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Forces. During the exercises, she served with ships of the French, Italian, Spanish and British Navies. She then participated in ASW and gunnery training with Canadian Naval Forces.
In 1968, in preparation for deployment off Vietnam, Blandy underwent intensive training in the annual SPRINGBOARD exercise in the Caribbean during January and February. On 26 March, Blandy, as a unit of Destroyer Division TWENTY-ONE, began her seven month voyage to the Western Pacific where she was attached to the U.S. SEVENTH Fleet. Upon arrival off Vietnam, Blandy was the only five-inch fifty-four gunship in the division. She immediately assumed "Gunline" duties with Captain Frank C. Dunham, Jr. embarked and serving as Gunline Commander. Her first post was gunfire support for the Third Marine Division operating at the Demilitarized Zone. Blandy spent sixty of her eighty-two days on the line. Sandwiched between four different tours on the gunline, she spent ninety straight days on Sea Dragon operations ranging off the cost of North Vietnam as far north as the 19th parallel. By the time Blandy left her final duty station of plane-guard in the Gulf of Tonkin, she had earned a nomination for Meritorious Unit Commendation and had given her proud crew an enviable record of achievements to bring home.
Blandy fired 27,428 rounds at the enemy breaking all records for a destroyer. Her crew's accurate firepower accounted for 148 Vietcong killed and 22 wounded. Sixty-six times Blandy rapid fire mounts answered the call for aid from Marine gunfire spotters ashore by silencing the North Vietnam gun positions destroying or heavily damaging enemy bunkers and 57 logistics structures.
On Sea Dragon operations, she sank 22 waterborne logistics craft and crippled 25 others, collapsed three North Vietnamese bridges and damaged eleven more. In her six months tour, her final tally included wiping out 3 enemy trucks, a ferry crossing damaged, three rocket sites silenced, three observations towers damaged, and one sniper silenced. She fired upon 622 observed targets, 1820 harassment and interdiction targets, and 145 coastal defense sights. She was fired upon on five different occasions by coastal defense sights. Often straddled and bracketed by incoming rounds, she proved too elusive for the Vietcong guns and returned completely unscathed.
In the cruise manual for this tour of duty, the heroism of two crew members is recorded in the following citation:
The forward engine room began flooding fast due to a defective valve. BT2 Sterling and BT3 Peterson dived through the oil-covered water, swam to the valve, secured it and curtailed the flooding. For their quick thinking, devotion to duty and heroic action, both men were awarded the Bronze Star.
In July 1968, Blandy received the Squadron Battle Efficiency "E" and the Operations Departmental "E". In August, she won the Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy awarded annually to the ship with the Atlantic Fleet that achieves the greatest improvement in battle efficiency during the year.
Blandy arrived back in Norfolk, Virginia on 5 November 1968 after having steamed 60,000 miles and making calls at some of the world's most exotic ports. While on stopovers between gunline tours she visited, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Sasebo, Japan; and Hong Kong. Enroute to and from Southeast Asia, she visited: Subic Bay, Philippines; Guam; Pearl Harbor; Midway Island; San Diego; and Rodman, Canal Zone.
In January 1969, Admiral T. H. Moorer, Chief of Naval Operations, awarded Blandy the MERITORIOUS UNIT COMMENDATION and her crew were authorized to wear the Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon for their service in Vietnam. In the Citiation, Admiral Moorer stated:
By her demonstrated ability to function smoothly and effectively under maximum stress, combined with her outstanding combat achievements, BLANDY upheld the hightest traditions of the United States Naval Service (See Citation, Appendix B).
Blandy was decommissioned on 15 January 1969 in the U. S. Naval Shipyard, Philadelphia,. to undergo an anti-submarine warfare modernization. Her modernization included a formadable ASW weapons system built around the hull mounted SQS23 Sonar and the Anti-Submarine Rocket(ASROC). CDR Christopher S. Lardis, USN. reported as Prospective Commanding Officer in November 1969 and assumed Command of Blandy when she was recommissioned on 2 May 1970. She was deployed on 17 September 1970 for two months refresher training at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She again proved herself to be a well trained fighting ship.
On 1 January 1971, Blandy joined Destroyer Squadron Twenty Six. Nicknamed the "Mod Squad," DESRON 26 was formed at the direction of Admiral E.R. Zumwalt, Chief of Naval Operations. The design was to challenge young officers with positions of increased responsibility. The concept tested the concept of staffing Commanding Officer, Executive Officer, and Department Head billits with officers one rank junior than normal . It proved highly successful and was incorporated into other squadrons.
Shortly after joining Destroyer Squadron Twenty-Six, Blandy held her shipyard arrival conference and entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard on 6 February 1971 for Post-Shakedown Availability. Blandy was dry-docked and received a Navy Distillate Fuel conversion. Upon completion of PSA, Blandy departed the shipyard 29 March for the short jaunt down the Elizabeth River to the Destroyer-Submarine Piers in Norfolk. Captain Lardis served until 8 May 1971 when he was relieved by LCDR George E. Sullivan, USN. On 6 June, Blandy steamed for the Caribbean in company with the other units of Desron 26 and USS America (CVA 66) to participate in one and one half weeks of rigorous and comprehensive RIMEX/OPREDEX. The exercise ran the entire gambit of Blandy's capabilities. The training was excellent for the upcoming deployment to the Sixth Fleet. This was to be her first deployment since commissioning.
6 July 1971 found Blandy underway with the "Mod Squad" for extended operations in the Mediterranean. For the next six months, she participated in major SIXTH FLEET exercises as well as operating with ships of our NATO Allies. Blandy developed considerable pride and confidence in her capabilities and began working rapidly toward a peak in performance that was to last throughout this deployment. The ship worked with NATO destroyers during “Deep Furrow,” and ASW exercise conducted with Italian and British ships using their ASW capable helicopters. The experience proved again the value and capability of the cooperative and coordinated efforts of a NATO force. “Double Edge” gave Blandy the opportunity to join destroyers from Greece, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Italy in a NATO On-Call Force. Blandy join in VAOCFORMED anti-submarine, anti-aircraft, tactical and communications exercises. Many ports were visited during this period: Gibralatar, Naples, Palma, Athens, Marmaris, and Barcelona. A highlight, was when twenty-one members of the crew were joined by their families in Athens for a ten day sojourn made possible by a low cost dependents flight arranged for the entire Task Group. With the deployment completed, Blandy returned with the MOD SQUAD and arrived in Norfolk on 17 December 1971 in time for all hands to spend Christmas with their families.
In Sept 1971, Blandy received the Gunnery "E" from COMDESRON 26 in recognition of her outstanding achievements during the 1971 competitive year.
In January 1972 and after the holiday season, Blandy once more set sail for Operation SPRINGBOARD in the Caribbean. While in the Caribbean, Blandy gathered intelligence on a Soviet destroyer and submarine and 2 Cuban submarine chasers. She collected new data for electronic countermeasures.
In April, she returned for operations in the vicinity of Cuba. During this period, she conducted numerous readiness exercises and was able to fulfill the operational requirements of Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. During the Summer of 1972, Blandy provided indoctrination and training to Naval Academy Midshipmen. She operated daily during July and August out of Newport, R.I. with the Midshipmen. In addition, Blandy was one of the first ships to take young men on the highly successful “Go Navy” recruitment cruises. By 1972, Z-116 had rewritten the rule book for Navy Women and raised the issue of their serving aboard Navy ships. In August 1972, Maureen Connolly, a Portland Press-Herald reporter, made the trip from Newport to Portland, ME becoming the first woman to take an overnight cruise on a destroyer. Later that month, Anne Bohan, with sixty-five other Women Officer Candidates aboard, got the ship underway for a day of routine exercises. Later in the year, Blandy steamed south to Baltimore, MD for the 176th anniversary of the frigate Constellation.
In September 1972, Blandy provided assistance to the U.S.S. Forrestal as she prepared for her deployment to the Mediterranean. Unbeknown to Blandy, at the beginning of the period, she too would be deployed to the Western Pacific and the SEVENTH Fleet for the second time.
On 17 October 1972, Blandy deployed to the waters off Vietnam. Her outstanding record in competition during the year did not go unnoticed; and, on 6 October, Commander Destroyer Squadron 26 presented the ship with three Battle Efficiency "E"s. These recognized the consistent excellence of the Engineering, Operations and Weapons Departments. At Change of Command ceremonies on 21 November 1972 at Subic Bay, R.P., LCDR William G. Martin took command from Captain Sullivan. The ceremony was pushed up a day and ComDesRon 35 embarked as Gunline Commander; and, by 1730, Blandy was underway for the gunline. By 23 November, Blandy was in Vietnam waters near the mouth of the Cua Viet River and at 2151 fired her first round at an enemy position north of Quang Tri City. Her gun crews manned their weapons around the clock, firing an average of more than 200 rounds a day from a position some five thousand yards off the beach. By the end of the year, Blandy's guns had fired 5,687 rounds destroying enemy bunkers, mortars, a 130 mm gun and other targets.
While off the coast of Vietnam, Blandy continued to distinguish herself by always being ready when and where needed. She answered hostile fire from the coast of North Vietnam on several occasions and received the Combat Action Ribbon. Of interest to any Bland history buff would be the Command History for 1972(See Appendix C). This rather complete history both details and summarizes a very interesting year in the life and service of Blandy demonstrating her ability honed over the years in training to perform when she was needed to serve on the battle line.
On 28 January 1973, Blandy fired her 10,000th combat round and later that night, she completed her last mission in Vietnam. For the next two days, she patrolled the coast and then went on to Hong Kong for a week of liberty, a yard period in Singapore, and a stop in Yokosuka, Japan, before casting off the lines for the trip home. During ASW exercises in December, the crew ended the year on a sad note as they joined the futile search for a sailor lost overboard from the amphibious command ship Mount Whitney (LCC-20).
Of further interest is Captain William Martin's Command History description of 1973's beginning,
New Years Day 1973 found Blandy on the gunline off Vietnam in what was to be the twilight days of the U.S.Naval involvement there. The first 18 hours passed peacefully as; resting when possible and finding time to enjoy the holiday meal. Transquility ceased abruptly at 1800 as Blandy with the Gunline Commander embarked, commenced an attack aimed at enemy gun emplacements in the vicinity of Cap Lai. At 1802 hours, Blandy began receiving hostile fire. The rounds fell closest off the port bow at a range of 150 yards. BLANDY commenced firing counter-battery and after 32 rounds the hostile fire ceased No material or personnel casualties were sustained and Blandy subsequently was awarded the Combat Acton Ribbon.
Blandy returned to Norfolk from the Western Pacific in April 1973 and underwent a series of successful inspections to insure her level of readiness and training was satisfactory. In July, she received the Squadron Battle Efficiency "E" as well as departmental "E"s for the Engineering and Gunnery Departments.
On 15 November 1974, Blandy was again off to duty in the Mediterranean. Highlights of this tour included a visit by Commander SIXTH Fleet; NATO Exercise with Italian forces, and a visit to Palma, Spain. She returned to the United States on 15 May 1975 to Norfolk where she conducted local operations and awaited a much needed major yard period scheduled for 15 October 1975.
In 1976, CDR Francis J. Boyle, USN was relieved by Commander Michael E. Fitzgerald, USN, on 27 June 1976. Captain Fitzgerald served until 1978. While in at Bethlehem Steel's shipyard in East Boston for overhaul, on April 25, a fire believed to have started in a medical storeroom raged for about 2 and 1/2 hours. The fire was combatted by Blandy's In-Port Fire Party with support from the crew and the Boston Fire Department. The damage in excess of $500,000 was restricted to the area between the Electrician Shop and Repair Locker 3 and to smoke and water damage to adjacent compartments. During the overhaul, the following modifications were made: new Mounts 51 and 52, a rebuilt MK 47 MOD 4 Gunfire Control System, an AN/SQS-35 IVDS Sonar, and the ships screws were replaced. Inspite of the fire, Blandy completed her overhaul in time to have a ringside seat as the procession of "Tall Ships" paraded in New York Harbor in commemoration of the United States 200th Birthday.
In 1977, Blandy was deployed to the MED with the Sixth Fleet. There she relieved USS Hawkins(DD-873) and commenced operations as a member of Task Group SIXTY POINT TWO.
1978 found Blandy deployed in the MED with the Sixth Fleet. Captain Fitzgerald was relieved on 29 July 1978 by CDR Thomas T. Batzel, USN, as Captain. She participated with over a dozen U.S. and NATO ships in mock warfare exercises. Blandy arrived back in Norfolk on 25 April having completed a 7 month tour that "exercised every mission area that the ship and men aboard could be asked to perform." In July, it was Midshipmen Cruises. On 6 December 1978 Blandy was underway for another extended deployment. This time it was to the Middle East. "After a hectic transit across the Atlantic and through the Meditarranean, Blandy and Talbot arrived at Djibouti to relieve their counterparts several days ahead of schedule." On the 26th of December, it was on to the Persian Gulf where the "situation was becoming tense in Iran and the possibility of evacuating U.S. citizens was becoming more significant." As 1978 drew to a close, Blandy was in the Persian Gulf, "in the vicinity of the Straits of Hormuz, headed North and prepared to offer her services as required."
On New Years Day, 1979, Blandy was deployed to the Middle East Force conducting surveillance operations in the Persian Gulf. When the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, was overrun and the Khomeni dictatorship was established, Blandy stood by in the Persian Gulf to do surveillance operations and to help with the evacuation of American civilians should she be needed. Fortunately, she was not needed! On the 27 of April, she was starting the first leg of a long journey home. She made the Suez Canal transit again. On 8 May 1979, she was relieved by the Elmer Montgomery (DE-1082) and arrrived home in Norfolk on 30 May.
During July, Blandy transited the Panama Canal enroute for Nicaragua to conduct special operations. In August, Blandy headed to surveillance and shadowing operations for the Soviet Carribbean 1-79 Exercise being conducted by the USSR. As the year ended, Blandy was awarded the Navy Expeditionary Medal and her third consecutive "Green C" award for Communications Excellence.
In January 1980, a major, yearlong overhaul began at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Commander Thomas J. Batzel, USN was the Commanding Officer until 26 July 1980, when he was relieved by CDR William D. Straight, USN. During the year, many overhauls were accomplished within the Weapons, Engineering , Operations, Navigations, and Supply Departments. By 31December 1980, the majority of the overhaul was completed and the ship was readied for her scheduled completion.
In 1981, the ship was still in the yard in Norfolk. This ended on 31 March and the crew returned to the Caribbean for refresher training in Guantanamo Bay. In August, Blandy was dry-docked at Norfolk for sonar dome repairs. In December, she headed for the Indian Ocean via the Suez Canal. When the Soviet union invaded Afghanistan, the U.S. intensified its presence in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf with Blandy and numerous ships.
In November 1982, the Navy, in a terse statement announced retirement of the Forrest Sherman Class ships noting,
The destroyers had been obsolescent almost from commissioning, because they had the misfortune to join the fleet just as the guided missile revolution was beginning. The era of the gun destroyer was coming to a close despite the many worthy accomplishments.
The average age of these ships is 24 years and the cost of modernizing them is far greater than the benefits that could be derived from their continued service.
In the same announcement, the Forrest Sherman DD931 Class was compared to the World War II, mass-produced "tin cans". The comparison read,
(They were) big, seemingly too big to be called destroyers. There were relatively few of them, only 18 altogether, compared with scores in the wartime classes...These big ships were also fast...powered by the earliest of the 1200 pound steam plants in the U.S. Fleet. And they were adaptable, as evidenced by the variety of modification instituted over the course of their careers.
As the lone class of all-gun destroyers commissioned between the end of World War II and the end of the Vietnam War, the DD-931's were an important stepping-stone in the transition to the cruiser-size, gas turbine-powered Spruance class of today.
Above all, the Forrest Sherman Class ships were versatile and dependable and thus called upon for a wide range of operational duties in the course of active service lives of approximately a quarter century each. Many of today's destroymen got their first tastes of sea duty in these fine warships.
These ships leave behind a legacy of service and a warm spot in the memory of many a destroyer sailor.
With this as a final tribute to a fine class of destroyers, all that is known of U.S.S. Blandy(DD-943) is that she was de-commissioned a second time on 5 Nevember 1982 at the Norfolk Naval Base and soon after towed to the Philadelphia Navy Yard where the ship was put in moth balls. In attendance at the de-commissioning were 2 officers, E.T. Buckenmaier and CAPT. James R. Cannon (USN-Retired). who were original Plank Owners at her first commissioning on 26 November 1957.
A Decommissioning Progress Report, from Blandy, dated 29 October 1982, reads,
ALL DECOMMISSIONING PREPS COMPLETED WITH EXCEPTION OF FINAL TOW INSPECTION BY USS PAPAGO SCHEDULED FOR 2 NOVEMBER 1982. SHIP SATISFACTORY ACCEPTED FOR SAFE STOWAGE BY INACTSHIPFAC PORTSMOUTH VA.
The final report on Blandy from IACTSHIPDET PHILADELPHIA PA, dated 10 November 1982 states,
CUSTODY OF EX-BLANDY(DD-943) ACCEPTED BY ORIGINATOR AT 070900Z NOV 82
She was stricken from the Navy's register after a distinguished record of service on 27 July 1990.
Though sad to read the words, "Ex-Blandy(DD-943)", those of us who served aboard can now know of her great legacy of service. When we gather to tell our stories, perhaps, some of us will continue to revise her history and gain insights from our experiences when we were Blandy Sailors!
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