_________________________________ Ship's History ____________________________________
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES SHIP BASILONE
The keel was laid for DD 824 at Orange, Texas by the Shipbuilding Division of the Consolidated Steel Company on 7 July 1945 and the ship was launched on 21 December of the same year. Work on the ship was halted and it remained in Orange until August of 1946. The ship was then towed to Galveston, Texas and stayed there until October and was then continued under tow to New Orleans, LA, to sit for another year. It left New Orleans, again under tow, in October 1947. Upon arrival at the Bethlehem Steel Company’s facility in Quincy, MA, work was resumed. 824 was redesignated ‘DDE’ in January 1948. All of the latest Anti-submarine electronics and weaponry, including the new ‘Weapon Alpha’ anti-submarine rocket launching mount were added to the ship.
Construction completed, USS Basilone, DDE 824 was commissioned on 26 July 1949 in Boston, MA. In October Basilone arrived in her homeport of Norfolk, VA, for two days, and spent the remainder of the year undergoing refresher training and evaluation at the US Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The end of 1949 and the beginning of 1950 was spent in the Boston Naval Shipyard conducting post shake down evaluation and maintenance.
Basilone's first fleet assignment as an active naval destroyer was with Operational Test and Evaluation Forces Atlantic. Some of her first duties were as support ship for the Fleet Sonar School in Key West, Florida. Although officially assigned to Norfolk as home port, Key West was her operational base for the majority of 1950. Basilone’s first celebration of the Fourth of July was hosted by the City of New Orleans.
Basilone welcomed 1951 in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and a reassignment to Escort Destroyer Squadron 4. Most of this year she participated in operations and training in the Western Atlantic. The ship also returned to Key West for a month of supporting the Sonar School and was directed to Guantanamo Bay to assume duty as Gunfire Support Ship. She returned to Norfolk and began 1952, again, in the shipyard.
In May 1952 Basilone entered the Mediterranean Sea for the first time. After two months of operations and training with other units of the US Sixth Fleet, the ship returned to Norfolk for two months of leave and upkeep. In September she again transited to the Mediterranean for training operations and port visits with the Sixth Fleet, returning to Norfolk in December.
The dawn of 1953 found Basilone again moored at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. In February and March operations and training were conducted in the Caribbean Sea. After a month’s stay in Norfolk, the ship departed for the Mediterranean, as flagship for Destroyer Flotilla Four. During this deployment with the Sixth Fleet, Basilone visited Monte Carlo and hosted the Princess of Monaco and her family. She was impressed by the ship and her crew. After returning to Norfolk for a few weeks, Basilone was again underway for training at Key West. After a short stay in Norfolk the Basilone returned to the Caribbean for a month of training and fleet operations. The ship returned to Norfolk in September and remained there for the rest of the year.
Again in 1954 a new year began in the shipyard, followed by refresher training in Guantanamo Bay. After a short visit home in Norfolk, the ship was off again to the Sixth Fleet as flagship for Commander Destroyer Flotilla Four. Basilone was involved in routine training and operations until September. At that time the ship made an unscheduled tender availability stop alongside the USS Grand Canyon (AD-25), necessitated by damage occurring during fueling operations with the USS Waccamaw (AO-109). Upon completion of bow repairs, Basilone departed for Norfolk to remain for the rest of 1954.
1 January 1955 for the first time in her existence, Basilone did not welcome a new year in a shipyard. During a summer Midshipmen training cruise with the Atlantic Fleet, Basilone was dispatched to steam at flank speed through a very nasty Atlantic storm to lend assistance to a young Greek sailor aboard a civilian freighter. The young sailor was suffering from acute appendicitis. Basilone’s boat crew transferred him to their ship, and proceeded at flank speed to rendezvous with USS Iowa (BB-61). The Iowa being the closest ‘hospital’. An emergency appendectomy was performed by the Iowa’s Medical Staff, saving the young sailor’s life.
For the second year in a row, Basilone did not greet a new year in a shipyard. But, within two weeks she would be in Norfolk Naval Shipyard for emergency repairs. In the early morning hours of 5 January 1956 strong winds and heavy seas drug her from anchorage to ground at Fort Story, Cape Henry, VA. The ship was aground almost a week before efforts to refloat her were successful. The summer of 1956 had Basilone again participating in Midshipmen and Cadet training. In October she joined with units of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Navies for training and good will. In November the ship was dispatched, with short notice, to proceed to the Mediterranean to show the flag during the Suez Crisis. She returned to Norfolk in December.
In early June of 1957 Basilone was part of the International Naval Review near Norfolk, VA. She also conducted routine training with the Atlantic Fleet. On 26 June 1957 Basilone crossed the Equator for the first time. This was accomplished during a Midshipmen training cruise to South America.
While on routine operations and training in 1958 with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, Basilone was part of the force ‘standing by’ during the crisis in Lebanon.
During the summer of 1959 Basilone was involved in the NATO Naval Review in Toronto, Canada. Later that year, Basilone was assigned to Search and Rescue Station in the North Atlantic during a presidential flight to Europe.
1960 and 1961 was a fairly quiet time of routine operations and training for Midshipmen, anti-submarine warfare and upkeep. In February 1962 Basilone was assigned to the Mercury Space Program relief and recovery team in the Atlantic. After which she conducted ASW operations and training with units of the British Navy. After which she participated in a summer training program for the Naval Academy Midshipmen. After which Basilone was assigned, along with other ships of her destroyer squadron, to assist with the Cuban Blockade. During the summer of 1962 (7 August) the designation of DDE-824 was officially changed to her original designation of DD-824, which she would retain until her decommissioning.
In July 1963, 14 years after her commissioning, Basilone entered the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) Program. She would remain there until completion of the FRAM I conversion in April of 1964. She then proceeded to her new home port of Newport, RI. During May and October of 1964 Basilone would revisit Key West, FL to assist in training of Sonar school students. Between these duties, the ship, along with other US Navy destroyers, would join units of the Canadian Navy for ASW operations and training. In November of 1964 it was again to the Mediterranean for Sixth Fleet operations and ‘good will’ visits to various ports.
Basilone returned in March of 1965 and became DASH (Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter) qualified in April. (DASH capabilities were added during the FRAM conversion.) In August the ship was assigned to make a good will visit to Salem, MA to participate in the city’s Historical Days celebration. Again in the fall Basilone was assigned to a space flight recovery team. This one for the Gemini VI program. Following this assignment the ship spent the rest of the year in leave and upkeep in preparation for her first combat deployment.
January 1966 Basilone departed Newport for a ‘round the world’ cruise with the most time spent in the hostile waters off the coast of Vietnam. This was the first time the ship had been in a combat situation, the reason for all the training and periods of maintenance. During this deployment Basilone passed through the Panama and Suez Canals and crossed the International Date Line and the Equator. Basilone spent time in all areas of operations during her combat tour, with liberty and upkeep in Hong Kong, Kaousiung, Taiwan and Subic Bay, Philippines. She departed the Western Pacific in July and was back in Newport in August. In November Basilone was en route to the Caribbean for training and operations when a deceitful sea claimed mount 51. The gun mount was heavily damaged and the ship was forced to return to Boston Naval Shipyard for removal of the mount. In three days the mount was removed, a plate placed over the hole and Basilone was underway to fulfill her assignments. The ship returned to Boston in February and departed in March with a new gun mount.
In the summer of 1967 Basilone was participating with other units of the Sixth Fleet when the conflict erupted between Israel and the Arab Nations, and she was called upon to patrol the coast of Crete for a seven week period. The ship returned to Newport in September for leave and upkeep. December found Basilone again in Key West providing support for the Fleet Sonar School.
January 1968 Basilone entered Boston Naval Shipyard for a routine five-month overhaul. The summer was filled with training and preparations for her deployment with the Sixth Fleet for operations and visits to various ports as part of the Navy’s ‘Operation Handclasp’, in which crews of the fleet units participate in ‘people-to-people’ projects to help those less fortunate than we Americans.
Returning to Newport in February of 1969 Basilone began the routine of operating with other ships of the Atlantic Fleet for training, an ongoing task. The ship also provided services for the Naval Destroyer School in Newport. Basilone again departed Newport in November for more operations in the Mediterranean and returned in May of 1970. In September 1970, while participating as a host ship for the Americas Cup yacht race, Basilone received orders to depart for the Mediterranean with less than three days preparation. As a result of the crew’s professionalism and timeliness, the ship received a Meritorious Unit Commendation. Basilone was back in Newport for Thanksgiving. Early 1971 had Basilone involved in routine training and ASW operations, followed by a routine yard period and refresher training until the end of the year.
After returning from Cuba in February 1972 the ship began preparations for her forthcoming (second) round the world’ deployment. In June she departed Newport en route to the Western Pacific and her last combat missions.
During this deployment, as during her previous Seventh Fleet experiences, Basilone conducted gun fire support for forces ashore, was called upon to be plane guard for carrier launchings and landings and patrol the coast of Vietnam. She accomplished this in her usual exemplary fashion. Basilone returned to Newport in December for holiday leave and routine upkeep.
On 5 February 1973 the worst incident to befall Basilone occurred. At about 1645, boiler number three ruptured. High pressure steam vented into the boiler room and out the port hatch into the inboard passageway. In a small workshop immediately adjacent to the boiler room hatch, three Gun Fire Control Technicians were overcome by steam and perished. The four men on watch in the fire room evacuated the space through the starboard access. The last man out of the space was Charles R. Hearrold, Boiler Technician First Class. Although he had suffered grievous internal and external burns which ultimately resulted in his death, Petty Officer Hearrold’s only concern had been for the evacuation of his men and their safety. For this action he was posthumously awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for personal heroism. The other three men on watch in the fire room also suffered fatal injuries and died soon after.
Later that year Basilone entered Boston Naval Shipyard for conversion to Navy Distillate Fuel System. This was a scheduled overhaul and was not connected with the accident. In October 1973 Basilone transferred to her new homeport of Norfolk, VA.
In January 1974 Basilone was again en route to the Mediterranean for another tour with the Sixth Fleet. After the normal training and operations, with a brief stop in dry-dock in Skaramangas, Greece, to make repairs to the hull, Basilone returned to Norfolk, VA in July. For the remainder of 1974 and the first half of 1975 she conducted training operations in the Western Atlantic. In June Basilone again departed for a tour of duty with the Sixth Fleet, returning in December.
During the Bicentennial year, Basilone toured the east coast of the United States and conducted training and operations in the Caribbean. She visited various ports from Puerto Rico to Maine. Her assignment for the Bicentennial Celebration was to enjoy the hospitality of the community of Eastport, Maine.
In January 1977 Basilone departed Norfolk for her last deployment, to the Mediterranean for operations with the Sixth Fleet. During this tour the ship was notified that she would be deactivated in November. Basilone was decommissioned 1 November 1977 and her name was struck from the Navy list he same day
The ship was interned at the Naval Inactive Ship Facility, Portsmouth, VA awaiting her final assignment. In August 1981 the Ex United States Ship Basilone (DD/DDE-824) was towed from Portsmouth, VA in preparation for her final task.
On 9 April 1982 - 824 - was sunk as a target.
Her final resting place is: 29 - 49’ – 04" N / 80 -00’ - 09" W
Off the Northeastern coast of Florida in +/- 276 fathoms of water.
Keel Laid: 7 July 1945
Sunk: 9 April 1982
36 Years, 9 Months, 2 Days
Commissioned: 26 July 1949
Decommissioned: 1 November 1977
28 Years, 3 Months, 5 Days
Copyright 2000 by George Christenson, all rights reserved.
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