A brief history of the United States Ship DAMATO
The U.S.S. Damato (DD-871) was named for Corporal Anthony Peter Damato, USMC. Corporal Damato was killed in action 19 February 1944 at Eniwetok, when he threw himself on a hand grenade to save the lives of his companions. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for this heroic self-sacrifice.
The ship was built at Bethlehem Steel Corporationís Staten Island shipyard, and was sponsored by Mrs. A. P. Damato. DD-871 was commissioned on 27 April 1946, with Commander I. S. Preseler in command.
Damato initially operated out of Newport, Rhode Island, however, in December 1947 the ship was reassigned and Norfolk, Virginia, became her home port.
Damatoís first few years were spent on exercises and training in the Atlantic. In 1949 she took midshipmen on a training cruise to France and England. Later that year she was involved in experimental cold weather operations in Arctic waters.
From September to November 1950, Damato had her first tour of duty with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean, and during the next year joined in hunter-killer operations in the South Atlantic. The ship was reclassified as a DDE in March 1951. She returned to the Mediterranean in the fall of 1951, the summers of 1952, 1953, and 1954. In both 1962 and 1953, she joined in autumn North Atlantic Treaty Organization exercises in the North Atlantic and during the summer of 1955 joined a Midshipman Training Cruise to Norway and Sweden.
Between October and December 1956, she served with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean, and on 12 June 1957 was in Hampton Roads for the International Naval Review. That summer she cruised to Brazil with midshipmen on board for training, and then sailed for the Mediterranean in March 1958. She patrolled off the Levant, then passed through the Suez Canal to join the Middle East Force in the Persian Gulf, returning to Norfolk for local operations in September. During 1959 she served with Task Force "Alfa," concentrating on the development of improved antisubmarine warfare techniques. She visited Quebec, Canada, in July, and in August sailed north again to pass through the St. Lawrence Seaway, dedicated a month previously. She called at Montreal, at Rochester, N.Y., and arrived at Toronto for the Canadian National Exposition, joining in the review of NATO naval forces taken by Admiral of the Fleet, the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Britainís senior military officer.
One of Damatoís more unusual adventures was the chase of the SS Santa Maria in the Caribbean in January 1961. The cruise ship had been seized as part of a Portuguese Rebellious Movement. Damato chased the modern day pirates and was instrumental in the final disposition of the ship.
In January 1962, Damato was in the recovery area for an orbital astronaut shot. In June 1962, the navy eliminated the DDE designation and the ship reverted to her original DD designation. In September of that year, Damato was part of the Cuban Quarantine.
In March 1963, Damato began an eleven month conversion under the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization program (FRAM). Her service life was extended and she was equipped with ASROC (Anti-Submarine Rocket) and DASH (Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter).
Damato became the flagship of Destroyer Division 222 in August 1964. She served as part of the American Protective Force in the Dominican Replublic in August 1965. Following a five month deployment, Damato returned to her home port in August 1966, and began a three month yard period the next month.
Damato arrived for her deployment to Vietnam on 2 September 1967. She participated in Operation Sea Dragon and on the morning of 13 September was hit twice by enemy shells. After completing repairs, Damato returned to duty. She returned to Norfolk on 2 January 1968.
After deploying to the Mediterranean in 1969, she was placed in a reduced operating status from October 10, 1969 until October 7, 1970, when she again began preparations for another Mediterranean deployment. This trip, from February until July 1971, involved routine Sixth Fleet operations.
In September 1971, Damato sailed to Northern Europe for a NATO cruise, and in January 1972 took part in Operation Snowy Beach, off the coast of Maine. Another trip to the Caribbean in February 1972, to train Naval Destroyer School Department Head students, preceded her return to Norfolk, Virginia, and preparations for a long overdue Regular overhaul in her new homeport of Boston, Massachusetts.
The homeport shift was effective on July 1, 1972, and later that month Damato sailed to Newport, Rhode Island, to commence the pre-overhaul phase of a five month, multi-million dollar overhaul. Following overhaul and refresher training conducted at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Damato began her new mission of training Naval Reservists. In February 1974, Damato's homeport was again changed to Newport, Rhode Island.
After the last homeport change Damato conducted operations along the Eastern Atlantic Seaboard. Along with participating in many fleet exercises, Damato underwent another overhaul in March of 1977 until September of 1977. Afterward, Damato again conducted her primary mission of being a Combat Ready Destroyer while training her Naval Reserve Component.
She was decommissioned in December 1980, and transferred to Pakistan, where she continued to serve under the name PNS Tippu Sultan.
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