A Tin Can Sailors
Destroyer History


The GEARING-class destroyer VOGELGESANG (DD‑862) was launched at Staten Island, New York, by the Bethlehem Steel Co. on 15 January 1945 and commissioned on 28 April 1945 at the New York Navy Yard. She arrived at Norfolk, her new home port, in August to serve as a training ship for destroyer nucleus crews. She operated out of Norfolk, along the East Coast, and in the West Indies until November 1947. That month she set out on her first Mediterranean deployment, which lasted until March 1948.

Back home in Norfolk, she returned to Second Fleet operations along the East Coast until January 1949 when she headed back to the Mediterranean. Over the next eight years, the  VOGELGESANG alternated five deployments to the Mediterranean with tours of duty along the East Coast and in the West Indies. She also visited northern European ports during the summer of 1956 on a midshipman training cruise. In 1957 there came a change in her routine. That July, she added service in the Indian Ocean to her schedule. In December, when she returned to the Mediterranean, she again transited the Suez Canal, adding Bahrein and Abadan, Iran, to her itinerary.

The VOGELGESANG's  schedule of alternating Mediterranean and Second Fleet operations continued for the next nine years. Highlights included service in 1961 and 1962 as a support ship for the Project Mercury space shot. She completed her FRAM conversion in January 1963. Over the next two years she participated in joint exercises with ships of Canadian and European navies. In January 1965, she served as part of the Project Gemini recovery force.

A major change came in June 1966 when the VOGELGESANG and the other ships of DesRon 32 steamed out of Norfolk for WestPac deployment. By July, she was headed for the Gulf of Tonkin in the screen of the CONSTELLATION (CVA‑64). In the gulf, her task group provided antisubmarine defense and plane guard services as the carrier’s air group struck at targets in North Vietnam. In mid August, the destroyer moved in to provide gunfire support for troops operating ashore in South Vietnam. On the night of 18 and 19 August, her 5‑inch guns broke up a company‑strength Viet Cong attack on an outpost near Dien Huong. She was credited with killing 70 and wounding 40 of the attacking guerrillas. The VOGELGESANG concluded her only combat cruise during the Vietnam conflict on 10 November when she stood out of Subic Bay, bound via the Indian Ocean, the Suez Canal, and the Mediterranean Sea for Norfolk.

She resumed her schedule alternating Mediterranean cruises with operations out of Norfolk starting in November 1967, with her first tour of duty with the Sixth Fleet since 1965. The year 1968 was highlighted by a cruise to South American waters to participate in UNITAS IX, a series of multinational exercises with units of various Latin American navies.

Normal operations and an overhaul at the Boston Naval Shipyard took her through 1969.  April 1970 saw her underway for another Mediterranean tour of duty. Early in September that year, she joined a special contingency force assembled in the eastern Mediterranean responding to Syrian intervention in the Jordanian civil war on the side of militant, anti-government, Arab guerrillas. She cruised that portion of the sea into October when the American show of force finally succeeded in getting the Syrian forces to withdraw from Jordan. She resumed normal operations with the Sixth Fleet and headed for home in November.

Routine operations out of Norfolk and in the Mediterranean carried her through June 1972. In January 1974, the VOGELGESANG was transferred from DesRon 2 to DesRon 28 and reassigned to naval reserve training duty. That March, her home port changed to Newport, Rhode Island. She continued to operate as a training ship for naval reservists, NROTC midshipmen, and OCS students, alternating short periods at sea and in port with periodic extended training cruises to the West Indies. She was decommissioned and struck from the navy’s list on 24 February 1982  when she was transferred Mexico and renamed the QUETZALCOATL. The ex-VOGELGESANG was decommissioned by the Mexican navy in late 2002.


From The Tin Can Sailor, April 2009

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