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 A Tin Can Sailors
Destroyer History

 USS FOREST SHERMAN
(DD-931)

Named for Admiral Forrest Sherman, one-time Chief of Naval Operations, the DD-931 was launched 5 February 1955 and commissioned 9 November 1955. Steaming out of Newport, Rhode Island, in January 1957, she represented the destroyer force at President Eisenhower’s inauguration. Later that year, during NATO exercises off Norway, her crew demonstrated a high-line transfer for the documentary film Windjammer.

The year 1958 took her to several world hot spots, including Caracas, Venezuela, where students attacked Vice President Nixon; the eastern Mediterranean and the crisis in Lebanon; and Taiwan where the Communist Chinese were threatening the Nationalist Chinese islands of Quemoy and Matsu. Headed for home again in October 1958, the SHERMAN’s crew rescued four marine aviators northeast of Honolulu. Back in Rhode Island on 11 November 1958, she was the first of her class to circle the globe.

During the celebration of the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, the SHERMAN joined the naval escort for HMS BRITTANIA carrying President Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II. She then sailed through all five Great Lakes and entertained more than 110,000 Midwesterners. Later, during coastal exercises with the Atlantic Fleet, her crew fought high seas to rescue three sailors who fell overboard from a navy oiler. On hand again in 1960, they took aboard an injured man from a Liberian freighter for transport to a hospital in Bermuda. Throughout the early 1960s, her crew maintained the SHERMAN’s battle readiness with antisubmarine hunter-killer exercises along the East Coast and in the Mediterranean and South Atlantic. They also carried President Kennedy’s people-to-people program to African, South American, and Mediterranean ports. In March 1962, her crew rode out a fierce two-day storm that did considerable damage to the ship. Later that spring, BM2 Donald J. Spann helped save a fourteen-year-old boy who had fallen into the harbor at St. John, New Brunswick.

Tension filled the month of June 1967 as the SHERMAN patrolled the eastern Mediterranean during the Arab-Israeli War and escorted a Greek ship carrying Americans to safety in Greece. Operations in the Caribbean and Mediterranean took up most of 1968 and 1969. In November 1969, with the SAMUEL S. MILES (DE-183), FOX (DLG-33), DYESS (DD-880), FISKE (DD-842), and several Coast Guard cutters, she searched unsuccessfully for survivors of a Liberian freighter sunk in the North Atlantic. The following summer, her gun crews disposed of a World War II-vintage mine discovered off Helsinki, Finland. Voyages to Scotland, Norway, the Caribbean, and Northern Europe occupied her into 1972 when she participated in UNITAS XIII. The latter included a fifteen-hour, ninety-mile detour to tow a disabled Venezuelan ship to the nearest repair site. The following year, serious engineering problems sent her to Boston for repairs. Progress was slow, but despite 'very discouraging conditions,' the crew’s morale remained high. Finally in March 1974, she got underway for intensive training on the way to her new home port in Norfolk, Virginia.

Much of 1975 was spent underway, with time between Mediterranean and North Atlantic ports used for rigorous training exercises. By July 1976, she was in Bethlehem Steel’s Boston shipyard for a major overhaul that lasted through December. While in Boston, the SHERMAN’s crew encountered trouble with local citizens, and on 16 December, an unknown assailant killed crew member EMFN James D. Stephens.

The SHERMAN’s crew endured another prolonged overhaul period that continued until the summer of 1977. On 12 August, after thirteen months, the destroyer finally got underway for Charleston, South Carolina, her new home port. Plagued by engineering plant problems, she began refresher training in Guantanamo Bay in January 1978.

With training exercises and sea trials behind her, she was off to the Mediterranean. During NATO and other exercises, her engineering, damage control, CIC, communications, electronic warfare, and weapons departments excelled in their performance. As a result, in January 1979, the commander of Destroyer Squadron 24 commended the SHERMAN’s crew as the 'success story of the Atlantic Fleet' for returning the ship to full operational capability after her less than satisfactory overhaul. Trouble in Nicaragua in June 1979 took her to the Caribbean, where she later shadowed a Soviet task group. That September, her crew fought a two-day battle against the winds, seas, and rain of hurricane David.

Operating in the Caribbean in January 1980, when engineering problems disabled the VOGE (DE-1047), the SHERMAN took her in tow and provided boiler feed water and technical assistance on the way to Nassau. On 26 March, with the MULLINNIX (DD-944), she left for the Middle East and duty patrolling the Arabian Gulf, the Indian Ocean, and the coast of North Africa. Back home in September 1980, she entered the Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. There, her crew and shipyard personnel completed the anticipated twelve-month overhaul in ten months. While in Pascagoula, fifteen of the SHERMAN’s crew joined local fire fighters to prevent a large brush fire from destroying homes and buildings in nearby Gautier, Mississippi. The SHERMAN left Pascagoula on 4 August 1981, and in late September participated in shock testing for the KIDD (DDG-993).

Anti-submarine warfare exercises off Vieques, Puerto Rico, in early 1982 were followed by a Mediterranean deployment in March. In April, the SHERMAN’s crew rescued thirteen men and one woman from a burning Yugoslavian freighter. She then continued through the Suez Canal for radar picket duty in the Persian Gulf and battle group exercises with the JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV-67) in the Arabian Sea. Headed for Charleston in July 1982, the SHERMAN received word that she was scheduled for deactivation, which was completed by 15 October. Captain John E. Sherman, nephew of the ship’s namesake, spoke at the decommissioning ceremony on 5 November 1982. She was then towed to the Inactive Ships Facility in Philadelphia. On 27 July 1990, the FORREST SHERMAN was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register.

 

From The Tin Can Sailor, October 1999


Copyright 1999 Tin Can Sailors.
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