A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History
USS BRISTOL DD-857
The Tin Can Sailor, January 2002
The BRISTOL was launched on 29 October 1944 at San Pedro, California, and was commissioned on 17 March 1945. She steamed for the Western Pacific in June and arrived at Guam in July to join a logistic support task group supplying Task Force 38. On 5 August 1945, the BRISTOL collided with the ASHTABULA (AO-51), damaging her bow. She returned to Guam for repairs and then proceeded to Japan for occupation duty. She returned to San Pedro in March 1946.
In April 1946 the BRISTOL reported to the Atlantic Fleet and operated along the East Coast until February 1947 when she steamed to England for a cruise in European waters that lasted until August. Upon her return, she served as a naval reserve training ship operating out of New Orleans, Louisiana. During the summer and fall of 1950, the BRISTOL visited several Caribbean ports with interim periods of training at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The BRISTOL’s home port was changed to Newport on 21 October 1950. In March 1951, she proceeded to the Mediterranean for duty, returning to Newport during the summer. On 2 October 1951, she began a round-the-world cruise which took her through the Panama Canal to California, Hawaii, Midway, Japan, Okinawa, and Korea where she served from 31 October to 27 February 1952. She then returned to Newport via the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean, arriving in April 1952. The BRISTOL spent the summer in Boston undergoing an overhaul.
Following refresher training at Guantanamo Bay, she got underway for a five-month tour of duty in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. She was in Amsterdam when disastrous floods struck the Netherlands, and her crew assisted flood victims with money and clothes. Her deployment with the Sixth Fleet ended in May 1953. That summer, a midshipman cruise took her to the Caribbean and then, it was back to the Boston Naval Shipyard for repairs.
The BRISTOL began 1954 with a trip to England and Ireland and finished the year with routine operations along the East Coast and fleet exercises in the Atlantic and Caribbean. She spent the spring of 1955 in antisubmarine warfare training and then got underway for the Mediterranean in July. Antisubmarine duty, NATO exercises, a midshipman cruise, and overhaul occupied her through 1956. A midshipman cruise to Valparaiso via the Panama Canal, NATO exercises north of the Arctic Circle, a Mediterranean cruise, another midshipman cruise to Europe, fleet exercises, a Caribbean cruise, and routine operations along the East Coast kept her busy until the spring of 1960 when she was assigned duty as an engineering school ship.
On 6 May 1960, the BRISTOL put to sea as part of the search and rescue detail during the president’s flight to Paris for a summit conference. That duty was followed by a trip to Denmark with the U.S. Ambassador and Naval Attaché. During her 1960 Mediterranean deployment, the ship transited the Suez Canal to patrol Middle Eastern waters. She spent Christmas and New Year’s in France and returned to Newport in February 1961. That April she participated in Operation Mercury, visiting the Canary Islands before returning to Newport. While in the Caribbean in 1961, the BRISTOL was involved in disaster operations in the wake of Hurricane Hattie in Honduras. She later joined the task force operating off the coast of the Dominican Republic near Santa Domingo. Back in the Mediterranean in March 1962, she relieved the WREN (DD-568) and made stops in Greece, Turkey, and Sicily. She left the Mediterranean bound for Newport with the HARLAN R. DICKSON (DD-708) in May. The BRISTOL was again underway for the Mediterranean in February 1963. A brief stint on Red Sea patrol and joint operations with the Italian and French navies completed her Sixth Fleet tour. She again stood by as rescue destroyer during the president’s flight to Europe and then visited the Azores and Newfoundland.
In September 1963, the BRISTOL was transferred to Reserve Destroyer Squadron Thirty and her home port was shifted to New York. Her reserve training cruises took the destroyer from Nova Scotia to the Great Lakes and the Caribbean and into the Atlantic for fleet exercises. During her Great Lakes cruise in July 1965, the BRISTOL participated in the search for survivors of a downed Canadian jet fighter plane in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Training operations off Florida and in the Caribbean were followed by gunfire support exercises at Bloodsworth Island, Maryland, training marine air spotters for Vietnam. She concluded her career with routine reserve training cruises and was finally decommissioned and stricken from the naval register on 21 November 1969.
She was sold to Taiwan on 9 December 1969, and served in that navy as the HUA YANG until 1993.