A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History
USS FRED T. BERRY DD-858
The Tin Can Sailor, July 2001
Launched on 28 January at San Pedro, California, and commissioned on 12 May 1945, the FRED T. BERRY (DD-858) arrived in Pearl Harbor in September 1945. She engaged in exercises with the Pacific Fleet and served as an escort for the HORNET (CV-12) during flight operations in Hawaiian waters. She then accompanied the GURKE (DD-783) to Japan and duty on the Asiatic Station, covering China, Okinawa, Korea, Japan, and Formosa through May 1947. She returned to the Asiatic Station in 1948. In the following year, she was converted to an antisubmarine warfare ship with the installation of extra underwater sound equipment and transferred to Newport, Rhode Island, to join the Atlantic Fleet.
In March 1950, she was reclassified as an escort destroyer and made her first trip the Mediterranean at the outbreak of war in Korea. From there, she was ordered to the Far East and the Seventh Fleet. Assigned to patrol the Formosa Straits in September and October, she moved on to join the fast carrier Task Force 77 off the Korean coast in November. Diverted from that task in December, she accompanied the battleship MISSOURI (BB-63 ) to Hungnam during the massive evacuation of American and other UN troops. She operated with Task Force 77 supporting UN ground forces and rescuing downed pilots in the Japan Sea. She also engaged in the search and disposal of enemy mines. Detached from Task Force 77 in February 1951, she returned to Newport via the Panama Canal.
Routine overhauls, fleet and NATO exercises, Mediterranean, Caribbean, and South American cruises, hunter-killer operations along the East Coast with Task Group Bravo of DesRon 24, sonar fleet exercises, a midshipman cruise to Spain, Scotland, and Guantanamo Bay kept her busy through the rest of the 1950s. A seven-month FRAM II overhaul began in March 1961 at the Boston Naval Shipyard and in May 1962, the BERRY participated in Project Mercury. She sailed for the Mediterranean in September 1962 where she went on alert during October and November as a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Her Sixth-Fleet deployment continued into 1963 when she joined the Middle East Force for six weeks in the Persian Gulf area. The BERRY kept up a full schedule of operations along the East Coast, exercises in the Caribbean, a four-month Mediterranean cruise, and another deployment with the Middle East Force until 1966 when she found herself en route to the Pacific and combat duty in Vietnam.
With DesRon 10 and units of DesRon 12, the BERRY arrived in the war zone on 10 March 1966 and began gunfire support operations in the Mekong and Saigon River Delta areas. During her first two weeks on the gun line, she fired 1,533 5-inch rounds in sixty-one day and night missions. Airborne spotters reported that her gunners had destroyed at least twenty-eight enemy structures and damaged seventy-three others with outstanding accuracy. Leaving the gun line, the BERRY began plane guard duty with the HANCOCK (CV-19) on Dixie Station in the South China Sea.
After a quick trip to Subic Bay to have all four of her gun barrels replaced, she returned to Vietnam on 21 May. With the ENTERPRISE (CVAN-65), the BAINBRIDGE (DLG-25), and the MASSEY (DD-778), she proceeded to Yankee Station in the Tonkin Gulf to stand plane guard duty for the Big “E.” Completing a trip to Yokosuka, Japan and a brief return to Dixie Station, she headed for home early in July. The BERRY finished the year with surveillance operations along the East Coast and out of Key West where she also served as a fleet sonar school ship.
In February 1967, the BERRY joined the GAINARD (DD-706) and C. S. SPERRY (DD-697) for a Caribbean officer training cruise and then left for the Mediterranean. In June 1967, she patrolled the Eastern Mediterranean during the Arab-Israeli conflict and carried Rear Admiral I. C. Kidd, Jr., to investigate the damage done to the LIBERTY (AGTR-5) by Israeli forces. August found the BERRY and the DAVIS (DD-937) tracking a Soviet FOXTROT-class submarine, PENDANT (F-966). The two American destroyers were joined by the MASSEY, BRUMBY (DE-1044), LESTER (DE-1022), and BASILONE (DD-824) as they hounded the sub and forced it to surface after a record 105 hours. Following NATO exercises, she returned to Newport in October.
Early in 1968, while operating with the U.S. Polaris submarines ETHAN ALLEN (SSBN-608) and SAM HOUSTON (SSBN-609) during their shakedown off Cape Canaveral, Florida, she aided HMS RESOLUTION (SSBN-1) in completing the first ballistic missile firing from a British Polaris submarine. The BERRY began 1969 with a Mediterranean deployment and in July changed her home port to Norfolk, Virginia, to join DesRon 2. On 11 August, during exercises off Roosevelt Roads, she rescued the crew of a downed Marine helicopter. She finished the year in port and was decommissioned and stricken from the navy’s list on 15 September 1970. The FRED T. BERRY was scuttled after underwater explosives tests off Key West on 14 May 1972.