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Hull Number: DD-972

Launch Date: 10/21/1975

Commissioned Date: 03/04/1978

Decommissioned Date: 06/20/2003

Call Sign: NJYG



Wikipedia (as of 2024)

Jesse Barrett “Oley” Oldendorf (16 February 1887 – 27 April 1974) was an admiral in the United States Navy, famous for defeating a Japanese force in the Battle of Leyte Gulf during World War II. He also served as commander of the American naval forces during the early phase of the Battle of the Caribbean. In early 1942, a secret group of senior Navy officers empaneled by President Franklin D. Roosevelt assessed him as one of the 40 most competent of the 120 flag officers in the Navy.[1]

Jesse Barrett Oldendorf was born in Riverside, California on 16 February 1887. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1909,[2] standing 141st in a class of 174,[3] and was commissioned in 1911.[2] Oldendorf served aboard the armored cruiser USS California, the torpedo boat destroyer USS Preble, the cruiser USS Denver, the destroyer USS Whipple and the armored cruiser California again, although she had been renamed San Diego. He also served on the Panama Canal hydrographic survey ship USS Hannibal.[3]

During World War I, Oldendorf spent a few months on recruiting duty in Philadelphia. From June to August 1917, he commanded the naval armed guard on USAT Saratoga. The ship sank as a result of a collision in New York. He then became a gunnery officer aboard the troop transport USS President Lincoln,[3] which was sunk by three torpedoes from the German submarine U-90 off Ireland on 31 May 1918.[4] From August 1918 to March 1919, he was engineering officer of USS Seattle. In July, he was briefly executive officer of USS Patricia.[3]

Between the great wars, Oldendorf did a stint in charge of recruiting station Pittsburgh, acted as an engineering inspector in Baltimore, and served as officer in charge of a hydrographic office. In 1920, he was assigned to the patrol yacht USS Niagara. From 1921 to 1922, Oldendorf was stationed on USS Birmingham in the Caribbean, while acting as flag secretary to Special Service Squadron commanders Rear Admiral Casey B. MorganCaptain Austin Kautz and Rear Admiral William C. Cole. From 1922 to 1924 he served as aide to Rear Admiral Josiah S. McKean, commandant of the Mare Island Navy Yard. In 1925, Oldendorf, now a commander, assumed his first command, the destroyer USS Decatur, Afterwards, he was aide to successive commandants of the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Rear Admiral Thomas P. Magruder and Julian Lane Latimer from 1927 to 1928.[3]

Oldendorf attended the Naval War College from 1928 to 1929 and then the Army War College from 1929 to 1930.[2] From 1930 to 1935, he was the navigator of the battleship USS New York. Following the normal pattern of alternating duty at sea with shore duty, Oldendorf taught navigation at the Naval Academy from 1932 to 1935. Following this teaching assignment at the Academy, Oldendorf returned to sea duty serving as executive officer of the battleship USS West Virginia from 1935 to 1937. From 1937 to 1939, Oldendorf directed the recruiting section of the Bureau of Navigation.[3]

From 1939 to 1941, Oldendorf commanded the cruiser USS Houston. In September 1941, he joined the staff of the Naval War College, where he taught navigation until February 1942. On 31 March 1942, Oldendorf was promoted to rear admiral, and assigned to the ArubaCuraçao sector of the Caribbean Sea Frontier. In August 1942, he was transferred to the Trinidad sector where anti-submarine warfare was his primary duty. From May through December 1943, Oldendorf commanded Task Force 24 which was assigned all Western Atlantic escorts. His flagships during this period were destroyer tender USS Prairie and fleet tug USS Kiowa.[3]

Oldendorf was reassigned to the United States Pacific Fleet in January 1944, where he commanded Cruiser Division 4 (CruDiv 4) from his flagship USS Louisville. Cruiser Division 4, consisting of cruisers and battleships, supported carrier operations and provided fire support for the landings in the MarshallsPalausMarianas, and Leyte.[3]

On 12 September 1944, Oldendorf commanded from the bridge of his flagship, USS Pennsylvania, the Fire Support Group tasked with the bombardment of Peleliu in the Palaus island group. This Fire Support Group consisted of five battleships, PennsylvaniaUSS IdahoUSS MarylandUSS Mississippi, and USS Tennessee, eight cruisers, twelve destroyers, seven minesweepers, fifteen landing craft converted to rocket launchers, and a half-dozen submarines.[5] At this point in his career, Oldendorf was an experienced battle commander who had handled similar assignments in three previous Marine landings. The bombardment was scheduled to last three days. By the end of the first day, aerial reconnaissance photos indicated that close to 300 of the assigned targets had been destroyed or seriously damaged by the all-day bombardment and that virtually every aboveground structure and fortification had been eradicated. At the airport its few usable planes were reduced to wreckage.[5]

By the evening of the second day, every target specified on the master list in Pennsylvanias combat center had been struck repeatedly. However, Oldendorf was concerned because no return fire had been detected from the concentrations of enemy heavy artillery shown in earlier aerial reconnaissance photos and because the latest photos contained no evidence that these weapons had been destroyed. It was surmised that the Japanese had moved their heavy artillery underground where they could have survived the bombardment. Despite these concerns, Oldendorf made the decision to call off the bombardment at the end of the second day of a pre-arranged schedule that called for a third full day of attacks.[5]

This would have tragic results for the 1st Marines‘ beach assault on Peleliu because the white coral outcropping designated as “the Point” was left virtually untouched despite the specific request that Lieutenant Colonel Lewis “Chesty” Puller, commander of the 1st Marines, made to Oldendorf’s staff to target it in the Navy’s bombardment. “The Point” commanded the heights 30 feet above the north end of White Beach 1 on which the 1st Marines landed and was considered by Puller to be a potential defensive strongpoint too obvious for the Japanese to overlook. The result of not sufficiently reducing “the Point” was a bloodbath. Over 500 men were lost, roughly one-sixth of its regimental strength, on the D-Day White Beach assault on Peleliu, and the entire beachhead was in danger of collapsing. It was only by the heroism of the Marines that “the Point” was taken.[6] After the war when asked about Pelilieu, Oldendorf commented that “If military leaders-and that includes Navy brass-were gifted with the same accuracy of foresight that they are with hindsight, then the assault of Peleliu should never have been attempted.”[7]

On 24 October 1944, Oldendorf was the commander of Task Group 77.2 at the Battle of Surigao Strait.[8] Oldendorf who was aboard his flagship USS Louisville which led the defeat of the Japanese Southern Force.[9] He deployed his powerful force of battleships and cruisers in a classic battle line formation across the Surigao Straitcrossing the T of his opponent. The Japanese battleships Fusō and Yamashiro were sunk,[10] and Vice Admiral Shoji Nishimura was killed.[11] Oldendorf’s action prevented the Japanese from bringing their battle fleet into Surigao Strait and attacking the beachheads on Leyte Island. He later explained his tactics to the New York Times: “My theory was that of the old-time gambler: Never give a sucker a chance.”[12] For this action, Oldendorf was awarded the Navy Cross.[13] In 1959 Admiral Oldendorf provided commentary on his planning for the battle:

… Admiral Kinkaid’s order to prepare for night action came as no surprise. … It was obvious that the objective of the Japanese Forces was the destruction of our transports and that my mission was to protect them at all costs. In order to accomplish my mission, the force under my command must be interposed to between the enemy and the transports. I realized that I must not lose sight of my mission no matter how much I might be tempted to engage in a gunnery duel with him.

I selected the position of the battle line off Hingatungan Point because it gave me the maximum sea room available and restricted the enemy’s movements. This position also permitted me to cover the eastern entrance to the Gulf should the Central Force under Admiral Kurita arrive ahead of the Southern Force. I selected the battle plan from the General Tactical Instructions and modified it to meet the conditions existing, i.e., lack of sea room to maneuver and possible enemy action. … I thought that quite possibly he planned to slip some of his light forces into the Gulf by passing them to the eastward of Hibuson Island after the battle line was engaged. For that reason I stationed the preponderance of my light forces on the left flank. One duty which was never delegated to my staff was the drafting of battle plans.

— US Naval Institute Proceedings
April 1959[14]

On 15 December 1944, Oldendorf was promoted to vice admiral and made commander of Battleship Squadron 1.[3] He commanded battleships in the landings at Lingayen. On 6 January 1945, Oldendorf, together with his guest British admiral Bruce Fraser, survived a destructive kamikaze strike on the bridge of USS New Mexico.[15] He was wounded breaking his collar bone at Ulithi on 11 March 1945, when his barge hit a buoy.[16] Oldendorf assumed command of Task Force 95 in July, and led this force on two sweeps of the East China Sea.[17] He was wounded, breaking several ribs, when his flagship Pennsylvania was torpedoed by a Japanese aircraft on 12 August 1945.[18] On 22 September 1945, Oldendorf commanded the occupation of Wakayama and dictated terms of surrender to Vice Admiral Hoka and Rear Admiral Yofai.[19]

From November 1945, Oldendorf commanded the 11th Naval District. In 1946 he assumed command of the San Diego Naval Base. From 1947 until his retirement in 1948 he commanded the Western Sea Frontier and the United States Navy reserve fleets at San Francisco.[20] He retired in September 1948 at which time he was promoted to Admiral.[2]

Oldendorf resided in Mount Vernon, Virginia, where he owned a large plot of land. He died on 27 April 1974 in Portsmouth, Virginia.[21] The destroyer USS Oldendorf was named in his honor.[22]


Stricken 4/6/2004. In Pearl Harbor awaiting SINKEX

USS OLDENDORF DD-972 Ship History

Wikipedia (as of 2024)

Oldendorf was the tenth Spruance– class destroyer and the first ship in the Navy named after Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf, one of the most distinguished surface warfare flag officers to serve during World War II.[2] She was built by Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi beginning 27 December 1974. The ship was launched on 21 October 1975 and commissioned on 4 March 1978.

Oldendorf was originally stationed in San Diego, California, although the ship’s first year was marked by shipyard work in Long Beach, California and another visit to Litton Shipbuilders in Pascagoula, Mississippi. This schedule meant three Panama Canal transits for most of the ship’s pre-commissioning crew within the a ship’s first 12 months of service.

During her first Westpac deployment which took place between May and November 1980 Oldendorf took part in a joint Australian-American-New Zealand anti-submarine exercise off the Western Australian coast during August 1980, which saw the destroyer conduct visits to the Western Australian town of Bunbury and the city of Perth.

Oldendorf conducted her second Westpac deployment, this time with the aircraft carrier USS Constellation and her Carrier Battle Group in October 1981 to the Persian Gulf, during which Oldendorf returned to visit the Western Australian city of Perth. She returned home in May 1982 before undergoing an overhaul from September 1982 to July 1983, then conducted work ups for the ship’s third Westpac deployment which took place from January to May 1984.

Oldendorf was re-based to Yokosuka, Japan as part of the United States Seventh Fleet in August 1984. She was a member of the USS Midway battle group until being transferred to San Diego in 1991. During her time in the 7th Fleet she was involved with numerous events including regular exercises with all major navies in the area. In November 1986, along with USS Reeves and USS Rentz, she visited the port of Qingdao, China, the first group of US warships to visit mainland China since 1949. In 1988 Oldendorf deployed as part of the Seoul Olympics security force with the Nimitz battle group for which she received the Meritorious Unit Citation. During two separate deployments Oldendorf was responsible for rescuing Vietnamese refugees fleeing governmental oppression and during mid-1989 Oldendorf was the first warship to be granted access to the small Australian village of Gove since 1975, when a seafaring naval tug was last to visit. Oldendorf had received approval from the Aboriginal tribe leaders to make a port of call there as a sign of good will to the US Navy. She received numerous awards for achievement and excellence.[citation needed] The commanding officer during her deployment to the Gulf War was Commander Cyrus H Butt IV. Oldendorf was part of the first United States response to the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. She served with distinction throughout the war earning the Combat Action Ribbon escorting the various major warships and supporting the naval blockade of Iraq. She returned to Japan in mid-1991. The summer of 1991 the ship changed its homeport to Long Beach, California for a year and a half long overhaul in the Long Beach Naval Shipyards. In late 1992 the command was shifted to her final homeport of San Diego. In early 1993 she participated in Joint Interdiction LEO operations with the USCG off the South American coast returning in March 1993.

Oldendorf took part in the surface exercise Eager Sentry, as part of the larger Exercise Native Fury ’94. Involving Kuwaiti and British military members, it was the largest naval exercise ever conducted in Kuwait. It was conducted from 4 April through 25 April, to demonstrates U.S. resolve to support the peace in the Persian Gulf region after ousting Iraq from Kuwait three years prior. Native Fury comprised several exercises under one umbrella. In the namesake exercises, two Maritime Prepositioning Ships sailed from their homeport of Diego Garcia and discharged more than 1,000 tanks, artillery pieces and vehicles at the port of Shuaibah, starting 5 April. Approximately 2,000 marines and sailors from I Marine Expeditionary Force, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Force Service Support Group and Naval Beach Group One arrived by air, off-loaded and convoyed the equipment to a training range north of Kuwait City. There, they trained with the Kuwaiti Army and British Royal Marines, perfecting tactics which would delay, and perhaps turn back, any repeat of the invasion of Kuwait. Other elements of Native Fury involved the surface exercise Eager Sentry; Eager Archer, an aerial exercise; and Eager Express with explosive ordnance disposal units training on the southern Kuwaiti beaches.

As part of a reorganization by the Pacific Fleet‘s surface ships into six core battle groups and eight destroyer squadrons, with the reorganization scheduled to be completed by 1 October 1995, and homeport changes to be completed within the following, year, Oldendorf was reassigned to Destroyer Squadron 23.

Oldendorf departed on 1 December 1995, as part of the USS Nimitz Battle Group, for a regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment.

In March 1996, and in response to the announcement of missile tests and military live-fire exercises to be conducted by the Chinese in the waters surrounding the island of Taiwan, the United States dispatched forward deployed naval assets, including a carrier and other combatants to the area to monitor the situation. USS Independence and other units in its battle group, operating in international waters, were on the scene from the beginning of the exercises. However, to augment the monitoring efforts, and further demonstrate U.S. commitment to peace and stability in the region, Nimitz and elements of its battle group, including Oldendorf, were ordered to sail from the Persian Gulf to the Western Pacific earlier than planned, after two months in the Persian Gulf for Operation Southern Watch.

Oldendorf took part, from 13 April through 24 April in Pacific Joint Task Force Exercise 98-1 (PAC JTFEX 98-1) off the Southern California coast. The aim of the exercise was to prepare naval forces to participate in joint operations with other U.S. forces. Naval operations included Maritime Interception Operations (MIO), Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO), various air strike and support missions, operational testing of various weapons systems, Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (TBMD), logistics support, search and rescue, and command and control. An amphibious landing at Camp Pendleton, California, on 21 April, involved Navy surface and helicopter assault forces, U.S. Air Force aircraft, as well as units from Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Oldendorf deployed on 9 November 1998, for a six-month overseas assignment, as part of the USS Carl Vinson battle group. Joining Carl Vinson was the USS Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). The Carl Vinson battle group and the Boxer ARG were to relieve the USS Abraham Lincoln battle group and the USS Essex ARG, which had been forward deployed for the previous five months to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf.

Oldendorf arrived on station in the Persian Gulf with the Carl Vinson battle group and took part in Operation Desert Fox in December 1998. The operation was designed to degrade Saddam Hussein‘s ability to deliver chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and wage war against his neighbors. It also took part in Operation Southern Watch. The Carl Vinson battle group, led by Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) Eleven departed the Persian Gulf on 18 March 1999, after spending three intense months supporting Operations Southern Watch and Desert Fox in Southern Iraq. The ships returned home in May.

As of early 2000, developmental tests were in progress on Oldendorf as part of the SPQ-9B Radar Improvement Program. The program aimed at using COTS systems and NDI to improve the performance of the AN/SPQ-9 Radar in the Mk 86 Gun Fire Control System (GFCS), which would be integrated into the Mk 1 Ship Self-Defense System.

In August 2000, Oldendorf was directed to the scene of a crash into the Persian Gulf, on 23 August, by a commercial passenger jet, in order to assist in the recovery of the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder. The jet, a twin-engine Airbus A320 operated by Gulf Air which originated in Cairo, plunged into shallow water about 3 to 4 miles north of Bahrain International Airport while making its approach. Oldendorf was relieved of this duty by USS George Washington, which was much closer to the proximity of the site of the crash.[3] The bodies of all 143 people aboard the aircraft were recovered.

Oldendorf took part in the first Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) of 2001 during the month of February. Together with the Special Operations Capable certification (SOCCERT), the JTFEX aimed at providing progressive and realistic pre-deployment training for a carrier battle group, an amphibious ready group, a Marine Expeditionary Unit and other deployers. The name Joint Task Force Exercise reflects the focus on preparing naval forces to participate fully in joint operations with other U.S. forces and the armed forces of allied countries. Naval operations included Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO), Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO), various air strike and support missions, operational testing of various weapons systems, Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (TBMD), logistics support, search and rescue and command and control. U.S. Navy and Marine Corps forces were joined in the exercise by U.S. Air Force aircraft as well as units from Canada.

The U.S. Navy Surface Force was scheduled to begin, in the summer of 2002, an initiative to test the effectiveness of deploying a single ship for 18 months while swapping out crews at six-month intervals. Called Sea Swap, this initial two-phased initiative would involve three Spruance-class destroyers (DDs) – USS FletcherKinkaid and Oldendorf, and three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers (DDGs) – HigginsJohn Paul Jones and Benfold. For the DD phase, Fletcher and her crew would deploy with their battle group this summer, but after six months, only the crew would return. The ship would remain deployed and be manned by the crew from Kinkaid. After completing their training cycle and decommissioning Kinkaid, these sailors would fly to a port in either Australia or Singapore to assume ownership of Fletcher and steam her back on-station. After six months, they would be replaced by the crew from Oldendorf who would have completed the same training and decommissioning schedule with their ship before flying out to relieve the Kinkaid crew. After four more months on station, the Oldendorf crew would then bring Fletcher back to the United States where it too would be decommissioned. Additionally, by executing this plan, the Navy would be able to eliminate the deployment of USS Paul F. Foster because the additional on-station time generated by swapping out the crews meant a ship would already be in theater meeting that requirement.

Oldendorf was decommissioned 20 June 2003 and berthed at Bremerton, Washington NISMF. She was stricken 6 April 2004. The ship was sunk as a target during a live-fire exercise off the coast of Washington[4] by the USS Russell on 22 August 2005