A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History
USS COCHRANE DDG-21
The Tin Can Sailor, January 2001
The guided missile destroyer COCHRANE was commissioned at Bremerton, Washington, on 21 March 1964. A year later she left Pearl Harbor with the RENSHAW (DD-499) for her first deployment with the Seventh Fleet. By April 1965 she was supporting a carrier strike force off Vietnam. In 1966 she was flagship for the mid-Pacific Gemini 8 recovery group, participated in operations with Japanese and South Korean defense forces, and served as an antiaircraft picket and surface surveillance ship, as carrier plane guard, and as a gunfire support ship in the Gulf of Tonkin and South China Sea. The COCHRANE later took part in antisubmarine warfare exercises with Royal Navy units and rescued an airman who had fallen overboard from the carrier KEARSARGE (CVS-33). During her two gunfire support assignments, her gunners blasted enemy assembly areas, protected a truck convoy traveling between Da Nang to Dong Ha, and shelled enemy harbor sites and other targets.
In March 1968 the COCHRANE returned to the combat zone, operating above the demilitarized zone (DMZ) near Cap Lay. She fired in support of the Third Marine Division and escorted the REEVES (DLG-24) on the Northern Search and Rescue Station. She returned to the gun line before relieving the EPPERSON (DD-719) off the coast of North Vietnam. She was back on Yankee Station in May for plane guard duty during which she recovered, but could not save the life of a pilot from the ENTERPRISE (CVAN-65). The COCHRANE continued a schedule of gun line and plane guard duty through June when she and the OZBOURN (DD-846) were fired on and subsequently destroyed a shore battery near Dong Hoi. On 3 July she joined the ST. PAUL (CA-73), BOSTON (CAG-1), TURNER JOY (DD-951), HENRY B. WILSON (DDG-7), O’BRIEN (DD-725), BENNER (DD-807), and BOYD (DD-544) for a massive air, sea, and land offensive against enemy troops around the DMZ. Returning to Pearl Harbor she stood by for possible recovery of the Apollo 7 manned space flight, the Apollo 8 moon orbital flight, and in March 1969, Apollo 9. Her 1969 WESTPAC deployment included operations off Korea and on Yankee Station and gun fire support in Da Nang Harbor and at Chu Lai. She relieved the BENJAMIN STODDERT (DDG-22) on the gun line in September and fired missions around Phan Thiet, Da Nang, and Chu Lai. October found her supporting troops in the II and I Corps areas. Visits to Subic Bay, Kaoshiung, Taiwan, and Hong Kong and carrier operations concluded her Far East deployment.
The COCHRANE spent most of 1970 undergoing overhaul and testing her new Tartar missiles. She was bound for Vietnam in February 1971. While plane guarding for the RANGER (CVA-61), she rescued the crew of an F-4 Phantom and the pilot of an A-6 Intruder. In March she was in the Gulf of Thailand supporting South Vietnamese troops. Thereafter, she engaged in plane guard and search and rescue duty on Yankee Station, evaded typhoons, and visited Australia before returning to Pearl Harbor. In July 1972 she began another WestPac deployment and a month later was firing in defense of the city of Quang Tri. Early in September she took part in Operation Linebacker, conducting 120 missions, patrolling offshore by day and making high-speed raids on enemy positions at night. She fired 6,000 rounds of 5-inch ammunition and received 1,500 rounds of hostile fire, suffering shrapnel damage during one nighttime raid in October. She alternated time on the gun line with Linebacker strikes until December when she retired to Subic Bay for repair of her guns. She returned to the gun line and then resumed Linebacker duty when the GOLDSBOROUGH (DDG-20) received a direct hit.
She began 1973 in a duel with enemy coastal batteries around Hon La followed by Linebacker operations in the same area. With the end of the war on 28 January, she headed for home with the PREBLE (DLG-15), RATHBURNE (DE-1057), and BRONSTEIN (DE-1037). Overhaul and refresher training carried the COCHRANE up to her October 1974 WestPac deployment with the KNOX (DE-1052), WHIPPLE (DE-1062), and RATHBURNE. The tour included a visit to Singapore with the CONSTELLATION (CVA-64), BERKELEY (DDG-15), and STEIN (DE-1065); a trip to the Persian Gulf; and exercises with the Royal Thai Navy.
Early in 1975 the COCHRANE covered the evacuation of hundreds of Vietnamese refugees and Americans from the Saigon area. Back in Pearl Harbor in June, she participated in filming an episode of TV’s “Hawaii Five-O.” Her 1976 WestPac deployment found her with the MIDWAY (CVA-41) in the Korean Straits during increased tensions around the demilitarized zone. Fleet exercises, medical evacuation operations with the CORAL SEA (CVB-43), U.S./French antisubmarine warfare exercises, a year-long overhaul, and operations with the ROBERT E. PEARY (FF-1073), BREWTON (DE-1086), and CAMDEN (AOE-2) took her through 1978. The COCHRANE’s South Pacific deployment in 1979 included stops in Samoa, Guam, Midway, New Caledonia, Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Tonga.
In the Western Pacific in October 1980 she picked up two boat loads of Vietnamese refugees and delivered them to Singapore. Over the next four years, she was occupied with WestPac tours, overhaul, and a change of home port to Yokosuka. In 1985 she recovered two crew members of a downed MIDWAY aircraft. The COCHRANE operated in the Japan, Philippine, and South China seas and served with the NEW JERSEY (BB-62) and RANGER battle groups in 1986. She continued similar operations with cruises into the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean through 1989. Following operations out of Pohang, South Korea, and Subic Bay, the COCHRANE was decommissioned at Yokosuka on 1 October 1990. She is currently at the Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility at Pearl Harbor, however, a contract has been awarded for scrapping.