USS WADDELL DDG-24 Ship History
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, March 2022
Waddell (DDG-24) was laid down on 6 February 1962 at Seattle, Wash., by Todd Shipyards Corp.; launched on 26 February 1963; sponsored by Mrs. Howard W. Cannon; and commissioned on 28 August 1964, Cmdr. Carl J. Boyd in command.
Following trials from October 1964 to May 1965, the new guided missile destroyer conducted shakedown off the west coast into July, before she participated in antiaircraft and electronic warfare Exercise Hot Stove from 26 August to 3 September. During this time, while serving as plane guard for Ticonderoga (CVA-14), Waddell rescued Cmdr. C. H. Peters, whose plane had ditched off the coast of southern California.
On 28 September 1965, Waddell-in company with Ticonderoga and three destroyers, and acting as flagship for Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 132-departed her home port, Long Beach, Calif., bound for her first tour of duty in the Western Pacific (WestPac). After stopping at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, she proceeded on toward the Philippines.
While en route on 31 October 1965, the American task group received a radio message reporting that Japanese merchantman Tokei Maru had suffered an explosion on board. Detached to render assistance, Waddell sped to the scene and lowered her motor whaleboat containing the squadron doctor. The ship’s rescue party arrived on board to find three men of Tokei Maru’s complement already dead and another seriously burned. After providing medical assistance which saved the man’s life and having left Tokei Maru a supply of medicine to suffice until the Japanese ship could make port, Waddell rejoined her consorts.
Only one day after reaching Subic Bay, Waddell got underway on 2 November 1965 for the coast of Vietnam and her first deployment to “Yankee Station” W-5, in Tonkin Gulf. On station with Task Unit (TU) 77.0.2 until the 14th, the ship returned to Subic Bay for brief local operations before sailing back to the combat zone to take her post on the northern search and rescue station (SAR) from 29 November to 29 December.
On 7 December 1965, Waddell steamed alongside Sacramento (AOE-1) conducting an underway replenishment on the oiler’s port side; while Brinkley Bass (DD-887) replenish to starboard of the oiler. During the operation, Brinkley Bass reported a man overboard; and Waddell executed an emergency break-away and doubled back to pick up the man.
Upon completion of this SAR tour, the destroyer sailed via Sasebo to Buckner Bay, Okinawa. She conducted a missile shoot in Ryukyu waters and then visited Hong Kong. On 31 January 1966, she sailed for Danang, en route to a second deployment to the northern SAR area.
At 1410 on 3 February 1966, Waddell was notified that a pilot was possibly downed in their vicinity. While proceeding to investigate, the ship noted “surface action” to port and commenced shore bombardment at 1501. Communist guns replied 14 minutes later. Waddell then trained her guns on the communist batteries. At 1545, while still shelling the communist gun positions, Waddell was straddled by the enemy guns which had found the range. Radical maneuvers enabled the destroyer to retire without damage, and she emerged from the action unscathed.
The following day, after receiving fuel from Sacramento in an underway replenishment while on station, Waddell collided with Brinkley Bass. The damage which Waddell sustained forced her to return to the Philippines for repairs.
Back in Vietnamese waters in late February 1966, Waddell provided gunfire support in the III Corps operating area from 27 February to 11 March, as part of TU 70.8.9. She then returned–via Subic Bay, Guam, Midway, and Pearl Harbor-to her home port, Long Beach, where she arrived on 8 April.
Following a yard period–during which the ship underwent structural repairs–Waddell participated in various fleet and independent exercises off the California coast. Two days after Christmas of 1966, the ship got underway for another WestPac deployment.
Early in 1967, Waddell was again busily engaged off the Vietnamese coastline. From 2 March to 21 May 1967, the ship displayed “exceptional readiness and effectiveness in all tasks assigned,” including gunfire support off South Vietnam; interdiction of North Vietnamese supply traffic along the coast; and gunfire against selected targets in North Vietnam. Coming under hostile fire from shore on one occasion, Waddell returned the fire and inflicted maximum damage on enemy shore batteries while emerging without harm. During her second WestPac deployment in Vietnamese waters, the destroyer fired some 2,000 rounds of ammunition while winning the reputation of being “the busiest ship in the Tonkin Gulf” before heading home.
Waddell made port at Long Beach on 29 May 1967 and operated briefly off the southern California coast. She entered the Long Beach Naval Shipyard on 4 August and commenced an extensive overhaul which lasted through the end of the year 1967 and into February 1968.
She returned to WestPac that summer-with logistics stops at Pearl Harbor and Midway en route-and arrived at her new home port of Yokosuka, Japan, on 1 August 1968. She conducted three tours on the “gun line” off North and South Vietnam into the fall, as well as one tour as plane guard for the attack carrier strike group based around Coral Sea (CVA-43) and Ranger (CVA-61).
On 22 September while operating off the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in company with the heavy cruiser St. Paul (CA-73), Waddell participated in a SAR operation. At 0145, an attack bomber splashed near the ship. Both crew members had previously ejected from their stricken jet and parachuted to the sea. Waddell closed to within 5,000 yards of the mouth of the Cua Vet River and rescued the navigator/bombardier, while St. Paul picked up the pilot.
After completing an overhaul at Yokosuka toward the end of December 1968, Waddell got underway on 7 January 1969, bound for the “gun line.” Between 17 and 30 January, she fired two gunfire support missions in the I Corps area for the Army’s 101st Airborne Division and one for the 7th and 9th Divisions of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) units. After a quick trip via Buckner Bay to Yokosuka, Waddell sped back to the “gun line” in late February 1969 and resumed her gunfire support duties on 1 March. There, in the II Corps area, she fired 12 support missions with Task Force South. She subsequently conducted 79 more gunfire support missions including 12 for Australian units, 11 for ARVN units, and 15 in support of Operation Sheridan–in which the U.S. Army 101st Airborne and an ARVN regiment participated.
During the first week of April 1969, the downing by North Korea of a Navy EC-121 Constellation early-warning intelligence aircraft in the Sea of Japan greatly increased tension in the Far East. Waddell departed the “gun line” at 22 knots, refueled at Buckner Bay, and arrived in the Strait of Tsushima to screen aircraft carriers Ticonderoga and Ranger. She operated in the Sea of Japan until the crisis abated enabling her to head for Yokosuka on the afternoon of 28 April.
Returning to the “gun line,” Waddell then lobbed shells at Viet Cong (VC) camps and infiltration points from waters off Phu Quoc Island in the Gulf of Siam in support of Operation Javelin, before she was assigned to the Mekong Delta region. There, supporting two ARVN divisions, she conducted 19 bombardments against VC structures, bunkers, rest sites, and supply routes.
Subsequently returning to “Yankee Station,” she screened Enterprise (CVAN-65) in June 1969, as the big carrier conducted strike operations, and returned to waters near the DMZ in mid-July for gunnery support duties.
In 1970, Waddell’s home port was again changed–this time to San Diego, Calif. During her next WestPac deployment, the destroyer continued her busy task of supporting ground units and standing by as a plane guard and a picket destroyer on “Yankee Station.” In addition, she conducted occasional surveillance missions, watching Soviet warships operating near the American task forces on not-so-subtle intelligence gathering missions of their own. One such mission took place as the Russians conducted Operation Okean in the Philippine Sea.
Returning to the west coast in the late summer of 1970, the ship operated off southern California and participated in underway exercises and plane-guard details through the end of that year and into 1971. She underwent an extended period of refresher training through the summer of 1971, operating off Seal Beach, San Diego, and San Clemente Island, Calif., until she got underway on 12 November for Danang, South Vietnam.
Waddell returned to the “gun line” on 12 December 1971 near the DMZ to resume gunfire support operations in the southern half of the zone. She also performed interdiction and night harassment duties. Returning to Danang on 30 December, she got underway on the last day of the year 1971 to participate in TF 74’s operations in the Indian Ocean.
Hostilities between India and Pakistan had caused the flurry of activity, as contingency plans were drawn up to rescue Americans caught in the area, if the need arose. However, the crisis soon passed; and Waddell returned to Subic Bay on 15 January 1972. Two days later, the ship was picked to represent the United States at the Imperial Ethiopian Navy Day celebration at Massawa, Ethiopia. After hasty preparations, Waddell stood out of Philippine waters and entered the Indian Ocean soon thereafter for the second time in a fortnight.
After a brief stop at Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 28 January 1972, Waddell arrived at Massawa on 4 Februaryand fired the prescribed 21-gun salute while her crew smartly manned the rail. During the visit, Waddell’s athletic teams competed with those from visiting Russian, French, British, Sudanese, and Ethiopian ships. One high point of the brief stay was a visit by Emperor Haile Selassie. Another was a graduation exercise at which the Emperor requested an encore performance of Waddell’s precision drill team–which had been first formed and trained while en route to Massawa!
Waddell’s respite from the war was a short one, for she returned to the “gun line” on 1 April 1972. Although her tour was scheduled to end on the 14th, stepped-up communist ground activities resulted in her remaining into May.
From 3 to 9 April 1972, Waddell encountered daily counterbattery fire from communist guns ashore. The ship’s gunfire, in turn, was credited with knocking out several counterbattery sites. Most missions during this period fell in the area of the Cua Viet naval base and in Quang Tri province north of the Cua Viet Kiver. At times, the range was so short that Waddell could observe her own fall of shot.
Late on the afternoon of 8 April 1972, Waddell took a “high priority” target under fire, and received heavy counterbattery fire in return. A secondary explosion ashore attested to the fact that Waddell’s shells had hit something-but the enemy stubbornly kept up the fire, landing a shell very close to the destroyer’s bow. A surface burst damaged the ship’s ASROC launcher, and shrapnel littered the destroyer’s deck.
On 9 and 10 April 1972, the ship fired so many missions that she needed two underway replenishments of ammunition. From the 11th through the 21st, the pace continued to be rapid. On one occasion, Waddell destroyed several sampans detected ferrying Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops across the Ben Hai River. In addition, the ship’s guns blasted antiaircraft sites and coastal gun emplacements.
After renewing her guns at Subic Bay–they had been so worn by combat operations during April– Waddell returned to Vietnamese waters to join TU 77.1.2 in Operation Linebacker. For two weeks, Waddell made continuous gunnery strikes at night and sometimes encountered the fiercest return fire she had thus far experienced. She silenced some enemy batteries while picking up some shrapnel in return from near-misses by the communist guns-before she shifted to waters off the DMZ, where she supported ARVN operations until 26 June. Her final two weeks of this WestPac deployment were spent on “Yankee Station” plane guarding for Coral Sea.
After sailing back to the United States–via Yokosuka–the ship underwent an extensive yard period. She spent the waning days of 1972 preparing for another deployment to the Far East, one which was different from the previous ones. For by this point, American land, sea, and air forces were no longer committed in active combat roles in Vietnam. Thus, she conducted only training operations in the Gulf of Tonkin in February 1973, before she visited Beppu and Sasebo, Japan.
Waddell then took part in supervising parts of Operation End Sweep, the clearance of minefields which had been planted in North Vietnamese coastal waters and off key ports. She conducted her first tour of End Sweep from 19 March to 13 April 1973 and was at sea again with End Sweep from 27 to 30 June. In between these deployments, Waddell performed screening duties for Coral Sea and Constellation (CVA-64) and visited Hong Kong; Subic Bay; Penang, Malaysia; and Singapore.
Returning to the west coast on 2 August 1973, Waddell spent the remainder of the year in exercises and local operations off the southern California coast before again sailing for the Orient on 23 April 1974. Following the usual stops-Pearl Harobor, Guam, and Midway-she arrived in the Philippines on 16 May to conduct local operations out of Subic Bay.
Subsequently, the ship participated in Exercise Kangaroo I near Shoalwater Bay, Australia, with units of the Royal Australian Navy. Following local operations out of Subic Bay and Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Waddell got underway for the west coast on 28 September 1974 and made port at San Diego on 18 October.
Remaining at San Diego until 22 January 1975, she was towed by the fleet tug Tawasa (ATF-92) to the Long Beach [Calif.] Naval Shipyard where she underwent an extensive overhaul from 24 January to 3 December.
Ultimately, Waddell was decommissioned on 1 October 1992 and turned over to the government of Greece the same day through the Security Assistance Program. Her name was stricken from the [U.S.] Naval Register on 11 January 1995.
Renamed Nearchos (D.219), the ship was decommissioned on 18 July 2003, and diposed-of in weapons tests on 26 May 2006.
Waddell received two Navy Unit Commendations and 11 engagement stars for her service in waters off Vietnam.