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Hull Number: DDG-84

Launch Date: 06/21/2000

Commissioned Date: 12/08/2001

Call Sign: NJDB





Wikipedia (as of 2024)

John Duncan Bulkeley (19 August 1911 – 6 April 1996) was a vice admiral in the United States Navy and was one of its most decorated naval officers. Bulkeley received the Medal of Honor for actions in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He was also the PT boat skipper who evacuated General Douglas MacArthur from Corregidor in the Philippines and commanded at the Battle of La Ciotat.

Bulkeley’s PT-boat heroics in defending the Philippines from Japanese invasion in 1941-1942 was the subject of the novel “They Were Expendable” by William Lindsay White in 1942, which was turned into the big screen epic They Were Expendable three years later by director John Ford, starring John Wayne, with Robert Montgomery playing a somewhat fictionalized Bulkeley role.

The United States Navy named an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer after him: USS Bulkeley (DDG-84), commissioned in 2001.

Bulkeley was born in New York City and grew up on a farm in Hackettstown, New Jersey, where he graduated from Hackettstown High School.[1] He was a 1933 graduate of the United States Naval Academy.[2]

In December 1936, he was assigned to the United States Asiatic Fleet where he was appointed as engineering officer onboard USS Sacramento (PG-19) in China and witnessed the Japanese invasions of the Chinese cities of Shantou and Shanghai, and the USS Panay incident during the Second Sino-Japanese War.[3][4]

At the dawn of World War II, Bulkeley was a lieutenant in command of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three, a Philippines-based detachment of six motor torpedo boats. He hit his stride as a daring, resourceful and courageous leader. On 11 March 1942, he picked up General Douglas MacArthur, his family, and his immediate staff, who had been ordered to flee the Philippines, and took them aboard PT 41 and other 77-foot (23 m) motor torpedo boats through over 600 nautical miles (1,000 km) of open ocean. On arriving at Mindanao, MacArthur said, “You have taken me out of the jaws of death. I shall never forget it.” Bulkeley earned many of his array of decorations while in command of that squadron and a subsequent one. He was evacuated to Australia by a B-17 in the final days of the campaign.

WWII poster with quote from John D. Bulkeley

In September 1942, while back in the United States helping to raise War Bonds as a lieutenant commander, he met former Ambassador to Britain Joseph Kennedy at New York’s Plaza Hotel, and shortly after was instrumental in recruiting Lieutenant John F. Kennedy into the Navy’s Motor Torpedo Boat Training Center (MTBTC) at Mellville, Rhode Island.[5] Kennedy’s heroic command of PT-109 would help to launch his first campaign for Congress.

In 1944, he took part in the Normandy invasion. Bulkeley led torpedo boats and minesweepers in clearing the lanes to Utah Beach,[2] keeping German E-boats from attacking the landing ships along the Mason Line, and picking up wounded sailors from the sinking minesweeper USS Tide (AM-125), destroyer escort USS Rich (DE-695), and destroyer USS Corry (DD-463). As invasion operations wound down, he received command of his first large ship, the destroyer USS Endicott (DD-495). In August, 1944, Bulkeley was appointed to take charge of an diversion raid against the port of La Ciotat, an action that led to the Battle of La Ciotat. The 2 British gunboats under his command came under accurate fire from a German corvette and armed yacht. Charging in with only one gun working, he engaged both enemy vessels at point-blank range, sinking both. Afterwards, Bulkeley rescued the British sailors in the water and then rescued many of the German sailors as well. Later, he said, “What else could I do? You engage, you fight, you win. That is the reputation of our Navy, then and in the future.”

During the Korean War in 1952, Bulkeley commanded Destroyer Division 132. After the war, he was Chief of Staff for Cruiser Division Five.[6]

In the early 1960s, Bulkeley commanded Clarksville Base, Tennessee, then a tri-service command under the aegis of the Defense Atomic Support Agency. Having lost none of his wartime daring, Bulkeley was known to test the alertness of the Marines guarding the base by donning a ninja suit, blackening his face and endeavoring to penetrate the classified area after dark without detection. This was a dangerous endeavor, as the Marines carried loaded weapons. Ever popular with his men, who both respected and admired him, Bulkeley could be seen driving around the base in his fire-engine red Triumph TR3 sports car with a large silver PT boat as a hood ornament.[7]

Promoted to rear admiral by President John F. Kennedy, who commanded PT-109 during World War II, Bulkeley was dispatched to command the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba,[2] where he met Cuba’s threat to sever water supplies in response to the Bay of Pigs invasion and other assaults by ordering the installation of desalinization equipment to make the base self-sufficient.

Bulkeley retired from active duty in 1975. However, he was recalled to active duty in a retired-retained status in order to serve as the commander of the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) which conducts inspections and surveys of U.S. naval vessels before their commissioning and deployment.[8] In 1986, Bulkeley conducted an inspection of the USS Iowa, finding numerous deficiencies and recommending it be taken out of service immediately. His advice was not heeded, and three years later, it suffered the USS Iowa turret explosion, killing 47 crewmen.[9] Later promoted to Vice Admiral, Bulkeley retired from the Navy in 1988, after 55 years of service.[2][10]

On 6 April 1996, Bulkeley died at his home in Silver Spring, Maryland, at age 84.[2] He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia.[11]

USS BULKELEY DDG-84 Ship History

Wikipedia (as of 2024)

USS Bulkeley (DDG-84) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the United States Navy. She is named for Medal of Honor recipient Vice Admiral John D. Bulkeley. This ship is the 34th destroyer of its class. USS Bulkeley was the 15th ship of this class to be built at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and construction began on 10 May 1999. She was launched on 21 June 2000 and was christened on 24 June 2000. On 8 December 2001 she was commissioned during a pierside ceremony at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City, New York, with Commander Carlos Del Toro in command. Del Toro later became the 78th Secretary of the Navy in 2021.[1]

On 13 June 2004, Bulkeley came to the aid of a vessel in distress, Al-Rashid Mum 131. Shortly after turning the vessel over to an Iranian tugboat, it sank. Bulkeley rescued three crew and recovered the body of a fourth. The tug rescued one additional crewman; the other seven were lost at sea. The incident is recounted in the book In the Shadow of Greatness.[5]

In February 2011, Bulkeley was involved in a mission to rescue four American citizens from the yacht Quest which was attacked by Somali pirates.[6]

On 5 March 2011, Bulkeley was involved in rescuing a Japanese oil tanker, MV Guanabara, from Somali pirates while on duty with Combined Task Force 151 off the coast of Oman.[7] Three of the pirates were tried and convicted in Japan, the fourth was turned over to juvenile authorities, as it was determined that he was a minor.[8]

On 16 May 2011, Bulkeley responded to a mayday call from the Panamanian flagged very large crude carrier Artemis Glory by dispatching a Seahawk helicopter (from HSL 48) to its position. Seeing that a piratical skiff carrying four men was firing upon Artemis Glory, the Seahawk investigated the skiff. The pirates opened fire on the helicopter with small arms and were summarily neutralized by crew served weapons from the helicopter in self-defense. The helicopter then withdrew without any casualties to its own crewmembers or that of Artemis Glory.[9]

The ship returned to Norfolk on 15 July 2011. During its deployment, she had participated in operations which had captured 75 Somali pirates and had missile strikes by its carrier strike group against the Libyan government.[10]

On 4 August 2022, Bulkeley departed Norfolk for a homeport shift to Rota, Spain, arriving on 17 August.[11][12] Her aft Phalanx CIWS was replaced with a SeaRAM CIWS.[13]