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Hull Number: DLG-21

Launch Date: 07/31/1961

Commissioned Date: 05/25/1963

Decommissioned Date: 01/21/1994

Call Sign: NHBJ

Voice Call Sign: WHITLOCK

Other Designations: CG-21



Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (Published 1980)

Richmond K. Turner was born in Portland, Oreg., 27 May 1885. He attended high school in Stockton, Calif., before his appointment to the Naval Academy. Graduating with distinction in June 1908, fifth in a class of 201, he served the 2 years at sea then required by law, before being commissioned ensign in June 1910.

After graduation in 1908, he served consecutively in Milwaukee (C-21), Preble (TB-12), and West Virginia (ACR-5) until June 1912, when he joined Stewart (DD-13), assuming command a year later. The World War I years found him on board the battleships Pennsylvania (BB-38), Michigan (BB-27), and Mississippi (BB-23).

After serving as Commanding Officer of Mervine (DD-322), he reported for flight training at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, where he was designated Naval Aviator 30 August 1927. Upon completion of more than 4½ years of shore duty, Turner returned to sea as Executive Officer of the aircraft carrier Saratoga (CV-3) and subsequently Commanding Officer of Astoria (CA-34).

In October 1940 he became Director of the War Plans Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, and in December 1941, in the rank of rear admiral, assumed additional duty as Assistant Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet. On 18 June 1942 he became Commander, Amphibious Force, South Pacific, and from that time participated in most of the major amphibious engagements of the Pacific theater. Among Admiral Turner’s most noteworthy achievements during the Pacific campaign were the Guadalcanal-Tulagi invasion, the New Georgia campaign, the Tarawa assault, the occupation of the Marshall Islands, and the seizure and occupation of Saipan.

So successful were Admiral Turner’s amphibious operations throughout the Pacific theater, that he came to be known to the Japanese as the “Alligator,” the symbol of fast and inexorable amphibious striking power. Besides the Navy Cross, he received the Distinguished Service Medal with three gold stars, the Navy Commendation Ribbon, the World War II Victory Medal, and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon. He was also made a Companion of the Order of the Bath by Great Britain.

Admiral Turner was transferred to the retired list of the Navy in the rank of admiral on 1 July 1947. He died in Monterey, Calif., 12 February 1961, shortly after the death of his wife, the former Miss Harriet Sterling, whom he had married 51 years before.


Stricken 1/21/1994.

A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History


The Tin Can Sailor, July 2001

 A Tin Can Sailors
Destroyer History


The RICHMOND K. TURNER (DLG-20) was a guided-missile frigate—a “double-ender” with missiles at both ends and no guns for surface warfare—commissioned on 13 June 1964. Sailing from San Diego on 4 June 1965, she entered the Tonkin Gulf as missile support ship for the CORAL SEA (CVA-43), INDEPENDENCE (CVA-62), and ORISKANY (CVA-34) during air strikes against Vietnam. She later engaged in search and rescue missions in the Tonkin Gulf in which eight aviators were rescued.

She was at home in San Diego from December to October 1966 and then steamed west for her second Southeast Asian deployment. Operations along the West Coast and in Hawaii were followed in June 1968 by another tour off Vietnam. Duty as an antisubmarine warfare school ship occupied the TURNER until January 1970 when she returned to the Western Pacific and operations in the Sea of Japan and off the coast of Vietnam. She was back in San Diego in August 1970.

In 1971, she underwent modernization at the Bath Iron Works, in Bath, Maine, and spent much of 1972 in refresher training along the East Coast and in the Caribbean. In 1973 she operated with the FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (CVA-42) off the Virginia Capes and in May headed for Cuba. En route, she rescued the two pilots from a downed plane. In the Chesapeake Bay in July, the TURNER’s crew aided a pleasure craft floundering in dangerously high seas. She finished out the year in Caribbean and South American waters with the TATTNALL (DDG-19), VESOLE (DD-878), CLAMAGORE (SS-343), R. A. OWENS (DD-827), and R. H. MCCARD (DD-822) in exercises with the Colombian, Peruvian, Brazilian, and Uruguayan navies.

After shifting her home port to Norfolk in February 1974, the TURNER operated along the East Coast and in the Caribbean where outstanding performance in missile and other weapons exercises earned her the Atlantic Fleet’s “Top Shooter” Award. In November 1974 she began her first Mediterranean deployment, operating with the VREELAND (DE-1068), SAMPSON (DDG-10), and VESOLE (DD-878), often under observation by Soviet ships and aircraft. In July 1975, the TURNER emerged from overhaul as guided missile cruiser CG-20. Following August operations off Puerto Rico, she deployed to Northern Europe with the ALBANY (CG-10) and FORREST SHERMAN (DD-931), and the oiler KALAMAZOO (AOR-6).

A cruise to Jacksonville, Florida, with the AMERICA (CV-66) and GLENNON (DD-840); exercises off Halifax, Nova Scotia; a Caribbean cruise with the DALE (CG-19), MACDONOUGH (DDG-39), JOSEPHUS DANIELS (CG-27), and WILLIAM H. STANDLEY (CG-32); and a deployment to the Mediterranean and Black Sea took her through 1977. In 1978, she changed home port to Charleston, South Carolina, underwent overhaul, and participated in weapons exercises in the Caribbean and fleet exercises in the Eastern Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. She deployed to the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Black Seas in 1979 and the next year went to Boston for OPSAIL 80 with the JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV-67), FARRAGUT (DDG-37), JOHN HANCOCK (DD-981), and GARCIA (FF-1040). In 1981 operations took her to Puerto Rico, the North Atlantic, and Baltic Sea. She spent 1982 undergoing an overhaul.

Following training exercises in the Caribbean with the INDEPENDENCE (CV-62), CARON (DD-970), and CLARK (FFG-11), the TURNER, INDEPENDENCE, MOOSBRUGGER (DD-980), and CARON were ordered to the island of Grenada in October 1983. The TURNER remained until 3 November providing surface interdiction and surveillance as well as escort services for the INDEPENDENCE. The four ships then went on to the Mediterranean in November and joined the multi-national peacekeeping force in Beirut, Lebanon. The TURNER returned home in April 1984. By August 1985 she was underway for NATO exercises and a Mediterranean deployment. Off Libya on 24 March 1986, she became the first U.S. ship to fire a Harpoon missile in combat when she apparently sank an enemy vessel that was firing on an F-14.

In September 1987 she began a six-month deployment with the Middle East Force, most of it spent in the Persian Gulf. Returning on 26 October, she crossed into the Gulf of Oman where everyone aboard became eligible for “Imminent Danger Pay.” The next day, the ship went to general quarters in the Strait of Hormuz, steaming at twenty-five knots to get out of the “Worm Hole” as soon as possible. At Sitrah, Bahrain, she became antiaircraft warfare commander for the Persian Gulf and through December, performed radar picket duty and screened American and NATO-flagged ships as well as minesweeping operations in the northern gulf. Regularly covered by American media, the ship became widely known as “America’s Battlecruiser” and her crew began receiving thousands of morale-boosting Christmas cards and letters. A visit by Bob Hope and his troupe also helped to boost spirits before the ship returned to the Persian Gulf on 27 December 1987.

The year 1988 began with participation in a study to determine the effects of fatigue caused by long periods at general quarters. On 11 February the crew spent a final six hours at general quarters while transiting the Strait of Hormuz on her way back to Charleston, ending a deployment of 181 days. Two months later she was in Pascagoula, Mississippi, for an overhaul that ended in August 1989. When Hurricane Hugo struck Charleston in September 1989, the TURNER was in port on her own power and maintained communications for the entire Charleston area. Her crew coordinated relief efforts, assisted navy and civilian families with food, water and other supplies, helped clear debris, and generally volunteered wherever needed.

In August 1990 the TURNER went on stand-by in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and by December, was headed for the Arabian Gulf. She arrived in January 1991 for Operation Desert Shield and, subsequently, Desert Storm. In addition to escorting the THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN-71), she performed anti-air picket duties off Kuwait, monitored aircraft activity over Iraq, Kuwait, and Iran, and controlled combat air patrol stations while maintaining a twenty-four hour mine watch. During her deployment, crew members answered over 10,000 letters from home, many of which were addressed to “Any Sailor.” Two months after the February 1991 cease fire, she left the Arabian Gulf for the Red Sea to organize an interdiction effort to enforce the U.N. sanctions against Iraq. In April she assisted in the massive relief effort for the Kurdish refugees and in June headed for home.

In the Caribbean in 1992, she entered the “war on drugs” to interdict drug traffic out of South America. She began her sixth Mediterranean deployment in March 1993 and joined the combined UN and NATO effort in the Adriatic to enforce sanctions in certain parts of the former Yugoslavia. Back home in August, she returned to drug traffic interdiction in the Caribbean.

The RICHMOND K. TURNER was decommissioned on 27 June 1995 and on 9 August 1998 was sunk by missiles and laser-guided bombs fired by ships and aircraft of the ENTERPRISE (CVN-65) Battle Group.


USS GRIDLEY DLG-21 Ship History

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (Published 1981) Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (Published 1981)

Richmond K. Turner, a “double ender” guided-missile frigate, was laid down by the New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J., 9 January 1961; launched 6 April 1963; sponsored by Mrs. Claude V. Ricketts; and commissioned 13 June 1964, Capt. Douglas C. Plate in command.

Departing the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard 10 August 1964 for her homeport of San Diego, Calif., she touched briefly at Yorktown and Norfolk, Va., and then at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Entering the Pacific via the Panama Canal, she steamed northward toward her homeport, with a call at Acapulco, Mexico. She arrived San Diego 11 September.

Following shakedown out of San Diego 19 March-7 May 1965, Richmond K. Turner prepared for her first deployment to the western Pacific. Departing San Diego 4 June, she joined Task Force 77 in the Tonkin Gulf-South China Sea area and served as missile support ship for the attack carriers Coral Sea (CVA-43), Independence (CVA-62), and Oriskany (CVA-34), while they conducted air strike operations in Southeast Asia.

In September, she was relieved of duties as missile support ship and reassigned to the Search and Rescue Destroyer Unit in the Tonkin Gulf. After participating in missions in which eight aviators were rescued through 8 October, she departed Subic Bay 30 November and arrived San Diego 16 December.

Richmond K. Turner’s subsequent deployments have followed in the wake of her first WestPac voyage, with leave, upkeep, overhaul, and type training rounding out her periods in homeport. She stood out of San Diego 15 October 1966, bound a second time for Southeast Asian waters. Returning to her homeport 28 March 1967, she punctuated her coastal operations with a midshipman training cruise to Pearl Harbor. Departing for her third tour off Vietnam 10 June 1968, she contributed to Fleet readiness in Asian waters until her 19 December return to San Diego.

Leave and upkeep extended through 20 January 1969. She then assumed duty as ASW Schoolship in the southern California operating areas. In February, she conducted a SecNav guest cruise, and 1 March she commenced an extensive updating of her shipboard missile systems at the Naval Station San Diego. She then underwent training and further preparations for her fourth WestPac deployment, which commenced in January 1970. She arrived in Yokosuka, Japan, 4 March and spent the next two months operating in the Sea of Japan. June found her off the coast of Vietnam, where she remained until late July. Stopping off at Guam and Pearl Harbor, she returned to San Diego in August, arriving on the 12th.

Richmond K. Turner continued operations out of San Diego until 22 March 1971, when she embarked for Bath, Maine, and antiaircraft warfare modernization. She arrived at the Bath Iron Works 27 April and was decommissioned 5 May. After more than a year at Bath, she was recommissioned 27 April 1972.

For the next seven months, Richmond K. Turner engaged in various post-modernization trials, exercises, and refresher training along the east coast of the United States and in the Caribbean. She returned to Newport, R.I., 22 November and remained there until 9 January 1973, when she entered Boston Naval Shipyard for a two-month yard period. Leaving Boston in March, she continued normal operations out of Newport along the Atlantic seaboard and in the Caribbean until mid-December.  At that time she returned to Newport.

Reclassified CG-20 on 30 June 1975, Richmond K. Turner was decommissioned on 13 April 1995 and struck from the Navy list that same day. The guided missile destroyer was sunk as a target near Puerto Rico by the Enterprise (CVN-65) Battle Group during training exercises on 9 August 1998.

Richmond K. Turner has earned eight battle stars for Vietnam service.