Hugh David Black--born in Oradell, N.J., on 29 June 1903--was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy as a midshipman on 20 June 1922 and was commissioned as ensign upon his graduation on 3 June 1926. From 11 September 1926 to 24 March 1928, Ens. Black served on board light cruiser Richmond (CL-9) in the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean. During this period, Richmond conducted exercises near Hawaii and the Philippines and spent a year on station in China. Next came four months with destroyer Parrott (DD-218) and gunboat Asheville (PG-21) after which he reported on board battleship New York (BB-34) on 16 July 1929. A promotion to lieutenant (junior grade) on 13 November 1929 highlighted his two years in the battleship. After New York, Lt.(jg.) Black served in Rizal (DD-174) and Montgomery (DM-17) until 18 May 1933.
Following a two-year assignment at the Naval Training Station, San Diego, Lt.(jg.) Black returned to sea duty in Upshur (DD-144). On 15 November 1935, he assumed his first command, of minesweeper Lark (AM-21) and during his 26 months as her skipper became a full lieutenant on 17 February 1937. After three months of duty at the Bureau of Navigation, Black reported to Harvard University for a two-year tour as an instructor with the Naval Reserve Officer's Training Corps unit there.
Upon completion of the Harvard assignment, Black reported to the Bethlehem Steel Company in Quincy, Mass., for duty in conjunction with the fitting out of destroyer Benson (DD-421) on 14 June 1940. He subsequently served as her executive officer from 25 July 1940 to 11 April 1941. Detached from Benson, Black assumed command of Jacob Jones (DD-130) on 21 March. On the heels of that appointment, he was promoted to lieutenant commander on 18 July 1941.
Jacob Jones made neutrality patrols in the Caribbean throughout the summer and then joined Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 54 in the North Atlantic for convoy escort duty. On 28 February 1942, Jacob Jones was conducting an antisubmarine patrol off Cape May when U-578 unleashed two torpedoes that struck the American destroyer on her port side. Within 45 minutes, Jacob Jones plunged into the Atlantic claiming the lives of Lt. Comdr. Black and all but 11 of her crew.
(DD-666: dp. 2,050; l. 376'5"; b. 39'7"; dr. 17'9"; s. 35.2 k. (tl.); cpl. 329; a. 5 5", 10 40mm., 7 20mm., 10 21" tt., 6 dcp., 2 dct.; cl. Fletcher)
Black (DD-666) was laid down on 14 November 1942 at Kearny, N.J., by the Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co.; launched on 28 March 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Frances F. Black, widow of Lt. Comdr. Black; and commissioned on 21 May 1943, Lt. Comdr. Jack McGinnis in command.
Following calibration and trials in Long Island Sound, Black sailed to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and then to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where she commenced her shakedown training. On 22 June 1943, she departed for Casco Bay, Maine, where Rear Admiral Morton L. Deyo declared her ready for service. After that, she returned to the New York Navy Yard on 16 July to commence a post-shakedown availability that included installation of additional antiaircraft armament. Upon completion of the overhaul on 12 August, Black escorted Boston (CA-69) to Trinidad and straightaway accompanied Monterey (CVL-26) and Walker (DD-517) to Philadelphia. From there, she sailed to Norfolk for refresher training but had to enter the Norfolk Navy Yard for repairs after Block Island (CVE-8) rammed her port side on 1 October.
On 23 October 1943, the navy yard completed the necessary repairs, and Black departed Norfolk. She transited the Panama Canal on 1 November and, after a stop in San Diego, reported for duty at Pearl Harbor on 17 November. She stood out to sea as a unit of Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 96, bound for Tarawa but did not arrive there until the 23d, a week after the marines had secured the island. At Tarawa, Black joined Task Group (TG) 53.8 and assumed screening duty off the island for the balance of the year, enduring the occasional night air raid. She briefly interrupted this routine to engage in ASW patrols. Aside from a submarine sighting on 4 December, these forays yielded no results.
The destroyer continued her patrols near Tarawa during the first two weeks of 1944. On 14 January, she received orders to rescue the crew of a Consolidated PBY "Catalina" that had been downed by enemy flak. The next day, as she neared the wreckage site, approximately 50 miles south of Jaluit, her crew received a message stating that two enemy destroyers were standing down in her direction. Unfazed by the reports of enemy presence, Black kept her course and arrived on the scene to find that two more PBY's had been stranded during their own rescue attempts. Black cast her whaleboats into the whitecaps, hauled in 22 distressed airmen and then executed a wide, fast turn which created a water slick that allowed the only undamaged "Catalina" to take off. After receiving a "well done" from CTF 57, she resumed her patrols around Tarawa before departing for Funafuti in company with Chauncey (DD-667) on the 18th.
On 22 January, she sailed north from Funafuti with DesDiv 96 to rendezvous with Task Groups (TG) 51.1 and 51.2, composed of escort carriers and transports. On 1 February, while the marines slugged it out for control of Kwajalein Atoll, Black operated with Task Unit (TU) 51.2.5 in covering the occupation of undefended Majuro Atoll. That same day, she found time to rescue a Natoma Bay (CVE-62) aviator after his Grumman F4F "Wildcat" had crashed in the surrounding waters. In the ensuing weeks, she joined Pensacola (CA-24), Chester (CA-27), Erben (DD-631), and Hale (DD-642) in TU 50.15.1 and assisted in the air and surface bombardment of Wotje and Taroa in order to prevent the Japanese from using these islands as staging points for an aerial counterstroke. She continued to support these "milk runs" until 17 February when a condenser leak forced her back to Majuro.
Black remained in the Marshalls for the next two weeks and then escorted four fleet tankers to Espiritu Santo. After a brief assignment to the ASW screen for TG 36.2 which was built around Yorktown (CV-10), Princeton (CVL-23), and Langley (CVL-27), she sailed to Purvis Bay at Florida Island in the Solomons on 26 March. Following material and personnel inspections at Purvis Bay, she performed antiaircraft and ASW duties for escort carriers during operations near Emirau Island and during the landings at Hollandia and Aitape, New Guinea, through the month of April and into early May.
Black sailed to Espiritu Santo on 12 May to commence a period of upkeep and availability that lasted until the 20th. From Espiritu Santo, she sailed to Doma Cove, Guadalcanal, where Comdr. E.A. McFall shifted the pennant of TG 53.17--made up of 16 LST's, 9 LSI's, 3 PC's, 5 SC's, and 5 YMS's--from LST-446 to Black on the 24th. Following landing rehearsals at Cape Esperance with TG 53.17, the destroyer anchored at Purvis Bay for the remainder of the month before heading for Kwajalein in company with TG 53.17. From there, the task group set out for the Mariana Islands on 9 June with the purpose of invading Guam on the 18th. However, the Japanese decision to contest the Marianas invasion obliged Admiral Raymond A. Spruance to postpone the Guam operation in order to fight the Battle of the Philippine Sea. As a result, Black lingered to the east of Saipan with the amphibious ships in the event that reinforcements were needed for the land combat there. On the 15th, two Nakajima B5N "Kate" torpedo bombers loosed torpedoes at Black, but her evasive maneuvers caused the "fish" to pass by harmlessly 50 yards astern. The antiaircraft fire thrown up by Black and the rest of the screen fared no better as none of the attacking planes were downed.
On 5 July, TG 53.17 anchored at Eniwetok Atoll for replenishment preparatory to the postponed Guam assault. The stiff resistance encountered on Saipan convinced the American high command that the nearly two divisions originally earmarked for the invasion would be insufficient. Therefore, TG 53.17 waited until a third outfit, the 77th Infantry Division, arrived from Oahu. Admiral Spruance rescheduled the attack for 21 July, and the invasion force departed Eniwetok on the 15th. After an uneventful approach, Black guided the tractor group, comprised of 14 LST's, 7 SC's, and 9 LCI's, into its assigned area off Agat Beach. During the four days following the landings, the destroyer remained close by the beach during the day and retired with the amphibious ships after nightfall. On 24 July, Black came to the assistance of LCI-366 which had suffered damage from enemy mortar fire and rendered emergency medical care to the landing craft's wounded before transferring them to a hospital ship. Two days later, CTG 53.17 transferred his pennant to LST-276, and Black spent the next two weeks performing a variety of assignments around Guam including screening escort carrier operations, standing radar picket watches to the south of Guam, and mounting antiaircraft guard in Apra Harbor.
Black departed Guam in company with the other units of DesDiv 96 on 11 August. She and her colleagues escorted a convoy to Pearl Harbor where they reported for duty with TG 33.1, a transport group under the command of Rear Admiral Richard L. Conolly. The week of training which followed included firing exercises, ASW patrol practice, and landing rehearsals in anticipation of the occupation of Yap. Then, from 3 to 14 September, Black underwent overhaul at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard before setting sail for the central Pacific on the 15th. Shortly after her arrival at Eniwetok, the Yap invasion was canceled, and Black sailed to Seeadler Harbor at Manus in the Admiralty Islands. At that point, the task group was redesignated TG 79.1 and carried out exercises in preparation for the invasion of the Philippines at Leyte.
For her part in the Leyte landings, Black screened Rear Admiral Conolly's transports during their approach to the Southern Attack Force's landing area near Dulag. The invasion force stood out of Seeadler Harbor on 14 October and entered Leyte Gulf on the 20th with the destroyers flanking the transports in a close screening formation. While Conolly's transports assumed their positions off Violet and Yellow beaches, Black relieved the stricken Ross (DD-563) after she exploded two mines in rapid succession south of Homonhon Island. Minutes after the first wave reached the shore, Black commenced fire in support of the landing. During the afternoon, she continued to dump 5-inch shells on the village of Rizal, causing visible damage to the buildings in the area. A fresh challenge arose after sunset in the form of five Mitsubishi Ki. 21 "Sally" twin-engine bombers, but the attack that they mounted failed to inflict any damage. Throughout the night, Black busied herself by pouring harassing fire on the towns of Alegre and Cabacongan. At dawn on the 21st, another Japanese bomber closed Black, but her withering antiaircraft barrage deflected this attack. During the encounter, Black sustained hits from the fragments of one of her own 5-inch shells when it exploded off her starboard bow. Still, the damage proved trivial, and she suffered no casualties.
On 21 October, the destroyer departed Leyte Gulf with Transport Division (TransDiv) 28 bound for Hollandia, New Guinea, where she and her charges joined TU 79.15.2. Black screened the transports during a voyage to Morotai where they embarked reinforcements for the Leyte campaign. The troops disembarked at Leyte on 14 November, and Black returned with the transports to Hollandia. On 5 December, she left Humboldt Bay in company with Kidd (DD-661) and Hale; and, after a brief stop at Manus on 9 December, she and her companions in DesRon 48 accompanied Maryland (BB-46), and St. Louis (CL-49), via Pearl Harbor, to the west coast. On 26 December, she entered Moore Drydock Co., Oakland, where she began a period of overhaul that lasted until 7 February 1945.
After two weeks of post-overhaul refresher training near San Diego, she got underway for Hawaii on 20 February 1945. On 25 February, she arrived in Pearl Harbor where she joined the screen of a task group built around Franklin (CV-13), Intrepid (CV-11), Bataan (CVL-29), and Guam (CB-2). On 3 March, the task group departed for the western Pacific. Late on 15 March, Black rendezvoused with TG 58.3 and steamed towards the waters off Kyushu, Japan. She assumed a picket station 30 miles ahead of the carriers, near Chauncey. When the task force reached the waters off southern Japan, the American carrier planes began delivering air strikes against the islands. On 18 March, Black observed a lone Mitsubishi G4M land attack plane [BETTY] approaching from starboard and making no evasive maneuvers. She opened fire with her antiaircraft batteries; and, within three minutes, the attacking bomber splashed into the sea. The next day, Black--along with the rest of DesDiv 96, Alaska (CB-1), and Guam--steamed to the aid of the carrier Franklin which had been crippled by two bomb hits and which, at one point, had been on the verge of being abandoned. By the time Black reached the stricken flattop, Pittsburgh (CA-72) already had her in tow with Santa Fe (CL-60) riding herd nearby. Black served as part of the screen until 22 March when she returned to TG 58.3.
During the remainder of March and the first two weeks of April, Black and DesDiv 96 resumed screening Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's fast carriers. While the carrier planes pummeled Okinawa and the remnants of the Japanese fleet, Black and her comrades fended off sundry kamikaze attacks with the help of American combat air patrol (CAP). On 11 April, the destroyer witnessed her heaviest action of the war. At 1350, a Mitsubishi A6M "Zeke" carrier fighter emerged from cloud cover and commenced a run on Black. The antiaircraft fire set the plane aflame as he passed over the destroyer and splashed 50 feet away on her starboard quarter. Another "Zeke" dove out the clouds 10 minutes later to make a strafing attack on Bullard (DD-660). Black poured 20-millimeter, 40-millimeter, and 5-inch antiaircraft fire at the intruder, hitting him many times before splashing him close astern of Bullard. At 1407, a third "Zeke" started a low-level approach on Black. Despite a savage pounding from the destroyer's guns, the enemy fighter flew over her and slammed into Kidd, located about 1500 yards distant on Black's port beam. Kidd stopped dead in the water, but soon damage-control crews enabled her to get underway, and she steamed back to TG 58.3 escorted by Black, Chauncey, and Bullard. Black returned to her station later that evening and resumed her daily chore of weathering Japanese air assaults. On the 17th, she claimed destruction of a kamikaze and an assist on another.
Meanwhile, on Okinawa, the infantry advance in the southern sector had bogged down near Shuri in the face of stubborn Japanese resistance. On 19 April, DesRon 48--comprising DesDiv 95 and Black's DesDiv 96--joined North Carolina (BB-55), Washington (BB-56), and South Dakota (BB-57), in a furious 40-minute bombardment of the enemy positions on the island's southern and southwestern coasts. Though meant to pave the way for a concerted push by the ground forces, the barrage failed to disrupt seriously the Japanese defenses; and the American infantry continued to measure progress in inches.
Black returned to picket duty off the coasts of Okinawa on the 20th. She continued in this capacity for three weeks before returning to Leyte at San Pedro Bay on 1 June for almost six weeks of rest, upkeep and training. On 9 July, she sailed with TF 38 for the waters southeast of Honshu for air strikes against the Japanese home islands and operated there for the rest of the war. On the 14th, she joined TG 34.8 in a shore bombardment off Kamaishi, Honshu. While the battleships pounded the island, Black, Chauncey, and Heermann (DD-532) opened fire on three small enemy vessels in a nearby cove, sinking them in short order. While performing her mission in the waters to the east of Tokyo, she received the order to halt offensive operations against Japan on 15 August. Shortly thereafter, a lone Aichi D4Y "Judy" carrier dive bomber closed in on the formation in preparation for a suicide attack. Black and her colleagues combined to destroy the plane, and it fell into the sea close aboard Bullard.
Immediately following the surrender, Black and Chauncey patrolled south of Shikoku, providing homing and lifeguard services for the occupation forces. During the next three months, she sailed the coasts of China and Korea with TF 72 in support of landings there by occupation troops, dodging the occasional typhoon along the way. Then, in December, she headed back to the west coast of the United States where she began preparations for her inactivation. On 5 August 1946, the destroyer was decommissioned and placed in reserve at San Diego.
After five years of inactivity with the Pacific Reserve Fleet, Black was recommissioned on 18 July 1951 at San Diego, Comdr. John R. Beardall, Jr., in command. On 1 November 1951, Black departed San Diego for duty with the Atlantic Fleet. She cleared the Panama Canal on the 12th and reached Norfolk, Va.--her new home port--five days later. At Norfolk, she joined Trathan (DD-530), Chauncey, and McCord (DD-534) to form DesDiv 281. Following six months of refitting and upkeep, punctuated by antisubmarine warfare (ASW) exercises off the Virginia capes, Black departed Norfolk on 27 May 1952 to commence a two-month shakedown cruise to Guantanamo Bay. She returned to Norfolk on 25 July and remained there for the next six months.
On 10 January 1953, the destroyer set sail from Norfolk in company with DesRon 28 to deploy to the western Pacific. After transiting the Panama Canal, Black called briefly at Pearl Harbor and Midway and reached Sasebo, Japan, on 12 February. She stayed there three weeks before steaming to the bombline off the Korean coast. Starting on 6 March, and for the next 11 days, Black fired on North Korean bunkers and served as part of the ASW screen for Manchester (CL-83). During a patrol late on the 7th, she rammed a small South Korean intelligence craft that had veered into her path. The tiny vessel sank almost immediately, but Black managed to rescue nine of the 17 men on board. Black left the bombline on the 16th and arrived in Sasebo the next day. Ten days later, she departed Sasebo for a month-long assignment escorting TF 77. On 17 May, she returned to the bombline as part of the ASW screen for Bremerton (CA-130); and, in the succeeding two weeks, she delivered harassing and interdicting fire on enemy positions in the I Corps area before returning to Sasebo. Black, in company with DesDiv 281, began her homeward passage when she set sail for Hong Kong on 9 June. She arrived in Norfolk two months later, completing a journey that carried her across the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and Atlantic Ocean. At Norfolk, Black finished the year engaged in exercises and tender availability.
During 1954 the destroyer primarily dedicated herself to planeguard duty with aircraft carriers, serving with Monterey (CVL-26), Midway (CVB-41), and Lake Champlain (CV-39) at various times throughout the year. While employed in the screen of Monterey, she rescued a downed pilot on 24 February. In addition to these assignments, she conducted qualification exercises near Guantanamo Bay in August. On 22 November, Black returned to Norfolk for repairs and remained there for the rest of the year.
A new year meant a new home port and a new squadron. In January 1955, she made the passage to Long Beach, Calif., where she remained until 21 April when she set sail on her first post-Korean War deployment to the Far East. On 12 May, she reached Yokosuka, after a brief stop at Pearl Harbor, and thereafter provided planeguard and ASW support to TF 77, formed around Midway at first, but later augmented by Oriskany (CV-34) and Philippine Sea (CV-47). After six weeks spent in port calls at Keelung on Taiwan and at Sasebo in Japan, Black resumed duty with TF 77 in the screen of Hornet (CV-12), Boxer (CV-21), and Philippine Sea until the end of August. The destroyer then returned to Long Beach for a major overhaul which lasted until 29 February 1956.
After six weeks of training and tender availability, she departed Long Beach for her next western Pacific tour on 17 April. On 21 May, she joined TF 77 in the screen of Oriskany during Operation "Seahorse" conducted near Okinawa. She then escorted Shangri-La (CV-38) back to Yokosuka early in June before taking up planeguard and escort duty again, this time for Wasp (CV-18) on a tour that included a Philippine visit. From 3 to 16 July, she joined a hunter-killer group consisting of Princeton (CVS-37) and two destroyer divisions, and operated off Taiwan before returning to Japan on 18 July. Black received repairs from the destroyer tender at Yokosuka and then set sail for the United States on the 27th. She reached Long Beach on 11 August and became a unit of DesDiv 92 almost immediately upon arrival. She remained in that vicinity into early 1957 and, during that period, divided her time between ASW exercises with her new compatriots, minor repairs and upkeep.
On 12 March, she departed Long Beach and began her third annual assignment to the Far East in as many years. After brief pauses at Pearl Harbor and Midway, she stood into Yokosuka on the 31st. On 21 April, she sailed to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, whence she patrolled the adjacent strait starting on the 26th. Two weeks later, Black concluded her duties there and then assumed planeguard and lifeguard functions off Okinawa in the screen of Hancock (CV-19). Upon completion of this assignment, Black returned to Yokosuka on 31 July and straightaway headed for the west coast. She reached Long Beach--via Midway and Pearl Harbor--on 24 August and entered drydock a month later, commencing an extensive overhaul.
Black kept busy during the first two months of 1958 with refresher training and other exercises near San Diego. After the necessary predeployment inspections and upkeep, she departed Long Beach for Auckland, New Zealand, on 31 March. Following a five-day goodwill visit there, she headed for Japan--replenishing at Seeadler Harbor, Manus, and at Apra Harbor, Guam, enroute--and then underwent two weeks of repairs after reaching Yokosuka on 12 May. Black spent the first week of June with Philippine Sea in the Taiwan Strait patrolling and conducting hunter-killer operations. On 11 June, she rendezvoused with a Cambodian gunboat at Subic Bay and escorted the vessel to Palo Obi, Vietnam. Black returned to Subic Bay on the 20th and underwent extensive boiler repairs until the end of the first week in July. On 7 July, she departed the Philippines for Yokosuka, where she engaged in readiness exercises and availability until 25 August.
During a confrontation between the communist Chinese and the Nationalist Chinese governments regarding the island of Quemoy, Black operated for seven weeks with TG 77.4 in the Taiwan Strait as a show of support for the Nationalist government. On 18 October, the destroyer stood in at Yokosuka and prepared to set sail for the United States. On 8 November 1958, Black entered Long Beach and began an extended period of post-deployment leave and upkeep. In fact, the destroyer remained relatively in active through the end of the year and well into 1959. Finally early in March, she embarked on several weeks of duty as a gunnery and sonar school ship off San Diego. That employment came to an end late in April, and Black resumed normal operations out of her home port. In May and early June, she successfully weathered the scrutiny of a board of inspection and survey. Then, on 16 June 1959, the warship left Long Beach for another tour in the Far East.
After a couple days at Pearl Harbor and two weeks at Subic Bay, Black began periodic patrols in the Taiwan and Korean Straits which lasted until 5 September. Following her return to Long Beach on 13 November, the destroyer spent most of 1960 either in drydock or engaged in local operations near San Diego. On 3 January 1961, the warship departed for another western Pacific deployment. Once again, Black served with the fast carriers of the 7th Fleet in the South China Sea and made port visits to such places as Hong Kong, Okinawa, and Sasebo. Late in March, she again mounted guard in the Taiwan Strait until late April. The warship made one last call at Hong Kong and then returned to Subic Bay to prepare for the voyage back home. She returned to Long Beach on 27 May and operated from there for the rest of the year.
A normal west coast training schedule--type training, several tactical exercises, gunnery drills, and planeguard duty for carriers--occupied the warship for the first five months of 1962 as well. Then, after standing another board of inspection and survey, Black set out on yet another deployment early in June. On 14 June, she began an 11-day repair stop at Pearl Harbor but resumed her month-long passage to Yokosuka on the 25th. The warship reached Yokosuka early in July and completed a week's availability alongside Dixie (AD-14) before moving on to Hong Kong on the 14th for a three-week port visit. In mid-August, she took up patrols in the Taiwan Strait again, and these lasted until the end of the month when she headed for the Philippines. On 5 September, the destroyer got underway from Subic Bay for Sasebo where she underwent 17 days of repairs and maintenance. In early October, Black began two months in the screen of carriers off Japan, first Oriskany, then Bon Homme Richard. She returned to Yokosuka for a week at the beginning of December and then set sail for the United States on the 7th. Two weeks later, she arrived back in Long Beach an began an extended period in port for post-deployment standdown and repairs.
Late in January 1963, she resumed local operations along the California coast and remained so engaged until late May. Then, early in June, Black moved to Hawaii and conducted several weeks of operations out of Pearl Harbor before returning to Long Beach on 25 July. Over the next five months, she conducted routine exercises off southern California, subsequently entering the drydock at Long Beach for a three-week overhaul on 15 January 1964. Then, after carrying out sea trials in mid-February, she resumed local operations until early March when she set out for Hawaii on the first leg of another western Pacific tour of duty. After arriving in Yokosuka on 31 March, Black took part in Operation "Crazy Horse," a combined ASW and replenishment exercise. Two weeks of upkeep in Sasebo came next followed by a port visit to Hong Kong. Early in May, the warship voyaged to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, whence she patrolled the Formosa Strait once more. Completing that tour on 25 May, Black screened Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) for two weeks during air operations in the South China Sea. That proved to be her last assignment of the deployment, and she set out for Long Beach on 6 June.
Black reached Long Beach on 3 July and commenced post-deployment leave and upkeep. On 1 August, her home port was changed from Long Beach to San Diego. During the fall, the warship carried out training near San Diego, which included Operations "Hard Shot" and "Union Square". On 4 December, she underwent inspections in preparation for what would prove to be her most eventful Far Eastern deployment. The escalating American commitment in Vietnam that followed in the wake of the Tonkin Gulf attacks naturally entailed an increased role for the Navy in that region. As a result, Black departed San Diego for Vietnamese waters on 5 January 1965. After fueling stops at Pearl Harbor, Midway, and Guam, she arrived at Subic Bay on the 28th, occasioning a 16-day upkeep period. Repairs completed, Black became a member of TG 76.5 and set sail for the Vietnamese coast, near the Mekong River Delta, where she joined Princeton (LPH-5), Bexar (APA-237), and Thomaston (LSD-28). From 15 February to 1 March, the task group patrolled the mouth of the Saigon River in order to protect American dependents in the area and to provide for their evacuation should the South Vietnamese government be toppled.
Black returned to Subic Bay before tackling a 10-day assignment as plane guard for Hancock near Yankee Station on the 3d. On 16 March, Black and Higbee (DD-806) carried out the inaugural coastal surveillance patrol of Operation "Market Time," a new tactic instituted to interdict maritime traffic carrying communist soldiers, weapons, and supplies from the north to the south. During the ensuing four months, Black continued to patrol the coast of South Vietnam from Saigon to Danang, except for visits to Yokosuka, Hong Kong and Subic Bay for repairs, supplies, and ammunition. On 9 May and 4 July, she suspended her patrols in order to close the shore and pound Viet Cong positions in support of the troops ashore. The destroyer concluded her "Market Time" patrols on 16 July and began the long journey home. After stops at Hong Kong, Yokosuka, Midway, and Pearl Harbor, Black reached San Diego on 9 August. She relocated to Long Beach early in October and spent the rest of the year completing a three-month yard overhaul.
On 12 January 1966, the destroyer returned to San Diego, resuming operations from that base until June. Frequent exercises kept the warship busy, and she even managed to rescue the crew of a downed helicopter. Then, on 17 June, Black got underway for the Orient in company with Buchanan (DDG-14) and Southerland (DD-743). Following brief stops at Pearl Harbor, Midway and Yokosuka, Black and her travelling mates reached Dixie Station off the coast of South Vietnam on 1 July in the screen of Intrepid (CVS-11). On the 8th, Black departed Dixie Station bound for the Vietnamese coast near Mui Ke Gai. When she neared the shore, Black bombarded enemy positions from 9 to 12 July. On the 13th, the warship steamed south to the mouth of the Saigon River in order to deliver six days of fire support there. On 20 July, she rejoined TG 77.5 for a ten-day stint as a plane guard for Intrepid. After a week of tender availability at Subic Bay, she joined TG 77.7, composed of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Southerland, and Boyd (DD-544), at Yankee Station on the 7th. For the next five weeks, she left Yankee Station only for occasional ASW exercises and to render naval gunfire support to the troops ashore near Cape Varella. On 16 September, Black left Yankee Station for six weeks visiting various ports: Yokosuka, Buckner Bay, Kaohsiung, and Hong Kong. After leaving Yokosuka on the 4th, she joined the unit escorting Oriskany back to the United States after the carrier had suffered a fire in the forward hangar bay that claimed 44 lives.
Black reached her home port on 16 November and remained in the vicinity during the first six months of 1967, readying herself for another Pacific deployment. In July, the warship set sail to carry out goodwill visits to Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia, after which she returned to San Diego for two weeks of tender availability. On 29 August, Black departed the west coast for the Far East. Her passage included a three-day mission briefing at Pearl Harbor and a fueling stop at Midway before she reached Yokosuka on 17 September. Black stood out of Yokosuka on the 19th, rendezvoused with Constellation (CV-64) off Hong Kong, and escorted the carrier to Yankee Station. For the last few days of September, Black screened Constellation as the carrier launched strikes against targets in North Vietnam. On 1 October, Black steamed offshore along the coastline of the II Corps zone and initiated a six-day ritual of hurling shells against Viet Cong supply routes and suspected Viet Cong infantry positions in support of the 1st Air Cavalry Division. On 9 October, she entered Subic Bay for a three-day replenishment visit in preparation for sailing to the Gulf of Tonkin for two weeks of operations with Belknap (DDG-26).
Black returned to Subic Bay on 28 October for five days of tender availability and then resumed duty as plane guard for Constellation. On 14 November, she escorted Constellation to Subic Bay for a two-day call before accompanying the carrier to Sasebo. There, the destroyer received much needed repairs, including a month in drydock to fix the tail shaft. Restored to fighting trim, Black departed Sasebo on 18 December to return to Vietnamese waters. On Christmas Day, she arrived back at Yankee Station, where she served in the screen of Ranger (CVA-61) until the 27th. She then called at Subic Bay and Hong Kong before returning to the Tonkin Gulf on 9 January 1968 for a brief final tour on Yankee Station. On the 13th, Black left the Vietnam war zone in company with Oriskany and Robinson (DDG-12), bound for the United States.
On 1 February 1968, Black put in at San Diego and commenced an extended period of duty on the west coast. In addition to the usual repairs, independent ship's exercises, port visits, and training typical of operations out of the home port, she served as a gun school ship for Fleet Training Center, San Diego, at various times during the year. Also, she served in the Pacific Midshipman Training Squadron (PACMIDTRARON) during a training cruise for Naval Academy and Naval ROTC midshipmen, from 8 June to 1 August. Black ended the year in San Diego preparing for her final western Pacific deployment.
On 5 January 1969, Black got underway for the Gulf of Tonkin. After stops at Pearl Harbor, Midway, Guam, and Subic Bay, the warship reached the waters off Vietnam on 2 February. During the ensuing three months, Black primarily concerned herself with plane guard duty in the screen of Kitty Hawk, as well as conducting sporadic antisubmarine exercises and a week of operations with Worden (DLG-18). From 4 to 9 May, Black left the carrier to deliver naval gunfire on Viet Cong positions located about 70 miles southwest of Camranh Bay. Next came port calls at Sasebo, Kaohsiung, and Hong Kong, and then Black returned to Vietnamese waters on 8 June to resume planeguard duties, this time for Bon Homme Richard (CVA-34).
The destroyer served her last day in the Gulf of Tonkin on 20 June 1969. After brief stopovers at Subic Bay and Yokosuka, she began her final passage home in company with Richard S. Edwards (DD-950). In addition to a call at Pearl Harbor, she interrupted the voyage home to aid an injured crew member of a nearby sailing yacht. Finally, she steamed into San Diego early on 13 July, concluding her final deployment in the western Pacific. On 26 September 1969, she was decommissioned, and her name was struck from the Navy list that same day. Chou's Iron and Steel Co. bought her from the Navy for scrapping on 17 February 1971.
Black (DD-666) earned six battle stars for World War II service, two battle stars during the Korean conflict, and three battle stars for Vietnam service.
C. Kevin Hurst
6 February 2006