Johnston Blakeley--born in 1781 in Seaford, County Down, Ireland--came to America with his parents at the age of two. Soon after his family settled in Charleston, S.C., Blakeley's mother and brother died; and his father took young Johnston to live in Wilmington, N.C. At nine years of age, Blakeley was sent north to New York under the care of his father's old friend, a merchant named Hoope. In 1796, he returned to North Carolina to begin study at the newly established University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Upon his father's death in 1797, Blakeley inherited rental properties which gave him sufficient income to continue his education, but that came to an abrupt halt in 1799 when the uninsured buildings burned down.
The following year, Blakeley succeeded in acquiring a midshipman's warrant, and his first sea duty came in the frigate President under the command of Capt. Richard Dale. In 1801 and 1802, his ship made an uneventful cruise to the Mediterranean Sea to keep an eye on the Barbary pirates. Upon his return to the United States, he was reassigned to the frigate John Adams, that sailed for the Mediterranean on 22 October 1803. During that deployment, Blakeley saw action off Tripoli when the frigate bombarded the forts and shipping in the harbor. However, the most notable event of the cruise proved to be the destruction of the 20 gun Tripolitan cruiser Meshouda. Blakeley returned to the United States in John Adams in the fall of 1803 and was reassigned to the frigate Congress. However, he soon returned to John Adams when that frigate had to return to the Mediterranean to replace the lost Philadelphia. His ship arrived off Tripoli on 7 August 1804 and participated in the second series of engagements carried out against the pirate lair during the summer of 1804. Blakeley transferred to Congress during the fall of 1804 and served in that frigate until she returned to the United States in the summer of 1805.
Successive assignments in Hornet, at the Norfolk Navy Yard as officer in charge of a group of gunboats enforcing Jefferson's embargo in the Chesapeake Bay, and in Essex occupied his time between 1805 and 1811. On 10 February 1807, while he was at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Blakeley received his commission as a lieutenant. In 1811, he was given his first command, Enterprise. When war with Great Britain came in June 1812, he cruised along the east coast of the United States during the first year of the conflict. Initially unsuccessful in his attempts to take British prizes, his luck improved later in the cruise when he concentrated on the waters along the New England coast.
In July 1813, he received a promotion to master commandant and was offered command of the newly constructed, 22 gun sloop of war Wasp. Blakeley hastened to Newburyport, Mass., to complete outfitting his new command and put her into commission early in 1814. Getting underway on 1 May, he captured several merchantmen in the western approaches to the British Isles before encountering his first enemy warship on 28 June. On that day at a point some 225 miles west of Plymouth, England, Wasp fell in with the 21 gun sloop of war HMS Reindeer. The contest lasted a mere 19 minutes; yet, during that short span, the two ships exchanged severe cannonades of grape and solid shot. Blakeley’s crewmen repulsed several boarding attempts and finally carried the enemy warship by one of their own. Reindeer was destroyed by fire; and Blakeley, after repairs at L'Orient, France, resumed his guerre de course on British seaborne trade.
He took three more prizes late in August before meeting HMS Avon, an 18-gun brig, in the evening of 21 September. After maneuvering Wasp into a position in which he had Avon under his lee bow, Blakeley opened fire at about 2130. The British ship returned fire for about 30 minutes then appeared to cease fire. At that point, Blakeley halted his gunners and demanded Avon's surrender; but the enemy responded by resuming fire. Wasp did the same. After several broadsides, Avon's battery once more fell silent. Blakeley repeated the call to surrender, and the battered hulk had no choice but to comply. At that point, the appearance of three more British ships forced Blakeley to abandon his prize and make good his escape. Unknown to the Americans, Avon later sank. Wasp then resumed the war on British merchant shipping. He made three more known captures, the last of which was the eight-gun brig Atalanta that he sent into Charleston, S.C. The last contact with Blakeley and his command occurred on 8 October when he spoke the Swedish brig Adonis off the Azores. Apparently, Wasp went down with all hands in an Atlantic storm. Johnston Blakeley was awarded the thanks of Congress, a gold medal, and a promotion to captain--all posthumously--for his last cruise. In addition, the state of South Carolina voted him a sword and delivered it to his widow.
Charles Adams Blakely--the great grandnephew of Capt. Johnston Blakeley--was born on 1 October 1879 at Williamsburg, Ky. He graduated from Williamsburg Academy in 1897 and, in the summer of 1898, served with the 2d Kentucky Volunteer Infantry during the Spanish-American War. Appointed a naval cadet in September 1899, Blakely graduated from the Naval Academy on 2 February 1903 and, after serving two years at sea as a passed naval cadet, was commissioned ensign in 1905 to date from 3 February. Between 1903 and 1907, he served successively in Santee, Baltimore (Cruiser No. 3l, Cleveland (Cruiser No. 19), Denver (Cruiser No. 14), and Mayflower. Command of Thornton (Torpedo Boat No. 33) and Macdonough (Torpedo-boat Destroyer No. 9) followed. In December 1910, he became officer in charge of the machinist school at the Charleston Navy Yard. Between June 1911 and October 1914, Blakely commanded the Reserve Torpedo Flotillas and the protected cruiser Atlanta. From October 1914 to September 1916, he served ashore at the New York Navy Yard. At the end of that assignment, he assumed command of Rowan (Destroyer No. 64) During World War I, Blakely commanded O'Brien (Destroyer No. 51), serving in the waters surrounding the British Isles.
At the end of the war, he went to Washington where he served in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. In December 1920, Blakely became the engineering officer on the staff of the Commander, Destroyer Squadrons, Atlantic Fleet. He concluded that assignment in October 1922 and moved to duty as inspector of ordnance at the Naval Ammunition Depot, Lake Denmark, N.J. In 1925, he began a year as executive officer of Texas (BB-35). Leaving that billet in August 1926, Blakely embarked upon a two-year tour of duty commanding the Destroyer Squadron, Asiatic Fleet. In July 1928, he returned to the United States to take up duty in the Bureau of Navigation as president of the Naval Reserve Inspection Board.
Blakely remained at the Bureau of Navigation for more than three years. He was relieved in December 1931 and, in January 1932, reported for duty at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Fla., as a student. Upon completion of the observer course in May 1932, he was designated an aviation observer. During that same month, Blakely assumed command of the aircraft carrier Lexington (CV 2), a unit of Battle Force based on the west coast. In June 1934, he relinquished command of the aircraft carrier and proceeded to Newport, R.I., where he spent the next 12 months completing the senior course at the Naval War College. Blakely returned to Pensacola in June 1935 to take additional flight training. On 10 March 1936, at the age of 54, he received his designation as a naval aviator. Two months later, he became commanding officer of the Pensacola facility.
Rear Admiral Blakely was detached from duty at Pensacola late in the summer of 1937. In August of that year, he became Commander, Carrier Division (CarDiv) 2, and presided over that organization until the end of the year, ultimately flying his flag in Yorktown (CV-5). In January 1938, he fleeted up to Commander Aircraft, Scouting Force, a post he held for the next 18 months. In June 1939, Blakely moved back to the west coast assuming concurrent command of Aircraft, Battle Force, and of CarDiv 2 with the rank of vice admiral. Once again he wore his flag in Yorktown. Blakely’s last active assignment was Commandant, 11th Naval District, with additional duty as the Commanding Officer, Naval Operating Base, San Diego. Ill health brought his relief from active duty on 9 December 1941 and, on 1 October 1942, his transfer to the retired list.
Blakely (Torpedo Boat No. 27) and Blakeley (Destroyer No. 150) were named for the War of 1812 hero, Capt. Johnston Blakeley, while Blakely (DE-1072) honors both that officer and his great grandnephew Vice Admiral Charles Adams Blakely.
(DE-1072: dp. 3,877 (f.); l. 438’; b. 47’; dr. 25’; s. 27+ k.; cpl. 245; a. 1 5”, 1 ASROC/Standard mis. Ln., 1 Sea Sparrow ln., 4 15.5” ASW tt.; cl. Knox)
The third Blakely (DE-1072) was laid down on 8 June 1968 at Weswego, La. By Avondale Shipyards, Inc.; launched on 23 August 1969; sponsored by Mrs. Lila Blakely Morgan, daughter of the late Vice Admiral Blakely; delivered to the Navy on 1 July at the Charleston Naval Shipyard: and commissioned there on 18 July 1970, Comdr. Francis L. Carelll in command.
Blakely spent the remainder of the year fitting out, conducting post-commissioning trials, and making her shakedown cruise. After a leave and upkeep period lasting from 12 December 1970 to 21 February 1971, she entered the Charleston Nava1 Shipyard on 22 February for post-shakedown availability. During that extended repair period, her Sea Sparrow basic point defense surface missile system launcher was installed. She completed post-shakedown repairs and modifications as well as final contract trials on 4 August. Between 4 and 11 August, the ocean escort made a round-trip voyage to the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Range for missile and gunfire qualification. The warship returned to Charleston on 11 August and, on the 23d got underway for a voyagevia Newfoundlandto northern Europe. During that cruise, she visited ports in Norway, Denmark, Germany, and France. She returned to Charleston on 3 October and began normal duty as a unit of the 2d Fleet. Her 2d Fleet service occupied her during the remainder of 1971 and 11 months of 1972. During that time, Blakely conducted type training, individual ship’s drills, and fleet exercises aIong the eastern seaboard and in the West Indies.
On 1 December 1972, the ocean escort got underway from Charleston bound for the western Pacific. Steaming via the Panama Canal and Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, she arrived at Subic Bay in the Philippines on 7 January 1973. Five days later, the warship departed Subic Bay for the Vietnamese combat zone. Her tour of duty in the Far East came at the very end of American participation in the Vietnamese conflict; and, as a consequence, she served only once in the combat zone. That service took place on the northern sea-air rescue station in the Gulf of Tonkin. Blakely concluded that assignment and arrived at Kaohsiung, Talwan, on 5 February. Following a fortnight there, she got underway on the 19th to return to Charleston. After calls at Hong Kong, Yokosuka in Japan, San Diego, and Panama, she arrived back at Charleston on 23 March.
After post-deployment standdown, the warship resumed normal operations out of Charleston. That duty continued until 27 June when she entered the Charleston Naval Shipyard for a restricted availability. Over the next five months, she underwent two major modifications. Her main propulsion plant was converted to use Navy distillate fuel, and the light airborne multipurpose system (LAMPS) was installed. She completed the restricted availability on 28 November and spent the remainder of the year preparing for refresher training. On 12 January 1974, Blakely departed Charleston for refresher training in the West Indies. That trainingincluding missile shoots, torpedo launchings, and gunfire support drillslasted until 7 March at which time she returned to Charleston.
After a series of inspections and examinations, both in port and underway, the warship resumed normal 2d Fleet duty on 29 April when she got underway to participate in LantReadEx (Atlantic Fleet Readiness Exercise) 3-74. Blakely returned to Charleston from the readiness exercise on 8 May and began preparations for her first tour of duty with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. On 14 June, the ocean escort stood out of Charleston on her way to the Mediterranean. She arrived in Rota, Spain, on the 24th and relieved Davis (DD-937). On the 26th, she began operations with the 6th Fleet. In addition to the usual exercises and port visits, she took part in evacuation operations conducted at Cyprus in July after strife broke out between the Turkish ana Greek factions on that island. In August, she resumed the usual 6th Fleet duty and remained so occupied until relieved by Blandy (DD-943) at Gibraltar on 23 November. Two days later, the warship shaped a course back to the United States. Blakely arrived back in Charleston on 5 December and began a combination post deployment and holiday standdown.
She remained in port through the end of the first month of 1975. The warship got underway for the first time in 1975 on 18 February to conduct independent ship’s exercises, to take part in carrier qualifications with John F. Kennedy (CV-67), and to undergo an operational readiness inspection. The ocean escort returned to Charleston on 25 February and, therafter, resumed normal operations from that base. Blakely remained so occupied until 2 June when she entered the Charleston Naval Shipyard for a restricted availability followed immediately by a regular overhaul. On 30 June 1975, Blakely was redesignated a frigate, and her hull number became FF 1072. The repair period lasted until the third month of 1976. She completed overhaul on 30 March 1976 and embarked upon post-overhaul trials and refresher training. Those tasks took her on an extended cruise in the West Indies, and she did not return to Charleston until 7 July. Operations out of Charleston-including a series of inspections and examinations-carried her through the year. In December, she also began preparations for another Mediterranean deployment.
On the morning of 15 January 1977, Blakely left Charleston and began her voyage to Europe. On 24 January, she arrived in Leixoes, Portugal, where she relieved Barney (DDG-6). For the next six months, she ranged the length and breadth of the “middle sea.” In addition to the customary port calls, she participated in a series of national and multinational training exercises. She ended her tour of duty with the 6th Fleet on 20 July at Rota, Spain, where she was relieved by Connole (FF-1056). Blakely departed Rota on the 22d and arrived in Charleston on 1 August. After a month of leave and upkeep and a tender availability, the frigate resumed 2d Fleet operations on 11 September.
For the remainder of 1977, she performed normal duty along the east coast and in the West Indies. In mid-February 1978, the warship began preparations for another assignment to the Mediterranean. On 4 April, Blakely stood out of Charleston to join a Europe-bound task force built around Forrestal (CV-59). She arrived in Rota on 14 April and relieved Blandy. On the 17th, she entered the Mediterranean proper and began her actual duty with the 6th Fleet. That service--which included a number of multinational training exercises as well as the usual port visits--took up her time for the next six months. On 11 October, Blakely returned to Rota where she was relieved by Conyngham (DDG-17). Four days later, the frigate put to sea for the return voyage to Charleston where she arrived on the 26th. Post-deployment leave and upkeep as well as two Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 4 inspections kept her in port until the beginning of December. She got underway on the 4th and conducted training missions along the southeastern coast of the United States until the 15th. On that day, she returned to Charleston and commenced holiday standdown.
She opened 1979 moored at pierside in her home port. Late in January, Blakely resumed operations with the 2d Fleet. For the next five months, she put to sea repeatedly--usually to participate in helicopter deck landing qualifications but also to conduct naval gunfire support training and other single-ship exercises. On 29 May, the frigate departed Charleston for Boston, Mass. She arrived at her destination on 31 May; and, the following day, Boston became her new home port. On 4 June, the warship entered the drydock for a repair and modification period. On 4 October, she came out of the dock but remained in Boston well into 1980 completing repairs.
She completed the overhaul on 21 April 1980 and departed Boston to return to Charleston. That same day also brought an official change of home port, from Boston back to Charleston. She arrived at her familiar old base on the 24th and resumed operations along the east coast and in the West Indies. She remained so occupied for the rest of the year. The beginning of 1981 found her in port in Charleston preparing for an overseas movement. On 12 January 1981, Blakely got underway in company with Tattnall (DDG-19) bound ultimately for duty with the Middle East Force in the Indian Ocean. She arrived in Rota on 23 January and, the next day, began crossing the Mediterranean. On the 31st, the warship transited the Suez Canal and joined the Middle East Force. For almost four months, she cruised the waters of the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden, and the Persian Gulf helping to display the keen interest of the United States in establishing peace and order in that perenially troubled area of the world.
On 18 May, Bigelow (DD-942) relieved her, and Blakely began the long voyage back to Charleston. She retransited the Suez Canal on 26 May and proceeded to Malaga, Spain, where she stopped over from 1 to 7 June. After additional stops at Ponta Delgada in the Azores and at Bermuda, the frigate arrived in Charleston on 18 June. Following the normal leave and upkeep period, she resumed 2d Fleet operations on 21 July.
The ship was decommissioned on 15 November 1991 and struck from the Navy list on 11 January 1995. She was disposed of by scrapping on 30 September 2000.
Updates pending for 1981 to 1991.
Raymond A. Mann
11 January 2006