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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Sproston

 

John G. Sproston was born in Maryland and appointed to the Naval Academy in 1846. He served on the Pacific Station during the war with Mexico. During the Civil War, he served as commanding officer of Powhatan and as executive officer of Senneca. On 1 November 1861, during the battle for Port Royal, S.C., Sproston personally fired many of the 11-inch guns on board Senneca as the crew was new and untrained. Lt. Sproston was killed on 8 June 1862 while on a boat expedition to destroy a Confederate privateer in the St. John's River, Fla.

 

II

 

(DD-577: dp. 2,940 (f) ; l. 376'5"; b. 39'7"; dr. 17'9"; s. 35.2 k.; cpl. 329; a. 5 5", 10 40mm., 10 21" tt.; cl. Fletcher)

 

The second Sproston (DD-577) was laid down on 1 April 1942 by the Consolidated Steel Co., Orange, Tex.; launched on 31 August 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Aline G. Darst; and commissioned on 19 May 1943, Comdr. Fred R. Stickney in command.

 

Following shakedown off Cuba, Sproston transited the Panama Canal on 4 November 1943. After a brief stop at San Francisco, she sailed for Pearl Harbor on 15 November and, 11 days later, headed for the Aleutian Islands. She entered Kuluk Bay, Adak, on December 1st and was assigned to Destroyer Squadron (Des Ron) 49, a unit of Task Force (TF) 94.

 

She spent the next two months in gunnery practice and exercises. On 1 February 1944, Sproston departed Massacre Bay with TF 94 to shell targets in the Kuril Islands. On 4 February, she bombarded Kurabu Point in the Kurabu-Sa-ki area of Paramushiro Island. One month later, the task force sailed north in the Sea of Okhotsk to strike targets in the Kurils again; but, because of extremely heavy seas and poor visibility, the mission was aborted.

 

Sproston spent the next three months on antisubmarine sweeps and patrols off the Aleutians. On 10 June, she was again underway for the Kurils where she participated in the pre-dawn bombardment of Matsuwa Island. On the 26th, she shelled Kurabu Zaki airfield on the southern end of Paramushiro Island.

 

On 8 August, Sproston departed Sweeper Cove, Adak, for a two-week stay in San Francisco before sailing for the South Pacific war zone. En route, she made port at Pearl Harbor, Eniwetok, and Manus. In October, she was assigned to Task Unit 79.11.2 whose primary mission was to screen transports of Task Group 79.2 off Dulag, Leyte Island, during the initial campaign to liberate the Philippines.

 

On October 25th, with supporting fire from Hale (DD-642) and Pickens (APA-190), she splashed her first enemy plane. On 18 November, in San Pedro Bay, Sproston's gunners downed two “Zekes” of a five plane attack force.

 

In late December 1944 and early January 1945, Sproston patrolled in the Lingayen area of central Luzon. On 8 January, another Japanese plane fell victim to her guns. From Lingayen, she sailed to the Zambales area to support landing operations there. At 1248 on 29 January, she entered Subic Bay. Sproston was believed to be the first United States warship to enter Subic Bay since the Japanese occupation had begun. She continued operations in the Philippine Islands until 18 February when she was assigned to escort duty. Ordered to Guam for a week, she was in Apra Harbor from 25 February to 1 March when she sailed for Milne Bay. By 13 March, she was back in Leyte Gulf.

 

On March 21st, she was underway for Kerama Retto and Okinawa Gunto, Ryukyu Islands. Sproston relieved Heywood L. Edwards (DD-663) on 26 March and began picket and patrol duty. That evening, her guns hit a “Jill” which departed in flames. On 2 April, she provided call fire on Makiminato Saki, destroying two enemy pillboxes and a warehouse.

 

Sproston received damage to her sonar equipment and main battery computer on 4 April by the near miss of a bomb which exploded 50 yards off her port beam. There were no casualties, and the sonar equipment was quickly repaired, but the main battery could only be fired by local control. She retired to Guam for repair of her main computer and was back on station within two weeks. Off Hagushi Beach on 12 May, she fired 16 rounds at an enemy plane which burst into flames and crashed. On 28 May, Sproston and Wads-worth (DD-576) downed two planes within an hour. With supporting fire from Bradford (DD-545), she splashed another on the 29th. On 6 June, she rescued a pilot from escort carrier Gilbert Island (CVE—107) whose plane had been shot down.

 

On 28 June, while she was steaming independently toward the United States for overhaul, Sproston was signalled, between Saipan and Eniwetok, by Antares (AKS-3), that she was under submarine attack and required assistance. Arriving in the vicinity of the submarine, Sproston made good sonar contact at a range of 1,000 yards. At 500 yards, a periscope was observed passing from starboard to port. The destroyer made an unsuccessful attempt to ram the submarine which was then identified as a fleet type. Sproston dropped a full pattern of depth charges, and a large oil slick was later observed. She made six more attacks with negative results. After all her depth charges were expended, a lookout spotted a torpedo wake approaching Sproston, 60° off her port bow. Sproston turned hard left and the torpedo passed along her port side. A periscope was then sighted off the port quarter belonging to a midget submarine. The main battery commenced firing, and one salvo found its mark, causing a large secondary explosion which sank the submarine. LC1—535, LSM-196, and LSM-197 arrived to help conduct night radar coverage of the area. The next morning, Parks (DE-165), Levy (DE-162), and Roberts (DE-749) joined the group. After a thorough search, all ships were directed to carry out their previous orders.

 

Sproston arrived at San Francisco on 14 July 1945 where she underwent yard overhaul and prepared for inactivation. She moved to San Diego in mid-December and was placed out of commission on 18 January 1946.

 

After Communist forces invaded South Korea, Sproston was recommissioned as DDE-577 on 15 September 1950. Her initial training was conducted with the Fleet Training Group, San Diego. Sproston departed San Diego in early 1951 for Eniwetok to participate in the Atomic Bomb Test. When the test was over in July, Sproston sailed to her new home port, Pearl Harbor, and began the normal routine of Pacific Fleet destroyers: holding fleet, type, and individual exercises.

 

In early 1952, she entered the shipyard for overhaul and then, after refresher training, she sailed, on 2 June, for the Far East.

 

On 15 June, Sproston was assigned to Task Force 77, the 7th Fleet Striking Force, operating off the east coast of Korea in the Hungnam-Sinipo area. During the next six months, she participated in the Taiwan Patrol when not assigned to TF 77.

 

Sproston returned to Pearl Harbor on 5 December 1952 and began a regular operating schedule as a member of DesRon 25. In the next decade, she made nine cruises to the Far East for operations with the Seventh Fleet. She spent part of each deployment on the Taiwan Patrol and also participated in amphibious and other type exercises. In 1958 and in 1961, Sproston was awarded the Battle Efficiency E.

 

In 1962, she was redesignated DD-577. Normal operating duties continued through 1963 and 1964. In March 1965, she began a five-month overhaul in the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard. When this was completed, she conducted extensive refresher training to prepare her crew for deployment to the western Pacific.

 

Sproston departed Pearl Harbor on 27 December with Ranger (CVA-61), England (DLG-22), and Carpenter (DD-825) and headed, via Subic Bay, for the Vietnam coast. The group arrived at "Dixie Station" off the coast of South Vietnam on 16 January 1966 and remained there until 13 February. Sproston was assigned rescue and antisubmarine screening duties. On the 18th, she was directed to proceed to Phuoc Hui Bay to provide naval gunfire support. During the night, the ship shelled Viet Cong: base camps and assembly areas.

 

On 19 January, she rejoined the carrier task group which had moved to “Yankee Station” in the Gulf of Tonkin. Sproston was detached from 5 to 11 February to perform trawler surveillance and blocking. During this time, she observed a Russian Okean-Class vessel, the Gidrofon, which was believed to be gathering electronic and tactial information. She rejoined the carrier group which returned to Subic Bay until 22 February.

 

Back at “Yankee Station,” Sproston was again detached for Navl Gunfire Support duty.

 

She arrived off the coast, in the II Corps area, on 1 March and remained there until the 20th, firing 40 support missions for the 1st Cavalry Division and South Vietnamese Marines. The most eventful came on 9 March when, during a three-hour battle, her guns helped to repulse a battalion-strength Viet Cong attack against Republic of Vietnam Marines near Tarn Quan.

 

On 21 March, she and the Task Group proceeded to Yokosuka whence it departed on 5 April for another tour at “Dixie Station.” Sproston worked with Ranger at both “Dixie Station” and “Yankee Station” during the patrol.

 

Sproston was detached from the Task Group on 4 May and visited Hong Kong, Subic Bay, and Yokosuka before she returned to Pearl Harbor for upkeep and the installation of a recovery crane as she had been selected to participate in an Apollo spacecraft recovery.

 

On 25 August, she was on station off Kwajalein when the spacecraft passed overhead and landed 200 miles north, where it was recovered by Hornet (CVS-12). Sproston returned to Pearl Harbor on 2 September and remained there undergoing repair services and conducting type training for the remainder of the year.

 

In January and February 1967, Sproston conducted local operations to prepare for her 1967 deployment to the Far East. She sailed for Yokosuka on 6 March and, one month later, was back at “Yankee Station.” She particpated in Operation “Sea Lion” and provided gunfire support until 14 May. She then joined Hancock (CVA-19) as escort and plane guard for two and one-half months. During this period of deployment, she performed trawler surveillance duty at “Yankee Station” several times when the Russian ships AGI Deflcktor, Barograf, and Gidrofon entered the area.

 

Sproston and Carpenter departed Vietnam on 4 August for Sydney, Australia, where they participated in a joint ASW exercise with units of the British and New Zealand Navies off the coast of New Zealand.

 

Having steamed almost 40,000 miles since leaving Pearl Harbor, Sproston returned to her home port on 11 September. She underwent general repairs and conducted local operations until the last of December 1967 when she was ordered to Guam for yard availability.

 

Upon completion of yard work in mid-March, Sproston returned to Pearl Harbor until 29 July when she sailed for the west coast. When she arrived in San Diego, she was notified that she was to be decommissioned. She sailed to Pearl Harbor late in August and, on 30 September 1968, was placed out of commission. Sproston was struck from the Navy list on 10 October 1968 and sold to Chou's Iron and Steel Co., Taipei, Taiwan, for scrap.

 

Sproston received five battle stars for World War II, one for Korean service, and three for Vietnamese service.