Charles E. Vreeland—born on 10 March 1852 at Newark, N.J.—enlisted in the Navy as a naval apprentice early in 1866. After brief service in Sabine, he received a Presidential appointment as a midshipman at the Naval Academy on 27 July 1866. On 7 June 1870, he graduated from the academy as a passed midshipman and, at the end of July, reported on board the newly commissioned screw sloop California. On 28 September, he was detached from that ship and was ordered to proceed in Severn to duty in the screw sloop Congress, then cruising in the South Atlantic. He was later transferred to the screw sloop Brooklyn and, between 1871 and 1873, made a cruise in her to European waters. In July 1873, he was detached from Brooklyn. After successfully completing the required post-sea duty examination in October, he returned to sea in November in Powhatan and, less than a fortnight later, received his commission as an ensign.
Successive tours of duty in Alert, Ashuelot, and Tieonderoga followed; and, during that period, Vreeland received promotions to master and then to lieutenant. In November 1881, after a period ashore awaiting orders, he was posted to the Nautical Almanac Office, where charts and tables were prepared for use by naval officers in celestial navigation. In March 1884, Lt. Vreeland began a three-year tour at sea in Hartford, at the completion of which he went to the Bureau of Navigation for a two-year assignment. Upon leaving that duty in mid-April 1889, he took torpedo instruction at Newport, R.I. Then, a brief assignment with the Office of Naval Intelligence from July to September of 1889 preceded his reporting to the Coast Survey late in October. That employment lasted until the spring of 1893 when orders sent Vreeland to Europe as naval attache—first at Rome, then at Vienna, and finally in Berlin.
Lt. Vreeland returned home late in 1896, was posted to Massachusetts in mid-January 1897, and served in that battleship until transferred to Helena at the end of June. Vreeland was ordered to Dolphin as executive officer in April 1898, but he did not actually assume those duties until 24 August. Thus, he served in Helena through most of the brief Spanish-American War on blockade duty off Cuba until July. He was detached from Dolphin on 5 November 1898 and ordered to Olympia; however, those orders were changed in December, and he reported to Concord instead on the 30th. In March 1899, he became Lt. Comdr. Vreeland and, after completing assignments in Concord, Monterey, and Baltimore—all on the Asiatic station—he returned home on board the hospital ship Solace in March 1900. In April, he became a member of the Board of Inspection and Survey; and, during that assignment, he was promoted to full commander in mid-August 1901. In August 1902, he took charge of fitting out of the "New Navy" monitor Arkansas (later to be renamed Ozark) at Newport News, Va. When she was placed in commission on 28 October, he assumed command.
Two years later, Vreeland left his first command, Arkansas, and served ashore over the next two and one-half years, performing various special duties for the Navy Department. Initially, he was a member of and recorder for the board studying proposed changes to the New York Navy Yard. He was next assigned special duty in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. While assigned to the Navy Department in Washington, Vreeland received his promotion to captain to date from 13 April 1906. Capt. Vreeland concluded that latest assignment in Washington on 17 April 1907 and, the following day, placed Kansas (Battleship No. 21) in commission at Camden, N.J. He commanded the new battleship for the next two years— a very auspicious time for it coincided with the cruise of the "Great White Fleet" around the world. Soon after the Fleet returned to Hampton Roads in February 1909, he relinquished command of Kansas and returned home to await orders. On 10 May, Capt. Vreeland took over command of the Office of Naval Intelligence. That duty lasted until 8 December 1909 when, with his selection for promotion to rear admiral imminent, he broke his flag in Virginia (Battleship No. 13) as Commander, 4th Division, Atlantic Fleet. Nineteen days later, on the 27th, he became Rear Admiral Vreeland.
On 19 April 1911, he reported ashore for further duty in Washington. In his new assignment as Aide for Inspections, he approached the pinnacle of naval command. He became one of the four principal advisors of the Secretary of the Navy, George von L. Meyer, under the newly devised aide system for managing the Navy. During his tenure in that office, Rear Admiral Vreeland represented the Navy Department at the coronation of King George V of England and headed up the so-called "Vreeland Board" which reinvestigated the Maine disaster of 1898. The controversial report of that board—now considered erroneous—concluded that an external explosion sank the warship.
On 12 December, Rear Admiral Vreeland ended his tour of duty as Aide for Inspections and succeeded Rear Admiral Richard Wainwright as the Secretary's second Aide for Operations. While in that position— the forerunner to today's office of Chief of Naval Operations—Vreeland struggled to improve the defenses in the Philippines, agitated for increased naval construction, particularly of battle cruisers, and supported the development of American naval aviation. During his tenure as Aide for Operations, naval aviation found a permanent home at Pensacola, Fla. On 11 February 1913, Rear Admiral Vreeland relinquished his duties as Aide for Operations to Rear Admiral Bradley A. Fiske, the third and last man to hold the office under that title. Vreeland finished out his naval career as a member of both the General and Joint Boards. On 10 March 1914, he was transferred to the retired list. On 27 September 1916, after a retirement plagued by illness, Rear Admiral Vreeland died at Atlantic City, N.J.
(DE-1068: dp. 3,877 (f.); 1. 438'; b. 47'; dr. 25'; s. 27+ k.; cpl. 245; a. 1 5", 4 15.5" tt, ASROC; cl. Knox)
Vreeland (DE-1068) was laid down on 20 March 1968 by the Avondale Shipyard at Westwego, La.; launched on 16 June 1969; sponsored by Mrs. Jamie L. Whitten, wife of the Congressman representing Mississippi's 2d Congressional District; and commissioned at Charleston, S.C., on 13 June 1970, Comdr. David R. Stefferud in command.
After fitting out at Charleston and shakedown training in the West Indies, Vreeland returned to Charleston to join Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 4. She completed repairs in February 1971 and final contract trials in March and then began preparations for her first deployment to the Mediterranean area. The warship departed Charleston on 15 April and arrived in Rota, Spain, on the 25th. During the next six months, she steamed the length and breadth of the "middle sea" as a unit of the 6th Fleet. She visited numerous ports and participated in a host of exercises with American and Allied naval forces. She concluded that tour of duty at Gibraltar on 8 October when she changed operational control back to the 2d Fleet and headed home. The warship arrived in Charleston on the 16th and resumed 2d Fleet operations out of Charleston.
In the summer of 1972, the ship began preparations for another cruise in the Mediterranean Sea. That deployment, however, proved different than the previous one. Rather than deploying for six months and then returning home to Charleston, Vreeland received orders changing her home port to Athens, Greece. That assignment lasted for the next three years rather than the normal six months and included the relocation of Vreeland dependents to Athens—all as a part of the Navy's forward deployment program. During those three years, she performed the normal duties of a unit of the 6th Fleet, visiting ports, conducting exercises, and performing surveillance of Soviet ships operating in the Mediterranean.
On 1 July 1975, Vreeland was reclassified a frigate and redesignated FF-1068. Three days later, she departed Greece to begin her voyage back to the United States. The warship concluded that voyage and her three-year deployment at Philadelphia on 30 July. After post-deployment standdown, she moved south to Norfolk in September for repairs but returned to Philadelphia in October in time to participate in the Navy's 200th birthday celebration on the 13th. Duty as a surface warfare school ship and more repairs at Norfolk followed.
On 6 December, the frigate entered the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard where she spent the following year undergoing a major overhaul. Her refurbishing completed on 2 December 1976, the warship resumed duty as an active unit of the Fleet early in 1977. Refresher training and various qualification exercises out of her new home port, Mayport, Fla., occupied her during the first six months of 1977. On 25 July, she departed Mayport for a cruise to South America to participate in UNITAS XVIII, the annual series of exercises in which units of various South American navies join the United States Navy in practicing the skills of hemispheric defense. In November, she concluded her UNITAS cruise and reentered Mayport on the 25th. Leave and upkeep in port took up her time for the remainder of the year.
A part of January and February 1978 was devoted to a restricted availability for Vreeland. The frigate devoted the ensuing months to preparations for her forthcoming deployment to the Middle East. Vreeland departed from Mayport on 23 July in company with Mullinix (DD-944). Following fuel stops at Bermuda, the Azores, and Rota, Spain, the ships transited the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal and arrived at Port Sudan, Sudan, on 9 August. A turnover from Glover (AGFF-1) and Barney (DDG-6) was effected, and Vreeland joined the Middle East Force. The remainder of the year was spent in operations with that group. On 31 December, Vreeland and Mullinix retransited the Suez Canal on their return to the United States.