DDG-996 is the second ship named Chandler, the first being Destroyer No. 206 (1919–1945). It is also the second ship named for Rear Adm. Theodore Edson Chandler, the first being Theodore E. Chandler (DD-717, 1946–1975).
Rear Adm. Theodore Edson Chandler was born in Annapolis, Md., on 26 December 1894, the son of Rear Adm. Lloyd Horwitz Chandler, USN, and Agatha Buford Edson Chandler. He attended University School, Washington, D.C.; Manlius (New York) School for Boys (St. Johns); and Swavely’s Army and Navy Preparatory School in Washington, D.C., before his appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy from the Second District of New Hampshire in 1911. As a midshipman he was active in sports, winning letters in basketball and lacrosse.
After graduation on 5 June 1915, Ensign Chandler served at sea in Florida (Battleship No. 30) and New Hampshire (Battleship No. 25), being detached from the latter for torpedo instruction on board Montana (Armored Cruiser No. 13) in April 1917. He left Montana on 2 August 1917 to assist in fitting out Conner (Destroyer No. 72) at the Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pa. Shortly thereafter, he received a temporary promotion to the rank of lieutenant (j.g.) and was promoted again to the temporary rank of lieutenant later in 1917. In May 1918, Chandler sailed in Conner to Brest, France, his destroyer’s base during the last six months of the World War. After the Armistice, his service in European waters included a brief term as the temporary commanding officer of Conner. On 6 March 1919, Chandler received his regular commission as lieutenant (j.g.), effective as of 5 June 1918.
Chandler returned home in April 1919, and married Beatrice Bowen Fairfax in Washington, D.C., on the 28th. The following month he reported to the William Cramp & Sons Shipbuilding Company, Philadelphia, to help outfit Chandler (Destroyer No. 206), named in honor of his late grandfather, Secretary of the Navy William Eaton Chandler (1882–1886) and a U.S. Senator from New Hampshire. The younger Chandler served as Executive Officer of that destroyer from her commissioning, 5 September 1919, until December 1920, during which time Chandler operated with Destroyer Division 26 in European waters.
Upon his return to the United States in January 1921, Chandler reported for duty at the Naval Post Graduate School at Annapolis, Md., and began a series of ordnance-related studies. Over the next 29 months, he continued this course at the Naval Proving Ground, Indian Head, Md.; the Bureau of Ordnance, Navy Department, Washington, D.C.; and the Army Proving Ground, Aberdeen, Md., and other allied naval activities until the summer of 1923. During this time, Chandler was promoted to the permanent rank of lieutenant on 31 May 1921, retroactive to 1 July 1920. He received the degree of Master of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in June 1922. In 1922, the Chandlers also welcomed their only child, Theodora, who was named after her father and shared his December 26 birthday as well.
On 1 June 1923, Chandler completed training duty and after a brief leave of absence reported to the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company, Newport News, Va., on 4 July to assist in fitting out West Virginia (BB-48). He served in that battleship from her commissioning, 1 December 1923, until 16 January 1925 when he was transferred to the battleship Colorado (BB-45). He attained the rank of lieutenant commander on 1 April 1926, to date from 6 December 1925.
In June 1926, the newly-promoted Lt. Cmdr. Chandler came ashore once more for a two-year assignment at the Naval Mine Depot, Yorktown, Va. A nine-month tour of duty as gunnery officer in Trenton (CL-11), flagship of Commander Light Cruiser Divisions and Division 2, Asiatic Fleet, followed. He reported on board General Alava (AG-5) on 24 April 1929 but was detached only two days later to assume command of the destroyer Pope (DD-225), operating in the Yangtze Patrol in China.
In September 1930, Chandler returned to the United States, and after instruction at the Army Industrial College, Washington, D.C., he reported for duty on 25 July 1931 to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OpNav), Navy Department, Washington, D.C. On 30 May 1932, Chandler resumed sea duty as gunnery officer on the staff of Commander Destroyers, Battle Force, and served in that capacity until 2 February 1934, when he became Commanding Officer of Buchanan (DD-131).
Reporting again to OpNav, he was ordered in April 1935 to the American Embassy, Paris, France, and the American Embassy, Madrid, Spain, for duty as Assistant U.S. Naval Attaché. While so serving, he had additional duty at the American Legation at Lisbon, Portugal. He was promoted to commander on 1 October 1935. Returning to OpNav again in April 1938, Chandler remained there briefly before reporting to the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, N.J., to assist in fitting out Nashville (CL-43). From her commissioning in June 1938 until July 1940, he served as that cruiser’s executive officer. Next, he returned to Washington for a 15-month assignment in OpNav. Near the end of that tour of duty, he was promoted to captain on 18 July 1941.
Chandler returned to sea duty on 16 October 1941 as commanding officer of the cruiser Omaha (CL-4). Three weeks later, on the morning of 6 November, Omaha, conducting neutrality patrols in company with Somers (DD-381) in the equatorial Atlantic, came across a darkened ship that acted suspiciously when challenged. That ship, although bearing the name Willmoto from the home port of Philadelphia, proved to be the German blockade runner Odenwald, bound for Germany with 3,857 metric tons of raw rubber in her holds. Her crew attempted to scuttle the German ship and she began to sink, but Capt. Chandler sent a party to board the German vessel that controlled the flooding and salvaged the ship, which was taken to San Juan, Puerto Rico. It proved to be the last time that American sailors received “prize money.” Chandler was awarded a Letter of Commendation, with Commendation Ribbon, from the Secretary of the Navy for his role in this incident.
As the United States entered World War II, Omaha cruised the waters of the South Atlantic in search of German blockade runners and submarines. On 6 February 1943, Chandler detached from command of Omaha and was promoted to rear admiral, retroactive to 23 October 1942, on 3 May. Chandler next commanded U.S. naval forces in the Aruba-Curaçao area of the Netherlands West Indies, coordinating with the Netherlands Navy as well as the U.S. Naval and Army air forces to protect the region’s oil industry and to locate and attack German submarines. Chandler received the Legion of Merit for this service.
On 31 July 1944, Rear Adm. Chandler took command of Cruiser Division 2, Atlantic Fleet. In that capacity, he participated in Operation Dragoon, the Allied invasion of southern France executed in mid-August. Chandler commanded the “Sitka-Romeo” force that captured the strategically important Îles d’Hyères just off the coast of Provence, securing the left flank of the main invasion force landing further to the east. In lieu of a second Legion of Merit, Rear Adm. Chandler received the Gold Star for his leadership role in this operation.
The following month, Chandler was briefly assigned as Commander, Battleship Division 2, Pacific Fleet. In that command he helped to repulse the Japanese fleet in the Battle of Surigao Strait on 25 October 1944. As described in his citation for the posthumously-awarded Silver Star, “Rear Admiral Chandler, with his division placed among other battleships in the strategic T-formation across the northern end of Surigao, hurled the full power of his heavy guns at the confused enemy force. Directing the shattering broadsides of his mighty vessels with unrelenting fury, he waged fierce battle against the enemy in a prolonged engagement which resulted in the destruction of two Japanese battleships and three destroyers….”
On 8 December 1944, Rear Adm. Chandler took command of Cruiser Division 4, breaking his flag in Louisville (CA-28). While making the voyage from Leyte to Lingayen Gulf for the invasion of Luzon, his cruisers came under heavy Japanese air attack, mostly by kamikazes. Late in the afternoon of 5 January 1945, a group of 16 suicide planes swooped in on the naval force then about 100 miles from Manila Bay. Four of the attackers were successful, one of them crashing into Rear Adm. Chandler’s flagship’s Turret II, but Louisville continued on with her mission.
The cruiser force came under further attack on 6 January 1945. At 1730, as Adm. Chandler stood observing operations from the flag bridge, another suicide plane succeeded in crashing into the cruiser’s starboard side at the bridge, causing a fiery explosion. “From the cauldron,” wrote a New York Times reporter embarked in Louisville, “a staggering figure emerged, shirt and trousers ablaze…. The figure was that of Admiral Chandler.” Although severely burned by the gasoline flames, Chandler handled fire hoses alongside his men and then waited his turn for first aid. The admiral, his lungs scorched by the heat and smoke, died the next day despite the efforts of the ship’s medical staff. For this remarkable demonstration of courage, resolve, and leadership, Chandler was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.
Among the additional decorations received by Rear Adm. Chandler during his naval career were the Distinguished Service Medal, the Purple Heart, the Order of the Liberator (Venezuela), the Order of the Southern Cross (Brazil), the Legion of Honor (France), the Order of Orange-Nassau (the Netherlands), and the Distinguished Service Order (Great Britain). Theodore E. Chandler (DD-717), the first U.S. Navy ship named in honor of the Rear Admiral, was christened by his widow on 20 October 1945.
(DDG-996: displacement 9,200; length 563'; beam 55'; draft 32'; speed 30+ knots; complement 348; armament 2 5-inch, 2 Harpoon, 6 Mk.32 torpedo tubes, 2 CIWS, 2 Mk.26 dual-rail guided missile launchers, decoy system; aircraft 1 SH-3 or 2 SH-2 helicopters; class Kidd)
Ingalls Hull Number 4604 (DD-996) -- originally ordered in 1974 by the Iranian government as Anoushirvan but cancelled on 3 February 1979 -- was laid down on 7 May 1979 at Pascagoula, Miss., by Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries. After Congress authorized special funding to purchase the ship for the U.S. Navy, she was named Chandler and reclassified as DDG-996 on 8 August 1979; launched on 24 May 1980; christened on 28 June 1980 by Mrs. Theodora Chandler Hoskinson, daughter of the ship’s namesake; and commissioned on 13 March 1982, Cmdr. Henry W. Strickland in command.
Chandler departed Pascagoula on 16 March 1982 en route to her new home port of San Diego, Calif. The destroyer called at Cartagena, Colombia (19–21 March), made a nighttime transit of the Panama Canal on 23 March, and stopped at Acapulco, Mexico (27–29 March). After arriving at San Diego on 3 April, Chandler spent most of the month in an intermediate availability, which included a two-day call at San Francisco. In May, the ship engaged in shakedown training in the Southern California Operations Area, culminating in sea trials at the end of the month.
On 3 June 1982, Chandler sailed for Pascagoula. Making a northerly nighttime transit of the Panama Canal one week later, the ship stopped at Cozumel, Mexico (13–15 June) before arriving at the Ingalls Shipyard on the 19th to commence an extensive post-shakedown availability period. Work completed on the ship included the installation of the Vulcan-Phalanx Close In Weapon System (CIWS), the Harpoon Weapon System, and the SLQ-32(V2) Electronic Warfare System. Chandler completed the availability on 8 November and got underway once again for San Diego. After returning to her home port on 22 November, the destroyer spent the rest of the year in leave and upkeep status.
During the entire year of 1983, Chandler participated in training exercises and completed inspections, qualifications, and maintenance as part of the work-up cycle in preparation for the ship’s upcoming Western Pacific deployment to commence early the following year. On 15–16 March, Chandler took part in North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)’s Operation Falling Brave, serving as the command and control center for the air defense exercise. Following a dry dock at the Todd Shipyard in San Francisco (27 April–6 May), the destroyer then participated in readiness exercise (READIEX) 83-4 with Battle Group Echo. The ship traveled to Canada in early August, arriving at Esquimalt, B.C., for deperming on the 9th followed by a port call at Victoria, B.C. (10–13 August). After concluding one month of refresher training, Chandler was designated the flag ship for Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23 on 22 September.
In late September 1983, Chandler began working with the other units of Battle Group Bravo, which consisted of the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk (CV-63), guided missile cruiser Long Beach (CGN-9), destroyer O’Brien (DD-975), guided missile destroyer Berkeley (DDG-15), guided missile frigate Lewis B. Puller (FFG-23), frigate Stein (FF-1065), replenishment oiler Wabash (AOR-5), and ammunition ship Mauna Kea (AE-22). The battle group took part in READIEX 83-7 (26 September–10 October) and then called at San Francisco for Fleet Week (13–16 October), when more than 8,000 people toured Chandler. The battle group exercised together again during READIEX 84-1 from 15 November–11 December. In addition, Chandler also took part in the amphibious exercise Kernel Usher, defending the task force from air, surface, and sub-surface threats.
On 13 January 1984, Chandler’s crew bade goodbye to their loved ones, and sailing from San Diego in company with the other units of Battle Group Bravo, the destroyer embarked upon her first overseas deployment. The battle group joined the frigates Davidson (FF-1045) and Harold E. Holt (FF-1074) in the Hawaiian Islands for amphibious and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercises from 20–29 January, followed by three days in port at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. On 12–13 February, the Bravo and Echo battle groups completed a PASSEX exercise in the Marianas Islands. Chandler then took part in additional ASW exercises in the South China Sea before docking at Subic Bay in the Philippines on 20 February for maintenance and upkeep until 3 March. The ship then took part in Naval Gunfire Exercise (NGFEX) 84-6 in the Philippine operating area.
Capt. W. H. Kersting, Commander, Destroyer Squadron 23, held a memorial ceremony onboard his flagship Chandler on 11 March 1984 in honor of the destroyer Spence (DD-512), a DESRON 23 “Little Beaver” during World War II under the leadership of squadron commander Capt. Arleigh A. Burke. Racing to an assignment in late November 1943, Spence, hampered by an engineering casualty, limited the squadron’s maximum speed to 31 knots when the Fletcher-class destroyers of DESRON 23 could normally achieve a top speed of at least 34 knots. Thereafter communications from Commander South Pacific often arrived jocularly addressed to “Thirty-One Knot Burke,” a nickname that stuck to the future Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). On 17 December 1944 while operating in the South China Sea, Spence discharged the saltwater ballast from her tanks in anticipation of refueling, rendering her unstable in the increasingly rough seas brought about by an oncoming typhoon. The destroyer rolled wildly in the tempest and took on a large amount of seawater, which eventually incapacitated her electrical systems. With her pumps disabled and her rudder jammed late on the morning of the 18th, Spence rolled severely, capsized, and sank, claiming the lives of all but 24 of her crew. During the memorial ceremony, Lewis B. Puller and Berkeley maneuvered in close formation with Chandler, and the entire squadron performed “31-Knot” maneuvers to conclude the observance.
Following a four day port visit at Pusan [Busan], South Korea, Chandler and Battle Group Bravo took part in Team Spirit 84, a joint U.S.–Republic of Korea exercise in the Sea of Japan held from 19–24 March 1984. Operating in support of both Battle Group Bravo and the Amphibious Task Group from her station 150 miles south of Vladivostok, headquarters of the Soviet Union’s Pacific Fleet, Chandler acted as the primary anti-air warfare picket ship and monitored surface, air, and subsurface contacts. Upon the completion of the exercise, the destroyer rendezvoused with her battle group and steamed for Subic Bay. While in the Lingayen Gulf during the six day transit on 30 March, Chandler held a memorial ceremony in honor of the ship’s namesake, Rear Adm. Theodore Edson Chandler, who died there on 7 January 1945 after being severely burned in a kamikaze attack on his flagship Louisville that was leading a convoy to Luzon. Chandler’s crew paid their respects by laying a wreath, firing a 21 gun salute, and singing the Navy Hymn.
After an abbreviated upkeep period, Chandler departed Subic Bay on 8 April 1984 en route to the Middle East with Battle Group Bravo. War had been raging between Iran and Iraq since September 1980, and soon thereafter, Iraq began to attack shipping in the Persian Gulf bound for northern Iranian ports. In March 1984, as Battle Group Bravo made its way to the region, the so-called “Tanker War” escalated as Iraq began attacking ships more frequently and in a wider area that now included the waters off of southern Iran. The U.S. naval presence in the Northern Arabian Sea was meant to keep an eye on this situation and to combat the terrorist threat posed by Iran, whose relations with the United States had soured since the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and the subsequent hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. In addition, the U.S. sought to counter the presence of Soviet naval vessels in the Indian Ocean and to prevent Moscow from gaining influence in the region. Chandler’s role as of 18 April 1984 was to operate off the southern coast of Iran as anti-air warfare picket/PIRAZ (Positive Identification Returning Aircraft Zone) station. Although the Tanker War would soon escalate with Iran beginning to attack tankers headed to Iraqi allies Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Chandler’s time in the Northern Arabian Sea proved uneventful.
On 10 June 1984, the America (CV-66) Battle Group assumed responsibility for operations in the Northern Arabian Sea, and Battle Group Bravo made its way to Australia to kick off its homeward journey. Crossing the equator on 21 June, the battle group next spent five days in Fremantle before continuing on to Subic Bay, where Chandler remained for a week-long upkeep period. The destroyer then steamed independently for Pearl Harbor on 13 July, rejoining her battle group there on the 24th. After one day in Hawaii, Chandler stood out and made the final transit of the deployment with her battle group, arriving home at San Diego on 1 August 1984.
Chandler returned to sea duty the following month to take part in MARCOT 2-84, a joint ASW and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW) exercise with the Canadian Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard from 11 – 20 September 1984. The destroyer then called at Esquimalt, B.C., and San Francisco before returning to San Diego on 2 October. Chandler got underway again for CONTRAEX 84 (5–9 November) before entering a two-month Selected Restricted Availability (SRA) period at Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island, Calif., on 15 November.
Following the completion of SRA on 19 January 1985, Chandler joined DESRON 21 and once again entered an intense, year-long period of training and evaluations as part of pre-deployment workups. The ship undertook a particularly compressed schedule during the ten weeks following SRA. After successfully completing Interim Refresher Training on 26 April, Chandler began special tasking as the only testing platform for CNO Project 108, the operational and technical evaluation of the Harpoon Block 1C missile. Chandler periodically took part in this project between 27 April and 8 November, firing nine Harpoon missiles in long-range, realistic tactical scenarios. The assessment concluded with a four-missile Simultaneous Time On Top (STOT) salvo and a shot at a former U.S. Navy destroyer target.
Late in the spring, Chandler had a brief respite from her workup activities to attend the Rose Festival in Portland, Ore., from 10–14 June 1985. During the ship’s transit up the Columbia River to Portland on 6 June, an unusual four to six foot high wave known as a soliton emanating from Chandler’s forward motion struck the tug boat Mary B, which was pushing two barges loaded with wood chips down the river. The swell caused one of the barges to take on water, list, and lose part of her load overboard. The owner of the barges, Bernert Towboat Company, sued the destroyer, claiming that Chandler’s speed was too fast for the conditions on the river. The court case, decided on 29 June 1987 by the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, held that “Chandler is one hundred percent at fault for the collision.” Finding that the destroyer was traveling up the river at an unsafe speed, the court concluded that “Chandler’s officers breached their duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid creating a dangerous swell.” As such, the U.S. government was deemed liable for the plaintiff’s damages.
Beginning in July 1985, Chandler participated in a number of underway exercises as part of the ship’s pre-deployment training and assessment activities. Operating with the New Jersey (BB-62) Battle Group (Battle Group Romeo), the destroyer took part in COMPTUEX 85-5 near the Hawaiian Islands. The ship operated locally from August through late October, when she loaded ammunition at San Francisco and then participated in Falling Keynote 86-1 with the U.S. Air Force on the 29th. The ship completed the final phase of CNO Project 108 in early November and rounded out the year with several inspections and evaluations followed by the holiday leave and upkeep period. Chandler’s final pre-deployment exercise was COMPTUEX 86-2, which took place from 21–29 January 1986. Commander, Cruiser-Destroyer Group One awarded the “RAMBO” Award to Chandler as the New Jersey Battle Group’s outstanding performer of the exercise. The destroyer made a three-day port call (31 January–2 February) at San Francisco and loaded ammunition at Concord, Calif., before returning to San Diego on 5 February and entering the one-month Pre-Overseas Movement (POM) period.
On 17 March 1986, Chandler began the long westward voyage for her second deployment to the Middle East. Joining with Whipple (FF-1062) at the frigate’s home port of Pearl Harbor, the two ships steamed together on 26 March to Subic Bay, arriving on 10 April for a week-long upkeep period. The destroyer spent 21–25 April in Singapore and arrived at Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 1 May to rendezvous once again with Whipple. En route to the Persian Gulf, Chandler exercised the right to freedom of navigation near the Laccadive Islands off the coast of India. The ship held turnover with Joseph Strauss (DDG-16) in the Gulf of Oman on 6 May, and the next day, Chandler entered the Persian Gulf.
The Tanker War continued on in the Gulf, and although it was hoped that U.S. naval presence there would help to protect commercial shipping and particularly the free flow of oil from Gulf ports, in fact attacks on shipping by both Iran and Iraq would rise dramatically during 1986. In this state of affairs, Chandler anchored briefly at Sitrah, Manama, Bahrain, and then put to sea to conduct surveillance operations as the anti-air warfare and electronic warfare commander for the Middle East Force until 22 June. The ship visited Ad Dammam, Saudi Arabia (23–25 June) and then resumed Persian Gulf surveillance operations through 1 July. She paused at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for the Independence Day holiday (2–6 July) and then completed turnover with Nicholson (DD-982) in the southern Persian Gulf. On 7 July, Chandler and Whipple reunited to begin the long voyage home.
The ships refueled at Colombo, Sri Lanka, and then called at Phuket, Thailand (16–19 July 1986) and Singapore (20–22 July). Chandler and Whipple then took part in INDUSA IV, a bilateral exercise with the Indonesian Navy, on 23–24 July, before enjoying two days in port at Jakarta. Chandler then embarked Rear Adm. Hugh L. Webster, Commander Task Force 75, and Rear Adm. Seodibyo Rahardjo of the Indonesian Navy and departed for two days of underway training with the joint task unit. The ship anchored off of Jakarta on 27 July and the flag officers conducted a hot wash-up, or an immediate assessment, of the exercise prior to disembarking.
En route to Australian ports of call, the two ships temporarily parted company on 30 July 1986. Chandler proceeded to Townsville, Australia, for a four-day visit (4–8 August), followed by five days at Brisbane, where Whipple rejoined Chandler on 14 August. Still steaming in company with Whipple, Chandler visited Suva, Fiji (19–20 August), followed by Pago Pago, American Samoa. The ships arrived to welcome home fanfare for Whipple at her home port of Pearl Harbor on 30 August. Chandler spent the Labor Day holiday weekend in Hawaii and then continued on to San Diego independently, reaching home on 9 September 1986.
During the ship’s post-deployment leave and upkeep period, Commander DESRON 21 designated Chandler the winner of the Battle Efficiency “E” Award for the cycle ending 30 June 1986. The crew also earned Departmental Excellence Awards in eight out of nine possible areas. Chandler got underway again on 6 October, cruising up the California coast. After stopping at Concord to load ammunition on the 9th, the destroyer participated in Fleet Week 1986 at San Francisco from 11–15 October. After returning to San Diego on the 17th, Chandler completed a restricted availability through 9 November.
Operating locally for the next several months, Chandler sailed to San Francisco with COMDESRON 21 embarked in late March 1987. The ship welcomed more than 2,000 visitors to her decks over three days in port. Chandler then unloaded ammunition, returned to San Diego, and entered the Southwest Marine shipyard for a three-month selected restricted availability. In late June following the completion of the maintenance and repair period, Chandler returned to San Francisco in company with the battleship Missouri (BB-63) and the amphibious cargo ship Mobile (LKA-115) for Independence Day celebrations and to reload her weapons. In July, the ship participated in CNO Project 108-2 and embarked upon a period of intense training and evaluation culminating with the successful completion of refresher training at the end of August and the Combat Systems Readiness Test in September. Chandler then took part in a Middle East Force exercise off the Southern California coast in early October.
It was cool and foggy when Chandler got underway on 17 October 1987, bound for deployment in the Persian Gulf. The destroyer’s westward course across the Pacific took her to Pearl Harbor and onward to Subic Bay for several days of liberty and ship’s maintenance. From there, she proceeded south across the South China Sea, through the Straits of Malacca, and then west across the Indian Ocean to the Arabian Sea, pausing briefly at Diego Garcia on 20–21 November to change out the #3 gas turbine generator. Chandler completed turnover with William H. Standley (CG-32) and entered the Persian Gulf on 25 November.
The Iran-Iraq War had become increasingly violent since Chandler’s deployment to the Gulf the previous year. Underscoring the gravity of the situation into which Chandler now sailed, on 17 May 1987, two Iraqi air-launched Exocet missiles slammed into the guided missile frigate Stark (FFG-31), killing 37 sailors, injuring nearly two dozen others, and causing extensive damage to the ship. Meanwhile, Iranian and Iraqi attacks on Gulf shipping continued to rise to record levels, prompting the U.S. Navy to station more ships in the area. Earlier in the year, Kuwait had worked out a deal with the United States to reflag 11 of its tankers to U.S. registry so that American warships and combat aircraft could escort them through the perilous waters of the Persian Gulf. On the very first convoy of Operation Earnest Will on 24 July, the reflagged tanker Bridgeton struck an Iranian mine in the shipping lane in the northern Gulf, west of Farsi Island. Also among the mounting number of shipping casualties, a U.S. owned tanker flying the Liberian flag and a reflagged Kuwaiti tanker were both struck by Iranian Silkworm missiles on the 15th and 16th of October.
After her arrival in the Gulf in late November 1987, Chandler quickly found herself amidst the chaos of the Tanker War. On 12 December, Iranian gunboats attacked the nearly 110,000 ton oil tanker Pivot off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. Headed to Indonesia with her load of Saudi Arabian crude, the Cypriot-flagged supertanker exploded when hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. Operating nearby, Chandler responded to the tanker’s distress calls by dispatching her SH-2 helicopter to assess the situation. With Pivot heavily engulfed in flames and smoke, the rapidly-spreading fire threatened the lives of the tanker’s crew. Enlisting the assistance of a CBS News helicopter, Chandler’s Seasnake 21 commenced a rescue at sea. Together the two helos airlifted 40 souls, including the pregnant wife of a Pivot officer, to the safety of Chandler’s deck, where they were later picked up by an ocean-going tug and taken ashore. According to a contemporary press account, Chandler’s rescue effort “marked the most significant American action to assist a non-U.S. flag vessel in the Persian Gulf since the U.S. presence escalated here in July.” Chandler’s crew as well as the airmen of Seasnake 21 from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 33 Detachment 6 later received the Navy Humanitarian Service Medal for the rescue of Pivot’s crew.
The ship’s company enjoyed a peaceful Christmas holiday at Abu Dhabi, UAE, from 23–26 December 1987. Now serving as flagship for Commander Destroyer Squadron 23, Chandler continued patrolling the Persian Gulf well into the new year. While anchored off of Manama, Bahrain, on 4 January 1988, Senators Alphonse D’Amato of New York, Warren Rudman of New Hampshire, and Sam Stevens of Alaska visited the destroyer, and in early February, Commander, Joint Task Force Middle East stopped by. Chandler called briefly at Bahrain from 7–9 February and then traveled to the Gulf of Oman to escort an Earnest Will tanker convoy into the Persian Gulf.
On 11 February 1988, the convoy of four reflagged tankers got underway, led by the guided missile frigate Reuben James (FFG-57) with Chandler covering the rear position, en route to an oil terminal in Kuwait. The following night, in an incident reminiscent of the previous year’s attack on Stark, the destroyer spotted an Iraqi Badger aircraft flying toward the convoy on an attack profile. Chandler fired two warning flares, and the Iraqi jet turned away but fired two C-601 Silkworm anti-ship missiles. As Chandler stood ready to defend herself and the tankers, the missiles passed harmlessly astern. One of the Silkworms, however, unexpectedly changed course, flying past the destroyer several miles to starboard before exploding. The ship’s historian later reflected, “This near-miss marked the high point of Chandler’s Persian Gulf patrols.”
After the close call with the Iraqi missile, Chandler completed the escort mission and anchored off of Bahrain from 15–20 February 1988. Capt. William Kelley, Commander Destroyer Squadron 23, broke his flag on the 17th. The ship took part in two additional Earnest Will convoys during the month without further incident. On 3 March, Chandler set course for Fujairah, Oman, where she had her hull cleaned on the 5th and held turnover with Copeland (FFG-25) the next day. Putting the taxing Middle East Force duty behind her, Chandler made a series of liberty port calls on the transit back to the United States, touching at Phuket (13–16 March), Subic Bay (20–23 March), Hong Kong (25–28 March), and Pearl Harbor (8–10 April). Chandler concluded her deployment at San Diego on 16 April 1988.
Following several weeks of leave and upkeep, Chandler steamed from San Diego with Commander Destroyer Squadron 21 embarked en route to the Portland Rose Festival. Adm. David Jeremiah, Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, also boarded the ship near Kalama, Wash., for the transit up the Columbia River. After calling at Portland (9 – 14 June), the destroyer returned to San Diego on the 17th for upkeep and then completed a series of assessments and inspections during the month of July.
On 16 August 1988, Chandler arrived at Long Beach Naval Shipyard for dry docking to inspect and repair the ship’s propellers, returning to San Diego on 2 September to complete a short upkeep period. The destroyer carried out training evolutions and assessments and operated locally through the end of the year. On 17 September, members of the House Armed Services Committee Staff, including Col. Mark Smith, USAF (Ret.); Col. John McDonald, USA; Capt. Robert Natter, USN, former Chandler commanding officer; and Col. Don Cook, USAF, visited the ship. She then entered restricted availability with SIMA San Diego from 24 October–18 November. The destroyer ended the year with a weekend port visit at Ensenada, Mexico (2–5 December), a change of command ceremony on the 17th, and holiday leave and upkeep.
For the first half of 1989, Chandler engaged in limited localized operational activities as the crew prepared to transfer home ports for the ship’s major overhaul scheduled to begin later in the year. In early February, the destroyer participated in COMPTUEX 89-1 and ENCOUNTEREX. Chandler served as host to HMAS Canberra (FFG-02) during the Australian guided missile frigate’s visit to San Diego from 13–19 March. In April, the warship performed drug interdiction operations off the coast of southern California and Mexico as part of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Operation Fish-Fry from the 3rd to the 14th. At the end of the month, the ship sailed to the Pacific Missile Test Center to carry out a missile exercise.
On 27 June 1989, Chandler steamed for Seattle, Wash., in preparation for her scheduled overhaul and home port transfer. Crew members spent a week in Seattle meeting with representatives from Todd Pacific Shipyard, the Navy’s Supervisor of Shipbuilding (SUPSHIP) Seattle, and local community organizations. After unloading ammunition at Indian Island, Wash., Chandler returned to San Diego for a preavailability period. Departing San Diego on 11 August, the destroyer stopped at Bremerton and Manchester, Wash., to unload materials and fuel before arriving under tow at Todd Pacific Ship Yard in Seattle on 18 August.
For the next 14 months, Chandler remained at Todd Ship Yard for an extensive overhaul that included installation of the New Threat Upgrade (NTU) package, which elevated the destroyer’s anti-air warfare capabilities to the level of the Navy’s more modern Aegis-equipped ships. Incorporating advanced computer and radar technologies to better identify, track, and counter airborne targets, NTU used the latest SM-2 Standard Missile, allowing the ship to fire at more than three targets at a time. The SM-2 could also be launched from one electronically-silent ship and controlled by another NTU or Aegis-equipped ship, potentially providing the tactical advantage of surprise in a combat situation.
As part of her overhaul, Chandler lay in dry dock from 7 October 1989–21 January 1990, during which time the ship’s masts would be significantly modified to accommodate NTU equipment. Upholding a naval custom dating back to antiquity, Chandler held a stepping of the mast ceremony on 16 December. Tradition holds that sailors placed coins under the mast so that if a ship were lost at sea, the crew would be able to pay the mythological ferryman Charon to transport their souls to the afterlife. A more hopeful interpretation of the practice is that the mast coins bring good luck to a ship and her crew. Following a common modern variation much akin to a time capsule, Chandler’s crew placed nine silver dollars and change totaling $9.96, a Washington State silver coin, and several other unspecified meaningful objects into a metal box, which was then sealed and placed in the after, starboard support of the destroyer’s main mast.
After successfully completing dock and sea trials during the first week of October, Chandler’s overhaul concluded on 15 October 1990. The ship stopped at Naval Weapons Station Indian Island to reload ammunition and then set course for San Diego, which would once again serve as her home port, arriving on the 23rd. The destroyer then commenced an intense period of training, assessments, and qualifications over the next several months as part of the pre-deployment workup cycle, during which time the ship primarily operated locally.
During late February and early March 1991, in company with the guided missile cruisers Fox (CG-33) and Halsey (CG-23) as well as her sister ship Callaghan (DDG-994), Chandler tested the capabilities of NTU during Combat Systems Ship Qualifications Trials (CSSQT) at the Pacific Missile Range Facility off the coast of Hawaii. During the course of the trials, the four ships together fired more than two dozen missiles. Following the completion of refresher training in June and an intermediate maintenance availability in July, the destroyer put to sea en route to Seattle, where the ship participated in Sea Fair (31 July–4 August). The return transit included ammunition onload at Indian Island and a quick call at Astoria, Ore., for the city’s annual Regatta. With many family members and friends aboard the ship, Chandler’s crew indulged in a little fun and relaxation during the return transit to San Diego.
Turning once again to pre-deployment preparations, Chandler participated in Mid-East Force (MEF) training at San Diego from 16–20 September 1991, followed by the Mid-East Force Exercise (MEFEX) from 23–27 September. MEFEX included practice in various scenarios typical of post-Desert Storm Middle East deployments such as anchoring in foreign ports, small boat attacks, Arabian Gulf patrols, and maritime interdiction operations. Chandler loaded ammo at North Island and held a dependent’s cruise in early October and then continued with final preparations, leave, and upkeep in port through the rest of the month.
Chandler sailed from San Diego on 30 October 1991, beginning her six-month Mideast Force deployment with a transit to Pearl Harbor in company with the destroyer Ingersoll (DD-990). After two days in Hawaii, Chandler continued across the Pacific independently, calling next at Subic Bay for a four-day upkeep period. She visited Singapore for several days over Thanksgiving, when many members of the crew spent the holiday as guests of local families. Continuing westward, the ship transited the Indian Ocean, stopped briefly for fuel in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and continued to the northwest across the Arabian Sea.
Arriving at Muscat, Oman, on 8 December 1991, Chandler conducted turnover with Elliot (DD-967) and the following day passed through the Strait of Hormuz, entering the Persian Gulf. The ship made two patrols in the Gulf before returning to Muscat for Christmas and spending New Year’s in Bahrain. Returning to her regular duties after the holidays, Chandler operated with Combined Task Forces 151 and 154, serving as the Anti-Air Warfare Commander for allied forces in the Gulf region. In addition, the warship also monitored Gulf shipping, escorted U.S. Navy and Military Sealift Command vessels through the Strait of Hormuz, and conducted surveillance operations in the Northern Persian Gulf.
Operating in the northern Arabian Sea on 4 January 1992, a helicopter from Arthur W. Radford (DD-968) notified Chandler of a vessel adrift at sea in need of assistance. The dhow Ismail had experienced a major engine failure four days prior and reported that more than 50 ships had passed her by without offering to help. There was little in the way of food or water on board for Ismail’s 17 crewmen, much less for the Indian ship’s cargo of approximately 800 sheep and goats. A Chandler boarding party provided food and water to the distressed mariners and inspected the dhow, finding a cracked cylinder block on the engine. Unable to repair the disabled engine, the destroyer directed a commercial tug boat to the scene and stood by while Ismail was taken under tow. Before parting company, Ismail’s grateful captain offered several sheep and goats to Chandler’s sailors as a token of his appreciation. The destroyer’s command history noted: “This offer was respectfully declined.”
In late January 1992, Chandler took part in GULFEX VIII, coordinating a multinational force jointly exercising in skills including quick draw gunnery, Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS), and over the horizon targeting. From 3–4 February, Chandler participated in Eager Sentry 92-1, the first American/Kuwaiti naval exercise since the liberation of Kuwait. Prior to departing the Middle East in early March, the destroyer held an abbreviated turnover with Ingersoll and transited the Strait of Hormuz for the fourteenth time during the deployment. Chandler’s route back to the continental United States took the destroyer to Penang, Malaysia (22–24 March); Hong Kong (29 March–2 April); Guam (8–11 April); and Pearl Harbor (21–22 April). Welcomed home by an enthusiastic crowd of loved ones, the ship returned to San Diego on 29 April.
Following the post-deployment leave and upkeep period, Chandler got underway again to participate in COMPTUEX 92-11T (26 May–1 June). The following day, the destroyer sailed in to Portland, Ore., to take part in the annual Rose Festival from 3–8 June. Returning to San Diego after offloading her weapons at Indian Island, Chandler entered a 60-day Selected Restricted Availability at Continental Maritime on 22 June. During this time, Chandler also served as host to the Canadian replenishment oiler HMCS Provider, which had come to San Diego to participate in the Rim of the Pacific (RimPac) 92 major multinational exercise. After completing the ship’s SRA work one week ahead of schedule on 13 August, Chandler began another intense pre-deployment workup cycle, completing a variety of trainings, inspections, upkeep, and maintenance throughout the fall.
On 16 November 1992, Chandler sailed from San Diego for a five-week mini-deployment to the southeastern Pacific as part of Operation Wave Dancer. Working in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard and occasionally with the cooperation of U.S. Customs agents and U.S. Air Force aircraft, the ship worked to stem the tide of drug trafficking to the United States by surveilling all northbound maritime and air traffic and conducting law enforcement boardings of targets of interest. Chandler’s efforts helped to prevent two drug smuggling attempts by aircraft, and the destroyer also assisted with an at-sea medivac of a civilian from a USNS ship. She enjoyed Thanksgiving at Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, and steamed in to San Diego on 21 December in time to celebrate the year-end holiday season at home with family and friends.
Chandler continued her pre-deployment training and workups during the first half of 1993. On 28 January, the ship participated in a special operational test of the SM-2 Standard surface-to-air missile and New Threat Upgrade combat system developmental capabilities, successfully engaging a high-speed, low-altitude drone using the VLEG (Vertical Launch Engagement Guidance) over-the-shoulder technique. From 12–16 April, the ship completed the Final Evaluation Problem (FEP), bringing her training period to a close. In May, Chandler participated in MEFEX, conducting exercises to prepare for potential tasking activities in the Persian Gulf area. Over the next several weeks, the ship completed final preparations prior to deployment.
Chandler departed San Diego for a six-month Middle East deployment on 9 July 1993. During her transit across the Pacific, the warship continued to prepare for her duties in the North Arabian Sea, completing training in topics such as Gulf weapon systems, mine watch procedures, boarding operations, chemical attack scenarios, and small boat attack scenarios. In addition, the destroyer participated in MEFEX Phase III along with her transit escort ships Elliot (DD-967) and Rentz (FFG-46) to reinforce the training lessons. Following a short stop at Pearl Harbor, Chandler held gunfire exercises on the Pacific Missile Range Facility. After a brief fuel stop at Guam on the 25th, Chandler made port calls at Singapore (31 July–4 August) and Phuket, Thailand (6–10 August). She then conducted a joint exercise with the Thai Navy on the 11th and refueled again at Colombo, Sri Lanka, on the 14th.
Beginning on 20 August 1993, Chandler conducted special surveillance operations of Yin He, a Chinese cargo ship. U.S. intelligence sources alleged that amongst Yin He’s cargo were several containers of substances used in the production of chemical weapons that were bound for Iran, violating United Nations convention. Various U.S. Navy ships and aircraft had openly and closely monitored Yin He since her departure from Singapore in mid-July while American diplomats pressured the Chinese government, which denied the presence of the chemicals, to allow the ship to be searched. Chandler began monitoring Yin He in the Gulf of Oman and shadowed the ship into the Persian Gulf. During this time, the Chinese consented to an inspection of the container ship in a neutral port, and on 27 August, Chandler followed Yin He into port in Saudi Arabia, continuing observations through the 30th. The following day, Chandler made the short transit to Sitrah, Bahrain, to conduct formal turnover as Chinese and Saudi inspectors continued their work aboard the cargo ship. Ultimately, the inspectors discovered no evidence that Yin He had transported the dangerous chemicals.
The destroyer’s regular duties in the Gulf region were to serve as anti-air warfare picket ship for the Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) Battle Group and as anti-air warfare commander in the Northern Gulf supporting Operation Southern Watch and the enforcement of the no-fly zone over southern Iraq that had been put in place following the Gulf War. From 1–3 September 1993, Chandler participated in GULFEX XX, a joint readiness exercise conducted with the British destroyer HMS Liverpool (D92), the French frigate Floreal (F730), and the U.S. submarine Pasadena (SSN-752). The ship then entered a restricted availability period alongside destroyer tender Shenandoah (AD-44) at Jebel Ali, UAE, from 5–13 September. Chandler completed another patrol in the northern Arabian Gulf and anchored at Sitrah, Bahrain, on 3 October.
Chandler got underway for another Gulf patrol on 7 October 1993, but shortly thereafter, the destroyer received orders to proceed instead to Somalia on the eastern coast of Africa. Somalia had been torn apart by a raging civil war, and famine and a severe drought added to the misery of the country’s people. In 1992, the United Nations stepped in to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis, but looters frequently stole relief supplies, preventing them from reaching their intended recipients. In December 1992, Operation Restore Hope sent U.S.-led U.N. coalition troops to the nation to provide security for the relief effort, which stabilized the situation for several months, but after Restore Hope ended in May 1993, tensions rose as U.N. coalition troops increasingly became the objects of Somali violence and peacekeeping tactics became more forceful and antagonistic.
On 3 October 1993, Task Force Ranger, a multi-service group of elite U.S. special operations forces, was to conduct a raid in the country’s capital, Mogadishu, to capture two leading figures in the Somali National Alliance. However, what was supposed to be a quick, routine operation went horribly wrong, with two Black Hawk helicopters shot down, 18 American troops killed, more than 70 injured, and helo pilot CW3 Michael Durant, USA, captured. This disastrous incident prompted President Bill Clinton to decide to withdraw all U.S. troops from Somalia by March 1994; however, in an effort to protect existing troops as well as incoming humanitarian aid and also to help persuade the Somalis to release Durant unharmed -- which he eventually was, after 11 days of captivity -- more Army soldiers as well as two Navy Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs) plus Abraham Lincoln and Chandler temporarily deployed to the area.
Thus after an underway replenishment with USNS Walter S. Diehl (T-AO-193) on the morning of 8 October 1993, Chandler in company with Abraham Lincoln commenced a high-speed transit to Somalia. Arriving on the 11th, the destroyer assumed her patrol station approximately ten nautical miles off the coast of Mogadishu, serving as air traffic control for the Mogadishu airport to ensure that air traffic could take off and land safely. HSL-33 Detachment 3, embarked on Chandler throughout this deployment, was particularly active while the ship was on station in Somalia. The deployment cruise book notes that the air unit flew 120 combat hours in Seasnake 00 supporting Operation Continue Hope, completing tasking in “surface surveillance and control, anti-smuggling, armed coastal reconnaissance, logistic runs to Mogadishu Airport and Abraham Lincoln, and gathering targeting information for possible Naval Gunfire Support missions.”
Leaving the African coast to resume her regular duties on 27 October 1993, Chandler spent the next month monitoring shipping activity in the Northern Arabian Gulf and enforcing the trade embargo imposed upon Iraq by the United Nations after the Gulf War. After a restricted availability at Dubai from 5–13 November and celebrating Thanksgiving in Bahrain, on 29 November, Chandler completed turnover with her sister ship Callaghan and departed the Gulf region, beginning the lengthy journey back to the United States. Along the way, the ship visited Albany (Fremantle) and Sydney, Australia, from 13–15 and 19–23 December respectively, stopped for fuel in Fiji, and called once again at Pearl Harbor. The destroyer sailed into San Diego on 9 January 1994, concluding another successful overseas deployment.
Following a month-long post-deployment standdown period, Chandler put to sea once again on 8 February. After enjoying a four-day port visit at San Francisco, the destroyer took part in SQUADEX 1/94, a six-day bilateral anti-submarine warfare exercise with the Canadian Navy. The ship then completed gunnery exercises at San Clemente Island and offloaded weapons at Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station. On 15 March 1994, Chandler began a six-month selected restricted availability at Continental Maritime in San Diego, which included two months (15 March–19 May) in the floating dry dock Steadfast (AFDM-14). As the ship’s overhaul concluded in late September, Chandler’s crew began training for their next deployment. The destroyer loaded weapons on 6–7 October and visited San Francisco at the end of the month before embarking upon three weeks of underway training exercises.
Chandler’s demanding training schedule continued well into 1995. In January, the ship also conducted operational testing on the newly-developed “Common Program” upgrade for the ship’s Weapons Direction System, culminating with a successful live missile firing exercise against a low elevation target on 26 January. Chandler held an intermediate maintenance availability (3–22 February), and in March while also conducting at-sea training with live-firing exercises, the ship participated in the Leaders to Sea program, bringing aboard a new group of community leaders each day from the 20th–24th. The destroyer was also underway from 18–21 April helping Shiloh (CG-67) to evaluate the effectiveness of newly-developed band one antennas for the SLQC-32(V) for CNO Project 011-A.
The successful completion of the Final Evaluation Problem at the end of April 1995 brought the last stage of the training cycle to a conclusion, signifying Chandler’s readiness to participate in warfare exercises with other battle force units. The destroyer took part in JTFEX 95-2 and MEFEX 95-3 in May as well as COMPTUEX 95-12T in June. She visited Portland for the annual Rose Festival (7–12 June) and called at Monterey, Calif. (7–10 July). Pre-deployment activities concluded with local operations and pre-overseas movement leave and upkeep.
Chandler sailed from San Diego on 15 September 1995 bound for the eastern Pacific and the Joint Interagency Task Force East (JIATF EAST) area of responsibility. The destroyer acted in the role of air warfare commander, coordinating with U.S. Coast Guard and Air Force units to prevent illegal drug smuggling into the United States. The ship made several stops at Rodman, Panama, over the course of the deployment and initiated slimy polliwogs into King Neptune’s domain on 22 September and again on 20 October. From 26–28 October, Chandler called at Manta, Ecuador, where the ship’s crew had the opportunity to participate in community relations projects including painting the Luis Espinoza Martinez elementary school and distributing bags of food, clothing, and hygiene products supplied by Project Handclasp at a local barrio, the San Pedro Claver convent, and the Rodriguez Zambrano Hospital.
On 7 November 1995, Chandler transited the Panama Canal and steamed north to Mayport, Fla., for an intermediate maintenance availability (13–21 November). The destroyer operated off of Puerto Rico at the end of the month, taking part in a missile exercise at the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Test Facility, followed by a gunfire exercise at Vieques on 1 December and a brief stop at Naval Station Roosevelt Roads the next day. For the next week, Chandler conducted drug enforcement boardings in the Eastern Caribbean in support of Operation Rhonda.
The destroyer transited the Panama Canal once again on 9 December 1995, and for the remainder of the deployment, Chandler operated in the Eastern Pacific in support of JIATF EAST. The ship rang in the new year in Panama at Rodman Naval Station from 30 December 1995–3 January 1996. Headed home at the end of the month, Chandler stopped at Mazatlan, Mexico (25–28 January) before arriving at San Diego on 1 February.
Chandler entered a two-month depot level ship’s availability at Continental Maritime in San Diego on 15 March 1996. She then began training workups for her next deployment, during which she was slated to serve as the first-ever dedicated combatant escort for an ARG. On 23 September, Chandler’s crew bid farewell to San Diego and departed for the ship’s new home port of Everett, Wash., completing the transfer on the 27th. Departing for the Southern California Operations Area on 4 November, the destroyer completed underway training and the Final Evaluation Problem with the Boxer (LHD-4) ARG. She continued to exercise with the ARG early in 1997, participating in FLEETEX 97-11-M, SACCEX 97, a missile firing exercise, and JTFEX 97-1 between 10 January and 22 February.
With her deployment scheduled to begin on 24 March 1997, Chandler entered the POM period on 25 February. However, on 8 March, Chandler’s crew received word that the destroyer would not deploy with the Boxer ARG. Over the next several months, the ship stood ready to deploy on 96 hours’ notice and entered another POM period at the end of May for a counter-narcotics deployment, only to have that cancelled as well on 12 June. In July, Chandler served as Orange Force flagship during JTFEX 97-2, and she made a quick visit to Seattle for SeaFair in early August. “Finally,” the command history relates, “on 23 September, with ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’ playing from the 1MC, Chandler departed Everett for a three month counter-narcotics deployment.” Putting in to San Diego on 26 September to bring helicopter, legal (from the U.S. Coast Guard), and cryptological detachments on board, the destroyer stood out on 1 October to assume her duties off the coast of Mexico and Central America.
Between her underway periods during which the crew conducted a total of 13 boardings, the ship called at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (24–27 October) and at Mazatlan, Mexico (6–10 December). She arrived back at San Diego on 17 December 1997, and with some of the crewmen’s family members embarked for the traditional end-of-deployment “Tiger Cruise,” set a course for home two days later. Chandler sailed in to Everett on 22 December to the musical accompaniment of “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” Her crew then began a much-deserved holiday leave and upkeep period. Although 1997 did not unfold as planned for the destroyer, Chandler did receive the DESRON 9 Battle Efficiency Award for the year in recognition of her excellence in battle readiness and performance.
Chandler spent much of 1998 in training for a six-month counter-narcotics deployment scheduled for October. The ship sailed to San Diego for training and an intermediate maintenance availability (6–22 February) and then conducted communication, LINK, and weapons engagement exercises with ships from the Royal Canadian Navy during Task Group 1-98 (23 February–5 March). During the month of May, the destroyer was able to incorporate several pleasant port calls into her busy schedule. Chandler first visited Ketchikan, Alaska, for their Maritime Festival (7–11 May), with the ship hosting the event’s Blessing of the Fleet ceremony on the flight deck on the 10th. She then called at Seattle (15–17 May) for that city’s Maritime Festival and concluded her month of special events at Bellingham’s Ski-to-Sea Festival (22–26 May). Training and qualifications continued through the summer, and Chandler spent most of July operating out of San Diego, including a missile exercise with John Paul Jones (DDG-53) and gunfire exercises at San Clemente Island.
Departing Everett on 9 October 1998 en route to the Eastern Pacific operating area, Chandler began what would be her final deployment for the U.S. Navy. Working under the operational control of JIATF EAST, Chandler would once again help fight the War on Drugs by scrutinizing all surface and air contacts in the area, and under the Coast Guard flag, the embarked legal detachment would conduct law enforcement boardings of any vessels suspected of drug smuggling. From 21–26 November, the destroyer escorted the fishing vessel Carmelita to Colombia to be turned over to the Colombian Navy. On 20 December, Chandler held a Crossing the Line ceremony, converting the ship’s slimy pollywogs into trusty Shellbacks. After spending several days at Rodman for the Christmas holiday, on 28 December, Chandler passed through the Panama Canal to commence operations in the Caribbean while the crew enjoyed a “steel beach” cookout on the missile deck. The ship rounded out the year with a New Year’s Eve talent show on the flight deck.
During January 1999, Chandler operated from the coast of Panama east towards Colombia, calling at Cartagena from the 5th–the 9th. The destroyer worked at times in company with coastal patrol ship Shamal (PC-13), ocean surveillance ship USNS Indomitable (T-AGOS-7), Coast Guard cutter USCGS Northland (WMEC-904), and various units of the Panamanian Navy to conduct counter-narcotics patrols. After stopping at Colon, Panama, on the 15th, Chandler sailed independently, performing right of approach (ROA) questioning of vessels. The ship visited the island of Curaçao in the Netherland Antilles from 24–30 January, and then continued law enforcement contacts as she made her way north through the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean to Naval Station Mayport, Fla., where she paused from 5–13 February, and back south for a brief stop at Colon on 22 February. The following day, the ship hoisted the Coast Guard pennant and sent a law enforcement detachment to board the fishing vessel Ivan J. The destroyer returned to Cartagena from 4–7 March and touched briefly at Colon on the 8th before commencing a nighttime transit of the Panama Canal.
Stopping briefly at Rodman on 9 March 1999, Chandler then continued her law enforcement activities in the Eastern Pacific operating area. On the 14th, a law enforcement detachment boarded the fishing vessel Calypso and the next day another boarding party similarly searched fishing vessel Colombo. The destroyer called once more at Rodman (18–21 March) and then turned her prow towards home. Stopping first at Acapulco, Mexico (25–27 March), Chandler made one last visit to her former home port of San Diego (1–5 April) before concluding her final deployment at Everett on 8 April 1999. The destroyer offloaded all her ammunition at Naval Weapons Station Port Hadlock, Wash., from 12–14 May, and over the next several months, the crew readied the ship for decommissioning.
On 23 September 1999, Chandler was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register. She was subsequently transferred to the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility at Bremerton, Wash., where she was held in reserve. On 30 May 2003, the ship was sold to the Republic of China (Taiwan) through the Security Assistance Program (SAP). Renamed Wu-Teh and redesignated DDG-1805 for the Republic of China Navy, the former Chandler was towed to Detyens Shipyard in Charleston, S.C., for refit and activation in October 2004. Delivered on 24 August 2006, ROCS Wu-Teh departed for Taiwan two days later, arriving at Suao Naval Base on 29 September. On 1 November 2006, ex-Chandler was commissioned into the Republic of China Navy bearing the new name ROCS Ma-Kong, which as of September 2017 remains in active service.
||Date Assumed Command
|Cmdr. Henry W. Strickland
||13 March 1982
|Cmdr. Robert J. Natter
||16 June 1984
|Cmdr. Steven G. Smith
||21 October 1986
|Cmdr. Garry Holstrom
||17 December 1988
|Cmdr. William G. Wheeler
||22 April 1991
|Cmdr. Vincent J. Andrews
||26 February 1993
|Cmdr. Gerard L. Becker
||16 December 1994
|Cmdr. Mark W. Balmert
||1 August 1996
|Cmdr. Robert L. Beattie
||18 December 1997
|Cmdr. Kenneth V. Morrill
||16 June 1999
6 September 2017