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Henry B. Wilson (DDG-7)

(DDG-7 : dp. 3,370; l. 437'; b. 47'; dr. 22'; s. over 30 kc.; cpl. 340; a. Tartar mis., ASROC, 2 5"; cl. Charles F. Adams)

Henry Braid Wilson was born 23 February 1861 at Camden, N.J., and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1881. During the early days of his career he served in Tennessee and Saratoga and on coast survey expeditions to the Bering Sea. During the Spanish-American war Wilson was attached to gunboat Bancroft and was commended for bravery. In the years that followed he served in many ships, and was Pennsylvania's first commanding officer in 1916. He commanded the Atlantic Fleet's patrol forces during the First World War, and was responsible for the safe convoying of troops and supplies to Europe. For his outstanding service Wilson was awarded both the Navy and War Department Distinguished Service Medals. Following the war, he was Commander-in-Chief U.S. Atlantic Fleet and later the Battle Fleet commander. In 1921 Admiral Wilson took over as Superintendent of the Naval Academy, and in his 4 years at Annapolis did much to raise its academic standing and improve the quality of education. Admiral Wilson retired in 1925 after nearly 50 years of service as seaman, leader, and educator. He died 30 January 1954 at New York City.

Henry B. Wilson (DDG-7) was launched 22 April 1959 by Defoe Shipbuilding Co., Bay City, Mich.; sponsored by Mrs. Patrick J. Hurley, daughter of Admiral Wilson; and commissioned 17 December 1960, Comdr. L. D. Caney in command.

One of a new class of destroyers built from the keel up to fire guided missiles, Henry B. Wilson was the first ship of her size to be side-launched and when launched was the largest warship ever constructed on the Great Lakes. Because of these unique circumstances, she was christened not with the traditional champagne but with a bottle filled with water from the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, and the Atlantic Ocean. Following shakedown in the Caribbean she arrived in early May 1961 at her new home port, San Diego. During the months that followed Henry B. Wilson conducted tests and drills of her missile systems, fleet exercises, and type training.

The guided missile destroyer sailed 6 January 1962 for duty in the Western Pacific, the first ship in that region to be armed with Tartar missiles. Stopping at Pearl Harbor and Yokosuka, she carried out antisubmarine exercises until returning to the United States 19 July 1962.

Training off the California coast, punctuated with several missile firings, occupied Henry B. Wilson until 17 October 1963, when she sailed with carrier Kitty Hawk for duty with 7th Fleet in the Western Pacific. During the next 5 months she operated as part of America's mobil peacekeeping fleet between Japan and the Philippines. After returning to San Diego 16 April 1964, she resumed ASW and fire support operations.

Henry B. Wilson sailed on her third deployment to the Far East 4 June 1965. Arriving Subic Bay, Luzon, 21 June, she became flagship for Destroyer Squadron 21, then began rescue and air defense picket duty in the Gulf of Tonkin 31 July, along with shore bombardment support. As escort for Midway (CV-41), she departed Subic Bay 7 November and arrived San Diego the 24th.

After a year's operation off the West Coast, Henry B. Wilson departed San Diego for the Far East 5 November 1966. She resume picket duty off Vietnam 23 December. During the first 3 months of 1967 she cruised the South China Sea and Gulf of Tonkin, performing search and rescue missions and pounding enemy coastal positions in support of ground operations. She returned to San Diego early in May.

Summary of deployments listed below:

Date of Departure Date of Return Area of Operation
Feb 1961 May 1961 Caribbean/Canal Zone/Eastern Pacific*
6 Jan 1962 19 Jul 1962 WestPac
17 Oct 1963 16 Apr 1964 WestPac
4 Jun 1965 24 Nov 1965 WestPac/Vietnam
5 Nov 1966 2 Aug 1967 WestPac/Vietnam
9 Feb 1968 24 Aug 1968 WestPac/Vietnam
13 Oct 1969 15 Apr 1970 WestPac/Vietnam
11 June 1971 18 Dec 1971 WestPac/Vietnam
1972 1 Feb 1973 WestPac/Vietnam
30 Jan 1975 2 Sep 1975 WestPac/Vietnam
10 Aug 1976 21 Mar 1977 WestPac
8 Aug 1979 14 Feb 1980 WestPac
27 Feb 1981 21 Sep 1981 WestPac
16 Mar 1984 2 Oct 1984 WestPac
15 Sep 1986 14 Mar 1987 WestPac/Indian Ocean
2 Dec 1988 1 Jun 1989 WestPac/Indian Ocean

Henry B. Wilson (DDG-7) decommissioned on 2 October 1989 and was sunk as a target in the Pacific Ocean on 15 August 2003.

* This was the transit of the ship from the Boston Naval Shipyard via Newport, R.I., Norfolk, Va., Guantanamo Bay, Panama Canal, Callao, Peru and Acapulco, Mexico to its new home port of San Diego, CA.

** No history report on file for DDG-7 covering calendar year 1972.

NOTE: Operations by the ship in local waters along the West Coast and also in Hawaii were not considered major overseas deployments. Deployments begin on the date of departure from home port and end on date of return to home port.

25 August 2004

Published: Wed Jul 15 10:32:07 EDT 2015