(DL-3: dp. 3,675; l. 493'; b. 50; dr. 13'10"; s. over 30 k; cpl. 403; a. 2 5", 4 3", 4 21" tt, 1 ASROC, 1 dct.; cl. Mitscher)
John Sidney McCain was born in Teoc, Miss. 9 August 1884 and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1906. His first assignments were ships of the Asiatic Squadron. During the American occupation of Vera Cruz in the Mexican revolution he served in San Diego, and remained on the ship during 1918 while she performed Atlantic escort duty.
In the years between the World Wars, McCain served in many ships, including Maryland, New Mexico, and Nitro. His first command was Sirius. In 1936, at the age of 51, he was designated a Naval Aviator, and from 1937 to 1939 he commanded carrier Ranger, contributing much to the development of carrier tactics for the war to come. For the first year of World War II he served as Commander of Air Forces for Western Sea Frontier and the South Pacific Force. In October 1942 McCain became Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics and in August 1943 rose to the rank of Vice Admiral as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air).
In 1944 he returned to the Pacific Theatre to command a fast carrier task force which for over a year operated almost continuously in support of the great amphibious operations. His exceedingly skillful tactics protecting Canberra (CA-70) and Houston (CA-81) in October 1944 earned him the Navy Cross, and the daring forays of his mobile force had much to do with the eventual victory. Vice Admiral McCain died 6 September 1945, just after arriving back in the United States, and was later appointed Admiral effective that date. For his outstanding performance as an air planner and carrier task force commander he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal with two Gold Stars, Secretary Forrestal commented: "He was a fighting man all the way through."
John S. McCain (DL-3), originally designated DD-928 but reclassified in 1951, was launched by Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, Maine, 12 July 1952; sponsored by Mrs. John S. McCain, Jr., daughter-in-law of Admiral McCain; and commissioned 12 October 1953 at Boston Naval Shipyard, Comdr. E. R. King in command.
John S. McCain spent the first year of her commissioned service undergoing sea trials and shakedown training in the Atlantic and Caribbean. One of the new Mitscher class of large and fast destroyer leaders, she carried the latest in armament and embodied new ideas in hull design and construction. The ship arrived Norfolk 19 May 1955 to begin service with the Operational Development Force in testing new equipment and tactics. She operated out of Norfolk until 5 November 1956, when she steamed from Hampton Roads bound for the Panama Canal and San Diego. After her arrival 4 December 1956 she spent 5 months on maneuvers in California waters.
The frigate sailed for her first Far East cruise 11 April 1957, and after a visit to Australia joined the Formosa Patrol, helping to prevent a military clash between Nationalist and Communist Chinese forces. She returned from this important duty to San Diego 29 September 1957.
John S. McCain steamed to a new homeport, Pearl Harbor, in early 1958, and took part in fleet maneuvers and antisubmarine training for the next 8 months. In early September the ship deployed to the Formosa-South China Sea area to help the 7th Fleet deter a possible Communist invasion of Quemoy and Matsu Islands. She remained in this critical region until returning to Pearl Harbor 1 March 1959, having again demonstrated the power of the 7th Fleet to defend United States and her allies.
The veteran ship made her third deployment to the Far East in the fall of 1959, departing 8 September and moving directly to the coast of troubled Laos. Here again the presence of American ships helped to stabilize the situation. During October she was off Calcutta, India, carrying antibiotics and donating food and money to flood victims. In January 1960 the versatile ship rescued the entire 41-man crew of Japanese freighter Shinwa Maru during a storm in the South China Sea. Returning to Pearl Harbor 25 February, she began a well-earned period of overhaul and shipboard training.
John S. McCain departed 7 March 1961 for another deployment with 7th Fleet, spending 6 months off Laos and Vietnam helping to thwart Communist designs on the strategic area. She resumed operations in Hawaiian waters after her return to Pearl Harbor 25 September With the resumption of atmospheric nuclear testing by Russia some months later, the United States went ahead with plans for her own series of Pacific tests, and John S. McCain steamed to Johnston Island 27 April 1962 to take part in the experiments. For the next 6 months she operated between Hawaii and Johnston Island, departing for her next cruise to the Far East 28 November 1962. There she returned to patrol duties in the South China Sea and Gulf of Tonkin, buttressing the South Vietnamese government in its fight against the Viet Cong. She also took part in Formosa Patrol in the Straits before returning to Pearl Harbor 16 June 1963. Antisubmarine warfare exercises followed, and the ship got underway again 23 March 1964 for operations with a hunter-killer group in Japanese and Philippine waters. During this cruise she took part in exercises with ships from other SEATO nations as well as units of the 7th Fleet. John S. McCain returned to Pearl Harbor 11 August. She operated in Hawaiian waters until the spring of 1965. She was reclassified DDG-36, 15 April and returned to the West Coast. In August the frigate returned to Pearl Harbor, and then sailed on a 6-month deployment in the western Pacific. In the fall, John S. McCain steamed off South Vietnam. On 24 November she shelled Viet Cong positions. Two days later she sailed to Hong Kong and ended the year in Japan preparing for further action in the cause of peace and freedom.
After further operations in the Orient early in 1966, John S. McCain returned to the East Coast and in June decommissioned for conversion into a guided missile destroyer, DDG-36, at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Philadelphia, where she remained into 1967.