Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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(DD‑948: displacement 4,200 tons; length 418 feet; beam 45 feet; draft 20 feet; speed 33 knots; complement 336; armament 3 5-inch guns, 4 3-inch, 1 depth charge track, 6 ASW torpedo tubes; class Forest Sherman)

Dudley Walker Morton was born in Owensboro, Ky., 17 July 1907, and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1930. Prior to the beginning of World War II, he served in the Saratoga, Chicago, Canopus, Fairfax, R‑5, and S‑37. Advanced to the rank of commander 15 October 1942, he assumed command of Wahoo (q.v.) 13 December. Between 26 January 1943 and 9 November, Wahoo was responsible for sinking 19 cargo and transport ships for a combined total of 55,000 tons. Commander Morton was reported missing in action, when his submarine was presumed to be lost in the Sea of Japan, Asiatic area. Declared dead 7 January 1946, Commander Morton had been awarded the Navy Cross, three gold stars in lieu of a second, third, and fourth, Navy Cross, and the Army Distinguished Service Cross in acknowledgement of his outstanding professional skills and excellent judgment.

Morton (DD‑948) was laid down 4 March 1957, by Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp., Pascagoula, Miss.; launched 23 May 1958; sponsored by Miss Edwina R. Morton; and commissioned 26 May 1959, Comdr. John M. DeLargy in command.

After a training cruise in the Caribbean, proceeded to the west coast, arriving San Diego, Calif., 20 October 1959. She deployed to the western Pacific in January 1960, participated in “Blue Star,” a joint Navy, Marine, Air Force amphibious operation in March, and made a special “People‑to‑People” visit to Bombay, India, before returning to the west coast 31 May. Departing San Diego 3 April, she reported for one months duty in the Formosa Patrol, during which time she participated in operation “Handclasp,” carrying food, medicine, and clothing to the less fortunate people of free China. She returned to San Diego 28 September 1961, and continued operations off the west coast, until sailing 13 November 1962 for another WesPac deployment. Following duty with the Formosa Patrol, and operations off Japan, she steamed home, arriving San Diego 15 June 1963.

Morton continued operations off the west coast until August 1964, when she steamed to the South China Sea and patrolled off South Vietnam. She spent the next several months screening aircraft carriers after the Gulf of Tonkin incident before returning to the west coast 6 February 1965.

Arriving off South Vietnam in April 1966 the destroyer shelled Vietcong supply points and encampments for the next 4 months. After a short break, Morton began "Sea Dragon" operations off North Vietnam in May 1967. During these raids, she targeted enemy coast defense sites and radar installations and interdicted barge traffic along the coast. Morton also provided gunfire support for the 12th Marine Regiment near the DMZ before returning to San Diego 3 November.

Morton departed San Diego 31 October 1968 again joined the gun-line and bombarded North Vietnamese and Vietcong supply points and bunkers up and down the coast. The destroyer returned home in the late spring and began preparations for an Anti-Submarine Warfare modernization at Long Beach Naval Shipyard. The warship decommissioned at Long Beach on 26 September 1969.

Recommissioned 15 August 1970, Morton spent the next year testing her new SQS-23 sonar, ASROC launcher and new electronic systems. As part of this refresher training, Morton conducted numerous ASW exercises against friendly submarines off Hawaii and California. Following a tender availability in Pearl Harbor in early 1971, Morton sailed on her next WestPac deployment on 9 September. She conducted two gun-line tours before sailing for home on 1 March 1972 via Australia. Later in the year, she participated in several ASW exercises before deploying again to WestPac on 13 October. More gunline tours followed, including a "linebacker" raid on North Vietnamese coastal targets in December 1972. Following the ceasefire of 28 January 1973, Morton patrolled off South Vietnam until sailing for home on 19 February 1973. With the end of hostilities, Morton's ensuing deployments to WestPac centered around providing screen and escort services for carrier task forces. During these years, Morton also continued to participate in ASW exercises, owing to the threat from the growing Soviet submarine fleet. After an overhaul in 1975 and mainly local operations in 1976, Morton deployed again to the Pacific on 17 February 1977. During this cruise, the warship participated in ASW exercises off Taiwan and sailed into the Indian Ocean to visit Kenya and Iran, before returning home on 28 September. She deployed again on 11 September 1978, operating off Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, before sailing for home on 7 March 1979. On 3 May 1980, Morton began another overhaul, completing the yard work and refresher training by the summer of 1981. Morton sailed on her last deployment in February 1982, during which she participated in five major ASW exercises with U.S. and allied naval forces. On two occassions, the warship aided Vietnamese refugees (rescuing 18 men on 9 June and 52 men on 10 June) for which Morton received the Humanitarian Service Medal. The warship returned home on 12 August. Morton decommissioned at Pearl Harbor on 22 November 1982. Her name was struck from the Navy List on 7 February 1990 and the ship was sold to Southwest Recycling, Inc., Terminal Island, Calif., for scrapping on 17 March 1992.

10 February 2004

Published: Tue Aug 11 14:58:39 EDT 2015