The second Shelton was named to honor the late Ens. James A. Shelton, A-V(N), USNR, (1916-1942) who received a posthumous Navy Cross for his heroism in the Battle of Midway, and also perpetuates the name of the ship named in his honor, the escort vessel Shelton (DE-407), torpedoed and irreparably damaged by the Japanese submarine RO-41 on 3 October 1944, that sank during her attempted salvage.
(DD-790: displacement 2,425; length 391'; beam 41'; draft 19'; speed 35 knots; complement 296; armament 6 5-inch, 16 40 millimeter, 10 20 millimeter, 2 depth charge tracks, 6 depth charge projectors, 10 21-inch torpedo tubes; class Gearing)The second Shelton (DD-790) was laid down on 31 May 1945 at Seattle, Wash., by Todd Pacific Shipyards Inc.; launched on 8 March 1946; sponsored by Mrs. Loretta Shelton Miller; and commissioned on 21 June 1946, Cmdr. Charles L. Werts in command.
Shelton began her shakedown cruise on 20 July 1946 and returned to Seattle for post-shakedown availability. She moved down the coast to San Diego, Calif., on 12 October and, on 9 November, stood out of that port en route to the western Pacific (WestPac) for her first tour of duty with the Seventh Fleet. While serving therein, she visited ports in China, Korea, and Japan. The destroyer returned to the west coast on 22 June 1947 and conducted local operations in the San Diego area. The destroyer underwent overhaul at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash., from January to April 1948. After moving to San Diego on 19 April, Shelton operated along the California coast until sailing for WestPac and the Seventh Fleet on 1 September. The seven-month deployment ended on 24 April 1949 when she sailed back into San Diego.
In June, Shelton participated in a Midshipman training cruise which took her to Balboa, C.Z., and terminated in San Francisco, Calif., at the end of July. She was in dry dock there during October and November and, following sea trials, returned to San Diego in January 1950.
Shelton sailed west again on 1 May 1950. When hostilities began in Korea, on 25 June, the destroyer was a unit of Task Force (TF) 77, the Striking Force of the Seventh Fleet. She served on both coasts of Korea until returning to San Diego on 8 February 1951. After six months in the ‘states, she was on her way back to the war zone in late August. As a fleet destroyer, she served with Task Forces (TF) 72, 77, 95, 96, and 97.
Shelton also participated in special bombardment missions. With heavy cruiser Helena (CA-75) off Hungnam on 25 October 1951, she came under fire from enemy shore batteries and sustained one near miss. She was assigned to the bombline with St. Paul (CA-73) in December; and, for a week, they shelled rail lines, bridges, and other targets of opportunity. In January 1952, they bombarded the Songjin area.
Assigned to Task Group (TG) 95 the following month, Shelton aided in the defense of Yang Do when North Korean forces attempted to land on that island. The action lasted from 0130 until 1100 and resulted in the landings being repulsed with heavy losses. Still in the area on the 22nd, the destroyer was taken under fire by five communist batteries on the mainland. She sustained four direct hits and approximately 50 near misses. Her losses were 12 casualties and a five-foot hole in the bow, but she silenced the batteries and remained on station for two more days before retiring to Sasebo, Japan, for repairs. She then returned to the Korean coast.
Shelton returned to San Diego on 10 April 1952 where she began an upkeep period and then conducted local operations until 13 November. On that date, the destroyer sailed for her third tour of duty in the Far East during the Korean War. She arrived at Sasebo on 1 December for a three-day tender availability before joining TF 77. She operated with that task force for 40 days before entering Yokosuka, Japan, for upkeep. Ready for sea on 26 January 1953, the destroyer joined the Formosa Patrol. Her next assignment was in Wonsan Harbor for 40 days, after which she again joined TF 95. Her deployment ended on the west coast on 29 June 1953.
From 1953 to 1959, Shelton divided her time between deployments with the Seventh Fleet and west coast operations. On her annual deployment in 1957, she rescued 120 passengers from a New Zealand merchant ship. She was on the west coast in 1960 and, from July to June 1961, she underwent FRAM conversion at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard. Shelton’s home port was changed to Yokosuka, and she sailed from Long Beach, Calif., on 6 January 1962 for that port from which she operated until early March 1964.
On 5 March 1964, Shelton was ordered to Subic Bay where she was joined by destroyers Blue (DD-744) and Frank Knox (DD-742), which in turn joined carrier Bon Homme Richard (CV-31), and the oiler Cimarron (AO-22). All loaded to capacity with stores and consumable items, the ships sailed on 30 March for the Indian Ocean and a six-week good will cruise, carrying out Operation Handclasp which was designed to aid foreign countries in the supply of consumable goods. The squadron visited Madagascar, Kenya, and Saudi Arabia before presenting a fire-power demonstration for the Shah of Iran on 4 May.
The squadron was in Yokosuka two weeks later; but the deteriorating situation in Vietnam brought Shelton sailing orders to the South China Sea; and, on 2 June 1964, she began a 28-day stay in the Tonkin Gulf. The destroyer sailed for the west coast on 18 July, via Pearl Harbor, and arrived at her new home port, San Diego, on 31 August.
Shelton operated from there until 24 August 1965 when she sailed to join the Seventh Fleet off Vietnam. The destroyer provided antisubmarine protection and plane guard operations for Bon Homme Richard as well as firing numerous gunfire support missions. Detached from the Seventh Fleet on 1 February 1966, she returned to her home port the last of the month, and she spent the remainder of the year in local operations, punctuated by a Midshipman cruise to Hawaii in June.
Shelton stood out of San Diego on 4 January 1967 for another tour off Vietnam. During the six and one-half months of her deployment, she performed such duties as: plane guard and ASW protection at Yankee Station; screening the nuclear guided missile cruiser Long Beach (CG(N)-9) on PIRAZ [Positive Identification Radar Advisory Zone] Station; gunfire support off both South and North Vietnam. She returned to San Diego on 18 June and resumed normal stateside operations. Shelton was deployed to Guam from 2 January 1968 to 9 April where she conducted operations in support of Polaris missile tests.
Shelton was to return to Vietnam from 30 September 1968 to 2 May 1969; from 2 March to 3 September 1970; and from 6 April to 7 October 1971. She had six line periods during 1968-1969; four in 1970; and five in 1971.
After Shelton returned to San Diego in October 1971, she spent almost nine months operating out of her home port until she was notified that her services were again needed in Vietnam. The destroyer departed on 13 June 1972, and again deployed to WestPac, returning to the gunline on 10 July for a 25-day period. On 4 August, she was taken under fire by a barrage of approximately 40 rounds from a wooded section of beach. Her gun crews quickly responded and received credit with the destruction of one of the enemy gun emplacements. Shelton and the guided missile light cruiser Providence (CLG-6) came under fire on 19 October when they were on an intercept mission five miles north of the DMZ. In the following 30 minutes, both ships fired over 120 rounds in an attempt to demolish the enemy sites. Immediately after observing four secondary explosions, Providence reported cross-fire from the island of Hon Co. Shelton bombarded the island and silenced the battery.
On 5 December 1972, Shelton joined TU 77.1.1 for a raid on targets in the vicinity of Hon Me Island. She received a barrage from shore guns before counter battery fire from Shelton and the guided missile destroyer Henry B. Wilson (DDG-7) silenced the emplacements. Another raid near Hon Me, on 19 December, brought the heaviest hostile fire of the deployment: approximately 700 rounds, with many splashes only 50 yards from the ship. Shelton departed the Tonkin Gulf three days later and returned to San Diego on 13 January 1973 to prepare for decommissioning.
Stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 31 March 1973, Shelton was sold to the Republic of China on 1 April 1973, which renamed her Lao Yang (DD-20). She served under that name until decommissioned in 1999, to be ultimately employed as an artificial reef.
Shelton received eight battle stars for her service in the Korean War and eight for her service in the Vietnam War.
Updated, Robert J. Cressman
11 May 2020