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shipmates aboard the Davidson

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For those of you who worked on or around ASROC, my reflections should bring back memories of what it  was like.

First, all of you either went to school, rose through the  ranks of being a gunners mate, were asked or you  asked to become part of ASROC.

A friend of mine on the U.S.S. DAVIDSON  (DE- 1045) left first division for ASROC. He  recommended me as a candidate. Other than a funny  rectangular box that had a mind of its' own when you watched it, I knew nothing of it.

When approached about joining the team, I had a few questions. Other than being told I would work with air lines, oil lines and a paint brush, I went into it blind. Everything else was on a need to know, secret or top secret basis. I said yes, mainly because of my interest in space and rockets as a child watching the U.S. Mercury flights when I was in school.

It wasn't until after I was fingerprinted and my background investigation was being done that I found out we really didn't push the button that sent the
ASROC on it's way.

From day one I was asked if we had any "BIG ONES" on board. I can only tell you we were "nuclear capable" was my answer. Remember when they were called "flying purple people eaters"?

Probably one of the hardest things to get use to was the badges and two-man rule. Practically nothing could be done when you didn't follow the two-man rule. No access to the launcher, control room or magazine without a second man. You couldn't go inside the red circle either. I was told by the ASROC sentry that I would only be warned so many times and then____?____ would happen. I never found out what ____?_____ was. I don't think anyone wanted to find out or carry it beyond that point.

Magazine and control room alarms were another thing. How many times in the course of doing your job did someone open the control room or magazine door before the alarm was de-energized? Remember shutting the door really fast hoping the sound would go away? Also the P.O. of the watch showed up with his hand on his 45. Remember how stupid you felt?

Remember the ICT2PA air monitor? We stuck it's black hose inside the magazine to check for odorless, colorless and tasteless gas. We had no radiation badges. If that would help, I don't know. Too young and dumb to ask.

My favorite memory was painting the inside of the launcher cells that had just fired. It always seemed to be the one you just painted. My back still has the impressions on it from laying on those pipes and snubbers. Remember the joy of climbing into the cell, crawling on your back half way into it only to have to crawl back out when your number two man had to leave the red circle? The launcher never seemed to lack for painting. You just got finished and would start all over again. Remember how when the launcher was put together that the steel and the aluminum would eat away at each other?

We also had the MEST tests. I wanted to thank Allan Walters, my 2nd Class P.O. who supplied me with the wordage for the test over the sound powered phone. "One in common. Two in common, One and two". I sure impressed my Chief that day who was standing beside me and heard me go through the test flawlessly.

Many hours were spent getting ready for the NWAI's and NTPI's. It was during this time that we all worked together and became a team.

At last, the rare day came when we were able to launch an ASROC. During one practice shot, due to some mix-up in communications, one of our torpedoes hit the conning tower of a sub. As for the nuclear tipped ASROC, only one to my knowledge was ever fired. On May 11, 1962, 370 miles from San Diego one was launched from the U.S.S. AGERHOLM (DD-826). The blast was approximately the size of the blast that destroyed Hiroshima.

I wonder how many times the ASROC crew wondered about the power that was at their fingertips?

Check it out at:

"Liberty Call"
from the 1967 Cruise book

Robert Schippers
1519 First Street North
Newton, IA 50208-1711
(641) 792-3930


Heavy Artillery Arriving


A wardroom report of DAVIDSON operations on the gunline in the
early 1970's

By: Lt. Frank McCullough

I was onboard DAVIDSON from April, 1971 serving under Captain Smith until July, 1973 serving under Captain's Wheeler and Shapiro first as CIC officer on the 1971 Westpac cruise and as Operations officer on the 1972 Westpac deployment.

The latter cruise was where there was "action" as DAVIDSON served as the gunline Flagship for almost the entire April - December 1972 deployment. On one occasion, DAVIDSON fired 1,197 rounds in a 24 hour period - a record according to the embarked Gunline Commander. The crew earned its Combat Action Ribbons the first day of arrival in North/South Vietnam at the DMZ border when we engaged a 130mm North Vietnamese shore battery complex that the naval aviators could not and did not knock out of action. As the OOD for the exchange, I can speak first hand to maneuvering between and around the incoming rounds!

DAVIDSON earned its Meritorious Unit Commendation (MUC) during this period when the ship became the command vessel for OPERATION LINEBACKER (i.e the coastal mining operation and the last unrestricted bombing of North Vietnam as ordered by President Richard Nixon) the night Rear Admiral Robinson was killed in a helo accident aboard the USS PROVIDENCE; and for the ensuing three days before the PROVIDENCE arrived at our gunline station and the Gunline Commander (at that time COMDESRON 15) transferred his flag to the much more communications capable cruiser.

I left the ship and the Navy when DAVIDSON was in drydock for rehab in July, 1973.

Years of Service:

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