USS Whitehurst Logo by: Pat Stephens, Webmaster, DESA
 

USS Whitehurst DE-634 in the Naval Reserve Force

By Richard Rising, Capt. USN Ret.    (CO of Whitehurst in mid 1960s) 

 


Capt Richard Rising

 

n 1958 the Navy decided to transfer ships to the Surface Reserve.  Prior to that time, as in the Korean conflict, ships were taken out of mothballs and staffed with a combination of active duty and Reserve personnel.  There were 9 DEs transferred in this program and four DDs, on the West coast and a similar program for the East Coast.  In the 13TH Naval District we had the DEs Whitehurst and Charles E Brannon in Seattle, The Mcginty and Edmunds is Portland, Oregon and the DD  USS Watts in Tacoma.

The DEs were decommissioned and Commanded by a Reserve officer, and placed in Group II status.  Reserve compliment was 140 enlisted and 8 officers. Active duty was 45 enlisted, an officer in charge and an engineering officer.  The DDs remained in commission and were commanded by an Active duty officer.  Compliment was a 50/50 mix.

  The Whitehurst was the flagship of the 13th Naval District ships under the command of a Reserve Captain and staff as the division commander.  The staff planned the weekend training exercises and the group sail every summer, conducted necessary inspections etc.  Normal weekend for the Puget Sound vessels was a group training exercise for the two DEs and the Tacoma DD , sometimes exercises with the Canadian Navy, sometimes with ASW exercises with the Naval Reserve ASW air group from NAS Seattle .

  This routine started in 1958 when a group of Officers were recruited to form a Reserve Crew for the Whitehurst.  At that time the Naval  Surface Reserve in Seattle was organized into training divisions that met one night a week for classroom training.  I was in one of those divisions when  recruited for the Whitehurst crew as Operations Officer. During my last active duty I was the Operations officer on a DD the USS Brown and had been released from active duty in 1955.  Other officers were recruited with similar backgrounds, and we proceeded to scour the training units for qualified enlisted members.  Among our first recruits was GMC Tim Lake , a Pearl Harbor veteran. 

  In 1961 after returning from a summer cruise to San Diego (where we were doing our annual work with the Fleet Training Group), we received word that President Kennedy had decided to recall all ASW units both Surface and Air as a show of strength for the building of the Berlin Wall.  On October 2 we reported for Active duty, a commissioning ceremony was held, and Whitehurst rejoined the Pacific Fleet.  Our commanding officer at that time was CDR Donald L. Maclane.  The Des were home ported in Pearl Harbor and in early 1962 41 families moved to Pearl .

We were soon sent on a WESTPAC deployment to Subic Bay in the Philippines .  From there we went on deployment to Viet Nam to train and operate with their Navy.  We would have a Vietnamese liaison officer embarked so we could communicate with their ships, mainly a PC and one other small type, and vector them to intercept suspected North Vietnamese fishing vessels and others trying to enter the South.

  In mid year 1962 we got word that were going home and August 1 1962 were discharged in Seattle .  The Whitehurst was again decommissioned and back in NRF status, with the same command structure, and the Destroyer Division 13ND staff embarked. October 1964  I relieved CDR Maclane as Commanding Officer. In October 1966 I was relieved by CDR Charles Bryant USNR,  and became the Chief of Staff for the Division.

  About 1968 the Whitehurst and Brannon were replaced by newer DEs the Bridget and Evans.  The status was changed to Group I and the crew  was commanded by an active duty officer.  The reserve crew commanding officer was called prospective Commanding officer and when activated would assume command of the ship.  Destroyer Divisions were also done away in the fleet ant DESRON 27 was formed.  This staff was based in Seattle and had command of the 13th ND ships.  The DEs were replaced in the early 70s by FRAM II destroyers. 

  In 1972 as a Captain I was assigned the billet as DESPACDET 422 Seattle .  In that capacity I was responsible for all of the former Division Commander duties, and I had a staff to support me.  We also had formed our own Underway Training Unit (under my command).  For one weekend per month and two weeks every summer my staff supplemented with RUTU conducted the training and inspections required.

  After 1968 the only ships in the Surface Reserve in Group II status were the coastal minesweepers.  This program lasted until the first Gulf War when they were all sent to the Persian Gulf .

  Members of the Whitehurst and Brannon Reserve crews hold a reunion every year in December at a Seattle restaurant.  For information contact Capt KK Krummeck USNR-RET at kkrumek@cs.com.

 CAPT  Richard P. Rising USNR-RET

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