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The USS ROBERT L. WILSON (DD-847), a Gearing class destroyer, was commissioned on 28 MAR 1946. Built by the Bath Iron Works shipyard of Bath, Maine, USS ROBERT L. WILSON spent the vast majority of her service career as an Atlantic Fleet "DD". She made numerous deployments to the Caribbean, the North Atlantic and Mediterranean. In 1962 she was stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis and in 1968 she searched for nuclear submarine USS Scorpion (SSN-589). In June 1968 USS ROBERT L. WILSON sailed for the Western Pacific and the waters of Vietnam. After a post-deployment stay in southern California, USS ROBERT L. WILSON returned to Norfolk, Va in June 1969. ROBERT L. WILSON finished her career with the Atlantic Fleet. USS ROBERT L. WILSON served her country for 28 years, 6 months and 2 days, until decommissioned on 30 SEP 1974. The hulk of the ROBERT L. WILSON was disposed of during a "Sinkex" in March 1980.

The USS ROBERT L. WILSON (DD-847) deployment history and significant events of her service career follow:

DD-847 Deployments - Major Events

Add a DD-847 Shellback Initiation Add a DD-847 Deployment - Major Event
Month Year to Month Year Deployment / Event
JUL 1945 - Keel Date: 2 JUL 1945
at Bath Iron Works Bath ME
JAN 1946 - Launch Date: 5 JAN 1946
MAR 1946 - Commissioned: 28 MAR 1946
JAN 1952 - MAR 1952 Mediterranean
JUN 1957 - Shellback Initiation - 26 JUN 1957 - Atlantic Ocean
MAR 1958 - SEP 1958 Mediterranean
JAN 1961 - FEB 1961 USS Wilson and USS Damato chased hijackers of SS Santa Maria
JAN 1961 - Shellback Initiation - 28 JAN 1961 - Atlantic Ocean
JAN 1961 - JUN 1961 Caribbean
JAN 1962 - JUN 1962 Project Mercury Recovery Sea Rescue Ship
FEB 1962 - JUN 1962 President Kennedys good will tour of North Atlantic countries
MAR 1962 - JUN 1962 North Atlantic
OCT 1962 - OCT 1962 Cuban Missle Blockade
MAR 1964 - APR 1964 Dominican Republic Pickett duty to support Democratic dictator.
JUL 1966 - NOV 1966 Mediterranean-West Africa
NOV 1967 - JAN 1968 Guantanamo Bay
MAR 1968 - APR 1969 West Pac-Viet Nam
MAY 1968 - JUN 1968 Azores -Search for Scorpion SSN-589 nuclear submarime
SEP 1968 - JUN 1969 West Pac-Viet Nam
JAN 1969 - JAN 1972 Caribbean
JAN 1969 - JAN 1972 Caribbean
JUL 1969 - FEB 1970 Caribbean
NOV 1969 - FEB 1970 Operation Springboard -- Carribean
MAR 1970 - SEP 1970 Mediterranean-Lebanon
JUL 1970 - AUG 1970 OIC Van Spec Ops Survalence Black Sea-Egypt-Crete
AUG 1971 - NOV 1971 Guantanamo Bay
SEP 1971 - MAR 1972 Mediterranean
SEP 1974 - Decommissioned: 30 SEP 1974

DD-847 General Specifications

Class: Gearing-class destroyer

Named for: Robert L. Wilson

Complement: 336 Officers and Enlisted

Displacement: 3460 tons

Length: 390 feet 6 inches

Beam: 40 feet 10 inches

Flank Speed: 35 knots

Range: 4 500 Nautical Miles

Final Disposition:Sunk as a target 1 March 1980


Robert L. Wilson (DD-847) was laid down by the Bath Iron Works Corp. Bath Maine 2 July 1945; launched 5 January 1946 sponsored by Mrs. Joe Wilson; and commissioned in the Boston Navy Yard 28 March 1946 Comdr. John T. Probasco in command.

Following shakedown in Cuban waters Robert L. Wilson sailed from Norfolk 23 July 1946 for a 6-month tour of duty with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. Returning to the United States in February 1947 she spent the next 2 years based at Newport R.I. operating off the Atlantic Coast and in the Caribbean.

After overhaul at Boston she stood out of Hampton Roads on a midshipman cruise to Plymouth England; Cherbourg France; and Guantanamo Bay Cuba. On 4 March 1950 Robert L. Wilson was redesignated an escort destroyer (DDE-847). She finished out the year with a midshipman training cruise to Northern Europe duty in the Mediterranean which included special antisubmarine warfare demonstrations and hunter-killer operations along the eastern seaboard from Norfolk.

On 1 January 1951 as the result of a fleet reorganization Robert L. Wilson became a unit of Escort Squadron 4 and hoisted the pennant of Commander Escort Division 42. By 30 June 1960 she had completed eight tours of service in the Mediterranean since commissioning provided training for cadets of the U.S. Military Academy along the eastern seaboard and conducted the annual summer midshipmen cruises for the U.S. Naval Academy stressing antisubmarine tactics. On 1 July 1956 she was assigned to the newly established Destroyer Squadron 36 composed of destroyer escort types specially configured for antisubmarine missions and yet maintaining the capability to handle all destroyer missions. During the last week of November and the early part of December 1959 Robert L. Wilson and two other escort destroyers participated in Operation "Monsoon " manning sea-air rescue stations for the Presidential flight to Europe from the United States. She then operated in the western Atlantic and Caribbean until a Norfolk Navy Yard overhaul in the summer of 1960.

Returning to Caribbean and Atlantic operations in January 1961 Robert L. Wilson pursued Portuguese liner SS Santa Maria which had been seized by a group of revolutionaries. An 8-day chase took Wilson across the equator to Recife Brazil. Returning to Norfolk Wilson underwent a month of preparation then departed on 8 June for her ninth Mediterranean cruise. She spent the fall and winter of 1961 operating in the western Atlantic out of Norfolk.

In January 1962 Wilson participated in recovery operations for a Project Mercury manned space capsule. Wilson deployed with Task Group Bravo to Northern Europe in February returning to Norfolk in mid-June 1962. On 1 August 1962 she was again classified DD-847. In September of 1962 Wilson and the other ships of Destroyer Division 362 deployed to Guantanamo Bay Cuba as a unit under the command of the Naval Base Commander for the purpose of base defense and was at Guantanamo and in adjacent waters during the Cuban Crisis in October. Wilson returned to Norfolk in late November and operated locally until March 1963 when she entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard for a FRAM I modernization. Emerging from her overhaul period in 1964 she continued to serve with the Atlantic Fleet for the balance of that year and throughout 1965.

After serving as gunfire support ship at Guantanamo Bay Cuba in late January and early February 1966 Robert L Wilson was assigned the abort station for the first unmanned Apollo space shot. In April and June she was rescue destroyer for Wasp (CVS-18) prime recovery ship for the Gemini 9 space mission. Following ASW exercises she made her 12th deployment to the Mediterranean 22 July 1966 returning to Norfolk 17 December. Following service as School ship for the Fleet Sonar School in January and February Wilson spent the rest of 1967 operating in the Atlantic and Caribbean.

Robert L. Wilson continued these operations until May 1968 when she joined the search for nuclear submarine Scorpion searching the continental shelf off the coast of Norfolk and then following the Scorpion's track back to her last reported position southwest of the Azores without success. Returning to Norfolk 13 June Wilson operated in the Atlantic until steaming 6 September for a western Pacific deployment.

Touching at San Diego Pearl Harbor Midway Guam and Subic Bay Robert L. Wilson took up a naval gunfire support mission 36 miles south of Hue the ancient capital of South Vietnam. She then undertook search and rescue duty in the Gulf of Tonkin after 28 October destroying two sampans with .50 caliber machine gun fire and hand grenades. In early November Wilson was assigned as plane guard for Constellation (CVA-64) on Yankee Station. She remained in the Far East through the end of the year.

Wilson returned to San Diego from the Far East 27 March 1969 and operated off the west coast until transiting the Panama Canal and arriving Norfolk 21 June. She then operated in the western Atlantic and Caribbean until deploying to the Mediterranean on 5 March 1970. During this Mediterranean cruise Robert L. Wilson participated in two combined NATO exercises DAWN PATROL and MEDTACEX and was for a time diverted to the Levantine Basine due to another Middle East crisis. She returned to Norfolk 16 September for a leave upkeep and training cycle which continued to the end of the year.

Upon completion of overhaul refresher training and other operations in the Atlantic Robert L. Wilson commenced another deployment to the Sixth Fleet departing from Norfolk 17 September. After six months away from Norfolk she returned 17 March 1972 and completed the year operating out of that port. This employment continued throughout 1973 and 1974 finds Robert L. Wilson in port at her new home port Philadelphia Pa.

Robert L. Wilson earned three battle stars for service in the Vietnam conflict.

[Note: The above USS ROBERT L. WILSON (DD-847) history may or may not contain text provided by crew members of the USS ROBERT L. WILSON (DD-847) or by other non-crew members and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]