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 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
USS ROBERT L. WILSON (DD-847)
Robert L. Wilson (DD-847) was laid down by the Bath Iron Works Corp.
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
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
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
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
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
for a time
diverted to the Levantine Basine due to another Middle East crisis. She returned to Norfolk 16 September for a leave
and training cycle which continued to the end of the year.
Upon completion of overhaul
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
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]