USS TOWERS (DDG-9)
Towers (DDG-9) was laid down on 1 April 1958 at Seattle
by the Todd Shipyard Corp.; launched on 23 April 1959; sponsored by Mrs.
Jr.; and commissioned on 6 June 1961 at the Puget Sound
Comdr. L. D. Cummins in command.
Homeported at San Diego
Towers carried out trials and
local operations off the southern California coast into September 1961.
She then conducted her shakedown cruise to Callao and Lima
Panama Canal Zone; and Acapulco
before she deployed to the Western
Pacific (WestPac) for the first time in the early spring of 1962.
She arrived at Sydney
on 30 April to represent the
United States during: the 20th observance of the anniversary of the Battle
of the Coral Sea and shifted to Melbourne a week later. She then continued
her WestPac deployment with visits to Yokosuka and Sasebo
Okinawa; Subic Bay
Taiwan; and Bangkok
She then returned home via Guam and Hawaii.
Following a routine schedule of local operations out of San
Diego from 1 January to 17 May 1963
Towers departed her home port on 18
bound for the Far East. En route
she stopped at Pearl Harbor and
Midway and later took part in exercises and operations off Japan and in
the Philippines. She returned to San Diego on 28 November 19~6~3 and operated
along the southern California coast through the end of 1964.
Towers departed San Diego on 5 January 1965
bound for her third
WestPac tour. As American forces became increasingly involved in the Vietnam
War-escalating from an advisory capacity to active combat--the Navy's role
in Vietnamese coastal waters expanded. Towers participated in three main
facets of the 7th Fleet's operations in the Gulf of Tonkin and the South
China Sea. She performed screening and plane-guard duties for fast carrier
task forces on "Yankee Station
providing protection with her missiles
and her rapidfire 5-inch battery. In addition
she conducted search and
rescue (SAR) patrols on the northern station; and made interdiction patrols
in conjunction with Operation "Market Time."
Upon the conclusion of this tour
the guided missile destroyer
sailed for home on 10 May. En route to the Hawaiian Islands
in Operation "Sailor Hat
" a special blast test to determine deficiencies
in modern ship construction
and arrived home at San Diego on 26 June.
From 31 January to 6 February 1966
Towers participated in Operation
" a joint United States and Canadian exercise off the west
coast of Canada and the United States which emphasized antisubmarine warfare
(ASW) techniques. Following availability at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard
Towers took part in Operation Gray Ghost" from 12 to 22 April.
This exercise dealt with air control intercept tactics and antiaircraft
warfare (AAA) measures to prepare the ship for her upcoming deployment
to the Gulf of Tonkin
off Vietnam. In addition
the ship trained to become
proficient in tactics to utilize against possible motor torpedo (PT)
Departing San Diego on 4 June
Towers steamed west
and Subic Bay
to Vietnam. She expended some 3
of 6-inch ammunition between 2 and 17 July
off target areas which included
the "Rung Sat Special Zone." Her target assessment included the destruction
of 17 enemy buildings and damage to 118 more
the sinking of three sampans
the killing of 11 Viet Cong soldiers
and the destruction of a bridge.
The guided missile destroyer returned to Subic Bay for upkeep
and further training in PT-boat countermeasures before she returned to
the Gulf of Tonkin to take up her position on the northern SAR station
on 1 August. For the next month
she deployed with Wiltsie (DD-716)
on the alert to spot downed pilots and to direct friendly helicopters to
On 6 August
Towers directed an HU-16 helicopter to the site
of a downed aviator some 69 miles from the ship. The next day
another HU-16 to a spot behind the enemy-held island of Cac Ba
Air Force men had bailed out. The "chopper" successfully rescued
them from behind communist lines. In the next two weeks
the ship participated in two more rescues--picking up two more Air Force
pilots in one and a Navy flyer in the other.
Towers' most daring rescue came on the last day of her tour
on the SARA station. On 31 August
a Navy plane was hit by antiaircraft
fire over Haiphong
and the pilot bailed out of his doomed aircraft directly
over the enemy harbor. As he floated down under his parachute to face what
seemed certain capture
Towers and King (DLG-10) closed to within visual
range of Haiphong harbor. Then King's helicopter sped in under the guidance
of Towers' experienced controllers and picked up the pilot
out of danger from beneath the enemy's very nose.
After a brief rest and recreation period
Towers returned to
the SAR station again on 1 October. However
flying weather turned out
to be poorer at this time of year
and air operations were sharply curtailed.
Towers spent much of her time on this tom patrolling the Tonkin
Sailing for home on 21 November
Towers departed Yokosuka and
ran into heavy seas while en route to the west coast
suffering minor storm
damage before she arrived at her home port on 3 December. After operations
at sea from January 1967 to mid-March
Towers underwent a major overhaul
at Hunters' Point Naval Shipyard from 14 April to 19 October. The guided
missile destroyer then operated out of San Diego through the spring of
Towers then readied herself for her next WestPac deployment.
Her preparation included screening and shore bombardment exercises with
New Jersey (BB-62)
the world's only active battleship. Departing San Diego
on 5 September
Towers made stops at Pearl Harbor and Subic Bay before
arriving off the I Corps tactical zone to commence "Sea Dragon" operations.
While escorting and screening New Jersey
Towers knocked out
two artillery and three antiaircraft gun sites; destroyed 55
meters of trenches; sank two logistics craft;
set off 19 secondary explosions; and killed an estimated 10 enemy soldiers.
On 1 October
the ship rescued two downed airmen just south of the demilitarized
zone (DMZ). The flyers
Capt. James Spaith
and his observer
1st Lt. U. S. Grant
had been shot down when their Douglas A4F "Skyhawk"
had been hit while spotting gunfire for New Jersey.
Towers furnished gunfire support for South Vietnamese Army units
in January 1969 and shelled shore targets for the American 3d Marine Division
and the 101st Airborne Division
both north and south of Danang. From her
anchorage inside Danang harbor
the guided missile destroyer fired frequent
night harassment and counter-rocket site fire against communist positions
in the surrounding countryside. Her damage assessments for this duty included
destruction of targets such as troop concentrations
and supply-carrying sampans.
Following upkeep at Subic Bay
she planeguarded on "Yankee Station"
for Constellation (CVA-64) and returned to the I Corps operating zone for
urgent gunfire support duties. She provided support for Operation 'Daring
" launched to destroy enemy troop concentrations south of Danang.
Commended for her part in this action
Towers remained on the scene from
17 to 30 November. She again provided anti-rocket support out of Danang
from the 21st through the 25th. In addition
she provided gunfire for Korean
marines: and the Army's 101st Airborne.
Towers then sailed north to the Philippines for up keep at Subic
Bay before proceeding to Singapore for rest and recreation. She arrived
back on “Yankee Station" three days before Christmas
to assume the role
of escort commander for Intrepid (CVS-11). After
two days of this duty
the guided missile destroyer was back
in the IV Corps operating area on night-harassment fire duties against
the communist ground forces.
New Year's Day 1970 found the ship still engaging the enemy in
the IV Corps' zone
supporting Vietnamese ranger battalions. During this
Towers' 5-inch rifles wreaked havoc upon Viet Cong and North Vietnamese
and footbridges. The ship then
spent a few days at Hong Kong before she returned to the "gunline
more at Danang. She supported the 3d Marine Division
operating north and
south of Danang
blasting enemy troops and structures
again in support
of Korean marines and the 101st Airborne. During the latter period
again stood duty at Danang
her guns ready to reply to communist rocket
Shifting again to "Yankee Station
" Towers joined the screen
of Hancock (CVA-19) on station with TG 77.5 until 7 February. She then
sailed for Subic Bay for three days of upkeep before
proceeding on to Yokosuka. Departing Japanese waters on 21 February
soon headed east and brought this WestPac deployment to a close when she
sailed into San Diego harbor on 4 March.
Towers spent much of the year 1970 on routine local operations
in the vicinity of her home port in preparation for future WestPac deployments.
On 4 September
while conducting refresher training out of San Diego
ship directed a helicopter to rescue the pilot from an F-8 "Crusader" that
had crashed nearby. The embarked evaluation team from the Fleet Training
Group gave the ship a grade of "outstanding" during this "unscheduled evolution."
Deploying again to WestPac on 7 January 1971
to Vietnamese waters
via Pearl Harbor and Midway. While she proceeded
west on the 20th
one of the other ships in
suffered a major engine room fire
which stopped her dead in the water. Towers turned-to and lent a hand.
After the fire was extinguished
the guided missile destroyer took Roark
in tow until Quapaw (ATF-110) arrived and took over the towing.
Towers arrived back on the gunline on 8 February and provided
gunfire support until the 21st
when she moved to "Yankee Station" to provide
plane-guard service for Ranger (CVA-B1). On 6 March
a member of the carrier's
flight deck force was blown over the side during launching operations.
Towers quickly sped to the scene
rescued the sailor
and returned him
to his ship.
A short visit to Subic Bay followed
as did another tour on the
gunline and the northern SAR station. The ship then returned to Subic Bay
for upkeep and then made still another tour as plane guard and screen for
Kitty Hawk (CVA-63). She departed WestPac on 1 July. Arriving at San Diego
on the 15th
Towers operated out of her home base into the early spring
of 1972. Gunnery exercises
underway training evolutions (with emphasis
on ASW and AAW tactics); plane-guarding for Midway (CVA-41); and an upkeep
and inport period all followed as the ship prepared for her upcoming WestPac
Events in Vietnam
forced a change in plan for Towers
and rapidly accelerated her return to the war zone. Although not scheduled
for deployment until September
she departed the west coast on 20 June
bound once more for-the gunline. A massive Viet Cong and North Vietnamese
assault had battered South Vietnamese forces in key Quang Tri province
and resulted in emergency measures for the supporting naval forces offshore.
During the voyage from the west coast to the South China Sea
assisted in the rescue of six crewmen from a downed B-52 "Stratofortress"
near Guam and received a commendation from the secretary of the Navy.
A curtailed two-day upkeep period at Subic Bay preceded the ship's
sailing on 13 July for the gunline. Heavy commitments and long hours of
gunfire support duty in support of ARVN troops followed from 17 to 28 July
as Towers participated in Operation "Lamson72." From 29 July to 5 August
the ship operated on "Linebacker" strikes against targets to the northward
of the DMZ
in North Vietnam
as part of Task Unit 77.1.2. On several occasions
during this time
she came under fire from communist shore batteries.
The intense gunfire support duties assigned to the ship soon
wore out the linings of her two 5-inch guns
so the ship sailed for Sasebo
where she spent the week from 9 to 15 August undergoing a re-gunning. She
soon returned to the "gunline" and supported ARVN troops off Hue. The destroyer
also fired night "Linebacker" strikes on 24 and 25 September
out the month with gunfire support missions fired for the 1st ARVN division.
A visit to Hong Kong for needed rest and recreation for her
crew soon followed
and an upkeep period at Subic Bay preceded the ship's
return to Vietnamese waters on 21 October. She supported the ARVN 22d Division
near Qui Nhon and around Quang Tri. She then again visited Subic Bay and
before returning to the gunline again from 3 to 8 December.
For the rest of the month
Towers fired gunfire support missions against
North Vietnamese troop concentrations near Quang Tri. Spirited exchanges
of gunfire with enemy shore batteries took place on numerous occasions
during this period.
She finished the year 1972 again serving as plane guard for
Constellation on “Yankee Station" and closed out her grueling seven-month
deployment on the last day of the year
when she sailed for Yokosuka. From
she returned home via Midway
and Pearl Harbor.
This deployment turned out to be the destroyer's last in support
of the Vietnam War. The "Vietnamization" plan placed the burden of self-defense
on the shoulders of the South Vietnamese
as American land
forces were withdrawn from combat in January and February of 1973. Towers
operated out of San Diego from 1973 through 1976
pursuing a regular schedule
of local operations
routine upkeep and overhaul periods
She departed San Diego on 30 July 1976 for her first extended
overseas deployment in three years. She conducted exercises and local operations
in the Far East
participating in Exercise "Sharkhunt XVII" with the Taiwanese
Navy before shifting to the Indian Ocean for an extended cruise. She then
took part in "Midlink 76" with units of the Iranian
and American Navies in mid-November before participating in "Multiplex/Missilex-76”
with United States 7th Fleet units in the South China Sea.
Following port visits to Hong Kong from 6 to 12 January and
Bangkok from 29 January to 4 February 1977
Towers engaged in a coordinated
" with the Taiwanese Navy from 22 to 25 February.
She returned to San Diego on 21 March to complete a seven-month
deployment. Post-deployment operations off the west coast were highlighted
by a port visit to Vancouver
from 9 to 17 July for the
annual Sea Festival. Towers' last significant operations at sea for the
year occurred during the period 12 to 16 September when she conducted naval
gunfire support exercises on the range at San Clemente Island. On 23 September
the guided missile destroyer commenced a four-month availability at San
Diego which took her into the new year.
Post-availability trials commenced on 26 January 1978
spent the next nine months evaluating her radar detection and tracking
system during numerous at-sea operations for that purpose. On 14 November
the ship got underway for Long Beach where she entered the Naval Shipyard
on the 15th for commencement of a regular overhaul which took her into
Towers received one Navy Unit Commendation
one Meritorious Unit Commendation
and four battle stars for her service in Vietnam.
[Note: The above USS TOWERS (DDG-9) history may or may not contain text provided by crew members of the USS TOWERS (DDG-9) or by other non-crew members and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]