HISTORY of the USS HARWOOD (DD861)

  The USS HARWOOD (DD861), a Gearing class destroyer, was the last combatant vessel built by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation at their San Pedro, California, shipyard.  The ship is named for Commander Bruce Lawrence Harwood, an heroic aviator, who was killed while leading a fire fighting party aboard the USS PRINCETON (CVL 23) when that vessel was under attack by enemy Japanese aircraft in the vicinity of the Philippine Islands, during the Second Battle of the Philippine Sea on 24 October 1944.  CDR Harwood was awarded the Navy Cross and Purple Heart Medal posthumously.  The ship’s keel was laid on 29 October 1944, launched on 22 May and was commissioned 28 September 1945, just six weeks after World War II ended.  The first Commanding Officer was CDR Reid P. Fiala, and X.O. was LCDR A. J. Wanamaker, Jr.

    For the first three and a half years of her life, the ship operated with the Pacific Fleet and was homeported at San Diego.  HARWOOD made two FarEast Cruises, during which she visited ports in China, Japan, Korea, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Okinawa.  Between these two cruises she underwent three months’ overhaul at Bremerton, Washington, in late 1947.  In January 1949, she entered Mare Island, California, shipyard for an eight months’ overhaul.  At this time the most modern anti-submarine equipment then known was added to the ship, and she was redesignated an escort destroyer (DDE).

    Subsequently, she was transferred to the Atlantic Fleet, arriving at her new homeport, Newport, Rhode Island, via the Panama Canal in August 1949.  For the next six months, the HARWOOD conducted short exercise cruises in the Atlantic, visiting Key West and Bermuda.  In March 1950 the ship participated in Operation PORTREX in the Caribbean, one of the first large post-World War II anti-submarine hunter-killer operations.  After another period of local operations, the ship became part of the Operation Development Force.  While developing cold weather operational methods, she visited Argentia, Newfoundland, and Reykjavik, Iceland, and steamed north of the Arctic Circle giving her crew their first experience with continuous daylight.

    After an upkeep period, HARWOOD made her first Mediterranean cruise, joining Sixth Fleet in September 1950.  In the Mediterranean, she visited ports in Sicily, Malta, and on the French Riviera.  In January 1951, she provided plane guard services for the light carrier Monterey off Pensacola and was an anti-submarine school ship in Key West.  She then went into a five months’ navy yard overhaul.  After a brief period of competitive exercises, the HARWOOD proceeded to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the usual post-yard six week period of refresher training designed to test her battle readiness and the quality of her yard work.

    Following her return to Newport, she participated in a major Atlantic Fleet operation, entitled LANTFLEX and then spent Christmas holidays in her homeport.  In January 1952, the ship departed for a three months’ Mediterranean cruise during which she visited ports in France, Italy, and North Africa.  On her return, she became a unit of the Atlantic Hunter-Killer Forces whose operations took her to the North Atlantic, where she had a short trip in Grennock, Scotland, and to sub-Arctic waters off Norway.  By autumn, she was operating off Newport, and she spent the Christmas period in Fall River, Massachusetts.  In February 1953, the ship began her third tour of duty with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean where she participated in two months of exercises with navies of other NATO nations.

    Late spring was spent in Boston Naval Shipyard, after which the HARWOOD won her third straight Battle Efficiency Award, the Navy “E”, during refresher training at Guantanamo Bay.  During the fall of 1953, she conducted destroyer exercises off Newport, again spending the winter holiday season moored at Fall River.  In spring of 1954, the HARWOOD engaged in the appropriately named Operation SPRINGBOARD, a month long Caribbean cruise including air defense and anti-submarine exercises.  On this cruise, the ship visited San Juan, Puerto Rico, Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands; and Ciudad Trujillo, Dominican Republic.  After SPRINGBOARD, she conducted local hunter-killer operations and prepared for a four and a half-month Mediterranean tour, which began in September.  On this long trip, the HARWOOD covered the entire length of the Mediterranean Sea, going as Far East as Imir, Turkey, and Beirut, Lebanon.  In January 1955, she returned to her homeport.

    In spring of 1955, the ship came under operational command of the Atlantic Anti-Submarine Forces.  Employment with this command occupied the next nine months, after which the ship acted as an engineering school for Atlantic destroyer personnel for the remainder of 1955.  Following a three month yard period in Philadelphia and the usual subsequent refresher training at Guantanamo Bay, midshipmen from the Naval Academy and universities with Naval ROTC units embarked in the HARWOOD for two months summer cruise in the Eastern Atlantic during which she visited Barcelona, Spain, and Dublin, Ireland. 

In the early winter of late 1956 before severe cold weather set in, and after completing an anti-submarine patrol for Russian submarines in the North Atlantic incident to the Russian invasion of Hungary, HARWOOD departed Newport, one in a division of  three DDE’s, and, together with a submarine, proceeded south to Havana, Cuba for a short recreational stop rudely interrupted one Sunday morning when several busloads of Fidel Castro’s rebels attempted to shoot up then Cuban President Bautista’s presidential palace. After a brief stop in Panama, HARWOOD transited the Panama Canal and proceeded south to the old Spanish Main port of  Cartagena, Colombia for a goodwill visit and then further south to Salinas, Ecuador, Callao, Peru, and Valparaiso, Chile for joint anti-submarine warfare training exercises before returning to Newport in early Spring of 1957 at the end of that three month cruise.
(thanks to Philip D. Isaac)

   A visit to Bermuda preceded a Mediterranean cruise, which occupied the last five months of the year 1957.

    Operations in the Atlantic and Caribbean interspersed with upkeep periods, a yard period in Boston, and training at Guantanamo Bay, laid the groundwork for the ship’s assignment to Task Force Bravo.  The mission of this group was to develop new anti-submarine tactics to augment World War II methods. 

Few people know that the Navy maintained Ready ASW groups to protect our coasts from unfriendly submarines one of which was TF Bravo .  HARWOOD operated with TF Bravo which alternated with TF Alfa patrolling our East Coast.  Click here for a great story and pictures of the USS Wasp fire Harwood helped put out while operating with Task Group Bravo.  While with Task Force Bravo, a combination NATO exercise and Midshipmen Cruise was made in conjunction with the Canadian and British navies.  The Saint Lawrence Seaway was opened in July 1959, and the ship visited Quebec.  She spent early fall engaged in LANTFLEX 59, an all-Atlantic Fleet operation.  The winter of 1959-1960 was spent in local operations with a month at Newport for the Christmas leave period.

    In March 1960, the HARWOOD again deployed to the Caribbean and in April had her first taste of operations against a nuclear submarine, the Skipjack.  After a brief NATO operation with Canadian Forces, the ship departed from Norfolk with twenty midshipmen for the Mediterranean Midshipmen Cruise 60.  During this cruise, the largest single gathering of warships since World War II occurred in Golfo de Palma Bay in Sardinia.  The ship returned to Newport in late August, then engaged in independent steaming and destroyer exercises, closing out 1960 with a visit to Miami where the crew was able to see the annual Orange Bowl Game.  In early January 1961, she exercised with the nuclear submarine, Robert E. Lee.  After a short period in Boston, the ship escorted Polaris carrying submarines off Cape Canaveral.

    The remainder of spring 1961 was spent preparing for entry into New York Naval Shipyard for the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization program (FRAM).  The FRAM program consists of virtually rebuilding a ship from the hull up and was designed to increase the life of the many destroyers built during World War II by six to eight years.  On 2 May 1961, the HARWOOD entered the yard.  The FRAM overhaul lasted exactly nine months, during which the profile of the ship was substantially altered.  Among other changes, the bridge was totally reconstructed, new types of torpedo tubes were installed, and the anti-aircraft guns were removed to accommodate a hanger and launching deck for the DASH, an anti-submarine helicopter.  On 1 January 1962, the homeport was changed from Newport, Rhode Island, to Mayport, Florida.  After leaving the yard on 2 February 1962, HARWOOD spent a week at Newport, where the married members of the crew made arrangements to move their families to Mayport.

     On 12 February 1962, the HARWOOD arrived at her new homeport, Mayport, Florida, and only one week later proceeded to Guantanamo Bay for her most rigorous period of refresher training to date.  Three days in Kingston, Jamaica, provided a short break during this time.  The ship returned to Mayport on 15 April, leaving for her latest Mediterranean cruise on 22 May, stopping at Rota, Spain, for two days, and passing through the Straits of Gibraltar. On 3 June, the HARWOOD, along with all other escort destroyers, was redesignated a general-purpose destroyer (DD).  This cruise proved to be her most extensive to date, for it included a six week’s voyage to the Middle East.  This involved two transits of the Suez Canal and took the ship as Far East as Karachi, Pakistan, 10,000 miles from Mayport.  She returned to her homeport on 12 October.

    The long awaited period of leave and upkeep was abruptly interrupted by the Cuban crisis.  On only four hours notice, the ship got underway for the Caribbean on 26 October, leaving forty-five of the crew on shore.  All of these were flown to the ship within ten days.  After nearly a month of continuous steaming, she returned to Mayport on 21 November, just in time for Thanksgiving.  The ship provided plane guard services intermittently for the Lexington for the next two weeks.  The HARWOOD moored at Mayport for upkeep and Christmas leave on 10 December.

    After operations in the Caribbean for the first half of 1963, the HARWOOD left on 3 August for another Mediterranean Cruise and visited the following ports: Golfo di Palmas and Aranci Bay, Sardinia; Palmero, Sicily; Naples, Messina and Livorno, Italy; Golfe Juan and St. Raphael, France; Pollensa Bay, Mallorca, and Valetta, Malta.  The HARWOOD returned to Mayport, Florida on 23 December 1963.

    On 1 May 1964, she left for another Midshipmen Cruise, stopping at  Oslo, Norway; Antwerp, Belgium; Southampton, England and LeHarve, France, returning to Mayport in August.

   From Mayport Harwood deployed to the Mediterranean twice, participated in the Cuban quarantine operation, and was a recovery ship for the Mercury astronaut launching in May 1963. 22 July 1966 saw Harwood departing Mayport for her ninth Mediterranean cruise. Ports of call included Theoule-sur-Mer, France, Naples, Italy, and Beirut, Lebanon prior to transiting the Suez Canal for operations under COMIDEASTFOR.

   After a brief visit at Jidda, Saudi Arabia, Harwood was treated to a real taste of British Hospitality as she visited Aden, Bahrain and Mombasa, Kenya. The latter port proved to be the most interesting when the Officers and crew where treated to a tour of the Tsavo National Game Preserve. On the way to Mombasa, HARWOOD crossed the Equator at 45-00o and . in true Navy tradition, 230 Pollywogs were initiated into the Royal Order of Shellbacks.

   Transiting the Suez Canal on 2 November 1966, Harwood rejoined the Sixth Fleet for a week of operations before making visits to Naples and Genoa, Italy for some well earned rest and liberty. While inport Naples, Harwood Change-of-Command Ceremonies saw Cdr. William S. Guthrie relieve Cdr. R.T. Whitlock as commanding officer on 17 November. At this same ceremony the ship received the Desron 16 Battle Efficiency "E" won in fiscal year 1966, and the Operations "E" for departmental excellence.

   A brief five day visit to the exciting city of Barcelona, Spain came in early December after which the ship arrived in its homeport of Mayport on 17 December. 

    In 1966 and early 1967, she operated out ofMayport, Florida and the East Coast until sailing for her 10th Med deployment on 29 June, 1967.  Reaching Rota, Spain, on 10 July, HARWOOD joined the 6th Fleet, an element of stability in the ancient and volatile sea, which had so recently been churned by the Arab war with Israel.

    The HARWOOD deployed to Vietnam on 10 April of 1968.  After transit of the Panama Canal and brief but enjoyable stays in San Diego and Pearl Harbor, HARWOOD, the lone wolf of DesRon 14, began her long journey across the Pacific to Subic Bay, R.P.  There she underwent a short upkeep and preparation before leaving for Vietnam and the gunline.  Naval gunfire support off the coast of South Vietnam was her primary duty, and one in which she was extremely successful.  HARWOOD spent forty-two days on the gunline in support of our troops ashore, destroying or damaging 410 enemy bunkers and structures, neutralizing numerous storage and assembly areas and accounting for many confirmed enemy causalities, firing a total of over 10,000 rounds.  In this effort, the Naval Gunfire Support Officer working for the 1st Marine Division and directing the HARWOOD’s targeting was a former 1st Lt on the HARWOOD

In addition, HARWOOD operated off the coast of North Vietnam in OPERATION SEA DRAGON, during which time she worked with the USS BERKELEY  in a massive interdiction of enemy waterborne logistics craft described as “one if the heaviest off-shore bombardments of the war”, Fifty-eight “WBLC’s” were either destroyed or damaged by the HARWOOD-BERKELEY team.  Of these, thirty-six were officially credited to the HARWOOD

On five separate occasions the ship was taken under fire by enemy coastal defense batteries and in one instance received a hit in her after gun mount, inflicting two personnel casualties and resulting in two Purple Hearts and one Bronze Star awarded to HARWOOD crew members. 

In the words of Jack Van Devender, who was there -

"...the Harwood was on a daytime firing mission at a target well inland. For some reason the ship was moving very slow while on the firing mission. The forward mount (mount 51) was the only mount manned at the time because of a hydraulic problem with mount 52. Believe it or not, the ship was not at general quarters at the time as I was out on the main deck amid ships on the port side watching mount 51 fire. All of a sudden a round went off in the water about 30 yards off the port beam opposite mount 51. My first thought was something went wrong with the fire control system and mount 51 had fired a round into the water. A few seconds after that, I heard a round go off back around the fantail area. As it turned out, we had about 15 to 20 rounds fired at us but we only took one hit which was right on top of mount 52.

As I said before, mount 52 was not manned, thank the lord, because of the hydraulic problem. No one was in the mount but there were two gunners mates working outside and around the mount trying to fix the problem. One of the wounded was GM1 Vichlaw (I'm not sure of the spelling). The other wounded was a Seaman 1st working with Vichlaw. Sickbay was amidship where I was and I remember Vichlaw helping the other man into sickbay. Neither seemed to have life threating injurys at the time. An airvac chopper picked both men up a little later. Vichlaw was back onboard the Harwood in a week are so, but we never saw the other man again. We were told he was re-assigned."


Jack also sent along the following news article from the "Kansas City Times" from Monday, June 3, 1968

U. S. SHIP IS HIT Washington (AP)--The U. S. Navy destroyer Harwood was damaged and two crewmen were injured Tuesday when the ship was hit by a single round from a North Vietnamese artillery battery, the Pentagon said yesterday.

The announcement said the ship was shelling artillery emplacements from a position off Cape Ley north of the demilitarized zone when the round struck aft near a 5-inch gun mount.

The Pentagon said the ship received minor damaged. The round which hit was one of 30 of undetermined caliber fired at the Harwood. It said the other rounds missed.

News of the action was disclosed in response to a question to the Department of Defense.

The injured sailors were identified as Seaman Apprentice Richard S. Harsh of Toledo, Oh. and Victor L. Vichlach of New Albin, La. Harsh was taken to a military hospital in Da Nang, where his condition was reported to be good. The pentagon said Vichlach was expected to be back on duty within two weeks. END OF ARTICAL.

The following is a list of statistics relating to the Harwood's West Pac
deployment in 1968 was also provided by Jack Vanderver. They came from the
cruise book.


Number of days relating to West Pac 1968:


Deployed 234
7th Fleet 158
Underway 119
NGFS 42
Operation Sea Dragon 10
Yankee Station 30
ASW 4
Enroute 33
Upkeep 34
Port Visits 5
UNREPS 56
Total Rounds Fired 10,034


Naval Gunfire Support:
VC KIA (confirmed) 15
(probable) 14
VC WIA (confirmed) 3
(probable) 1
Structures (destroyed) 170
(damaged) 182
Bunkers (destroyed) 31
(damaged) 27
Sampans (destroyed) 1
Secondary explosions 12
Caves 13
Mortars 8
Active Artillery 2 (The artillery that fired
at Harwood off Cap Lay)
Trenchline 551M
50 Cal Machine Gun 1
Rice Stacks 9
Rounds fired in support 9,348


Operation Sea Dragon:
WBLC Destroyed (confirmed) 8
(probable) 10
WBLC Damaged (confirmed) 9
(probable) 9
Secondary explosions 2
Rounds Fired on Sea Dragon 686

Not all of HARWOOD’s recognition came from combat action.  While refueling at sea, the ship made an emergency breakaway from the oiler USS MANATEE, launched her motor whale boat, and recovered a man lost overboard from the USS TRIPOLI (LPH-10).  The sailor, who was unconscious, was rescued by HARWOOD only eight minutes after being knocked overboard.  HARWOOD also served a total of four weeks plane guarding for the attack carriers, USS BON HOMME RICHARD, USS AMERICA, and the nuclear powered USS ENTERPRISE.  She steamed over 60,000 miles while operating at sea 75% of the time, and had an enviable record of meeting every operational commitment on time during her tour of duty.

    HARWOOD was placed in Reduced Operating Status (ROS), for a period of five months when she returned to Mayport in late 1968.  During this time, her crew and operating schedule were reduced to a bare minimum.  In May 1969, HARWOOD entered the Charleston Naval Shipyard for four months of scheduled repair and maintenance.  In July she changed homeport again, moving to Charleston, South Carolina.

    In November 1969, HARWOOD steamed south to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for ten weeks of grueling refresher training.  Following a brief period in Charleston, South Carolina, she returned to the Caribbean for five weeks in support of “Operation Springboard”.  After another short stay in Charleston, HARWOOD began a stormy spring journey across the Atlantic to start her tenth Mediterranean Cruise.

   The following was provided by Rodney Caupp EM3

"The history I've found on DD861 'seems to leave out "THE STORM".  In July or August of 70 'we left Corfu Greece for...???   Day 1 started with a tropical storm.  Several days later after endureing an F5 huricane we pulled into Naples, Italy with a 24 ft.fracture in the bow-keel 'and 5 forward compartments flooded.

The damage was incurred when a storm surge wave hit the ship and tossed it to starboard 'followed by a second wave which hit the port side with enough force to cause us to keel over at 47.5 degrees.

I was mess cooking in the Chiefs Qtrs 'and we were just sitting down to a quick lunch.  The violent roll of the ship dumped all of the Chiefs and another mess cook onto the port skin of the ship.  The view 'over my left shoulder 'from a center stanchion I had grabbed on the way over was of a pile of 18 crewmen, 18 coffee cups, 18 cold cut sandwiches, all laying against the hull which was buckleing in and out about a couple of inches.

Not long after the crash a sound-security inspection revealed the flooding.

The captain (I firmly salute) ,Bob Marshal, informed the crew that we were in a bad way.

The storm, all a rage, required the rest of the flotilla to maintain headway and heading.  We were left alone to this powerful huricane and the unknown outcome.   The captain explained the situation over the 1MC.  "Men we are on our own. the ship is takeing on water.  If we loose one more compartment, 'that would be the forward boiler room , we will sink.  We are going to try to make the eye of the storm where the calm will hopefully keep us from being pounded to pieces.  Rescue is out of the question.  God bless all of you".

The captain gave permission to don life jackets, which almost no one did, and a bunch of sailors became christians.   Less than two weeks at sea and I was on the Titanic with 249 other salties!  To make a long story short, we stayed in the eye of the storm for about three days till it ran ashore in nortern Italy.  We sailed out the back side into the deminishing huricane, rideing bow-down and missing a wind speed anomometer, which prior to its departure had clocked an incredible 210 MPH.  No one knew whether the animometer had departed in one of the massive waves crashing well over the bridge or if the sustained winds of 175 mph had ripped it off the yard arm.

One of my favorite pictures of DD 861 is going into port in Naples riding bow heavy, the water line telling of a large "liquid" load forward...Stern up.

Oh I almost forgot.  One of the compartments flooded was a storage locker containing the ships supply of toilet paper.  I can tell you there is a history of black-market toilet paper in Harwoods past "spawned" by the increased value of only a few remaining dry rolls of the stuff.

I think I can speak for the entire crew in saying that Captain Robert Marshal has god-like status for getting us back alive.

Did anyone hear about the captain almost being linched by a mob of Turkish sailors after they had inadvertently eaten hot dogs for lunch? "

    During this 1970 Med deployment, HARWOOD distinguished herself in operations with carriers, oilers and other destroyers.  She was part of the effective show of United States strength in the Eastern Mediterranean during the September 1970, Middle East crisis. Also during this time HARWOOD participated with other NATO forces in exercises off the coast of Greece.

    The Harwood was loaned to Turkey 17 December 1971 and was decommissioned and stricken from the rolls February 1, 1973.

    On 15 February, 1973 HARWOOD was transferred to the Turkish Navy, and renamed TCS Kocatepe, D-354.  Her last Commanding Officer and Executive Officer were Captain Robert M. Marshall, USN, and LCDR McGhee, USN. All Hands1 All Hands2 All Hands3

    On 22 July 1974, a tragic military blunder occurred during the brief conflict on Cyprus, in which a Turkish plane or planes, bombed and sank a Turkish destroyer mistaken for part of an invading force from Greece. This vessel was formerly the destroyer USS HARWOOD (DD861). Subsequently the Turkish Navy received permission for the replacement of the HARWOOD with the USS NORRIS (DD859) and that ship was renamed the TCS Kocatep (D354). Newspaper Account




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Additional Historical Information Related to the DASH Weapon System