McCaffery (DD-860) alongside Berry (DD-858) at Mare Island on 28 April 1949.
Mt. 52 has been removed and replaced with Mk. 15 Hedgehog ASW rocket launcher

The History of the McCaffery - 1949


On 1 January, McCAFFERY was moored at San Diego, California. Commanding Officer - CDR J.T. Wulff

On 2 January, she got underway for San Francisco arriving the next day, and then moved to Mare Island Shipyard, Vallejo, California, for conversion to an Escort Destroyer (DDE). The number two five-inch gun mount (B position) was replaced with a trainable 7.5 inch hedgehog mount. The latest anti-submarine detection and attack devices were also installed. McCaffery remained moored until 3 March, at which time she was moved in dead-plant condition into dry dock with the aid of two yard tugs. She rested on keel blocks until 23 March, when once again she was moved by tugs and moored alongside the USS Harwood (DD-861).

Information related to this modification is from the 1983-84 edition of JANE'S FIGHTING SHIPS: "These ships (referring to the Norris and McCaffery) are Gearing class destroyers. They were modified for anti-submarine warfare specialization in 1949-1950... McCaffery's classification was changed to 'hunter-killer' destroyers (DDK); this classification was subsequently changed to 'escort' destroyers (DDE) on 4 March 1950."

This was not a FRAM I change. There is the possibility that, due to budget restraints, some ships underwent "conversions" rather than Fleet Rehabilitation And Modernization (FRAM) at this time. McCaffery was again classified as a 'straight' destroyers (DD) on 30 June 1962 with FRAM II modernization. (Bill Maslak)

On 16 May, McCAFFERY got underway for San Diego, arriving there the next day. She remained in port until 1 June, when she got underway for the submarine training area. During these exercises, McCaffery lowered a whaleboat to retrieve a torpedo fired by the USS Catfish (SS-395). Three more weeks in port, then McCAFFERY continued submarine exercises in the San Diego and San Clemente Island areas until 12 August.

On 20 July, CDR J.T. Wulff was relieved by CDR E.H. McDowell as commanding officer of McCaffery.

On 1 August, while moored in San Diego, a fire in the anchor windless compartment was extinguished with no apparent damage. On 4 August, acting as plane guard for USS Valley Forge (CV-45), a plane crashed to starboard of VALLEY FORGE. McCaffery proceeded to the crash site, rescued Ensign R.D.T. Wood, pilot of the F-8F-1. The plane sunk upon hitting the water. The pilot was uninjured and was returned to the carrier by breeches buoy. On 13 August, McCaffery entered San Pedro Bay and remained there until 24 August. She then got underway for Newport, Rhode Island, via the Panama Canal. On 2 September, McCaffery arrived Balboa Harbor, Canal Zone, passed through the locks on 5 September, and continued en route to Newport, home port of Commander Destroyer Forces, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, to whom she reported 11 September.

On 24 September, McCaffery was underway to New York for a posthumous award. On 25 September, McCaffery was moored at pier 26 North River, New York. N.Y. A representative of the Third Naval District provided the ship with theatre and radio tickets. The ship was open for visiting in the afternoon, and many of the crew who lived in the New York area had their parents or friends visit the ship. On the 26th, newspaper photographers and reporters from practically all New York papers arrived for the presentation ceremony. The crew assembled aft, and 69 guests were present. The Purple Heart was presented to Joseph P. McCaffery, age nine, son of the brother of Lieutenant Colonel McCaffery, for whom the ship was named.

On 29 September, McCaffery received orders to proceed to Key West, Florida, to participate in ASW exercises, Operation PORTREX and Operation CARIBEX-50 near Key West and Bermuda. On 3 October, McCaffery was steaming off Key West on the 2000-2400 watch, a crash boat came alongside to starboard. E.E. Reed, YNSN, strapped in a stretcher, was transferred to the crash boat to be taken to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Key West for an emergency appendectomy. During CARIBEX-50, McCaffery rescued Ensign W.E. McLuckie and seaman S.L. Bruce, after their plane crashed during a night take-off.

Arctic water

On 14 October, McCaffery, in company with USS Wright (CVL-49), got underway for Newport, and arrived on 16 October. She commenced operations around Newport, the North Atlantic Ocean, Davis Strait, and Labrador Sea off Greenland through 19 November. An anecdote was told to Bill Maslak by Joseph Alt, F2, who was on watch one night when the ship was steaming in the Davis Strait: "These were the roughest waters I encountered in my four years in the Navy. A most memorable experience occurred one mid-watch. I went forward to read the reefer gauges, and was suddenly hurled to the deck when the ship gave a mighty lurch, and was shoved to one side. The sea must have dropped out from beneath the ship. I was sent sprawling. Later, I learned that we were hit by a rogue wave."

On 12 November, McCaffery steamed to 65 degrees 62 minutes North Latitude in the Labrador Sea off the southwest tip of Greenland. This was the closest approach McCaffery made to the Arctic Circle. The latitude of the Arctic Circle is 66 degrees 33 minutes North. On 20 November, McCaffery returned to the Newport area, and moored at Davisville, Rhode Island.

On 31 December, McCaffery was moored at Newport, R.I.

SOURCE: USS McCAFFERY -- 1945-1974 by Edward W. (Bill) Maslak