The History of the McCaffery - 1959


On 1 January 1959, McCaffery was moored at Newport, R.I. Commanding Officer - CDR T.M. Lemon

McCaffery remained in port until 12 January, when she got underway to proceed to the Newport operating area. McCaffery rendezoused with the Wasp (CVS-18), for group exercises, and refueled from the Nantahala (AO-60). As exercises began, heavy seas and poor visibility hampered the task group operations. On 31 January, McCaffery moored at Charlestown Naval Shipyard, and the crew was moved to Frazier Barrack to facilitate cleaning and painting of the living spaces. McCaffery remained in the shipyard until 23 February, and then began operating in and out of Newport until mooring at South Dock, Melville, Portsmouth, R.I., on 27 February.

On 12 March, NcCaffery got underway for exercises in the Newport operating area. Exercises included steering control, engineering and casualty drills, submarine hold-down manuevers, and personnel transfer by highline. McCaffery returned to Newport on 20 March, and got underway on 30 March for Norfolk, VA., and arrived on 4 April. The Commodore of DESRON 24 shifted his flag to McCaffery to participate in the exercises in the Norfolk operating area the next two weeks. McCaffery returned to Newport on 17 April.

On 27 April, McCaffery got underway for exercises with Wasp, and returned to Newport on 11 May. On 19 May, she got underway with target ammunition on board for various exercises. Mccaffery replenished ammunition from Suribachi (AE-21) on 21 May, and steamed to an area southeast of Newfoundland in the Grand Banks. On 4 June, McCaffery moored alongside Blandy (DD-943) at Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada.

McCaffery got underway for Newport, R.I., on 5 June, and moored at Melville, R.I., on 7 June. She remained in port, shifting perths occasionally until 22 June. She then steamed through the Cape Cod Canal into Boston Harbor, mooring alongside Berry (DDE-858). On 23 June, nine first class and fifteen third class midshipmen reported aboard for their annual active training cruise. The training conducted included highline transfers, competitive engineering exercises, and man overboard drills. On 30 June, McCaffery moored at Quebec, Canada for a seven-day port stay. Training exercises continued while McCaffery steamed to New York, and arrived on 23 July. Remaining in port until 30 July, she got underway from New York. McCaffery picked up camera personnel from a buoy, discharged them at Newport, and returned to sea. On 6 August, McCaffery steamed independently to Boston Naval Shipyard for an availability in dry dock. On 10 August, McCaffery was underway from Boston for the operating area for exercises.

On 18 August, McCaffery responded to a distress call from Wasp (CV-18). A helicopter engine had exploded on the hangar deck while being tested. The explosion spewed flaming aviation gas throughout the hangar deck. McCaffery came alongside to spray water from its fire hoses into the hangar deck, and on the outside of the magazine situated just forward of the hangar bay door. The fires and reflashes took over two hours to control. McCaffery assisted in removing wreckage of the five helicopters that were destroyed. On 25 August, McCaffery refueled from the Tarawa (CVS-40), and then proceeded independently to Newport, mooring at South Block, Melville, R.I.

On 5 September, the temperature in the 7.2 inch rocket ready box was 110 degrees. Gunners mates commenced cooling the boxes with fire hoses. On 10 September, divers from Yellowstone(AD-27), inspected the underwater hull and sonar dome. On 14 September, McCaffery moved to Newport, and on 16 September she went into dry dock for two days. McCaffery operated in and out of Newport for the next two weeks, and remained in Newport from 9 October until 26 October. While underway on 9 November, Robert E. Banninger, SOSN, was performing maintenance on the sonar equipment. The seaman was shocked when he came in contact with an exposed high voltage section of the equipment. The ship's corpsman administered artificial respiration, oxygen, and adrenalin, but the seaman was unreponsive with no pulse, and no blood pressure. After conferring with the doctor aboard Wasp, the corpsman pronounced Banninger dead at 0005, 10 November 1959. On 13 November, McCaffery arrived at Bermuda. On 15 November, the crew was assembled on the fantail for a memorial service as a 21-gun salute was fired.

On 20 November, McCaffery returned to Newport, and remained in port until 28 December when she got underway for the Newport operating area. McCaffery rendezvoused with Sailfish (SSR-572), and continued operating in the Newport area with various ships of the fleet through 31 December.

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

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