History of the McCaffery - 1961


On 1 January 1961, McCaffery was moored at Newport, R.I. Commanding officer - CDR R.D. Fisher.

On 9 January, McCaffery got underway for various exercises and drills while operating with Wasp (CVS-18). Extremely bad weather closed in on 14 January. The next day, DESRON 24, including McCaffery, Fred T. Berry, Lyod Thomas, and Wasp, became part of a rescue mission for 28 crew members of Texas Tower #4 that were waiting desperately to be evacuated from the tower because the platform was breaking up.

The five Texas Towers were intended to become part of the USA's advanced early warning radar system against Soviet bombers. Towers 1 & 5 were never built. Towers 2 & 3 were situated on the rocky seabed off Nantucket and Boston respectively, and Tower 4 was located 84 miles southeast of New York City, placed in waters twice as deep as Towers 2 & 3, and on a soft bed of sand and mud. The structure stood on three legs, each 100m long and 4m thick. When the tower was floated out to its location, two tower leg braces were damaged by a vicious gale. New leg braces were attached, as shown in the picture. However, the first crew members found the entire tower unstable. In August 1959, Hurricane Daisy severly damaged the isolated base, and Hurricane Donna pounded the tower with 130mph winds in September 1960, weakening the legs further. By this point, Texas Tower 4 had acquired a new name: Old Shaky. As well as rocking from side to side, the platform twisted and leaned, creaking horribly as it did. The crew was in constant fear that they would be pitched into the freezing ocean.

With squalls packing winds approaching 60 knots on 14 January, a deafing crack echoed across the platform, and Old Shaky began to sway horribly - another leg brace had snapped. An evacuation order was granted at 4 PM shortly before the tower's legs failed and the tower slipped beneath the sea. Meanwhile, McCaffery along with the Fred T. Berry and Lloyd Thomas were steaming with Wasp when word of the disaster reached them. Rear Admiral Allen M. Shinn, Commander Carrier Division 14, on the Wasp, ordered the three destroyers to speed to the scene - about 40 miles away. McCaffery was the the first ship to locate the wreckage. Contact was made by McCaffery's sonar equipment of underwater wreckage, and other attempts were made by "CW" underwater radio to determine if anyone was trapped in the submerged wreckage. As soon as Adm. Shinn was informed of the McCaffery's confirmed contact, he called for volunteer divers and a boat crew from McCaffery to investigate. Lt(jg) Beveradge L. Cash, an amateur diver, volunteered at once.

As McCaffery maneuvered close to site of the submerged wreckage, the motor whaleboat was lowered from the ship with a volunteer crew that consisted of L.C. Hedin, EM; R.R. Despathy, SFP3; J.R. Harold, FN; T.W. Noonan, SM1; E.F. Van Kampen, RM1; W.A. Showers, BM3; R.K. Blair, SN; J.A. Hewitt, EN3; and Ens. Robert W. Raymond, boat commander in Cash's absence. Lt(jg) Cash got into the water, and made a shallow dive of 10 or 15 feet. Three men tended the lines that prevented him from being swept away by the swift currents, and supplied him with his air from the surface, forced down to him from a small hand pump. When his face mask started to fill with water, he came to the surface. Just before he surfaced, Cash was sure he'd spotted the shimmering of a metal object some 40 feet below him. Breaking water, he yelled his discovery to the nine men in the boat bobbing crazily in the 25-foot swells, adjusted his face mask, and plunged back into the icy water. He tried to swim to one of the tower's supports - a stanchion that was grotesque and desolate without the tower above it. Again, when he descended about 15 feet, he saw a reflection 40 feet down. Again, his face mask began to fill with water, and he had to come to the surface.

As soon as he had cleared the mask, he started down, trying to descend deeper than 15 feet, and reach the tower's compartments. There were small oxygen tanks in the boat to carry down to any survivors contacted inside the compartments. Topside, the men in the small boat were tense as Cash repeated his attempts to reach the dome. To make the situation more miserable, there was a low overcast with 30-40-knot winds whipping up a stinging spray. It was hazardous, time-consuming work, and Cash was wearing only a pair of "long johns" under his thin rubber suit. After 30 minutes in the numbing water, the three line tenders hauled him into the boat, and he ordered the crew to make for the McCaffery. After his frustrating time in the water, Cash and the crew were heading back. When they came alongside, they found themselves riding the swells' crest up to the McCaffery 01 level and troughs to the bilge keel. It took some expert seamanship on the part of the boat crew and the ship's crew before they were lifted aboard.

By this time, the destroyer USS Blandy(DD-943) arrived with civilian skin divers who had been flown to her from the Wasp by helicopter. Cash was airlifted to the Blandy via helicopter. After he narrated his experiences, it was decided that he would accompany the divers to the tower area. Late that afternoon, the divers entered the water, and, although they descended deeper than Cash, they found their efforts were hampered by the murky waters stirred up by the storm. Later secure attempts were called off, pending the arrival of deep-sea divers on the Sunbird, a submarine rescue vessel. Subsequent rescue attempts by personnel from Coast Guard and New York civilian units, were unsuccessful. Only one body was pulled from the water. On 20 January, McCaffery returned to Newport.

For their actions, both Lt(jg) Cash and Salvatore A. Esposito, McCaffery sonar man who reported tappings, were recommended for the Navy Commendation Medal, and official citations were entered into their service records.

On 13 February, McCaffery got underway for ASW exercises with Trout (SS-565), which included a simulated atomic underwater burst. On 21 February, McCaffery conducted firing exercises at Target Bay, Culebra Island, and then proceeded to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Gunnery exercises continued through 25 February, and then McCaffery made a simulated attack on the guided missile cruiser Canberra (CAG-2). In the exercises that followed, she operated between San Juan, Culebra Island, Vieques Island, and St. Thomas. McCaffery returned to Newport on 11 March.

On 11 April, McCaffery moved to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for Fleet Rehabilitation And Modernization (FRAM II) overhaul. FRAM II was designed to add five years to the life of the ship, update weapons systems, and to improve living quarters. The overhaul gave her a new profile, a new bridge, a new tripod mast, replacement of the original torpedo tubes with smaller ASW torpedo tubes, an Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) mast aft, and a hanger and hanger deck for the Drone Antisubmarine Helicopter - DASH. During the extended overhaul, the crew members spent over 2,000 man days at various training facilities on the East Coast. On 6 May McCaffery entered dry dock, and remained there until 1 July. She entered dry dock several times more during the yard period.

On 18 July, CDR K.F. Gillette relieved CDR R.D. Fisher as commanding officer of McCaffery.

The FRAM II overhaul was completed in late December. One day of sea trials was conducted on 30 December, returning to moor in the Brooklyn Navy Yard that evening. The FRAM II overhaul converted the McCaffery from a DDE to a DD.

On 31 December 1961, McCaffery was moored in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

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

The following is a brief biography of Carl Peterson, an officer who served aboard McCaffery from 1958 to 1961.

Lt(jg) Robert Raymond came aboard McCaffery in July 1960 and bunked with Lt(jg) Peterson until Lt(jg) Peterson transferred in 1961 to USS Arneb (AKA-56), an Andromeda-class attack cargo ship resupplying the research stations in Antarctica. In 1962, he was assigned to the office of the Chief of Naval Operations, and in 1964 to the staff of Commander Middle East Force. From 1966 to 1968, Lieutenant Commander Peterson served with distinction as Operations Officer aboard USS Ogden (LPD-5), and participated in eight major amphibious assaults against enemy forces in Vietnam. LCDR Peterson was credited with developing the command and control techniques for debarking troops simultaneously by air and sea transports successfully employed in these assaults.

LCDR Carl Peterson

USS Peterson

In December 1968, LCDR Peterson volunteered for duties in Vietnam and subsequently commanded Patrol River Boat Squadron 57 operating in the waterways of the Mekong Delta. LCDR Peterson was singularly responsible for the success of many joint quick reaction operations designed to draw out and destroy enemy forces. On 2 April 1969, while enbarked in an assault support patrol boat, LCDR Peterson was mortally wounded when an enemy rocket detonated against his vessel. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. His name is listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Panel 27W, Row 1.
His awards included the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device, Purple Heart, and Bronze Star Medal. The USS Peterson (DD-969) was the seventh Spruance-class destroyer built, and the first ship in the Navy named after LCDR Carl Jarrold Peterson. The ship was commissioned on 9 July 1977, and decommissioned on 4 October 2002. The destroyer was last homeported at Norfolk, Va.

SOURCE: This article incorporates public domain material.
                United States Navy, document "LCDR Carl Jerrold Peterson"; Wikipedia