Date: Tue, 02 Nov 1999 17:14:30 -0800
From: Frank Doherty ET2 "DDR881@usa.net"
To: Destroyers Online
I am so glad to hear that you will be handling the Gearing Class now,
Yes, the Bordelon crew does have reunions. The first was in 1985 and there
has been one every other year since. We just had a fine reunion in San
Antonio, TX on Oct 14-16.
We had a memorial ceremony at the Fort Sam Houston Cemetery for William
Bordelon who was born and raised in San Antonio and was their first Medal
of Honor winner. His younger brother and several other family members
attended. There is to be a memorial statue built and placed in Memorial
Square, near the Alamo.
We have over 500 former crew members, including 3 or 4 skippers and several
other officers, in contact with us and over 100, plus spouses, attended the
Check our more up-to-date web page at the address in the signature of this
I submitted the info for the Bordelon to DOL quite awhile ago, but haven't
been able to get it updated. Can you help me update it? Or would it be
better to delete it and put a link to the web page that I can update
myself, on freeyellow? I see that other ships have such a link.
I have become the historian for the Bordelon and am a member of the reunion
committee. Our next reunion will be in Branson, MO. in 2001. If you want
any other info regarding the Bordelon, let me know.
Again, welcome aboard!
Doherty DDR881 ET 1950-1952
I commend you on your website for destroyers. As an amateur military
historian ( with emphasis on amateur) and a veteran of both the US Army
and US Navy, I am interested in all those sites which celebrate service
to our country and honor those ships and men who performed that service.
During my hitch in the Navy, I served on the USS Bordelon DD 881 from
June 1975 until her decommission in February 1977. Bordelon was deployed
to the Med in October 1975 and served in the Sixth Fleet until May 1976.
On November 22, '75, we had completed two days of anti-submarine operations
in the Ionian Sea east of Sicily. We rejoined the Task Force based on
USS John F. Kennedy. During maneuvers that night (13 years to the day after
the Kennedy assassination), the USS Belknap collided with Kennedy. Rear
Admiral Dixon was commander of the carrier task force. He personnally took
charge of the scene that night, and personnally gave directions to the ships
to render assistance to Belknap. Admiral Dixon was impressive directing
some ships to standby as aide relay vessels, others to search the waters and
others to go alongside. Belknap was afire amidships and I later learned from
those onboard, the men on the bow did not know whether the ship had been cut
in half or not. The men on the stern thought the same about the bow. Still,
the organized themselves into firefighting parties and began to fight to save
Initially Admiral Dixon ordered the USS Claude Ricketts alongside to fight the
fire from the upwind side. But as the hours passed, he realized this was not
getting the job done. Dixon ordered the Bordelon to go alongside on the downwind
side, into the flame and smoke and play water on the side no one could reach.
Our skipper, Commander George Pierce, a short, stocky, dry-humored New Englander,
maneuvered Bordelon alongside and held her there while the boatswains mates and
damage control people fought the fire. We never put a line across to Belknap.
With over 200 engine order bells, and God knows how many rudder orders, Pierce
held us within 15 feet of the side of a burning Belknap - in open sea - until
the fires were brought under control. He held the conn all night. George Pierce
was one helluva ship driver. Later we rigged a tow, and towed Belknap to Augusta
Bay, Sicily. We moored alongside and gave what ever assistance we could until
we were ordered to get underway to rejoin the Task Force.
Later during that same Med deployment, Bordelon had a very different mission to
Greece. This was about the time a very left wing government was elected in Greece
and they rejected their association with NATO and kicked the US Navy out of our
base in Athens. Several months later, Greek leaders thought they had gone too
far and were in fear of a strong and growing Soviet influence. The Greeks wanted
the Americans back, but politically couldn't ask for a return. So they agreed to
a trial. That was one US ship would visit a Greek port and it would be a test
case. Bordelon had the best liberty record in the Med, and we were selected to
visit Kalamata, Greece. We arrived and the assistant naval attache told the crew
we were not there for liberty, but that we had a mission. That mission was to
behave ourselves and charm the Greek citizenry. We must have succeeded, since a
steady procession of US ships followed, until our relations were once again normal.
During the summer of 1976, Bordelon participated in the USS Independence's ORI
(Operational Readiness Inspection) and deployed to northern Europe as part of a
major NATO exercise. After 16 Days at sea, we were alongside the USS John F.Kennedy
refueling, when the ship's gyro compass had a gyro rotation. The helmsman corrected
for the course he was ordered to steer and when the conning officer reacted, it was
too late. The ship was caught in the vortices of underwater currents coming off the
carrier's bow. We were literally sucked into the side of the Kennedy. The main mast
snaped and fell on some of the UNREP handling team injuring a number of men and
seriously injuring two men. Both were airlifted to Kennedy and then to Germany for
medical help. Both survived and returned to duty.
Bordelon went to Plymouth, England and spend 16 days in port getting repairs and
installing a pathfinder navigation radar for the trip back home. Initially we took
some gentle and good natured ribbing from the British for running into another ship
(always only after they had learned the nature and extent of our injuries). But a
reserve Royal Navy minesweeper involved in the same exercise capsized and sank in
heavy seas with great loss of life. After that the British said nothing to us about
The Bordelon returned to the US in company with the USS Kalamazoo, an oiler and
another destroyer. We went to Charleston, not Philadelphia as your website said,
and we were decommissioned in Charleston at the Charleston Naval Base. I understand
the ship was towed first to Philadelphia and then to Iran for parts, principally
the boilers, but she was not a US Navy ship. Our executive officer had succeed
Captain Pierce shortly before decommission and he took the commission pennant off
the ship during the ceremony on a bitterly cold day in Charleston. Captain Pierce
was cleared during the post collision inquiry and later commanded another Gearing
class destroyer, the USS Cone.
I moved on and later served on the pre-commission crew and first crew of the
USS Oliver Hazard Perry FFG 7.
I hope this information will be of some assistance to you.
Subject: USS Bordelon
Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2000 15:00:54 EDT
To: Destroyers Online
I served on the Bordelon from 1965-1968.
Have always wondered what happened to it.
Glad to see this page up and running.