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Destroyer Squadron Eighteen

Destroyer Squadron EIGHTEEN was reestablished on September 1, 1995, having been previously disestablished in 1973. COMDESRON EIGHTEEN is assigned to the USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65) Battle Group and has served as Commander Task Force 60/Battle Force Sixth Fleet in the MED and Adriatic Seas. April 2000 showed the departure of USS Klakring (FFG 42) transferred to COMDESRON Fourteen in Mayport FL. But another warship USS McFaul (DDG 74) came soon after. The Staff and Ships in Desron Eighteen continues to be "on the cutting edge" as evidenced by being selected as the "Test Beds" for many maintenance, technology and Quality of Life initiatives.

Destroyer Squadron EIGHTEEN was first established May 28, 1943, when Commander William K. Mendenhall, Jr. broke his pennant in USS FRANKFORD (DD 497) at the Destroyer Base in San Diego, California. The squadron was composed of nine ships. Destroyer Squadron EIGHTEEN shifted to the east coast via the Panama Canal and commenced convoy escort duties between the United States and Europe. Over the next ten months, the ships of DESRON EIGHTEEN escorted ten convoys totaling over 150 ships with no losses. Destinations included the Canal Zone, Trinidad, the United Kingdom, and North Africa.

In June of 1944, Captain Harry Sanders, DESRON EIGHTEEN'S second commodore, took command of 113 ships assembling on the southern coast of England in preparation for the invasion of northern France. On D-Day, the destroyers of DESRON EIGHTEEN expended nearly 5000 rounds of 5-inch ammunition. They regularly closed to within 1000 yards of the beach, silencing German gun emplacements, rocket and mortar batteries, and inducing the surrender of German troops to United States Army Rangers above the beachhead. Across the task force, only one ship was lost and two patrol craft suffered minor damage. Commodore Sanders remained in command of ships in the area until July 18, 1944, when DESRON EIGHTEEN was detached for escort duties to Gibraltar.

In August 1944, COMDESRON EIGHTEEN assumed screening duties off the southern coast of France. As Task Unit Commander of a United States, British, and Greek task group they sank or damaged nine German U-boats and captured 50 German submariners trying to escape from Toulon on a fishing vessel. In all, 89 German prisoners were taken. No Allied ships were lost, although HARDING sustained damage while ramming and subsequently sinking a German U-boat. In October 1944, the ships of DESRON EIGHTEEN returned to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. DESRON EIGHTEEN'S distinguished wartime diary was brought to a close when Captain Harry Sanders hauled down his pennant in USS FRANKFORD (DD 497) ON November 11, 1944.

COMDESRON EIGHTEEN was reactivated on January 28, 1962 with Captain Isaac C. Kidd, Jr. in command. The squadron made six Mediterranean deployments before disestablishment in 1969. DESRON EIGHTEEN consisted of USS WILLIAM V. PRATT (DLG 13), USS LAWRENCE (DDG 4), USS DAHLGREN (DLG 12), USS JOHN KING (DDG 3) and USS SAMPSON (DDG 10). COMDESRON EIGHTEEN'S mission was to wring out the guided missile systems and develop doctrine and tactics for their use. Every guided missile destroyer joining the fleet until 1968 flew the COMDESRON EIGHTEEN pennant. Throughout 1962, COMDESRON EIGHTEEN conducted operations in support of the Cuban Quarantine and in 1963 made the first of several Mediterranean deployments. COMDESRON EIGHTEEN completed six Mediterranean deployments under seven commodores from 1962 to 1969. Eighteen different ships served with the squadron at various times, including the first-of-class USS BELKNAP (DLG 26) and USS LEAHY (DLG 16), which joined DESRON EIGHTEEN on May 4 1968 following installation of NTDS and Terrier missiles. DESRON EIGHTEEN completed several major exercises and an additional Mediterranean deployment in 1968 and early 1969. On November 1, 1969, after the reorganization of the United States Atlantic and Pacific Fleets, Captain J.F. Ackerman hauled down his pennant aboard USS W.M. WOOD (DD 715) closing another chapter in Destroyer Squadron EIGHTEEN history.

Destroyer Squadron EIGHTEEN was reactivated on July 1, 1971 as the Cuba Patrol destroyer squadron with Captain Francis A. Carrier in command. The squadron was composed of six ships, three were homeported in Mayport and three in Key West, Florida. The squadron was established as a surveillance squadron and operated predominately in the Florida Straits and western Caribbean. After two years of operations in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, DESRON EIGHTEEN was disestablished on June 30, 1973.

Destroyer Squadron EIGHTEEN, consisted of USS NICHOLSON (DD 982), USS THORN (DD 988), USS COMTE DE GRASSE (DD 974), and USS NICHOLAS (FFG 47), on September 1, 1995 following a reorganization of the Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic and Pacific Fleets. Since then, the ships of Destroyer Squadron EIGHTEEN have participated in numerous NATO and bilateral exercises. In addition, COMDESRON EIGHTEEN deployed to the Arabian Gulf as part of the GEORGE WASHINGTON Battle Group. On September 1, 1996, USS STOUT (DDG 55) joined the squadron and USS COMTE DE GRASSE (DD 974) left the squadron and joined the Western Hemisphere Group.




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