History of the USS Arnold J. Isbell

(from DANFS)


Arnold J. Isbell (DD-869) was laid down on 14 March 1945 at Staten Island N.Y., by the Bethlehem Steel Co.; launched on 6 August 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Arnold J. Isbell, the widow of Capt. Isbell; and commissioned on 5 January 1946, Comdr. Carlton B. Jones in command.


Following a shakedown cruise to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the destroyer joined the Atlantic Fleet and operated off the east coast through the end of the year.

The following information about Isbell’s operations in 1946 was provided by William Graham (Radioman, 1946).

* 5 FEB – Departed for GTMO Bay, Cuba on Isbell’s shakedown cruise.
* 19 FEB to 8 APR – operated in and out of GTMO. Served with newly built carrier Roosevelt for a while.
* 9 APR – Departed GTMO Bay for San Juan, Puerto Rico.
* 15 APR – Departed San Juan for return to New York.
* 26 APR- Arrived a Brooklyn Navy Yard.
* 1 JUN – Departed for Norfolk, Va.
* 3 JUN- Arrived Norfolk.
* 15 JUN to 28 JUN – Operated with USS Randolph (CV15) and USS Meridith, (DD890) up and down Atlantic coast, going up as far as Boston.
* 28 JUN – Arrived Norfolk.
* 14 JUL – Arrived Davisville, Rhode Island and Quonset Point.
* 18 JUL – Departed for Guantanamo Bay again with USS Washington, (BB56), the Randolph, (CV15) and Meredith (DD890).
* 22 JUL – Arrived Cuba.
* 24 JUL – Departed Cuba, continuing the Atlantic patrol.
* 2 AUG – Arrived back at Brooklyn Navy Yard.


In January 1947, she was transferred to the Pacific Fleet and homeported at San Diego Calif. In May, Arnold J. Isbell departed California on her first western Pacific (WestPac) cruise. She visited Tsingtao and Shanghai, China, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Yokosuka, Japan Okinawa; and Apra Harbor, Guam, before returning to San Diego in December.


During 1948, the warship engaged in hunter/killer training and served as a training ship for Naval Reserve personnel.

In February 1949, she sailed to Bremerton, Wash., for two months of upkeep. Following this work, she departed San Diego in April, bound for the Far East. The destroyer was in port at Shanghai and at Tsingtao, China, when each of these cities fell to communist forces. She evacuated the American consul and his family from Tsingtao. She returned to San Diego in December.


Arnold J. Isbell was operating out of San Diego when communist forces invaded South Korea on 27 June 1950 and promptly began preparations for an active role in the conflict. she joined Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 52 and sailed for Korean waters on 6 November. Some of her duties in the combat zone included acting in the screen of Task Force (TF) 77 visiting Taiwan as part of the 7th Fleet display of strength, an] escorting the troop transports that brought the 45th Army Division to Hokkaido Japan.


In May 1951, the destroyer was reassigned to TF 95 and participated in the bombardment of enemy troop concentrations highways, and railroads at Songjin, Chongjin, and Wonsan before returning to San Diego in August for repairs and training exercises along the west coast.


In January 1952, the ship again got underway for Korean action. Between 19 February and 10 August, she acted as a unit of TF 77, the 7th Fleet striking force. Arnold J. Isbell also operated with TF 95 and took part in hunter/killer operations. For a short time, she was a member of the Taiwan Strait patrol and joined St. Paul (CA-73) in bombarding Songjin before she returned to the United States in August. Arnold J. Isbell then began a three-month overhaul at Bremerton, Wash., in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.


The destroyer sailed on 21 July 1953 for more operations off the embattled Korean peninsula. Upon her arrival there, she joined TF 95 for patrols along the Korean coast. A highlight of the cruise was her escorting New Jersey (BB-62) into Pusan harbor, where President Syngman Rhee presented the 7th Fleet with a unit citation from the Republic of Korea. Arnold J. Isbell also served a brief stint as a training ship for the Nationalist Chinese Navy at Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Returning to the Korean coast, she acted as a rescue and communications ship at Pusan during a major fire.


In January 1954, the ship and her sister members of DesDiv 112 escorted released Nationalist Chinese prisoners of war to Keelung, Taiwan. February found Arnold J. Isbell back in the United States and being overhauled by the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Mare Island, Calif. Her next six and one-half months were devoted to yard work and refresher training. In September, Arnold J. Isbell returned to the Orient. She again served as a training ship for Nationalist Chinese naval forces and then steamed with the fast carrier task force in Philippine waters.


The destroyer played a key role in the evacuation of the Tachen Islands in January 1955 as Nationalist forces shortened their lines of defense. She sailed from the area on 25 February for San Diego, arriving in her home port on 13 March. Following repairs and training, Arnold J. Isbell sailed on 27 September for the Far East. The destroyer visited various ports in Japan and Taiwan, and served on the Taiwan Strait patrol. During this tour, she also participated in successful search and rescue operations for a downed Navy patrol plane. Arnold J. Isbell concluded her duties and arrived back in San Diego on 11 March 1956.


After completing repairs at Mare Island in July, Arnold J. Isbell resumed operations with DesDiv 112 off the coast of California. On 25 September, she sailed, via Pearl Harbor, for her eighth WestPac deployment. Heading south from Hawaii the destroyer crossed the equator on 3 October, bound for Samoa. Upon leaving Pago Pago, her next stop was Wellington, New Zealand, en route to Manus in the Admiralty Islands. Following a brief visit to Guam, she finally reached Yokosuka, Japan. There, the ship joined TF 77 for operations in the area between Hong Kong and Japan. She stopped in the Philippines before returning via Midway and Pearl Harbor, to San Diego where she arrived in March 1957.


The warship had a brief availability period and then took part in a fleet training exercise. She later operated with the Navy’s first nuclear Powered submarine, Nautilus (SSN-571). Arnold J. Isbell also visited Portland, Oreg., for that city’s Rose Festival celebration. An 18-day nonstop voyage from San Diego to Brisbane, Australia, initiated the destroyer’s ninth Far Eastern cruise. She made stops at the Admiralty Islands, Guam, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Okinawa, and Japan before returning to California in June 1958. The destroyer received an overhaul at Mare Island from June until September and then conducted refresher training and prepared for her 10th WestPac cruise.


Arnold J. Isbell got underway on 18 December for WestPac. She operated with the Taiwan Strait patrol and took part in training exercises off Guam, Taiwan, Japan, and Okinawa before returning to San Diego on 29 May 1959 for operations in the southern California area. The vessel participated in numerous fleet exercises and, from 27 June to 15 August, held a midshipman training cruise.


The ship once again sailed for the Orient on 6 February 1960 and made stops at Pearl Harbor, Yokosuka, Kaohsiung, Hong Kong, and Subic Bay. At midnight on 20 April, she received orders to steam toward a sinking merchant vessel in the South China Sea. After reaching the scene of the disaster, Arnold J. Isbell was able to rescue 104 people. After delivering the survivors to Subic Bay, she proceeded to Hong Kong for three weeks as station ship at that port. A final stop at Yokosuka preceded her sailing for San Diego, where she arrived in June. The destroyer spent the next 12 months in local operations.


In June 1961, her home port was changed to Bremerton, Wash. Later that month, she entered the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for a fleet rehabilitation and modernization overhaul.


Arnold J. Isbell emerged from the yard with her new configuration on 4 May 1962. On 7 June, she reported to her new home port of Long Beach, Calif., and commenced refresher training. In October, the ship sailed with Destroyer Squadron 11 for the Far East. During this deployment, she took part in Operation “Red Wheel,” ‘Glass Door,” and “Sea Serpent.” The destroyer also served as a unit of the 7th Fleet hunter/killer groups. Upon returning to Long Beach in June 1963, she participated in another fleet exercise, Operation “Saddle Soap.”


In January 1964, the warship left Long Beach for her 12th tour in Oriental waters. During this deployment, she operated with a carrier force and later joined the Taiwan Strait patrol. Arnold J. Isbell visited Pearl Harbor, Subic Bay, Philippines Hong Kong; and Sasebo, Japan, before returning to Long Beach in May. She began a regular overhaul at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard in August. Upon completing her yard work in November, the destroyer proceeded to San Diego for six weeks of extensive underway training.


Shortly after finishing her underway training, the ship took part in Operation “Silverlance.” In March 1965, she received a drone antisubmarine helicopter (DASH) system and held trials of her new equipment off San Clemente Island. A midshipman training cruise occupied a large part of her summer. The destroyer sailed on 19 October for the Western Pacific. Following stops at Pearl Harbor and Subic Bay, Arnold J. Isbell relieved Brinkley Bass (DD-887) on 30 December on the northern search and rescue (SAR) station in the Gulf of Tonkin and began her first duty in the combat zone off the coast of Vietnam. The warship then became a unit of TF 77.


Search and rescue duties occupied the vessel until she was relieved on 31 March 1966 and sailed to Hong Kong for four days of rest and relaxation. On 12 April, she got underway to return to the United States. After fuel stops at Midway and Pearl Harbor, Arnold J. Isbell reached Long Beach on the 28th and commenced a leave and upkeep period. She returned to sea on 11 June with a midshipman training cruise to Hawaii and several fleet exercises. The destroyer unloaded her ammunition at Seal Beach, Calif., on 29 July and entered the Mare Island Naval Shipyard on the 31st for overhaul. Refurbished, the ship began a training period on 16 September and spent the remainder of the year in exercises along the southern California coast and in upkeep during the Christmas holidays.


Arnold J. Isbell held refresher training out of San Diego in March 1968 and then conducted local operations until getting underway for the western Pacific on 15 July. She arrived on station off the Vietnamese coast on 12 August and carried out duties as a gunfire support ship. Her routine was broken only by brief periods in port for repairs and liberty for the crew. The destroyer spent the Christmas holidays patrolling off Vietnam and then visited Subic Bay, and Yokosuka.


On 20 January, Arnold J. Isbell headed home. Upon her arrival at Long Beach on 31 January, she commenced a three-month period of leave and availability. She got underway again on 21 April for brief cruise to Acapulco and Manzanillo, Mexico, but was back in home port on 5 May. The vessel joined Task Group 10.1 on 9 June for a midshipman training cruise. Ports visited during this assignment included San Francisco, Seattle, and Pearl Harbor. This cruise terminated on 31 July, and she returned to Long Beach. A tender availability alongside Isle Royal (AD-29) ensued, and the destroyer then took part in Exercise “Bell Express” from 16 to 22 September. Her next underway period lasted from 17 to 21 November while she took part in Computex 31-69. She was also involved in gunfire support, antisubmarine warfare, and electronic warfare exercises before ending the year 1969 in port at Long Beach.


The destroyer sailed on 13 February 1970 for the Far East. While in the combat zone, she performed SAR duty on Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin, provided gunfire support, and served as escort for five aircraft carriers. She made four port calls to Subic Bay, visited Hong Kong for two weeks, and spent four days in Singapore. En route back to the United States, the ship paid goodwill visits to Sydney, Australia, and Auckland New Zealand. A one-day stopover at Pago Pago was also included in the voyage to Pearl Harbor. Arnold J. Isbell finally arrived in home port on 29 August and spent the rest of 1970 in local operations out of Long Beach.


From February to May 1971, Arnold J. Isbell went through an extensive yard period in the Long Beach Naval Shipyard. Six weeks of rigorous refresher training followed, and, on 9 September, she began what proved to be her final WestPac deployment. During this deployment, the vessel acted as a carrier escort and a naval gunfire support ship in Vietnamese waters.


The destroyer paid a visits to Sydney and Melbourne, Australia; Devonport, Tasmania; Wellington, New Zealand; and Pago Pago enroute home. On 7 April 1972, she dropped anchor at Long Beach. Then preparations to place the destroyer in the reserve training fleet were carried out. Arnold J. Isbell began her training duties on 16 June by sailing for Hawaii. She returned to California on 17 July and began operations off the west coast. A trip to Mazatlan, Mexico varied her routine in early November.


Arnold J. Isbell remained in her role as a reserve training ship until 1 February 1974, when she was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list. The destroyer was then transferred to the government of Greece and entered the Greek Navy as Sachtouris (No. 214). She continued serving Greece into the 1980’s.

Arnold J. Isbell earned six battle stars for Korean service and two for Vietnamese action.

3 Responses to “History of the USS Arnold J. Isbell”

  1. Chuck Staab,YN3 Says:

    1968- before leaving for WESPAC cruise in ’68, ship visited Portland,
    Oregon for the Rose Festival June 8, 1968.

  2. Tom Grayson Says:

    Tom Grayson, YN3 came aboard A.J. Isbell in Yankey Station off Vietnam by manilla highline from the supply ship USS Guadalupe out of Subic Bay in January 1972. The Ship’s band was playing “Ride Captain Ride on your Mystery Ship”. The seas were turbulent and the Isbell pitched so bad I could not stand up on deck unlike the Guadalupe that road low and stable.

    With the help of a 1st class BM I soon learned to walk on the walls as well as the floor keeping my head on a straight course. I want TO THANK that man. He probably saved my life that first day as I was going from Port to Starboard.

    Until orders to head home on a good will tour of many ports, we sat in the coastal waters giving fire support to troops. It seemed we were so close we could through a stone and hit the beach but distances were deceiving. I stayed with the Isbell typing most of the Ships daily schedules until I was transferred to the Engineering Officer as Logroom Yoeman when the ship was a reserve trainer.

    My Special Sea and Anchor detail post was the helm and lee helm. I was always so alert not to miss a command and never once did.
    I missed out on getting a “72 Ships Cruise book and it would be nice if someone could post theirs.

    I stayed with Isbell until she was sold to the Greek Navy and then I was transfered to the USS Lang 1060 stationed on Mole in Long Beach. Where the Naval Base Chapman picked me up in his car and commissioned me as the Lang’s Protestant Lay leader. I would like to talk to that Officer and tell him about the many miracles that happened aboard the Lang until I got out in July 1975.

    YN3 Grayson

    • Richard Welch Says:

      This is a nice article Tom. I have always wondered how life has treated you. Please get in touch with me if you can. Dick Welch

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