Decommissioning of USS Morton DD 948.
The end of a long and proud career.
Al Bell's story of running across Morton at a breaking yard
Morton was towed into SWM's (SouthWest Marine, Inc.'s) shipyard in San Pedro with four other ships for "recycling." I went on board, but not having a flashlight with me, did not go below decks. It was very depressing.
I was working at SWM as a consultant writing claims against the Government almost the entire time she was being dismantled and cut up. I took no photographs, and efforts to obtain photographs from the shipyard proved fruitless. I've gotta tell ya -- it wasn't a pretty sight. She had been "demilled" by having her gun barrels and other armament cut off before she arrived. Each day I saw more of her cut off and stowed in an enclosure in the shipyard.
When she was placed in a floating drydock, I went on board the dock to examine the hull. I wanted to see the sonar dome because the ship had been one night in February 1982 so gently grounded on a sandbar by one of my best and brightest OODs outside Pearl Harbor that we did not know of the incident until we had a routine hull inspection in Guam during our deployment much later. (Reports of a scraping sound had been reported to the OOD by a sailor in a berthing compartment, but he never relayed that info to me). The damage was not sufficient to require repairs (only paint was smudged off), but it was more than sufficient to end my chances of promotion. As CO you are fully, inescapably responsible whether you are on the bridge or not, at fault or not, so you graciously accept your fate. At least they were kind enough to allow me to keep my command with a mere admonition -- a real rarity in such situations.
Anyway, I wanted to see the "damage," so I was standing on the drydock looking up at the dome (no damage was visible), when the owner of the recycling company came up and asked me why I was so interested. I told him that I was the last CO. He asked me to help him with a problem he had. The ship had been turned over to him without any paper on board. They were having trouble selling equipment not knowing the manufacturer, capacity, power requirements, output, function, etc. I gave them a Propulsion Plant Operating Guide containing all of that data. In return, they gave me the bronze breakdown light from the top of the mast.
Contact Al Bell
After the formal decommissioning Morton and another of the same class were towed to Middle Loch of Pearl Harbor at anchorage for preliminary dismantling. ( Demilling or demilitarizing has to be done at a naval ship yard prior to a ship being sold to a civilian company or foundation). The other ship with the hull numbers painted over was unidentified by the picture source but is Richard S. Edwards DD 950. Morton and Edwards were the only two if the Hull class to have the ASW modernization and both were homeported at Pearl. They were later towed back to the mainland and sold for scrap. Two ships of Mortons design remain today. Turner Joy DD 951 is in museum status at Bremerton Washington, and Edson DD 946, last of the all gun ships to be decommissioned ( 1988 ) is in museum status at Intrepid Museum in New York City. Of the Forrest Sherman class destroyers, 7 were redesigned in the bow ares and called Hull Class. Hull, Edson and Turner Joy retained thier original design as three gun ships. Morton and Edwards had Mt 52 removed and a flight deck installed for DASH, ( Drone Anti Submarine Helicopter) as per design but by the time the conversion was finished the DASH program had been scrapped. The flight deck did remain usefull for other puroposes. Two other Hull class, Somers and Parsons had been converted to DDG in 1965-66.
Morton near the end of her steaming days in 1980.
Defense Visual Information Center photographs.
Looking for similar stories on Mortons last days and more pictures too.
email Rick Palmer
Don't let the links break. This is your history too.
When plans for DD 931 t0 DD 951 were layed down the original plans had the hull numbers up to DD 959. DD 952 to 959 were changed even before the keel on the DD 931 was layed. They became the Charles F. Adams DDG 2 class. This class was a modified Hull class with guided missle systems added to the design. DDG 2 to DDG 9 were reclassified from DD 952 to 959. After this change in plans and reclassification fifteen more were added to the program. Charles F. Adams class became a total of 23 DDG's numbering DDG 2 to DDG 24.
DDG 1 was a converted Gearing class destroyer USS Gyatt DDG 1 ex DD 712. Gyatt, commissioned in 1944 was a veteran of WWII as well as Korea.
Altho originally designed as a gunship the Charles F. Adams class were the first guided missle destroyers built from keel up.
Known as the Forrest Sherman class destroyers seven had redesigned bow sections known as a "Hurricane Bow", along with other more minor changes in design, these seven were known as Hull class of the Forrest Shermans. Of the seven Hull class, two were decommissioned in 1965 for a Guided Missle conversion and reclassified as DDG.
Somers DDG 34 ex-DD 947 and Parsons DDG 33 ex-DD949.
The Forrest Sherman class as originally designed had the smaller bow. All had three 5" 54 gun mounts and various other weaponry and were multii purpose ships. Of the Forrest Sherman / Hull class two Hull class were converted to DDG under the 1965-66 program, Somers DDG 34 ex DD 947 and Parsons DDG 33 ex-DD949. Two Forrest Sherman class were converted to DDG under the same program. John Paul Jones DDG 32 ex-DD 932 and Decatur DDG 31 ex-DD 936.
Six of the Forrest Sherman class were scheduled for ASW modernization. Barry was the first in 1964. Barry DD 933 had a different design on it's bow. It had a forward anchor on the prow due to a different design in the sonar dome. Barry DD 933 is in museum status at the Washington Naval Yard, Washington DC. The other five of the Forrest Shermans modernized under a later ASW program beginning in 1968 were Davis DD 937, Jonas Ingram DD 938, Manley DD 940, Du Pont DD 941, Blandy DD 943. This was the same program as Morton and Richard S Edwards.
At the present date there is an effort by a foundation in the state of Maryland to raise funds for the preservation of the Forrest Sherman DD 931 as a museum ship. That will mean four of the Forrest Sherman / Hull class saved for future generations to see what our navy looked like.
Hull DD 945
Edson DD 946
Morton DD 948
Richard S. Edwards DD 950
Turner Joy DD 951
Morton and Edwards were the only Hull class to get the ASW modernization
Always looking for more material for this web site. Thanks Rick
Al Bell, Morton's final skipper, exchanges a salute at the decommissioning ceremony.
Defense Visual Information Center photographs. Thanks to Al Creasey for sending them in.
Crew members man the rail during the decommissioning ceremony.
Crew members stand at attention as the Ensign is lowered for the last time during the decommissioning ceremony.
From the invitation package for the decommissioning ceremony. Sent in by Robert "Schultzee" Schultz ETC USN Ret.
Morton pierside and Benjamin Stoddert DDG 22 outboard at the Pearl Harbor Naval Ship Yard. Stoddert was one of the Charles F. Adams class DDG's. Notice large red and white pier crane in background. I'm not sure if the build date of the crane but it was there when the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor and was used to dismantle and repair many of the now famous name ships that were damaged and was in use many years after the war. Unused when this pictures was taken it stands as a monument to those days when the world was at war and we were in the fight of our lives as a country.
Morton and Richard S. Edwards moored at Middle Loch prior to being towed to Long Beach CA for scrapping.
I desperately need articles and pictures for the newsletter. Al Creasy USS MORTON Newsletter November 2006 1 I was wrong! In the May 2006 newsletter, I published what I believed to be the last known photograph of MORTON, taken in Middle Loch, Pearl Harbor. This past September, I received the following letter from Jim Paterson (SM1 1960-1963), USN-Retired:
"I was looking over the last two newsletters and noticed the pictures of MORTON in the Reserve Fleet, Pearl Harbor, and your request of any later photos of MORTON.
"Enclosed are copies of pictures of MORTON I took in 1992 at Terminal Island, California. In March of that year, I was on a friend's boat, sailing south down the San Pedro Channel (in L.A. Harbor), when I spotted an old Forrest Sherman class destroyer at a shipyard on the T.I. side of the channel. The hull numbers were painted over, but I took a picture of it in case it was MORTON. "The following Monday I called the Yard (Southwestern Marine and Recycling of San Pedro) and they confirmed that it was the hulk of MORTON and that they had bought it from the government for its scrap value. I spoke to the son of the yard owner and he said he'd try to get me on board before they dismantled her.
"I eventually got to go aboard on 20 August 1992, two days after they had commenced breaking her up. One of the workers escorted me around and I took a few shots of the weather decks. The pilot house was so full of wreckage that it was impossible to enter. The engineering spaces were off-limits.
"Anyway, I thought you would like these pictures, the last taken of MORTON. One of her flagbags was removed and mounted on the bridge of the S.S. Lane Victory, a fully preserved (and operable) WW2 Victory class merchant ship that is moored in San Pedro.
"The folks at Southwestern Marine are sympathetic to veterans of the ships that they break up. The hulk of the Bon Homme Richard (CV-31) was pulled into the yard shortly after MORTON and they allowed the former crewmen to hold their annual reunion on board!
"Their office is like a little maritime museum, overflowing with bits and pieces taken off the ships they have scrapped. They were busy cutting on the Chicago (CG-11) before they started on MORTON and 'Bonny Dick'.
"I hope I can make it to next year's reunion.
Send any pictures of Morton to the Newsletter VIA Al Creasy
I am always looking for anything, ship and crew for the website.