By John J. Grams
VESOLE was a "Gearing" Class destroyer. The Gearing's
were a late war modification of the Summers. Adding 14 feet to
the waterline length and 135 tons to the standard displacement.
The purpose of this modification was to add fuel oil bunkerage
thus increasing the endurance over the Sumners. Laid down on 3
July 1944, launched 29 December 1944 at Consolidated.
VESOLE was commissioned 23 April 1945 as a conventional
10 tube destroyer. Immediately thereafter, VESOLE went to Norfolk
for conversion to a Radar Picket. This entailed the removal of
all torpedo tubes, and the installation of a tripod mainmast
with altitude determination radar and electronic counter measures
equipment. The aft quintuple tube bank was replaced by an additional
quad 40 mount bringing the 40 MM barrels to a then impressive
total of 16 located on five mounts.
Experience on the radar picket stations of Iwo Jima and
Okinawa dictated the alterations to VESOLE and her radar picket
sisters. They were scheduled to bear the brunt of picket duties in
the coming invasion of Japan in November 1945. The destroyer forces
took a terrible pounding since the advent of kamikaze tactics in
November 1944 and fresh ships and capabilities were sorely needed.
While enroute to forward areas in the Pacific in August 1945, two
atomic bombs ended the warwith Japan.
VESOLE proceeded with USS BOXER CV-21 to Tokyo BAY.
Then operated with DesRon 16 and DesRon 12 in task Forces which
included the carriers LEXINGTON and INTREPID.
Vesole's travels ranged far and wide from Hong Kong to the Philipp-
ines and from China and Japan to Okinawa, Guam, and Saipan.
VESOLE returned to the Atlantic in January 1947, bearing
the Flag of DesRon 14, to begin a long career as a unit of the
Atlantic Fleet. This entailed many trips to the Med and to Nortern
Europe. In March 1953, she completed a major 5 month long overhaul
at Norfolk. This replaced the 40's with rapid fire 3'50s in dual
mounts, the deletion of the tripod mainmast and the receipt of a
taller stronger foremast. She received highly sophisticated radar
and communications equipment, and continued on in her radar picket
role. She was awarded the Armed Forced Expeditionary medal for
service of Lebanon in 1958, and again in 1962 for service during the
Cuban missile quarantine.
In 1964, VESOLE received FRAM modifications which included
ASROC and DASH, along with improved radars, sonar, and communications.
She was then re-classified as a conventional DD. Airborne radars
replaced the radar picket function (It is interesting to note, the
British without either sea based or land based AWACS capability in
the Falklands, had to return to using DD/FF ships for picket duty!
In 1965-66 VESOLE was the first Atlantic Fleet DD to do a tour in Vietnam.
She served in "Market Time" operations involving coastal interdiction,
gunfire support missions, and she also screened carriers in the Gulf of
Tonkin. She earned two battle stars for her Vietnam service. Her journey
back to the west and thus became an all around the world cruise.
Thereafter, VESOLE made many more trips to the Med, to the
Indian Ocean, and to South America for bi-lingual naval operations
with various South American Navies. She made her final Med cruise in
January 1976. She served off Lebanon during the crisis there and
was part of a force penetrating the Black Sea.
VESOLE was decommissioned and stricken from the Navy list
on I December 1976. She was scheduled to be transferred to a Foreign
Power in 1980, probably for spares as were some of her sisters. That
never took place.
VESOLE was expended as a target in 1983! Better that than
The resting place is:
20 Degrees 48 Min North, 64 Degrees 12 Min West
Depth: 2800 Fathoms BT
Date: 14 April 1983
VESOLER's are proud of a great ship! They faced a suicide
mission in Japan, fought other battles when called upon, were an
arm of Foreign Policy showing strength or diplomacy as required,
all as a team and as a family! VESOLER's should be proud!
Oh yes, should you think destroyer operations are dull and routine,
VESOLE was involved in three separate collisions at sea. In 1948 with
the USS MISSOURI BB-63 while refueling, in 1959, USS LEARY DDR-879.
and in 1965 with USS HAWKINS DD-873. You must admit. when VESOLE
tangled it was with something her own size or bigger!
To ride a destroyer was the ambition of every navy officer before
the development of aviation, and it still is. Destroyers to the
navy men were as romantic as cavalry to the army. Every navy man
from boot to admiral is proud of the ship in which he rides. but
all of them take off their hats to the boys in the tin cans. the
boys who carry the load of sand.