USS Watts (DD-567)

Fletcher Class Destroyer

Displacement 2924 Tons (Full), Dimensions, 376' 5"(oa) x 39' 7" x 13' 9" (Max)
Armament 5 -  5"/38  AA,  4 - 1.1" AA,  4 - 20mm AA, 10 x 21" tt.
Machinery, 60,000 shaft horsepower; General Electric Geared Turbines, 2 screws
Speed, 38 Knots, Range 6500 NM @ 15 Knots
Crew 273.
Laid down by Seattle Tacoma Shipbuilding. March 26, 1943.
Launched December 31, 1943.  Commissioned April 29, 1944.
Decommissioned April 12, 1946.  Recommissioned July 6 1951.
Decommissioned September 26, 1969.
Stricken: February 1, 1974.
  Sold August 16, 1974 and broken up for scrap.
Additional links for USS Watts:

My Duties with USS Watts
Sep 1963 - Nov 1964

A military draft was started during WWII had continued though the Korean War, the Vietnam War and into the '70s.  My generation grew up knowing that basically we would all have to do some military time one way or another.  It was either go into the military right after high school as an enlisted or right after college as an officer.

I grew up in Lakewood, WA, near Ft Lewis and McChord AFB (now known as Joint Base Lewis/McChord or JBLM) and my father was a Reserve Army Artillery Officer.  I knew that I wanted no part of the Army.  A classmate of mine told me that he was already drilling with the Naval Reserve and after high school he would only serve two years of active duty and that was it.  It sounded interesting to me and I decided to join. (It was also a way to avoid being drafted into the Army.)  I was 17 years old and needed parent's permission, so Dad came with me to counter signed the endless paper work, however, I was sworn in on Sept 22, 1963, the day after my 18th birthday when Dad's signature was no longer required.  We were sworn in by a Rear Admiral who happened to be touring local Reserve Centers.

(That's me on the right.)
The Naval Reserve Recruit Division in Tacoma was a detachment of the local reserve ship, USS Watts (DD-567).   We drilled every Tuesday evening at the Reserve Center at 11th St and Alexander in Tacoma, WA, where we did all of the marching and classroom stuff that regular recruits did.  We also got to go to sea aboard the USS Watts for a couple of drill weekends.  I got my first taste on the helm on a mid watch with following seas off the Washington coast in December '63 - I loved it.   General Quarters (GQ) was another story.  I was assigned as a powder passer in the upper handling room of gun mount 52.  It was "0" dark thirty as the ship pitched and rolled in the the rough Winter seas and the handling room, directly under the gun mount, was thick with the smell of hydraulic oil and cordite.  One of the fellows became very sea sick and couldn't take it.  He just sat in a corner with a waste can between his knees, so there was the smell of that as well.  Now, whenever I smell cordite, it flashes a memory of that poor fellow heaving up his toes.

I am fortunate having never been sea sick a day in my life.

In June of '64 I attended reserve Boot Camp at NTC, San Diego.  It was sort of a compressed two week version of regular Boot Camp - mostly the stuff we couldn't do at the Reserve Center like, gas chamber drill, endless days of PT on the grinder, etc.  Upon completion of Boot Camp I was advanced to Seaman Apprentice  (E-2). 

In July of '64 I officially joined the USS Watts Selected Reserve Crew and did my first two week summer cruise.  For some reason I was picked to join the the signal gang for the cruise.   I learned to read signal flags, but never got the hang of the signal light. (I think it was my dyslexia) But, I did learn how to recognize when some one flashed us and I knew how to flash back "AS" (Alpha Sierra), which means "Wait while I get some one who can talk to you."  The signal gang was part of the "bridge coffee mess" which was located in the Sonar Shack which introduced me to the Sonar rate which fascinated me.  With my musical training I had a good ear and perfect pitch so I decided to strike for Sonar as soon as I made Seaman (E-3).

In Nov 1964 USS Watts was replaced by USS Marshal (DD 676).

Return to:
Boulder Knoll home page | Dick's Goat Locker