Sea Stories from the Billy B

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Letter From the Old Man

A Letter From Captain H. Castle to the Families of Bainbridge Crew Members Prior to Deployment 30 October 1966



30 October 1966

Dear Friends of BAINBRIDGE,

Many of you have just joined us recently, and to you I extend a most hearty "Welcome aboard." To those who have been with us for a while, once again I extend my deepest thanks for your wholehearted support.

Just about one year ago I wrote a letter similar to this as we prepared for transit from the east coast to the west coast via the Western Pacific. As I look around the ship today, I see dozens of new faces among the ships company. There certainly has been a big turnover since we returned in June from our deployment. And now, as you know, we are about to depart again, leaving you to "hold the fort" at home.


If the "Old Hands" will give me just a moment, I want to tell our new friends something about this ship we're so proud of. The BAINBRIDGE, world's first nuclear powered guided missile frigate, was built at Quincy, Massachusetts and commissioned on October 6,1962. She is 564 feet long with a beam of 58 feet and displaces about 8000 tons (or nearly 18 million pounds); this makes us larger than several of the World War II cruisers. We carry Terrier guided missiles, which are of an intermediate range for defense against aircraft and supplement them with two 3-inch/50-caliber twin gun mounts. Our defense against potentially hostile submarines is provided by on of the latest sonars complimented by torpedoes and ASROC ( anti-submarine rockets).

All of this is driven and powered by two nuclear reactors. Either of these is capable of sustaining the ship and often does. Having two reactors just extends the flexibility, durability, and reliability of the BAINBRIDGE.

BAINBRIDGE is four years old now and there aren't many "Plank Owners" left. The years since commissioning have been busy ones. After six months of tests and inspections, BAINBRIDGE deployed to the Mediterranean for duty with NATO and the SIXTH FLEET. Again in April 1964 she deployed to the Mediterranean. This trip set the stage for another world's first as the BAINBRIDGE joined the nuclear powered carrier ENTERPRISE and the nuclear powered curiser LONG BEACH left the Mediterranean Sea in July of that year on an historic round the world cruise. TASK FORCE ONE - as we were called - sailed south from the Mediterranean around Africa, across the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and around Cape Horn north to Charleston, South Carolina. This globe-encircling trip again demonstrated the mobility, endurance and independence of the nuclear fleet. After a year of local and fleet operations, BAINBRIDGE left her east coast home of Charleston, S.C., and joined the Navy's forces in the Western Pacific. BAINBRIDGE, and ENTERPRISE made the 14,276 mile trip, in just 33 days, demonstrating a new dimension in readiness. Transiting around the Cape of Good Hope, across the Indian Ocean, through the Straits of Malacca, the ship arrived in Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines on November 27,1966. After only three days rest, BAINBRIDGE and ENTERPRISE joined Task Group 77.7, proving again the extension of combat ability provided by nuclear power, in operations supporting the Republic of Vietnam.

BAINBRIDGE'S Western Pacific visit involved almost all work and no play as she spent the holiday season of 1965 directly involved in Vietnam operations. In January, BAINBRIDGE visited Hong Kong, for perhaps at the most pleasant moments of her WESTPAC tour. Back on station, we completed eight months of continuous operations, steaming more than 72,000 miles in 231 days, before returning home to our new homeport of Long Beach, California.

We have had a few pleasant months home and now we are preparing for another deployment. Because we have so many new personnel aboard, we are directing our main effort at this time to training. Nearly every evolution performed on board requires some degree of teamwork. And it is the knitting together of the various teams that makes BAINBRIDGE the efficient fighting unit that she is. You may be sure that when BAINBRIDGE deploys, she will be READY.

Of course we hope to hear from you often while we are deployed and we pray that all the news received will be good news. But, if an emergency should occur requiring the attention of your serviceman, contact the nearest Red Cross representative immediately...his verification of the need for the serviceman's presence is required to grant emergency leave. Emergency leave can be granted by the Commanding Officer only in the event of the death of a dependent or the death of a member of his immediate family. Approval by Relief and various other Navy and Armed Forces agencies will be more than willing to assist you in solving any problems you may have. Our telegraphic address during deployment will be:

Commanding Officer, USS BAINBRIDGE (DLGN 25)
c/o U.S. Naval Communications Station
Stockton, California

Back to a more pleasant note again, our mailing address will be:

(Name, rate, division)USS BAINBRIDGE (DLGN 25)
c/o Fleet Post Office
San Francisco, California 96601

The quickest and most reliable mail service will be air mail. Air mail transportation is used for first class mail form the fleet post offices to the ship wherever possible. We'll be looking forward to those mail calls.

Captain J. L. Cook, Jr. Commander Destroyer Squadron NINETEEN, has arranged for a briefing for the families of his ships' personnel and has kindly invited our families to attend. This briefing will be held at the Sea and Shore Club on the Naval Station at 9:30 A.M. Thursday , November 10,1966. This briefing is designed to provide further helpful information concerning legal assistance, family referral problems, an other matters which may require special attention by the Navy while your serviceman is gone. In addition if there arises any matter which you feel should receive my personal attention, please feel free to contact me personally.

As you know, our sailing date is November 17th. As we receive additional information on our schedule, it will be announced. Be assured that your man on BAINBRIDGE will be giving his best effort to the cause of world peace as he serves his country on the finest ship at sea today.

For the officers and men of BAINBRIDGE, and with warmest personal regards,


Hal Castle

H. C. Castle

Commanding Officer