During 1968, U.S.S. BUCHANAN, under the command of Commander Robert N. Congdon, U.S. Navy fulfilled the many varied tasks assigned to her as a destroyer in the Cruiser-Destroyer Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Besides normal training exercises, BUCHANAN took part in two evaluation programs and during her six and one half months in the Western pacific she provided naval gunfire support and surface, sub-surface, and air surveillance for the Free World Forces in Vietnam.
Shortly after the beginning of the year, 5 January, BUCHANAN participated in Fleet exercise "BEAD STRINGER" off the coast of California. This fleet exercise included an opposed sortie from San Deigo followed by five days of training exercises to prepare the ship for its deployment to the Western Pacific. Upon completion of this exercise until 27 January, BUCHANAN remained in port San Diego to complete her predepolyment preparation.
On the morning of 27 January, BUCHANAN, in company with U.S.S. BON HOMME RICHARD (CVA-31) and FLOYD B. PARKS (DD-884), departed San Diego enroute to the Western Pacific to support the Free World Forces in Vietnam. During the transit, BUCHANAN conducted daily training exercises, and from 2 February until 4 February she operated out of Pearl Harbor continuing this training in preparation for duty in the combat zone. From Pearl Harbor, BUCHANAN continued on to South Vietnam crossing the International Date Line on 6 February and making final shipboard preparations in Subic Bay on 15 and 16 February.
Finally on the 18th of February BUCHANAN arrived on "the line" and commenced SEA DRAGON operations in the vicinity of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). BUCHANAN continued participation in the highly successful operation until 5 March when she departed station to join the U.S.S. KITTY HAWK (CVA-63) in the Tonkin Gulf for plane guard duties. BUCHANAN remained with the KITTY HAWK until 11 March when she again returned to "the line" to provide four days of naval gunfire support for forces ashore in the vicinity of the DMZ. On 14 March BUCHANAN again joined the KITTY HAWK for five days of plane guard duties and to provide TACAN services for their aircraft. BUCHANAN returned to SEA DRAGON duties on the 18th of March until the 24th of March when she again joined the KITTY HAWK to provide plane guard and TACAN services.
On the 26th of March BUCHANAN took her first break from the combat zone and made a port visit to Subic Bay. Leaving Subic Bay on the 5th of April, BUCHANAN returned to the coast of Vietnam near the DMZ where she spent the 7th and 8th of April on picket duty and then on the 8th of April she returned to operation SEA DRAGON. BUCHANAN remained on SEA DRAGON for eight days and then on the 16th of April she departed station enroute to Yokosuka for upkeep and R and R. During the transit, BUCHANAN stopped at Buckner Bay, Okinawas for a fuel stop and pulled into Yokosuka and then on the 2nd of May departed this port for transit to Hong Kong for four more days of R and R and upkeep. Again BUCHANAN pulled into Buckner Bay on the 4th of May to fire and exercise missile and take on fuel, arriving in Hong Kong on the 7th of May.
Departing Hong Kong on 11 May, BUCHANAN returned on "the line" again joining the busy SEA DRAGON forces on the 14th of May for two days of high speed attacks against the enemy. On the 15th of May BUCHANAN was called on to provide plane guard services for the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE and U.S.S. TICONDERROGA. BUCHANAN remained with these carriers until 27 May when she enthusiastically rejoined operation SEA DRAGON. Then on the 29th of May BUCHANAN sustained minor battle damage when she received heavy counter battery from CD site S-246 in the vicinity of WF0255363 (UTM). Damage to BUCHANAN consisted of shrapnel damage to guide one, cell one of ASROC launcher that punctured the heating/cooling system coil but did not penetrate into the guide; shrapnel holes in SPS-37 antenna platform; AN/URC-32 antenna insulator destroyed and insulators and cables grounded against the ship; AS-66047 antenna and on-two inch hole in it. No personnel causalities were sustained. In spite of this damage, BUCHANAN took the CD site under fire and bracketed it with 20 rounds of 5"/54 gunfire. Making temporary shipboard repairs, BUCHANAN proceeded to provide Naval Gunfire Support in South Vietnam. During this period of NGFS BUCHANAN provided close gunfire support of the First Air Cavalry Division and effectively suppressed enemy forces during a major assault.
On 7 June BUCHANAN departed the line for Subic Bay for repairs of her previous Battle Damage. BUCHANAN remained in Subic Bay until 17 June when she again departed for duty with SEA DRAGON forces where she provided naval gunfire from 19 June until 20 June. Once again BUCHANAN was called on to provide plane guard sevices for the U.S.S. AMERICA and U.S.S. BON HOMME RICHARD from 20 June until 1 July. The first of July marked the beginning of BUCHANAN's last tour on "the line" with SEA DRAGON forces as she blasted away at enemy targets until the 13th of July when she departed the coast of Vietnam enroute to San Diego. During this final tour BUCHANAN was responsible for sinking or damaging 36 water borne logistics craft, 7 bridges, 10 trucks, 15 structures and a pier.
The transit from the combat zone to San Diego provided the crew of BUCHANAN with a well deserved rest as she made a port call in Hong Kong from 16 July until 21 July, with short stops in Kaoshfung (22 July), Yokosuka (26-27 July), Midway Island (2 August), and Pearl Harbor (5 August). Finally on the 11th of August, BUCHANAN arrived in San Diego for a long looked-forward-to "WELCOME HOME."
The period from 11 August until 16 September provided the crew of BUCHANAN an opportunity to take post deployment leave and time to perform upkeep and repairs on the ship. From 16th until the 28th of September BUCHANAN again put to sea to participate in Gun Projectile Effectiveness test conducted in the Southern California Operation Area. This test was to evaluate the effectiveness of various types of projectiles against small, high-speed surface craft.
Returning to San Diego BUCHANAN made preparations for a tender availability period with U.S.S. PIEDMONT. The TAV lasted from 21 October until 3 November, and during this time a large quantity of experimental electronic equipment was placed onboard BUCHANAN, in order for her to participate in the upcoming CNO Project SAMID, D/S 499, tests.
From 4 November until 22 December, BUCHANAN was underway weekly while participating in the SAMID project evaluation in the Southern California Operation Area. This project was on test/evaluation of experimental electronic equipment designed to give a ship faster reaction time to combat TARTAR missiles at controlled drone aircraft. Upon successful completion of the evaluation program, BUCHANAN again returned to San Diego for the Holiday Season providing 22 December through 31 December as a leave and upkeep period for the ship.