The year 1975 for USS BUCHANAN (DDG-14) was a most arduous one. The focal point was a major overhaul at Long Beach naval Shipyard and can best be divided into five distinct periods: (1) Pre-overhaul; (2) First-Half Yard Period; (3) Dry Dock; (4) Second-Half Yard Period; and (5) Light-Off Exam and Sea Trials.
This initial period was spent pierside at the 32nd St. Naval Station in San Diego preparing the ship for its upcoming overhaul. Finishing touches were put on the ship's PERT (Program and Evaluation Review Technique) program in an effort to identify crucial milestones and to establish a systematic scheduling of work and manhours that would carry the ship through the overhaul. As can be imagined, this period was a very busy one for all hands and examples of some of the major projects undertaken were the removal of both 5"/54 MOD 7 Gun mounts and the ASROC Launcher. The Weapons Department personnel also commenced the extensive overhaul of the Mark 11 Missile Launcher.
The second period commenced on 18 February with the BUCHANAN under tow by USS CREE (ATF-84) from the San Diego Naval Station to the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station to off-load all munitions. BUCHANAN was then moved by tugs to Long Beach Naval Shipyard where, on 19 February, the yard period officially began.
During the overhaul, the Operations Department sent many of its personnel to school on TAD as well as on other assignments such as shore patrol, SOAP Team and firewatches. The Radio Gang concentrated on the completion of SHIPALT DDG2-312 (Communications Alteration) which enlarged radio central by approximately 20%. In addition, the electronics Technicians were tasked with the removal of many other pieces of communicatin gear most notable of which were the Mark X IFF, SAMID, AN/URC-32, AN/245-1 and two AN/WRT-2's.
From the very beginning, the Engineering Department concentrated on a rigorous PQS (Personnel Qualification System) program designed to instruct everyone in the various operating and safety procedures of the engineering plant. This intensive training was conducted in preparation for LOE (Light-Off Examination). In addition to the training, a concerted repair effort was undertaken to improve or eliminate the material problems which had existed in the main spaces.
During the first week of March, BUCHANAN was administratively reassigned from DESRON THIRTY-ONE to DESRON SEVEN to facilitate her stay in the yard during the deployment of DESRON THIRTY-ONE.
The THIRD period, dry dock, began 14 April. This period lasted approximately 70 days and was perhaps the most trying period of the entire overhaul. Despite the noise and pandemonium which pervaded, BUCHANAN officers and crew members were able to mess and berth aboard. This achievement coupled with a keen desire by all hands to keep "their home" immaculate and in a high state of material readiness, enabled the ship to successfully complete the dry dock period on time and to take a giant stride forward toward ultimate completion of the overhaul.
Engineering Department was extensively busy during this same period with
the renovation and restoration of their spaces and equipment. Holes were
cut in various locations in the hull to facilitate the removal and reinstallation
of large machinery. Both emergency generators were replaced as well as Class
B Overhauling of much of the main space machinery. Through a combined ship's
force/shipyard effort, extensive preservation of the main spaces was also
On 28 June, Commander Thomas J. TURPIN, JR., became the eleventh Commanding Officer of BUCHANAN. Commander TURPIN relieved Lieutenant Commander James G. ROCHE in a formal change of command ceremony in which COMDESRON THIRTY-ONE, Captain Paul A. LAUTERMILCH was the principal speaker.
With Commander TURPIN now at the helm and the ship just out of dry dock, all departments rekindled their efforts to complete the overhaul on time. The Engineering Department expanded its training programs for the rapidly-approaching LOE. The Operations and Weapons Departments, despite depleted manpower resources, still managed to provide additional personnel for TAD billets, firewatches and quarterdeck watches and despite the workload, it was gratifying to see all hands pulling together as a team to assist the engineers in the final preservation of their spaces. In the mean time, other personnel were completing the reinstallation of the communications and electronic equipment which had been removed at the beginning of overhaul. New equipment was also installed which included the Mark XII AIMS, SHIPALT DDG2-242 (antennas), and an AN/URC-80 (V) (Bridge-to-Bridge communication system.
During October and November, the long, hard hours, intensive training and difficult preparations paid dividends. The forward LOE was given to BUCHANAN by the CINCPACFLT Propulsion Examining Board on 21 October and on 10 November this same board conducted the LOE for the after engineering spaces. The results of both exams praise the efforts of all hands and indicated that the ship was: (1) Above average in material cleanliness; (2) Had an effective valve maintenance program; and (3) Qualified a three-section watch bill. Because of these outstanding accomplishments, a message was received from Vice Admiral TIDD, COMNAVSURFPAC, which read in part, "The satisfactory light off exams achieved by USS BUCHANAN is indicative of the professionalism and personal dedication of all hands who have worked so long and hard to achieve this significant milestone Please convey my admiration and well done to all hands." A second message was also received from Captain Paul A. LAUTERMILCH, now COMSEVENTHFLT Chief of Staff, which also applauded BUCHANAN by saying, "I add my compliments to those of Vice Admiral TIDD. The high marks must be particularly satisfying."
During the final period of the overhaul the Weapons Department received its Helo Certification and the Navy Regional Finance Center, San Diego, administered an onsite Disbursing audit. The results of both inspections were also outstanding and the Operations Department rounded off the year's success by effectively installing a new SITE (Shipboard Information, Training, and Entertainment) Television System.
Despite the concerted efforts of all hands, a successful full power run was not achieved prior to the end of the year because of faulty bottom blow valves. These valves were a recurring problem and also caused the ship to postpone completion of the yard period. The Weapons Department had better luck in the closing stages of the year, however, as 300 rounds of ammunition were successfully fired from the new gun mounts.
The year closed with high expectations that the New Year would bring a successful full power run and a reunion with family and friends in San Diego. As a reward to the crew for their efforts and devotion to duty, Christmas Leave was authorized for all hands.