For BUCHANAN, 1981 proved to be an arduous year with nearly continuous exercises, inspections, and training evolutions designed to increase all aspects of combat readiness.
January 7 ended a much-deserved leave and upkeep period in BUCHANAN's new homeport of San Diego 32nd Street Naval Base assigned to Commander Destroyer Squadron Thirty-One. Considering the ship had just completed a major overhaul in Long Beach Naval Shipyard, the task of recertifying all shipboard systems was demanding and still lingering overhead. BUCHANAN started qualifying on January 12 with Systems Qualification Test (SQT) that took "The Warship" to sea on weekdays and inport San Diego for the weekends. These types of operations continued through the month of January and into February. After s pending a week inport, the lines were cast off and DDG-14 was underway on February 9 for a transit to Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach to onload ammunition. The 11th was spent in Seal Beach, and BUCHANAN was back inport San Diego on the following day where the warship remained until February 17.
The second half of February was extremely busy for the 350 officers and crewmembers of BUCHANAN as ISE and ECC drills began on the 17th with "The Warship" operating in the Southern California Oper-ations Area (SCOA). The long week of continuous drills ended on February 21. This particular weekend, BUCHANAN didn't return to 32nd Street Naval Base. Instead, "The Warship" went to Broadway Pier in downtown San Diego. In two three-four segments, more that 3500 guests crossed the brow to tour the BUCHANAN and get a glimpse of today's modern Navy.
On March 3, BUCHANAN left San Diego with the Mobile Training Team (MTT) Embarked for underway training of Engineering Watch Teams. MTT identified several EOCC practices that required additional emphasis and assisted ship's personnel in rewriting portions of the EOCC. BUCHANAN completed MTT on March 5 and moored outboard the oldest commissioned ship in the fleet, USS DIXIE, where BUCHANAN remained for the duration of the month. The three weeks of the Ship to Shop Availability (IS' Avail) assisted BUCHANAN in preparing for INSURV and OPPE that were scheduled for April. ECC drills were conducted again in the SCOA from March 30 until April 2. INSURV began upon returning to port on the 3rd in conjunction with another IS' Availability. These two evolutions continued until April 15 when BUCHANAN got underway for OPPE. The work of MTT was now going to be put to the test. After three long days of written tests, oral boards, and engineering drills, OPPE departed BUCHANAN finding three fully qualified watch sections in the engineering department. OPPE informed BUCHANAN that the watch teams were fully capable of demonstrating pro-per casualty control procedures and proficiently running all the main spaces. Moored outboard USS BROOKE at pier one in San Diego was BUCHANAN's resting place till May 18. This period of time was considered post INSURV with an Advanced Multi-Threat Team Trainer hooked up from 11 to 14 May. The next four weeks found BUCHANAN underway on weekdays and inport over the weekends while completing REFTRA. Minutes were sliced off general quarters times and the crew was thoroughly trained in mission preparedness. Following the four weeks of vigorous training. "The Warship" and her crew were determined to be able to adequately perform their required missions such as. ASW, AAW, CCC, ASU and MOB.
On June 12, BUCHANAN returned to port for a SIMA restricted avail-ability.
Between that day and July 9 the ship successfully completed NWAI, NWAT,
CASCON and ASROC handling in addition to completing major repairs and maintenance
during the availability. Steaming independently to the SCOA, BUCHANAN
participated in Fleet Exercise 1-81 from 10 to 20 July. The exercise utilized
two opposing groups of ships and aircraft to simulate a War at Sea. "The
Warship" returned pierside on July 21 where BUCHANAN remained
until August 5. There was one pleasant disruption of that inport period
on July 25 when BUCHANAN got underway for a Dependent's Cruise. This
one day excursion gave the family and friends of BUCHANAN's crew
the opportun-ity for a small taste of Navy life. On July 24, CDR Jere G.
Mackin, was relieved of command of USS BUCHANAN by CDR Michael E.
Mays in ceremonies held on board in San Diego. The ceremony was especially
impressive with decorations, refreshments, and choreography by CDR Dick
Diamond, the executive officer.
Arrival in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was on September 26. BUCHANAN departed Pearl Harbor in company with USS MARS, USS HALEAKALA, USS O'BRIEN and USS HOLT for MIDPAC OPS and the transit to Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines. The first WESTPAC upkeep began on October 17 and continued through the 27th in Subic Bay. On the 28th, "The Warship" prepared for sea and departed early October 29 for Sattahip, Thailand. The second of November was spent refueling and preparing for the up-coming week of exercises with the Royal Thai Navy. Departing Sattahip on the 30th, the next week was spent participating in Sea of Siam 82-1. The exercise was designed to provide mutual training to naval forces of both nations. A four-day port visit in Pattaya Beach, Thailand from 7-10 November concluded the joint operations with the Thai Navy. All enjoyed the excellent beaches, shopping, sight-seeing and nightlife. On November 11, "The Warship" was once again underway for Subic Bay. BUCHANAN arrived in Subic on November 15 for one day to refuel and to prepare for NGFEX 82-2 scheduled for November 16 through 19. The men and DDG-14 showed the other ships participating in the exercise that nobody-does it better. For their excellent performance BUCHANAN was given the "Top Gun" by Commander Naval Surface Combatant Force Seventh Fleet. This was just one of the many occasions were Buchaneers demonstrated unquestionable professionalism and expert marksmanship. Following the week at Tabones Gun Range, BUCHANAN returned for ten days of upkeep in Subic Bay. BUCHANAN was in dry dock over the Thanksgiving Holiday to have both propellers replaced.
With new propellers DDG-14 prepared for sea on November 30, and got underway the following morning for Pusan, Korea. December fifth through eighth were spent in Pusan where eight crewmembers from BUCHANAN and eight from USS HOLT joined hands and brought gifts of clothing and food to a Korean Orphanage as part of "Operation Handclasp". The four days of helping ended all too soon and once again BUCHANAN was underway. ASWEX 82-1K, a joint exercise with the Korean Navy ended with a one-day debriefing in Chinhae, Korea. The warship departed Korea on December 13 enroute for Sasebo, Japan.
On December 15 BUCHANAN was nestled for what was thought to be 12 days of long awaited upkeep. Contingency operations in the Sea of Japan interrupted the upkeep bringing BUCHANAN off the Korean coast with USS MIDWAY and escorts for two days. BUCHANAN departed the task group, which was enroute for Yokosuka, Japan, and returned to Sasebo for the remainder of the upkeep on December 22. Remaining in Sasebo over Christmas, DDG-14 was underway for Hong Kong on December 27. Steaming independently, "The Warship" arrived in Hong Kong on New Years Eve.
Over the course of 1981, BUCHANAN has constantly impressed superiors
and peers alike with the spirit, dedication and unquestionable professionalism
that is regularly demonstrated. 1981 was a productive year, going form a
post-yard period to a successful deployment. The officers and crew of BUCHANAN
have great hopes and expectations for the warship to have an even better
year in 1982