USS Edson

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USS Edson (DD-946).jpg
USS Edson (DD-946)
Name: Edson
Namesake: Merritt A. Edson
Awarded: 27 January 1956
Builder: Bath Iron Works, Bath ME
Laid down: 3 December 1956
Launched: 4 January 1958
Sponsored by: Mrs. M. A. Edson (widow)
Acquired: 31 October 1958
Commissioned: 7 November 1958
Decommissioned: 15 December 1988
Struck: 31 January 1989
Homeport: Long Beach, CA
Identification: NJRE (radio call sign)
Nickname(s): Fast Eddie, The Grey Ghost of the Vietnamese Coast
Honors and
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, Vietnam Service Medal, National Defense Medal, Combat Action Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation
Status: Museum Ship at Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum, Bay City, Michigan since 2013
General characteristics
Class and type: Forrest Sherman-class destroyer
  • 2,800 tons standard.
  • 4,050 tons full load.
  • 407 ft (124 m) waterline,
  • 418 ft (127 m) overall.
Beam: 45 ft (14 m)
Draught: 22 ft (6.7 m)
Propulsion: 4 × 1,200 psi (8.3 MPa) Babcock & Wilcox boilers, Worthington steam turbines; 70,000 shp (52 MW); 2 × shafts.
Speed: 32.5 knots (60.2 km/h)
  • 4,500 nautical miles at 20 kt
  • (8,300 km at 37 km/h)
Complement: 17 officers, 218 enlisted.
USS Edson
Location Bay City, Michigan
NRHP reference # 90000333
Significant dates
Added to NRHP 21 June 1990[1]
Designated NHL 21 June 1990[2]

USS Edson (DD-946) is a Forrest Sherman-class destroyer, formerly of the United States Navy, built by Bath Iron Works in Maine in 1958. Her home port was Long Beach, California and she initially served in the Western Pacific/Far East, operating particularly in the Taiwan Strait and off the coast of Vietnam. Her exceptionally meritorious service in 1964 in the Gulf of Tonkin was recognized with the first of three Navy Unit Commendations, during the following years she was shelled by North Vietnamese land forces, and apparently received friendly fire from the US Air Force.

Following an onboard fire in 1974, Edson returned to the West Pacific and was later commended for her roles in the evacuation of Phnom Penh and Saigon.

She was decommissioned in 1988, but the following year became a museum ship at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York. Returning to Navy lay-up in 2004, it was agreed in 2012 that she should again become a museum ship, at Bay City, Michigan. A National Historic Landmark, she is one of only two surviving Forest Sherman-class destroyers.[3]

Commissioning and initial service[edit]

USS Edson was named for Major General Merritt “Red Mike” Edson USMC (1897–1955), who was awarded the Medal of Honor (while serving as Commanding Officer of the First Marine Raider Battalion on Guadalcanal) and the Navy Cross and Silver Star for other actions in World War II.

Edson was laid down on December 3, 1956 by Bath Iron Works Corporation, Bath, Maine; launched on January 4, 1958, sponsored by Mrs. M. A. Edson, widow of General Edson; and commissioned on November 7, 1958, with Commander Thomas J. Moriarty in command.

Edson called at Ciudad Trujillo and Caribbean ports while conducting shakedown training en route to Callao, Peru, where she lay from February 18–21, 1959 delivering supplies for the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru, she reached Naval Station Long Beach, California, her home port, on March 2, and through the remainder of the year perfected her readiness with exercises along the west coast. On January 5, 1960, she sailed from Long Beach for her first deployment in the Far East, during which she patrolled in the Taiwan Straits and took part in amphibious operations off Okinawa, and exercises of various types off Japan. On April 29, she rescued three aviators from USS Ranger, whose A-3D aircraft crash landed in the ocean. Edson returned to Long Beach on May 31 for an overhaul which continued through October. Edson spent the remainder of 1960 conducting training off San Diego.

Bow of the USS Edson at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard

WESTPAC deployments[edit]

In June 1961 Edson, together with the other ships of DESDIV 231, sailed to Portland, Oregon, to represent the U.S. Navy at the annual Rose Festival, on August 11, 1961, Edson sailed from Long Beach harbor to start her second WESTPAC deployment. She spent three months in operations with the attack carriers USS Ranger and USS Ticonderoga and spent the month of December patrolling the straits between Taiwan and the mainland of Communist China.

On Friday, March 13, 1964, Edson departed for her third WESTPAC deployment, after the transit, Edson began duties with the Taiwan Patrol Force, CTF 72. The end of May and the months of June and July 1964 were filled with carrier operations, Gunfire Support Training in the Philippines, and operation LICTAS, a joint SEATO operation off the coast of the Philippines. August found Edson in the Gulf of Tonkin on special operations, it was here she was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for exceptionally meritorious service in support of operations in the Gulf of Tonkin during the period August 2–5, 1964. On her fifth deployment in 1967, she received a hit from a North Vietnamese shore battery while providing a naval gunfire support mission.

Edson served as plane guard for aircraft carriers on Yankee Station in the Tonkin Gulf, participated in Sea Dragon operations, patrolled on search and rescue duties, and carried out Naval Gunfire Support missions during the Vietnam War. On June 17, 1968 she apparently took friendly fire from the US Air Force, along with several other U.S. and Australian ships.[4]

On December 12, 1974, Edson suffered a fire in the after fireroom while training with the USS Coral Sea. The fire was caused by the ignition of oil which was spraying from a rupture in a lube oil gauge line, the area was secured and fire extinguished with no personnel casualties.

In January 1975, after repairs in Hawaii, the Edson continued on to WESPAC and in April she participated in Operation Eagle Pull (evacuation of Phnom Penh, Cambodia) and Operation Frequent Wind (evacuation of Saigon, Vietnam), earning two Meritorious Unit Commendations.

The Edson was decommissioned on December 15, 1988, and towed to the Philadelphia Inactive Ships Maintenance Facility for storage, at the time of her decommissioning, she was the last all-gun destroyer in the United States Navy.

In popular culture[edit]

The ship's name is prominently displayed in episode 104 of The Twilight Zone, "The Thirty-Fathom Grave", first aired in 1963. While all of the action occurs on the Edson, the ship in the opening and closing stock shots is another Sherman-class destroyer, the USS Mullinnix.

A scene showing the Edson, DD-946, is in the March 24, 1963 episode (entitled "Operation Stowaway") of the television series Ensign O'Toole; portraying the series DD, the (fictitious) "USS Appleby", near Washington, D.C.


Grey warship looking up from the box end taken from the quay-side against a blue sky
USS Edson in 2003

The Edson served as a museum ship at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City from June 30, 1989 to June 14, 2004 when it was replaced by a Concorde airliner, the ship was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1990.[2][5][6]

In 2004 the ship was towed to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where hull repairs were completed, and then towed back to the Philadelphia Inactive Ships Maintenance Facility for storage, the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum at Bay City, Michigan, and the Wisconsin Naval Ship Association at Sheboygan, Wisconsin both submitted applications to the Naval Sea Systems Command to relocate the Edson and reinstate her as a museum ship in their respective locations. The Bay City proposal was successful.

The Navy declared USS Edson seaworthy on July 17, 2012 [7] and it was cleared to begin its journey to Michigan on 1July 18with arrival at the museum site on August 7, 2012, after roughly a year at a temporary mooring at Wirt Stone docks, she was floated up the Saginaw river to her permanent mooring site, and on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 15:01 hours, the USS Edson arrived at her permanent mooring site in Bangor Township, MI @ 43°36′50″N 83°52′8″W / 43.61389°N 83.86889°W / 43.61389; -83.86889Coordinates: 43°36′50″N 83°52′8″W / 43.61389°N 83.86889°W / 43.61389; -83.86889.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b "USS Edson (Destroyer)". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. September 14, 2007. Archived from the original on December 20, 2014. 
  3. ^ "NHL nomination for USS Edson" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2017-03-30. 
  4. ^ "HMAS HOBART — attacked by US Airforce June 1968 Vietnam". Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  5. ^ James P. Delgado (January 8, 1990). "USS Edson (DD-946)" (PDF). National Park Service. 
  6. ^ "USS Edson (DD-946)--Accompanying 6 photos, exterior and interior, from 1966 and 1989" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination. National Park Service. January 8, 1990. 
  7. ^ "Navy declares USS Edson sea-worthy, destroyer to begin voyage to Saginaw River tomorrow". Michigan Live LLC. 

External links[edit]