San Diego, CA
May 1983 - June 1984
left my family in San Diego and flew over to Subic Bay, Philippines,
and reported aboard the USS Robison. She was in the middle of a WestPac
cruise at the time. From Subic Bay, we sailed to Hong Kong for a 5-day
port visit (then Subic Bay and Hong Kong once again). From Hong Kong,
it was down to the waters off Nicaragua to join the USS New Jersey
Task Force and participate in the naval blockade there. On one evening,
we lined up 2,000 yds behind the New Jersey (I was driving the ship
at the time) and we had a front-row seat in observing the New Jersey
put on an awesome gun-fire demonstration (for some onboard Congressmen)
with her massive 16-inch guns. Later, we pulled into Rodman, Panama
for a port visit. In September, we arrived back home in San Diego.
driving . . . .
serving on the Chicago as the EMO and OE division officer
(with a division of 40+ men), this ship was a step backward
and a real let down. It would be a great ship for a new
CWO2, but not a CWO4. Ironically, my billet was phased
out on this ship just after I reported aboard. To keep
busy, I took on some collateral duties and stood underway
watches as JOOD. I started my SWO qualifications, something
that was next to impossible to do when I was on the Chicago
(due to so many junior Officers trying to qualify, plus
the requirement for me to be on call 24 hours a day for
equipment maintenance problems and status). This was my
first time at learning ship driving, and I found that
challenging and fun. I remember my first two attempts
at driving the ship during a man overboard drill, my first
time was perfect. I pulled the ship right up alongside
old Oscar and they plucked him right up from the main
deck. Having done it perfect the first time, you would
think I had the procedure down pat, Ha! The second time,
I ran right over old Oscar! My first unrep approach, alongside
an Oiler, was also almost perfect. My second attempt,
like the man overboard drill, was less than perfect. I
got caught in a suction and over-reacted in my attempt
to get out of it - I did learn a lot from my error though.
The CO was cool about it and calmly explained to me what
I had done wrong.
Robison DDG-12 at sea
pulling my papers . . . .
a few months on board, I realized I had made a mistake
pulling my retirement papers and returning to sea duty,
especially on this ship. When I was selected for CWO4,
the skipper and I got into a disagreement as to privileges
of rank. He essentially didn't want to give me any and
wanted me to do things I had done back as a CWO2. So,
I reapplied for retirement. On my last day on board, all
the officers were lined up at the brow to pipe me off
the ship. When I reached the last man, the skipper, He
says "I thought you were bluffing!" I said "no
captain, I told you I quit!" And that is how I left
Robison Anchored In Hong Kong Harbor.
Skipper was different . . . .
skipper was a strange bird. He never looked into newly
reporting officers' (or senior enlisted men for that matter)
service jackets to read anything about them and their
careers. He's the first skipper I had ever run into who
was like that. While in Hong Kong, the skipper and I were
on liberty together, and he asked me "when are you
going up for CWO4?" First, if he had looked at my
service jacket, he would have seen that I was currently
in front of the board, and he would have seen all my past
fitness reports, and seen that I had an excellent chance
of being selected. I responded to him by saying "the
board is meeting right now and I'm pretty sure I made
it - I'm just not sure where I am on the list, and I would
be disappointed if I was not in the top 10%." Well,
he thought that was real arrogant of me. Anyone in the
Navy worth their salt knows what their competition is
and what their chances are in front of any selection board
(from their fitness reports), and he should have known
that. If that "recommended for early selection"
box is not checked on your fitness report, then maybe
I could understand his thinking. When the selections were
released, I happened to be on the bridge as the JOOD.
The Radioman came out on the bridge and said "Mr.
Willis, you made CWO4." I said "I know, where
am I on the list?" He says "you're number 50
on a list of 550." I looked over at the skipper and
he just looked the other way!
view of USS Robison DDG-12 at sea
was an excellent, and very patient teacher (especially
in ship driving), but somewhat odd and strange in many
aspects of normal Navy duties and protocol. He would not
submit crew member evaluations until several months past
their required due dates, which could impact anyone going
up in front of any selection review board - I never understood
this. I had to write him a letter, several months after
my retirement, to get my final fitness report.
room mates . . . .
I had two different room
mates, while on board the Robison. The first one was a
real jewel. He was an ex-enlisted that received a commission
after getting a college degree - how, I don't know. He
was kicked out of the Navy a couple of months after I
arrived. I remember the day he was packing his sea bag,
just before leaving the ship. He pulls this big long barrel
(I believe 40 caliber) pistol out of his desk safe and
asks me "can you keep this for me, as I think I may
have a problem getting this thing through all the airports?"
Now, we were in Subic Bay P.I. mind ya. I don't remember
what I said, but I'm sure it was something along the lines
of "are you out of your #$#@^&%$ mind! I don't
know what he did with it, but I got the hell out of that
room! My second room mate was great. I always required
my room to stay neat and you had to make your own bunk
after getting up - he was real good about both. His dad
was a Master Chief, I believe, and was able to get his
son into the Naval Academy. I hope he went on to make
a career out of the Navy because he was an excellent officer
and a gentleman. In this Officers photo, he is the last
one on the right, in the front row.
Robison DDG-12 Officers - I'm 4th from the right, front
Gang . . . .
will add that I did have a top-notch ET gang working for
me. An excellent group of technicians. One individual
ended up working for me later on in my civilian capacity.
My first Chief ET was medicore, and I wrote his evaluation
accordingly, which he didn't like. My philosophy on writing
evaluations is, write them as you see them - I don't sugar
Robison ET Gang - 1983
USS Robison DDG-12
tape and movie . . . .
the evening meal, while underway, the skipper would bring
his favorite opera music tape to the wardroom and torture
us by playing it during the meal. I hate opera music to
this day. We also had (I emphasize "had") a
VCR tape of the movie "The Pink Panther" that
the junior officers played over and over and over. Well,
one day it came up missing and they blamed me for chucking
it over the side. I wasn't the one that took it, but I'd
like to shake the hand of the individual that did!
The Robison underway
with Weapons boss . . . .
remember soon after my arrival on board, tangling with
the Weapons Dept Head over a fan room. I guess he was
testing me. Before I came aboard, the division was tasked
with cleaning up and maintaining the fan room adjoining
the SPS-40 compartment. When they first received this
task, this compartment was a disaster and required a lot
of work. Soon, after I reported on board, my guys reported
to me that the Weapons Department took back this fan room
and substituted a fan room out on the main deck that was
even a bigger disaster. Well, I immediately informed the
Weps Boss that this wasn't going to happen without a fight.
I tracked down the XO (he was in the middle of conducting
a berthing inspection) and I just asked him one question,
which was "does this ship's organizational manual
state, like every other ship in the Navy, that a fan room
belongs to the department that the hatch opens out into?"
The XO says "yes, that's right." I turned around
to the Weps Boss and said "case closed." He
got his fan room back (since the hatch opened out to the
main deck, his space). The only other time we tangled
was during duty days, when he was CDO. One of my duty
day tasks was monitoring the quarterdeck watches. I would
allow the OOD to pass the word over the 1mc when the roach
coach was on the pier, so crew members could buy something
to eat. For some reason, he hated this - to him the 1mc
was for official business only. I told him that well after
the evening meal this was the only way crew members could
get something to eat. He would bitch and moan about it,
but I let them do it anyway.
Robison DDG-12 Outboard
USS Lynde McCormick DDG-8 and USS Hoel DDG-13
OPs boss . . . .
also tangled with my own Ops Boss once while we were moored
in Hong Kong. I was in the middle of putting on my civvies
and going on liberty in Hong Kong. I get the word that
the Ops Boss wants all Operations Department Officers
in the Ops Office right away. I begrudgingly put my uniform
back on and proceeded to the Ops Office. He commences
to tell us that we had this immediate task (I don't even
remember what it was now - it wasn't anything real serious
anyway) that needed all our attention right away and that
there would be no liberty until we completed it. It dawned
on me that I had seen this task a week or more before
in the message traffic, which means the Ops Boss had sat
on it all this time. I asked the Ops Boss "how long
have you known about this task?" He says "a
couple weeks." Having heard that, I got up to leave
and he says "where are you going?" I said "I
don't know about you Frank, but I'm going on liberty and
you can do this task yourself, since you've sat on it
for so long!" And, I went on liberty. This LT. was
a real lulu, he was eventually relieved for cause a month
or two later.
philosophies . . . .
took some flack, during my Warrant Officer years, over
a couple of my basic philosophies. One philosophy was
too keep the troops busy working their butts off while
the ship was at sea. This keeps their attention primarily
on their job and thus not continually brooding about their
families back home and keeping themselves in a continual
homesickness funk. Secondly, it allows the duty section
to handle the majority of situations when in port. The
XO (Cdr Reimann), on the Chicago, used to chide me about
my troops being the first in line (at the brow) for liberty
in each liberty port. I would always say to him "anytime
you want to inspect my spaces sir, I would be happy to
lead the way." He never took me up on the offer,
because he knew my spaces were always clean and shipshape.
My second philosophy, which I learned in the Submarine
Navy, was the requirement for my CPO's to be out in the
spaces during the work day - not in the CPO quarters.
I had no problem with periodical coffee breaks, just don't
spend most the day there. If I continually found any of
my CPO's in the CPO quarters, I let them know about it.
When I was a CPO myself, on the USS L. Mendel Rivers SSN-686,
The COB (Chief-Of-the-Boat) during working hours, would
kick any CPO out of the CPO quarters, unless he was actually
doing some official work (like paperwork). I always liked
that philosophy and required all my CPO's to be out in
the spaces supervising the troops - that is their primary
job. Many of the ship's other CPO's resented that philosophy,
but many of these were what I refer to as ROADs (Retired-On-Active-Duty)
and pretty much resided in the CPO quarters. I mention
this philosophy here, because on many occasions on the
Robison, I would find my division Chief sitting in the
CPO Quarters. I would politely knock on the door, open
the door and stick my head in, and I could hear the back
door open and close as he was exiting!
Robison Arriving Portland, OR For
The Rose Festival
decision to retire . . . .
March of 1984, I had 90 days leave on the books, so I
took it and left the ship 90 days early. I went to work
for Hughes Aircraft Co., in Fullerton, CA, and drew two
paychecks for 90 days. I worked at Hughes Aircraft on
writing maintenance procedures and entering logistics
data into a computer for the maintenance section of the
Submarine Vertical Launch System AN/BSY-1 technical manual.
USS Robison was commissioned 12/61 and decommissioned 10/91.
USS Robison DDG-12 - Dependents Cruise 1990.
Warrant Officer W-4 (Electronics Technician)
of the USS Robison DDG-12
- CHARLES F. ADAMS
Displacement: 4526 Tons, Length: 437', Beam:
47', Draught: 22' Armament: 2 x 5"/54 RF (2x1), Tartar SAM
(1x2 Mk 11) ASROC ASW (1x8), 6 x 12.75" Mk 32 ASW TT (2x3).
Machinery: 70,000 SHP; Geared Turbines, 2 screws
Speed, 33 Knots, Range 4500 NM@ 20 Knots,
Crew: 24 officers, 330 enlisted
Operational and Building Data
Laid down by Defoe Shipbuilding, Bay City Mich. on April 28 1959.
Launched April 27 1960 and commissioned December 9 1961.
Decommissioned October 1 1991.
Stricken November 20 1992.
Fate Scrapped by Consolidated Minerals 1996.
USS Robison DDG-12 was commissioned on 9 December, at the
Boston Naval Shipyard, Comdr. D.V. Cox in command.
The USS Robison steamed for the west coast on 29 January,
via the Panama Canal. On 1 March she received a message diverting
her to Clipperton Island, to rescue 10 stranded seamen from
the tuna boat Monarch, which had capsized 20 days earlier.
Arriving at San Diego on 7 March, Robison underwent shakedown
and then post-shakedown availability 14 June in San Francisco.
Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, who had twice served on Admiral
Robison's staff, visited the ship on 25 June. Following
completion of availability 31 July, Robison proceeded to Mare
Island for ammunition, took on ASROC and Tartar missiles at
Seal Beach, and then commenced 3 months of local training
operations out of San Diego. She got underway with Cruiser-Destroyer
Flotilla 11 on 13 November for her first WestPac tour of duty.
Upon completion of this deployment, Robison arrived San Diego
21 June 1963 for coastal operations. She
departed San Diego 18 November in company with Parsons (DD-949)
for escort duties. Calling at Pearl Harbor 23 November, she
departed 2 days later in company with Midway (CVA-41). Upon
detachment from Midway, she touched at Guam, and then escorted
Hancock (CVA-19) eastward. Following fueling stops at Midway
and Pearl Harbor, she arrived San Diego 19 December.
- 1965: In
January 1964 Robison entered Long Beach Naval Shipyard for
regular overhaul. After missile qualifications and refresher
training, she steamed 14 August for her second WestPac deployment.
Following her successful participation in modern naval warfare
training exercises and calls at various Far Eastern ports,
she departed Yokosuka 24 January 1965 and arrived San Diego
spring operations were followed by a midshipman training cruise
from 10 June to 5 August. The latter month also brought a
call at Portland, OR., and a visit, on the 24th, by the Chief
of Naval Operations, Adm. David L. McDonald. In the fall she
sharpened her ASW, AAW, and shore bombardment techniques during
Early in the new year 1966, the destroyer prepared for her
third tour of duty in support of 7th Fleet operations in WestPac.
deployment ended with her return to San Diego 18 July 1966.
Overhaul in San Francisco took her through the fall and into
the winter months, culminating in her return to homeport on
3 February 1967. Refresher and type training filled the next
5 months, and 25 July saw Robison once again en route to the
calling at Pearl Harbor 31 July and Yokosuka, Japan 5 August,
she commenced Tonkin Gulf operations 25 August in the screen
for Coral Sea. In naval gunfire support and "Sea Dragon"
operations during the period from 26 August 1967 to 9 January
1968, Robison was credited with the destruction of 78 waterborne
logistics craft. Her remarkable degree of combat readiness
during this period earned for her the Meritorious Unit Commendation.
Upkeep, availability, training, and operating off the west
coast maintained Robison's state of readiness through the
first 11 months. She steamed from San Diego for her fifth
WestPac deployment on 30 December 1968 in company with carrier
Kitty Hawk. The usual call at Pearl Harbor was followed by
arrival at Subic Bay, 20 January 1969. After voyage repairs
Robison joined Task C.roup 77 3 in Tonkin Gulf. The destroyer,
flagship of her division, served in the screen of both Kitty
Hawk and Bon Homme Richard. She also provided naval gunfire
support to troops ashore in the I Corps Zone.
returned to San Diego on 6 July 1969, remaining there until
2 October, when she arrived at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard,
Hunters Point, for overhaul. Work was completed 4 1/2 months
later, and Robison returned to her homeport of San Diego 27
February 1970, ready for refresher training and yet another
With the advent of 1970, Robison began a cycle of deployments
which endured for three years. She spent the spring of each
year on the west coast of the United States and then in late
spring or early summer, she deployed to WestPac. This cycle
continued until 1973. During that year she remained on the
west coast, engaged in normal operations out of San Diego,
where she is berthed as of January 1974.
earned seven battle stars for service off the Vietnamese coast.
USS ROBISON (DDG 12) was decommissioned at Pier Thirteen, Naval
Station San Diego, California on 1 October 1991 after twenty-nine
years of outstanding service to the United States Navy. Her final
days ended in a historic ceremony commemorating her on a job well
She was stricken November 20 1992. Sold June 20 1994 to Consolidated
Minerals for conversion into power barge. Conversion currently 60%
completed, Hulk berthed at Charleston S.C..
Robison (Hunters Point Shipyard) Prior To Conversion To Power Barge
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