HISTORY OF U.S.S. AGERHOLM (DD-826)

HISTORY (Long)

Harold Christ Agerholm was born on 29 January 1925 in Racine, Wisconsin. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at Milwaukee, Wisconsin in July 1942. Following training at Marine Corps Base and Camp Elliott in San Diego, California, Agerholm was shipped overseas and arrived in the Pacific theater on 23 November. He was assigned to the Second Marine Division and saw action in the assault on Tarawa, Gilbert Islands.
Agerholm was promoted to Private First Class on 26 January 1943 and while serving with the Fourth Battalion, Tenth Marines, Second Division, participated in the assault and occupation of Saipan, Marianas Islands.

While participating in evacuation of wounded Marines on 7 July 1944, Private First Class Agerholm was mortally wounded in an action for which he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

The U.S.S. AGERHOLM (DD-826) was laid down on 10 September 1945 by Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine. She was launched on 30 March 1946, sponsored by Mrs. Rose Agerholm, mother of Private First Class Agerholm. The ship was commissioned on 20 June 1946 with Commander Frank D. Schwartz in command.

After fitting out, the destroyer conducted shakedown training at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. After post-shakedown repairs at the Boston Naval Shipyard, AGERHOLM was ordered to duty with the Pacific Fleet. Proceeding by way of the Panama Canal, she arrived in her new homeport of San Diego on 21 January 1947.

AGERHOLM was assigned to Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 12 and settled into a routine of local Southern California training operations. On 10 March 1947, she sailed from San Dieo on her first extended cruise to the western Pacific. While operating with the 7th Fleet, AGERHOLM visited the Chinese ports of Tsingtao, Shanghai and Amoy before they were closed to U.S. traffic. The ship also visited Kwajalein, Okinawa, Hong Kong and several ports in Japan. The destroyer completed the cruise on 26 November 1947 and remained in San Diego for the holiday season

From 1948 through June 1950, AGERHOLM drilled in local operations and in 7th Fleet exercises during two more WestPac cruises. After her return to San Diego in June 1950, she commenced overhaul at Mare Island, California, while other ships steamed to Korea as part of the United Nations Task Force defending South Korea from the aggression of her northern counterpart. Upon completion of her overhaul in late 1950, AGERHOLM trained for war and set a course for the Far East. She entered the combat zone on 19 February 1951 and was assigned to Task Force (TF) 77 as screening ship and plane guard. The ship also aided in shore bombardment, training her guns on Wonson 28 April and 1-4 May, and on Koho on 29 April. The destroyer returned to San Diego on 20 September 1951 for upkeep and local operations.

In May 1952, the ship left San Diego for her second tour with TF 77 in Korea. In addition to screening and plane guard duties, AGERHOLM conducted naval gunfire support as required. During one exchange of gunfire with a Communist shore battery, a single enemy shell struck the destroyer in the after part of the ship, starting a small fire in the after crew's berthing compartment but only causing minor damage to the weatherdeck. AGERHOLM continued on her assigned duties until December, when she set a course for San Diego, arriving in her home port on 21 December 1952.

On 2 February 1953 the destroyer commenced another overhaul at Mare Island, followed by refresher training in May. After several months of preparation and fulfilling local training commitments, AGERHOLM got underway on 8 September for her sixth WestPac cruise.

Although the Korean conflict had ended, the 7th Fleet conducted various operations to ensure the continuation of peace in the Far East. AGERHOLM steamed many miles in support of the Formosa Patrol, designed to deter both the Chinese Nationalists and the Chinese Communists from invading each other, before she returned to her homeport on 16 April 1954.

The destroyer made her 7th WestPac cruise from November 1954 to April 1955. While operating with TF 77, she again found herself involved in peacekeeping operations. TF 77 covered the evacuation of Chinese Nationalist forces from the Tachen Islands in Operation "Pullback." Following this mission, the destroyer returned to the United States and commenced an overhaul at Mare Island on 29 April 1955.

During the next five years, AGERHOLM deployed to the Western Pacific four more times, and briefly stopped in Australia to participate in commemorative ceremonies for the Battle of Coral Sea. In May 1960, the destroyer reported to Mare Island for extensive modification and changes under the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) program. AGERHOLM left the shipyard in March 1961 equipped with the latest antisubmarine rockets (ASROC), torpedoes, helicopter facilities, radar and sonars. During 1961, the destroyer devised and tested new techniques and tactics for the use of her new capabilities. In May 1962, AGERHOLM participated in nuclear weapon testing in the Pacific in Operation "Dominic." During the exercise, the destroyer was the first surface ship to fire an antisubmarine nuclear weapon. In November, following continued training in the San Diego area, the ship sailed to the Western Pacific on her 12th deployment. She returned to her homeport in June 1963 and commenced overhaul at the Naval Repair Facility at San Diego to update and improve the electronic and weapons systems on board. Following completion of the overhaul in January 1964, AGERHOLM continued her routine of local operations and preparations for deployment.

In August, the destroyer got underway for the western Pacific where she spent six months patrolling off the coast of Vietnam and in the Taiwan Straits. Upon her return to homeport, early in 1965, AGERHOLM underwent a brief overhaul and in August embarked midshipmen for a cruise to Hawaii. With the escalation of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, the destroyer prepared for another cruise to that area.

AGERHOLM began her next deployment in January 1966 when she departed San Diego for Vietnam, where her assigned duties included naval gunfire support (NGFS), antisubmarine warfare (ASW), carrier escort, and search and rescue (SAR). In May, during NGFS off the South Vietnamese coast, the destroyer provided call fire for a Marine air spotter who was drawing heavy gunfire. The ship silenced the Viet Cong machine gun nest with just four rounds from her 5-inch guns. On 17 June, AGERHOLM aided a South Vietnamese patrol boat and rescued 12 badly wounded men while on a SAR mission in the Gulf of Tonkin. The ship visited Subic Bay, Philippine Islands; Yokosuka, Japan; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Hong Kong, British Crown Colony and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii before returning to San Diego in July.

AGERHOLM began another modernization overhaul at Long Beach Naval Shipyard in August. She received new 5-inch gun mounts, advanced radar and sonar gear, communications systems and engineering plant alterations. The destroyer left the shipyard in December to spend the holiday season in her homeport.

With the advent of 1967, the ship once again prepared for deployment to the Far East. On 15 May, she departed for the Gulf of Tonkin. joining Intrepid (CVS-11) at Subic Bay. The ships sailed to "Yankee Station" where they arrived on 20 June. For the next four months, AGERHOLM provided plane guard assistance for Intrepid, Constellation (CVA-64), and Coral Sea (CVA-43). When a major fire broke out on Forrestal (CVA-59) on 29 July, all ships in the area, including AGERHOLM, aided in the rescue operations and stood by until the damaged carrier was able to steam under her under power for Subic Bay. The destroyer departed Yankee Station on 1 October and arrived in San Diego on the 25th.

The destroyer spent most of 1968 on training cruises for Naval Academy and NROTC midshipmen. In May she participated in tests conducted off San Clemente Island by the Naval Weapons Center at China Lake, California, and fired the new rocket-assisted projectile (RAP). Two days before the year was out, AGERHOLM sailed from San Diego on her 16th WestPac cruise. During the transit to the Gulf of Tonkin via Pearl Harbor and Subic Bay, the destroyer escorted Kitty Hawk (CVA-63), and subsequently served as planeguard for that carrier's first combat launch from Yankee Station during the new year 1969.

From 28 January to 10 February, AGERHOLM served as escort for William H. Standley (DLG-32) in the Positive Identification Radar Advisory Zone (PIRAZ). She then proceeded to the southern SAR station to ride shotgun on Fox (DLG-33). The destroyer shifted to the gunline on 23 March, and provided naval gunfire support to troops in the Viet Cong-dominated Rung Sat Special Zone (RSSZ). Anchored in the shallow restricted water with the Viet Cong less than 6000 yards away, AGERHOLM was vulnerable to enemy fire, underwater swimmers, and mines. On 25 March, the destroyer first fired both RAP and conventional ammunition into the RSSZ with great accuracy until 13 April, when she retired from NGFS to visit Singapore, Hong Kong and Kaohsiung.

AGERHOLM returned to the gunline on 15 May, firing off Phan Thiet until 23 May. She then reported to Chicago (CG-11) on PIRAZ station in the Gulf of Tonkin for her last assignment. On 10 June she was relieved and ordered to Subic Bay to prepare for her return voyage. After port visits to Brisbane, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand, AGERHOLM set a course for San Diego, where she arrived on 24 July.

The destroyer entered the shipyard at Hunters Point, California on 11 September for overhaul, which was completed on 19 December. The ship returned to San Diego the next day for the Christmas holidays.

AGERHOLM got underway on 26 January 1970 for type training followed by eight weeks of refresher training. On 15 April the destroyer completed this arduous drilling and began preparations for overseas deployment. She departed San Diego on 6 July and steamed via Pearl Harbor, Midway and Guam to Subic Bay, arriving there on 28 July. From that port the ship served on the gunline, on northern SAR, as PIRAZ escort and as planeguard.

On 14 October, AGERHOLM detached on independent transit to Hong Kong. Enroute, she passed within 60 miles of the center of Typhoon Joan in the Philippine Sea. For two days the crew was uncertain of surviving the 60-knot winds and 40-foot seas, but the ship began to open the typhoon center late on 16 October. A seam which opened between the main deck and the destroyer's superstructure later was undoubtedly caused by the twisting stress of Typhoon Joan. The remainder of AGERHOLM's deployment was spent at PIRAZ station until 4 December when the ship departed the combat area for Guam, Midway and Pearl Harbor. She arrived in San Diego on 20 December.

AGERHOLM spent the first six months of 1971 operating in the San Diego area. On 29 June, the destroyer began another WestPac cruise, taking up gunline duties near Binh Thuy, Republic of South Vietnam on 6 August. In addition to NGFS, she also served as planeguard and SAR ship before departing the area on 4 December. She returned to San Diego for the holidays and closed out the year with post-deployment stand down.

Local exercises and inspections occupied AGERHOLM until 24 July 1972 when she entered Long Beach Naval Shipyard for a five month overhaul. The destroyer departed the shipyard in December and returned to San Diego, where she began preparations for refresher training on 7 February 1973. After seven weeks of continuous drills, AGERHOLM successfully completed refresher training and re-qualified in NGFS at San Clemente Island.

On 26 April, AGERHOLM set sail in company with Stein (DE-1065) for the western Pacific. She arrived off the coast of Vietnam at Yankee Station on 28 May to serve as planeguard for Constellation (CVA-64). The destroyer then underwent a two-week repair availability alongside Ajax (AR-6) in Sasebo, Japan and upon completion continued on to radar picket duty in the Gulf of Tonkin. Another two weeks at Yankee Station followed by two weeks at PIRAZ station brought her Vietnam service to an end. On 30 August she departed the Gulf of Tonkin enroute to MacKay, Australia for liberty.

After the port visit, the destroyer sailed to Auckland, New Zealand to join the other ships participating in Operation "Longex 73," a joint surface, air and submarine warfare exercise. From 25 September to 3 October, AGERHOLM drilled in ASW and antiair warfare (AAW) exercises including night surface attacks on task groups. Upon completion of the operation, she steamed to Sydney, Australia; Suva, Fiji and Pearl Harbor, before arriving back in San Diego on 1 November. During the night of the day the ship left Fiji, an after lookout fell from the Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter (DASH) deck onto a fitting on the main deck. The destroyer made a high speed return to Suva where the crewman was hospitalized and eventually recovered.

Upon arrival in San Diego, AGERHOLM commenced a post-deployment readiness improvement program of schools, on board training, and a repair availability. On 25 February 1974, the ship got underway to improve her at-sea readiness in local exercises that kept her in the Southern California area until 17 September, when she departed San Diego on her twentieth WestPac cruise. Remaining primarily in the Subic Bay Operating Area, AGERHOLM participated in gunnery, ASW, AAW and ship handling drills until 13 December, when she got underway independently for Apra Harbor, Guam. She ended the year at the Ship Repair Facility there. The destroyer visited Hong Kong and Singapore for liberty, but received orders on 8 Feb 1975 to join Operation "Eagle Pull," the evacuation of troops from Vietnam.

The official history of the AGERHOLM is in error on this point. Operation "Eagle Pull" was the evacuation of the American Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 3-12 April 1975. In addition to this factual error, AGERHOLM's whereabouts from 8 February, when she received these orders, to 8 April, when she arrived in San Diego, is not disclosed.

The destroyer arrived in San Diego on 8 April and spent the rest of 1975 and 1976 on the West Coast participating in local operations and midshipman training cruises, and eventually landing a role in the movie "Airport 77." The year 1977 began the same way with only a drydock period at Todd Shipyard in San Pedro from May to July to interrupt the routine. On 6 September, AGERHOLM began her twenty-first and last WestPac cruise. The ship conducted NGFS training, ASROC test firings, and participated in "Exercise Fortress Lightning," a full scale amphibious landing on Mindoro Island in the Philippines. She stopped for liberty at Suva; Auckland, Whangarei and Nelson, New Zealand; Newcastle and Devonport, Australia, before returning to San Diego in early 1978 to continue a local operation schedule.

From 10-13 October 1978, the Board of Inspection and Survey conducted a survey of AGERHOLM to determine her material condition and the feasibility of keeping her in active service. The Board found that her age and lack of modern capabilities could not be economically corrected. The destroyer was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list on 1 December 1978.

Unclassified message 161643Z NOV 1982

from Commander, Pacific Missile Test Center,
to Chief of Naval Operations.

SUBJ: TARGET HULK EXPENDITURE
1. THIS MSG OF INTEREST TO CNO OP-04R
2. SHIP TARGET EX-AGERHOLM EXPENDED AT PACMISTESTCEN IN SUPPORT OF PROJECT TEST ON 18 JUL 82. EX-AGERHOLM SANK AT LAT: 32 DEG 55 MINN; LONG: 119 DEG 32MINW; DEPTH APPROXIMATELY 400 FATHOMS.
3. EX-AGERHOLM IN CONFORMITY WITH OPNAVINST 6240.3E ENVIRONMENTAL CLEANING REQUIREMENTS.
BT


Crew members always felt the AGERHOLM had a certain style, a flair, a spirit that could not be found in other ships. As Dick Wass, a Sonar Tecnhician who served aboard from 1963 to 1966 said, "I worked at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard before our ship left as a target ship. On the day she left, a very sad day, she left with Aggie Maru style. She was berthed at Mare Island north of the Mare Island causeway, a drawbridge connecting Mare Island and the city of Vallejo. When they towed our AGERHOLM through the causeway, of course the bridge was up, but the AGERHOLM mast struck the bridge and bent slightly. They continued towing her out to be used as a target."

STILL STANDING TALL


Excerpted from Scripps Institution of Oceanography Log, Vol. 34, No. 31, 8-15 August 1997:

R/V New Horizon...: "We departed MarFac July 30 with a scientific party of 17, headed for 32-45.41N/119-35.68W where the ex USS-AGERHOLM rests. The purpose of this trip is to collect enough sediment samples around the wreck to be able to assess its impact on the environment. Once on site we deployed the Deep Tow Control Vehicle (CV), equipped with a sector scanning sonar plus TV and lights, to verify the position of the wreck. The wreck was found roughly 200 m[eters] SE of the presumed position, in a debris field covering about 40,000 m2. In preparation for box-coring operations around the wreck, we have identified portions of the wreck with video imagery, including bouncing the CV on the top of an unexpectedly high section and losing all vehicle power in the process. Acoustic transponders were launched to help us navigate the cores with the box-corer suspended below the C/V, and we took our one and only decent sample on 1 Aug within 50 m[eters] of the wreck..."




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