By Dave Werner, Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Director
Named after Captain John Barry, who many consider a founding father to the U.S. Navy, the namesake ships entitled Barry have continued a proud and distinctive of legacy of excellence. The first USS Barry (Destroyer No. 2) was launched 22 March, 1902 and went out of commission 28 June, 1919 after supporting convoy duties during WWI. The second USS Barry (DD-248) was launched 28 October, 1920 and was decommissioned 21 June, 1945, but not before receiving the Presidential Unit Citation as a unit of TG 21.14 and four battle stars for her actions in the Atlantic and Pacific during World War II. The fourth USS Barry (DDG-52) was commissioned on 12 December, 1992 and remains on active service today.
The third USS Barry (DD-933) – which more recently has been known as Display Ship Barry in Washington, D.C. – launched in Maine waters in 1955, with Barry’s great grandniece as her sponsor, Barry’s steel hull has sailed through Cuban, Chilean, Portuguese, French, Japanese and Grecian waters (and that only names a few!). And, much like the restrained Captain Barry, as a ship, USS Barry made little noise when it comes to historic feats, but she was a mainstay in the U.S. Navy’s presence.
In 1958, while operating in the 6th Fleet area of operations, Barry patrolled the Lebanese coast, escorting carriers after revolutions in the Middle East sparked concern over a larger outbreak of violence in the region and providing support for U.S. Marines to land in Lebanon.
In the summer of 1960, she took on a different type of mission – a goodwill tour to demonstrate sonar capabilities in Northern Europe. It was there, the ship impressed foreign navies with its at-sea sonar demonstrations.
It wasn’t until the fall of 1962 when the public got to know her by name. On Oct. 16, the day President John F. Kennedy was shown aerial reconnaissance photographs of Soviet nuclear missiles and launch sites under construction in Cuba, Barry was still undergoing upkeep at Newport. On the night of Oct. 22, when President Kennedy told the nation that he had initiated “as strict quarantine of all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba,” Barry cleared Newport in company with Blandy (DD 943), Charles S. Sperry (DD 697) and Keppler (DD 765). After rendezvous with Essex (CVS 9) on the 26th, she operated as a screening vessel and plane guard. Two days later, she was detached to operate on ASW surveillance and, after taking over the task from Bache (DD 470) and Eaton (DD 510), kept a close watch on contact “C-19,” a surfaced Soviet submarine. Barry, at this time well east of the “quarantine” line, kept the Foxtrot-class diesel boat under surveillance unit it submerged. Barry remained on the line, carrying out patrols, until Nov. 8 when, during refueling operations with Essex, the destroyer embarked a three-man photographic and interpreter party.
In February 1965, Barry ventured south to the Caribbean for the annual spring training exercises and, in June, acted as assistant recovery ship for the Gemini Four space shot.
The balance of the summer, highlighted by her winning the Squadron Battle Efficiency “E” for ASW, was spent preparing for the destroyer’s first Western Pacific deployment. As flagship of Destroyer Squadron 24, the first group of Atlantic Fleet destroyers to deploy to Vietnam. There, her most notable accomplishments were made on the South Vietnamese coast as gunfire support duty. Steaming slowly up the Saigon River near Vung Tau on the morning of Dec. 7, she was given orders to bombard Viet Cong positions several miles east of the river. For two days, her 5-inch guns fired on supply points and entrenchments, getting credit from Army air spotters for “excellent target coverage.”
On Sept. 1, as part of a destroyer replacement program, the ship was ordered to commence decommissioning stand down. On Nov. 5, 1982, Barry was decommissioned and five days later, under tow, made her way to the Inactive Ship Facility at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Ultimately, in 1984, the destroyer was brought to the Washington Navy Yard where she continued her naval service as a display ship.
Moored in the Anacostia River, Barry has served for three decades as an unmistakable, distinctive attraction for visitors to the historic area. The ship was a visible reminder to residents and leaders in the nation’s capital that there are and have been U.S. Navy ships deployed around the world, around the clock – for more than 240 years. Display Ship Barry accomplished her mission to provide crucial awareness better than any building in D.C. ever could. It is sad to see her go, but she has done her duty here well.
And while the ship will soon leave the waterfront, her Sailors served with distinction. Their influence, and the example they’ve provided, will sail forward. We know that the name and legacy of Barry will live on in the U.S. Navy as long as there is one.
Update: May 7, 2016, Display Ship Barry is pulled by tug boats to transport the ship from the Washington Navy Yard to the Inactive Shipyard in Philadelphia.
Editor’s Note – The Display Ship Barry’s Closing Ceremony was held on October 17, 2015. At the event, Naval History and Heritage Command Director, Sam Cox (ret), gave the closing remarks. During which, he noted, “she served our nation for another 31 years as a display ship at the Washington Navy Yard, showing that flag in our nation’s capitol, serving as an obvious and constant reminder to the American people that their Navy, usually unseen in the far corners of the globe, was always on watch protecting their freedom. ” To read his full remarks from the event, click here.