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USS ARNOLD J. ISBELL (DD-869)


Flag Hoist/Radio Call Sign - NBGR

Tactical Voice Radio Call Sign (circa 1968) - HELLENIC HERO

CLASS - GEARING As Built.
Displacement 3460 Tons (Full), Dimensions, 390' 6"(oa) x 40' 10" x 14' 4" (Max)
Armament 6 x 5"/38AA (3x2), 12 x 40mm AA, 11 x 20mm AA, 10 x 21" tt.(2x5).
Machinery, 60,000 SHP; Westinghouse Turbines, 2 screws
Speed, 36.8 Knots, Range 4500 NM@ 20 Knots, Crew 336.
Operational and Building Data
Laid down by Bethlehem Steel,Staten Island NY March 14 1945.
Launched August 6 1945 and commissioned January 5 1946.
Completed FRAM upgrade May 1962.
Decommissioned December 4 1973.
Stricken February 1 1974.
To Greece December 4 1973. Renamed Sachtouris (D-214).
Stricken in 1993.
Fate Removed 8 April 2002 from Souda Bay, Crete to be towed to Turkey where she will be scrapped.

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Isbell 54k

Arnold J. Isbell, born on 22 September 1899 in Quimby, Iowa, entered the Naval Academy on 24 July 1917 and graduated on 3 June 1920 (a year ahead of schedule due to acceleration of midshipman training during World War I) with class 21A of the Class of 1921. Isbell then served successive tours of duty in Melville (AD-2), Bath (AK-4), and the fast minelayers Ingraham (DM-9) and Burns (DM-11) before beginning flight instruction at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Fla., on 30 June 1923. He then briefly served as an instructor there before reporting to Observation Squadron 1, based in the minelayer Aroostook (CM-3) which was then serving as an aircraft tender, in November 1924. In March of the following year, he was transferred to the aviation unit of the battleship Tennessee (BB-43). Following two years of postgraduate work in ordnance back at the Naval Academy between the summers of 1926 and 1928, he received further flight instruction at Washington, D.C., under the supervision of the post graduate school, before going to sea with Torpedo Squadron IB in aircraft carrier Lexington (CV-2).

Isbell then served in the Aviation Ordnance Section of the Bureau of Ordnance (BuOrd) in Washington before reporting to Newport News, Va., on 16 September 1933 to participate in the fitting out of the Navy's first aircraft carrier to be built as such from the keel up, Ranger (CV-4). Following a brief tour of duty in that ship, he served from 6 June 1934 to 9 June 1936 in carrier Saratoga (CV-3) as gunnery officer on the staff of Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Henry V. Butler, Commander, Aircraft, Battle Force.

Isbell subsequently flew as executive officer of Patrol Squadron (VP) 7F based in aircraft tender Wright (AV-1) from 9 June 1936 to 1 June 1937 before commanding one of the five squadrons of the Aviation Training Department at NAS Pensacola, VN-4D8. While at Pensacola, he won the coveted Schiff Trophy, "emblematic of maximum safety in aircraft operation."

In the early summer of 1939, Lt. Comdr. Isbell assumed command of VP-11 (later redesignated VP-54). The German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 found VP-54 based at Norfolk, Va.; engaged in biennial maintenance of its dozen PBY-2 flying boats. Eight days later, a detachment of six planes departed Norfolk and arrived at Newport, R.I., their assigned base, that same day. The entire squadron resumed operations on Norfolk on 14 November 1939, relieving VP-53 on the Middle Atlantic Patrol.

During one of the flights his squadron conducted in the initial selection and survey of Army and Navy base sites in Newfoundland in the autumn of 1940, sites obtained in the "destroyers-for-bases" deal of the summer before, Isbell found himself in the path of a hurricane. In an attempt to evade the storm, Isbell skillfully maneuvered his aircraft in the murk until exceptionally strong headwinds forced him to make an emergency night landing on Prince Edward Island. Isbell took off before daybreak, despite fog and violent winds, and reached his destination without mishap. After completing his inspection over uninhabited regions and seacoast areas, Isbell returned to Newfoundland to carry out an aerial survey of Argentia, a place soon to become famous as the site of the "Atlantic Charter" conference. Isbell's expert airmanship and tenacious devotion to completing his mission resulted in his receiving the Air Medal.

Relieved of command of VP-54 on 15 April 1941, Isbell then served successive tours of duty in a staff capacity, first for Commander, Patrol Wing, Support Force (16 April-2 October 1941) as that command's planes escorted North Atlantic convoys; then as chief of staff and aide for Rear Admirals Ernest D. McWhorter and Alva D. Bernhard, Commander, Patrol Wings, Atlantic Fleet (3 October 1941-11 June 1942), before assuming command of NAS, Sitka, Alaska, on 5 June 1942. Promoted to captain during his time in the Aleutians, Isbell then served briefly in BuOrd before assuming command of the escort carrier Card (CVE-11) on 17 April 1943.

For the next year, Card ranged the essential lifeline across the Atlantic to North Africa, earning together with her escorting destroyers, a Presidential Unit Citation under the resourceful "Buster" Isbell, who believed firmly in the potential of the CVE, maintaining that such a ship, together with her escorts, "could most effectively whip the submarine menace, as an independent offensive group rather than as a mere tag, along protector of a single convoy." Isbell used the year he commanded Card wisely to vindicate his belief. As antisubmarine task group commander between 27 July and 9 November 1943, Isbell developed his escort carrier-destroyer unit into a powerful combat force, refining tactics to meet the operational demands imposed by a wily and tenacious foe and wresting the initiative from his hands. Card sought out the enemy undersea craft with relentless determination m a vigorous offensive and struck with a devastating coordinated action that destroyed eight U-boats between 7 August and 31 October 1943.

Detached from Card on 9 March 1944, Isbell-who had been awarded a Legion of Merit for his important work in Card, took his intimate knowledge of combatting U-boats to Washington, where he served in the 10th Fleet, a shipless "fleet" set up to research and develop tactics for antisubmarine warfare. Following this tour of shore duty, which lasted into 1945, Isbell was slated to receive command of a fast carrier. On 26 February 1945, he was ordered to the Pacific for temporary duty in Franklin (CV-13). On 13 March 1945, further orders directed him to relieve Captain Thomas S. Combs as commanding officer of Yorktown (CV-10). However, Captain Isbell perished when a Japanese plane scored two bomb hits that touched off a conflagration in Franklin, the carrier in which he was embarked as a passenger, off Kyushu on 19 March 1945.

Joseph Macchia
Isbell 379kUndated, location unknown. Note Essex class carirer on horizon.Dave Wright
Isbell 60kUndated, location unknown.Tom Crew
Isbell 87kUndated postcard Copyright © Marine Photos, San Diego, CA.Mike Smolinski
Isbell 110kUndated, location unknown.Robert M. Cieri
Isbell 148kUndated, off Point Loma.Richard Miller BMCS USNR RET.
Isbell 89kUndated, coming alongside the USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63).Richard Miller BMCS USNR RET.
Isbell 243kThe Keel Laying at Staten Island, NY on March 14 1945.Jack W. Miller
Isbell 221kThe Christening at Staten Island, NY on August 6 1945.Jack W. Miller
Isbell 127kFebruary 13 1946, location unknown.Ed Zajkowski
Isbell 199kUSS Arnold J. Isbell (DD 869) off Mare Island on September 26, 1950. Photo from the collection of the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum.Darryl Baker
Isbell 125kUSS Arnold J. Isbell (DD 869) off Mare Island on September 26, 1950.Tracy White
Isbell 142kForward plan view of USS Arnold J. Isbell (DD 869) at Mare Island on 28 Sep 1950. She was in overhaul at the yard from 31 July to 6 Oct 1950. USS Leonard F. Mason (DD 852) is outboard of USS Stickell (DD 889) aft of Isbell.Darryl Baker/Tracy White
Isbell 110kAmidships looking aft plan view of USS Arnold J. Isbell (DD 869) at Mare Island on 28 Sep 1950. USS Leonard F. Mason (DD 852) is outboard of USS Stickell (DD 889) aft of Isbell.Darryl Baker
Isbell 145kBow view USS Arnold J. Isbell (DD 869) at Mare Island during her overhaul in April 1954. She was in overhaul at the yard from 16 April to 15 July 1954.Darryl Baker
Isbell 111kPort side view USS Arnold J. Isbell (DD 869) at Mare Island during her overhaul in April 1954. There are three other destroyers in the background. USS Ozbourn (DD 846) is across the pier from Isbell. Next in line is USS Frank Knox and then USS Hollister (DD 788).Darryl Baker
Isbell 141kUSS Isbell (DD-869), USS Ozbourn (DD-846), USS Frank Knox (DD-742) in Wellington, New Zealand in 1956.Bob Matthews
Isbell 47kArnold J.Isbell (DD-869) in the South China Sea, December 17 1956, photo by USS Hollister's Chief Corpsman.Jack Wm. Miller, EMC, USN (Ret.)
Isbell 118kCDR. Ralph L. Porter assumed command of the USS Arnold J. Isbell on July 13, 1957 relieving CDR. Elmo R. Zumwalt (1955-1957).Bill Gonyo
Isbell 65kHomeport of Long Beach Ca. prior to Westpac and Viet Nam deployment July 1965Alton Anderson SN ASROC
Isbell 64kHomeport of Long Beach Ca. prior to Westpac and Viet Nam deployment July 1965Alton Anderson SN ASROC
Isbell 82kEntering Sydney Harbor, 1970William Strawbridge ETR2
Isbell 17kJune, 1973 as the Isbell came into Portland Oregon for the Rose Festival. The photo was taken by my father, Philip DavisDan Davis OS2
Isbell 44kShip's patch.Mike Smolinski
Isbell 100k-120kUniform Ship's name shoulder patch.Al Grazevich
Isbell 100k-112kShip's Zippo.Tommy Trampp
On Greek Service
Isbell 166kAt Genoa on October 29 1984.Carlo Martinelli
Isbell 48kOn exercises in the Aegean Sea, July 8, 1987.CŁneyt Demir
Isbell 108kAt Genoa, Italy on May 14 1992.Carlo Martinelli
Isbell 121kAt Genoa, Italy on May 14 1992.Carlo Martinelli
Isbell 140kAt Genoa, Italy on June 10 1992.Carlo Martinelli
Isbell 177kAt Genoa, Italy on June 13 1992.Carlo Martinelli
Isbell 168kAt Genoa, Italy on June 13 1992.Carlo Martinelli
Isbell 110kIn Souda Bay, Crete summer 1995. From L to R: USS Corry (DD-817), USS Aulick (DD-569), USS Arnold J. Isbell (DD-869) and USS Ingraham (DD-694) waiting to be scrapped.Anthony J. Vrailas

USS ARNOLD J. ISBELL DD-869 History
View This Vessels DANFS History entry at the Naval History & Heritage Command website


Commanding Officers
Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler & Ron Reeves


CDR Carlton Benton Jones    Jan 5 1946 - Aug 14 1947 (Later RADM)

CDR Edward Brown Schutt    Aug 14 1947 - Apr 4 1949

CDR Charles Roland Johnson    Apr 4 1949 - Jul 10 1950

CDR Fletcher Hale Jr.    Jul 10 1950 - Nov 10 1951

CDR Francis John Fitzpatrick    Nov 10 1951 - Jul 31 1953 (Later RADM)

CDR William Gabriel Holly    Jul 31 1953 - Sep 10 1955

CDR Elmo Russell (Bud) Zumwalt Jr.    Sep 10 1955 - Jul 13 1957 (Later ADM & CNO)

CDR Ralph Lane Porter    Jul 13 1957 - Sep 14 1958

CDR Harold Roy Tall    Jun 3 1959 - Aug 5 1961

LCDR Harvey James Johnson    Aug 5 1961 - Jul 24 1962

CDR James Keith Athow    Jul 24 1962 - Dec 31 1963

CDR Jack Eugene Guentz    Dec 31 1963 - Aug 18 1965

CDR Mark Bernard Lechleiter Jr.    Aug 18 1965 - Jul 10 1967

CDR George Dale Walker    Jul 10 1967 - Jun 5 1969

CDR Robert Bernard Hoffman    Jun 5 1969 - Oct 16 1970

CDR Roland James Carr    Oct 16 1970 - Feb 19 1972

LCDR Robert Leon Warren    Feb 19 1972 - Sep 1972

CDR Lee Oran Smith    Sep 1972 - Dec 4 1973


Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
Tin Can Sailors Website
Destroyer History Foundation
Destroyers Online Website
Official U.S.Navy Destroyer Website

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This page was created by Fred Willishaw (ex ARG-4, AS-11 & DD-692) and is maintained by David L. Wright
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Last Updated 11 July 2017