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NavSource Naval History
Photographic History of the United States Navy


Flag Hoist/Radio Call Sign - NISS

Tactical Voice Radio Call Sign (circa 1968) - PEG LEG

Displacement 4526 Tons (Full), Dimensions, 437' (oa) x 47' x 15' (Max)
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 333-350.
Operational and Building Data
Originally classified as DD- 959, classification changed to DDG-9 April 23 1957.
Laid down by Todd - Pacific Shipyards, Seattle on April 1 1958.
Launched April 23 1959 and commissioned June 6 1961.
Decommissioned October 1 1990.
Stricken October 1 1990.
Fate Sunk as a target October 9 2002.

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A native of Rome, Georgia, Towers was graduated by the United States Naval Academy in 1906 and then went to sea, serving with distinction aboard the battleship Kentucky. He became interested in aviation and after numerous requests for aviation duty he was finally granted his wish and assigned to the Curtiss Flying School on June 27, 1911. There he became the Navy's third aviator following Theodore Gordon Ellyson and John Rodgers. He learned to fly the Navy's first airplane, a Curtiss seaplane called the A-1. It was soon afterward that he and Ellyson made a record distance flight down the Chesapeake Bay from Annapolis to Old Point Comfort, Virginia, in the A-1. Later, he took over the training of the other young Navy pilots. One of the highlights of 1912 occurred in October when he rigged extra gasoline tanks to a Curtiss seaplane for an endurance flight. Taking off from the Severn River at Annapolis early in the morning, he climbed up over the Chesapeake Bay and remained aloft over 6 hours, setting a world's endurance record the first official record flight made by a Naval pilot. Early in December he completed tests which demonstrated the ability to spot submarines from the air, even in the muddy waters of the Chesapeake Bay. In 1913 he was in charge of the aviation unit which began its first operations with the Fleet off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He and his follow Navy pilots explored all the potential of their planes to serve the Navy aerial reconnaissance, bombing, aerial photography, and wireless communications. In the ocean waters off Cuba they were able to spot submarines at depths of 30 to 40 feet. One day in June, 1913, he was a passenger in the Wright seaplane being piloted by Ensign William Billingsley. Suddenly, 1,600 feet above Chesapeake Bay, they hit severe turbulence. Without warnings Billingsley was hurled out of the seat and fell to his death on the water far below. The first Navy pilot to make the supreme sacrifice. Unbelievably, Towers managed to catch and cling to a wing strut and ride the plummeting unpiloted plane down, miraculously surviving the crash. After that incident, he ordered safety belts for all the Navy planes. In January 1914 he set up the first training Naval Air Station in an abandoned Navy yard at Pensacola, Florida. It was from here that he led his unit in the first Naval air operations during the Mexican crisis. It was after World War I that he participated in one of the greatest exploits in aviation history. It was in 1919 that he led the Navy's attempted trans-Atlantic flight of Curtiss NC flying boats. All four planes were ready in April for the departure from Rockaway Naval Air Station, but a severe storm scratched the NC-2 from the flight. When they took off on May 8th on the historic flight, he was in command of the flight and of the Flagship W-3. Patrick Bellinger commanded the NC-1 and Albert C. Read the NC-4. The first leg of the flight was to Halifax, but the NC-4, suffering severe engine troubles was forced to land at sea. The NC-1 and NC-3 proceeded from Halifax on to Trepassay, New Foundland, and awaited there until the NC-4 arrived after being repaired. On May 16 all three planes were ready and took off from Trepassey's harbor. Out over the sea, the planes climbed to 1,000 feet an occasional iceberg glinted in the light of the setting sun. It was planned to fly in formation but both his NC-3 and Bellinger's NC-1 fell behind Read's NC-4 as night fell. By early morning they encountered heavy weather. Churning through rain squalls and fog, his NC-3 became hopelessly lost and he had to set her down on the storm-tossed ocean. Unable to take off again because of buckled wing struts, he turned to his experience as a seaman. Rigging a canvas bucket for a sea anchors he used the plane's rudder to drift sail toward Sao Miguel Island, 200 miles away. It was an almost impossible task for an experienced seaman with a reliable ship, but fifty-two grueling hours later he and his crew triumphantly taxied their battered ship into harbor in the Azores an the crowd lining the shore went wild with their joy-ous welcome. Nine days later the NC-4 flew on to Lisbon to complete the historic first trans-Atlantic flight. It was a triumph of planning and skillful flying by the Naval aviators. But perhaps his greatest contribution was his vision in 1921, when he began training of Navy pilots in land planes, in his anticipation of the requirements of the Navy's aircraft carriers yet to come. In 1922 the Navy converted a Collier into the Langley, the first aircraft carriers and the practical problems of operating aircraft from it were gradually solved. Arresting gear and barricades were developed to provide safety in landings. The carriers Lexington and Saratoga were also authorized and these three ships eventually became the nucleus of our pre-war carrier fleet. He served as Executive Officer and later Commander of the Langley and also later of the Saratoga. Finally, in June, 1939, he became Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, with the rank of Admiral, becoming the first pioneer Naval aviator to achieve flag rank, and was responsible for expanding Naval aviation in these days of ever-changing criteria. When the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor, Naval aviation was just 30 years old and the Navy faced the greatest task in its history for many of its warships and airplanes lay in the mud of Pearl Harbor. But dedicated pioneer Naval aviators such as he were the Navy's greatest asset, for they had lived and breathed flying ever since our first carriers were launched. They were able to pass their lessons on to the thousands of Naval aviators to be trained. He directed Naval aviation's expansion during World War II and helped develop the strategy for winning the war in the Pacific. By 1943 a tremendous change was wrought in the Pacific as the "Flat-Top" became "Queen" of the fleet and its aircraft led the fleet toward victory an the world's greatest sea-borne Air Force. At the end of the war, he commanded the second Carrier Task Force, Task Force 38, and the Fifth Fleet. He then served as the Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet and finally as Chief of the Navy's General Board. In 1947 he ended a long and distinguished 41-year career in Naval aviation and he passed on in 1955.
[1] Photo Caption: Cdr. John Towers (foreground) with Rear Adm. William A. Moffett, spectators at the Curtiss Trophy Races, Washington, D.C., 14 May 1926 (Ships History Branch, Biography Collection) Naval Historical Center.
[2] Official US Navy Photographic Portrait of RADM John Henry Towers, USN, taken in June 1939, when he was the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics. The file number is: USN OOR-3044.
[1]Bill Gonyo

[2] Robert M. Cieri
Towers 73kUndated, location unknown.Glenn Forbus
Towers 120kUndated, location unknown.Gerd Matthes
Towers 150kUndated, location unknown.Gerd Matthes
Towers 124kUndated, location unknown.Gerd Matthes
Towers 161kUndated, location unknown.Richard Miller BMcs USNR RET.
Towers 140kUndated, off Point Loma.Richard Miller BMcs USNR RET.
Towers 156kUndated, location unknown.Richard Miller BMcs USNR RET.
Towers 155kUndated, off Coronado.Richard Miller BMcs USNR RET.
Towers 100kTodd Shipyard Seattle 24 Mar 1961Louis D. Chirillo, CDR, USN (Ret)
Towers 100kTodd Shipyard Seattle 2 May 1961Louis D. Chirillo, CDR, USN (Ret)
Towers 86kPearl Harbor, October, 1968© Richard Leonhardt
Towers 81kPearl Harbor, October, 1968© Richard Leonhardt
Towers 44kUSS Towers (DDG-9) and USS Floyd B. Parks (DD-884) at Midway circa 1972.Richard Miller, BMCS, USN (Ret.)
Towers 83kUSS Towers (DDG-9), underway off the coast of southern California, 16 January 1976. Photograph by PH1(AC) A.E. Legare, USN, Ships History Branch, USS Towers (DDG-9) File.Robert Hurst
Towers 109kUSS Towers (DDG-9) heading toward 32nd Street Naval Base in San Diego, mid 1980.Richard Stiles
Towers 94kUSS Towers (DDG-9) in San Diego Harbor mid 1980.Richard Stiles
Towers 82kAugust 1 1982, location unknown.Fred Weiss
Towers 14kHong Kong with the USS Davidson (FF-1045), November 30 1982.Marc Piché
Towers   Towers   Towers   Towers
Welcome Aboard pamphlet - circa 1986
Wolfgang Hechler
Towers   Towers   Towers   Towers
25th Anniversary pamphlet - June 6 1986
Wolfgang Hechler
Towers 80kSydney, Australia October 1986.Marc Piché
Towers 36kSydney, Australia October 1986.Marc Piché
Towers 110kSydney, Australia October 1986.Marc Piché
Towers 145kDecember 1989, USS Towers (DDG-9), USS Cochrane (DDG-21) and the Japanese submarine tender Chiyoda AS-405.Gerd Matthes
Towers 57kSan Francisco Pier 50 September 1995.Marc Piché
Towers 96kSan Francisco Pier 50 October 12 1996.Marc Piché
Towers 46kSan Francisco Pier 50 October 12 1996.Marc Piché
Towers 68kSan Francisco Pier 50 October 12 1996.Marc Piché
Towers 158kPacific Ocean (October 9, 2002), the decommissioned ship Towers (DDG 9), an old Adams-class destroyer, slowly sinks in the Pacific Ocean after being used as a target hulk for live-fire sinking exercises (SINKEX). Using decommissioned ships for live-fire operations gives ships' crews the experience of launching operational weapons and honing their war-fighting skills. The decommissioned ships are first made environmentally safe prior to towing and sinking in safe waters off prospective coastlines. Ultimately, the Towers will serve as a man-made reef for marine life in the area. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Andrew Betting. (021009-N-8590B-005)Fabio Peña
Towers 50kShip's patchMike Smolinski

USS TOWERS DD-959 / DDG-9 History
View This Vessels DANFS History Entry
(Located On The hazegray Web Site, This Is The Main Archive For The DANFS Online Project.)

Commanding Officers
Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler & Ron Reeves

CDR Lawrence Delworth Cummins    Jun 6 1961 - Apr 18 1963
CDR Chandler Eastman Swallow Jr.    Apr 18 1963 - Dec 23 1964
CDR Harmon Charles Penny    Dec 23 1964 - Jul 6 1966
CDR Stanley Thomas Counts    Jul 6 1966 - Jul 29 1968 (Later RADM)
CDR Edward Walter Carter III    Jul 29 1968 - May 2 1970 (Later RADM)
CDR William Albert Walsh    May 2 1970 - Aug 27 1971 (Later RADM)
CDR Marshall Bartlette Brisbois    Aug 27 1971 - Mar 2 1973
CDR James Joseph McGrath    Mar 2 1973 - Dec 18 1974
CDR Orrin Lee Morrison    Dec 18 1974 - Oct 2 1976
CDR Joseph John Andrilla    Oct 2 1976 - Sep 23 1978
CDR John Moberg (Jack) Meyers    Sep 23 1978 - Apr 24 1981
CDR William John Hancock    Apr 24 1981 - May 26 1983 (Later VADM)
CDR Lawrence Vernon (Larry) Fairchild    May 26 1983 - Sep 23 1985
CDR Barry Vaile Burrow    Sep 23 1985 - Dec 20 1987
CDR Frederick Hayes Michaelis    Dec 20 1987 - Nov 19 1988
CDR Gary Lanar Bier    Nov 19 1988 - Jan 11 1989
CDR James M. Wylie Jr.    Jan 11 1989 - Oct 1 1990

Crew Contact And Reunion Information

Contact Name: Raymond Wong
Address: 1634-38th Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94122-3002
Phone: 415-566-7285

Note About Contacts.

The contact listed, Was the contact at the time for this ship when located. If another person now is the contact, E-mail me and I will update this entry. These contacts are compiled from various sources over a long period of time and may or may not be correct. Every effort has been made to list the newest contact if more than one contact was found.

Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
USS Towers Website
Adams Class Veterans Association Website
Tin Can Sailors Website
Destroyer History Foundation
Destroyers Online Website
Official U.S.Navy Destroyer Website

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