Patrol Division 21

{Information provided by Bruce Sharpe}

At the direction of the Chief of Naval Operations, ADM Elmo Zumwalt, planning began in July 1970 to transfer two Patrol Gunboats from the Pacific Fleet to the Mediterranean in order to augment the Sixth Fleet. The basic mission to be fulfilled by these new and largely untried ships was that of "tattletail". This mission envisioned a visual confirmation of a surface-to-surface missile launch against major units of the Sixth Fleet by a potential enemy. By being in company with the potential adversary, the PG could then immediately warn all units of the impending attack. The small size and small crew of the PG made it an extremely economical and attractive platform for this mission.

As a result of this initial planning, USS DEFIANCE (PG-95) and USS SURPRISE (PG-97) commenced their long transit to Naples, Italy in September 1970. They stopped briefly in Little Creek, Virginia and were formed into Patrol Division 21 on 15 November 1970 under LCDR Paul D. Frazer, a former CO of USS CHEHALIS (PG-94). The following day they departed to continue their forward deployment across the Atlantic and officially joined the Sixth Fleet on 2 December 1970. Operating out of Naples with the Patrol Division staff embarked on USS CASCADE (AD-16), the two ships of the division began a continuous demonstration of their capabilities and reliability. Operations took them throughout the Mediterranean from Casablanca, Morocco to Istanbul, Turkey; from Venice and Trieste, Italy to Bizerte, Tunisia. Operations included operating as "aggressor" forces against carrier battle groups and as SEAL delivery and support platforms for Special Operations. LCDR R. Richard "Rudy" Black relieved as commodore in Naples on 18 August 1972. USS GRAHAM COUNTY (AGP-1176) and the gunboats USS ANTELOPE (PG-86) and USS READY (PG-87) joined the division in September 1972 with "GRACO" becoming the flagship.

USS SURPRISE was transferred to the Turkish Navy on 28 February 1973 and renamed BORA (P-339). USS DEFIANCE would follow and was transferred to the Turkish Navy on 11 June 1973 at Izmir, Turkey and renamed TCG YILDIRIM (P-338). She would ultimately be destroyed by fire on 11 April 1985 off the Greek island of Mitelene, near Lesbos in the northeastern Aegean Sea. Patrol Division 21 continued operating as an embarked staff until the staff was disestablished on 30 June 1973 with all duties passing to LCDR Peter McCammon, CO USS GRAHAM COUNTY.

The division would be augmented by two additional gunboats on 13 August 1973 when USS GRAND RAPIDS (PG-98) under the command of LT Gordon RHEINSTROM and USS DOUGLAS (PG-100) under the command of LT Doug Smart arrived in Naples, Italy. The gunboat division would continue to operate out of Naples until 1977 when all of the ships returned to Norfolk/Little Creek. GRAHAM COUNTY would be struck from the Naval Register on 1 March and the four PGs would be decommissioned at Little Creek on 1 October 1977.


Ship's Muster Sheet (Updated 12 March, 2014)

Bernstein, Sidney Lueck, Wallace Lyon, Edward Peekenschneider, Gary

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