Keith's Midshipman Atlantic Cruise

Summer 1955

Keith had just completed his first year at U.C.L.A. as a U.S. Navy Midshipman in the "Regular" NROTC program.  This young California boy from a small northern valley town traveled to the east coast for a summer training cruise aboard a Navy destroyer.


He would sail out of Norfolk, Virginia, on the U.S.S. Damato (DDE-871), a full size destroyer converted for anti-submarine escort duty (second gun turret removed and replaced with "hedgehog" launcher).  Other ships in this cruise included destroyers, destroyer escorts, a full size cruiser and support ships. Keith's ship would cruise across the Atlantic, through the Azores Islands, over the top of Great Britain with ports of call of Oslo, Norway, and Stockholm, Sweden. (Other ships from our group would visit Scotland and Denmark.) Leaving Scandinavia, the group sailed through the English Channel, back out in to the Atlantic, by the Azores again and down in to the Caribbean. The last stop would be a few days at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before limping back in to Norfolk (a depth charge exercise off the coast of Florida put one screw out of commission).

These 50-year-old 35 mm slides were not well cared for over the years and many are in very poor condition. Proper identification is difficult as the mounted slides are not numbered nor dated nor labeled in any other way. Input from current friends in Norway indicate none of these photos are of Oslo, therefore the first group must be from the visit to Stockholm, Sweden. Keith thought he had purchased his first 35 mm camera (Zeis) in Oslo, the first port. Either those photos have been lost or some memory is faulty and the camera was purchased in the second port of call, Stockholm. 

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Midshipman Wheeler 1954




Damato_lighter1.jpg (42733 bytes)

Damato_lighter2.jpg (46909 bytes)

Images of Keith's old Zippo lighter purchased onboard the Damato.  If memory serves correctly, the ship's logo had to be changed and no more of these lighters could be made.  Someone had gotten in to trouble for using Disney's Donald Duck without permission in this great logo (Donald is holding a submarine in one hand while beating it with a "hedgehog" held in the other).  Anyone with more information on this vague recollection, please contact Keith.

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