Named to honor William Thomas Sampson 

William Thomas Sampson 
William Thomas Sampson
On the morning of 3 July 1898, the Spanish fleet came out of the harbor of Santiago, Cuba, and was completely destroyed in a running sea battle lasting five hours.

The USS Sampson is named to honor William Thomas Sampson, born on 9 February 1840 in Palmyra, N.Y. Sampson entered the United States Naval Academy on 24 September 1857. After graduating 1st in his class four years later, he served as an instructor at the Academy. In 1864, he became the executive officer of the monitor Patapsco of the South Atlantic Blockading Station and engaged in sweeping torpedoes off Charleston. He survived the loss of that ironclad on 15 January 1865, when she struck a torpedo, exploded, and sank with a loss of 75 lives.

Following duty in the steam frigate, Colorado, on the European Station, another tour as instructor at the Naval Academy, and in the Bureau of Navigation of the Navy Department, he served in the screw sloop, Congress. He then commanded Alert, practice ship Mayflower, and Swatara while on duty at the Naval Academy.

During the next years, he was Assistant to the Superintendent of the Naval Observatory, then Officer-in-Charge of the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, R.I. On 9 September 1886, he became Superintendent of the Naval Academy. He was promoted to Captain on 9 April 1889, reported to the Mare Island Navy Yard to fit out San Francisco, and assumed command when that protected cruiser was commissioned on 15 November 1889. He was detached in June 1892 to serve as Inspector of Ordnance in the Washington Navy Yard and was appointed Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance on 28 January 1893. He assumed command of battleship, Iowa, on 15 June 1897. On 17 February 1898, he was made President of the Board of Inquiry to investigate the destruction of battleship, Maine. On 26 March 1898, he assumed command of the North Atlantic Station, with the temporary rank of Rear Admiral.

Rear Admiral SampsonThe United States declared war against Spain on 21 April 1898; and, eight days later, Admiral Cervera's fleet sailed from the Cape Verde Islands for an uncertain destination. Admiral Sampson, in flagship New York, put to sea from Key West in search of the Spanish Fleet and established a close and efficient blockade on that fleet in the harbor of Santiago on 1 June 1898. On the morning of 3 July 1898, Cervera's fleet came out of the harbor and was completely destroyed in a running sea battle lasting five hours. The next day, Rear Admiral Sampson sent his famous message: “The Fleet under my command offers the nation as a Fourth of July present, the whole of Cervera's Fleet!”

He was appointed Cuban Commissioner on 20 August 1898 but resumed command of the North Atlantic Fleet in December. He became Commandant of the Boston Navy Yard in October 1899 and transferred to the Retired List on 9 February 1902. Rear Admiral Sampson died in Washington, D.C., on 6 May 1902 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

For more information about Admiral Sampson and the Spanish American War visit

West Indies Naval Campaign Medal, 1898 (Sampson Medal) :

The act of 3 March 1901, provides: "that the Secretary of the Navy be, and he is hereby, authorized to cause to be struck bronze medals commemorative of the naval and other engagements in the waters of the West Indies and on the shores of Cuba during the War with Spain, and to distribute the same to the officers and men of the Navy and Marine Corps who participate in any of said engagements deemed by him of sufficient importance to deserve commemoration."

The commemorative medal was issued to members of the Navy and Marine Corps who took part in West Indies naval operations from April 27 to August 14, 1898.

Historical note: The front was designed by Charles E. Barber and shows a bust of Admiral William Sampson. The back was designed by George T. Morgan. At the top of the ribbon is a brooch pin with the name of the recipient's ship. Additional matching engagement bars were authorized and mounted on the ribbon. The medal was issued for 47 engagements or skirmishes and some were awarded with six or seven engagement bars. The recipient's name is engraved on the lower rim of the medal, this being one of only two medals officially issued named to a recipient.

Current USS Sampson

USS Sampson (DDG 102) was laid down 20 March 2005, launched 16 September 2006 and commissioned in Boston, Massachusetts on 3 November 2007 with Cmdr. Philip Roos as the commanding officer. San Diego was assigned as the Sampson’s homeport.

In July 2009 USS Sampson departed Naval Base San Diego with USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Carrier Strike Group for its maiden deployment.

In March 2010 USS Sampson returned to home after an eight-month underway period in support of maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet Areas of Responsibility. In June USS Sampson arrived in Portland, Ore., to celebrate the 103rd annual Portland Rose Festival. June 24 the Samson participated in Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2010.

In August 2011 USS Sampson pulled into South Harbor in Seattle, Wash., to participate in Seattle's Seafair celebration. In September USS Sampson dispatched an inflatable boat and swimmers to retrieve about 60 bales of assorted drugs from the ocean after the small boat dumped them overboard. After that the ship participated in USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX), in preparation for an independent deployment.

In February 2012 USS Sampson departed San Diego for a scheduled deployment to the western Pacific and Middle East. In July USS Sampson participated in at-sea phase of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Singapore.

1st USS Sampson

DD63The first USS Sampson (DD-63) was laid down on 21 April 1915 by the Fore River Shipbuilding Co. of Quincy, Mass., launched on 4 March 1916, sponsored by Miss Marjorie Sampson Smith and commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on 27 June 1916 with Comdr. B. C. Allen as the commanding officer.

Torpedo-boat destroyer Sampson was assigned to Division 9 of the Atlantic Destroyer Force. After war games off Provincetown, Mass., she joined the escort screen of a convoy which reached Queenstown, Ireland, on 25 May 1917. She reported for duty with the United States Naval Forces operating in European waters and was assigned to convoy escort duty in the approaches to the British Isles. Two British-type depth charge projectors were installed on her stern. On 29 May, she commenced escort duty and protected the troop transports and merchant convoys from hostile submarines throughout the remainder of World War I.

On 18 June 1917 Sampson rescued two small boat loads of survivors of the SS English Monarch and the captain and 13 sailors from the torpedoed SS Elele. The next morning, she picked up 17 other survivors of the SS Elele. Sampson answered other distress calls before the end of the war and made several attacks to drive off submarines reported or seen near her convoys. She steamed from France with the Queenstown division of destroyers on 29 November 1918 and stood out from Brest Harbor on 12 December to escort President Woodrow Wilson on board George Washington into the harbor. Returning to Queenstown on 14 December, she sailed for home on the 26th and arrived at the New York Navy Yard on 7 January 1919.

After repairs in the New York Navy Yard, Sampson was assigned to the 4th Division, 2d Flotilla, of the Destroyer Force and sailed on 22 March 1919 to base her operations from the Naval Torpedo Station at Newport, R. I. She reported to the Inspector of Ordnance for experimental testing of torpedoes and mines. In May 1919 Sampson guarded the route of the NC-4 during that Navy seaplane's crossing over the Atlantic, the world's first successful trans-oceanic flight. Sampson had a deactivation overhaul 1 December 1919, completed on 14 February 1921. Sampson was decommissioned on 15 June 1921. On 17 July 1935 she was ordered scrapped in accordance with the London Treaty for the reduction of naval armaments. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 7 January 1936, and she was sold for scrap on 8 September 1936 to Boston Iron and Metal Co., Inc., Baltimore, Md.

For a more detailed account of the first USS Sampson see

2nd USS Sampson

DD394The second USS Sampson (DD-394) was laid down on 8 April 1936 by the Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, Maine, launched on 16 April 1938 and commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on 19 August 1938 with Comdr. W. Granat as the commanding officer.

Following shakedown in October and November 1938, Sampson was assigned to the Battle Force of the United States Fleet.

Sampson sailed from Boston on 8 March 1939 to take part in combined fleet maneuvers in waters off Cuba and Puerto Rico. Sampson arrived at San Diego on 12 May 1939 and spent the next year in fleet tactics along the western seaboard. She took part in maneuvers of the Battle Force off the Hawaiian Islands from 1 April to 20 June 1940. She then cruised through the Caribbean Sea, from 14 November to 15 December.

In early 1941 Sampson performed Neutrality Patrol operations along the eastern seaboard. On 3 September 1941, she got underway to escort convoys and search for enemy submarines. She arrived at Hvalfjordur Fjord, Iceland, on 16 September and cleared that port of mines on 23 October.

With the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States declaration of war, Sampson patrolled off Newport from 23 December 1941 to 12 January 1942. Sampson arrived on 17 January to join the Southeast Pacific Forces. On 1 February 1942 she participated in the escort of twelve troopships. Sampson spent the next year in a series of coastal patrol sweeps and escort voyages.

On 27 July 1943 the destroyer escorted four Army troopships bound for Australia and reached Sydney on 8 August. During the following months, Sampson alternately based her operations at Noumea and Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides Islands, and made frequent escort voyages to Guadalcanal, or Purvis Bay, Florida, Solomon Islands. On the 2 October, while escorting a convoy from Noumea to Espiritu Santo, she fired at an enemy submarine and dropped depth charges that produced a heavy oil slick.

On 15 March 1944, Sampson cleared Espiritu Santo as one of four destroyers screening the escort carriers, Natoma Bay (CVE-62) and Manila Bay (CVE-61). Later that day, four battleships and more destroyers joined the formation. This force struck Kavieng, New Ireland, and nearby airfields in an air-sea bombardment on 20 March. After guarding the escort carriers while they launched strikes against Kavieng and providing air cover for reinforcement convoys to Emirau, Sampson joined a convoy and escorted it to Espiritu Santo. Sampson escorted Ataseosa to Kukum Beach, arrived off Tenaru Beach of Guadalcanal on 20 April. She continued to escort troops convoys until 11 May. On 20 May Sampson became the flagship of Rear Admiral W. M. Fechteler, Commander, Task Force 77. The task force sailed that evening and Sampson arrived off Bosnik with her attack force before daybreak of 27 May.

Sampson reported for duty to the United States Atlantic Fleet on 25 June. After providing troopship escort she became flagship of Capt. H. T. Read, Commander, Task Force 63, on 19 July. In August she sailed as flagship of the escort for Convoy UGS-49 and made many subsequent trips to the Mediterranean until arriving at Boston on 19 May 1945.

Sampson arrived at Annapolis, Md., on 3 July 1945 to embark midshipmen for a training cruise, and then put to sea on the 7th with for task group battle practice. She sailed again on 19 August for training operations and returned from the cruise to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on 16 September for inactivation overhaul. She was decommissioned on 1 November 1945, her name was struck from the Navy list on 28 November, and she was sold for scrap on 29 March 1946.

Sampson earned one battle star for World War II service.

For a more detailed account of the first USS Sampson see

3rd USS Sampson

DDG10 Following shakedown off Guantanamo Bay in September, Sampson tested and evaluated the Tartar Missile System off Puerto Rico. Homeported at Norfolk, she conducted further tests and trials in early 1962 before joining Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 18 and Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 182 in July. Composed completely of missile ships, DesRon 18 was the most modern squadron in the Navy. Further radar and missile tests followed in 1963 and, in July, Sampson operated in the Midshipman Training Squadron. In January 1964, Sampson fired two Tartar missiles under simulated combat conditions.

In January 1965, Sampson sailed for her first Mediterranean deployment, but an electrical fire on the night of 14 January caused extensive damage to her fire control capability and forced her to abbreviate her deployment and enter the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for repairs on 15 March. The destroyer returned to fleet duties on 24 June. While conducting gunnery exercises on 17 July Sampson spotted a 50-foot sailing sloop, Cecelia Anna, flying distress signals. Sampson rescued the six crewmen and mascot puppy moments before the sloop sank.

In 1966 Sampson conducted gunnery exercises and escort duties near Guantanamo Bay Cuba then, in March, deployed to the Mediterranean for operations with the 6th Fleet. She returned to Norfolk in August. In November, following three weeks of exercises in the Caribbean and additional tests, Sampson got underway to participate in exercise “Lantflex 66”.

Sampson deployed to the Mediterranean in mid-1967. While there, a Sampson radarman rescued a German seaman from the harbor at El Ferrol de Caudillo, Spain. Leaving the 6th Fleet at the end of August 1967, Sampson steamed back to the United States, and soon shifted to her new home port of Charleston.

Sampson operated out of Charleston in the Atlantic and Caribbean during 1968 until again deploying to the Mediterranean in October. She returned to Charleston in January 1969 and resumed operations in the Atlantic and the Caribbean until redeploying to the Mediterranean in October of that year. After six months with the 6th Fleet, she returned to Charleston on 28 March 1970. Sampson operated out of Charleston in the western Atlantic until 23 September, when, after only two days notice, she got underway for special operations in the Mediterranean. She cruised with John F. Kennedy (CVA-67), then with Saratoga (CV-60), during the Levantine crisis.

She ended 1970 and began 1971 in Charleston. On 9 April she performed exercises and type training. She cruised with the 6th Fleet for six months, participating in exercises with both American and NATO forces. By 16 October, the guided missile destroyer was back in port at Charleston. She spent the rest of 1971 preparing for a compressed regular overhaul. From mid-May until 9 July Sampson was underway for post-overhaul trials, exercises, and refresher training before reporting to her new home port, Athens, Greece. She met the Soviet Black Seas fleet at the straits of Bosphurus during the 1973 Israeli/Arab war. The guided missile destroyer remained in the Mediterranean into 1974.

Sampson underwent a major overhaul in the Portsmouth shipyard during 1980–81. In November 1982 Sampson deployed to the Persian Gulf and later the Mediterranean. Sampson was on station off Beirut when the US Embassy was bombed. The ship returned to Mayport, FL in May 1983. From October to December of that year, Sampson was deployed in the eastern Caribbean in support of Operation Urgent Fury.

Sampson was decommissioned on 24 June 1991 exactly 30 years after commissioning, stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 20 November 1992.

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