USS MASON (DDG 87) is the third ship to bear the name and is the 37th
ship of the Arleigh Burke Class of AEGIS Guided Missile Destroyers.
The First ship to bear the name MASON was named for John Young Mason,
who was Secretary of the Navy for Presidents John Tyler and James K.
Polk. The first MASON (DD 191) was laid down by Newport News
Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Newport News, Virginia on 10 July
and was launched 8 March 1919. The ship was commissioned at Norfolk
Navy Yard on 28 February 1920. The commanding Officer was Lieutenant
Commander Carl F. Holden.
As a result of the Washington Treaty of 6 February 1922 limiting Naval
Armament, DD 191 was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard 3
July 1922. After World War II broke out in Europe, MASON was
re-commissioned 4 December 1939. Under terms of the
Bases” executive agreement between the Unites States and
the MASON became one of 50 ships turned over in exchange for 99-year
leases on bases in the Western Hemisphere. DD 191 was transferred to
the British Royal Navy in Halifax, Nova Scotia on 8 October 1940 and
renamed the HMS BROADWATER H-81 the next day. Assigned to the
Newfoundland Escort Force in July 1941 the ship patrolled the North
Atlantic and guarded convoys against the German Submarine
into the fall of that year. Early in the morning17 October 1941 she
attacked a U-boat, one of a pack assaulting an American convoy SC-48
south of Iceland. Twenty-four hours later she herself fell victim to
torpedoes of U-101 and sank the same day.
The second ship to bear the name MASON was named for Ensign Newton
Henry Mason, born on 24 December 1918 in New York City. He enlisted as
a seaman in the Naval Reserve on 7 November 1940 and was appointed an
aviation cadet on 10 February 1941. He was assigned to Fighting
Squadron Three in September 1941 and died following aerial combat
against the Japanese forces in the Battle of the Coral Sea, 8 and 9 May
1942. Ensign Mason was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying
Cross for his skill and courage in the battle.
The second Mason (DE-529) was laid down by the Boston Navy Yard,
Boston, Massachusetts, in October 1943 and launched 17 November 1942.
The ship was commissioned 20 March 1944. Lieutenant William Blackford
was the Commanding Officer. Mason served as convoy escort in the
Atlantic through the remainder of World War II.
MASON (DE-529) has the distinction of being the only U.S. Navy
destroyer to be manned with a predominantly black enlisted crew. This
was the first time black Americans were permitted to be trained and
serve in ratings other than cooks and stewards. In late 1943, the Navy
announced its plan to place an all-black crew with white officers
aboard MASON. One hundred and sixty black Sailors were enrolled in all
fields of operational and technical training and manned the ship at
commissioning. Although known as “Eleanor’s
Folly” for Eleanor
Roosevelt’s introduction of the idea for an all-black crew,
served with distinction during World War II. During the worst North
Atlantic storm of the Century, MASON was serving as an escort to a
convoy of merchant ships bound for England. During the storm, the
convoy was forced the break up and MASON was chosen to escort a section
of ships to their destiny. With land in sight, MASON’s deck
the strain of heavy sea, threatening the structural integrity of the
ship. Emergency repairs were conducted and MASON returned immediately
to assist the remainder of the convoy.
The MASON crew was recommended for commendation from their Captain,
Lieutenant Commander Bill Blackford, and the Convoy Commander,
Commander Alfred Lind. The commendations were never rewarded. At the
end of the war MASON was assigned as a training ship operating from
Miami, Florida until being decommissioned and sold for scrap in 1947.
On July 26, 1947 President Truman signed Executive Order 9981,
officially desegregating the Armed Forces.
Through the efforts of the Mason veterans and the author Mary Pat
Kelly, the MASON story has been chronicled in the book
Served.” Their persistence in telling the MASON story paid
off in 1994
when President Clinton awarded the long-overdue commendation to
sixty-seven surviving crewmembers. In 1998, the Secretary of the Navy
John H. Dalton made official his decision to name an Arleigh Burke
Class Destroyer the USS MASON (DDG-87) in order to mark the
contributions of USS MASON DE 529 Sailors equality and desegregation in
is emblematic of the honor and high achievement of the African American
crew of DE 529 and marks their selfless contribution to the eventual
desegregation of the Navy. The shamrock is symbolic of their good
fortune during arduous operations in the North Atlantic and the warm
Irish welcome afforded them on their port visit to Northern Ireland.
The Shield: Dark blue and
traditionally used by the Navy; red while and blue are our
Nation’s colors. The two chevrons commemorate DD 191 and DE
the two previous ships named “USS MASON.” The
lions, which are adapted from the Mason Family Coat of Arms, represent
the World War II Pacific and Atlantic campaigns. The left facing lion
symbolizes the service and sacrifice of Ensign Newton Henry Mason in
the Battle of the Coral Sea. The right facing lion symbolizes the
crew’s courageous actions in the North Atlantic during Convoy
119 in the ship bearing Ensign Mason’s name. The trident,
of sea prowess, symbolizes DDG 87’s modern warfare
The Aegis Weapons System, Theater Ballistic Missile Defense and
Cooperative Engagement Capability.
Crest: The helm symbolizes a
and the projection of power. The anchor refers to John Young Mason,
namesake of DD 191 who was the Secretary of the Navy under President
John Tyler and James K. Polk. The cross alludes to the Distinguished
Flying Cross awarded to Newton Henry Mason. The wreath denotes the many
awards, honors and achievements of the previous ships named MASON and
crew who served them.
The motto is given by African
Sailors of DE 529 who sailed in her during World War II and made
history with the selfless bravery in the defense of our country.