USS McFaul Hosts Tin Can Sailors


USS McFaul (DDG 74) hosted 20 members of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Tin Can Sailor Association for a ship tour Nov. 12, during their annual reunion.

Members of the association and their spouses, including veterans who served during World War II, Vietnam, and the Korean War​, were shown the Navy’s newest advancements in technology by Lt. Cmdr. Tom Cunningham, McFaul combat systems officer, and Ens. Susan Falt, electrical officer.

If you mention the term “Tin Can Sailor” to any current destroyer Sailor, images of the heroic World War II veterans emerge. “Tin Can” was the affectionate nickname given to the destroyers of the time. The National Association of Destroyer Veterans, also known as the Tin Can Sailor Association, represents all U.S. Navy veterans that served on destroyers throughout history.

McFaul Sailors heard comments from the veterans about the many things on modern destroyers that were different from ships on which they served. With a length of over 500 feet and displacement of 9000 tons, McFaul is more than twice the size of most World War II-era destroyers.

This was most evident when the former quartermasters in the group visited the bridge. McFaul recently made the transition from paper charts as the primary means of navigation to the computerized Voyage Management System.

The Tin Can Sailors expressed slight despair at the prospect of a lost art form with the onset of increased technology. Cunningham, who also serves as McFaul’s senior watch officer, assured the Navy veterans that the Sailors of today still learn basic navigational concepts that have been part of the Navy’s rich history.

When the group entered McFaul’s modern Combat Information Center (CIC), the veterans were overwhelmed by the size and complexity of the weapons control systems. However, a former fire controlman in the group was quick to point out the one thing that had not changed: the status boards, which still hang in the middle of CIC.

Later that evening, Cmdr. Dan Gillen, McFaul commanding officer, served as the guest of honor at the destroyer veteran’s reunion dinner. During his remarks, Gillen gave the Tin Can Sailors an update on the Navy from the perspective of a modern destroyer captain.

He summarized the long, unbroken line of kinship among all destroyer Sailors, past and present, “The technology may be different, but the Sailor is still the same. The destroyer Sailor still has to be the jack of all trades and capable of doing multiple jobs at once.”

“Just as you, the Tin Can Sailors of the past, served with such honor, courage, and commitment, that tradition continues today on board McFaul and the other destroyers in the Navy. The tradition of the destroyer as the workhorse of the Fleet, a tradition that you established, remains in place today.”

On this special Veteran’s Day weekend, it was a unique experience for the crew of McFaul to host so many heroes on board.

Falt summed it up best when she said, “It was such an honor to show these men our ship and to hear their stories. It makes you realize that although the modern Navy is different in many ways, the honor of serving on a destroyer in the United States Navy is something that stands the test of time.”

Naval Today Staff, November 20, 2011