CAPT. Russell S. Crenshaw
|The son of a Naval Officer, Russell Crenshaw was
born in 1920. He spent his childhood following his father as he
shifted between the Battle Fleet in Long Beach and the Navy Department
in Washington, D.C. He entered the Naval Academy in 1937 and was
graduated in 3 1/2 years as the Navy prepared for was.
His first assignment as an Ensign was the USS MAURY as part of Halsey's Task Force 16. It was returning from delivering the Marine Fighter Squadron to Wake Island and was still 100 miles west of Pearl Harbor when the Japanese struck. As the MAURY was approaching Pearl Harbor, they were attacked by the retreating Japanese ships and aircraft, but escaped serious damage. MAURY took part in action at Wake Island, Coral Sea, Guadalcanal, and many other battles in the Pacific Theatre. 1943 found Crenshaw not only as a Lieutenant, but Executive Officer and Navigator aboard Maury. He received 13 battle stars on his Pacific Area Ribbon and was awarded the Silver Star and Legion of Merit.
Crenshaw moved on as an Executive Officer of the USS STORMES and again took part in heavy action in the Pacific. Hit by a kamikaze near Okinawa, the STORMES suffered 20 killed and 21 injured. While the STORMES was in the yards being repaired, the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan. Crenshaw was then ordered to the USS THOMAS J. GARY as Commanding Officer. As CO of the GARY, and ComCortDivFifty as well, Crenshaw commanded an around the world cruise suggested by Rear Admiral Turner Joy to attract experienced personnel to remain in the Navy.
Postgraduate school followed this assignment at both the Navy P.G. School in Annapolis and MIT, where he received his Master's Degree in Electrical Engineering. During this period, Crenshaw married his wife, Flavienne, whom he had met on a visit to Marseilles. After graduate school, he was assigned as Gunnery Officer of the USS COLUMBUS.
When the Korean War broke out, Crenshaw was promoted to Commander and assigned as Commanding Officer of the USS COGSWELL. He was later detached and sent to the Bureau of Ordinance at Main Navy in Washington, D.C. Here he was assigned to the Terrier Task Force working out the problems of the TERRIER, the Navy's first surface-to-air missile. Bringing together the best proposals from all the participants the committee produced a successful design dubbed "The Crenshaw Guidance Package". Crenshaw was then charged with building 600 TERRIERS required to supply the new Guided Missile Cruisers BOSTON and CANBERRA.
In the summer of 1955, Crenshaw was ordered to Bath Iron Works as Commanding Officer of the USS FORREST SHERMAN (DD-931), the first of its class. As Crenshaw said "She was a joy to behold". Commissioned in 1956, SHERMAN began a long career in the Navy. But, it was not without trials and tribulations during her first few years. During her initial shakedown cruise, Admiral Arleigh Burke, then Chief of Naval Operations, felt the pressure of congressional budget time crunch and used the SHERMAN as a show ship to drum up support for the Navy. In addition to her duties at sea, she made a number of very highly visible port calls throughout Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean. During these sea trials, the SHERMAN developed serious turbine problems that required her to go into Boston Naval Shipyard for turbine replacement. During her sea trials following the replacement, her second set of rotors failed and it was back to the yards.
Following this replacement, the SHERMAN was sent to Washington, D.C. as a representative ship of the Navy for President Eisenhower's second Inaugural. After a difficult trip up the Potomac River due to fog and ice, the Inaugural events went smoothly. From Washington, D.C., the SHERMAN was sent on its most unusual mission. The Academy Award winning movie director, Louis de Rochemont, was filming a wide screen movie called WINDJAMMER. It was following the Norwegian Sailing Ship CHRISTIAN RADICH throughout an Atlantic voyage. Much of the film was shot from the fantail of the SHERMAN. There is a long scene in the movie of a highline transfer between the two ships and Crenshaw appears in the movie during this part.
After all these highly visible assignments, the SHERMAN returned to sea and got serious about training. After much gunnery and ASW work, the SHERMAN was sent to Newport to become flagship of DESRON 10. After becoming an active ship of the fleet, Crenshaw was relieved of command and transferred to the NATO Defence College in Paris. Shortly thereafter, Crenshaw was promoted to Captain and assigned to the NATO Staff in Heidelberg, Germany. From there, he was assigned to the Embassy in Paris working on the NATO guided missile systems.
From Europe, Crenshaw was brought back to the Pentagon as Director, Anti-Air Warfare Division. During this period, he oversaw the POLARIS program and worked out many bugs in the program. It was in this position that he found himself in the "Driver's seat" to direct much of the future of the Navy's weapons.
Not done with sea duty, in 1962, Captain Crenshaw received orders as Commanding Officer of the USS SPRINGFIELD, the flagship of the 6th Fleet. He returned to the states in 1964 and was assigned to the Staff of the Secretary of Defense. In 1967, Crenshaw requested retirement to form the Crenshaw Company, a consulting engineering firm for military systems. He later formed Crenshaw International, Inc., working on projects worldwide.
In 1990, having completed the tasks he was committed to accomplish, Crenshaw closed Crenshaw Company, liquidated Crenshaw International, and retired to his "dream house" at Pagan Point on the St. Mary's river in southern Maryland. Crenshaw had four books published on various Naval subjects, but is best known for Naval Shiphandling, published in 1955 by the Naval Institute Press and now in its fourth edition, which has become the standard text on the subject in many navies throughout the world in addition to the U.S. Navy. As one former skipper of the SHERMAN said, "you had to read that book because it taught you how to drive these boats".
Captain Crenshaw has been very helpful in guiding the formation of this foundation, and his suggestions in our effort to save our ship have been extremely valuable.