Captain Gordon W. Underwood
Captain Gordon Waite Underwood was born in New York on 3 June 1910, and
at an early age moved with his family to Portland, Oregon from where he
was appointed to the US Naval Academy in the class of 1932. At the
Naval Academy he proved to be an outstanding student and superb
athlete. He earned letters and starred in football and track. He was
awarded the coveted "Academy Sword" for athletic excellence.
Following his graduation from the Academy, Captain Underwood served in
USS OKLAHOMA. This tour was followed by training at the US Submarine
School in New London, Connecticut. After his graduation he served in
the Submarine School S-21, USS MISSISSIPPI, and USS VEGA. In 1941, he
attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned a Masters
Degree in Marine Engineering. Upon his return to sea duty he was
assigned to the Staff of Commander Submarine Squadron TEN as Squadron
Engineer supporting submarines on war patrol. In January 1944, he was
assigned as Commanding Officer of USS SPADEFISH (SS-411). On this ship
during three war patrols he was credited with destruction of
seventy-six thousand tons of enemy shipping including one aircraft
carrier, the HIJMS SHINYO. For each of his war patrols he was awarded a
Navy Cross and in recognition of the great successes of the first two
patrols SPADEFISH was awarded the President Unit Citation. His record
of success in his war patrols remains one of the most notable in the
history of the US Navy Submarine Service.
Captain Underwood, following his retirement from the Navy in 1962 after
30 years service with distinction, became associated with Spelin Inc.,
Mountain View California, in which he was Vice President. He was also
Vice President of Filter-Aire Company of Hollister, California until
his retirement. He died January 15, 1978 at the age of 67
Commissioned January 1983, UNDERWOOD conducted her maiden deployment to
the US Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea in 1985. UNDERWOOD also
played a key role in the search and recovery effort following the Space
Shuttle Challenger disaster in January 1986, and earned the Coast Guard
Meritorious Unit Commendation. In 1986 again, UNDERWOOD was awarded the
Battenburg Cup along with the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation as
"BEST SHIP IN THE ATLANTIC FLEET." Additionally, for the ship's
sustained superior performance and consistent readiness to "go in
harm's way", UNDERWOOD was presented the Battle Efficiency Award for
1986, 1993, and 1995 competitive cycles.
In July 1996, UNDERWOOD returned from a six-month deployment.
In March 1998, UNDERWOOD was part of Standing Naval Forces
Mediterranean, a NATO task group consisting of warships from the United
Kingdom, The Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy, Turkey, and Greece.
UNDERWOOD has participated in numerous Counter Narcotics Operations in
the Caribbean Sea and several major six month deployments, including
assignment to the Arabian Gulf as part of Operation Desert Storm.
UNDERWOOD completed her eighth major overseas deployment in March 2000.
In February 2002, UNDERWOOD again got underway and deployed to the
Arabian Sea in support Operation Enduring Freedom. During the six-month
deployment UNDERWOOD was assigned to the USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV 67)
Battle Group. USS UNDERWOOD returned to Mayport on August 17, 2002.
Blue and gold are the colors
traditionally associated with the Naval Service and represent the sea
and excellence. The Chevron is a symbol of strength. The dolphins honor
Captain Underwood's three highly successful submarine combat patrols in
the Pacific during World War II, for which he was awarded the Navy
Cross each time. These are represented by the crosses embedded in the
The Crest: The trident, torches
and laurel are
adapted from the Naval Academy emblem and are used to symbolize naval
prowess, fire power, and excellence of capabilities. The sword refers
to the highly coveted "Academy Sword" awarded to, then Midshipman
Underwood, for athletic excellence during his years at the United
States Naval Academy.
Motto: Whensoever hostile
aggressions . . .
require a resort to war, we must meet our duty and convince the world
that we are just friends and brave enemies. -Thomas Jefferson, Letter
to Andrew Jackson, December 3, 1806.
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