Abbot’s Commanding Officers:
Allan Hamilton Craig

July 3, 1961 — August 28, 1963

By Walt Baranger


Having held virtually every possible navy rank between seaman and commander, Allan H. Craig became Abbot’s commanding officer in July 1961.

Out of all of Abbot’s future commanders, Craig had perhaps the broadest experience in World War II — including escorting arctic convoys, a raid on Nazi-occupied Norway, the invasion of North Africa, the D-Day invasion of Normandy and the invasion of southern France. He even served briefly in the Pacific.

Born in 1916 in Eureka, Utah, to Scottish immigrant parents, Allan Hamilton Craig enlisted in 1935. Serving mostly on cruisers and battleships, he rose in rank from seaman apprentice to chief radioman and then chief warrant officer. He was commissioned an ensign in June 1943 after less than a year as a warrant radio electrician.

After spending most of World War II on the cruiser Tuscaloosa, Craig attended the University of Oklahoma and then headed to post-war destroyer duty. He served as executive officer on the Fletcher-class destroyer John D. Henley and commanding officer of the destroyer escort Snowden, with a stint as anti-submarine operations officer for Destroyer Forces Atlantic.

Craig took command of Abbot just as the Cold War began spiraling toward the Cuban Missile Crisis. His tenure as skipper began quietly enough when, in September 1961, Abbot was designated a school ship for the Destroyer Officer’s School at Newport, R.I.. Training cruises in the Caribbean and the Atlantic coast became the routine for nearly a year.

Then Abbot sailed toward conflict one last time.

In August 1962, Abbot was ordered to Guantanamo Bay, serving as a base defense ship during the long-running disorders in Haiti. In October, Abbot helped blockade Cuba after President John F. Kennedy announced that Soviet offensive missiles had been discovered there. Mission accomplished, Abbot was released from Cuban duty in mid-November and returned to training missions.

Craig handed Abbot to a new commander, John Joseph Pirro, in September 1963.

Commander Craig ended his navy years as a staff officer for Commander-in-Chief Atlantic Fleet, and retired in 1966. He died in Paso Robles, Calif., in November 1992 at age 75, and is buried in Corning, Calif..

Source: U.S. Navy archives