|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2013)|
USS Gearing (DD-710)
|Name:||Gearing class destroyer|
|Builders:||Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine
Bethlehem Steel, Fore River Shipyard
Bethlehem Steel, San Francisco
Bethlehem Steel, San Pedro, Los Angeles, California
Boston Navy Yard
Charleston Navy Yard
Consolidated Steel, Orange, Texas
Federal Shipbuilding, Kearny, N.J.
Todd Pacific Shipyards, Seattle
|Operators:|| United States Navy
Republic of China Navy (Taiwan)
Republic of Korea Navy
Islamic Republic of Iran Navy
|Preceded by:||Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer|
|Succeeded by:||Mitscher-class destroyer|
|General characteristics as originally built|
|Displacement:||2,616 tons standard; 3,460 tons full load|
|Length:||390.5 ft (119.0 m)|
|Beam:||40.9 ft (12.5 m)|
|Draft:||14.3 ft (4.4 m)|
|Propulsion:||2 shaft; General Electric steam turbines; 4 boilers; 60,000 shp|
|Speed:||36.8 knots (68.2 km/h)|
|Range:||4,500 nmi at 20 knots
(8,300 km at 37 km/h)
|Complement:||350 as designed|
The Gearing class is a group of 98 destroyers built for the US Navy during and shortly after World War II. The Gearing design was a minor modification of the immediately preceding Allen M. Sumner class. The hull was lengthened 14 ft (4.3 m) amidships, creating more storage space for fuel, thus giving the ships a larger range than the Sumners.
The first Gearings were not ready for service until mid-1945, so they saw relatively little wartime service. They continued serving, with a series of upgrades, until the 1970s. At that time many were sold to other nations, where they served many more years.
Ten Gearing-class ships still exist. ARM Netzahualcóyotl (D-102), formerly USS Steinaker (DD-863), is active in the Mexican navy. As of April 2012 two were laid up in non-operational condition in Kaohsiung, Taiwan: ROCS Chien Yang (DDG-912), formerly USS James E. Kyes (DD-787) and ROCS Sheng Yang (DDG-923), formerly USS Power (DD-839). The other seven are museum ships: ROKN Kang Won (DD-922), formerly USS William R. Rush (DD-714), near Busan, South Korea; TCG Gayret (D-352), formerly USS Eversole (DD-789), in Izmit, Turkey; ROKN Jeong Buk (DD-916), formerly USS Everett F. Larson (DD-830), near Gangneung, South Korea; ROCS Te Yang (DDG-925), formerly USS Sarsfield (DD-837), in Tainan, Taiwan; USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (DD-850) in Fall River, MA; ROKN Jeong Ju (DD-925), formerly USS Rogers (DD-876), near Cheonan, South Korea and USS Orleck (DD-886) in Lake Charles, LA.
Procurement and construction
31 vessels were authorised on 9 July 1942:
- DD-710 to DD-721 awarded to Federal Shipbuilding, Kearny.
- DD-742 to DD-743 awarded to Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine.
- DD-763 to DD-769 awarded to Bethlehem Steel, San Francisco.
- DD-782 to DD-791 awarded to Todd Pacific Shipyards, Seattle.
4 vessels were authorised on 13 May 1942:
- DD-805 to DD-808 awarded to Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine.
3 vessels were authorised on 27 March 1943 under the Vincent-Trammell Act:
- DD-809 to DD-811 awarded to Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine. (later cancelled)
118 vessels were authorised on 19 July 1943 under the 70% Expansion Act:
- DD-812 awarded to Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine. (later cancelled)
- DD-813 to DD-814 awarded to Bethlehem Steel, Staten Island. (later cancelled)
- DD-815 to DD-825 awarded to Consolidated Steel, Orange. (815 and 816 later cancelled)
- DD-826 to DD-850 awarded to Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine.
- DD-851 to DD-853 awarded to Bethlehem Steel, Fore River Shipyard, Quincy.
- DD-854 to DD-856 awarded to Bethlehem Steel, Staten Island. (later cancelled)
- DD-858 to DD-861 awarded to Bethlehem Steel, San Pedro.
- DD-862 to DD-872 awarded to Bethlehem Steel, Staten Island.
- DD-873 to DD-890 awarded to Consolidated Steel, Orange.
- DD-891 to DD-893 awarded to Federal Shipbuilding, Kearny. (later cancelled)
- DD-894 to DD-895 awarded to Consolidated Steel, Orange. (later cancelled)
- DD-896 to DD-904 awarded to Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine. (later cancelled)
- DD-905 to DD-908 awarded to Boston Navy Yard. (later cancelled)
- DD-909 to DD-916 awarded to Bethlehem Steel, Staten Island. (later cancelled)
- DD-917 to DD-924 awarded to Consolidated Steel, Orange. (later cancelled)
- DD-925 to DD-926 awarded to Charleston Navy Yard. (later cancelled)
(Of the missing numbers in this sequence - 722 to 741, 744 to 762, 770 to 781, and 857 were allocated to orders for Allen M. Sumner class destroyers; 792 to 804 were awarded to orders for Fletcher class destroyers.)
In March 1945, the orders for 36 of the above vessels were cancelled, and 11 more orders were cancelled in August 1945. Following the close of World War II, 6 further vessels were cancelled in 1946, while another 4 (DD-927 to DD-930) were completed as destroyer leaders DL-2 to DL-5:
- the Castle (DD-720) and Woodrow R. Thomson (DD-721), the last pair of the twelve vessels launched by Federal Shipbuilding at Kearny, were cancelled on 11 February 1946. They were sold on 29 August 1955 and scrapped.
- the Lansdale (DD-766) and Seymour D. Owen (DD-767), both launched by Bethlehem at San Francisco, were cancelled on 7 January 1946. Their bows were used for repair to other destroyers, and their remains were scrapped in 1958-59.
- the Hoel (DD-768) and Abner Read (ii) (DD-769), both building by Bethlehem at San Francisco, were cancelled on 12 September 1946 prior to launch and broken up on the slip.
- Four unnamed vessels (DD-809 to DD-812) awarded to Bath Iron Works, five others (DD-813, DD-814, and DD-854 to DD-856) awarded to Bethlehem at Staten Island, and two more (DD-815 and DD-816) awarded to Consolidated Steel Corporation at Orange, were all cancelled on 12 August 1945. DD-815 would have been named Charles H. Roan (the name was re-allocated to DD-853).
- Three more unnamed vessels (DD-891 to DD-893) awarded to Federal Shipbuilding at Kearney, were cancelled 8 March 1945.
- Ten more unnamed vessels (DD-894, DD-895, and DD-917 to DD-924) awarded to Consolidated Steel Corporation at Orange, and four more (DD-905 to DD-908) awarded to Boston Navy Yard, and another two (DD-925 and DD-926) awarded to Charleston Navy Yard, were all cancelled on 27 March 1945.
- Nine more unnamed vessels (DD-896 to DD-904) awarded to Bath Iron Works, and another eight (DD-909 to DD-916) awarded to Bethlehem at Staten Island, were all cancelled on 28 March 1945.
The first ship was laid down in August 1944, while the last was launched in March 1946. In that time the United States produced 98 Gearing-class destroyers. The Gearing class was a seemingly minor improvement of the previous Sumner class, which were built from 1943 until 1945. The main difference was that the Gearings were 14 feet (4.3 m) longer in the midship section, allowing for increased fuel tankage for greater range, an important consideration in Pacific War operations. More importantly in the long run, the Gearings' increased size made them much more suitable for upgrades than the Sumners, as seen in the wartime radar picket subclass, the 1950s radar picket destroyer (DDR) and escort destroyer (DDE) conversions, and the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) conversions 1960-65. As designed, the Gearings' armament was identical to the Sumners'. Three twin 5"/38cal Mark 38 dual purpose (DP) mounts constituted the main battery. The 5-inch guns were guided by a Mark 37 Gun Fire Control System with a Mark 25 fire control radar linked by a Mark 1A Fire Control Computer stabilized by a Mark 6 8,500 rpm gyro. This fire control system provided effective long-range anti-aircraft (AA) or anti-surface fire. Twelve 40 mm guns and 11 20 mm guns were also retained. The initial design retained the Sumners' heavy torpedo armament of 10 21" (533mm) tubes in two quintuple mounts, firing the Mark 15 torpedo. As the threat from kamikaze aircraft mounted in 1945, and with few remaining Japanese warships to use torpedoes on, most of the class had the after quintuple 21" torpedo tube mount replaced by an additional 40 mm quadruple mount (prior to completion on later ships) for 16 total 40mm guns. 26 ships (DD-742-745, 805-808, 829-835, and 873-883) were ordered without torpedo tubes to allow for radar picket equipment; these were redesignated as DDRs in 1948.
Following World War II most of the class had their AA and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) armament upgraded. The 40 mm and 20 mm guns were replaced by 2-6 3"/50 caliber guns (up to 2 x 2, 2 x 1). One depth charge rack was removed and two Hedgehog mounts added. The K-guns were retained. Nine additional (for a total of 35) ships were converted to radar picket destroyers (DDR) in the early 1950s; these typically received only one 3"/50cal twin mount to save weight for radar equipment, as did the wartime radar pickets. Nine ships were converted to escort destroyers (DDE), emphasizing ASW. USS Carpenter (DD-825) was the most thorough DDE conversion, with 4 3"/70cal guns in twin enclosed mounts, two Weapon Alpha launchers, four new 21" torpedo tubes for the Mark 37 ASW torpedo, and one depth charge rack.
FRAM I upgrade
In the late 1950s forty-four of the Gearing-class destroyers underwent extensive modernization overhauls, known as FRAM I, which were designed to convert them from an AA destroyer to an anti-submarine warfare platform. FRAM removed all of the DDR and DDE equipment, and these ships were redesignated as DDs. FRAM I and FRAM II conversions were completed 1960-65.
The FRAM MK I program was designed primarily for the Gearing-class destroyers. This upgrade included rebuilding the ship's superstructure, engines, electronic systems, radar, sonar, and weapons. The second twin 5" gun mount and all previous AA guns and ASW equipment were removed. Upgraded systems included SQS-23 sonar, SPS-10 surface search radar, 2 × triple Mark 32 torpedo tubes, 8-cell Anti-Submarine Rocket (ASROC) box launcher, and one QH-50C DASH ASW drone helicopter, with its own landing pad and hangar. Both the Mk 32 torpedo tubes and ASROC launched Mk 44 homing ASW torpedoes. ASROC could also launch a nuclear depth charge. On 11 May 1962, USS Agerholm (DD-826) tested a live nuclear ASROC in the "Swordfish" test.
In Navy slang, the modified destroyers were called "FRAM cans", "can" being a contraction of "tin can", the slang term for a destroyer or destroyer escort.
The Gyrodyne QH-50C DASH was an unmanned anti-submarine helicopter, controlled remotely from the ship. The drone could carry 2 × Mk.44 homing ASW torpedoes. During this era the ASROC system had an effective range of only 5 nautical miles (9 km), but the DASH drone allowed the ship to deploy ASW attack to sonar contacts as far as 22 nautical miles (41 km) away.
FRAM II upgrade
The FRAM MK II program was designed primarily for the Sumner class destroyers, but was used to upgrade the Gearing class as well. This upgrade program included life-extension refurbishment, a new radar system, ASROC, Mk. 32 torpedo tubes, DASH ASW drone, and most importantly, a new variable depth sonar (VDS).
Service and Disposition
Many of the Gearings provided significant gunfire support in the Vietnam War. They also served as escorts for Carrier Battle Groups (Carrier Strike Groups from 2004) and Amphibious Ready Groups (Expeditionary Strike Groups from 2006). DASH was withdrawn from ASW service in 1969 due to poor reliability. With ASROC continuing to provide a standoff ASW capability, the Gearings were retained in service for several years, with most being decommissioned and transferred to foreign navies 1973-80. They were replaced as ASW ships by the Spruance-class destroyers, which were commissioned 1975-83. These had the same ASW armament as a Gearing FRAM destroyer, with the addition of improved sonar and a piloted helicopter, initially the Kaman SH-2 Seasprite and from 1984 the Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk. Some Gearings served in the Naval Reserve Force (NRF) from 1973, remaining in commission with a partial active crew to provide training for Naval reservists. The last World War II surface combatant in US naval service was the USS William C. Lawe (DD-763), a Gearing FRAM I, decommissioned and stricken 1 October 1983 and expended as a target 14 July 1999.
After the Gearing-class ships were retired from USN service, many were sold abroad, including over a dozen to the Republic of China Navy (ROCN) in Taiwan. These ships, along with Fletcher-class and Allen M. Sumner-class destroyers also acquired then, were upgraded under the Wu Chin (Chinese: 武進) I, II, and III programs and known throughout the ROCN as the Yang-class (Chinese: 陽字號) destroyers as they were assigned names that all end with the word "Yang". The last batch of 7 WC-III program vessels, all of them Gearing class, were retired in early 2000s.
Under the most advanced Wu Chin III upgrade program, all World War Two vintage weapons were removed and replaced with 4 × Hsiung Feng II SSM, 10 × SM-1 (box launchers), 1 × 8-cell ASROC, 1 × 76 mm gun, 2 × 40 mm/70 AA, 1 × 20 mm Phalanx CIWS and 2 × triple 12.75" torpedo tubes. The DASH ASW drones were not acquired, but hangar facilities aboard those ships that had them were later used to accommodate ASW versions of Hughes MD500 helicopters.
After the Yang-class destroyers were decommissioned, the SM-1 launch boxes were moved to Chi Yang-class frigates to improve their anti-air capability.
Ships in class
- ."The Sumner Class As Built Retrieved 25 August 2009."
- Friedman, Norman "US Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History (Revised Edition)", Naval Institute Press, Annapolis:2004, ISBN 1-55750-442-3.
- Silverstone, Paul H. "U.S. Warships of World War II", Ian Allan Ltd., London:1965.
- Friedman, p. 510-513.
- "FRAM". Gyrodynehelicopters.com. 1962-09-01. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
- "QH-50C". Gyrodynehelicopters.com. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
- "Gyrodyne Today". Gyrodynehelicopters.com. 2006-05-09. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
- John Pike. "Chao Yang-class [Gearing] Destroyer - Republic of China [Taiwan] Navy". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gearing class destroyers.|
- Gearing-class destroyers at Destroyer History Foundation