USS Frank E. Evans (DD-754)

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USS Frank E. Evans, 1945
USS Frank E. Evans, 1945
Career (US)
Namesake: Brigadier General Frank Evans
Builder: Bethlehem Steel, Staten Island
Laid down: 21 April 1944
Launched: 3 October 1944
Commissioned: 3 February 1945
Struck: 1 July 1969
Nickname: "Gray Ghost"
"Lucky Evans"
Honors and
awards:
1 battle star (World War II)
5 battle stars (Korean War)
Fate: Bow lost in collision with Australian carrier Melbourne. Stern recovered and sunk as target.
General characteristics
Class and type: Allen M. Sumner class destroyer
Displacement: 2,200 tons standard, 3,218 tons full load
Length: 376.5 feet (115 m)
Beam: 41.1 feet (12.5 m)
Draft: 14.2 feet (4.3 m) mean, 15.7 feet (4.8 m) maximum
Propulsion: 60,000 horsepower (45 MW)
Speed: 36.5 knots (68 km/h)
Range: 3,300 miles @ 20 kn (5,300 km @ 37 km/h)
Complement: 336
Armament: 6 x 5-in (127 mm)/ 38 cal dual purpose guns (3x2),
12 x 40 mm guns,
11 x 20 mm guns,
10 x 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes (2x5),
6 x depth charge projectors,
2 x depth charge tracks

USS Frank E. Evans (DD-754), an Allen M. Sumner class destroyer, was named in honor of General Frank Evans, a leader of the American Expeditionary Force in France during World War I. She served in late World War II and the Korean War, and Vietnam War before being cut in half in a collision with HMAS Melbourne in 1969.

Construction[edit]

Her keel was laid down at the Bethlehem Steel Company shipyard in Staten Island, New York. She was launched on 3 October 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Frank E. Evans, widow of General Evans, and commissioned on 3 February 1945, with Commander Harry Smith in command.[1]

Service history[edit]

World War II[edit]

Frank E. Evans arrived at Pearl Harbor on 18 May 1945 for her final training, and crossed to Eniwetok, Guam, Ulithi, and Okinawa on escort duty. Reaching action waters on 24 June, she was assigned to radar picket and local escort duty, often firing on enemy aircraft. At the close of hostilities, she patrolled the Yellow Sea and the Gulf of Chihli, embarked released Americans from prisoner of war camps near Dairen, Manchuria, covered occupation landings at Jinsen, Korea, and continued to operate in the Far East until 6 March 1946 when she sailed from Tsingtao for San Francisco, California. Immobilized there on 31 March, Evans was decommissioned and placed in reserve on 14 December 1949.[1]

Korean War[edit]

Recommissioned on 15 September 1950 for duty in the Korean War, Evans sailed from San Diego, California on 2 January 1951 for duty with the 7th Fleet. On 26 February, she began her part in the lengthy siege of Wonsan, during which she engaged enemy shore batteries eleven times. On 18 June, she was struck by 30 shrapnel hits, which caused minor wounds to four crewmembers before the destroyer silenced the enemy battery.[1] It was during this time that Frank E. Evans earned the nicknames "Lucky Evans" and the "Gray Ghost."[2][3]

During this tour of duty, Evans also bombarded targets in the Songjin-Chongjin area, rescued downed aviators, and coordinated and controlled day and night bombing missions by United Nations aircraft. She returned to San Diego on 4 September 1951.[1]

Evans sailed on 22 March 1952 for her second Korean tour, serving on patrol and bombardment duty along the coast of Korea and on the Taiwan Patrol before returning to her new home port, Long Beach, California, on 6 November 1952. Her tour in the Far East from 13 June to 20 December 1953 coincided with the Korean armistice, and was devoted primarily to patrol duty.[1]

From 1954 to 1960, Evans completed five tours of duty in the Far East, as well as joining extensive training operations along the west coast and in the Hawaiian Islands, occasionally with Canadian naval ships.[1]

USS Frank E. Evans at sea, April 1963

From 1962 to 1963, the ship was the fictitious Appleby used in the NBC military comedy series Ensign O'Toole starring Dean Jones in the title role.[4]

Vietnam[edit]

According to the US Navy Awards file, Frank E. Evans served in the waters off Vietnam for 12 days from July to September 1965.[5] Evans was again in the vicinity of Vietnam for 61 days from August to November 1966.[5] Evans returned to Vietnam and served there for 66 days from October 1967 to 20 February 1968.[5] During the Tet Offensive, on 3 February 1968, Frank E. Evans provided naval gunfire support to the 101st Airborne Division near Phan Thiết against the 840th VC Battalion.[6] Evans also spent an additional 14 days in 1969 in the Vietnam war zone.[5]

Collision with HMAS Melbourne[edit]

USS Frank E. Evans post collision

At around 3 a.m. on 3 June 1969, between Vietnam and Spratly Island, Frank E. Evans was operating with the Royal Australian Navy in company with Melbourne which was at flying stations. Melbourne signalled Evans, then to port of the carrier, to take up the rescue destroyer position. The logical movement would be to turn to port and describe a circle taking up station on the carrier's port quarter. Inexplicably, instead of turning to port, Evans turned to starboard, cutting across Melbourne '​s bow, and was cut in half in the ensuing collision. She crossed the bow of the Melbourne twice as she was hit on the port side. Her bow drifted off to the Melbourne's port side and sank in less than five minutes taking 73 of her crew with it. One body was retrieved from the water, making a total of 74 dead.[7] The stern scraped along the starboard side of the Melbourne and lines were able to be attached by the Melbourne's crew. Around another 60-100 men were rescued from the water. At the time of the collision Evans '​s captain was asleep in his quarters. The officer of the deck (a junior officer who was not qualified to stand watch, having failed at his previous board) failed to notify him when he executed the station change, as required by the commanding officer's standing orders. Evans was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 July 1969. The stern section was sunk as a target in Subic Bay on 10 October 1969.

Awards[edit]

Frank E. Evans received one battle star for World War II service, and five for Korean war service.[1] According to the US Navy unit award website, Frank E. Evans had the following awards:

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Frank E. Evans (DD-754)". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History & Heritage Command. 
  2. ^ "Recollections". Frank E. Evans cruise book (U.S. Navy Cruise Books, 1918–2009): 7. 1966. 
  3. ^ "Hulk of Evans leaves Navy after 24 years". The Milwaukee Sentinel. 1 July 1969. 
  4. ^ "The U.S. Navy and Marines On TV". United States Naval Institute. 19 May 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Unit Award website". US Navy. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  6. ^ Shulimson, Jack (1997). US Marines in Vietnam – The Defining Year 1968. USMC History and Museums Division. p. 640. 
  7. ^ Stevenson J. In the Wake p.36

References[edit]

External links[edit]