USS Hawkins (DD-873)

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USS Hawkins.jpg
Career (United States)
Name: USS Hawkins (DD-873)
Namesake: William D. Hawkins
Laid down: 14 May 1944
Launched: 7 October 1944
Commissioned: 10 February 1945
Struck: 1 October 1979
Career (Republic of China)
Name: ROCS Shao Yang[1][2] or ROCS Tze Yang[3]
Decommissioned: late 1990s
Fate: scrapped, superstructure on display at museum[3]
General characteristics
Displacement: 3,460 tons
Length: 390 feet 6 inches (119 m)
Beam: 40 feet 10 inches (12.4 m)
Draft: 14 feet 4 inches (4.4 m)
Propulsion: 60,000 shp (44.7 MW); General Electric Geared Turbines, 2 screws
Speed: 36.8 knots (42.3 mph; 68.2 km/h)
Armament: 6 x 5"/38 DP (127 mm/38) (3x2), 12 x 40 mm AA, 11 x 20 mm AA, 10 x 21" (533 mm) tt.(2x5)

USS Hawkins (DD-873) was a Gearing-class destroyer in the United States Navy during World War II.

Hawkins was originally Beatty, but renamed 22 June 1944 and launched by Consolidated Steel Corporation, Orange, Texas, 7 October 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Clara Jane Hawkins, mother of First Lieutenant William Deane Hawkins (killed on Tarawa); and commissioned 10 February 1945, Comdr. C. Iverson in command.

1940s[edit]

Following shakedown training in the Caribbean, Hawkins arrived Norfolk 23 March 1945 to undergo conversion to a radar picket ship. Emerging 26 May, she conducted training exercises before sailing 18 June from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for San Diego and Pearl Harbor. After her arrival 8 July Hawkins prepared to enter the last phase of the Pacific War, but 3 days after her 12 August departure from Pearl Harbor for Eniwetok the Japanese surrendered. The destroyer continued from Eniwetok to Iwo Jima and Tokyo Bay, arriving 27 August, and assisted in early occupation operations. She then escorted ships to and from the Marianas, remaining in Japanese waters until 3 January 1946. Hawkins then steamed to the Philippines and Saipan, finally arriving Pearl Harbor 3 April.

Arriving San Diego 11 April, the destroyer took part in training operations off the West Coast until sailing again for the Far East January 1947. During the months that followed she steamed between Chinese and Korean ports, assisting and supporting American Marine units in their attempts to stabilize the explosive Chinese situation and protect American lives. Hawkins under the command of Cmdr. Alfred L. Cope, played a significant role in rescue operations off Chilang Point Hong Kong 19 July 1947, when giant steamer SS Hong Kheng sank with over 2,000 passengers on board. She returned to the United States 8 October 1947.

After a year of operations out of San Diego the ship sailed again for the troubled Far East, arriving Tsingtao, China, 29 October. Following operations off the China coast Hawkins got underway from Tsingtao 6 December. On this long voyage, completing a circuit of the globe, the destroyer visited Ceylon, Turkey, Gibraltar, New York, and Panama before arriving San Diego 10 March 1949.

Hawkins was reassigned to the U.S. Atlantic Fleet soon afterward, arriving at her new home port, Newport, Rhode Island, 23 May 1949. For the next year she took part in Reserve training cruises and readiness exercises in the Caribbean. The ship had been reclassifled DDR-873 18 March 1949. Hawkins departed 2 May 1950 for a cruise with 6th Fleet in the strategic Mediterranean.

Korean War Service[edit]

While there she and the world were shocked by the Communist invasion of South Korea. After NATO maneuvers, she returned to Newport 10 October and prepared to become part of the nation's far-flung bulwark in the Korean War. Sailing 3 January via the Panama Canal she arrived Pusan 5 February. During her four months of Korean duty, Hawkins screened the mobile carrier forces during strikes on enemy positions and supply lines, provided antisubmarine protection, and controlled jet aircraft in combat air patrols. She also acted as plane guard during operations in the Formosa Straits designed to discourage Communist aggression against the friendly island. Departing the Far East in June, the destroyer returned to Newport 8 August via the Mediterranean.

Post Korean War service to 1964[edit]

For the next few years the veteran ship alternated picket duty and training operations in the western Atlantic with periodic cruises to the Mediterranean with the 6th Fleet. She was in the Eastern Mediterranean during the summer of 1950 when the Suez crisis threatened the security and peace of the area. Hawkins arrived Mayport, Florida, her new homeport, 18 August 1960. She became part of DESRON-8 performing exercises in the Bahamas and Caribbean areas with one deployment of radar picket duty off the coast of Nicaragua returning to Mayport in December 1960. In January 1961 she soon resumed her pattern of cruises to the Mediterranean. In 1961 she operated with a special Task Group in connection with American space experiments and missile tests off Cape Canaveral, now Cape Kennedy. When the introduction of offensive missiles into Cuba in 1962 threatened the security of the United States, Hawkins joined with other ships in quarantining that Caribbean country, cruising the Caribbean from late October until December in a modern demonstration of the power of forces afloat. In 1963 the ship returned to the Mediterranean in January returnig to Mayport in July and in August took part in Polaris missile tests in the Caribbean with USS Alexander Hamilton (SSBN-617). During the next 5 months, Hawkins operated with carriers off Florida and in the Caribbean. Following additional Polaris missile tests with USS Andrew Jackson (SSBN-619) in February 1964, she steamed to Boston 21 March and was placed in commission, in reserve, prior to undergoing FRAM I overhaul.

1964-1971[edit]

USS Hawkins with a deployed DASH drone, circa 1965.

Reclassified DD-873 on 1 April, Hawkins completed FRAM late in 1964. Assigned to Destroyer Squadron 24, she operated out of Newport until departing 29 September for duty in the Far East. Steaming via the Panama Canal and the West Coast, she joined the 7th Fleet 23 November as part of America's powerful naval commitment to thwart Communist aggression in Southeast Asia. For the next 3 months she guarded hard-hitting carriers in the South China Sea and the Gulf of Tonkin and provided gunfire support for ground troops along the coast of South Vietnam. She departed Subic Bay late in February 1966, steamed via the Suez Canal, and arrived Newport 8 April.

Hawkins maintained the peak readiness of her crew and equipment over the next few months with exercises off the East Coast and in the Caribbean. Departing Newport 28 November, she joined the 6th Fleet at Gibraltar 8 December and became flagship for ComDesRon 24. For more than 3 months she cruised the Mediterranean from Spain to Greece before returning to Newport 20 March 1967. Into mid-1967 she operated along the Atlantic Coast from New England to Florida.

Hawkins went into the Boston Navy shipyard in 1967 for overhaul. After months in the shipyard and in dry dock, it went to Guantanamo Bay Cuba for a shakedown cruise. Halfway through its deployment to Guantanamo Bay it went to Ocho Rios Jamaica for a rest and relaxation leave.

On the 11th of February, 1969 the Hawkins was operating off the coast of Cuba with the USS Chopper SS-342 when the Chopper had an near fatal accident. It managed to surface but it shot through the surface of the ocean, nearly vertical. The entire forward section of the submarine, to the aft edge of the sail, cleared the surface before she fell back.

In July 1969, the Hawkins, working out of Cape Kennedy, began Polaris missile tests with the HMS Renown (S26), which ended with a successful test firing of a missile down a test range. Immediately afterward, these same tests were made with the USS Thomas Jefferson (SSBN-618) but in this case the test was aborted shortly after launch.

Hawkins took part in the United States space project in November, 1969 when it was assigned to the Apollo 12 Atlantic Recovery Force. It was fitted with special capsule recovery gear and practiced along with a Navy Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) to be prepared to recover the space capsule in the Atlantic if the Pacific landing was aborted.

In December 1969, the Hawkins changed homeport from Newport, Rhode Island to Norfolk, Virgina.

In 1970, the United States Navy assigned the USS Steinaker (DD-863) to the NATO Standing Naval Force Atlantic for Exercise Atlantic Ice. One night, at about 0300, the USS Steinaker ran aground while doing maneuvers in a fjord near Harstad, traveling at 25 knots. The Hawkins was directed to replace the Steinaker and complete their assignment with NATO. The Hawkins met the Steinaker in Bergen Norway to off load their munitions, allowing them to enter the repair facility at Haakonsvern. From Bergen, the Hawkins traveled to Oslo with exercises above the Arctic Circle en route. After more exercise in the North Sea, the force stopped in Kiel and then proceeded to Copenhagen in mid-May. There was a show of flags in Antwerp and Plymouth. Leaving Plymouth at the end of May, the force exercised with a French submarine in the Bay of Biscay before going to Lisbon.

February 9 1971 the Hawkins again participated in the space program as a backup recovery ship in the Atlantic for Apollo 14.

Transfer to ROC Navy and fate[edit]

The ship was struck from the Navy List on 1 October 1979 and sold to Taiwan in 1983. The ship was renamed Shao Yang[1][2] or Tze Yang[3] in service with the Republic of China Navy.The ship was scrapped in late 1990s, but part of her superstructure is on display at a museum in Taiwan.[3]

Honors and awards[edit]

Hawkins received two battle stars for Korean War service.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bridgeman, Leonard. “498.” Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II. London: Studio, 1946.. p. 1988 ships. ISBN 1 85170 493 0.
  2. ^ a b "Hawkins (6121172)". Miramar Ship Index. http://www.miramarshipindex.org.nz. Retrieved 4 November 2009. (subscription required)
  3. ^ a b c d Willshaw, Fred (2009). "USS Hawkins (DD-873 / DDR-873)". NavSource.org. Retrieved 4 November 2009. 

References[edit]