USS John W. Thomason (DD-760)

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For other uses, see John Thomason (disambiguation).
USS John W. Thomason
Career (United States)
Namesake: John William Thomason, Jr.
Builder: Bethlehem Steel, San Francisco
Laid down: 21 November 1943
Launched: 30 September 1944
Commissioned: 11 October 1945
Decommissioned: 8 December 1970
Struck: 1 February 1974
Fate: to Taiwan 6 May 1974
Career (Republic of China)
Name: ROCS Nan Yang (DD-17)
Acquired: 6 May 1974
Reclassified: DDG-917
Decommissioned: 16 January 2000
Fate: Used as Target Practice
Status: Sunk
General characteristics
Class & type: Allen M. Sumner class destroyer
Displacement: 2,200 tons
Length: 376 ft 6 in (114.8 m)
Beam: 40 ft (12.2 m)
Draft: 15 ft 8 in (4.8 m)
Propulsion: 60,000 shp (45 MW);
2 propellers
Speed: 34 knots (63 km/h)
Range: 6500 nmi. (12,000 km) @ 15 kt
Complement: 336
Armament: 6 × 5 in./38 guns (12 cm),
12 × 40mm AA guns,
11 × 20mm AA guns,
10 × 21 in. torpedo tubes,
6 × depth charge projectors,
2 × depth charge tracks

USS John W. Thomason (DD-760), an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer, is the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for John William Thomason, Jr., a USMC officer who was awarded the Navy Cross for bravery during World War I.

John W. Thomason (DD-760) was launched by Bethlehem Steel Co., San Francisco, California, 30 September 1944; sponsored by Mrs. John W. Thomason, widow of Colonel Thomason; and commissioned 11 October 1945, Commander W. L. Tagg in command.

Initial operations[edit]

The new destroyer conducted shakedown training out of San Diego, followed by a series of Naval Reserve training cruises from Seattle and San Francisco. From November 1947 to December 1948 the ship carried out training maneuvers. She sailed 5 December 1948 for her first deployment to the Far East, arriving Tsingtao 1 January 1949 for operations supporting the marines ashore in China. Departing 24 May 1949, John W. Thompson returned via Okinawa to San Diego 23 June 1949 and spent the remainder of the year training.

Korea[edit]

The ship returned to the Far East in early 1950, arriving Yokosuka 29 January. During this critical post-war period, she operated with British ships on training maneuvers off the coast of Indochina and Korea, returning to San Diego 25 April 1950. Two months later, North Korean aggression plunged the United States and the United Nations into the Korean War. John W. Thomason sailed 30 September to join the 7th Fleet, operating in the screen of carrier task groups pounding enemy positions and supply lines. She arrived Wonsan 9 November to patrol and bombard during the campaign against that port. Antisubmarine exercises took her to Pearl Harbor January-March 1951, but John W. Thomason arrived off Korea again 26 March to operate with Boxer and Princeton during air strikes. Two weeks in April were spent on the important Formosa Patrol, after which she returned to the carrier task force. With battleship New Jersey and another destroyer, she moved close in 24 May 1951 for gun bombardment of Yang Yang. The veteran ship returned to San Diego from this deployment 2 July 1951.

John W. Thomason sailed again for Korea 4 January 1952 and resumed operations with Task Force 77 off the coast of North Korea. She fired at railway targets 21 February in the Songjin area. During this period of stalemate on land, Navy strikes made up the bulk of offensive operations. The destroyer returned to Formosa Patrol duty in April. Back at Songjin and Wonsan 26 April, the ship screened larger units, took part in shore bombardment, and patrolled offshore. She was relieved by a British destroyer 21 June and returned to San Diego 11 July 1952.

The destroyer operated off the California coast for the remainder of 1952, then sailed once more for Korea 21 February 1953. Formosa Patrol duty alternated with carrier task force operations off North Korea. John W. Thomason arrived Wonsan harbor 2 July; while firing at shore targets five days later, she received numerous shrapnel hits in a duel with enemy batteries. Maneuvering in the restricted waters, Commander Ratliff skillfully returned the fire until three batteries had been silenced. She continued to operate off Wonsan until the armistice 27 July, and after a brief stay in Japan arrived San Diego 22 September 1953.

1954-1963[edit]

From 1954-1956 John W. Thomason returned to the now-familiar waters off Korea and in the explosive Formosa Strait, serving with 7th Fleet to keep the peace and protect American interest in the strategic area. The first half of 1957 was spent in readiness exercises off San Diego. John W. Thomason then sailed 29 July for a cruise which took her to Pago Pago, Auckland, and Manus. Upon arrival, Yokosuka 7 September 1957 she resumed operations in the Formosa Straits and antisubmarine exercises with 7th Fleet ships. The ship returned to San Diego 8 January 1958, and conducted manoeuvres off California and Hawaii.

John W. Thomason after her FRAM conversion.

In March 1959, John W. Thomason entered Long Beach Naval Shipyard as prototype ship for the new Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) program. During this extensive repair and modernization period she received a helicopter deck and hangar aft, variable depth sonar, the latest electronic equipment, and many improvements in living and working spaces. The conversion was followed by extensive trials and local training operations. As new flagship of Destroyer Division 72, she sailed 8 March 1961 for 7th Fleet duty. After further operation John W. Thomason sailed to San Diego, arriving 18 September 1961.

Extensive conversion and installation of new sonar equipment at Long Beach occupied the ship until July 1962. In December she took part in a massive antiaircraft exercise with units of the 1st Fleet off California. She sailed again for the Far East, a part of the ready-hunter-killer group. En route, however, she took part in recovery operations for Project Mercury as part of a task unit built around veteran carrier Kearsarge. During the cruise which followed, the ship perfected her antisubmarine warfare tactics and became familiar with her new equipment in operations with 7th Fleet and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. John W. Thomason returned to San Diego 3 December 1963.

Vietnam[edit]

Most of 1964 was spent in ASW exercises in the Eastern Pacific. On 23 October, she sailed with Destroyer Division 213 for redeployment exercises in Hawaii. Exactly a month later, with four other destroyers, she got under way for the western Pacific screening Yorktown, arrived Yokosuka, Japan, 4 December and joined the 7th Fleet. In the spring she earned her first battle star for operating in the troubled waters off the coast of Indochina from 21 March to 28 April 1965.

After returning to the West Coast, she departed San Diego for the Far East 22 March 1966 and reached Da Nang 19 April and the same day took station a few miles south of Chu Lai. At the end of April she supported Operation Osage, and landed north of Da Nang. On 13 May she sailed for Sasebo and upkeep. Back in the war zone 6 June, she provided gunfire support and supported Operation Deckhouse 1 from 17 to 23 June. That day she retired toward Hong Kong. The destroyer returned to gunfire support duties off South Vietnam 16 August. From the 18th to the 23rd she supported the amphibious Ready Group and Special Landing Force in Operation "Deckhouse III." After visiting Guam and Japan, John W. Thomason headed home 9 September, reached San Diego on the 24th and operated off the West Coast into 1967.

John W. Thomason received seven battle stars for Korean service and three for Vietnam service.

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