USS Frank E. Evans

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USS Frank E. Evans, 1945
USS Frank E. Evans, 1945
United States
Name: USS Frank E. Evans
Namesake: Brigadier General Frank Evans
Builder: Bethlehem Mariners Harbor, Staten Island, New York
Laid down: 21 April 1944
Launched: 3 October 1944
Commissioned: 3 February 1945
Decommissioned: 1 July 1969
Struck: 1 July 1969
  • "Gray Ghost"
  • "The Fighter"
  • "Lucky Evans"
Honors and
  • 1 battle star (World War II)
  • 5 battle stars (Korean War)
Fate: Bow lost in collision with Australian carrier Melbourne June 3, 1969. Stern recovered and sunk as target October 10, 1969.
General characteristics
Class and type: Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer
Displacement: 2,200 tons standard, 3,218 tons full load
Length: 376.5 ft (114.8 m)
Beam: 41.1 ft (12.5 m)
  • 14.2 ft (4.3 m) mean
  • 15.7 ft (4.8 m) maximum
Speed: 36.5 kn (67.6 km/h; 42.0 mph)
Range: 3,300 mi (5,300 km) at 20 kn (37 km/h; 23 mph)
Complement: 336

USS Frank E. Evans (DD-754), an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer, was named in honor of Brigadier General Frank Evans, USMC, a leader of the American Expeditionary Force in France during World War I.[1] She served in late World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War before being cut in half in a collision with HMAS Melbourne in 1969.


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.[2]

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.[2]

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 11 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.[2] It was during this time that Frank E. Evans earned the nicknames "Lucky Evans" and the "Gray Ghost".[3][4]

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.[2]

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 for three months. 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.[2]

While riding out Typhoon Pamela in the Taiwan Straits in early November 1954, Frank E. Evans responded to an SOS by USNS Muskingum, which had lost steering control near the center of the storm. Frank E. Evans had escaped to the edge of the typhoon, but turned back into the storm racing for five hours to render assistance while taking damage in the process. In the end, Muskingum was able to regain control before Frank E. Evans arrived, but the incident was widely publicized in newspaper syndication because Pulitzer prize winning correspondent Homer Bigart was reporting from Frank E. Evans during that period.[3][5][6]

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.[2]

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.[7]

Vietnam War[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.[8] Evans was again in the vicinity of Vietnam for 61 days from August to November 1966.[8] Evans returned to Vietnam and served there for 66 days from October 1967 to 20 February 1968.[8] 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.[9] Evans also spent an additional 14 days in 1969 in the Vietnam war zone.[8]

Collision with HMAS Melbourne[edit]

USS Frank E. Evans post collision

At around 3:00 a.m. on 3 June 1969, between Vietnam and Spratly Island, Frank E. Evans was operating with the Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy in company with the aircraft carrier Melbourne which was in the process of going to flying stations and all ships in the formation were running without lights. Melbourne radioed Evans, then to port of the carrier, to take up the rescue destroyer position. The logical movement would be to turn to port and make a circle taking up station on the carrier's port quarter. However, since the conning officer on Evans misunderstood the formation's base course and believed they were starboard of Melbourne, they turned to starboard, cutting across the carrier's bow twice in the process. Frank E. Evans was struck at a point around 92 feet from her bow on her port side and was cut in two. Her bow drifted off to the port side of Melbourne and sank in less than five minutes taking 73 of her crew with it. One body was recovered from the water, making a total of 74 dead.[10] The stern scraped along the starboard side of Melbourne and lines were able to be attached by the crew of Melbourne. Around 60–100 men were also rescued from the water.

At the time of the collision the commanding officer of Frank E. Evans was asleep in his quarters having left instructions to be awakened if there were to be any changes in the formation. Neither the officer of the deck nor the junior officer of the deck notified him when the station change was ordered. The bridge crew also did not contact the combat information center to request clarification of the positions and movements of the surrounding ships.[11] The collision occurred at 8°59.2′N 110°47.7′E / 8.9867°N 110.7950°E / 8.9867; 110.7950Coordinates: 8°59.2′N 110°47.7′E / 8.9867°N 110.7950°E / 8.9867; 110.7950.[12]

USS Frank E. Evans was decommissioned at Subic Bay and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 July 1969.[13][14] The stern section was sunk as a target in Subic Bay on 10 October 1969.


Frank E. Evans received one battle star for World War II service, and five for Korean War service.[2] According to the US Navy unit award website, Frank E. Evans had the following awards:

Based on history USS Frank E. Evans was also awarded the following:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2,200-ton Destroyer, The Evans, Launched". New York Times. 4 October 1944. Retrieved 26 June 2015. The 2,200-ton super-destroyer Evans, named in honor of the late Brig. Gen. Frank E. Evans of the Marine Corps, was launched at high water yesterday at the Bethlehem Steel and Shipbuilding Company yard at Mariners Harbor in the presence of high-ranking naval officers, seventy-five invited guests and 500 shipyard workers.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Frank E. Evans (DD-754)". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History and Heritage Command.
  3. ^ a b "Recollections". Frank E. Evans cruise book. U.S. Navy Cruise Books, 1918–2009: 7. 1966.
  4. ^ "Hulk of Evans leaves Navy after 24 years". The Milwaukee Sentinel. 1 July 1969.
  5. ^ Bigart, Homer (12 November 1954). "Ship Back after Typhoon Tussle". Council Bluffs Nonpareil.
  6. ^ "Ship Pounded by Typhoon" (PDF). Amsterdam Evening Record. Amsterdam, New York. 3 November 1954.
  7. ^ "The U.S. Navy and Marines on TV". United States Naval Institute. 19 May 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Unit Award website". US Navy. Archived from the original on 14 October 2004. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  9. ^ Shulimson, Jack (1997). US Marines in Vietnam – The Defining Year 1968 (PDF). USMC History and Museums Division. p. 640.
  10. ^ Stevenson J. In the Wake p.36
  11. ^ "Joint USN/RAN investigation into the collision of USS Frank E. Evans and HMAS Melbourne" (PDF). 21 November 1969.
  12. ^ "USSFEE2.pdf" (PDF). Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  13. ^ "The Frank E. Evans Decommissioned". New York Times. United Press International. 1 July 1969. Retrieved 26 June 2015. Subic Bay, Philippines. The stars and Stripes came down today aboard the broken hull of the destroyer Frank E. Evans, marking the formal end of the ship's 24 years of service in the United States Navy.
  14. ^ "Frank E. Evans". Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  15. ^ O'neill, Daniel (8 September 1963). "Best Chow in the Navy". Independent Press Telegram. Long Beach, California.


External links[edit]