USS Frank E. Evans
USS Frank E. Evans, 1945
|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|
|Struck:||1 July 1969|
|Fate:||Bow lost in collision with Australian carrier Melbourne. Stern recovered and sunk as target.|
|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)|
|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)|
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.
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.
World War II
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.
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. It was during this time that Frank E. Evans earned the nicknames "Lucky Evans" and the "Gray Ghost."
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.
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.
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 5 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.
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.
According to the US Navy Awards file, Frank E. Evans served in the waters off Vietnam for 12 days from July to September 1965. Evans was again in the vicinity of Vietnam for 61 days from August to November 1966. Evans returned to Vietnam and served there for 66 days from October 1967 to 20 February 1968. 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. Evans also spent an additional 14 days in 1969 in the Vietnam war zone.
Collision with HMAS Melbourne
At around 3 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 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. 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. The collision occurred at Coordinates: .
Frank E. Evans received one battle star for World War II service, and five for Korean war service. According to the US Navy unit award website, Frank E. Evans had the following awards:
- Captain Edward F. Ney Memorial Award for 1963.
- Vietnam Service Medal for two separate time periods totaling 12 days from 29 July 1965 to 26 September 1965.
- Vietnam Service Medal for three separate time periods totaling 61 days from 11 August 1966 to 24 November 1966.
- Vietnam Service Medal for four separate time periods totaling 66 days from 22 October 1967 to 20 February 1968.
- Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Vietnam Gallantry Cross Medal Color with Palm) for 7 January 1968 to 12 January 1968.
- Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for 23 January 1968 to 22 March 1968 coded "J" for Korea, though it appears that the ship was in the vicinity of Vietnam during this time frame.
- Vietnam Service Medal for two separate time periods: 5 May 1969 to 20 May 1969 and 2 January 1969.
- Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Vietnam Gallantry Cross Medal Color with Palm) for 5 May 1969 to 14 May 1969.
- Navy Unit Commendation for 5 May 1969 to 20 May 1969.
- USS Evans, for other ships with similar names.
- USS Hobson, sunk in a collision with USS Wasp in 1952.
- HMAS Voyager, sunk in a collision with HMAS Melbourne in 1964.
- "2,200-ton Destroyer, The Evans, Launched". New York Times. 4 October 1944. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
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.
- "Frank E. Evans (DD-754)". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History & Heritage Command.
- "Recollections". Frank E. Evans cruise book (U.S. Navy Cruise Books, 1918–2009): 7. 1966.
- "Hulk of Evans leaves Navy after 24 years". The Milwaukee Sentinel. 1 July 1969.
- Bigart, Homer (12 November 1954). "Ship Back after Typhoon Tussle". Council Bluffs Nonpareil.
- "Ship Pounded by Typhoon" (PDF). Amsterdam Evening Record (Amsterdam, New York). 3 November 1954.
- "The U.S. Navy and Marines On TV". United States Naval Institute. 19 May 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
- "Unit Award website". US Navy. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
- Shulimson, Jack (1997). US Marines in Vietnam – The Defining Year 1968 (PDF). USMC History and Museums Division. p. 640.
- Stevenson J. In the Wake p.36
- "Joint USN/RAN investigation into the collision of USS Frank E. Evans and HMAS Melbourne" (PDF). jag.navy.mil. 21 November 1969.
- "USSFEE2.pdf" (PDF). ussfrankeevansassociationdd754.org. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
- "The Frank E. Evans Decommissioned". New York Times. United Press International. 1 July 1969. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
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.
- "Frank E. Evans". nvr.navy.mil. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- O'neill, Daniel (8 September 1963). "Best Chow in the Navy". Independent Press Telegram (Long Beach, California).
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- Hall, Timothy (1982). HMAS Melbourne. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0-86861-284-7.
- In 2013, American songwriter Tom Guerra wrote and recorded "Put Up Their Names" (The Ballad of the USS Frank Evans) which was released with an accompanying video.
- Stevenson, Jo (1999). In The Wake – The True Story of the Melbourne-Evans Collision. Alexandria, NSW 2015: Hale & Iremonger Pty Ltd. ISBN 0 86806 681 8.
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