USS Henry W. Tucker
USS Henry W. Tucker (DD-875) in 1945
|Name:||USS Henry W. Tucker|
|Builder:||Consolidated Steel Corp.|
|Laid down:||29 May 1944|
|Launched:||8 November 1944|
|Commissioned:||12 March 1945|
|Decommissioned:||3 December 1973|
|Struck:||3 December 1973|
|WWII (1945) seven battle stars for Korean War service (1951-1953) Vietnam War (1963-73) Combat Action Ribbon|
|Fate:||transferred to Brazil, 3 December 1973|
|Acquired:||3 December 1973|
|Fate:||sunk as target, 19 September 1994|
|Class and type:||Gearing-class destroyer|
|Length:||390.5 ft (119.0 m)|
|Beam:||41.07 ft (12.52 m)|
|Draft:||18.5 ft (5.6 m)|
|Propulsion:||High-pressure super-heated boilers, geared turbines with twin screws, 60,000 hp|
|Speed:||34.5 knots (39.7 mph; 63.9 km/h)|
The second USS Henry W. Tucker (DD-875) was a Gearing-class destroyer of the United States Navy. She was named for Pharmacist’s Mate Third Class Henry W. Tucker (1919–1942) who was killed in action during the Battle of the Coral Sea on 7 May 1942 and posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.
Henry W. Tucker was laid down by the Consolidated Steel Corporation at Orange, Texas on 29 May 1944 and launched on 8 November 1944 by Mrs. Henry Walton Tucker, the mother of the late Pharmacist’s Mate Third Class Henry W. Tucker. The ship was commissioned on 12 March 1945.
After shakedown, Henry W. Tucker was converted to a radar picket destroyer and participated in radar and antiaircraft exercises off the Maine coast until sailing for Pearl Harbor 4 November. From the Hawaiian islands she continued to Yokosuka, arriving 22 December, to aid in the occupation of Japan and repatriation of Japanese nationals. Her first tour of duty in the Far East ended 25 March 1946 as she set course for her new homeport, San Diego. In the next 3 years Henry W. Tucker made two more such cruises, alternating them with tactical exercises and operations along the east coast. In March and April 1948 the destroyer patrolled off Eniwetok in connection with United States atomic tests in the Pacific islands. She was reclassified DDR-875 18 March 1949.
Undergoing overhaul at the time North Korean troops launched their attack on South Korea in June 1950, Henry W. Tucker speeded up preparations and joined the fleet operating off Korea in November. After five months of hunter-killer and patrol operations, she joined the screen for Task Force 77, a fast carrier force whose jets struck hard and often at enemy supply lines and troop concentrations. The destroyer also participated in shore bombardment and landed several raiding and intelligence parties on the western coast of the war-torn peninsula. On 28 June 1951 as she steamed into Wonsan harbour, Henry W. Tucker was hit by six enemy shells. Two men were injured and extensive damage was done to her radar gear, but the destroyer's return fire effectively silenced enemy shore batteries. Returning to San Diego 8 August, Henry W. Tucker engaged in intensive training exercises before returning to Korea to join Task Force 77 off the east coast 25 March 1952. Screening and plane guard duty with the fast carrier force alternated with ASW patrol and shore bombardment duties until she sailed for home 13 September.
Henry W. Tucker entered the Mare Island Naval Shipyard for installation of the newest radar equipment in September, emerging 14 April 1953. Her new duties, centered primarily on the detection of enemy attack through extensive radar coverage, were to take her on eight more Western Pacific cruises in the next 10 years. In addition to the lonely patrols along the radar picket line, Henry W. Tucker also patrolled the important Formosa Straits and the Korean coast. When not deployed with the 7th Fleet, the radar picket destroyer participated in tactical training exercises and fleet maneuvers out of her San Diego homeport. Streaming her homeward bound pennant at Yokosuka 2 November 1962, Henry W. Tucker sailed for Boston via Pearl Harbor, San Diego, Acapulco, and the Panama Canal.
She underwent an extensive Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) overhaul at the Boston Naval Shipyard in Boston, Massachusetts, between 13 December 1962 and 4 December 1963, designed to lengthen her life as an active member of the fleet by 10 to 15 years. While undergoing modernization, she was reclassifled DD-875 on 15 March 1963. Following the FRAM overhaul, Henry W. Tucker began a program of intensive training, until 26 May, when she departed for the western Pacific and a station on the Taiwan Patrol. Almost immediately she was diverted to the South China Sea.
Tucker alternated between antisubmarine patrol off Vietnam and off Taiwan until April 1965, when she joined Operation Market Time, a close surveillance of Vietnamese coastal traffic to prevent the shipment of supplies to the Viet Cong on the South Vietnamese coast. On 16 May the destroyer pounded Viet Cong coastal concentrations southeast of Saigon and thus became the first U.S. ship to provide naval gunfire support against enemy targets in South Vietnam. During the Vietnam War Henry W. Tucker served as plane guard for aircraft carriers on Yankee Station in the Tonkin Gulf, participated in Operation Sea Dragon and Operation Market Time, patrolled on search and rescue duties, and carried out naval gunfire support missions.
Henry W. Tucker provided gunfire support for ground operations dozens of times; and during a 40-day period in August and September fired over 5,000 rounds from her 12.7 cm guns, destroying or damaging numerous enemy positions. In addition to Market Time patrols, she screened hardhitting attack carriers in the South China Sea and the Gulf of Tonkin and served as a search and rescue control ship to recover downed pilots at sea. This vital duty sent her close to enemy-controlled shores; however, joined by daring CSAR helicopters which refueled and replenished from the destroyer while in flight, she provided maximum protection for planes returning from strikes over North Vietnam. She refueled more than 80 helicopters while on SAR assignments. Known as "Tuck's Tavern" to the helicopter pilots, she became the first destroyer on 6 November to refuel an in-flight helicopter at night. Coordinated training with these versatile aircraft paid off 26 June 1966 when two pilots from USS Constellation and USS Ranger were rescued from the sea less than 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from the North Vietnamese coast and carried to Henry W. Tucker.
After more than 2 years of almost continuous duty off Vietnam, Henry W. Tucker returned to Long Beach early in August 1966. Following a 4-month overhaul and intensive training out of San Diego and Long Beach, she deployed to the Far East in June 1967. She resumed carrier screening duty late in July; and, following the disastrous fire on board USS Forrestal on 29 July, she took part in survivor rescue and escort operations.
From 1968 to July 1970, Henry W. Tucker was forward deployed to Yokosuka Naval Base as part of Destroyer Division 32, U.S. Seventh Fleet. During this period, the ship conducted numerous missions in support of U.S. and allied forces in Vietnam including II Corps naval gunfire support, Gulf of Tonkin carrier operations and search and rescue operations. During the 1970 Cambodian Incursion by U.S. and ARVN forces, Henry W. Tucker took up station in the Gulf of Thailand to blockade the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville to prevent supplies arriving by sea to aid the NVA forces. While in port at Yokosuka on 14 April 1970, the crew was ordered to return to the ship and prepare to sail as part of the Apollo 13 emergency recovery team. The order was canceled when the distance to the recovery area was deemed too far with return anticipated three days later.
Henry W. Tucker was stationed at San Diego for the next 3 years but returned to WESTPAC on two more cruises prior to decommissioning. On Christmas Eve 1972, Henry W. Tucker and Henderson came under fire from a North Vietnamese shore battery. The ships returned fire and the battery was silenced. Both ships received the Combat Action Ribbon for the mission.