USS Killen (DD-593)
|Builder:||Puget Sound Naval Shipyard|
|Laid down:||26 November 1941|
|Launched:||10 January 1943|
|Commissioned:||4 May 1944|
|Decommissioned:||9 July 1946|
|Struck:||1 June 1963|
|Fate:||sunk as a target, 15 April 1975|
|Class and type:||Fletcher class destroyer|
|Length:||376 ft 6 in (114.7 m)|
|Beam:||39 ft 8 in (12.1 m)|
|Draft:||17 ft 9 in (5.4 m)|
|Speed:||35 knots (65 km/h)|
|Range:||6500 nmi. (12,000 km) @ 15 kt|
USS Killen (DD-593), a Fletcher-class destroyer, was a ship of the United States Navy named for Edward Killen, who served in the First Barbary War. Killen volunteered for Lieutenant Stephen Decatur's daring 1804 expedition into Tripoli Harbor to destroy Philadelphia, a United States frigate captured by Tripolitan pirates.
World War II
After shakedown Killen cleared Port Angeles, Wash. on 19 August 1944, escorted a convoy from Pearl Harbor and arrived at Manus, Admiralty Islands on 14 September. Following training exercises the destroyer departed Hollandia on 12 October with the Central Philippine Attack Force that arrived off San Pedro Bay on the 20th. For the next 5 days she gave day and night fire support to troops ashore on Leyte, and during one 30-minute period on the 21st silenced three enemy artillery positions. When the Japanese Navy decided to contest the landings in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Killen's squadron engaged the enemy at Surigao Strait. On the morning of 25 October, at 03:25, she launched five torpedoes toward battleship Yamashiro. One hit, slowing her to 5 knots (9.3 km/h), enabled other American destroyers to maneuver for the kill. In the widespread fleet actions for Leyte, covering hundreds of thousands of nautical miles, the U.S. Fleet reduced the Japanese Fleet to an ineffective force thus greatly speeding up the advance toward Japan and end of the war.
Killen resumed antiaircraft screen. While on patrol off Leyte on 1 November she was attacked by seven enemy aircraft. The destroyer splashed four raiders before a bomb from one of the attackers found its mark in Killen's port side, killing 15. After temporary repairs at San Pedro Bay and Manus, she steamed into Hunter's Point, Calif., on 15 January 1945, for overhaul.
Returning to Manus on 9 May, the destroyer, now with Commander James L. Semmes in command, sailed the next day for convoy escort and patrol duty in the Philippines. Killen formed part of the screen for the cruiser carrying General Douglas MacArthur to nearly every island in the chain to give his "I have returned" speech.
Lacking the propulsion system necessary to operate with the fast carriers around Okinawa, Killen was kept in the south with the cruiser fleet. She steamed into Brunei Bay, Borneo, on 10 June with the assault forces, and supported the troops with prelanding bombardment. She resumed exercises on 15 June before arriving off Balikpapan, Borneo, on 27 June for fire support missions. After silencing enemy shore batteries on Borneo, Killen prepared for the final phase of the Pacific war as she arrived Manila on 14 July. She cleared that port 2 weeks later, and joined the North Pacific Force in the Aleutian Islands.
Upon the cessation of hostilities the destroyer was assigned to the occupation forces in the Japanese islands. Departing Adak on 31 August, Killen took up station at Ominato in northern Honshū, and supported the occupation forces until 14 November, when she sailed to Puget Sound. From there she proceeded to San Diego, arriving on 2 April, and decommissioning on 9 July 1946.
The veteran destroyer served as a target ship during the atom bomb tests in 1958 (Operation Hardtack I, shots WAHOO and UMBRELLA), and in 1962 engaged in high explosive tests in the Chesapeake Bay to assess the structural effects of the ship's nuclear exposures. Killen was struck from the Navy List and sent to the US Naval Station at Roosevelt Roads, P.R. in January 1963 to be used as a target ship for missile and gunnery practice off the nearby Puerto Rican island of Vieques where she was eventually sunk/scuttled in a shallow bay in 1975 and still lies today.
Studies and site visits made in 1999 by a Puerto Rican marine archaeologist and the University of Georgia discovered nearly two hundred steel barrels of unknown origin and contents among the wreckage of the Killen. Based on government descriptions of the nuclear tests in the Pacific, some scientists and Vieques environmental activists have been concerned that nuclear-fallout cleaning materials were likely stored inside those barrels and improperly disposed, possibly entering the local environment prior to sinking or exposing contaminants to the animals and habitat of Bahia Salina del Sur in Vieques after sinking. As of 2010 the origin and contents of those barrels are still unknown.
- Operation Hardtack I 1958. Defense Nuclear Agency. 1982. DNA6038F. http://www.dtra.mil/rd/programs/nuclear_personnel/docs/DNA6038F.pdf[dead link]
- Sara M. Justicia Doll (29 January 2010). "Advierten de riesgo nuclear en Vieques". Primera Hora. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.