USS Kirk (FF-1087)
USS Kirk (FF-1087)
|Ordered:||25 August 1966|
|Builder:||Avondale Shipyard, Westwego, Louisiana|
|Laid down:||4 December 1970|
|Launched:||25 September 1971|
|Acquired:||27 August 1972|
|Commissioned:||9 September 1972|
|Decommissioned:||6 August 1993|
|Struck:||11 January 1995|
|Fate:||Transferred to Taiwan, as Fen Yang|
|Name:||Fen Yang (Chinese: 汾陽)|
|Commissioned:||6 August 1993|
|Class & type:||Knox-class frigate|
|Displacement:||3,221 tons (4,202 full load)|
|Length:||438 ft (134 m)|
|Beam:||46 ft 9 in (14.25 m)|
|Draught:||24 ft 9 in (7.54 m)|
|Speed:||over 27 knots (50 km/h; 31 mph)|
|Complement:||18 officers, 267 enlisted|
|AN/SLQ-32 Electronics Warfare System|
|Aircraft carried:||1 × SH-2 Seasprite (LAMPS I) helicopter|
USS Kirk (FF-1087) was a Knox-class destroyer escort, originally designated as DE-1087 and reclassified as a frigate (1975) in the United States Navy. Her primary mission of ASW remained unchanged. She was named for Admiral Alan Goodrich Kirk.
Her contract awarded to Avondale Marine on 25 August 1966. Kirk was laid down on 4 December 1970, launched on 25 September 1971 and commissioned on 9 September 1972.
As part of the U.S. fleet sent to facilitate the evacuation of Americans from South Vietnam, USS Kirk carried out one of the most significant humanitarian missions in U.S. military history. Under the direction of a civilian, Richard Armitage, Kirk rescued the South Vietnamese Navy, and along with it, tens of thousands of Vietnamese refugees, and led them to the Philippines. From there, most of the refugees ultimately emigrated to the United States.
During the evacuation, it became a makeshift landing zone for a stream of helicopters flown by South Vietnamese airmen fleeing for their lives with their families and friends on board. Having only a small helipad, Kirk had nowhere to store the helicopters so the crew pushed each one overboard into the China Sea. The final refugees it received were literally tossed out of a hovering Boeing CH-47 Chinook that was too large to land on Kirk. Once the passengers were safely aboard, the pilot steered the craft a few hundred yards off Kirk's bow and landed in the water. He successfully emerged and joined his family on board the American frigate.
In 2010, under the direction of VADM Adam Robinson, former Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Navy created a documentary entitled The Lucky Few. It has since been translated into Vietnamese as well.
Decommissioning and Taiwanese service
She served in the U.S. Navy up until 6 August 1993, when the ship was decommissioned and leased to Republic of China Navy in Taiwan. In Taiwanese service she was renamed Fen Yang (Chinese: 汾陽) with the hull number changed to 934. On 29 September 1999, the ship was finally purchased by Taiwan.
- This article includes information collected from the Naval Vessel Register, which, as a U.S. government publication, is in the public domain. The entry can be found here.
- Reunion organization site
- Maritimequest USS Kirk DE-1087/FF-1087 Photo Gallery
- USS Kirk (FF1087) Operation Frequent Wind gallery
- Forgotten Ship: A Lifesaving Mission As Saigon Fell - slideshow by NPR
- "Last Days in Vietnam" NPR broadcast April, 29, 2015