USS Kirk

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USS Kirk (FF-1087)
USS Kirk
United States
Name: GBE sosa
Owner: United States: Leased to Taiwan
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)
  • loaned 6 August 1993
  • purchased 29 September 1999
Commissioned: 6 August 1993
Identification: 934
General characteristics
Class and 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)
  • 2 × CE 1200psi boilers
  • 1 Westinghouse geared turbine
  • 1 shaft, 35,000 shp (26,000 kW)
Speed: over 27 knots (50 km/h; 31 mph)
Complement: 18 officers, 267 enlisted
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • AN/SPS-40 Air Search Radar
  • AN/SPS-67 Surface Search Radar
  • AN/SQS-26 Sonar
  • AN/SQR-18 Towed array sonar system
  • Mk68 Gun Fire Control System
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
AN/SLQ-32 Electronics Warfare System
Aircraft carried: 1 × SH-2 Seasprite (LAMPS I) helicopter

USS Kirk was a Knox-class destroyer escort, originally designated as DE-1087 and reclassified as a frigate, FF-1087 (1975), in the United States Navy. Her primary mission of ASW remained unchanged. She was named for Admiral Alan Goodrich Kirk.

Her contract was 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.

Service history[edit]

In April 1975 Kirk participated in Operation Eagle Pull, the evacuation of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Saigon, Vietnam.[1]

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. Commanded by Commander Paul H. (Jake) Jacobs and under the direction of a civilian, Richard Armitage, Kirk rescued the remainder of the South Vietnamese Navy[clarification needed], consisting of 18 ships and tens of thousands of Vietnamese refugees, leading and protecting the flotilla from Vietnamese waters to the Philippines. From there, most of the refugees ultimately emigrated to the United States.[2]

During the evacuation, the Kirk became a makeshift landing pad for a stream of fourteen helicopters flown by South Vietnamese airmen fleeing for their lives with their families and friends on board. Having only a small flight deck, Kirk had nowhere to store the helicopters so the crew pushed all but three overboard into the China Sea. Early one morning while on station, the crew of the Kirk rescued two Marine pilots after their USMC AH-1J Cobra gunship crash into the ocean near the ship. This was the last helicopter-gunship to be lost in Vietnam. The final refugees the Kirk 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 about 50 yards yards aft of Kirk's stern, and jumped from the hovering helicopter. The craft then crashed into the water over the submerged pilot. He successfully surfaced and, after rescue by Kirk sailors, joined his family on board the American frigate.[3]

In 2010, under the direction of VADM Adam Robinson, then 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[edit]

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.


  1. ^ By Sea, Air and Land: An Illustrated History of the U.S. Navy and the war in Southeast Asia Chapter 5: The Final Curtain, 1973–1975
  2. ^ At War's End, U.S. Ship Rescued South Vietnam's Navy
  3. ^ Kennedy, Rory (Producer Director) (2015). Last Days in Vietnam. American Experience. WGBH Educational Foundation.

External links[edit]