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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Hamner

 

Henry Kawlings Hamner was born 13 March 1922 in London, England. Appointed to the Naval Academy from Virginia, he graduated and gained his commission in June 1942. Hamner served to fit out and commission several new ships during the war, in addition to serving in the 12th Naval District and at Norfolk. He was appointed lieutenant in July 1944. Lieutenant Hamner died 6 April 1945 in Howorth, when his ship was crashed by a kamikaze during the suicidal Japanese "kikusui" massed attack of that day off Okinawa where "the fleet had come to stay".

 

(DD-718: dp. 2,425; l. 390'6"; b. 41'1" ; dr. 18'6" ; s. 35 k.; cpl. 336; a. 6 5", 16, 40mm., 20 2Qmm., 5 tt. 6 dcp., 2 dct.; cl. Gearing)

 

Hamner (DD-718) was launched 24 November 1945 by the Federal Ship Building & Drydock Co., Port Newark, N.J.; sponsored by Mrs. Henry Rawlings Hamner, wife of Lt. Hamner; and commissioned 12 July 1946, Ooindr. Joseph B. Swain in command.

 

After shakedown in the Caribbean, Hamner reported to the Pacific Fleet 24 December 1946 and immediately departed for her first deployment with the 7th Fleet. The new destroyer spent 9 months operating with Destroyer Division 111 out of various Chinese and Japanese ports before returning to the States for 6 months of training operations. Hamner followed this pattern of cruises until hostilities began in Korea 24 June 1950. Deployed in the Far East at the time, Hamner sailed to the Korean coast and began shore bombardment of Communist positions and supply lines. After participating in the evacuation of Yongdok and the defense of Pohang Dong, Hamner joined Task Force 77 for the brilliant amphibious operations against Inchon 15 September 1950.

 

After operating along the Korean coast to screen carriers whose planes were pounding Communist troops, Hamner returned to the States in March 1951. She was back on line in October 1951 and continued to prowl waters surrounding the peninsula with various task forces and bombardment groups, effectively damaging and checking the enemy. In March 1952 she spent 5 weeks on shore bombardment off the east coast of Korea near Kojo causing much damage to the enemy. Although frequently under heavy fire from enemy batteries, she was not hit. Returning to the States in May 1952, Hamner resumed her duties along the Korean coast 2 January 1953, remaining there on the bombline, at the seige of Wonsan Harbor, and on Formosa patrol until the armistice of 27 July 1953.

 

Hamner returned to the Western Pacific every year thereafter visiting ports in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and even Australia in 1956 and 1959.

 

In addition to reminding Asia of America's determination and strength in the struggle against Communism, the destroyer made many good-will visits to Asian ports and engaged in exercises and Formosa patrol. She arrived off Taiwan for six weeks duty with the Taiwan Patrol Force 31 December 1958, just after another flareup of the Quemoy-Matsu crisis. When not deployed in the Pacific, Hamner trained out of San Diego. Entering the San Francisco Ship Yard in January 1962, she underwent a Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) overhaul designed to add 10 to 20 years to her operating efficiency. Fitted with a new superstructure and the Navy's most modern electronic equipment, Hamner left the shipyard 5 December 1962 and, after training, sailed for her 13th WestPac cruise 18 May 1963. During this cruise she was part of the ready amphibious group in South Vietnam coastal waters in September.

 

Hamner returned to San Diego 24 November. She operated along the West Coast throughout 1964 and sailed again for the Orient 5 January 1965. Arriving Subic Bay on the 27th, she escorted aircraft carrier Hancock (CVA-19) to the Gulf of Tonkin. On 15 March she joined aircraft carrier Coral Sea (CVA-43) in "Yankee Team" operations. On 10 May she headed north at flank speed to cover SeaBee landings at Chu Lai. "Market Time" operations began 5 days later and on the 20th Hamner shelled Communist positions in South Vietnam in the first scheduled shore bombardment by the U.S. Nayy since the Korean conflict. Thereafter she screened Coral Sea, bombarded the Trung Phan area 25 June, and covered the landing of Marines from Iwo Jima (LPH-2) at Qui Nhon 1 July. As mid-July approached, the destroyer headed home, reaching San Francisco on the 26th.

 

Overhaul at Hunter's Point and operations off the West Coast occupied the next year. Hamner got underway for her 14th WestPac deployment 2 July 1966. Late in the month she bombarded South Vietnam. Following patrol duty, she steamed up the Song Long Tao River to shell the Rung Sat Special Zone.

 

Hamner joined TG 77.6 as plane guard for Oriskany (CVA-34) on 1 October and continued this duty until receiving an emergency call from the carrier at 0730 on the 26th "I am on fire." Speeding alongside, for hours Hamner sprayed cooling water on her charred and buckled bulkheads. After the fight to save the ship had been won, Hammer escorted her to Subic Bay for repairs.

 

Back off Vietnam 6 November, the destroyer spent 2 weeks in Operation "Traffic Cop", shelling Communist junks bringing arms and supplies to the Viet Cong. Within a fortnight, Hamner had destroyed 67 craft. On 14 and 19 November enemy shore batteries fired on Hamner, and John R. Craig (DD-885). Although several rounds sprayed the destroyers with shrapnel, neither ship was damaged. On each occasion the American ships moved just outside range of the enemy guns and hammered the Communist batteries to silence. Leaving the fighting zone 20 November, a month and a day later, Hamner reached San Diego, where early in 1967 she began preparations to meet her next challenge.

 

Hamner was awarded five battle stars as well as a Presidential Unit Citation for her outstanding service in Korea.