Frank Edgar Evans, born on 19 November 1876, in Franklin, Pa. Evans began his service to the Republic during the Spanish-American War when he enrolled as a private in Company M, First Wisconsin Infantry Volunteers, at Camp Harvey, Wis., on 28 April 1898. On 11 November of that year he mustered out at Newark, N.J., and accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps on 15 February 1900. He deployed on board newly commissioned Kentucky (Battleship No. 6) as she worked up in New York and New England waters, and then served in auxiliary cruiser Dixie, which operated as a recruit training ship along the east coast and in the Caribbean. Evans attained the rank of first lieutenant on 23 July 1900.
A series of tremors shook the island of Martinique in the French West Indies in April 1902, and clouds of sulfurous fumes poured down from volcanic Mount Pelée. The mountain continued to spew molten rocks and poisonous fumes for weeks, killing wildlife and driving many terrified residents of the countryside into St. Pierre, the main town. A huge lahar (a slurry of pyroclastic debris and water) broke through the caldera on 5 May and hurtled down the volcano, sending great centipedes and vipers into St. Pierre that attacked people and livestock. Soldiers desperately roamed the streets shooting the threatening beasts. Additional events heralded the island’s demise, and a volcano on nearby St. Vincent erupted on the 7th, killing an estimated 1,500 people. Mount Pelée exploded on 8 May 1902, and all but wiped St. Pierre off the map in a catastrophic disaster that killed nearly 30,000 victims. Buildings burned for days afterward, ships sank in the harbor, and only a handful of people survived.
Dixie proceeded to New York (7–14 May 1902) in advance of steaming to the Lesser Antilles to provide relief to the people suffering from the volcanic eruption. She arrived at Martinique (21–22 May), where all hands including Evans did what they could for the few survivors, and then proceeded to carry supplies and render assistance at St. Vincent (23–29 May) and St. Lucia (29–30 May) before returning to Martinique (30–31 May). The ship then (6–10 June) returned to New York.
Evans next served in the Philippine-American War, in which Filipino insurgents fought the Americans (4 February 1899–2 July 1902). The insurgents initially launched the Philippine Revolution to drive the Spaniards from their soil, and when the Americans arrived and helped them win their independence, they asked the U.S. forces to leave following the Spanish defeat. When they realized that the Americans intended to stay they attacked them, and a series of bloody battles raged across the islands, with a number of determined Filipinos continuing to wage the struggle following the (official) end of the war. Evans then (July 1902) received orders to report to the Marine Corps’ Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and from there he joined the First Marine Brigade and shipped out to the Philippines. The young officer gained valuable experience in the seesaw fighting (25 February–29 September 1903).
Following his return to the United States, he served as the aide-de-camp to Brig. Gen. George F. Elliott, USMC, Brigadier General Commandant of the Marine Corps (20 November 1903–28 July 1905), during which period he was transferred to the Retired List. Evans nonetheless returned to active duty as Assistant to the Inspector of Target Practice (7 December 1905–11 April 1907), and until 1906 served with the Rifle Team. The marines prided themselves on their marksmanship and he typically applied himself to the task, as he showed in a report of 6 December 1906 on the “Corrector System.”
Gun. Sgt. Charles E. Clark, USMC, whom Evans described as “an experienced shot and thorough and painstaking in his work,” carried out a series of “exhaustive” tests at Camp Adm. Harrington at Williamsburg, Va. (5–21 November). Clark fired both government and hand-loaded ammunition, the latter in an attempt to preclude the error of imperfect loading and any consequent errors that might have been misleading. The gunnery sergeant used the “one-eyed method, two-eyed method and the corrector system,” and fired the same number of rounds at 500, 600, 800, and 1,000 yards. Clark’s aggregate scores for the three methods totaled approximately the same for each range, the two-eyed method leading slightly, but the shot groups made with the corrector system proved “superior in correctness and accuracy” to the other two methods. Evans evaluated the system’s chief advantage as “the absence of all strain on the eyesight,” as is usual with the one-eye method and the strain on the right eye. That strain can lead to blurring the front sight, causing a marksman to “hold differently on the target.”
He was released from active duty and resided in Washington, D.C., until shortly before the World War when he was recalled. Evans also married Allean Fisk, and their union produced one son, Townie. Capt. Evans served first in charge of the Recruiting District for Pittsburgh, Pa. (25 August 1914–30 September 1915), and then (1 October 1915–16 July 1917) in charge of the Recruiting District of New York, N.Y. He attained the rank of major on the active list on 18 July 1917. Americans’ interest in their fleet increased as they entered the World War, and Evans co-authored, with Capt. Orton P. Jackson, USN, The Marvel Book of American Ships, published by Frederick A. Stokes Company of New York in 1917.
Maj. Evans sailed with the Sixth Marines for France and reached St. Nazaire on Halloween of 1917, for detached duty with the Army. The American Expeditionary Forces reached European waters keen but lacking experience, and they thus established a series of training camps to attempt to prepare the men for the carnage of the trenches. Evans headed south to help train the men as they arrived and served as Regimental Adjutant and Commander of American Embarkation Camp-Bordeaux, Genicart No. 1 and No. 2 (10 November 1917–7 January 1918). For several months following that assignment, he served as the Regimental Adjutant and Operations Officer of the Toulon Sector along the French Riviera.
The Germans in the meanwhile took advantage of the Russian collapse to shift large numbers of their troops from the Eastern Front westward, and to train many of them in infiltration tactics. On 21 March 1918, they launched Operation Michael, the first of a series of offensives known as the Kaiserschlacht (Emperor’s Battle) against the Allies on the Western Front to decide the war before the Americans could arrive in strength. Additional fighting followed including Operation Georgette on the 9th of April, and on 27 May they launched Blücher-Yorck and broke through the Anglo-French troops defending the Chemin Des Dames (the Ladies’ Path), pushing the Allies back along the entire Aisne front. The enemy troops triumphantly captured the important rail town of Soissons, and thrust into Chateau Thierry to seize the vital crossings of the Marne River. As the war weary French soldiers fell back around Chateau Thierry, the Americans deployed men of the 2nd and 3rd Infantry Divisions to stiffen the faltering line.
The U.S. soldiers and marines repelled repeated German attempts to overwhelm them, fighting in which the marines of the Fourth Marine Brigade held their ground around the Bois de Belleau (Belleau Wood), and then counterattacked into the wood (1–26 June 1918). The Germans dug in amidst the thick foliage and rocky ground, trained their machine guns in interlocking fields of fire, and exacted a fearsome toll of the marines. The men of both sides lunged at each other in unremitting savagery until the marines announced, “Woods now U.S. Marine Corps entirely.” The Americans suffered 9,777 casualties and the French honored their allies by naming the wood Bois de la Brigade de Marine (Wood of the Marine Brigade).
Evans received the Navy Cross for his “exceptionally meritorious and distinguished service as the adjutant of the Sixth Marines, Fourth Marine Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Forces, in the Battle of Belleau Wood. “During the trying events of the early part [1–16 June]” of the battle, Evans carried the administrative burdens of the regiment “with great efficiency. His untiring efforts, constant diligence, and intelligent transmissions of orders from the Brigade Commander during a number of days when his Regimental Commander was in an advanced headquarters and not always in communication, contributed in no small degree” to the marines’ victory. Evans also received a Meritorious Service Citation from Gen. John J. Pershing, USA, Commander, American Expeditionary Forces, and a 2nd Infantry Division citation for meritorious service (1–16 June).
Pulled out of the line for rest and to further train marines, he served as the Regimental Adjutant and Second in Command, Nanteuil Billeting Area (21–31 July), and then (1–7 August) the Nancy Billeting Area, and finally, the Marbache Sector (7–16 August). Evans returned to the front and, attached to the brigade staff, took part (12–16 September) in the Battle of Saint-Mihiel, in which the Americans demonstrated growing competency on the battlefield. Later that month he took duty with the 2nd Infantry Division’s G-3 Army Operations (Military Staff), while the soldiers boarded trains for the fighting in Champagne.
Following the war, he returned to the United States on 7 March 1919, and served as Officer in Charge of the Eastern Recruiting Division, Philadelphia, Pa. (3 July 1919–23 May 1920), followed (23 May 1920–29 June 1922) by the Marine Recruiting Publicity Bureau in New York City. Evans wrote the book, Daddy Pat of the Marines: Being His Letters from France to His Son Townie, published in 1919. The father shared his reminiscences of his deployment to the fighting, from the voyage across the Atlantic in 1917 through the battles at Chateau Thierry and Belleau Wood, to his six-year-old son Townie, who lived in Chevy Chase, Md. Evans often used glowing language, as this passage describing the marines’ movement to the front in camions (trucks) shows:
The men rode in “great, big, heavy trucks with a long wooden seat on each side, but most of the Marines sat backward with their feet hanging outside so they could see things and the old trucks looked like big, gray spiders with forty-four brown legs.”
Evans joined several veterans who spoke at Princeton University’s Class of 1898 reunion at the University Club in New York City on 15 March 1919. Forty-six men attended the reunion, and the Princeton Alumni Weekly, Volume XIX, No. 24, noted that Evans “gave a vivid picture of his experiences and the fighting in which the Marines took part in France.”
He attained the temporary rank of lieutenant colonel during the World War, and was commissioned as such on 4 March 1921. His postwar service included duty in Haiti. As the World War had erupted Haitian Gen. Jean V.G. Sam led a revolt, and on 25 February 1915 was “elected” president of that island republic. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Rosalvo Bobo, increasingly frustrated with the country’s growing ties to the U.S., rebelled against Sam. The U.S. dispatched Rear Adm. William B. Caperton, Commander Cruiser Squadron, Atlantic Fleet, his flag in Washington (Armored Cruiser No. 11), to Cap Haitien, where he arrived on 1 July with orders to keep the peace. Caperton landed a detachment of marines that established radio communication between his flagship and the U.S. consulate. The violence ashore continued, however, largely as a result of bandit bands called cacos from the mountainous north, and Sam imposed harsh measures against his opponents. The Americans thus dispatched reinforcements and found themselves embroiled in a struggle against the cacos and rioters. Prompted by Caperton, the Haitian Congress meanwhile elected Philippe S. Dartiguenave president on 12 August 1915, and subsequently created the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, a constabulary led by U.S. Marines.
Evans served with the First Marine Brigade ashore in the island (20 July 1922–2 June 1924). On 24 June 1924, he attained the rank of colonel. He completed his tour and went home, where he finished two years of classes at Naval War College, Newport, R.I., followed by duty on the college’s staff until 7 May 1927. Evans then deployed again to Haiti and commanded the Constabulary Detachment, and served as Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haiti until 31 March 1930.
After his return to the United States and a tour of duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington (1930–32), he reported as Commanding Post and District Marine Officer at Marine Barracks, Philadelphia Navy Yard (19 October 1932–30 September 1933), and then (1 October 1933–August 1935) in a similar capacity at Marine Barracks, Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, T.H. He served as Officer in Charge, successively, of the Southern Recruiting Division at New Orleans, La. (27 September 1935–20 July 1936), and next (28 July 1936–7 July 1938) the Western Recruiting Division at San Francisco, Calif., before returning for a second tour (10 September–1 October 1940) at New Orleans. During the latter assignment he carried out additional duties as Inspector-Instructor, 10th Battalion, Marine Corps Reserve, from July 1939 until released from all active duty pending his retirement. Advanced to brigadier general on the Retired List on 1 December 1940, he made his home in Honolulu, T.H.
Brig. Gen. Evans died at the U.S. Naval Hospital, Pearl Harbor, T.H., on 25 November 1941, and on 28 April 1942, was interred in Section East Site 4888 at Arlington [Va.] National Cemetery. His decorations and awards include the Purple Heart; the Victory Medal with Aisne, Saint-Mihiel, and Defense Clasps (1918); the Expeditionary Medal (Haiti—1922); the French Fourragère aux couleurs de la Croix de guerre (1918); and the French Legion of Honor Diploma (1933).
(DD-754: displacement 2,200; length 376'5"; beam 41'1"; draft 15'8"; speed 34 knots; complement 336; armament 6 5-inch, 12 40-millimeter, 11 20-millimeter, 10 21-inch torpedo tubes, 6 depth charge projectors, 2 depth charge tracks; class Allen M. Sumner)
Frank E. Evans (DD-754) was laid down on 21 April 1944 at Staten Island, N.Y., by Bethlehem Steel Co.; launched on 3 October 1944; and sponsored by Mrs. Allean F. Evans, widow of the late Brig. Gen. Evans. “The 2,200-ton super-destroyer Evans,” the New York Times reported the following day, “named in honor of the late Brig. Frank E. Evans of the Marine Corps, was launched at high water yesterday at the Bethlehem Steel and Shipbuilding Company yard at Mariners Harbor in the presence of high-ranking naval officers, seventy-five invited guests and 500 shipyard workers.” Frank E. Evans was commissioned at the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, N.Y., on 3 February 1945, Cmdr. Harry Smith in command.
The ship fitted out at New York Navy Yard (4–22 February 1945), which included brief interruptions to load ammunition at Naval Ammunition Depot, Earle, N.J., and deperming at Navy Yard Annex, Bayonne, N.J., both on the 17th. Frank E. Evans also required additional time in the yard as workers modified and reinstalled the Mk. 63 Gun Fire Control System. A series of readiness for sea drills and operations followed through the 22nd. Frank E. Evans began the destroyer’s service in the Atlantic Fleet as she completed a shakedown cruise and original daily anti-submarine warfare, gunnery, damage control, Combat Information Center (CIC), engineering, and communications training as part of Task Group (TG) 23.1 in the waters off Bermuda (23 February–5 March). The ship moored alongside destroyer tender Altair (AD-11) in the British colony’s Great Sound during those times overnight when she returned to port.
The warship then turned south as the screen commander with TG 23.1.1, also consisting of Altair, escort ship Hanna (DE-449), frigate Greensboro (PF-101), and small coastal transports APc-86 and APc-91, for the balmy Caribbean waters off Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (6–31 March 1945). The training did not pass without incident and a visual contact suspected of being a German U-boat (submarine) near 19°49'5"N, 74°24'W, at 1937 on the 25th, compelled the Americans to form Duncan (DD-874), Frank E. Evans, and Harlan R. Dickson (DD-708) into a Hunter-Killer Group to track down the culprit. The ships’ sonar and radar operators attentively sat by their equipment and lookouts scanned the horizon as the ships searched the area in line distance of a mile into the following day, but the enemy boat, if one ever did operate in the area, eluded the searchers. Following Frank E. Evans’ sojourn she swung northward (28–31 March) and then (31 March–14 April) completed voyage repairs and post-shakedown alterations at the New York Navy Yard.
Frank E. Evans emerged from the yard work battle ready and proceeded to the Pacific to fight the Japanese. The destroyer worked up steam on the 15th, and the following day loaded ammunition at Earle, and headed down to Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Va., where she completed exercises under the auspices of Fleet Operational Training Command, Atlantic Fleet (17–22 April 1945). The following day she stood out to sea in company with light cruiser Amsterdam (CL-101), and they rendezvoused with Dayton (CL-105) and Southerland (DD-743) and the four ships worked up together off Cape May, N.J.
On the 24th they formed Task Unit (TU) 23.16.1 and steered southerly courses to Guantánamo Bay. Frank E. Evans refueled at San Juan, P.R., on the 27th and 28th, and Dayton and Southerland detached in Cuban waters, while Amsterdam and Frank E. Evans, having refueled, took part in a “fire special test” gunnery exercise off Culebra Island, P.R., followed by additional training off Guantánamo Bay. They then (3–4 May 1945) continued across the Caribbean Sea, passed through passed the Panama Canal on the 5th, and turned toward the Hawaiian Islands as TU 12.9.3. The cruiser and her destroyer consort reached those waters safely, where Frank E. Evans moored in the Middle Loch of Pearl Harbor, T.H., on 18 May. They next (18–28 May) carried out a series of shore bombardment shoots.
Amsterdam and Frank E. Evans refueled and replenished at Pearl Harbor and Frank E. Evans and high speed minesweeper Dorsey (DMS-1) then (29 May–6 June 1945) screened Convoy PD416-T, comprising transport Storm King (AP-171 and the convoy commodore), attack transport McCracken (APA-198), Winged Arrow (AP-170), and War Shipping Administration troopship (Danish registry) Perida, from Hawaiian waters to Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Frank E. Evans and Dorsey delivered their charges and continued on to refuel at Guam in the Marianas Islands (7–11 June), and Frank E. Evans next (17–18 June) proceeded independently to Ulithi in the Carolines.
The ship joined TU 94.18.12 and helped escort Convoy UOK-27 to Okinawa in the Ryūkyūs (20–24 June 1945). The vast assemblage of ships for the voyage also numbered Seiderstrom (DE-31 and the flagship), and minesweepers Dunlin (AM-361), Surfbird (AM-383), Toucan (AM-387) as the screen, while the convoy comprised Crockett (APA-198 and the convoy commodore), Beckham (APA-133), Bingham (APA-225), Clermont (APA-143), Garrard (APA-84), Grafton (APA-109), attack cargo ship Woodford (AKA-86), cargo ship Jupiter (AK-43), stores issue ship Castor (AKS-1), Victory ships Durango Victory, Hampdon-Sydney Victory, and Hastings Victory, and transports Cape Cause, Defiance, Sea Marlin, Swallow, and White.
On 6 April 1945, the Japanese had launched the first of a series of ten mass kamikaze attacks, interspersed with smaller raids and named Kikusui (Floating Chrysanthemum) No. 1, against Allied ships off Okinawa during Operation Iceberg—the invasion of the island. As many as 1,465 aircraft took part in the attacks through 28 May and inflicted ghastly losses on the Allies. Reaching action waters on 24 June, Frank E. Evans thus completed voyage repairs and upkeep to prepare for the battle while at Kerama Rettō, about 15 miles west of Okinawa (25–28 June). The following day she steamed to Radar Picket Station 9 southwest of Okinawa, where she relieved Fullam (DD-474) as a fighter director ship.
1st. Lt. Albert A. Paulis, USMC, of Marine Fighting Squadron (VMF) 222, crashed in the water in his Vought F4U-4 Corsair on the 4th of July, but the ship raced over and rescued the pilot. Frank E. Evans was relieved of her picket duty on 6 July 1945, and came about to replenish. She then (8–12 July) shifted to a radar picket station to the west of Okinawa and served again as a fighter director ship. The destroyer escorted oilers to rendezvous with the escort aircraft carriers of Carrier Division (CarDiv) 22, Rear Adm. William D. Sample in command, comprising Sangamon (CVE-26—the flagship), Chenango (CVE-28), and Suwanee (CVE-27), on the 14th. On the 19th a typhoon sliced across the region and Frank E. Evans retired to the westward to escape the tempest, spending her time well by also screening troopships.
The destroyer patrolled for Japanese submarines at Dog-1 Anti-Submarine Station in the vicinity of Okinawa (21–23 July 1945). At 0231 on the mid watch on the 22nd, radar detected an enemy Nakajima B6N1 carrier attack plane approach from a range of five miles. The Jill closed at 180 knots to 4,000 yards and dropped from an altitude of 900 to 500 feet, but the ship drove off the bomber with 39 5-inch anti-aircraft common rounds, ten of them proximity fused. The Jill maneuvered out of the gunfire and as the ship ceased firing the Japanese pilot dived to barely 100 feet as he skimmed the water to escape the deadly fusillade. Sailors felt a heavy underwater explosion as the gunfire ceased, and surmised that the Jill either jettisoned a bomb or a torpedo in the ship’s wake in order to make its exit.
A single day’s respite for replenishment passed all too quickly and she returned to the anti-submarine patrols in the Okinawa area (24–27 July 1945). That day she was relieved of her duties for a special escort mission to Buckner Bay, Okinawa. The warship completed her task but on the 27th a Japanese plane also penetrated the Allied Combat Air Patrol (CAP) and dropped a torpedo that punctured John A. Rawlins in the vicinity of Naha Ko, Okinawa. In addition to the Liberty ship’s 39-man merchant crew, 28 Naval Armed Guards and 191 Naval Construction Battalion men (Seabees) were on board at the time. The attack wounded only three of these men, but seriously damaged the vessel and investigators eventually wrote her off as a loss. Frank E. Evans stood out on the 28th and made for the area to render assistance.
Japanese suicide planes continued to maul the Allied ships operating off Okinawa and a biplane, likely a Yokosuka K5Y Willow of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 3rd Ryuko Squadron, sank Callaghan (DD-792) on her radar picket station southwest of the island on 28 July 1945. Prichett (DD-561) closed to pick up survivors when a second suicider crashed and damaged her. Frank E. Evans and Alfred A. Cunningham (DD-752) turned and raced to the area to render assistance, and to relieve the two ships on their vital Picket Station 9-A.
Frank E. Evans’ SG radar detected a pair of Japanese Mitsubishi G4M1 Type 1 land attack planes heading toward the ship’s starboard beam from a range of four miles and at an altitude of 600 feet at 0207 on the 29th. The destroyer’s guns unleashed a cacophony of 54 5-inch anti-aircraft common rounds with proximity fuses at the Bettys, which split off. One of the Bettys continued toward the ship at 195 knots but the flak proved too much, and the plane dropped to scarcely 25 feet and careened along the wave tops past the ship aft as it escaped into the night.
The following night a USAAF Northrop P-61 flew toward the ship on her port side while returning to its airfield following a special mission, but the Black Widow failed to provide identification friend or foe. Frank E. Evans opened fire at the apparent intruder as it closed to 8,000 yards at an altitude of 5,000 feet and ripped into the Black Widow, which turned and passed her port quarter and crashed. After daylight the ship rescued 2nd Lt. Leonard S. Frumar, USAAF, the radar officer, who had survived when he parachuted into the sea.
Japanese planes again threatened the ship from her port beam at 0303 on the night of 30 July 1945. The SG radar detected five or six aircraft orbiting at a distance of nearly 20 miles, but after tracking several of the planes, the plotters estimated that their speed varied from 60–125 knots. The intruders flew at an altitude of 7,000 feet and closed the range and flew at a fairly constant distance of 8,000–5,000 yards, and tended to increase in the direction of the wind. They dropped “window” (clouds of small, thin pieces of aluminum wire or similar material—chaff) effectively, but did not press home their attack while the ship blasted them with 164 5-inch anti-aircraft common proximity fused shells. The mysterious intruders broke off and disappeared into the darkness, and their actions reminded watchstanders of the biplane that sank Callaghan. “It is further believed that these planes are capable of inflicting maximum damage,” Cmdr. Smith reported, “and all ships should become aware of their existence.”
Frank E. Evans also continued to contend with foul weather and a typhoon swept through the area, so she retired to the south and again screened cargo ships on the 1st of the month. Two days later she refueled at Buckner Bay. Frank E. Evans returned to sea and patrolled for Japanese submarines on Anti-Submarine Warfare Station K-2 (4–5 August 1945) and then (7–11 August) relieved Aulick (DD-569) and resumed fighter direction duties on Picket Station 9A. Irwin (DD-794) served as a support ship. John A. Bole (DD-755) relieved Frank E. Evans of those duties on the 12th, and the ship reported to TU 99.5.6 as she slid into Hagushi, a bay at the mouth of Bishi [Hija] River near Yomitan [Yomitan-san] on the west side of the island. The warship completed upkeep but, having seen first-hand the devastating effects of the Japanese aerial onslaught, also held anti-aircraft exercises. Frank E. Evans steamed to Anti-Submarine Warfare Station C-4 in the waters off Ie Shima [lejima] to search for enemy submarines (14–16 August), where she learned of the Japanese agreement to surrender. The crew celebrated the news joyfully while they brought the ship about and returned to Buckner Bay for upkeep and a much needed rest (17–28 August).
As the war ended, Frank E. Evans set out from Buckner Bay and joined TG 71.1, Rear Adm. Francis S. Low, Commander, North China Force. The task group also included large cruisers Alaska (CB-1) and Guam (CB-2), Cruiser Divisions 6 and 16, comprising heavy cruisers Minneapolis (CA-36—flagship), New Orleans (CA-32), San Francisco (CA-38), and Tuscaloosa (CA-37), and their screen, consisting of Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 64: Alfred A. Cunningham, Haraden (DD-585), Harry E. Hubbard (DD-748), John H. Bole, and Wiley (DD-597). John R. Pierce (DD-753), one of the squadron’s destroyers, did not sail with them because she took part in the occupation of the Japanese home islands.
The group carried out Op-plan 13.45 as the ships patrolled the Yellow Sea and the Gulf of Chihli [Bohai Sea] to enforce the terms of the enemy’s surrender (29–31 August 1945). Tensions ran high as many Allied leaders expressed their concern about Japanese forces refusing to accept the surrender, or not learning of it because of communications issues. Some of the ships of the group steamed at sea and then boldly swept into Tsingtao [Qingdao], China, to display U.S. naval strength on the 1st of September. The following day, Frank E. Evans and Harry E. Hubbard, with Commander, DesRon 64, detached and proceeded toward Dairen [Dalian], Manchuria, to secure the release of U.S. naval sailors reported to be held by the Japanese there (2–6 September). At 1210 on the 2nd, Frank E. Evans fired eight 5-inch anti-aircraft common and 268 40-millimeter rounds on a floating mine, but despite the firepower failed to detonate the mine. Frank E. Evans and Harry E. Hubbard anchored in Victoria Bay at Darien and helped the emaciated and weakened former prisoners through the 5th.
In the meanwhile on the 2nd, TF 72, built around CarDiv 5’s Antietam (CV-36), Intrepid (CV-11), and small aircraft carrier Cabot (CVL-28), launched nearly 100 planes that flew over Shanghai, China, as a show of force. The Japanese interned Allied prisoners of war, including some of the marines they had captured at Wake Island in 1941, along with many Allied civilians, in camps in the Shanghai area. The ships swung around to the northward and made a show of force off Dairen, in the process supporting Frank E. Evans and Harry E. Hubbard (4–5 September). On the 7th Frank E. Evans was relieved at Darien and returned to sea and rendezvoused with the rest of the task group, and they steamed easterly courses for Jinsen [Incheon], Korea.
Frank E. Evans shot 61 40-millimeter rounds at a floating mine at 1010 on the 7th, though did not confirm detonating it. Minesweepers swept the channel leading into Jinsen but did not discover any of the deadly devices, and the signal tower signaled “Welcome American Fleet.” The next day the ships sighted and destroyed 16 of 18 floating mines while fueling in the vicinity of 36°40'N, 123°50'E, however, and so continued to operate cautiously. Frank E. Evans nonetheless entered the harbor on a mission to secure an anchorage area for TF 71.1.
Rear Adm. Low hoisted his flag in Frank E. Evans on the 9th, and the ship transported him, staff officers, and Navy news correspondents to the landings at Jinsen. The tower hoisted “Welcome United States Fleet” as planes from Antietam, Intrepid, and Cabot covered the vessels as they approached Jinsen, and, beginning at 1430 as Vice Adm. Daniel E. Barbey, Commander, Seventh Fleet, who broke his flag in amphibious force flagship Rocky Mount (AGC-3), landed soldiers of the XXIV Corps. The men secured their objectives without meeting resistance, disarmed any Japanese troops they encountered, and discovered six enemy midget submarines hitherto hidden from Allied intelligence analysts. Frank E. Evans anchored at Jinsen while she supported the efforts to consolidate the landings and liberate the Korean people (10 September–3 October). Following her extended time assisting the Koreans at Jinsen, Frank E. Evans continued her humanitarian mission in company with support landing craft LCS-38 at Ongjin-gun, anchoring in the vicinity of Kerrin To (5–6 October). The ships then returned to Jinsen, but Frank E. Evans, medium landing ship LSM-363, LCS-8, and a Japanese minesweeper went back to Ongjin-gun as TU 71.1.12, the destroyer acting as the flagship (17–23 October).
Frank E. Evans crossed the Yellow Sea on the 1st of the month and anchored in Narcissus Bay at Weihaiwei [Weihei] (2–3 November 1945). The ship again carried out her humanitarian role, as well as supporting the return of Chinese territory from the Japanese. The destroyer turned back for Jinsen, and after briefly (4–5 November) laying to in Korean waters, resumed her increasingly familiar pattern and swung back across the Yellow Sea and anchored at Wai-Kang, the outer harbor at Tsingtao (6–13 November). Alaska arrived at the Chinese port and Frank E. Evans escorted her larger charge eastward to Jinsen (14–19 November).
From there, the destroyer turned back to Chinese waters but continued southward, steamed up the Whangpoo [Huángpŭ] River and moored alongside barracks ship Orvetta (IX-157) between buoys 17 and 18 at Shanghai (20–21 November 1945). The destroyer performed the vital but less glamorous duty of the North China Mail Run as she returned to Tsingtao on Thanksgiving, the 22nd, and the following two days charted a course for Taku [Dagu] Bar at the mouth of the Peiho [Hai] River protecting Tientsin [Tianjin]. A brief (25–26 November) trip across the Yellow Sea to Jinsen completed the ship’s service on the North China Mail Run. Toward the end of the month she worked with LSM-42 and then trained at sea as part of TU 71.6.2 with Springfield (CL-66) and Burns (DD-588), and rounded off November moored on the Whangpoo at Shanghai. The trio shifted berths and anchored in the vicinity of Woosung [Wusong] River Jetty just to the northward of Shanghai (6–7 December). Frank E. Evans sailed down the Yangtze River and out to sea on the 8th, and then (9–15 December) anchored in the vicinity of berth E-6 in the Outer Harbor at Tsingtao. She returned to Taku (17–21 December), two days before Christmas moored to Pier 2 at Chingwantao [Qinghuangdao], and rejoined Springfield as the duo turned southward and spent the holidays at Tsingtao, the destroyer anchored in berth E-107 (23–29 December). At noon on the 27th she shifted berths and refueled alongside oiler Tappahannock (AO-43). Frank E. Evans all but wrapped up 1945 moored on the Whangpoo at Shanghai, and spent New Year’s Eve at sea escorting Kula Gulf (CVE-108).
Frank E. Evans anchored off Taku (2–7 January 1946) and then (7–9 January) screened Kula Gulf and Bolivar (APA-34) to Tsingtao. The destroyer trained in and out of Tsingtao more than once during the remainder of the month, and escorted Bayfield (APA-33) up the coast on the 21st. The ship continued to operate in the Far East until 6 March 1946, when she sailed from Tsingtao for home. The ship called at Guam (10–11 March), Eniwetok on the 14th, and Pearl Harbor (20–22 March), before reaching San Francisco on the last day of the month. Fleet ocean tug Moctobi (ATF-105) took the destroyer in tow on 2 June 1946 as the latter entered Mare Island Naval Shipyard at Vallejo, Calif., for an overhaul and inactivation on the 7th of June, and on 5 July 1947, shifted to Naval Station (NS) San Diego, Calif. Frank E. Evans was decommissioned there and placed in reserve on 7 July 1947.
On 11 May 1949, she was recommissioned at NS San Diego, Cmdr. William C. Meyer in command. Following a fitting out period at San Francisco Naval Shipyard at Hunters Point, and brief operations out of San Diego, the ship loaded ordnance at Seal Beach Naval Ammunition and Net Depot, Calif., on 8 June, and through the 13th returned to San Diego. Frank E. Evans turned northward again for the Bay Area, and on the 15th made a full speed run off the Golden Gate Bridge. The warship was decommissioned at NS San Diego on 14 December 1949, and assigned to the Reserve Fleet.
Despite warnings from multiple intelligence sources the North Koreans invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950. The invaders achieved tactical surprise and their aggression began the Korean War. The U.S. asked for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council and the council adopted a resolution condemning the North Korean aggression, ordered the withdrawal of North Korean troops above the 38th parallel, and called on all members to assist the UN in the execution of the resolution. The Soviets boycotted the council in protest of ongoing American support of the Chinese Nationalists and their absence prevented their veto of the motion.
Naval planners ordered Frank E. Evans activated to deploy to the Korean War on 7 August. Recommissioned on 15 September 1950, at NS San Diego, Frank E. Evans accomplished a brief shakedown cruise and a readiness-for-sea operation, and reported for duty on 3 October 1950. The ship continued what she reported as “intensive” training as she prepared for war, and on 2 January 1951, sailed for the Seventh Fleet as TU 52.5.1, which also comprised Alfred A. Cunningham, Blue (DD-744, flagship), and Walke (DD-723). The ship moored to berth 2 on pier 1 at Midway Island while she refueled (15–16 January), and completed voyage repairs and upkeep moored in a nest with the rest of the task unit at Yokosuka on Tōkyō Bay (23–29 January). Frigate Glendale (PF-36) briefly joined them, and toward the final days of the month the vessels of the task unit worked with Bairoko (CVE-115) in a series of exercises in Japanese waters. Upon the ship’s return to Yokosuka she moored alongside to starboard to Canadian destroyer Athabaskan (R-79) on 3 February.
Alfred A. Cunningham, Blue (flagship), Frank E. Evans, and Walke set out on the 3rd and on the 5th rendezvoused with the other ten ships of powerful TF 77, built around Princeton (CV-37), Valley Forge (CV-45), and antiaircraft light cruiser Juneau (CLAA-119), in the Van Dieman Strait between Kyūshū and Tanegeshima. Philippine Sea (CV-47) relieved Princeton on the 12th, and on the 15th–19th battleship Missouri (BB-63) and her escorts, John A. Bole (DD-755) and Lofberg (DD-759), joined the formation.
United Nations forces began a naval siege of the North Korean port of Wŏnsan on 16 February 1951. The allies temporarily developed the port into a sanctuary for aircraft damaged by enemy fire that ditched in the harbor. Helicopters pulled the downed aircrew to safety and thereby saved men from death or imprisonment by the enemy. Frank E. Evans stood into Wŏnsan and anchored in berth 6 on the morning of 26 February. That afternoon (1233–1426) an aircraft spotter observed the ship’s gunfire as she shot 17 5-inch anti-aircraft common rounds in interdiction fire at the enemy. The communist gunners struck back and hurled their shells at the warship from three sides for nearly 90 minutes, water from their projectile splashes covering Frank E. Evans’ decks, before her 5-inch guns silenced her tormentors. The destroyer fired eight anti-aircraft common shells per hour overnight to harass the communist troops—a total of 104 rounds by morning. The following night she increased the crescendo of harassing fire to 24 anti-aircraft common rounds per hour.
Frank E. Evans engaged enemy shore batteries 11 times during her part in the siege of Wŏnsan. In the formative months of the blockade, the ship detached at times from Task Force (TF) 77 and ranged along the Korean coast, in company with other ships but on occasion independently. At times during the Korean War and later in the destroyer’s career, the crew proudly called her “The Gray Ghost,” “The Fighter,” or “The Lucky Evans.” Frank E. Evans ranged the coast for a month, and coordinated and controlled day and night bombing missions by allied aircraft. A few days later a running battle with enemy shore artillery resulted in damage to a patrol vessel maneuvering close aboard Frank E. Evans.
In between the fighting, Frank E. Evans accomplished repairs and upkeep at Yokosuka (20–25 April 1951) and Sasebo (14–21 May and 1 June). The warship rendezvoused with battleship New Jersey (BB-62) and Toledo (CA-133) at Sasebo on Kyūshū in southern Japan on the 2nd and the trio patrolled in the vicinity of Pusan [Busan], South Korea, on that day and the next, and the following day on the 4th Frank E. Evans led her larger charges into Wŏnsan. The destroyer’s familiarity with the harbor persuaded planners to earmark her to control the larger ships’ gunfire on the bombline in Area S.
Frank E. Evans swung around on the 6th and operated with TF 77, and then closed the coastline, where she rescued downed three aviators. Allied planners also sought to close down the Sŏngjin [Kimchaek]/Chŏngjin area to the enemy, and so Frank E. Evans, a second U.S. destroyer, and Dutch destroyer Evertsen (D.802) steamed into Sŏngjin (13–17 July 1951) and opened another continuous siege that limited communist use of an important harbor and supply center. An enemy battery fired at the ship on 18 June and 30 fragments hit her, which caused minor wounds to four crewmen before the destroyer silenced the enemy gunfire. The ship quickly came about and made for Japanese waters, where she accomplished repairs at Sasebo (20–25 June). The destroyer returned to Wŏnsan and worked on the gunline.
The ship captured two enemy sampans and their six North Korean crewmen during the cruise, and aided in the rescue of six allied pilots. Frank E. Evans fittingly concluded her maiden deployment to the Korean War by firing what she hailed as a “21-gun salute” against selected targets in and around Wŏnsan to celebrate Independence Day on 4 July 1951. Frank E. Evans completed repairs and upkeep at Sasebo (29 July–8 August) in preparation for her voyage back to the United States. The fighting continued, however, and she returned to the gunline and steamed in Areas S and Marge (9–21 August). The following day the ship turned from the war for Yokosuka, and on the 24th charted a course for home. After a cruise of nearly 52,000 miles a tired but happy crew waved to spectators at San Diego on 4 September 1951. The destroyer spent the rest of the year in that area repairing from the rigors of the war, and in training and preparing her crew to return to the fighting.
Frank E. Evans sailed on 22 March 1952 for her second Korean tour, refueled and provisioned at Pearl Harbor (28 March–5 April) and reached Yokosuka to recover from the voyage (13–17 April). The ship then served with the fast carriers of TF 77 as they ranged along the Korean east coast. Frank E. Evans detached from the carriers fittingly on May Day (1 May) and joined Manchester (CL-83) as the duo bombarded enemy gun emplacements between Sŏngjin and Wŏnsan during the following days. Frank E. Evans peeled away from the cruiser on the 11th and rejoined the carriers until she completed upkeep and voyage repairs at Sasebo (17–24 May).
The ship followed that service by sailing on the Northern Formosa [Taiwan] Patrol (25–27 May and 31 May–4 June 1952) and Southern Formosa Patrol (27–28 May), and took a brief break for her maiden visit to Kaohsiung, Formosa [Taiwan], toward the end of the month (28–31 May). Frank E. Evans concluded her patrol along the strategic strait with brief respites at Hong Kong (8–13 June) and Kaoshiung (13–14 June and 16–17 June). Frank E. Evans returned to Sasebo to prepare for more fighting (19–20 June).
Alfred A. Cunningham, Blue, Frank E. Evans, and Walke often worked together as Task Element (TE) 95.28, led by Cmdr. Robert E. Odening, Buck’s commanding officer. Cmdr. Nelson D. Salmon, Frank E. Evans’ commanding officer, relieved Cmdr. Odening in command of TE 95.28 on 21 June 1952. Salmon detached Frank E. Evans and rendezvoused with South Korean patrol gunboat Heukjohwan (PG-22) and auxiliary motor minesweeper Gaeseong (YMS-504), and the trio also began fighting the enemy as Bombline Element, East Coast of Korea. The three ships began “night taillight patrol” north to Nan-do [Al-som], an islet ten miles off the North Korean coast. Just as they began their cruise, the anti-communist guerilla fighters of TF Kirkland suspected enemy movement in their area as the North Koreans attempted to clamp down on their clandestine activities, and requested that the destroyer fire four star shells to illuminate the night. Frank E. Evans turned and shot the four rounds, though did not spot any enemy soldiers. While the ship unleashed her guns Heukjohwan patrolled inshore south of the bombline, and Gaeseong watched the island, starting a recurring pattern.
Frank E. Evans hove to in the vicinity of the island the following morning and Salmon conferred with the islet’s commander, who remained on board to observe the day’s firing. The action heated up quickly as South Korean army spotters deployed on the beach called on the ship for help against ten enemy bunkers situated in that area. The destroyer landed her shore fire control party to work with their allies as she fired 120 anti-aircraft common and four star shells in indirect salvoes “with good results.” The battle resumed overnight and into the morning (22–23 June 1952) and Frank E. Evans shot 127 anti-aircraft common rounds (and eight white phosphorous) that inflicted observable damage on bunkers and heavy caliber gun positions in the vicinity of the front line. The ship spotted enemy soldiers on the beach that afternoon and dispersed them with some well-placed gunfire.
Frank E. Evans conducted call fire on communist 122-millimeter gun positions in the vicinity of the bombline on the 24th, but South Korean spotters reported that she failed to knock out the battery. The warship nonetheless observed some enemy troops out in the open and broke up their formation with her salvoes, and then used an aerial spotter to hurl steel into communist supply areas in the small villages of Changdo and Changeyon near Nosong, destroying 13 houses the soldiers seized for their own, and damaging eight more. Moving north to the vicinity of Chanjon, the ship destroyed eight more houses and damaged five that the enemy used to store their supplies. Frank E. Evans shot harassing and interdiction fire overnight, though with unobservable results, and shot a total of 137 anti-aircraft common, eight variable time-nonfragmenting, and 42 white phosphorous rounds. Heukjohwan and Gaeseong continued to patrol the disputed waters throughout these battles, and their vigilance enabled the destroyer to concentrate on her naval gunfire support.
Upon completing the night patrol, the ship began call fire on supply dumps in the vicinity of Kosong using South Korean spotters, though without observable results. The enemy grew aware of the spotters, however, and their mortars menaced the observation post. The ship heeded her allies’ call for help and suppressed the mortars with 5-inch salvoes. Frank E. Evans sighted a party of enemy soldiers out in the open and dispersed them with a dozen main battery projectiles. The communists decided once and for all to rid themselves of the seaward threat and, since they failed to so with their mortars, turned their 122-millimeter pieces against the South Korean observation post. They emplaced the artillery in bunkers to protect them from counter-battery fire and the spotter reported that although the ship’s bombardment silenced the guns (most likely from the concussion of the detonating shells), she failed to knock out the well dug-in positions.
South Korean spotters called her fire onto enemy bunkers and gun positions that increased their activity in the front line on 26 June 1952, though could not assess the damage because of the range and nature of the targets. An enemy mortar team returned to the fray and began to fire at the observers, and the ship swung around and blasted the mortar into silence. Later in the day the ship sighted some communist soldiers attempting to slip past her in the open near Suwan Dan and inflicted an undetermined number of casualties as she shot into them. Observing artillery fire worked both ways and Frank E. Evans turned her 40-millimeter guns against enemy troops using a small fishing settlement north of Changadee Dan as an observation and control post. Despite the range, her lighter guns tore into the position. The destroyer fired 62 high capacity, 51 anti-aircraft common, two white phosphorous, and 336 40-millimeter rounds that busy day.
Heavy morning fog and ground mist during most of the afternoon combined to limit the ship’s naval gunfire support on the 27th, and she only shot 15 high capacity and three white phosphorous shells into a 76.2-millimeter gun position without result. Heukjohwan came about for Chinhae, South Korea, early in the morning, though Gaeseong continued to patrol the area. Returning from night patrol on the 28th, Frank E. Evans relieved TE 77.18 while the latter conducted a strike against the Kojo area. Frank E. Evans shot into a supply dump north and west of Kosong and destroyed or damage five buildings believed to contain military stores, and then responded to South Korean spotters and silenced a 122-millimeter gun position. The ship’s shells touched off a secondary explosion near the gun position, and she shot 68 5-inch high capacity, 132 anti-aircraft common, and eight white phosphorous rounds in the battle.
Frank E. Evans patrolled and then (1–6 July 1952) spent Independence Day at Yokosuka. Following the yard work, she cruised Korean waters and on the 16th of July rendezvoused with the heavy cruiser Bremerton (CA-130) and resumed the task element’s coastal bombardment and blockade ranging from Wŏnsan to Hŭngnam. The ships of TE 95.28 operated within the East Coast Blockading and Patrol Group, TG 95.2, though sometimes shifted because of the necessity of undergoing voyage repairs and upkeep, refueling and provisioning, or simply giving their exhausted crews rest. Frank E. Evans lay to briefly for one such break at Tosa-wan, Shikoku, Japan (5–8 August), followed by Kobe, Honshū (8–10 August), Yokosuka (17–18 August), Sasebo on the 20th, and then (31 August–1 September) Chinhae. Frank E. Evans also embarked Rear Adm. John E. Gingrich, Commander, UN Blockade and Escort Forces, TF 95, at one point for a trip to South Korea. On the night of 4–5 September she returned to the war and shot at enemy troops at Hŭngnam and Sŏngjin. Following that thrust Frank E. Evans returned to Area S and engaged the communist troops ashore (13 September–3 October).
Cmdr. William E. Westhoff, the commanding officer of Tingey (DD-539), led the task element for a time but on the 14th of September 1952, Cmdr. Salmon relieved Westhoff. Frank E. Evans and South Korean Gilju (YMS-514) resumed patrolling the waters off Nan-do and supporting TF Kirkland between the bombline and Kojo, and attempted to control fishing in their area—North Korean fishermen fed communist troops. Helena (CA-75) and O’Brien (DD-725) pounded the enemy along the bombline, and at times Frank E. Evans and Gilju worked with them, though the latter detached more than once for other patrols. South Korean spotters of the I Corps called down 38 of the destroyer’s 5-inch shells on enemy bunkers and fighting positions on the night of 15 September, and she knocked out two of the bunkers. Sometime later some enemy vehicles attempted to drive past the area but the ship spotted and hurled nine more rounds into the column, igniting the fuel in one of the trucks into a small fire.
The following morning the ship landed her shore fire control party to work with the South Korean I Corps observers. Frank E. Evans followed their coordinated spotting and shot 22 5-inch rounds in indirect gunfire against communist troops, supply areas, and bunkers, killing and wounding some of the enemy soldiers. The anti-communist freedom fighters of TF Kirkland unceasingly fought to liberate their homeland, and the ship responded to their request and lobbed six rounds on enemy gun positions as harassing and interdiction fire that night. On the morning of the 17th she landed a second shore fire control party to relieve the first, and the American team joined their South Korean allies as they collectively spotted 60 of the ship’s 5-inch rounds onto a bridge and enemy entrenchments and fighting positions, scoring direct hits on the crossing, as well as tearing up the road and the enemy positions. Overnight she fired three harassing shells at communist billets, and more spectacularly 16 rounds at some enemy vehicles as they tried to negotiate the cratered road and shredded bridge, triggering a moderate secondary explosion followed by a bright fire. An air spotter reinforced the I Corps observers on the 18th as they directed Frank E. Evans’ gunners onto enemy troops that attempted to repair the bridge. Some 22 5-inch rounds temporarily disrupted their efforts, and the shore party returned to the ship.
Yonggung (YMS-518) relieved Gilju on 19 September 1952, and the latter turned southward for Chinhae. The fighting required additional gunfire support and Frank E. Evans followed the directions of the I Corps spotters as she shot 66 5-inch shells against enemy bunkers linked by trenches and dug into reverse slopes. Despite the sighting difficulties imposed by the intervening terrain, the ship damaged three of the bunkers, and cut some of the trenches. The communist troops began to respect the deadly naval bombardments and moved cautiously in well dispersed groups, and that night the destroyer only fired a single indirect round that likely missed her prey.
The South Koreans called for indirect fire against bunkers the following day, and the ship fired seven main battery shells but could not adjust the fire due to communication issues, and canceled the bombardment. Frank E. Evans relieved TE 77.16 of harassing and interdiction fire assignment for the night and shot 118 rounds on ten supply area and supply route targets provided by the I Corps observers. The ship carefully threaded her way through the shoals while encountering poor visibility as she closed the shore on the morning of the 21st and delivered provisions to the men of TF Kirkland. The warship opened the shoreline the following day but operated off the bombline while TE 77.1 replenished, and fired 21 5-inch rounds of indirect fire against enemy bunkers on reverse slopes, though apparently shot over the positions without effect. She then joined Toledo as they formed TE 77.18 but battled heavy weather that reduced the visibility and impeded their operations. Frank E. Evans turned over to Tingey on the 27th, and Westhoff relieved Salmon in command of the task element.
Frank E. Evans joined a powerful task force for Operation Decoy—an amphibious demonstration at Kojo (13–15 October 1952). Allied planners including Vice Adm. Robert P. Briscoe, Commander, Naval Forces, Far East, intended to lure the enemy troops into exposing themselves to attack and destruction by US forces. The stratagem did not include landing troops per se, but giving the illusion of doing so that the communists would rush reserves to the area to contain the apparent landings, only to face air strikes and naval gunfire. Decoy thus consisted of two phases, the first being a feint to draw in the enemy, and the second a raid to pound them. Joint Amphibious TF 7, Rear Adm. Francis X. McInerney, orchestrated the complex maneuvers, and at times alerts went out to elements of the XVI Corps, the 40th and 45th Infantry Divisions, 1st Cavalry Division, and 118th Regimental Combat Team for their possible deployment to Decoy. Maj. Gen. Anthony Trudeau, USA, led the troops.
The task force formed for the diversionary phase centered on the Bombardment Group, TF 71.1, comprising Bombardment Element No. 1, TE 71.11, Helena and a pair of destroyers; Bombardment Element No. 2, TE 71.12, Toledo and two destroyers; and Bombardment Element No. 3, TE 71.13, Iowa (BB-61) and Frank E. Evans; along with the Tactical Air Direction Group, TE 71.2; Beach Reconnaissance and Underwater Demolition Team Group, TE 71.3; Mine Warfare Group, TE 71.4; and the Screen Group, TE 71.5.
Mail issues delayed Frank E. Evans from receiving TF 76 Operation Plan 101(A)-52 in a timely manner, and so she protected Iowa from enemy submarines as they made for the area. The other bombardment ships pounded the enemy positions each day beginning on the 13th, but only on the following night did Iowa and Frank E. Evans finally reach the area. The destroyer borrowed a copy of the plan from the battleship and joined the other ships in shelling the enemy as she hurled 63 high capacity and some white phosphorous rounds shoreward at an observation post, a 76.2-milimeter gun emplacement, an anti-aircraft gun, and two machine gun positions. The communist guns returned fire and several rounds splashed in the water ranging from 60 to 800 feet from the ship. While the ships blasted the enemy soldiers around Kojo, the Americans encountered heavy surf as they rehearsed the landings at Kangnung [Gangneung-si] on South Korea’s east coast, which compelled them to cancel the training.
Frank E. Evans’ bridge and CIC watch teams experienced vexing interruptions from the high noise level resulting from additional voices on the ships’ circuits, but persevered in their duties. The target lists contained in TF 71 (their intrinsic plan) Operation Order 1A-52 proved too lengthy to use effectively, and the ship’s company could not determine the relative importance of the targets assigned the same priority. They thus selected the targets based upon their (apparent) threat to the warship, but Salmon reported that “this individual selection, rather than designation at a higher planning level will not be the most effective means for systematic destruction of enemy installations and forces.”
“Concur with the originator [the task force] that assignment of targets by higher command is desirable,” Capt. James H. Ward of the Seventh Fleet’s staff analyzed, “In this case, the short planning period did not permit the thorough analysis and detailed planning that is required for most effective fire support.”
Attack Force, TF 76, formed to carry out Operation Wrangler, Decoy’s diversionary landings. The force comprised the Flagship Element, TE 76.00; Tactical Air Control Element, TE 76.01; Control Element, TE 76.02; Gunfire Support Group, TE 76.1. The latter numbered Fire Support Unit 1, TU 76.1.1, Iowa (the flagship), Toledo, Bausell (DD-845), and Frank E. Evans; Fire Support Unit 2, TU 76.1.2, Helena (flagship), O’Brien, and Perkins (DD-877); and Fire Support Unit 3, TU 76.1.3, medium landing ships (rocket) LSM(R)-412 (flagship), LSM(R)-527, and LSM(R)-536. In addition, the Air Support Group, TU 76.2; Minesweeping Group, TU 76.3; Transport Group, TU 76.4; Fast Movement Group, TU 76.5; Screening Group, TU 76.6; and the Anti-Submarine Warfare Group, TU 76.7 rounded out the ships gathered for the endeavor.
Frank E. Evans reported her role in Wrangler as to unleash her guns “in conjunction with the amphibious assault in order to effect maximum destruction and neutralization of enemy installations and to support the advance of troops after the landing.” The destroyer broke off from the preliminary bombardment at 1211 on the 14th and steamed to Fire Support Area 1, where she moved into position to the south and inshore of the line of departure. The ship encountered poor visibility and employed aerial spotting with limited effect as she opened fire at 0330 on the 15th, but concentrated on such enemy strong points as she could identify. The chatter on the voice circuits from the many vessels in the battle again interfered with Frank E. Evans’ performance, and a hydraulic line in Mount No. 1 carried away during the barrage, placing the mount in manual operation in train. The gunners spent about 20 minutes working furiously to restore it. The ship lifted her fire later that day so that aircraft could strafe the enemy troops.
Despite the overwhelming firepower arrayed against the communist troops they resolutely engaged the ships, and guns in the northern part of Area No. 13 shot at Frank E. Evans at least 10–15 times, their splashes rising uncomfortably close until the ship turned her own guns on the artillery and silenced them. Enemy shore batteries fired several rounds that narrowly missed Perkins, but killed one man and wounded 17 more.
The soldiers, principally troopers of the 8th Regimental Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, meanwhile clambered into their assault boats at a range of about 23,000 yards from the shore and moved landward. The weather seemed calm at first, but changed rapidly as a front swept in with strong waves that whipped the swells into frothing whitecaps just as the men closed the beaches to 5,000 yards, their turn around point. The coxswains gamely headed their boats back toward the ships but the heavy seas tragically swamped four boats. Some of the troops returned to P'ohang-dong, South Korea, and others to Hokkaido, Japan. Iowa and Frank E. Evans swung around that night and proceeded on independent operations, the destroyer vigilantly shepherding her charge against submarines.
Concrete evidence concerning large scale enemy movements to counter the landings failed to materialize in the following days. Allied planners could not determine whether the lack of activity indicated communist mobility and command, control, communications, and intelligence difficulties, or resolve to await the outcome of the landings and strike at their advantage.
In this deployment Frank E. Evans also shelled enemy positions in and around Conjin, Sŏngjin, Tanchon, Wŏnsan, and Yongdon. The ship emerged from these battles with her guns’ grey paint blistered by their repeated fire until their bare metal glistened in the sun. Frank E. Evans came about from Korean waters on 16 October and visited Fukuoka on Kyūshū, Yokosuka (18–21 October), Midway as TU 96.5.6 (26–27 October), Pearl Harbor (30–31 October) and on 6 November 1952 (which became effective on the 1st of August), reached her new homeport of NS Long Beach, Calif. Frank E. Evans paralleled the coast northward to accomplish post deployment work at Mare Island Naval Shipyard (2 March–2 August 1953).
Her next (13 June–20 December 1953) tour in the western Pacific coincided with the Korean Armistice Agreement, and she thus devoted the deployment primarily to patrol duty. Frank E. Evans made her progressively more familiar stops at Pearl Harbor (20–27 June), on the 1st of July at Midway, and Yokosuka (7–13 July). The destroyer steamed along the Korean coast only once for a brief flurry of activity that overlapped the armistice on 27 July (16 July–9 August). The ship continued her patrols in the event the enemy violated the accord but then (11–23 August) put in to Yokosuka, Kobe (1–2 September), and on the 3rd, Buckner Bay while Frank E. Evans steered southwesterly courses.
She patrolled the Formosa Strait (5–11 September 1953), visited Kaohsiung on the 11th, and then (11–15 September) enjoyed a stint of liberty call in Hong Kong. The warship monitored communist movements around the Pescadores [Penghu] Islands (15–16 September) and thereafter spent a grueling fortnight guarding the strait itself, before she experienced brief visits to Kaohsiung on the 20th and then (21–27 September) Keelung, on the Formosan northeastern coast. Frank E. Evans came about for more northerly waters and visited Sasebo (29 September–7 October, 13–15 October, and 17–21 October). The ship then worked off the Korean west coast until just before Halloween, when she visited Kobe (31 October–8 November) and on the 10th Sasebo as she headed back to the East China Sea. Frank E. Evans carried out operations in that area until she turned for home on 26 November. The ship prepared for her journey while at Yokosuka (28 November–1 December), touched at Pearl Harbor (11–13 December), and returned to Long Beach on 20 December 1953 to spend Christmas at home. The ship conducted a post deployment overhaul at San Francisco (28 January–1 May 1954).
From 1954 through 1960, Frank E. Evans completed five tours of duty in the western Pacific, as well as joining extensive training operations along the west coast and in the Hawaiian Islands, occasionally with Canadian naval ships. The seasoned destroyer trained in southern Californian waters for the summer of 1954, alternating between Long Beach and San Diego. Frank E. Evans deployed to the western Pacific (10 August 1954–8 February 1955). The ship stopped at Pearl Harbor (16–23 August), Midway (26–27 August), and Yokosuka (1–13 September). Frank E. Evans slipped past Corregidor Island into Manila Bay for her maiden visit to the Philippine capital (22–24 September). She then (25–29 September) passed Grande Island for her first port of call at Subic Bay, following which she took part in a series of exercises in Philippine waters, broken by intermittent pauses at Manila (15–18 October) and on the following day at Subic Bay. The ship turned westward and visited Kaohsiung (20–26 and 30–31 October) and Hong Kong (26–30 October), and then resumed patrolling the Formosa Strait.
On the 27th of October 1954, Typhoon Pamela formed as a tropical depression, but increased until it reached category 5 super typhoon status as it roared across the South China Sea. Alfred A. Cunningham, Blue, and Frank E. Evans patrolled off the Tachen [Dachen] Islands on the morning of 4 November, when they detached to steam southerly courses through the Pescadores Channel to skirt the edge of Pamela and ride out the tempest. The ships checked their fuel to ensure they would be able to sail as stable platforms, and received orders to make for Passumpsic (AO-107), which lay at Kaohsiung, or to steer for Subic Bay if they could not reach her. Frank E. Evans reported her fuel at 58% at noon on the 4th. She therefore rendezvoused with the oiler late in the afternoon and just before sunset topped off the fuel tanks as the two ships rode out the heavy swells north of Kaohsiung in the lee of Formosa.
Pamela ploughed westward and the trio of destroyers evaded to the north through the Pescadores Channel. The ocean rolled from ahead and the ships slowed to eight knots to clear the typhoon in a semi-circular formation. By the morning of the 5th, they reached the northern end of the strait, battling heavy seas and gale-force winds from a tight pressure gradient. Pamela crossed astern at 1422 and the destroyers turned south, but at 1815 the destroyer received a distress call concerning Muskingum (T-AK-198). British Royal Navy headquarters in Hong Kong announced that the 7,450-ton Military Sea Transportation Service-manned cargo ship temporarily lost control as she steamed about 130 miles southwest of Formosa, and some 60 miles from Pamela’s center. Frank E. Evans immediately swung around and raced back into the fury of the storm, heavy seas and winds pounding and damaging the ship as she crashed through the swells. Muskingum regained control and survived the super typhoon, and Frank E. Evans received recall orders as she reached a position south of Kaohsiung later that night, and she refueled from Passumpsic and patrolled the waters off Quemoy [Kinmen]. The ship required repairs and touched briefly at Kaohsiung on the 8th and then (12–25 November) Yokosuka, Buckner Bay on the 3rd of December, and Sasebo (5–15 December).
The force of the waves bent the supports of the forward outboard shoe of Frank E. Evans’ motor whaleboat, and forced the shoe into the boat, breaking through strakes. The seas dished in two bulkheads about two inches each, cracked four vent ducts, and the supports for five life rafts. Pamela tore loose the torpedo dolly and carried it into vent duct 1-130, tearing a hole about 12-inch in diameter. The high winds carried away a number of miscellaneous items such as stanchions, reels, and the flag staff, but sailors retrieved most of them on deck. The ship’s company repaired many of the issues, and fabricated a temporary patch for the motor whaleboat.
Frank E. Evans steered for the South China Sea and spent the holidays at Hong Kong (22–29 December) and the New Year (31 December 1954–3 January 1955) at Manila. The warship touched at Subic Bay (3 and 7 January) in the midst of training in that area, and swung around to the north and made for Japanese waters. Frank E. Evans carried out her usual homeward voyage preparations while at Yokosuka (14–20 January), and called at Midway (26–27 January) and Pearl Harbor (29 January–2 February) as she headed for Long Beach. She then completed an overhaul and a series of training exercises along the west coast.
The ship crossed the Pacific again as she steered for her forward stations (11 October 1955–31 March 1956) and stopped at Pearl Harbor (17–24 October), Midway (27–28 October), and Yokosuka (2–5 November). Frank E. Evans patrolled the western Pacific as she monitored Soviet, North Korean, and Chinese communist ships, submarines, and aircraft, halting her operations in brief interludes to refuel and replenish at Okinawa on 14 November, Kobe (22 November–3 December), Yokosuka (6–7 December and 20 December 1955–2 January 1956 and the 3rd again after a quick sortie), and Naha, Okinawa, on 13 December 1955. The New Year brought a fresh regimen of patrols, training exercises, and port visits including Buckner Bay (10–11 January 1956), Subic Bay (16–30 January), her maiden visit to bustling Singapore (3–7 February), Keelung on 12 February, and Kaohsiung (13–14 and 25–27 February), and she wrapped up this round of port calls by navigating through the crowded waters of Hong Kong for a visit (29 February–4 March). The destroyer turned back toward the Japanese home islands and put in to Yokosuka for her final visit of the deployment (9–17 March), and then headed for home, stopping quickly at Pearl Harbor (25–26 March) along the way. Frank E. Evans required additional work after all of her time at sea and accomplished an overhaul at San Francisco (27 May–28 August), following which she trained alternatively out of Long Beach and San Diego.
The ship stopped at Pearl Harbor (11–16 November) as she deployed into the vast expanse of the Pacific (6 November 1956–13 May 1957). She then touched at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshalls (21–22 November), but steamed southerly courses and visited Melbourne, Australia, during the Games of the XVI Olympiad (30 November–10 December). Following that pleasant visit Frank E. Evans had other work to do to monitor East Bloc forces and so reached the Seventh Fleet on the 21st of November. She operated with TG 70.6 (18 December 1956–13 January 1957), TF 72 (6 February–15 March), Cruiser Destroyer Force Pacific Fleet beginning on 17 March. The warship made a whirlwind tour of the Far East and visited Guam (21–24 December), Yokosuka (27 December 1956–7 January 1957), Sasebo (12–18 January and 24 January–6 February), Subic Bay (20–21 February, 6–7 March, and 5–8 April), Kaohsiung (8–12, 17–21, and 26–29 March), and Hong Kong (11–16 April). The ship stopped again at Yokosuka (21–28 April), Midway (4–5 May), and Pearl Harbor on 7 May during her return voyage. The destroyer then completed a yard overhaul at San Francisco and training period.
The man-of-war deployed again to the western Pacific but charted courses into more southerly waters along the way (15 January–21 July 1958). Her voyage included a visit to Pago Pago at American Samoa (27–28 January), Wellington, New Zealand (1–2 February), Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (6–11 February), Brisbane in that country (14–15 February), and on toward her more familiar stations to the westward. Frank E. Evans called at Guam (23 February–7 March), Buckner Bay (on the 11th of March, 3–5, 23 [a brief sortie] and 23–24 May), Subic Bay (16–17 March and 10–17 May), and Yokosuka (23 March–4 April, 10–20, 26–27, 27–30 April, and 18–22 June), and Kobe (23 June–3 July) in that region of the world. In addition, she took part in many operations, which included a week-long weapons demonstration for representatives from the eight South East Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO) signatories (the U.S., Australia, Great Britain, Republic of the Philippines, France, New Zealand, Pakistan and Thailand) and six other nations. The participating ships fired their latest missiles, and conducted a series of anti-air and anti-submarine warfare exercises. When Frank E. Evans cleared that region she touched at Midway on 12 July and Pearl Harbor on the 15th on her way home. The ship trained in Californian waters following her deployment, and underwent an extensive overhaul.
Frank E. Evans worked with TG 31.1 (10–11 January 1959) and (9 March–28 August 1959) then Cruiser Destroyer Force Pacific Fleet as she set out on a western Pacific deployment (29 March–28 August), this time as a screen and rescue destroyer for attack aircraft carrier Shangri-La (CVA-38) and CVG-11. Frank E. Evans stopped at Pearl Harbor (3–6 April) and Yokosuka (15–21 April). The ship steamed across Hiroshima Bay and up the Nishiki River Delta to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in May, and at times also visited Buckner Bay, Manila Bay, Hong Kong, Sasebo, Yokosuka (again), and Kaohsiung. The ships also operated with TG 70.6 as they carried out a variety of exercises. Frank E. Evans took part in a midshipman’s summer cruise (June–early August), and joined U.S., British, Australian, and New Zealand ships for Saddle-Up, a large scale SEATO-sponsored amphibious assault exercise on North Borneo. Frank E. Evans called at Guam, Midway, and Pearl Harbor on her return voyage and returned to waiting friends and family at Long Beach after steaming almost 40,000 miles.
The progressively weathered ship transferred from Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 131 to DesDiv 132 on 15 February 1960. The Navy orchestrated the move in order to more closely integrate her into anti-submarine warfare. Frank E. Evans therefore sailed again for a seven-month (17 May–18 December 1960) western Pacific cruise. This time she set out with DesDiv 132, the ships of which operated as a Hunter-Killer Group based around antisubmarine warfare support aircraft carrier Hornet (CVS-12). The flagship embarked CarDiv 19, Air Antisubmarine Squadron (VS) 37 and Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (HS) 2. At times during the deployment Carrier Tactical Electronics Warfare Squadron (VAW) 13 Detachment N, Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron (HMR) 162, Marine Helicopter Squadron (HMX) 1, and Utility Squadron (VU) 1 Detachment KD-21 also operated from Hornet.
The group spent many weeks training in anti-submarine operations prior to setting out from Long Beach, and an additional six weeks of similar training honing their skills in Hawaiian waters. The exercises under the Seventh Fleet’s operational command included Bulldog III (26 September–15 October) and Treble Clef (5–15 November). Hornet hosted the premier show of the Blue Angels television series in January 1961, and members of the cast and notable radio, television, and newspaper representatives boarded the ship for the event. Frank E. Evans received nationwide publicity when she rescued five Okinawans, stranded at sea for ten days without food or water. The ship also made port at Kobe, Kōchi, Suzaki, and Yokosuka, Japan, Okinawa, Subic Bay, and Hong Kong.
Frank E. Evans entered one of the milestones of the ship’s career when she took part (6 February–9 October 1961) in Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) II, a program intended to extend the life of some of the Navy’s ships. Planners envisioned carrying out the initiative in three phases, which in the case of World War II-vintage destroyers consisted primarily of installing equipment and systems to enable the ships to contend more effectively with the numerous and increasingly capable East Bloc submarines. Perhaps most dramatically, Frank E. Evans underwent a FRAM II conversion to embark and operate a Gyrodyne QH-50 Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter (DASH). The work included adding a small hangar and flight deck aft, and systems to facilitate controlling DASH. Shipyard workers also mounted new 12.75-inch triple torpedo tubes, as well as a pair of 21-inch torpedo tubes that could launch Mk 37 anti-submarine homing torpedoes.
The warship trained to refresh her crew for the rigors ahead, in the course of which she detected Blueback (SS-581) while the submarine attempted a surveillance patrol off Long Beach harbor. The ship also rescued a vessel in distress during her busy regimen on 12 October. Civilian mariner Eugene Brewer put to sea in a small power boat but sheared a propeller shaft about 16 miles from Santa Catalina Island, Calif. Frank E. Evans rescued Brewer and turned him over to the Coast Guard. Following five weeks of refresher training, the destroyer completed the battle problem and returned to Long Beach for Christmas leave and upkeep.
Frank E. Evans joined Hornet, with Anti-Submarine Carrier Air Group (CVSG) 57, comprising the 20 new Grumman S-2D Trackers of VS-35 and VS-37, 15 new Sikorsky SH-3A Sea Kings of HS-2, and the five Douglas EA-1E Skyraiders of VAW 11 Detachment N, and DesDiv 132 again as she stood out of Long Beach for her 11th deployment to the western Pacific (7 June–21 December 1962). Frank E. Evans accomplished an extensive operational readiness evaluation in Hawaiian waters (15 June–1 July) before she resumed the voyage westward and reinforced the Seventh Fleet, though in company with Hornet and DesDiv 251. The group planned a combined anti-submarine warfare exercise with the Japanese for late August, but after one day cancelled the training in order to avoid Typhoon Ruth, which surged into a Category 5 super typhoon as it cut its deadly path across the western Pacific to the east of Tōkyō before it turned northeastward. A powerful group built around Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) and Hornet put on a weapons demonstration for SEATO military officers on 5 December. CarDiv 7 led the exposition from Kitty Hawk. As the ships turned for the hoped for safety of home a couple of weeks before Christmas, Tropical Storm Lucy bedeviled them and prevented Hornet from refueling from an oiler. The carrier put in to Pearl Harbor on 16 December to pump on board the precious liquid.
The ship shifted from DesDiv 132 to DesDiv 231 in April 1963. Two months later, on the 10th of June, Frank E. Evans demonstrated the importance of food for morale when she received the coveted Ney Memorial Award as the best general mess afloat. She stood out to sea as part of DesDiv 231 in company with Hornet for extensive anti-submarine exercises off Hawaii (29 July–20 August 1963). Following the return to Long Beach she received a variable depth sonar system as an addition to her FRAM II conversion, in order to better detect and track submarines. Frank E. Evans accomplished the sonar installation in time to set out with Hornet and CVSG-57 for another western Pacific deployment (9 October 1963–15 April 1964). The Hunter-Killer Group again participated in an operational readiness evaluation in Hawaiian waters (9 October–12 November) prior to continuing westward and reporting to the Seventh Fleet. The ships took part in large amphibious training exercise Backpack on Taiwan (29 February–10 March 1964), in which Hornet ferried marine assault helos to the operating area and then provided anti-submarine protection for the landings.
Following the destroyer’s return to Long Beach, she underwent a regular overhaul, which included improvements in the electronic equipment and rejuvenating tired machinery (July–September). Frank E. Evans then sailed into a rigorous refresher training regimen off San Diego. Early in the New Year in January 1965, she joined Bennington (CVS-20) and DesDiv 231 as the First Fleet Ready Anti-Submarine Warfare Group. Frank E. Evans screened Bennington and escorted the marines en route to and during their amphibious assault on Camp Pendleton, Calif., while she took part in joint USN/USMC exercise Silver Lance (23 February–8 March).
The destroyer turned her prow westward in company with Bennington and Anti-Submarine Warfare Group 5, which included CVSG-59, for a western Pacific deployment (22 March–7 October 1965). The ships sailed into an operational readiness evaluation off Hawaii (31 March–9 April), and then resumed their voyage to the Far East. Soviet Tupolev Tu-95 Bears and Myasishchev M-4 Bisons flew over the ships at times as they neared Japanese waters. Frank E. Evans reached Yokosuka on the final day of the month, where Anti-Submarine Warfare Group 5 became Anti-Submarine Warfare Group, Seventh Fleet. The ship mounted two .50 caliber machine guns on the 02 level for defense against close-in enemy surface craft. A number of crewmen took a bus tour of Tōkyō, where they stopped for dinner and a floor show, but additional events including softball contests were rained out. Bennington in the meantime relieved Yorktown (CVS-10).
Frank E. Evans joined about 24 other Australian, British, Thai, and U.S. naval warships and auxiliaries, more than 10,000 men, and Australian, British, Filipino, French, New Zealand, and U.S. aircraft during SEATO exercise Seahorse (12–22 May). Planners set up the exercise to provide training in convoy protection from aircraft, ships, and submarines during a passage from Manila to Saigon, South Vietnam. The crowded conditions in Manila Bay, a large harbor that can accommodate multiple vessels, meant that Frank E. Evans anchored nearly three miles from the nearest landing. Heavy rains made boating conditions miserable and the disappointed men who could not go ashore lamented “Liberty, but no boats.”
The ship screened the convoy from Manila as four “enemy” submarines, along with fast attack craft and aircraft, alternatively shadowed and attacked the ships. The staff built a surprise move into the exercise and the convoy diverted while en route to Bangkok, Thailand. Frank E. Evans anchored at the mouth of the Bangkok River, some 30 miles from the city as the crow flies, or 70 miles by road (22–24 May). Sailors snapped pictures of water buffaloes, ducks, beautiful flower gardens, and communities’ all but afloat as the people lived on houses built on stilts thrust into the silt of the canals. “No wonder the houses are built on stilts,” Capt. James B. Allen, the ship’s commanding officer, observed in his Family Gram to the people at home, as the monsoon rains drenched the area and caused widespread flooding.
Frank E. Evans turned southward for Philippine waters on 4 May 1965, and tested Ryan, Inc., remote controlled speedboat Firefish en route. The destroyer stopped briefly (8–10 May) at Subic Bay to offload Firefish and then steamed to Manila. The warship swung around and returned to Subic Bay, where she accomplished voyage repairs and upkeep (28 May–2 June). The monsoon rains continued to pound the region and impeded the maintenance, but the ship completed the principal work orders, and then stood out for a brief bombardment exercise. Frank E. Evans visited Hong Kong (5–10 June), and then (10–14 June) set out from Chinese waters for a period of further upkeep at Sasebo. Two Soviet Kotlin class destroyers, a Whiskey class submarine, and oiler Polyarnik shadowed the ships at times.
The ship went back to sea for Crossed T, a joint U.S. and Japanese anti-air and anti-submarine exercise in which she shepherded Bennington and TG 70.4 during a transit from Sasebo to the Sea of Japan (21–26 June). Bennington reported that the Soviets “responded vigorously” and sent a Krupny class destroyer and a Khabarov class intelligence gathering vessel to keep tabs on the progress of the task group. In addition, Tupolev Tu-16 Badgers flew “numerous” reconnaissance and surveillance flights against the ships during both daylight and nighttime hours.
Frank E. Evans visited Hakodate, a port on Hokkaido in northern Japan (26–30 June), where the ship’s company donated $200, a year’s tuition, to Kimijima Hiroshi, a local high school student. The ship trained with the group in anti-submarine operations while steaming southerly courses toward Okinawa (30 June–8 July), but the next day anchored in Buckner Bay to escape Super Typhoon Freda as the storm tore across the western Pacific. The tempest ravaged northern Luzon in the Philippines and continued on to devastate Hainan, China. Frank E. Evans evaded Freda and then (10–14 July) came about for Yokosuka.
Frank E. Evans stood out of Yokosuka on the 20th and turned for the Vietnam War, where she served on the gunline (29 July–6 August and 24–26 September 1965). Bennington operated as TG 70.4/77.9 surface and sub-surface surveillance coordinator to detect, report, track, and photograph all shipping which entered the Team Yankee designated areas. Aircraft flying from her flight deck accumulated 5,770 flight surveillance hours in this endeavor. The group rejoined and steered a course for Yokosuka, but a Soviet “out of area” group consisting of a Kynda class cruiser, two Krupnys, and oiler Alatir moved through the region and Bennington and her consorts diverted to monitor the Russians. The American ships evaded Super Typhoon Trix (Walding) and then (19–23 September 1965) slipped into Yokosuka before turning for home.
Mrs. Evans supported Frank E. Evans throughout the sponsor’s life, and she traveled from her home in Lake Charles, La., to Long Beach to speak to the crew when Cmdr. C. Thor Hanson relieved Cmdr. Allen as the ship’s commanding officer on 16 May 1966. The usual series of yard work installations and repairs before the destroyer deployed included the welcome addition of air conditioners to most of the living spaces on board.
Frank E. Evans steamed for the western Pacific again (9 June–20 December 1966), as a ship of the Hunter-Killer Group led by Kearsarge (CVS-33), with CVSG-53 embarked, Rear Adm. Eli T. Reich in command. The carrier joined the destroyer in mid-day, and they sailed with Everett F. Larson (DD-830) and James E. Kyes (DD-787). They also operated with the aircraft from the carrier’s air group, which initially numbered 20 S-2E Trackers of VS-21 and VS-29, five Grumman E-1B Tracers of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 11 Detachment R, 21 SH-3A Sea Kings of HS-6, and a single Grumman C-1A Trader (BuNo 146023). Frank E. Evans worked up with these aircraft and vessels during multiple anti-air and anti-submarine drills along the way, including gun shoots at target drones, and again during an operational readiness evaluation in Hawaiian waters (15–17 June, and 20–25 June).
Frank E. Evans took a brief break to moor at Pearl Harbor, but shortly thereafter joined James E. Kyes for a two-day shore bombardment exercise. Frank E. Evans developed a skilled softball team and defeated a number of other teams during the deployment: Ernest G. Small (DD-838) (2), Everett F. Larson (2), Hollister (DD-788) (1), and James E. Kyes (2). Everett F. Larson only defeated them once, and the ship’s softball team gained a reputation for success. “I should tell you,” Cmdr. Hanson noted in his Family Gram, “that a book entitled “Tips on Bowling” has made its appearance in the Officer’s wardroom.” A small condenser in the steam cycle “gave up the ghost,” and the engineering work delayed the ship’s departure.
The ship continued westward on 7 July 1966, and for two hours on the 10th paused at Midway Island to refuel. The ship’s cruise book photographer snapped a shot of one of the island’s ubiquitous Gooney Birds standing before the sign to the garrison’s Supply Department and observed wryly: “This picture is not meant to reflect upon the background of the bird.” The captain elaborated upon the crew’s entertaining experience to their families: “At this time of year the young ones are being taught to fly. This makes an amusing scene, for as I am sure some of you have heard, even the older ones have quite a time taking off and landing on the beach. Watching the younger ones try to learn from fathers who aren’t too sure themselves can be pretty hilarious. But once they are in flight, in their own medium of the air, they are extremely graceful and competent.”
The destroyer pushed on and crowded three days (17–20 July 1966) of loading supplies into her stay at Yokosuka. A tour group from the ship attended a Japanese theater play in Tōkyō and then a sumptuous dinner at a traditional welcoming feast. Thick fog enveloped the area as Frank E. Evans stood back out to sea, and she navigated by radar through the busy harbor, a trying experience for watchstanders. The ship sailed for anti-submarine exercise Crossed T III with U.S., Japanese, and South Korean vessels and aircraft as part of TG 70.4. Kearsarge led the group, which also comprised guided missile destroyer Cochrane (DDG-21), Everett F. Larson, Frank E. Evans, James E. Kyes, Radford (DD-446), Walker (DD-517), submarine Bonefish (SS-582), and Guadalupe (AO-32). The group sailed through the Tsugaru Strait into the Sea of Japan, and rendezvoused with Japanese ships Amatsukaze (DDG-163), Ayanami (DD-103), Isonami (DD-104), Shikinami (DD-106), and Uranami (DD-105). Japanese Cmdr. Hyakutaro Sato embarked in Frank E. Evans as an exchange officer. During the long sojourn at sea the ship held a “Beardforall” as the officers and enlisted men alike joined in the “shave-in.” The ship’s company also enlivened the journey by trap shooting from the DASH flight deck, but their voyage soon triggered other excitement.
The allies operated brazenly in proximity to waters the Soviets considered their own. As the ships came about and worked their way on southerly courses through the Gulf of Tartary, a strait that separates the island of Sakhalin from the Asian mainland, on 27 July 1966 they encountered dense fog. The visibility dropped and they manned their fog details and repeatedly sounded fog signals. The Soviets showed interest in the proceedings and during the forenoon watch Soviet destroyer Veskiy (DD.022) suddenly emerged from the murk and shadowed the allied vessels. The latter moved into a circular formation, and Frank E. Evans and some of the other ships of the screen took turns steering various courses and speeds to work between the snooper, whom they dubbed “Mama Bear,” and the carrier.
The fog dissipated and with it the Kotlin class Soviet ship, but that afternoon the destroyer earned the appellation of Mama Bear when she returned with a pair of Komar class missile boats, which the Americans nicknamed “Baby Bears.” The trio closed and observed the allies before the Russians turned from the area on a northwesterly course at ten knots. Bonefish rejoined the formation on the afternoon of the 28th and the submarine also kept an eye on the intrusive Soviets. A pair of Soviet aircraft flew over Frank E. Evans’ bow from starboard to port at 1708, and shortly thereafter, their eavesdropping friend Veskiy returned and shadowed them throughout the night. Frank E. Evans and Walker took turns conducting “shouldering tactics” against their Cold War adversary. In the midst of these confrontations, a helo flew over from Kearsarge and hoisted Ens. Ray M. Messinger, the destroyer’s electronics material officer, aloft and to the carrier for a briefing on the Soviets, and then returned him to the ship. The Japanese in the meantime broke off and returned to their ports.
The Americans continued to churn southward and on the 29th rendezvoused with South Korean destroyer Chungmu (DD.91), ex-Erbin (DD-631), escort ships Chungnam (DE.73) ex-Holt (DE-706), Kang Won (DE.72), ex-Sutton (DE-771), and Kyong Ki (DE.71), ex-Muir (DE-770), and frigates Duman (PF.61), ex-Muskogee (PF-49), Imchin (PF.66), ex-Sausalito (PF-4), and Naktong (PF.65), ex-Hoquiam (PF-5). The two navies carried out a number of exercises, and two of the ship’s crewmen embarked on board a South Korean ship for three days. The men returned complimenting their hard working allies but complained about the food, which consisted largely of a repetitive menu of cabbage and rice. As they began the exchange on the afternoon of the 29th, Frank E. Evans’ sonar operators detected a Russian submarine and lost her again in the “baffles,” only to reacquire the contact. The slippery boat played a cat-and-mouse game with the ship, turning and diving to break contact, and then inadvertently revealing herself again until she maneuvered out of detection. The Americans and South Koreans concluded their training and detached, the latter turning for home, and the former for Japanese waters, with Frank E. Evans ending that part of the voyage at Sasebo on 2 August. The destroyer carried out upkeep alongside a repair ship, and some men visited nearby Nagasaki, while another group attended a two-day retreat at the mountain hot-springs resort of Unzen.
She departed Sasebo through fog on 8 August 1966, as part of TG 70.4 to join fast carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin in the South China Sea. At times during the southward voyage the formation comprised Kearsarge and ships of DesDiv 231: Cochrane, Frank E. Evans, James E. Kyes, Radford, and Walke (DD-723). Castor also joined them for some of the journey. Upon reaching the gulf on the 11th Frank E. Evans served as a plane guard for Kearsarge, and in addition, Constellation (CVA-64), with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 15 embarked (14–16 August), followed on the 17th by Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) and CVW-1. Cochrane and Frank E. Evans broke away for an anti-submarine and “environmental” exercise with Pomodon (SS-486) on the 21st and 22nd, and then Frank E. Evans detached as a plane guard for Oriskany (CVA-34), with CVW-16.
Within hours of Frank E. Evans’ arrival on station off Oriskany she rescued a pilot. The Americans repeatedly bombed but failed to drop the Thanh Hóa Bridge [Hàm Rồng—Dragon’s Jaw], a crossing over the Song Ma, a river in North Vietnam. Reconnaissance aircraft detected the enemy repairing the bridge, and so a flight of four Douglas A-4Es launched from Oriskany to bomb the bridge on a midnight mission on Tuesday, 23 August 1966. A clear but dark night greeted the pilots with an unlimited ceiling, and visibility of five nautical miles with some haze. A pair of Vought F-8Es of Fighter Squadron 111 took off to escort the Skyhawks.
Oldnick 101, Lt. (j.g.) Harding J. Meadows III, flew one of the Crusaders (BuNo 150907) but moments later his jet suffered a malfunction and a series of engine explosions rocked the aircraft. Meadows bailed out at 2,000 feet and splashed into 30 fathoms of the dark Pacific, near 18°47'N, 107°20'E. Frank E. Evans steamed 15° to either side of a flight course of 2,500–4,000 yards when FTG3 Edgar A. Holsopple and SN Bruce W. Caldwell, a pair of alert director operators, spotted what they believed to be a jet hitting the water ahead and to starboard of the ship, followed by red flares drifting down toward the water, at 0017. Holsopple and Caldwell then sighted a glow in the water that they surmised might be a life ring light, but which turned out to be the pilot’s helmet, coated with a luminous paint. SR Timothy L. Brandman of the ship’s Deck Rescue Detail dived into the sea and helped his shipmates pull Meadows on board, all inside of ten minutes at 0027. Oriskany’s Helicopter No. 47 brought Meadows a cake and ice cream the following morning, and then returned the shaken but uninjured pilot to the carrier. The other Crusader and the Skyhawks in the meantime roared toward the bridge and spotted three sets of bright lights that they believed to be a convoy of trucks. The pilots dived to bomb the apparently lucrative targets, only to discover what they identified as a “Flak trap [anti-aircraft artillery]” when 37 and 57 millimeter guns opened fire. The Americans struck the enemy gun positions though could not accurately assess the damage in the darkness, and circled around and returned to the carrier.
“Your expeditious recovery of downed pilot is highly commended,” Capt. John H. Iarrabino, Oriskany’s commanding officer, sent to Cmdr. Hanson. “Such a performance is greatly beneficial to our flyer’s morale. Welcome to our group with a hearty thanks and well done.”
The ship did not attain such success two nights later on the 25th, when she detached from Oriskany and rendezvoused with Buck (DD-761) to search for another downed pilot. Lt. (j.g.) William H. Bullard of Attack Squadron 164 launched from Oriskany in an A-4E (BuNo 152084) for a combat mission. Bullard climbed into the night but the Skyhawk turned sharply, lost altitude, and fell into the sea. Frank E. Evans received a message concerning the crash and came about and raced toward Buck at 0507, at 0540 taking station 1,000 yards on her starboard beam. The two ships searched the area extensively, and maneuvered to observe some debris at 0900, but they failed to find any reliable trace of Bullard or his jet.
The Allies initiated Operation Market Time to halt enemy smuggling and infiltrating by sea and rivers into South Vietnam. A growing fleet of vessels took part in Market Time and American inshore patrol craft, which the crew nicknamed “swifties” [Swift Boats], and South Vietnamese gunboats, made the ship’s side more than once for briefings and ice cream. One of the swift boats, PCF-79, Lt. (j.g.) Raymond T. Michelini, officer-in-charge, slid alongside Frank E. Evans during the first dog watch on Saturday the 27th. Michelini boarded the ship and conferred with Cmdr. Hanson concerning the swift boat’s recent operations, and acquainted him with the latest intelligence on enemy movements in the area. Coast Guard cutter Point Caution (WPB-82301), came alongside to port on the afternoon of 28 August to further brief Hanson and his crew. The Coast Guardsmen served with Division 12 of Squadron 1 out of Da Nang, South Vietnam, and often boarded South Vietnamese junks to search for smuggled weapons or narcotics.
Frank E. Evans carried out a variety of tasks during her maiden deployment to the Vietnam War, and she took her turn off the northern coast of South Vietnam, ready to provide naval gunfire support to the allied troops fighting ashore in Quảng Ngãi Province in the I Corps Tactical Zone. At times on the gunline Army Cessna O-1 or marine OE-1 Bird Dogs spotted the ship’s gunfire. The ship’s gunners referred to their 5-inch rounds as “Buttons for Victor Charlie’s [the Việt Cộng’s—People’s Liberation Armed Forces of South Vietnam (PLAF)] pajamas.”
When the men of the 1st Marine Division urgently requested help during the forenoon watch on 29 August 1966, the ship sped to the area and fired 47 5-inch high capacity rounds, 32 anti-aircraft common shells, and nine white phosphorus rounds to starboard into the enemy structures in Fire Mission 1057 (1009–1144). Afterburner 26O, a marine spotter, called the fire from the air and estimated that at least 95% of the shells landed in the target area. The ship’s cooks and mess cooks then fed the hungry men their noon meal but SA Theodore G. Boehm, one of the mess cooks, partially amputated his right thumb when he slipped while cutting bread on the slicing machine for lunch. The doctor treated Boehm and he gamely returned to duty. The following evening on 29 August, the warship entered Da Nang harbor and embarked British Cmdr. Alan A. Henscher, RN, as an observer for several days.
The destroyer continued her time on the gunline and on the morning of 30 August 1966, she hurled 35 5-inch high capacity rounds, 13 anti-aircraft common shells, and 11 white phosphorus rounds to port into an enemy storage area (0712–0808). The gunners did not fire as well as the previous day, however, and Afterburner 26B estimated that only 40% of the rounds landed on target, though added that at least one shell “destroyed” one of the targets. Frank E. Evans rounded out the month by patrolling off Huế, and suddenly received word of troops desperately fighting ashore about 16 miles northwest of Da Nang on the morning watch on the 31st. The ship topped-off her fuel from Cimarron (AO-22) and then (1052–1115) shot eight 5-inch high capacity rounds, 14 anti-aircraft common shells, and 22 smokeless powder type (to reduce the hygroscopic tendencies of the propellant) rounds to port as the enemy assembled to attack the marines. Afterburner 26B and Likely 1, a spotter on the beach, both lauded the gunners’ aim and reported that 100% of their fire struck the area, the latter reporting “excellent coverage and perfect rounds.” The insurgents struck back again that night and Frank E. Evans steered for an operating area barely three and a half miles off the coast as she fired illumination rounds to starboard to support the beleaguered marines (2212–2226).
The ship began September by serving as a plane guard in turn for Franklin D. Roosevelt, Constellation, and Kearsarge. She suddenly swung around on the 1st and raced at 25 knots toward the site of a downed aircraft, only to discover that she received an inaccurate report and the aircraft had recovered safely. The ship also blasted the enemy with her 5-inch salvoes. Frank E. Evans came about in company with Kearsarge, James E. Kyes, Radford, and Renshaw (DD-499), and steamed toward Subic Bay (4–5 September 1966), the captain granting the exhausted men a chance to unwind en route and enjoy the tropical weather with a barbeque and sun bathing. In addition, Capt. Lewis E. Davis, Commander, DesRon 23, and Lt. Cmdr. Kevin H. Mulkern, his aide, heloed over to the ship for lunch and an afternoon of trap shooting on the 4th. RD3 Rae Standley consistently scored top marks and won the first prize of a pair of binoculars in the contest. Second place went to GM3 Phillip Brown, who won a fishing reel, and FN Jack Jones took 3rd place and a fishing rod. The warship slipped into Subic Bay on 5 September and moored in a nest with James E. Kyes, Renshaw, and Bryce Canyon (AD-36).
Frank E. Evans took advantage of her time alongside the tender to accomplish upkeep, and to prepare for a patrol in the Taiwan Strait, but torrential seasonal rains delayed the work. A tour group of two officers and a dozen enlisted men from the ship’s company ventured to the Hundred Islands National Park, a protected area in Lingayan Gulf in northern Luzon. The rains washed out the roads and stranded the men, however, and they could not return to the ship in time for the departure and only rejoined her 14 days later in Kaohsiung. The destroyer diligently patrolled Taiwan Strait and when she visited Kaohsiung (12–15 September), Lt. (j.g.) Lawrence W. Flood, MC, led 25 men armed with tools, paint, and medicines and traveled into the Pingtung Mountains east of the port to aid a tiny aborigine village. Speaking through Dr. Flynn, a Christian missionary who worked with the villagers, “Doc” Flood and the crewmen instructed the people in personal hygiene, and working through practical application taught them rudimentary carpentry, masonry, and painting skills. The ship planned on a longer visit but Typhoon Elsie (Pitang) drenched the island with downpours that caused horrific flooding and collapsed more than 100 homes. The ship emergency sortied and steamed with guided missile frigate Halsey (DLG-23), Chevalier (DD-805), and Everett F. Larson, but Elsie changed course and she returned to Kaohsiung and refueled on the 17th, before setting out again.
Frank E. Evans made port at Keelung (20–24 September 1966). The ship held a two-night party at Nancy’s Harbor Hotel in the town, and also granted 48-hour liberty so that men could visit the nearby capital of Taipei. Hanson had served as a liaison officer at Taipei a couple of years before and brought several groups of American and Chinese friends on board for tours. “I was very proud of the appearance of the ship and the crew; it was a real pleasure to show them off,” he told the families at home. The ship resumed her patrol of the Taiwan Strait (24–29 September), visited Keelung again, and then returned to sea.
Chin Chi Lung (CT2.1023), a 50-foot long and 20-ton Chinese fishing boat, set out from Kaohsiung under Hung Ching-tien, the vessel’s master, and his crew of eight, early in October 1966. Chin Chi Lung’s engine failed and she drifted for two to three days. The fishermen ate their remaining food and grew increasingly frantic until 1225 on the 4th, when Frank E. Evans steamed in the area and a lookout sighted the derelict craft wallowing in the long swells. The Chinese waved flags and rags to attract the destroyer’s attention, and she reversed course and closed the junk to port. Hanson called upon Lt. Cmdr. Liang Feng-hsiu and Lt. Cmdr. Lee Tshe-hsia, Chinese Nationalist naval officers embarked as observers, to translate, and the two men broke the language barrier. An exhausted Ching-tien explained to them that his boat lacked a radio and was taking on water.
Frank E. Evans took Chin Chi Lung in tow astern, the nylon tow line trailing down the destroyer’s port side, and made for Ma-Kung [Magong], a harbor in the Pescadores Islands about 16 miles away. The Americans surmised that the Chinese boat might sink en route, but Frank E. Evans also experienced some issues when a loop wire from the fishing vessel inhibited her port shaft. Lt. Johan W. DeBoer, Lt. William C. Francis, and Lt. (j.g.) Struthers investigated, but while they attempted to free the entangled wire a heavy swell washed the junk up against the destroyer’s hull, staving in approximately five feet of the Chinese boat’s port bulwarks, and bending the American ship’s bathythermograph boom and port screw guard. As the sailors cleared Chin Chi Lung aft and freed the wire, the junk again washed up against Frank E. Evans’ starboard quarter, crushing the fishing boat’s bow and nearly five feet of her starboard bulwarks, and slightly damaging the warship’s port and starboard quarter lifelines.
The rough seas and 25-knot winds made the tow a difficult one. As the ship’s company feared, the water-logged fishing boat began to founder and accordingly, the Americans passed the mariners life jackets and made ready a rubber raft. Their preparations paid off when the boat took on a heavy list to starboard and sank at 1639 on 4 October 1966, barely three miles from land near 23°30'5"N, 119°26'1"E. The Americans pulled all nine men on board the destroyer, wet but unharmed. After a heavy meal, hot showers, and a fresh set of clothes donated by the crew, the survivors transferred to a Taiwanese naval tug while Frank E. Evans anchored just off Tongpan Island. Divers went over the side and dislodged about ten feet of wire from the port screw, and she completed repairs at Kaohsiung (8–17 October). While there on the 12th, the Chinese Fisherman’s Association visited the ship and presented her with a richly embroidered silken banner and a plaque as tokens of their gratitude for rescuing their fellows.
Frank E. Evans returned to Vietnamese waters for another line period (19 October–24 November 1966). The Soviets also monitored the ship’s operations and Frank E. Evans received orders to intercept Ampermetr, one of their intelligence gathering vessels packed with sophisticated sensors (20–22 October). The ship’s company referred to Ampermetr as “The Shadow” while they watched the trawler to ensure that she did not interfere with allied operations. Lipan (ATF-85) relieved Frank E. Evans of her “SIGINT [signals intelligence] surveillance” and the destroyer swung around and rendezvoused with Kearsarge.
Dr. Robert Gaal and William Cornyn of TRW Systems Group highlined from Everett F. Larson to Frank E. Evans on the morning of the 24th. The civilian researchers made hydrographic surveys of Tonkin Gulf with the hope of improving upon the submarine detecting capabilities of Navy ships. Lt. Ernest A. Matson, CHC, USNR, the squadron chaplain, and Lt. Walter H. Glenn, accompanied them. The ship would steam to the position that Gaal and Cornyn requested for their work, and they would carry out their sampling, and the destroyer would then make for another position and repeat the process. The researchers lowered strings of bottles to collect water samples at various depths, used a clam-looking cast grabber that snatched samples of surface mud from the ocean floor, and a spear-like device that retrieved cores of mud from the ocean bottom to a depth of about two feet. The chaplain transferred back to Everett F. Larson on the 27th, and Glenn to Cochrane on Halloween. Gaal and Cornyn left with their samples on the 6th of November.
Frank E. Evans and a merchantman meanwhile narrowly avoided colliding on the night of 27 October 1966. The destroyer detected the motor vessel bearing 165° (all bearings are True), range four miles, at 2315. The Americans repeatedly attempted to identify the merchantman via flashing light but to no avail, and the unidentified ship steamed with a slight bearing drift left and closed on a collision course until the destroyer came hard right at 2336, and a minute later the merchantman swung left and passed down Frank E. Evans’ port side.
On 9 November 1966, the ship teamed with guided missile cruiser Chicago (CG-12) as a Positive Identification Radar Advisory Zone station. The Baltimore class heavy cruiser (ex-CA-136) had undergone a conversion that replaced most of the guns with missiles, and Seventh Fleet planners worried that enemy torpedo boats might attack her. Frank E. Evans thus served as “shotgun” to protect the cruiser. Rear Adm. Alexander S. Goodfellow Jr., Commander, TG 70.8, and Rear Adm. Walter H. Baumberger, Commander, Cruiser/Destroyer Force, Pacific, highlined over from the flagship on the 11th and 12th, respectively, and inspected Frank E. Evans and spoke to the crew.
This duty continued until 14 November 1966, when the destroyer began day and night naval gunfire support to the 3rd Marines in Quảng Ngãi Province. The marines detected PLAF concentrating to attack and a naval gunfire liaison officer (NGLO—nicknamed “Noglow”) requested illumination rounds on the night of the 15th. Frank E. Evans complied as her shells lit the sky over the enemy troops, and she fired 88 5-inch anti-aircraft common and 18 white phosphorous rounds (2116–2215). South Korean soldiers and marines also served in the area and when the enemy assaulted their positions on the night of 16 November, they requested fire support from Frank E. Evans. The ship shot 211 5-inch anti-aircraft common and 160 white phosphorous rounds into the insurgent assembly and storage areas, and then into their troops as they assault the South Koreans (2106–2232). The bombardment tore up some of the PLAF’s bunkers and collapsed trenches, and killed or wounded a number of the enemy, as well as several of their pack animals. The destroyer experienced approximately 5% premature bursts in the rounds she fired that night.
The determined allied resistance and the ship’s heavy gunfire failed to deter the enemy, however, and they returned the following night and assaulted the South Koreans. The battle raged all night (2116–0508 on 17–18 November 1966) as the Noglow directed Frank E. Evans’ repeated salvoes of 80 5-inch anti-aircraft common, 55 high capacity, 41 variable time-nonfragmenting, and 11 white phosphorous rounds into the insurgent assembly areas. The undaunted PLAF tried yet again the next night (2100–2313 on 19 November) and the ship fired her usual mix of rounds to help break up the attack.
The following day she began operating as a plane guard for Ticonderoga (CVA-14) and CVW-19 and then (25 November–1 December 1966) visited Hong Kong. During one of the last shore bombardments, however, the concussion from the ship’s guns blew the combination knob off the disbursing officer’s safe, which contained all of the crew’s pay. “This is one contingency they didn’t cover adequately in Supply Corps school,” sailors overheard Ens. Dennis Makarainen, SC, exasperatingly muttering. Makarainen frantically contacted multiple ships requesting the services of a locksmith, but to no avail. The ship finally asked for an emergency shipment of pay from Kearsarge, but as she slid into Hong Kong, Lt. (j.g.) Joseph A. Wigmore, the communications officer, opened the safe and Makarainen distributed the money to the crew just in time for their going ashore. Hanson sent a quick message to Kearsarge cancelling the order for a “moneyman,” but could not resist adding: “Potential safe cracker discovered in crew: safe now back in full operation. Am happy but considering checking more carefully into this guy’s background.”
The captain granted maximum liberty and many of the men considered it the highlight of the cruise as they toured the shops and restaurants of the British Crown Colony. With Christmas just around the corner, they took advantage of the relatively low prices and full wallets to pack the hangar and multiple spaces throughout the ship with gifts for their loved ones. Frank E. Evans stayed with the group as they turned for Japanese waters and fought through heavy seas that delayed her passage. The ship reached Yokosuka a day behind schedule and completed some last minute repairs (6–8 December). The crew again shopped and the captain joked in his Family Gram that the ship “now rides another inch or two lower in the water.” Frank E. Evans headed for home on the 9th. Bennington and CVSG-59 relieved Kearsarge and the ships charted easterly courses for Long Beach, arriving on 20 December 1966.
The destroyer conducted readiness exercises off California until she sailed for Pearl Harbor with Kearsarge, CVSG-53, and the ships of the screen for the western Pacific (17 August 1967–6 April 1968). Following an accelerated operational readiness evaluation in Hawaiian waters (23–27 and 28–30 August) and a brief (1–5 September) visit to Pearl Harbor, the ships resumed their westward voyage. Frank E. Evans and the other vessels of the group trained en route, but she only spent six hours in Yokosuka on 24 September instead of the planned four days. The ship joined the other vessels as they headed south into the Philippine Sea for 11 days of anti-submarine warfare exercises. They ranged as far south as Guam before turning back for Yokosuka. The weather treated them kindly with calm seas and blue skies prevailing until the two days before they entered Yokosuka, when they encountered heavy seas.
Frank E. Evans completed extensive work with the assistance of Yokosuka Ship Repair Facility (6–17 October 1967). Crewmen and civilian workers repaired multiple problems the ship had encountered while at sea, painted the vessel from stem to stern, and she refueled and loaded ammunition, all to prepare for the next voyage into harm’s way in Vietnamese waters. Sailors also visited the giant Buddha at Kamakura, south of Tōkyō, and another tour group ventured to the classical Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines at Kyoto. The squadron chaplain organized a Christian retreat to Tachikawa in western Tōkyō. The ship’s bowling team discovered to their dismay that the base bowling alley was under repair, but the enlisted men undauntedly challenged the officers to a basketball game. The results proved inclusive even after an overtime period as the score remained a tie, though both sides claimed a moral victory. Many of the ship’s company also eagerly awaited the news every weekend concerning the football games at home, and they shopped whenever possible for Christmas presents. The ship held a party in the Yokosuka Enlisted Men’s Club on the evenings of the 14th and 15th, which included buffet dinners, a band, and a number of variety acts by local entertainers.
Frank E. Evans then (18–22 October 1967) headed for the Gulf of Tonkin for the Vietnam War through 13 November. The ship faithfully guarded Kearsarge while the carrier launched five flights of aircraft daily, comprising two six-hour, two five and three-fourths hour, and one five and a half-hour flights. Kearsarge generally utilized one Tracer and two Trackers, supplemented by an occasional Sea King, for what she reported as “high interest photography” while on Yankee Station. The aircraft flew a diverse tasking of missions that provided enhanced radar coverage of key targets afloat and ashore, and tracked Soviet and East Bloc, British, Cypriot, Greek, Italian, and Maltese ships supplying the North Vietnamese. Fishing boats varied in number from one or two to several hundred, and ranged from small sampans to steel hulled trawlers, the latter usually spotted in pairs. The Americans detected mostly Chinese communist fishing boats and a few Chinese Nationalist vessels in the northern Gulf of Tonkin.
The carrier and her escorts also supported Operation Sea Dragon, an effort to cut the enemy’s smuggling and supplies into South Vietnam, and to unleash naval gunfire against the enemy operating in that country. Maintainers configured four S-2Es on board Kearsarge and switched the Trackers’ roles from hunting East Bloc submarines to attacking enemy smugglers. The Trackers fired a total of 30 AGM-12B Bullpup air-to-ground missiles, of which 20 functioned normally, and claimed to sink seven vessels and damaged a dozen more. Frank E. Evans switched from plane guard to the anti-submarine warfare coordinator on Yankee Station, and she established and supervised such exercises for the other destroyers operating in the Gulf of Tonkin. Super Typhoon Emma (Welming) swept across the Philippines and moved on a northwesterly course toward Hainan and southern China, however, and the ship swung around to the south for three days to escape Emma. The destroyer changed course and returned to the area to resume the training with her companion destroyers.
Frank E. Evans escorted Kearsarge as the two vessels swung around and made for Subic Bay for an all too fleeting visit (15–23 November 1967). The ships arrived in the midst of the Philippine Midterm Election, and several days of sporadic violence followed the closing of the polls and the completion of the feverish campaigns. Consequently, the naval station closed its gates for almost a week, which required the vessels and their crews to rely on the station for rest and recreation. The disappointed crewmen attempted to compensate by participating in a number of options. Sailors from the group went water skiing and yachting, played miniature golf and ping pong, and although the violence ashore compelled Frank E. Evans to cancel her first scheduled tour group, the ship sent the subsequent groups to Manila, Baguio in the mountains to the northward, and a resort at beautiful Pagsanjan Falls. The ship also held another party, this time on Grande Island, on the second and third days in port. A barbeque and athletic events highlighted the activities, and the warship hosted the second match in her western Pacific deployment bowling tournament. After a three-game series, the first class petty officers emerged 32 pins ahead of the chiefs, while the officers stumbled badly into the cellar position.
The carrier and her group took part in Silverskate ’67, a major Seventh Fleet anti-submarine exercise that involved Kearsarge, 11 destroyers, two of them Chinese Nationalist, four submarines, and shore-based aircraft in the South China Sea. Frank E. Evans detected and “sank” one of the submarines within the first two hours of the exercise, but Lt. (j.g.) Philips S. Murray, the CIC Officer, experienced considerable communications issues with his Chinese Nationalist counterparts until the latter dispatched a liaison officer to work through the language difficulties. Following the exercise, the ships returned to Yankee Station.
Frank E. Evans next (29 November–20 December 1967) patrolled on the gunline off the II Corps Tactical Zone, usually between Da Nang and Nha Trang. The ship experienced heavy fighting while she provided gunfire support to the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), Maj. Gen. John J. Tolson III, USA, while the troopers sought to destroy enemy forces in their area of Bình Ɖịnh Province in Operation Pershing. A Noglow directed the ship’s fire as she sent 34 high capacity and six illuminating rounds of her scathing steel into the PLAF when one of their companies concentrated to attack during the mid watch (0140–0226) that first night of the battle, initially from a range of 11,000 yards and then dropping to 9,500. The destroyer shot more than 100 rounds that night, and the observer reported ‘Tgt [target] neutralized” in the first salvoes and “well neutralized” as the ship closed the range.
The battle set the tone for the rest of the week and over the weekend as the enemy persistently probed the cavalry’s defenses. The troopers detected movement again the following night on the 11th and 12th, and Frank E. Evans fired 109 high capacity and 82 anti-aircraft common rounds into several target areas within a three-mile radius. Observers could not accurately mark all of the fall of shot in the darkness, but for those shells they could spot estimated that the ship knocked out the targets with a congratulatory “well neutralized” message. The troopers called on the ship for help each night, and she replied with alacrity. The South Koreans at times also observed for the destroyer, but the darkness sometimes impeded accurate call fire.
On the night of the 16th, the allies discovered a PLAF assembly area and Frank E. Evans blasted the area with multiple salvoes. The ship randomly adjusted her fire for seven rounds each on 11 targets, and hurled 434 high capacity, 46 anti-aircraft common, and 24 white phosphorous illumination rounds into the area. Her bombardment in total included a special 12th target (CR006746), an enemy regimental headquarters, and she poured 100 of those shells into the position, and then the 1st Cavalry Division overran the area. The Vietnam War became notorious for inflated “body counts,” but when the smoke cleared and the troopers investigated the target area, they reportedly counted 105 enemy corpses killed by the shelling and the Army’s assault. The ship sped southward and on the night of the 17th–18th shot another 440 rounds in support of the 3rd Marine Division just south of the U.S. base at Chu Lai. That battle brought the total to 2,357 5-inch shells that she fired during the nine-days of fighting, which Cmdr. Hanson succinctly described as “the most taxing” time of the cruise. “Your gunnery was superb and your response time minimal,” Maj. Gen. Tolson signaled Cmdr. Hanson. “You and your officers can be proud of the part you played in the successful action.”
After spending Christmas and New Year’s Eve at Sasebo (24 December 1967–2 January 1968), Frank E. Evans turned southward as part of Anti-Submarine Warfare Group 1 for another line period in the Gulf of Tonkin (6–20 January). “Despite deteriorating weather,” Kearsarge reported, “there was no slackening of the frenetic pace of Yankee Station air operations during January and February.” A half dozen armored and camouflaged Sea Kings used for search and rescue and utility flights reinforced Kearsarge on 6 January. Their otherwise welcome presence, however, added to the already crowded conditions on the hangar and flight decks.
Frank E. Evans screened the carrier and then detached and returned to the gunline to support allied troops in the I and II Corps Tactical Zones. Bulldozer 26O, a Noglow, called fire onto enemy trenches and artillery on 7 January 1968 (0817–2300) in support of the Army in the II Corps Tactical Zone, and the ship initially fired 124 anti-aircraft common rounds into the area, closing the shore from a mean range of 17,000 to 14,000 yards to better target the enemy troops. Centipede 26C then called in additional fire onto enemy storage areas, and Frank E. Evans shot 18 variable time-nonfragmenting, 362 anti-aircraft common, and 20 white phosphorous shells into the targets. The darkness impeded the observer, however, and he could not accurately analyze the results.
The warship steamed up the coast and supported the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, on the night of 9–10 January 1968. Enemy mortars emplaced in a series of bunkers and fighting positions bombarded the marines, and Afterburner 26O directed the destroyer’s fire onto the PLAF. Frank E. Evans shot 194 variable time-nonfragmenting, 131 high capacity, 268 anti-aircraft common, and five white phosphorous shells into the area and silenced the mortar battery. The marines detected enemy movement the following nights (11–13 January) and the elusive enemy, who had evidently moved their mortars from the previous bombardment, repeatedly lobbed mortar rounds into the leathernecks. Nailbrush 26C, the I Corps Noglow in the area, adjusted the ship’s fire onto the enemy positions, which fell silent, only to deluge the marines with additional barrages the next night. This frustrating experience continued for several nights as Frank E. Evans shot round after round at “VC concentrations and mortar sites.”
Kearsarge and her consorts, including Frank E. Evans, pulled away from the line and visited Hong Kong (21–27 January 1968). The carrier reported that the local “merchants and KEARSARGE sailors did a brisk business while dark clouds formed on the international horizon.” The ships then charted courses for Subic Bay, where they accomplished voyage repairs and upkeep (28–31 January).
The Vietnamese Tet lunar holiday of 1968 ushered in the Year of the Monkey, but more than 80,000 People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and PLAF troops attacked throughout South Vietnam as the Tet holiday began on 30 and 31 January 1968. Some attackers prematurely struck in the northern and central provinces, but the enemy still gained surprise and a few used the noise from firecrackers to cover their assaults. “Our victory is close at hand,” a captured order read. Hanoi unleashed the offensive on a scale hitherto unseen against five of the six autonomous cities including Saigon and Hué, and 36 of the 44 provincial capitals, and battles erupted at Saigon, Da Nang, Hué, Kontum, Nha Trang, Phu Loc, and Quang Tri.
Naval gunfire helped break up many of the enemy attacks during Tet, and Frank E. Evans consequently made for the gunline off South Vietnam early in the New Year (1–20 February 1968). On the night of the 2nd, Salted Flakes 26D directed the ship’s shooting onto enemy infiltration routes, a bivouac area, and a staging area. Frank E. Evans opened fire from a range of 14,000 yards, opened to 15,100, and closed to 11,800 before she ceased fire after throwing nine 5-inch variable time-nonfragmenting and 171 anti-aircraft common rounds, along with a single white phosphorous shell, toward the enemy.
The marines’ 1st Air and Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO) attached to the Army’s 3rd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, directed defensive fire from Frank E. Evans into Phan Thiet on 3 February, which helped defeat the 840th PLAF Battalion’s thrust into the coastal city. Frank E. Evans unleashed her guns against an enemy supply area and “VC activity” from 9,800 yards, and opened the range to 14,400 yards against additional targets near some cropfields’ and trail dams, shooting 56 5-inch anti-aircraft common rounds.
The fierce fighting continued unabated the following day, and Salted Flakes 26B, the ANGLICO team, radioed “Danger close” (600 meters) as they adjusted the destroyer’s fire—to within just 100 meters of the allied troops. The team survived the salvoes and reported that the enemy “became disorganized, fled the area, and was soon driven out of the city by ARVN [Army of the Republic of Vietnam] forces.” Frank E. Evans steamed at a range of 10,100 yards from the enemy and closed to 9,500 as she fired 23 5-inch variable time-nonfragmenting, 381 anti-aircraft common, and 21 white phosphorous shells, as well as one illumination round, to break up the PLAF thrust. The enemy determinedly resumed their nocturnal assaults for the next several nights, and each time Frank E. Evans’ guns spoke in anger as she helped turn back the assailants. During one such battle on the 18th, Salted Flakes 26B intercepted a transmission from some beleaguered ARVN troops who radioed excitedly that the ship’s “Naval gunfire causing much damage to VC.” Later that month the ship again responded to the team’s urgent request for fire support, and joined with Pritchett (DD-561) to halt another enemy onslaught.
The North Koreans in the meantime on 23 January 1968, seized naval intelligence vessel Pueblo (AGER-2) in international waters—the ship made her closest point of approach to land at 15.8 nautical miles from the island of Ung-Do. The captors took Pueblo into Wŏnsan. The U.S. alerted a number of commands and during the succeeding days planned retaliatory scenarios that ranged from limited strikes against North Korean forces at Wŏnsan, to aerial mining of the harbor by Grumman A-6A Intruders of Attack Squadron (VA) 35 from Enterprise (CVAN-65), a blockade of Wŏnsan or additional ports, or raids against further military targets involving USN, USMC, and USAF aircraft including Boeing B-52D Stratofortresses. Reinforcements for Operation Formation Star encompassed Ranger (CVA-61) and Yorktown, with CVW-2 and CVSG-55 embarked, respectively. On 27 January six carrier squadrons of the Naval Air Reserve reported for active duty. The fighting in Vietnam required a shift in operations, however, and on the 16th of February Enterprise received orders to come about.
Kearsarge, Frank E. Evans, and the other ships of the group received orders directing them to take part in Formation Star and they raced northward, skirted the Japanese home islands to the eastward, and passed through the Shimonoseki Strait between Honshū and Kyūshū to complete further upkeep at Sasebo (23–29 February 1968). On the 1st of March they headed out as TG 70.4, only to be greeted by Gidrolog, a Soviet T-58 class intelligence vessel. The Soviets displayed great interest in the crisis and Gidrolog shadowed Kearsarge and her screen while they relieved Yorktown. In spite of Frank E. Evans’ FRAM II modernization, she, as well as some of the other destroyers, lacked robust anti-air capabilities. Lynde McCormack (DDG-8) thus joined the group to help protect Kearsarge in the event of an enemy air attack.
The temperature dropped very quickly and by the time the ships moved across the Sea of Japan hovered near the freezing mark. “The smart flight deck uniform,” Kearsarge’s historian observed, “included thermal underwear, parkas, face masks and heavy gloves.” To help ward off the numbing cold, the carrier’s Supply Department set up a soup kitchen in the Maintenance Control Center just off the flight deck, which achieved “the dual effect of raising both body temperature and morale.” On those rare occasions when ships transferred men, Kearsarge launched two helos to provide immediate search and rescue from the frigid water.
Coral Sea (CVA-43), with CVW-15 on board, relieved Ranger on the 4th, and the following day Soviet Dnepr class intelligence gathering vessel Protraktor relieved Gidrolog, and stayed with the U.S. task group through the remainder of its time on station. The Soviets continued to monitor the crisis carefully, and Kearsarge reported that she identified a wide variety of their vessels including a Sverdlov class cruiser (Pennant No. 824), Krupny class guided missile destroyer (Pennant No. 981—equipped with an SA-N-1 Goa twin surface-air-missile launcher), Kashin class guided missile frigate (580), modified Kotlin class (424), Riga class frigates (800 and 840), Pamir class intelligence gatherers Gidrograf and Peleng, Gidrolog, Protraktor, Uda class oiler Vishera, and oiler Konda.
Kearsarge initially launched flights of three Trackers that watched for Soviet vessels attempting to scrutinize the U.S. ships. These trios of planes used their radar and dropped sonobuoys along the likely submarine courses into the region. Within several days, however, the crews realized that they could achieve their intended probability of detecting intruders by reducing the total number of sonobuoys in the fields, and began to increase the spacing and repositioning the sonobuoys. That, in turn, enabled them to drop the number of planes in each patrol from three to two. At least one Tracer generally flew surveillance missions as well, though the ship went to great effort to stagger the patrols with the Trackers.
Frank E. Evans departed Sasebo on 24 March 1968, and two days later Cmdr. Albert S. McLemore assumed command of the ship. A graduate of California Maritime Academy, McLemore had served in Chinese waters following World War II and in the Korean War, and he brought a great deal of experience to his new command. Frank E. Evans returned home and workers installed new electronics and anti-submarine warfare equipment during an overhaul at Long Beach Naval Shipyard (7 May–7 September). An ephemeral (7–16 September) voyage to Portland, Ore., enabled the men to regain their sea legs in the usual rough weather of the area, and the ship rounded out the month by gunnery exercises and drills in preparation for refresher training off San Diego through 1 November. The destroyer joined Anti-Submarine Warfare Group 1 in a Hunter-Killer Group exercise in southern Californian waters (2–9 December 1968), and she spent the holidays at Long Beach.
Frank E. Evans stood out of Long Beach and again steamed for the western Pacific on 29 March 1969. The ship screened her usual carrier, Kearsarge, as they turned southward and the carrier embarked the S-2Es of VSs 21 and 29, SH-3As of HS-6, and E-1Bs of VAW-111 Detachment 33, of CVSG-53 at NAS North Island, Calif. At times, SH-3As of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) 7 Detachments 110 and 111 also operated from the ship. From Californian waters they plotted a new course for Hawaiian waters, where they spent three days in Pearl Harbor and then (7–14 April) completed an operational readiness evaluation. Japanese Lockheed P-2J Neptunes joined the evaluation. The group continued on and reached Yokosuka on 26 April. Frank E. Evans then (30 April–4 May) put to sea to operate in Vietnamese waters with Kearsarge and her consorts.
Trackers, Tracers, and Sea Kings flying from Kearsarge resumed their surveillance patrols of vessels traveling in the Gulf of Tonkin, augmented by Lockheed P-3A Orions. Frank E. Evans meanwhile (4–16 May 1969) took part in Operation Daring Rebel, in which the 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, landed south of Da Nang to block the western and southwestern approaches to the Da Nang Vital Area. The marines’ principal objective consisted of the central position of Barrier Island, on which intelligence analysts believed that troops of the 3rd, 36th, and 38th PLAF Regiments regrouped from the fighting. The Army’s Americal Division deployed armored cavalry to screen to the south and west, four companies of the 2nd South Korean Marine Brigade carried out “search and clear” operations to the northwest, and the 51st and 54th ARVN Regiments supported the landings with their own Operation Vu Ninh 03 on the island near Sông Cầu. Amphibious Ready Group A, TG 76.4, Capt. George W. Stroud, Commander, Amphibious Squadron 5, transported and landed the marines. The group comprised amphibious assault ship Oklahoma (LPH-3—flagship), dock landing ships Fort Marion (LSD-22) and Tortuga (LSD-26), amphibious transport dock Duluth (LPD-5), and attack cargo ship Winston (LKA-94). Their screen numbered Douglas H. Fox (DD-779), Frank E. Evans, Mullinnix (DD-944), Noa (DD-841), and inshore fire support ship White River (LFR-536).
As the sun rose on 5 May 1969, aircraft flew strikes against the likely enemy positions near the landing beach, and Mullinnix and White River lashed the area with naval gunfire and rockets. Frank E. Evans provided preparation fire for a landing feint by the task group. The group then landed the marines in earnest in boats and helicopters. Some of the leathernecks encountered sporadic sniper fire, while others discovered additional enemy positions that hitherto escaped the bombardment, so they called in air strikes to pulverize the bunker complex. For the most part the marines established their beachhead against limited resistance and moved inland.
The enemy adeptly harassed the leathernecks during the succeeding days, however, from a series of camouflaged and well-prepared bunker and tunnel complexes, and planted booby traps along the trails. The marine artillery blasted these fortifications, and Douglas H. Fox, Frank E. Evans, Mullinnix, Noa, and White River rotated through fire mission calls, yet, the marines still often took prisoners or discovered hidden caches following the bombardments, mute testimony to the PLAF’s ingenuity and determination. Frank E. Evans shot 11 rounds at one such bunker complex during the 2nd dog watch that evening, but a large sand dune interfered with Drop Plate 26O’s ability to discern the damage inflicted and the observer cancelled the fire mission. The fighting heated up as the marines pushed inland and on the night of the 13th–14th, Infield CobraP and Upset Minder 74 directed the ship as she hurled repeated salvoes into enemy bunkers, entrenchments, fighting positions, and in particular, a fortified village. Frank E. Evans fired a staggering 278 5-inch variable time-nonfragmenting, 717 high capacity, 662 anti-aircraft common, 86 white phosphorous, and 95 illumination rounds during the battle. Following Daring Rebel, she turned from the fighting and arrived at Subic Bay on 17 May.
Here, she prepared to join more than 40 SEATO member ships and submarines for Operation Sea Spirit—SEATO maneuvers and exercises in waters reaching to Thailand. Frank E. Evans anchored in Manila Bay (22–26 May 1969) and then departed bound for Thai waters. The destroyer switched from supporting Kearsarge for Sea Spirit and worked instead with an Australian carrier and her multi-national screen. Frank E. Evans operated in the Maritime Task Force, TF 472, Rear Adm. Jerome H. King Jr., which consisted of four task groups: Anti-Submarine Warfare Group A, TG 472.1, Anti-Submarine Warfare Group B, TG 472.2 (formed around Kearsarge), Replenishment Group, TG 472.3, and Submarine Group, TG 471. Group A contained multiple commands including the Carrier Unit, TU 472.1.1, Capt. John P. Stevenson, RAN, and the Screen Unit, TU 472.1.2, Capt. Joseph J. Doak Jr., Commander, DesRon 23.
Australian light fleet aircraft carrier Melbourne (R.21), also commanded by Capt. Stevenson, comprised Anti-Submarine Warfare Group A’s Carrier Unit. Rear Adm. G. John B. Crabb, RAN, Flag Officer Commanding Australian Fleet, broke his flag in the carrier and held the exercise command of the task group. The ship embarked four Douglas A-4G Skyhawks of 805 Squadron, six S-2E Trackers of 816 Squadron, and eight Westland Wessex Mk.31Bs of No. 817 Squadron. The British had originally built the ship as Majestic during World War II but did not complete her in time to take part in the war. The Australians acquired Majestic and on 28 October 1955, she was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy as Melbourne. The carrier deployed more than once to South East Asia and patrolled the Pacific. While taking part in an exercise on the night of 10 February 1964, however, Melbourne rammed and cut Voyager (D.04) in two, sinking the Australian destroyer. Eighty-two men on board Voyager died in the tragedy.
Capt. Doak hoisted his flag in James E. Kyes in command of the Screen Unit, which also consisted of Everett F. Larson, Frank E. Evans, British frigate Cleopatra (F.28), Australian destroyer Vampire (D.11), New Zealand anti-submarine frigate Blackpool (F.77), Philippine corvette Quezon (PS.70), ex-Vigilance (AM-324), and Thai frigate Tachin (PF.1), ex-Glendale (PF-36). “There was no doubt in my mind,” Doak afterward testified, “that the [Frank E.] Evans was in a high state of readiness.” He said that she was “one of the outstanding ships in the Pacific,” and the captain considered nominating her for the coveted Battle Efficiency Award.
Sea Spirit’s operation order summarized the participants’ mission as to “exercise assigned forces in order to prepare for the assumption of operational roles in combined SEATO Maritime Operations.” Group A’s initial objectives were to conduct “training exercises in antisubmarine warfare, antiaircraft gunnery, surface gunnery, shore bombardment and underway replenishment during the at-sea work-up phase [22–29 May 1969].” In addition, they were to orchestrate “cross-deck operations with aircraft” of Group B. The order also stressed that “Safety of personnel and equipment is paramount.”
“Most of the operation,” Rear Adm. King later summarized, “was laid out as two multi-national carrier task groups, operating in support of similar or same objectives, but at quite some distance apart. We deliberately did not plan combined air operations, of the two carriers, at any given time and place.” When questioned on that point, King elaborated: “Too complex. Preferred to give them and ourselves--give each carrier, in other words--the opportunity to discover the submarines, if they could, without sharing the credit or blame of the other country’s aircraft.”
The different vessels of the exercise inevitably detached as needed for other operations and upkeep or repairs, so the groups fluctuated in their actual operational strength. Kearsarge protected a mock convoy as they charted an oceanic course for Sattahip, Thailand. During this preliminary phase, the ships cross-decked people, particularly medical representatives, and replenished at sea. “Enemy” submarines harassed the convoy, and the U.S. carrier acted as the anti-submarine warfare “hub” against the underwater assailants.
Frank E. Evans steamed through a glassy calm sea beneath the moonlit and clear sky on the night of 2–3 June 1969. “The weather that night was absolutely, incredibly flat,” Rear Adm. King recalled, “there was not the slightest ripple on the water that night. It had been a bright moonlight night. There wasn’t the slightest ripple on the water all day long, up until late afternoon the next day.” Cloud cover sometimes created shadows that interfered with the moonlight (the moon’s azimuth was about 170°, altitude 22°), but it was otherwise nearly perfect weather, broken by practically no wind.
Blackpool had aggressively prosecuted a submarine contact the previous day, and so the exercise commanders changed the orders for the New Zealand frigate to act as the carrier’s plane guard and retained her in the screen. Frank E. Evans thus took her place as Melbourne’s rescue destroyer. From 2236 on the 2nd, Melbourne led the formation as the main body and guide, and the other vessels operated in a symmetrical anti-submarine screen about a bearing of 220°. Cleopatra, Blackpool, and Frank E. Evans sailed in adjacent 40-degree sectors 160°–280°, 3,000–5,000 yards, and adjacent 30° sectors 190°–250°, 7,000–10,000 yards, from the carrier. The instructions to the escorts prohibited them from approaching closer than 500 yards to the boundary of an adjacent occupied sector. From shortly after 2300, the ships zigzagged on a base course of 220° at 18 knots.
Frank E. Evans served in her assigned sector as the right flank escort of the inner sector screen, with outer bearings 240°–280°, 3,000–5,000 yards from Melbourne. The ship steamed in general condition of readiness III, engineering condition of readiness III, with both main generators on the line, and the engineering plant in split plant operation, including the electrical load. After sunset her at sea routine required Material Condition Yoke with darken ship. “Yoke and Xray fittings opened for any reason,” the board observed, “during this condition were to be noted in a closure log maintained on the Bridge.” Sailors opened at least two main deck Yoke fittings (hatch 1-136), however, and a door in the after deckhouse, starboard side (1-135-1), most likely to allow some fresh air to circulate through the ship in the sultry tropical night. The sonar contact from the previous day persisted, and some of the allied commanders considered it likely that a Soviet submarine was keeping any eye on the exercise participants. Frank E. Evans therefore streamed her variable depth sonar to a depth of 150 feet.
Cmdr. McLemore meanwhile promulgated his night orders and retired to his sea cabin, which was located between the pilothouse and the CIC. Twenty-four-year-old Lt. (j.g.) Ronald C. Ramsey stood watch in the pilothouse as the officer of the deck, and 28-year-old Lt. (j.g.) James A. Hopson as the junior officer of the deck. Most of the crew lay asleep in their racks. Melbourne signaled her program for flying operations overnight to the other ships, a plan that included launching and recovering helos in more than once cycle, and of recovering Trackers starting at 0330.
“The flight deck lighting on Melbourne was brilliant and completely outshone her running lights,” Rear Adm. King afterward noted. “Her running lights were hardly visible; we checked that out at a later time, at night.” As it happened, the three groups of moonlights on Melbourne’s mast illuminated the carrier’s forward, center, and aft sections of the flight deck. The sources of the moonlighting were not themselves visible from the other ships, but lookouts and watchstanders on board those vessels could see some of the light they shed and the objects they illuminated from some distance away. The Australians launched a Wessex at 0304 and turned off the red masthead or obstruction lights, as well as the flying lights on the mast and three red vertical droplights on the stern.
Melbourne sailed 260° at 18 knots at 0309–0310 on 3 June 1969, when the Australian carrier signaled Frank E. Evans to form a column in sequence on her, with the destroyer taking station astern at the standard distance of 1,000 yards. Frank E. Evans (apparently, as far as investigators could determine) steamed about 3,700 yards from Melbourne on an arc bearing 230°–240° when she acknowledged the signals. The destroyer was patrolling her station as ordered and swung right under 3°–5° rudder, thus probably steering on a heading 220°–260°. Conflicting reports gave her speed as 20–22 knots, and investigators could not verify conclusively any communications between the watchstanders on the bridge and those in CIC concerning the “Form Column” maneuver. The watchstanders also misidentified the carrier’s actual position via radar and visual fixes, and failed to wake the captain to inform him of the formation change. Frank E. Evans ordered right 10° rudder as she began to turn toward the new station.
Capt. Stevenson on board Melbourne saw Frank E. Evans begin to turn from forward of the carrier, and the maneuver concerned him and he ordered Melbourne to send a priority signal Frank E. Evans, telling the Americans that the Australians steered 260°. The watchstanders on board Frank E. Evans acknowledged the signal but incorrectly decoded Melbourne’s course as 160°, and apparently interpreted the message to mean that the carrier was turning left to that heading, possibly a flying course. The destroyer continued her turn and steadied on a course of 050°, which made her close from about 2,200 yards with Melbourne on a steady bearing. Melbourne in the meantime turned on her navigational lights to full brilliance, which took about two minutes. Frank E. Evans steamed with her port and starboard running lights on, though investigators could not determine when the ship turned them on.
“You are on a collision course,” Melbourne signaled ominously at 0313–0314. The bridge watch on board Frank E. Evans ordered 5° or 10° left rudder and the ship slowly began to swing left. About 15–20 seconds after the destroyer’s bridge team received the carrier’s warning, they ordered: “Right full rudder” and so notified the Australians, who acknowledged. Capt. Stevenson seemingly ordered “Port 30–Port 35”, at which point Frank E. Evans bore about 247° and 1,200 yards from Melbourne. Stevenson directed the carrier to inform the destroyer, “I am going hard left,” and Melbourne sounded two short blasts on the siren.
Twenty-seven-year-old Lt. Russell D. Lamb, RAN, stood as the officer of the watch in Melbourne and afterward testified that he decided that because of the carrier’s large displacement, she could not have slowed appreciably in time to avoid the destroyer. Rear Adm. King questioned Lamb for his opinion on whether Melbourne could have stopped and backed engines in full reverse. “Not very much difference, sir,” Lamb responded tellingly. King asked the Australian officer what would have happened if Melbourne had not turned and he replied: “I wouldn’t like to comment on that, sir. It would have been close.”
Lamb ordered, “Stop both engines,” and Frank E. Evans’ bridge called down, “All back full.” Melbourne then rang, “Full astern both engines,” but it was too late as the Australian carrier sliced Frank E. Evans in two with a horrific screech of steel ripping steel at 0315, near 08°59'2"N 110°47'7"E. The angle between the heading of the two ships reached approximately 90°–95°, and the force of the impact initially caused Frank E. Evans to roll deeply and violently to starboard and then ripped her in two in the vicinity of the expansion joint at frame 92½. The bow section rolled to an angle approaching 90° to starboard and began to settle with a marked stern down trim. As the forward section floated down Melbourne’s port side the section’s list to starboard increased to about 150°.
The impact hurled many men from their racks and others woke up and screamed as they died amid explosions, fire, falling debris, flooding, and severe rolls. The collision threw McLemore from his rack and he immediately thought that a mine or torpedo struck the ship. The captain bent jagged metal that barred his escape from his cabin, and the next thing McLemore knew he found himself in the water. “I was in the water…I don’t know how I escaped.” The captain even so called out to his men to jump clear from the hull.
The forward section sank quickly, so rapidly that many of the men trapped in that section could not escape. The sailors attempting to escape climbed, and in some cases swam, through compartments that lay 90° from the normal, in darkness and semi-darkness. Water gushing through the cracked hull surrounded men amidships when the ships collided. Whirlpools caught several sailors and dragged them down. The maelstrom sucked EM1 Everett O. Dees under but he managed to swim to the surface. “I looked around and I was alongside the captain,” Dees recalled. “We both clung to debris and were eventually picked out of the water by the Australians.” Plucked from the sea by rescuers and safely on board Melbourne, McLemore moved across the bridge when he met Capt. Stevenson. “We embraced each other and both said, ‘I’m sorry,’ at virtually the same time. Those were our first words.” McLemore expressed his desire to return to his ship, but Stevenson observed that his American counterpart appeared to be in shock and in pain, and persuaded him to stay on board Melbourne and look after his men.
FN Terry L. Baughman afterward described the harrowing ordeal and added, “everything let loose. The ship just took a brief roll to starboard. I just said we’re dead.” The shock of the collision also threw 33-year-old Lt. Cmdr. George L. McMichael, the executive officer, from his rack and onto the deck. “I was momentarily disoriented,” he candidly recalled. “I really didn’t know where I was. I reached to turn on my bunk light and there really wasn’t anything there,” he added chillingly.
“I stood up and took a step towards what I thought was my desk and instead stepped through the doorway of my state room. At this point the ship was already heeled over, I would estimate at least 70 to 75 degrees, so that the bulkheads had become decks.” McMichael expounded upon his narrow brush with death. “I moved across the wardroom. The water was already up to a point where it was half-filled. So I swam across the wardroom, went out the port side after door of the wardroom and ended up coming out through a hatch on the side of the ship. I mean that literally…” Concerned for his men, he shouted: “We better get off, it’s going.” The executive officer recalled stories of ships sinking and sucking people under, and of boilers exploding, and so he turned on his back and started backstroking away as fast as he could. In the process, he experienced a clear view of Frank E. Evans and the forward section’s final moments.
The bow rotated further to starboard and became completely inverted. “By this time it had totally capsized,” McMichael explained. The bow reared up out of the water, at an angle of 65, maybe 75 degrees. You could see the numeral 754 upside down, you could see the sonar dome in startling clarity because of the bright, bright moonlight.”
“And then the ship slid quietly down on into the water,” after end first, and sank into nearly 1,100 fathoms at about 0324. McMichael gathered some of the men in the vicinity and called “Let’s swim toward the carrier.” Australian aircraft responded rapidly and Wessex No. 831 appeared overhead, and dropped a harness (rescue winch) and hauled him aloft. The helo already flew heavily loaded for the exercise, which limited the aircraft to only carrying a single survivor at a time.
The force of the collision rolled Frank E. Evans’ after section over to starboard to an angle approaching 90° for a few agonizing seconds, and then righted herself. Crewmen ran through compartment after compartment in the after portion of the ship securing hatches and doors, thus preventing flooding in a number of the spaces. Others helped stunned or injured shipmates to the relative safety of the fantail. EN3 Charles M. Frey and another man pulled three others out a hole. Men shouted instructions and dug out lifejackets for anybody who needed one. All of those (save one fireman) stationed in the forward engine room in the after section endured first and second degree burns from high temperature steam escaping from the severed main steam line.
SA Mark A. Gee believed that the ship had “run aground, suddenly, everything heaved to the right,” he said. “Mattresses, people and other loose items were thrown to the deck.” Dazed, Gee heard someone shouting, “We’ve collided!” The young seaman apprentice staggered to his feet and fled the compartment. “Although it was dark, I managed to escape through one of the three doors and I followed several other men to the fantail.”
Eleven men were in the chief petty officer’s compartment when the grinding crash occurred. HMC Charles W. Cannington gave his penlight to another man to illuminate the darkened compartment and located an escape hatch, through which he directed the other men in the compartment. All but Cannington made it out. EMC Edward P. Hess and BMC Willie L. King apparently escaped through the hatch but drowned. Forty-two-year-old CSK Larry I. Malilay lay asleep when the collision threw him from his rack. Thanks to Cannington’s valiant sacrifice, Malilay also got out the hatch and swam as fast as he could toward Melbourne, but waited nearly an hour before a helo picked him up and brought him to the carrier.
The three Sage brothers of Niobrara, Neb., were among the men lost: Gary, 22; Gregory, 21; and Kelly, 19. “I had something to do with their joining the Navy,” Earnest E. Sage, their father, reflected. “I was an Army man during World War II and I told them I thought maybe they’d have a life a little better in the Navy. It seemed like good advice then,” he concluded ruefully. “It was their wish that they serve together,” Linda Sage, wife of Gregory Sage, reflected. “That’s the way they wanted it and that’s the way we accepted it.” Rear Adm. Henry A. Renken, Commandant, 9th Naval District, carried a personal message from President Richard M. Nixon, himself a naval veteran, expressing the chief executive’s condolences to the grieving family.
GMGCS Lawrence J. Reilly was in the after section of the destroyer and BT3 Lawrence J. Reilly Jr., his son, stood watch in the forward engine room when the ships collided. The elder Reilly survived the disaster, but experienced the loss of his son, who did not get out in time. The Sages’ and Reillys’ loss briefly generated controversy about families serving together, a policy that reminded many of the Sullivan brothers of World War II. Secretary of the Navy Melvin R. Laird, however, studied the dilemma and on 23 June ruled that people could continue to serve with their family members if they so wished. “Although multiple deaths in a single family in a single disaster are a matter of deep regret,” the secretary explained in a memorandum, “it would be less compassionate to say that members of the same family may never voluntarily serve together.” His decision included the option for sailors and marines to request a waiver in the event they lost a family member or served exposed “to a common danger.”
Melbourne sounded “Emergency Stations,” and her ship’s company formed medical parties to tend the injured. The ship hove to and lowered her no. 2 motor cutter within five minutes, and the boat crew began to pluck survivors from the water. Frank E. Evans’ stern section slowly moved down Melbourne’s starboard side until she reached a position abreast of the carrier’s starboard quarter, where the Australians secured the section alongside at 0325. The destroyer’s stern fouled Rear Adm. Crabb’s barge gantry, and nearly ten minutes ticked by before the Australians could clear the barge and add her to their rescue efforts. The utility boat, the carrier’s other boat, remained unserviceable because of damage suffered in Manila Bay. Some of the Americans bravely motioned for their rescuers to first pick up others who, they believed, needed more immediate help. The Australians also dropped life rafts, lifebuoys, scrambling nets, drifter ladders, helicopter cargo nets, and later the port accommodation ladder, and these enabled some of the Americans to clamber to safety. No. 2 cutter rescued approximately 29 survivors on her first trip, and towed back three life rafts containing about five survivors on her second. The admiral’s barge picked up eight men.
Crabb, Stevenson, and their staff divided the search area into 60° sectors and each helo searched over its sector to a depth of five miles. The searchers later divided the area into eight sectors. In addition to No. 831, the ship sent Wessex No. 823 aloft for the exercise, and rapidly recalled the two helos to scour the sea for survivors. Sub-Lt. Graham Winterflood, RAN, lifted off in No. 823 to hunt the possible shadowing Soviet submarine. “We were anti-submarine screen forward of the ship,” he recalled. “We took off and were sent out on a heading ahead of Melbourne…on the way there, I was the co-pilot and I could see a masthead light up ahead of us, so we had to dodge around that. Little did I know at the time that that was the USS Evans.”
“We were just about to lower our sonar ball, when the ship recalled us, saying they’d had a collision,” he remembered. “We flew back to the Melbourne, and tied alongside was half a destroyer. It was an unbelievable sight.” No. 823 flew without a winch and so used its landing lamp to direct a boat to swimmers. Within 14 minutes the carrier also launched No. 828 and No. 830, both of which flew equipped with winches. The Australians of 817 Squadron subsequently received a U.S. Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation for their determined rescue efforts.
Twenty-nine-year-old Lt. Robert J. Burns, RAN, a diving officer, rescued two men from the sea. “I saw a chap in the water,” Burns explained at the subsequent hearing. “I jumped in and put him in a raft.” He then heard someone else calling for help, and swam over to the other sailor and placed him in a raft. Burns later received the George Medal for his heroic exploits that night, and following the Australian’s testimony during the hearings, Rear Adm. King arose and walked over to the burly diver and gratefully shook his hand and thanked him.
At 0323 in the meanwhile, Rear Adm. King cancelled Sea Spirit, disbanded the exercise tactical organization, and within minutes dispatched all of the ships to various commands and stations—mostly to the search and rescue. King and some of the other officers considered using international distress frequencies to call for assistance, but the admiral decided against such action as the number of available naval ships and aircraft proved adequate. Everett F. Larson, James E. Kyes, Cleopatra, and Blackpool closed and encircled Melbourne, and lowered their boats to assist in searching the water for survivors.
The ships of Anti-Submarine Warfare Group B, TG 472.2, by that point comprising Kearsarge, guided missile escort ship Schofield (DEG-3), Walke, Bronstein (DE-1037), British frigate Danae (F.47), and Australian escort ship Paramatta (DE.46), also steamed in Sea Spirit when they received word of the disaster. The carrier began launching HS-6 rescue Sea Kings, and once she sent the initial ones aloft at 0334 the group turned and increased speed to reach the scene. The Sea Kings flew about 40 miles to the scene of the disaster and the first of five helos reached the area at 0335 and immediately reinforced the searchers. Kearsarge mobilized her Medical Department to prepare for mass casualties, and a helicopter flew a flight surgeon and dental officer to Melbourne to provide preliminary aid. The ship activated her surgical team and walking blood bank, and 23 crewmen donated blood, though the team turned more volunteers away. The carrier’s lookouts sighted Melbourne and Frank E. Evans at 0430, and during the following hours, Kearsarge launched and recovered helos in rapid succession as they searched for survivors. McMichael in the meanwhile spoke to multiple men who assured him that no survivors remained in the ship’s after section. The executive officer informed the Australians and Melbourne cast off lines at 0407, and with a touch ahead on the carrier’s port engine the stern section drifted clear.
Ten ships and multiple aircraft searched for nearly 14 hours but reluctantly stopped searching at dark. “I should like to emphasize,” Rear Adm. King reported to the Seventh Fleet at 0638 on the 4th, “that glassy calm seas and the immediate and extremely thorough search by many Kearsarge and Melbourne helicopters and SEATO ships give us absolute confidence that we have picked up all survivors.”
None of the men in Frank E. Evans’ forward officer’s quarters, CIC, forward fireroom, and the IC and plotting room at the time of the collision survived. Of the ten officers and 101 enlisted men in the forward portion of the ship, only four officers and 33 enlisted men survived. Seventy-four men of the ship’s company died in the tragedy:
Lt. (j.g.) Jon K. Stever
Ens. Alan H. Armstrong
Ens. Robert G. Brandon
Ens. Gregory K. Ogawa
Ens. Dwight S. Pattee
Ens. John T. Norton Jr.
HMC Charles W. Cannington
EMC Edward P. Hess
BMC Willie L. King
RD1 George J. La Liberte
RD1 Eugene F. Lehman
BT2 William D. Brown III
RD2 Christopher J. Carlson
RD2 Gary B. Hodgson
RM2 Ray P. Lebrun
IC2 Linden R. Orpurt
YN2 Earl F. Preston Jr.
RD2 Victor T. Rikal
BM2 Gary L. Sage
STG2 John R. Spray
RD2 Ronald A. Thibodeau
ETN3 James F. Bradley
YN3 James R. Cmeyla
BTM3 Larry W. Cool
ETR3 James W. Davis
GMG3 Steven F. Espinosa
STG3 Melvin H. Gardner Jr.
BM3 Patrick G. Glennon
STG3 Larry A. Gracely
RD3 Terry L. Henderson
BT3 Lawrence J. Reilly Jr.
RD3 Gregory A. Sage
RD3 Jon W. Thomas
QM3 Gary J. Vigue
RD3 Con W. Warnock
SN Andrew J. Botto
SN Thomas B. Box
SN Michael K. Clawson
SN Danny V. Clute
SN Patrick M. Corcoran
SN James F. Dykes III
SN James R. Baker
SN Francis J. Garcia
SN Fredric C. Messier Jr.
SN Thurston P. Smith Jr.
SA Harris M. Brown
SA Joe E. Craig
SA Leon L. Davis
SA Raymond J. Earley
SA Stephen D. Fagan
SA William D. Field
SA Alan C. Flummer
SA Henry K. Fyre
SA Donald E. Gearhart
SA Kenneth W. Glines
SA Joe L. Gonzales
SA Devere R. Grissom
SA Steven A. Guyer
SA Dennis R. Johnston
SA James W. Kerr
SA Isaac Lyons Jr.
SA Douglas R. Meister
SA Andrew M. Melendrez
SA Timothy L. Miller
SA Michael A. Orlikowski
SA Craig A. Pennell
SA Jerome Pickett
SA Kelly J. Sage
SA John A. Sauvey
BTFA Robert J. Searle
FA Gerald W. Smith
SA Thomas F. Tallon
SA John T. Tolar
SA Henry D. West III
At 0715 a helo quickly evacuated one seriously injured patient suffering from a compound fracture of the femur to Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam. The Australians did everything they could for the 199 U.S. survivors of the collision on board Melbourne. At least one of the carrier’s crewman literally gave an American the shirt off his back, and others pooled their clothing to help clad Frank E. Evans’ men, who emerged soaked in oil and grime—or blood. The Australian medical parties treated the injured survivors in the ship’s sick bay or wardroom, and provided them sandwiches, beer, and cigarettes.
Soon that morning (0850–1128), Kearsarge stopped engines and Frank E. Evans’ men transferred to her via ship’s boats and helicopters. Cmdr. McLemore stood on the flight deck and shook hands with each man as he passed. Six additional patients with burns were admitted to Kearsarge’s ward, and 25 treated as outpatients until they reached Subic Bay on the 6th. The naval aviation sailors and the marines made berthing accommodations available for the destroyermen. The disaster compelled the survivors to abandon most of their personal belongings, and when they boarded Kearsarge they wore a mix of their own tattered and soiled uniforms, Australian working fatigues, and anything else handy. The carrier’s Supply Department issued them clothing and special pay, and the latter gesture of kindness enabled the ship’s company to go ashore with at least some money in their pockets.
Vice Adm. William F. Bringle, Commander, Seventh Fleet, later commended Kearsarge for responding “with immediate and sustained effectiveness providing airborne communications relay and air control, medical aid, and air search and rescue. Kearsarge quickly established communications relay and helicopter control while activing its mass casualty plan…Medical attention and administrative support for survivors were provided with the utmost effectiveness…”
Everett F. Larson dispatched her Emergency Salvage and Recovery Team, comprising Lt. James R. Hough, the ship’s chief engineer and officer-in-charge of the team, Lt. (j.g.) Frank S. Woods, the damage control assistant, MMCS Billy J. Hicks, CSF Max E. Scwald, BTC Harry N. Alexander, MM1 James H. Ellison, and MR1 Billy Woodruff, to the slowly sinking after half of Frank E. Evans. Everett F. Larson ordered her team to survey the damage and if possible prevent the remaining half of the stricken destroyer from sinking, in order to allow them to make one last check for survivors, and to recover the valuable equipment and records on board. The men bravely boarded her at 0608 on the 3rd, and moved rapidly from compartment to compartment. They discovered that the damage within the skin of the ship did not seem as severe behind the bulkheads ripped out at the point of impact. They found slow, but progressive flooding, which, if not controlled, would sink the vessel in short order. Acting quickly, the team rigged a portable P250 gasoline emergency pump to drain the flooding after engine room, and at the same time began patching and plugging the numerous small leaks.
Hough realized, however, that removing the flooding water to keep the ship afloat caused an even more potentially dangerous situation in terms of her stability, in that they risked making the destroyer top heavy and thus prone to capsizing. Within a matter of minutes they jettisoned about five tons of weight by cutting loose a large ventilation fan motor, a loading machine used to train gun crews, a damaged boat davit, and the ship’s motor whale boat, which was hanging by one fall—James E. Kyes later recovered the boat. They also jettisoned a considerable amount of other smaller material. The process taxed their ingenuity in that they could only estimate the safe weight required to keep her afloat because they only worked with half of the ship. The mariners determinedly continued pumping until they dried all of the intact compartments, and installed patches for leaks previously below the surface. They furthermore located and removed many of Frank E. Evans’ papers to help document who sailed on board at the time of the collision so that they could account for everyone.
Once they established that the danger of the after section sinking or capsizing was past, they signaled Everett F. Larson and their ship slid alongside and tied up to Frank E. Evans port side just before 0700. Additional sailors boarded the latter and began to remove the balance of the classified documents, personnel records, correspondence files, and personal property. In addition, weapons specialists went through the magazines checking all of the ammunition. While they did that, the salvage team led 440 volt power from Everett F. Larson and plugged the leads directly into Frank E. Evans’ electric pumps. That action helped them pump out the after fireroom, and they reported that they controlled the flooding by 0732. They also used the power to raise Frank E. Evans’ variable depth sonar. The men cleaned up as well as they could, eliminating fire hazards and other potential dangers, disarmed the torpedoes, and recovered the small arms.
The boarders rigged towing hawsers and Everett F. Larson prepared to take the ship in tow. Additional salvage experts arrived from Subic Bay via a helo at 1731, which lowered them to Everett F. Larson’s pitching deck. The destroyer then lowered them in a boat and they crossed to Frank E. Evans, to ensure her readiness to make the long trip to that facility. In addition, the sailors installed a flooding alarm system.
Kearsarge held a sunset memorial service for the men from Frank E. Evans. The following day a Kearsarge helo flew a second patient, a man suffering from burns and a cervical injury, treatment at Cam Ranh Bay. In the meanwhile, the fleet tug Tawasa (ATF-92), Lt. Cmdr. Willis D. Bender, charted a course from Hong Kong to Singapore when orders diverted her to the scene of the collision. The ship made speed and reached the area at 1140 and then moored starboard side to Everett F. Larson. That evening she cast off lines and moored port side to the stern section of Frank E. Evans at 1808. Tawasa’s men joined the others from Everett F. Larson overnight as they prepared the stern section for tow. At 1405 the following afternoon, the tug cleared the destroyer as she took the stern section in tow and turned for Subic Bay. Tawasa steamed an average of six knots as she made for Philippine waters, briefly interrupting her journey as salvage ship Deliver (ARS-23) rendezvoused with the tug on the afternoon of the 5th. Deliver sent a boat alongside to port, and they discussed the situation with Tawasa’s crew. Once familiarized with the operation, they boarded Frank E. Evans’ stern section and inspected the damage. Satisfied that the tug could continue her tow, they returned to the salvage ship during the 1st dog watch, and both ships resumed the voyage in company.
Overnight Deliver and Tawasa increased speed to 12.5 knots, and the towing line payed out to 1,800 feet, though the tug experienced issues on the 7th and maneuvered at various courses and speeds to straighten the towing bridle. The 1⅛-inch stud link chain parted 5½ feet from the hard eye tow parted on the 2-inch tow wire at 0227 on the night of the 8th. Tawasa stopped her engines and stationed the Special and Anchor Detail as she maneuvered alongside Frank E. Evans’ stern section and moored to her portside. The men clambered on board and restored the tow, and the ships resumed their voyage at 0518, Tawasa prudently only securing her detail when the line once more payed out to 1,800 feet.
Deliver and Tawasa slowed again that afternoon while the former dispatched a boatload of men to assist with the tow, and then continued on their way. Tawasa laboriously brought Frank E. Evans into Subic Bay on 9 June 1969. The tug released the tow wire as large harbor tug Wauwatosa (YTB-775) and medium harbor tugs Wallacut (YTM-420) and Windigo (YTM-421) took custody of the destroyer’s stern section and gently nudged her to a berth as she moored portside to Pontoon Pier, Naval Magazine, that morning at 0720. Sailors began offloading the crew’s personal belongings, followed by the remaining ammunition. Tawasa moored starboard side to tank landing ship Caddo Parish (LST-515) at berth B5. The tug “released her hold on the ill-fated EVANS,” she reported, “and laid it to rest at a Subic Bay pier. The TAWASA rested too, but unlike the never-to-return-to-sea USS EVANS (DD-754)…was soon underway again.”
Despite the horror of the incident, the allies acted quickly and convened a Joint USN/RAN Board of Investigation. The first investigators boarded and inspected the ship that evening (1725–1755). Following their departure, a pilot climbed on board, a tug made up to starboard, and Frank E. Evans shifted to berth 17-18 at Riviera Point at Ship Repair Facility, where she again moored port side. The following morning sludge barge YSR-11 slipped alongside to starboard and helped Frank E. Evans pump out her bilges, crewmen dumping all of the fresh water tanks, feed water tanks, and the fluid from no. 3 boiler into the bilges. That afternoon Opelika (YTB-798) and Wauwatosa arrived alongside the destroyer to starboard and moved her into non-self-propelled auxiliary repair dock Windsor (ARD-22).
The collision extensively damaged Melbourne’s forward section, both above and below the waterline. Flooding occurred in her no. 1 and 2 trim tanks and crewmen shored no. 16 bulkhead from five deck to the keel. The men completed the repair work by 1500 on the 3rd, and she came about at 15 knots for Singapore, and from there returned home and completed repairs to the disfigured bow at Cockatoo Island Dockyard at Sydney, Australia.
The Board of Investigation agreed that, despite the unique character of the members serving from both nations, they would apply the procedures of the U.S. Navy Manual of the Judge Advocate General as a common framework for the board’s action. The members held hearings in open and closed sessions on 20 days, viewed Melbourne, Frank E. Evans’ stern section, and the bow section of one of the destroyer’s sisterships.
“Inasmuch as EVANS,” the board found, “had the duty to remain clear of MELBOURNE in taking station in column astern of her, and she did not do so, primary responsibility for the collision rests upon EVANS.” The board members deemed a number of officers guilty of negligence, and so the lieutenants manning the bridge pled guilty, and McLemore was found guilty at court-martial. Capt. Stevenson also endured a court-martial but was acquitted. The Navy furthermore developed a training film from the collision, I Relieve You, Sir.
Inspectors from the Board of Inspection and Survey investigated Frank E. Evans and reported on the 10th that they considered her “unfit for further naval service” and recommended that she be stricken. “All usable equipment,” the inspectors added, “as designated by the cognizant technical command be removed from the ship prior to disposal.” Lt. Cmdr. John J. Ulrich, a Navy spokesman, added during a press briefing that it would cost nearly $20.7 million to repair and salve the ship and return her to service, but that the Navy could build a new destroyer for about $23 million. On 12 June 1969, Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, the Chief of Naval Operations, therefore directed that the ship be decommissioned. Frank E. Evans was decommissioned while in Windsor at 1009 on 1 July 1969, and the same day her name was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register. Twenty-five-year-old Lt. (j.g.) Jeffrey W. Covert and Lt. (j.g.) Hopson of the ship’s company lowered her flag for the last time.
“With a great deal of personal sadness,” Cmdr. McLemore paid tribute to his men, “it is my duty today to decommission a fine fighting ship. Concurrently, it is with a great deal of pride that I pay tribute to those officers and men living and dead, who served her so well…Those who survived the tragic accident that so sorely hurt Frank E. Evans have every right to be individually proud of their effort and performance, both before and after the accident. Those who died in the collision share in being part of a fine and dedicated crew, and their sacrifice is part of the price sometimes paid by those who go down to the sea in ships.” The ship was transferred to the custody of Cmdr. James R. Wilkins, acting in the name of the commanding officer, and the hulk of her stern section was sunk as a target on 10 October 1969.
Frank E. Evans received one battle star for her World War II service, five battle stars for her Korean War service, and five battle stars for her service in the Vietnam War.
||Date Assumed Command
|Cmdr. Harry Smith
||3 February 1945
|Cmdr. Frank D. Schwartz
||16 November 1945
|Lt. Elmer Ozenberger Jr.
||15 May 1946
|Lt. Cmdr. Means Johnston Jr.
||12 July 1946
|Lt. Cmdr. Edward T. Sullivan
||3 October 1946
|Lt. John W. Meyer
||10 February 1947
|Cmdr. William C. Meyer
||11 May 1949
|Cmdr. Gerald L. Christie
||15 September 1950
|Cmdr. Nelson D. Salmon
||12 March 1952
|Cmdr. John D. Chase
||17 February 1954
|Cmdr. Joseph H. Behan Jr.
||23 April 1956
|Cmdr. Ralph G. Johns
||26 April 1958
|Cmdr. Harold H. Ellison
||4 September 1959
|Cmdr. Joseph E. Feaster
||20 May 1961
|Cmdr. Nelson W. Sanders
||30 October 1962
|Cmdr. James B. Allen
||23 October 1964
|Cmdr. C. Thor Hanson
||16 May 1966
|Cmdr. Albert S. McLemore
||26 March 1968
Mark L. Evans
3 March 2020