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Frank E. Evans (DD-754)

USS Frank E. Evans

Frank E. Evans (DD-754) underway in January 1969. Official U.S. Navy photograph from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog#: NH 107148. 

(DD-754: displacement 2,200; length 376'5"; beam 41'1"; draft 15'8"; speed 34 k.; complement 336; armament 6 5-inch, 10 21-inch torpedo tubes, 6 depth charge projectors, 2 depth charge tracks; class Allen M. Sumner)

Frank Edgar Evans, born 19 November 1876 in Franklin, Pa., served as an infantryman in the Spanish-American War, and was commissioned in the United States Marine Corps 15 February 1900. He served in the Philippines and in the United States prior to World War I, during which he won the Navy Cross and other awards for the distinction of his service in the Marine Brigade of the American Expeditionary Force in France. His postwar service included duty in Haiti, where from 1927 to 1930 he commanded the Constabulary Detachment and was Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haiti. Brigadier General Evans also was District Marine Officer of several Naval districts. Retired 1 December 1940, he made his home in Honolulu, where he died 25 November 1941. 

Frank E. Evans (DD-754) was launched 3 October 1944 by Bethlehem Steel Co., Staten Island, N.Y.; sponsored by Mrs. Frank E. Evans, widow of Brigadier General Evans; and commissioned 3 February 1945, Commander Harry Smith in command. 

Frank E. Evans arrived at Pearl Harbor 18 May 1945 for her final training, and crossed to Eniwetok, Guam, Ulithi, and Okinawa on escort duty. Reaching action waters 24 June, she was assigned to radar picket and local escort duty, often firing on enemy aircraft. At the close of hostilities, she patrolled the Yellow Sea and the Gulf of Chihli, embarked released Americans from prisoner of war camps near Dairen, Manchuria, covered occupation landings at Jinsen, Korea, and continued to operate in the Far East until 6 March 1946 when she sailed from Tsingtao for San Francisco. Immobilized there from 31 March, Frank E. Evans was decommissioned and placed in reserve 14 December 1949. 

Recommissioned 15 September 1950 for duty in the Korean WarFrank E. Evans sailed from San Diego 2 January 1951 for duty with the 7th Fleet. On 26 February she began her part in the lengthy siege of Wonsan, during which she engaged enemy shore batteries eleven times. On 18 June she was struck by 30 shrapnel hits, which caused minor wounds to 4 of her crew before the destroyer silenced the enemy battery. 

During this tour of duty Frank E. Evans also bombarded targets in the Songjin/Chongjin area, rescued downed aviators, and coordinated and controlled day and night bombing missions by United Nations aircraft. She returned to San Diego 4 September 1951. 

Frank E. Evans sailed 22 March 1952 for her second Korean tour, serving on patrol and bombardment duty along the coast of Korea and on the Taiwan Patrol before returning to her new homeport, Long Beach, 6 November 1952. Her tour in the western Pacific from 13 June 1953 to 20 December coincided with the Korean armistice, and was devoted primarily to patrol duty. 

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. 

Insignia: USS FRANK E. EVANS (DD-754)

Insignia: Frank E. Evans (DD-754). This emblem was in use in the later 1960s. The motto "The Fighter" reflects the association of the ship's namesake with the U.S. Marine Corps, in which he was a brigadier general. Courtesy of Capt. G. F. Swainson, USN, 196. Copyright Owner: Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog#: NH 67261-KN.

Frank E. Evans steamed for the western Pacific again on 9 June 1966. A unit of the hunter-killer group led by Kearsarge (CVS-33), she arrived at Yokosuka 17 July. Three days later she was underway for anti-submarine warfare exercises with naval units of Japan and Korea. She departed Sasebo 8 August to join fast carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin. After bombardment missions off South Vietnam, and rescue of a jet aviator, she arrived in Subic Bay 5 September to prepare for patrol in the Taiwan Straits. She again arrived in the Gulf of Tonkin 21 October 1966. She plane-guarded carriers Constellation (CVA-64) and Oriskany (CVA-34), then teamed with guided missile cruiser Chicago (CG-12) as a Positive Identification Radar Advisory Zone (PIRAZ) station. This duty continued until 14 November when the destroyer began day and night naval gunfire support to the 3rd Marines in Tinh Quang Ngai Province. She rejoined the carriers 17 November and departed Yokosuka 9 December for Long Beach, arriving 20 December 1966. 

The destroyer conducted readiness exercises off California until 17 August 1967. She then sailed for Pearl Harbor with Kearsarge (CVS-33) Anti-submarine Task Group for Yokosuka 8 October. Ten days later she headed for Tonkin Gulf to support Vietnam operations through 12 November. From 10 to 18 December, she provided gunfire support to the Army’s 1st Air Cavalry Division. After spending the Christmas holiday in Sasebo, she again gave gunfire support off Vietnam during 2-8 February 1968. She arrived at Sasebo 23 February and put to sea 1 March to patrol the Sea of Japan, ready to deal with any action that might arise out of the capture of Pueblo (AGER-2) by units of the North Korean navy. She departed Sasebo 24 March, returning to Long Beach. 

Frank E. Evans entered the Long Beach Naval Shipyard 7 May 1968 for an overhaul that completed 7 September 1968. Following readiness training along the western seaboard, she again steamed for the western Pacific 29 March 1969. She arrived at Yokosuka 26 April and put to sea 30 April to operate off Vietnam with the Kearsarge (CVS-33) Anti-submarine Task Group. Following this duty she proceeded to Subic Bay in the Philippines, arriving 17 May. Here, she joined in preparation for Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) maneuvers and exercises in waters reaching to Thailand. On 26 May she departed in the screen of the Australian anti-submarine warfare carrier HMAS Melbourne (CVS-21) bound toward Thailand. 

The destroyer was steaming in the early morning darkness of 3 June 1969, engaged in Operation SEA SPIRIT with more than 40 ships of SEATO nations. In the action of taking a new station 1,000 yards astern of HMAS Melbourne, the two ships were soon on a collision course. The Australian carrier ripped Frank E. Evans in two. Only the stern section remained afloat. The location of the collision was 08° 59.2′ N 110° 47.7′ E. Seventy-four men lost their lives when the destroyer was cut in two or perished when her bow section sank within three minutes. Among those Sailors lost were the three Sage brothers of Niobrara, Nebraska: Gary, 22; Gregory, 21; and Kelly, 19. 

The 199 U.S. survivors of the collision boarded HMAS Melbourne and soon transferred to Kearsarge. A salvage party from Everett F. Larson (DD-830) brought flooding under control before the stern section was taken in tow by fleet tug Tawasa (ATF-92) for Subic Bay. 

Frank E. Evans arrived at Subic Bay 9 June 1969. Her stern section was stripped in floating dry dock Windsor (ARD-22) and she was decommissioned 1 July. Her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register the same day. The hulk of her stern section was sunk as a target on 10 October 1969.

Frank E. Evans received one battle star for World War II service, five battle stars for Korean War service, and five battle stars for Vietnam War service.

Loss of USS Frank E. Evans (DD-754)

On 2 June 1969, SH-3 helicopters from Kearsarge (CVS-33) join search and rescue operations over the stern section of Frank E. Evans, as Everett F. Larson (DD-830) stands ready to offer assistance (at right). A Royal Australian Navy frigate is also present. Frank E. Evanswas cut in two in a collision with the Australian aircraft carrier Melbourne during Southeast Asian Treaty Organization exercises in the South China Sea. Official U.S. Navy photograph from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog#: NH 98649.

Published: Fri Sep 13 08:07:12 EDT 2019