Harry Ervin Yarnell, born near Independence, Iowa, 18 October 1875, began his naval career which spanned 51 year and 3 wars, when he entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1893. After serving in Oregon during the Battle of Santiago, 3 July 1898, Yarnell was commissioned ensign 1 July 1899 and reported to the Asiatic Station. He served in the Philippines during the Aguinaldo Insurrection and on the China Station during the Boxer Rebellion.
From Asia Yarnell reported to Connecticut at her commissioning, and sailed around the world with the Great White Fleet. Next, duty at the Newport Torpedo Station, on CINCLANT's staff, and at the Naval War College occupied him until World War I, when he served at Gibraltar and London. Yarnell then rotated between sea and Shore duty until ordered to Saratoga (CV-3) September 1927, as prospective commanding officer. He served as captain of that carrier from her commissioning until 17 August 1928, when he was appointed Chief of the Bureau of Engineering as Rear Admiral.
From January to April 1930 Yarnell was Naval Adviser to the American delegation at the London Naval Conference, and in October 1936 he became Commander in Chief, Asiatic Fleet, with the rank of admiral, relieving his classmate, Adm. Orin G. Murfin, and breaking his flag in the heavy cruiser Augusta (CA-31). His tour there was notable for the sagacious and firm manner with which he handled a most explosive international situation.
Admiral Yarnell was transferred to the Retired List, but, 1 November 1941, as war loomed in the East he was recalled to the office of Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox as Special Adviser to the Chinese Military Mission.
Admiral Yarnell was relieved of active duty on 15 January 1943 but returned in June as Head of a Special Section in the Office of Chief of Naval Operations until December 1944, when he again was relieved of active duty.
Admiral Yarnell died on 7 July 1959 at Newport, R.I., his home since his retirement. Among the awards and medals earned in his long and distinguished career were the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Diploma and Decoration of the Companion of the Order of the British Empire, and the Cloud Standard, Second Class, of the Government of China.
(DLG-17: displacement 5,670; length 535'; beam 53'6"; draft 17'2"; speed 30+ knots; complement 400; armament 4 Terrier missile launchers, ASROC; class Leahy)
Harry E. Yarnell (DLG-17) was launched on 9 December 1961 at Bath, Maine, by the Bath Iron Works; sponsored by Mrs. PhilipYarnell, wife of the late Admiral Yarnell's son; and commissioned on 2 February 1963 at the Boston [Mass.] Naval Shipyard, Capt. Charles E. Nelson in command.
Second of the "double-end," Leahy-class guided-missile frigates, Harry E. Yarnell was equipped with Terrier surface-to-air missile launching tubes both fore and aft and ASROC anti-submarine missiles as well as more conventional torpedo tubes and guns. Before taking her place in America's powerful deterrent force, the new ship was fitted out at Boston and received a grim reminder that even in peacetime the sea can be a powerful enemy. As she was out on trials, Harry E. Yarnell was diverted 10 April 1963 to search for Thresher, the nuclear submarine later found on the bottom some 8,000 feet down. Quartering the area where the sub was last reported, the guided missile frigate found an oil slick and some debris but could not contact the lost submarine.
On her way to her new home base at Norfolk 23 April, Harry E. Yarnell passed and photographed several Russian 'merchant ships. The next few months were spent conducting training for shakedown and missile qualification. Designated to carry out standardization trials for her class as well as special acoustical tests, Harry E. Yarnell spent 28 October-26 November in the Caribbean operating out of Guantanamo and then returned to Norfolk.
Harry E. Yarnell continued operating in the Virginia Capes area and the Caribbean until departing Norfolk 8 September 1964 for her first Atlantic crossing. NATO ASW exercises en route took the guided missile frigate far north, and she crossed the Arctic circle on the 21st. She visited Amsterdam en route to the Mediterranean, where she remained until returning to Norfolk in February 1965.
On her next Mediterranean deployment, which began 8 October, she transited the Dardanelles 3 January 1966 and entered the Black Sea to operate close to the Soviet Union before returning to Norfolk in March. After NATO exercises in the North Atlantic, Harry E. Yarnell received the battle efficiency "E" for the preceeding year.
Operations in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean brought the fine ship and her crew to a high degree of readiness before she sailed for her 3d Med deployment early in 1967. She cruised the Mediterranean ready to help snuff out trouble, should it occur in that troubled area, until returning to Norfolk in May.