Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Figure 1: USS Newell (DE-322) at anchor in New York Harbor, 2 June 1944, while painted in a modified version of Camouflage Measure 32, Design 3D. Photographed by the New York Navy Yard. Courtesy of A.D. Baker III. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the Collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Newell at anchor in New York Harbor, 2 June 1944, while painted in a modified version of Camouflage Measure 32, Design 3D. Photographed by the New York Navy Yard. Courtesy of A.D. Baker III. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the Collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Newell at anchor in New York Harbor, 2 June 1944, while painted in a modified version of Camouflage Measure 32, Design 3D. Photographed by the New York Navy Yard. Courtesy of A.D. Baker III. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the Collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: Sinking of USS Lansdale (DD-426), 20 April 1944, off North Africa. The bodies of two men killed in the sinking of Lansdale are brought ashore at a North African port from a U.S. Coast Guard manned destroyer escort which conducted rescue operations. The DE is either USS Menges (DE-320) or USS Newell (DE-322). Coourtesy of Mr. James Russell. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: USS Newell (DE-322) at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard, California, awaiting conversion to a radar picket ship (DER), 20 August 1956. She is wearing U.S. Coast Guard markings, used during her service as USCGC Newell (WDE-422) in 1951-1954. Courtesy of A.D. Baker III. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the Collections of the Naval Historical Center.
Named after Lieutenant Commander Byron Newell who died on board the USS Hornet (CV-8) during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, the USS Newell (DE-322) was a 1,200-ton Edsall class destroyer escort. She was 306 feet long, had a beam of approximately 36 feet, a top speed of 21 knots and a crew of 186 officers and men. The Newell had three 3-inch guns, two 40 mm. guns, eight 20 mm. guns, depth charges, and three 21-inch torpedo tubes. She was built at the Consolidated Steel Company in Orange, Texas, and was commissioned on 30 October 1943. The Captain of the Newell (Lt. Commander Russell J. Roberts), as well as the rest of the crew, were all members of the United States Coast Guard.
After a shakedown cruise off Bermuda, the Newell was briefly used for training before being assigned as a convoy escort to North Africa in December 1943. On 20 April 1944, during her second trans-Atlantic voyage, the Newell was part of a convoy that was steaming off the coast of Algeria. At approximately 2100 that evening, five German aircraft attacked the convoy with torpedoes. Although the escorts in the convoy shot down one of the German aircraft, the USS Lansdale (DD-426) was hit by torpedo and blown in two, with both parts of the ship sinking rapidly. The Newell and the USS Menges (DE-320) assisted in picking up 119 survivors from the ship. Many members of the Newell’s crew went over the side to bring on board survivors too weak to swim to the ship. The freighter Paul Hamilton also was sunk in the attack and three other merchant ships were damaged. The Newell and three other destroyer escorts brought the damaged merchant ships and rescued seamen to Algiers. The escorts then left Algiers and rejoined the convoy, which was headed for Bizerte in Tunisia. After spending 10 days in Bizerte, the convoy started its journey back to the United States. On the second night of the voyage, German U-boats attacked the convoy. The Menges was torpedoed and severely damaged. The Menges was towed back to Bizerte and had to have a new stern welded on to her. During the next night, the USS Fechteler (DE-157) was hit by a torpedo amidships and sank and the French escort ship Senegalais also was sunk. But the convoy escorts did manage to sink one of the attacking U-boats, U-371.
The convoy eventually made it back to the United States and the Newell went on to make four more round trips to Africa, two to Bizerte and two more to Oran, Algeria. In February 1945, the Newell ceased convoy escort duties and was used as a training ship until the end of the war. She was decommissioned in Charleston, South Carolina, on 20 November 1945 and placed in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. Things stayed that way until 20 July 1951, when the ship was commissioned in the US Coast Guard as the USCGC Newell (WDE-422). After being converted into a search and rescue Coast Guard cutter, the Newell was sent to patrol the Northern Pacific. She was decommissioned from the Coast Guard at the end of March 1954 and was given back to the Navy, but this time was placed in the Pacific Reserve Fleet.
The Newell then was converted into a radar picket escort ship and was re-designated DER-322. She re-commissioned at Long Beach, California, on 20 August 1957 and steamed to her new homeport in Pearl Harbor. She was assigned to the “Pacific Barrier,” which was part of America’s sea-born radar defenses against a surprise air attack. The Newell remained with the Pacific Barrier patrols until its disestablishment in May 1965.
After that, the Newell was sent to Vietnam. She arrived in May 1965 and was immediately assigned to the “Market Time” patrols that were designed to eliminate North Vietnamese and Viet Cong sea-born infiltration into South Vietnam. The Newell’s first Southeast Asian cruise ended in January 1966. Her second lasted from June 1966 to January 1967 and her third cruise went from July 1967 to February 1968. While on patrol off Vietnam, the Newell detected 6,905 wooden hulls, inspected 2,472, and boarded 631. She detected 384 steel-hulled ships, inspected 67, and boarded six. When needed, her guns were used to shell shore targets as well.
After patrolling the waters off the coast of Hawaii for a few months, the Newell was decommissioned for the last time and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in September 1968. But even after being decommissioned, the Newell still had a small role to play in historical events, even though this new “role” would be in a movie. In 1969 the Newell was used as a prop for the motion picture “Tora, Tora, Tora,” playing the role of a US battleship during the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. The Newell was eventually sold for scrapping in December 1971.
The Newell had a very long and active career, served in both the US Navy and the US Coast Guard, fought in two wars, and was even used in a movie. These certainly were substantial accomplishments for such a small warship.
Posted by Remo at 9:00 AM
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Figure 1: USS Liberty (AGTR-5) underway in Chesapeake Bay, 29 July 1967, upon her return from the Mediterranean Sea. She had been attacked and seriously damaged by Israeli air and surface forces while operating off the Sinai Peninsula on 8 June 1967, during the "Six-Day War", and was subsequently repaired at Malta. Official U.S. Navy Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Liberty receives assistance from units of the Sixth Fleet, after she was attacked and seriously damaged by Israeli forces off the Sinai Peninsula on 8 June 1967. An SH-3 helicopter is near her bow. Official U.S. Navy Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Liberty at Valletta, Malta, after arriving there for repair of damages received when she was attacked by Israeli forces off the Sinai Peninsula on 8 June 1967. She arrived at Malta on 14 June. Note torpedo hole in her side, forward of the superstructure. Photographed by PH1 J.J. Kelly, USN. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Liberty arrives at Valletta, Malta, for repair of damages received when she was attacked by Israeli forces off the Sinai Peninsula on 8 June 1967. Photo is dated 16 June. However, she arrived at Malta on 14 June. Note torpedo hole in her side, forward of the superstructure and numerous rocket and gunfire impacts on the hull and superstructure. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: Captain William Loren McGonagle, USN. Portrait photograph, dated 4 October 1967. Captain McGonagle has inscribed this photograph: "To The Navy Memorial Museum, W.L. McGonagle, Captain, U.S. Navy, 12 June 1968". Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: Commander William L. McGonagle, USN, Commanding Officer, USS Liberty (AGTR-5), in his cabin on board the ship, 11 June 1967. Note damage received when Israeli forces attacked the Liberty off the Sinai Peninsula on 8 June. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
The 7,725-ton USS Liberty was originally built as the civilian cargo ship SS Simmons Victory at the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation, Portland, Oregon, in 1945. She was delivered to the US Maritime Commission on 4 May 1945. The Simmons Victory was 455 feet long, 60 feet wide, and had a top speed of 16 knots and a crew of 358 officers and men. She functioned as a commercial cargo ship from the closing months of World War II to 1958, when she was placed in the National Defense Reserve Fleet. The US Navy then purchased the ship in February 1963. Renamed the USS Liberty and classified AG-168 in June 1963, she was reclassified AGTR-5 in April 1964 and was commissioned in December 1964. In February 1965, the Liberty was sent from the west coast to Norfolk, Virginia, where she was converted into a ship designed for gathering intelligence off the coasts of other nations. Her primary mission was to collect and process foreign communications and other electronic emissions that would be of use to the US Government.
In June 1965, the Liberty was sent on her first mission off the west coast of Africa. In October she was sent back to Norfolk and operated out of that naval base until 4 January 1966, when she was sent back to the coast of Africa. In April 1966, the Liberty got a new captain, Commander William L. McGonagle.
William Loren McGonagle was born in Wichita, Kansas, on 19 November 1925, but attended school in California. He joined the ROTC while in college and was commissioned an Ensign upon graduation from the University of Southern California in June 1947. He served on the destroyer Frank Knox and the minesweeper Partridge from 1947 to 1950 and went on to serve on board the minesweeper Kite during the Korean War. The Kite earned a Presidential Unit Citation for her extensive minesweeping achievements during the war. From 1951 to 1966, he successfully performed various duties both on land and at sea, including being assigned as commander of the fleet tug Mataco from 1957 to 1958 and as commander of the salvage ship Reclaimer from 1961 to 1963. In April of 1966, he boarded his new command, the USS Liberty.
From April 1966 to the end of May 1967, McGonagle and his men successfully completed a number of communications and electronic monitoring missions. On 2 June 1967 the Liberty left Rota, Spain, and on 8 June she was steaming approximately 13 miles off the coast of El Arish, located on the northern Mediterranean coast of the Sinai Peninsula. It was the fourth day of the brief 1967 Arab-Israeli War and the Liberty was monitoring both Egyptian and Israeli communications while in international waters off Sinai. At 1403 local time, the Liberty was attacked by Israeli jet fighters. A bomb hit the ship on its port side amidships and then two more Israeli fighters made strafing runs against the Liberty, hitting her with cannon fire, rockets, and fragmentation bombs. Three major fires burned throughout the ship and at 1424 three motor torpedo boats, all of them flying the Israeli flag, joined in on the attack, even though the Liberty was clearly marked as an American naval vessel. A total of three torpedoes were fired at the ship and one of them hit on the starboard side, tearing a 39-foot-wide hole in her hull.
The Liberty was in dire straits. The ship was frantically radioing US Sixth Fleet Naval Headquarters for assistance and it was sending messages in plain English stating that she was an unarmed American naval vessel. Commander McGonagle was severely wounded in the attack, but he refused to leave the bridge and remained at the conn, trying to steer the ship away from shallow water. Because both the ship’s gyrocompass and magnetic compass were knocked out, Commander McGonagle steered the ship using its wake and the azimuth of the afternoon sun as reference points. Commander McGonagle steadfastly refused any medical treatment that would take him away from his post. He continued to exercise command of his ship and, despite continuous exposure to fire, he maneuvered his ship, directed her defense, supervised the attempts to stop the flooding and fires on board the Liberty, and saw to the care of his wounded men. Commander McGonagle's extraordinary valor under these conditions inspired the surviving members of the Liberty's crew, many of them seriously wounded, to overcome the battle damage and keep the ship afloat.
But help was on the way. The Sixth Fleet immediately scrambled aircraft from the carrier USS America and US warships were quickly ordered to steam towards the Liberty. The attacks from the Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats also ceased, evidently after they received the frantic radio messages from the stricken naval vessel. Israel later claimed that the attack was an accident, maintaining that its air and naval forces had mistaken the Liberty for a much smaller Egyptian Navy ship. The Liberty, though severely damaged, remained afloat and was able to leave the area under her own power. She eventually rendezvoused with elements of the Sixth Fleet and was escorted to Malta for repairs by the USS America (CVA-66), USS Little Rock (CLG-4), USS Davis (DD-937), and the USS Papago (ATF-160). Captain McGonagle remained at his battle station for more than seventeen hours. It was only after the rendezvous with the warships from the Sixth Fleet that he relinquished personal control of the Liberty and permitted himself to be removed from the bridge. A total of 34 men were killed during the attack and 170 others were wounded.
The Liberty made it to Valletta, Malta, on 14 June and underwent preliminary repairs that would enable her to sail back to the United States. The Liberty left Malta accompanied by the Papago on 16 July and arrived in Norfolk on 29 July. The Liberty was decommissioned in June 1968 and was eventually sold for scrapping in December 1970.
The USS Liberty was given the Presidential Unit Citation and Commander McGonagle was awarded the Medal of Honor for saving his severely damaged ship. He remained on the bridge for 17 hours despite his serious wounds and he guided his ship to safety until help arrived. He was promoted to the rank of Captain in October 1967 and went on to command the new ammunition ship USS Kilauea. He led the NROTC Unit at the University of Oklahoma for several years and retired from the Navy in 1974. Captain William L. McGonagle died in Palm Springs, California, on 3 March 1999.
Many comparisons have been made between the attack on the Liberty and the subsequent attack on the USS Pueblo (AGER-2), which took place seven months after the assault on the Liberty. Such comparisons are unfair simply because the circumstances were so different between the two cases. The Liberty was much larger than the Pueblo and it could sustain much more damage than the Pueblo could. Furthermore, US Naval aircraft and warships were immediately sent to aid the Liberty and all attacks by Israeli forces ceased once they discovered they were attacking a friendly naval vessel. The North Koreans were determined to either sink or capture the Pueblo and no US Naval warships were nearby to provide immediate assistance to the Pueblo. True, American aircraft could have been sent to help the Pueblo, but by the time they would have gotten there the ship was already in North Korean hands. The real question (which has never been answered by the US Navy) is why did the United States send a small, unarmed ship like the Pueblo into hostile waters with no adequate naval or air support after an attack had already taken place on the Liberty?
The attacks on the Liberty and the Pueblo were different in many ways, but the US Navy did make important judgments regarding both incidents. Commander McGonagle received the Medal of Honor for refusing to surrender his unarmed ship by steaming away from danger, even if it meant going down with his ship. Commander Bucher was almost court-martialed for surrendering his unarmed ship to hostile forces.
Posted by Remo at 9:14 AM
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Figure 1: USS Pueblo (AGER-2) off San Diego, California, 19 October 1967. Official U.S. Navy Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Pueblo off San Diego, California, 19 October 1967. Official U.S. Navy Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: The “Pueblo Incident,” 1968. Photograph of USS Pueblo crewmembers at a press conference in North Korea, taken sometime after they and their ship were captured off Wonsan on 23 January 1968. Pueblo's Commanding Officer, Commander Lloyd M. Bucher, is standing in center. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: “Repatriation of USS Pueblo Crew, December 1968.” Rear Admiral Edwin M. Rosenberg, Commander Task Force 76 (center), and Commander Lloyd M. Bucher, Commanding Officer of USS Pueblo (AGER-2), enter an automobile as they leave the mess hall at the United Nations Advance Camp, Korean Demilitarized Zone, on 23 December 1968. Cdr. Bucher and his crew had just been released from captivity by the North Korean government. They had been captured off Wonsan on 23 January 1968. Official U.S. Navy Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: Commander Lloyd M. Bucher, USN, former Commanding Officer of USS Pueblo (AGER-2), receives the Purple Heart medal for injuries he received while he was a prisoner of the North Koreans, in ceremonies held in 1969, shortly after he and his crew were released. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after a city in Colorado, the USS Pueblo was originally named FP-344 and was built as a cargo ship for the Army Transportation Corps. She was built by the Kewaunee Shipbuilding and Engineering Corp., Kewaunee, Wisconsin, and was turned over to the Army on 5 July 1944. The FP-344 served in the Philippines as an Army harbor craft and supply vessel and remained with the US Army until 1954, when she was taken out of service and placed in reserve. The ship was then transferred to the US Navy as a light cargo ship on 12 April 1966 and was renamed USS Pueblo (AKL-44) on 18 June. The Pueblo was converted into an environmental research vessel at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and was redesignated AGER-2 on 2 May 1967. The ship was approximately 176 feet long and 32 feet wide, and had a crew of 81 officers and men. Its top speed, though, was only 12 knots. The Pueblo was officially commissioned on 13 May 1967 with Commander Lloyd M. “Pete” Bucher in command.
Commander Bucher was born on 1 September 1927 in Pocatello, Idaho, and was given up for adoption at an early age. He passed through a series of orphanages until he read a magazine article about Father Flanagan’s Boy’s Town in Nebraska. Bucher wrote to Father Flanagan and was stunned when the priest wrote back to him. Bucher officially entered Boys Town in the summer of 1941 and for the rest of his life he considered this to be his home. Bucher thrived at Boys Town, making the honor role and spending the bulk of his time playing football, basketball, and baseball. He dropped out of his senior year in high school to enlist in the Navy, staying in the Navy as an enlisted man from 1945 to 1947. While in the Navy, he earned his high school diploma and then entered the University of Nebraska on the GI Bill in 1949. While attending the university, he joined the Naval ROTC and graduated with a BS degree in 1953. He was then commissioned as an Ensign into the Naval Reserves.
From 1954 to 1967, Bucher gradually rose through the ranks and spent most of his time on submarines. He had planned to spend his entire career in the submarine service, but instead was given command of the Pueblo. Following a shakedown cruise off America’s West Coast, the Pueblo left San Diego on 6 November 1967 for Pearl Harbor and then Yokosuka, Japan. After arriving in Japan on 1 December, the Pueblo was assigned to intelligence and oceanographic data collection duties. As an intelligence gathering ship (also known during the Cold War as a “spy” ship), she was to conduct surveillance operations of Soviet naval activity in the Tsushima Straits and to gather signal and electronic intelligence from North Korea. On 11 January 1968, the Pueblo left Japan and proceeded to the waters off North Korea.
On 21 January 1968, an SO-I class Soviet-style sub chaser passed within two miles of the Pueblo. The next day two North Korean fishing trawlers passed within 25 yards of the US vessel. Then on 23 January 1968, while still steaming in international waters, the Pueblo was approached by a North Korean sub chaser and was ordered to stop or be fired on. Commander Bucher refused the request and the Pueblo, which could only make a pathetic 12 knots, tried to move away from the sub chaser. Three North Korean torpedo boats soon joined the sub chaser and, within minutes, two MIG-21 jet fighters arrived as well. The Pueblo was surrounded. Since the Pueblo was only armed with two .50 caliber machine guns (both of which were frozen solid underneath tarpaulins due to the bitterly cold weather), Commander Bucher didn’t have anything to fight back with. Commander Bucher sent urgent radio transmissions asking for assistance to Seventh Fleet Headquarters in Japan and to any US Navy warships in the area.
The North Korean ships continued to signal to the Pueblo to heave to for boarding. Commander Bucher still refused to stop, hoping to stall for time until US warships or aircraft could be sent to rescue his ship. Suddenly, the North Korean warships began firing on the Pueblo. The small American cargo ship was hit repeatedly by 55 mm cannon fire from the sub chaser and machine gun fire from some of the other ships. Several men on board the Pueblo (including Commander Bucher) were wounded by gunfire. Commander Bucher had a terrible decision to make. Because his ship was essentially unarmed, he basically had only two choices. The first option was to continue resisting and refuse to heave to, in which case the North Koreans would probably sink his ship. They were steaming in the extremely frigid waters off North Korea and Bucher knew his men would quickly die of exposure if his ship went down and they were forced into the sea. The second option was to surrender. A US Navy ship had not been captured on the high seas since the War of 1812 and this fact weighed heavily on Commander Bucher’s mind. The North Koreans kept firing at the Pueblo and one of the sailors, Fireman Apprentice Duane Hodges, was killed. Commander Bucher could see his ship literally being blown to pieces and still there was no word of any help coming from the Seventh Fleet. Commander Bucher made the decision to save his crew. He signaled that the Pueblo would stop and he gave orders to begin destroying all sensitive material on board the ship. Unfortunately, there were so many secret documents on board the ship that it was impossible to dispose of it all. Shortly after the Pueblo signaled that it would stop, two North Korean warships pulled alongside the American ship. Boarding parties quickly swarmed on and the Americans had their hands tied, were blindfolded, beaten, and prodded with bayonets. The Pueblo was then taken to Wonsan harbor.
For the next 11 months the Pueblo’s crew was forced to endure starvation, regular beatings, and severe torture at the hands of their North Korean captors. The North Koreans wanted Commander Bucher to sign a “confession,” stating that his ship was spying on North Korea within North Korean territorial waters. When Commander Bucher refused, he was beaten mercilessly. But, after the North Koreans threatened to execute his men in front of him, he decided to sign. Many pictures were taken for propaganda purposes of Bucher signing the “confession” and after the North Koreans obtained this admission they entered into negotiations with America for the release of the crew. Bucher and 81 of his fellow crewmen (which included the body of Duane Hodges) were finally released on 23 December 1968, 11 months to the day after their capture.
Once Commander Bucher and his men returned to the United States, a Navy Court of Inquiry was convened to examine Bucher’s actions. Almost the entire crew stated that they owed their lives to Commander Bucher, especially for the courageous and inspiring leadership he displayed during their captivity. But the Navy Court of Inquiry took a dim view of a United States Naval officer surrendering an American ship, even if it was essentially unarmed and being attacked by both hostile warships and aircraft. They recommended that Bucher and another officer, Lt. Steve Harris, be court-martialed. However, after hearing about the beatings and torture endured by Bucher and his men during captivity, Secretary of the Navy John H. Chafee rejected the recommendation and stated, “They have suffered enough.”
Commander Bucher was never found guilty of any charges and he continued his career in the Navy until his retirement in 1973. He was never given another command at sea but was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received during what became known as “The Pueblo Incident.” The US Government also awarded each man a Prisoner of War Medal in 1989 (for many years the US Navy considered the men “detainees” rather than Prisoners of War since the United States and North Korea were not at war at the time of the incident). Commander Bucher died on 28 January 2004, partly because of the injuries he sustained while being held by North Korea. Commander Bucher will probably always be remembered for his decision to save his crew rather than go down with his ship. Although the US Navy didn’t agree with him, there were 80 crewmen who owed their lives to Commander Bucher.
We now know that President Lyndon Johnson made no effort to avenge the seizure of the Pueblo because he did not want to risk starting a major war with North Korea. As for the ship itself, the USS Pueblo is currently moored in Pyongyang, North Korea, and serves as a floating museum and tourist attraction in that Communist nation. She remains to this day a commissioned ship in the United States Navy. The Pueblo certainly proved that a ship does not have to be big or even heavily armed to make history.
Posted by Remo at 8:18 AM
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Figure 1: USS Maddox (DD-731) underway at sea, 28 January 1955. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Maddox stands by as a Polaris missile fired by the USS Ethan Allen (SSBN-608) breaks the surface of the Pacific Ocean, during Exercise "Frigate Bird" of Operation "Dominic", 6 May 1962. Photographed by PH1 Burwell. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: Tonkin Gulf Incident, August 1964. Photograph taken from USS Maddox (DD-731) during her engagement with three North Vietnamese motor torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin, 2 August 1964. The view shows all three of the boats speeding towards the Maddox. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: Tonkin Gulf Incident, August 1964. Photograph taken from USS Maddox (DD-731) during her engagement with three North Vietnamese motor torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin, 2 August 1964. The view shows one of the boats racing by, with what appears to be smoke from Maddox' shells in its wake. Official U.S. Navy Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: Captain John J. Herrick, USN, Commander Destroyer Division 192 (at left) and Commander Herbert L. Ogier, USN, Commanding Officer of USS Maddox (DD-731), on board Maddox on 13 August 1964. They were in charge of the ship during her engagement with three North Vietnamese motor torpedo boats on 2 August 1964. Photographed by PH3 White. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after a Marine Corps hero of the Mexican War, the USS Maddox (DD-731) was a 2,200-ton Allen M. Sumner class destroyer and was laid down at the Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, Maine, in October 1943. She was commissioned on 2 June 1944 and, after her shakedown cruise, left Boston and was sent to join the Pacific Fleet on 27 August. The Maddox was 376 feet long, more than 41 feet wide, had a top speed of 34 knots and a crew of 336 officers and men. She was armed with six 5-inch guns, 11 20-mm guns, 10 torpedo tubes and depth charges.
The Maddox arrived at Ulithi atoll in the Caroline Islands in the Pacific on 21 October 1944 and was assigned to the Third Fleet. She escorted American warships taking part in the Mindoro and Luzon invasions of the Philippines from 4 November 1944 to 21 January 1945. She served on picket duty in the South and East China Seas while carrier planes hit targets from Saigon to Formosa. The Maddox was hit by a Japanese suicide plane off Formosa on 21 January and was forced to go to Ulithi for repairs. After being repaired, the Maddox left Ulithi on 14 March 1945 and acted as a picket ship during American carrier strikes against the Japanese home islands of Kyushu and southern Honshu. She then took part in the invasion of Okinawa and stayed there for approximately three months, until 13 June 1945. The Maddox bombarded shore targets for the Marines on Okinawa and also screened aircraft carriers attacking the Japanese home islands. She continued performing screening, picket, and shore bombardment duties until the end of the war.
After Japan surrendered, the Maddox transported some military passengers to the United States and arrived in San Francisco on 5 October 1945. On 1 February 1946, the Maddox was sent back to the Far East where she supported the US naval occupation of Shanghai, Tsingtao, and Taku in China, along with the ports of Pusan and Jinsen in Korea. The Maddox returned to the United States on 24 March 1947 and for the next three years served as a training ship for the Naval Reserve off America’s West Coast. On 1 May 1950 the Maddox left San Diego for the Far East and arrived in Hong Kong 26 June, the day after war started in Korea. She left for South Korea the next day and acted as a screen for the carriers USS Valley Forge and HMS Triumph. The Maddox operated off the coast of South Korea until 4 August, when she was sent to Formosa to help initiate the “Formosa Patrol Force,” which was created to prevent the invasion of Formosa (now Taiwan) by China.
The Maddox returned to Korea on 7 September 1950 and was assigned to coastal blockade and bombardment duties. She continued these duties until January 1951, when she was sent back to the United States. Once she arrived back home, the Maddox underwent a major overhaul and then once again served as a training ship. But on 1 December 1951, the Maddox was sent back to Korea for her second tour of duty. From February to May 1952, the Maddox once again acted as an escort for carriers and bombarded shore targets when needed. She returned to what was now called the “Taiwan Patrol Force” and also participated in the siege of Wonsan Harbor in Korea.
After returning briefly to the United States for another overhaul in June 1952, the Maddox was sent back to Korea for her third tour of duty on 2 February 1953. As usual, the Maddox was assigned to carrier screening and shore bombardment duties. On 12 August 1953 she was sent back to the United States for another overhaul. From 4 May 1954 to 2 March 1962, the Maddox completed seven additional cruises to the Far East, including training operations with South Korean, Taiwanese, and Japanese naval forces. From March 1962 to March 1964, the Maddox cruised mainly off of the West Coast on training missions.
On 13 March 1964, the Maddox left her homeport at Long Beach, California, and headed for yet another tour of duty in the Far East with the Seventh Fleet. She began this tour by steaming with carrier groups in the Sea of Japan and East China Sea. On 18 May the Maddox began to patrol the waters off the coast of South Vietnam. On 31 July her patrol area moved to the Tonkin Gulf. Then on 2 August the Maddox, while steaming in international waters, was suddenly attacked by three North Vietnamese torpedo boats. After the North Vietnamese boats fired torpedoes at the Maddox, the American destroyer quickly returned fire. The Maddox scored direct hits on two of the torpedo boats, putting them out of action. At first the US Navy thought the attack was a mistake, but then two days later, on the night of 4 August, more North Vietnamese torpedo boats returned. By this time the Maddox was reinforced by the destroyer USS Turner Joy and both ships opened fire on the attacking North Vietnamese ships. Both US warships evaded another North Vietnamese torpedo attack and a running gun battle took place over the next two and one-half hours. Eventually, the North Vietnamese broke off contact and their ships returned to their bases. After the last attack on 4 August, both the Maddox and the Turner Joy returned to their patrol duties, completing them on 8 August. The Maddox then resumed her carrier escort duties and was sent back to the United States on 17 September.
These two attacks became known as the famous “Gulf of Tonkin Incident.” A few days after the attack Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which gave President Johnson authorization for what eventually became a full-scale war in Southeast Asia. In response to the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, President Johnson ordered air strikes against North Vietnamese naval bases and their supporting oil storage depots.
The Maddox remained in Long Beach until 10 July 1965. She then returned to the Seventh Fleet and resumed carrier escort operations in the Gulf of Tonkin. She also assisted in gunfire support missions off the coast of South Vietnam. At the end of November the Maddox was sent back to the United States and she arrived at Long Beach on 16 December. The Maddox would serve two more tours of duty off the coast of Vietnam from November 1966 to December 1968. In 1969 she became a Naval Reserve Training Ship and continued to function in this role on the West Coast until July 1972. The Maddox was then decommissioned and sold to Taiwan, where she was renamed the Po Yang. After a long and hard career, Taiwan disposed of the Maddox (or Po Yang) in 1985.
The USS Maddox was awarded four battle stars for her service in World War II, six battle stars for her service in the Korean War, and was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for her part in the Gulf of Tonkin Incident.
Posted by Remo at 8:35 AM