Friday, February 19, 2010

Fullbore Friday


Via Sid's suggestion and tin-can.org, the fuzzy-face Navy at its best.
Rowan was a Gearing class destroyer commissioned too late in World War II to see any combat. That changed just a few years later when she was bloodied for the first time during the "Forgotten War" when she took a medium caliber shell hit in her starboard quarter, damaging the after steering compartment and causing a number of casualties. She had been providing counter-battery fire against North Korean shore batteries when she was hit. And counter-battery would prove to be her specialty in another twenty year.
...
27 August 1972 ... the skipper came on the 1MC again confirming that Rowan was, indeed, going to raid Haiphong harbor in a matter of hours along with Newport News, USS Providence (CLG 6) and USS Robison (DDG 12).
...
We went into battle well prepared. Rowan was amongst the sharpest shooters in the Navy having had more gunnery practice under combat conditions with the same crew during the few months leading up to this night than few ships have in a lifetime. Moreover, Rowan had just had her guns relined in Yokosuka and the 80 plus rounds of 5" HE that we could put into a precise area in under a minute was devastating. The Shrikes were a plus; but, the plethora of fire control radars in and around Haiphong overwhelmed the four missiles that we had at the ready. In the final analysis, it was the experience and solidarity of her crew that gave Rowan her edge.

Initially it seemed like another LINEBACKER II raid. I felt the ship heal and slow as we turned onto our twenty knot firing run. I heard the guns in action and the Shrikes firing at varying intervals. While the action seemed heavier than normal, it wasn't any more than what I had been expecting. After the firing run I felt Rowan again heal in a tight turn. The blowers in the fireroom just aft increase in pitch and the wave noise from the ship's passage increase as we worked up to the thirty plus knots for our getaway. The command over the 1MC to "Now set condition YOKE" was the next thing we expected to hear. It came in due course and I had just taken off my phones and was opening the scuttle in the hatch above preparing for the "Secure from GQ" command when the captain's voice came over the 1MC. "This is the Captain speaking. It's not over yet! We've two high-speed surface contacts closing fast! Reset condition ZEBRA. Re-man all General Quarters stations."
Then three things happened virtually at once: The whine from the fireroom increased to a crescendo, the height of which I had never before heard as Rowan worked up to over thirty-five knots; she started to heal one way and then reverse her rudder and heal hard over in the opposite direction; and the guns were firing at a frantic rate.
...
ET2 Richard Spicer kept a contemporary log of his time in Rowan . An excerpt from his log of that night stirred many memories for all that have read it. "27 Aug 72 2230 Hrs. I was at my GQ station in the crypto room in radio central, when we went to general quarters at the start of the operation. It was a good place to be to hear what was going on, as we had tac-air and Navy-red frequencies up on remotes and listening in on the battle group! That was one night I had my life vest on good and secure!" From the log, "Arrived at Haiphong harbor with the USS Newport News, USS Providence, and USS Robison. At 2230 GQ is sounded, 2310 all ships came to firing course. At 2325 all ships are ordered to go "hot" and commenced firing at coastal gun sites, NVA barracks and other targets. ECM in CIC now sees three cross slot gun site radars radiating, and we now are receiving counter battery! All ships are continuing firing at their targets, still receiving counter battery. Oh shit they are hitting real close now! Providenceand Robison turn out to sea as they have fired their rounds at targets, leaving the Newport News and us in the harbor. The Newport News and we keep firing, when ECM gets a bearing on a cross slot radar site and we launch our first Shrike anti-radar missile at it. This is from our new "SOB" system (Shrike on board). [Seven] min. later another cross slot radar is radiating at us and the second Shrike bird is launched. We are still receiving counter battery and lots of it! Newport News is still providing cover for us, with her 8-inch guns. We see another cross slot radar come up and fire our last two shrikes at it, this time hitting the site! With our entire Shrike missiles fired the Newport News and we turn out to sea at 26knts. As fast as we can. We are still taking heavy counter battery, and sonar reports closest hits at 20 yards off the port bow. We are hauling ass out to sea when radar sees Skunk-A at 17,000 yards closing at 48knts. We request to go hot on Skunk-A and turn 180 degrees to go back and provide cover for Newport News and shoot at Skunk-A. We are shooting at Skunk-A, now at 9,000 yards and closing [on the] stbd. beam. Newport News and we continue shooting at Skunk-Alfa when CIC radar sees Skunk-Bravo closing in on us. But we have tac-air cover and they take Skunk-Bravo. The Newport News and we connect on Skunk-Alfa, a torpedo boat with Russian [Stix] missiles on it, and sink it while tac-air sinks Skunk-Bravo!
...
Dana Perkins who was a SM3 at the time was manning his GQ station on the exposed signal bridge. Perkins relates, "I remember the night of the Haiphong Harbor pretty well. I don't think they passed the word of our objective until shortly before General Quarters, as I'm sure the mission was of utmost importance and secret. Also I think that they didn't want us to have much time to think about what was about to unfold. As a signalman I was on the highest point on the ship and had a clear view of all the action. Myself and three other signalmen were manning the Redeye shoulder fired missiles, loaded, armed and ready to squeeze the trigger in the event the time should come. When we started to see the lit shoreline and the lighted buoys of the harbor, make no mistake about it, the tension was high. All of a sudden the whole shoreline lit up with counter battery, spewing bright fireballs as each round was fired at us. The North Vietnamese weren't using flashless powder like we had. At one time I remember counting about 22 shore batteries rapid firing at the squadron. The shells were dropping all around us like seagull shit, leaving thunderous columns of white spray as they splashed into the ocean. Some of the shells were proximity and burst in the air. I remember one shell passed over the Rowanand burst in the air, causing the shrapnel to hit the side of the ship. I think it put some heavy-duty dents on the starboard side of the ship along the upper outer passageway. Luckily no one was hit! The whole time the ships in the squadron were firing on their intended targets with gunmounts and Shrike missiles. It was like the most intense 4th of July display I'd ever seen. The Newport News was off our port side at about 270 relative position, rapid firing her 8-inch guns and launching missiles as fast as they could get them off the deck. All of a sudden the word came over the sound powered phone that we had 2 torpedo boats, (Russian Osha class I believe) about 80 feet long coming out to attack. The guys in the magazine were jamming whatever shells they could get their hands on into the hoist. The first round that we hit one of those boats with was actually a practice starburst round and it tore right through it. The second round did explode. I think an A-6 Intruder came in and finished it off with an air to surface missile. The Newport News I believe sank the other boat. All I could think about the whole time was how un-watertight some of those hatches on the old Rowan were. Luckily we got past them and then the word came in that there were some inbound bogeys [MiGs] headed our way. I white knuckled the pistol grip of that Redeye missile and prepared for whatever was about to happen. At about 30 miles inbound we pushed the power button and the gyro on the missile head whined as it spooled up. Adrenaline was in overdrive by now. Then at about 20 miles out, we got word that they turned away and were outbound. I guess they knew the deck was stacked against them! As we turned away (at probably flank speed I might add), the shore batteries were trying their damnedest to get in a few last shots at us. We were out of sight of land and an occasional round was still reaching us and splashing into the ocean. The whole event probably didn't take 15 minutes but seemed like an eternity with all the action going on. The next day I remember as a chill passed through me, they told us that we weren't that far from the mines that were dropped at the harbor entrance. Thanks for that comforting bit of info." Note: The air support, whether it was an A-6 Intruder or an A-7 Corsair II, came from an attack squadron flying from USS Coral Sea (CV 43).


That's how it was to the best of our fading memories. A veteran destroyer with a veteran crew fighting the U.S. Navy's last night surface gun battle. Perhaps, also, it was the last of a long tradition of destroyers placing themselves between a heavier ship and harms way.

117 comments:

Eric Palmer said...

An LCS could have handled that no problem. (snort-guffaw)

Byron said...

That's the real Navy at work. Today? Too busy trying to emulate General Motors.

ewok40k said...

shudder... I imagined LCS going into the 57mm range under fire from (probably) 130mm or 152mm guns

LT B said...

Heck yeah!  They would have put the shore batteries awas in their giant wake!  Like a Tsunami!  Sad where we have been and what we have become. 

UltimaRatioRegis said...

"<span><span> I remember one shell passed over the <span>Freedom</span> and burst in the air, causing the shrapnel to go right through the side of the ship, puncturing fuel cells and knocking out critical systems. I think it put some heavy-duty holes in the starboard side of the ship along the upper outer passageway. Luckily only half the crew was hit!"</span></span>

Just setting you up for a FBF in 2020, Phib....

FOD said...

Shrike Mission Modules. Cool.

Grandpa Bluewater said...

Would Haiphong HARBOR be ""littoral" enough for you?

This was a FRAMed can. The ASW variant, I believe.  So she had been stripped of gun armament, all the way down to two 5"38 cal dual mounts.  Under gunned for the mission by the standards of when she was built, she only had 4 5" tubes left.

Phib: please superimpose a 90 degree target angle photo of LCS one at the same scale with the shot of Rowan in the same "print".

Just to show the differences between a Man of War and a child of bureaucracy.

Oh, yeah. A bit late, but... BZ USS Rowan crew.

steve osc ret said...

Is there a damage control module?

DeltaBravo said...

Great line there, GB!  "Man of War..child of bureaucracy..."

DeltaBravo said...

Papa Bravo served on the Newport News back in the day.  He LOVED that ship.  I found a picture online of it sitting rotting at a pier somewhere.... that's one picture he'll never see.  :'(

kmadams85 said...

Sure would be nice if you all could appreciate the brave actions of the old Navy for just a few minutes without having to turn the current Navy into a punching bag.  Action stories like this are what drew me to the Navy 30 years ago, and the sailors responsible for those stories ought to have the chance to be remembered fondly and with reverence.  There's no need to turn EVERY post into a free-for-all against LCS, plenty of that to go around in the posts about it.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Now, now, Byron, it was GM TBM avengers that did the torpedo and ASW work for the USN, GM FM Wildcats that flew from the CVEs, GM diesels that powered a large number of DEs, the Gray diesels that the USN used for small crafts and landing craft were made by GM, and most of the .30 and .50 cal machine guns the USN and USMC used were made by GM's Guide Light Division, the torpedos used in the TBMs and on PT boats came from Pontiac, and the 37mm guns on PTs were from Oldsmobile.  The bomb handleing trucks used at NASes to load patrol bombers were Chevys. I know that they are a disgraced company now, but they were once working hand in hand with the Fleet.  Maybe someday, they will redeem themselves. Given the quality that was in my 1990 Chevy Work Truck, I hope so, cause that was one heck of a truck.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

That is so, while the LCS sat dead in the water, burning and drawing the NV fire, the Newpy News would be able to sneak in, and blast the targets at point blank range unmolseted.

DeltaBravo said...

http://rlv.zcache.com/uss_newport_news_ca_148_postcard-p239190552794446038qibm_400.jpg

She was beautiful too.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

"<span>There's no need to turn EVERY post into a free-for-all against LCS"</span>

Yes there is.  ;)

DeltaBravo said...

hahahahaha.

Byron said...

My first comment was about the actions of this tin can. And we'd be blind fools to not see the comparisons between LCS and the Rowan. Worse, as people who love the Naval Service, we'd be negligent to not point out that LCS would be a complete failure at this mission. So yeah, Big Navy needs to be kicked in the ass until it wakes up: "This is where we were...and this is where we can no longer go"

UltimaRatioRegis said...

DB, go to Quncy Shipyard to see USS Salem.  Same class as NN and Des Moines.  I took Boston Maggie there, but alas, like Wallee World, the park was closed.  Moose outside should have told us that.  A transgression I will likely never live down. 

But it will be a great one to walk around on.  The Des Moines class was a magnificent accomplishment.  Oh, to have the rapid-fire 8"-55s today on a survivable hull.

AW1 Tim said...

The "fuzzy" navy, eh? Well, that was my navy too.... Here's an image of one of my old crews. 1978, I believe.  AW1 Tim is back row, 3rd from left. I'm one of those "fuzzy" sailors..  :)

CMH said...

Thanks for linking this in; what a great story. Similar to an earlier commenter, much of my early youth involved reading old sea yarns and this story rings like those I grew up with.

The icing on the cake was having the Robi in the story. She was my first ship as a boot twidget and to this day the Adams class, in my mind, is what a destroyer should be. Guns, missiles, and a beautiful upswept foredeck.

Sadly, like the others in the story, these ladies are gone. In addition to being my first ship, the Robi was also my first decom.

sid said...

Bet CD14 can wax eloquent about life aboard a FRAM on the gunline off Vietnam....

Spade said...

Anti radiation missiles being carried aboard ship. Intersting idea. I wonder if it required 10 years of study and 5 years of construction

"<span>Perhaps, also, it was the last of a long tradition of destroyers placing themselves between a heavier ship and harms way."</span>
<span></span>
<span>This is because "destroyers" are the heavy ships these days. </span>

Anthony Mirvish said...

SAMs were also seen as dual-purpose i.e. having anti-ship capability through the same ability as an ARM for destroying radars, comms antennas and such, but without requiring any change to the missile.  In the Persian Gulf ca 1988 against Iran, SM-2's were used in this role.

John said...

Lots of lessons there.

"When you're out of FRAMs, you're out of cans."

Good ships. 

Good crews, who were still sailors meant to go in battle, not an excuse for diversity drivel.

virgil xenophon said...

What a gallant and stirring action! I was unaware of this msn until today! (Or it had dissapeared down the Geezer memory hole :) )  An event to be recounted as part of the best in Naval tradition and devotion to duty, but at the same time unfortunately a sad reminder of capabilities lost.                                                                                                            

X BradTC said...

IIRC, they just slapped an AGM-45 on the rail of half the boxes on the ASROC launcher. Point, pull the trigger, let the missile do the rest.

There were also some ARM variants of RIM-8 Talos missiles shot from the guided missile cruisers.

C-dore 14 said...

There were a variety of self-defense systems aboard the ships in those days ranging from the ISSM (Interim Surface to Surface Missile) that XBrad describes to Army systems such as the Sea Chapperal that was installed on the DASH Deck aboard several FRAM DDs.  All of these were developed in less than a year because of the concern of SSM attack while operating close to the beach.  Even the FF 1052 I served in, which had BPDSMS, also carried a half-dozen REDEYE missiles.  

C-dore 14 said...

Sorry Sid, I never served in a FRAM although I made my 3/C Midn Cruise aboard a FLETCHER.  Knew several guys who served in DESRON 15 ships along with ROWAN who told many stories like the one above.  (GURKE and RICHARD B. ANDERSON where the other FRAMs and PARSONS, a FORREST SHERMAN AAW Conversion, was the flagship).  In April/May '72 USS HAMNER, the FRAM which was in our squadron (DESRON 31), made a run into Haiphong Harbor to rescue a pilot who had ejected while returning to the CVA.

C-dore 14 said...

Regarding the discussion below about the LCS, stories like this demonstrate how a ship's capabilities or lack of them directly impact it's usefulness in operational situations.  Between 1968 and March 1972 pretty much any DD or DE could be assigned to gunline duty because none of those units went north of the DMZ.  When "Freedom Train/Linebacker" NGFS operations started after the Easter Offensive in April '72 they became selective about the type of units assigned.  The DDs and DDGs (twin screws and, except for the FORREST SHERMAN AAW-mods, multiple guns) went north and as a result, the gunline immediately south of the DMZ was stripped of all ships except for a couple of 1052s for nearly two weeks.  The 1052s, which were starting to come into the fleet then, didn't participate in the Linebacker Operation primarily because of concerns about the reliability of their single engineering plant and the lack of a second gun to engage shore batteries.

C-dore 14 said...

I remember those days too when it was the "right" of every 18 and 19 year old E-2 to grow a scraggly beard.  ;)

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sid said...

If it makes it any better Ken, I'll buy the first round ;)

But on a more serious note....Very certainly, the Littoral COMBAT Ship should be discussed in the context of actual, littoral COMBAT.

Wharf Rat said...

The thing that's missing in this story?  There's only one way to start a sea story:

"Now this is no sh........t"

Byron said...

And I'll buy the second ;)

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Or go to Norfolk to visit WISCONSIN.  See what a Combat Ship looks like. I wish the Navy would.

sid said...

I knew you were on one of those old cans...and also off Vietnam. Just made a spurious connection between the two....

I'll bet that Knox seemed like a Taj Mahal compared to that old 2100 tonner!

C-dore 14 said...

sid, You're right about that.  There was air conditioning in the messing and berthing spaces and officer staterooms on the KNOX even had doors instead of curtains. 

X BradTC said...

Gotta wonder 'bout the culture a bit as well. Who came up with the idea of shooting Shrikes from DDs? Did some department head come up with it? Go to his CO and make a pitch?

Could we do that in today's Navy?

MR T's Haircut said...

So they didnt want a single engine ship to beak down and possible get captured?  Interesting... The same concern should be placed on the JSF!

MR T's Haircut said...

I recall during Desert Storm we had to escort the USS BIDDLE because her Rudder Fell off and sank to the bottom of the Red Sea... lucky for her she had twin screws to maintain some steerage.... interesting time.

sid said...

Sure...

We'd have a powerpoint in about 2 years...

Then the program restructuring and GAO studies about the 100+ pct. cost overruns for another 3 or so...

After that it will be discovered that the redesigned missile -bought in much fewer quantities- will not fit into the launcher....

At which time the new CNO will cancel the program...

And the prime contractor will get paid several millions in cancellation fees.

C-dore 14 said...

You may not believe it these days but much of this stuff was generated from organizations in DC.  The story I was told at Destroyer School was that after the Israeli DD, EILAT, was sunk by STYX missiles in '67 NAVMAT and BUORD headed a crash program to develop interim anti-missile boat/anti-missile defense systems using as much off the shelf stuff as possible.  BPDSMS, which was essentially a modified ASROC launcher on a 40 mm train mechanism and used SPARROW missiles, was the most notable system to come out of this process.  ISSM was installed primarily on LANTFLT ships and was phased out as HARPOON entered the fleet in the mid-70s.  The forward-deployed PGs, DOUGLAS and GRAND RAPIDS, had the Standard ARM system installed as well.

Several ASW-related programs were kicking around in those days too, most sponsored by the TYCOMs.  A number of LANTFLT FFs experimented with the BQR-20s.  In 1973 a guy from the CRUDESPAC ASW shop handed me (ASW Off on a frigate) two large cardboard boxes containing parts of an AQA-4 sonobuoy system removed from a decommissioned S-2F so we could evaluate its usefulness aboard a FF.  Quite the experience and, fortunately, we were smart enough to rip it out and return it to the TYCOM prior to our post-deployment INSURV. 

C-dore 14 said...

Maybe not having Power Point was the reason things moved so quickly. 

C-dore 14 said...

MTH, They were mostly concerned about the FF breaking down and another unit having to go back and tow it out while under fire.  The tactic used on many Linebacker strikes was for a column of ships to approach the beach at high speed, Corpen to firing course/speed and blast away.  Then everyone would haul out in a different direction (away from the beach obviously).  Unfortunately, the VNs usually had the range figured out by the time the 3rd or 4th ship made their turn and one (or both) of those guys took significant counter battery.  Eventually they figured out that approaching in a line of bearing and turning simultaneously was a much smarter tactic.

C-dore 14 said...

BIDDLE had some excitement in the fall of '72 when she came under attack by aircraft and (possibly) gunboats off North Vietnam similar to the STERRETT/HIGBEE engagement from the previous May.  BIDDLE's CO, CAPT (later RADM) Ed Carter, made a video about it called "The Captain Fights for Combat" that was all the rage in the TAO classes of the mid-70s when the powers that be were having a hard time accepting that the CO would be some place other than the bridge in a combat situation.

ponsdorf said...

Was on the  PreCom crew and did the first deployment on the Parsons as DDG-33. It was nice having a REAL gun after  deployments on double ended DLGs with 3 inch 50s.  On the England we picked up downed pilots while escorted by WWII type cans as 'shotgun'. We'd launch the helo and make a high speed run in until the shore batteries opened up. The older can would return fire while we got the hell out. I used to have a picture of some shell splashes between us and one can. Time to dig out the old cruise books.

sid said...

<span>MTH, They were mostly concerned about the FF breaking down and another unit having to go back and tow it out while under fire.  </span>
<span></span>
<span>Commodore, seems these concerns are not applicable to today's naval warfare...</span>
<span></span>
<span>Check out whats getting said about the Freedom's butt cheeks...</span>
<span></span>
<span>

Cmdr. Randy Garner, the ship’s Gold Crew skipper and the man in charge for Freedom’s trial deployment to 4th Fleet, said the “tanks” ride above the waterline and would only come into play “to give the ship additional buoyancy, if, for some reason, we were lower in the water.” Which is to say, if the Freedom took damage in combat and started to sink, Navy engineers think its water wings would help the ship stay afloat, or at least delay its sinking until everyone could get off.

Heck, if I were a bad guy, I wouldn't totally annihilate the vessel and kill the crew. I would cripple her, knowing the American penchant to drop everything -including ongoing offensive ops- to effect a rescue.

Who is at the disadvantage in that kind of Blackhawk Down  scenario?
</span>

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Sid,

Smart money has it that is precisely the idea the bad guys have.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Ponsdorf,

Don't like the 3"-50s?  You'll love the massive 57mm of the LCS....

sid said...

URR...I've been pondering this chink in the plan for years...

Its when I began to have serious doubts about this whole Little Crappy Ship (which will go Really Fast!) concept.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

I know I am a simple cannoneer, whose job it is to blow things up and drive over them, but....


Can anyone adequately explain why the Knoxes were built with boilers instead of turbines, and a single screw?  They would seem to be a great platform for today, if they could generate required power and hit 35 knots.....

Was on Miller FF 1091 back in 83.  Relatively new ship at the time, but only 27 kts and unable to stay with the CBG...

UltimaRatioRegis said...

I know I am a simple cannoneer, whose job it is to blow things up and drive over them, but....


Can anyone adequately explain why the Knoxes were built with boilers instead of turbines, and a single screw?  They would seem to be a great platform for today, if they could generate required power and hit 35 knots.....

Was on Miller FF 1091 back in 83.  Relatively new ship at the time, but only 27 kts and unable to stay with the CBG...

MR T's Haircut said...

would love to see that video..

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Congress mandated the single screw as a cost saving measure.  I can't say why the went with steam turbines, rather than gas.

sid said...

They were meant for ocean escort. Friedman covers your question in detail in his US Destroyers.

As much as we bash the LCS, the USN has never been able to build a truly affordable small combatant capable of mass production since the dawn of the steel navy.

Will have to crack open the book and find the pull quotes.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

I like KNOXes. I have always thought that a two ship team of a KNOX and a KIDD, using as a completely random example, DDG 995 and FF 1071, would strike fear in the foeman's heart.   

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Would you say that RUDDEROWs and BUTLERs were as close as we came?

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Excellent, sid!  I got that book from USNI (thanks, SWMBO) and Norm Friedman and I actually struck up some fascinating conversations, and he SIGNED it for me....  haven't gotten there yet.  Churchill's "History of the English Speaking Peoples" is next.....  after that?  Friedman!

sid said...

I think even those classes never came in on the price desired and were a real comptetion for steel wanted in other places. But can't remember exactly what Friedman had to say.

And if you hit the google books too much it will lock you out >:o

Guess I will be stayin home with Friedman tonite after work instead of headin' to the topless joint 8-)

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

True, they were expensive in steel and yard space, but they were certainly a step up from the Buckeys.  I just went and looked in the bookcase where I keep my Friedman books, and the DD book is missing!  When I moved, some of the books didn't get moved into the apartment before winter snowed the storage garage shut. Cruisers amphibs and carriers are there, I have to get DDs and BBs out of storage.  My DD copy is an older one, with FLETCHER on the cover. Do you have the revised one, with a BURKE on the cover, and if so, is it worth getting for the updates?

sid said...

I do have the new one...and the old one. I'd only buy it if you have the money to burn though (not that I did-but maybe it added a week longer to the life of my liver). There isn't a whole lot in there that isn't available on the net or has been overtaken by the sharp zigs and zags USN shipbuilding has taken since.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

I thought the proposed shore GFS and AAW versions of the RUDDEROWs and BUTLERs withe the four 5"/38s on the AA version, and the five 5'/25s on the GFS were kind of interesting. They would roll inverted first chance the got, i believe, but interesting, neverthless.

X BradTC said...

As mentioned, the Knoxes (and FFGs, and Brookes, and Garcias) were all ocean escorts, designed to provide ASW (and very limited AAW) support to trans-LANT convoys and to amphibs and logistics forces. They were NOT designed, nor intended, to accompany the CVBGs.

As to why the Knox's had steam instead of gas turbine? Well, because pretty much everything had steam back then. The only GT in service back then was the Ashville PGs.

ewok40k said...

Too many people forget that during Cold War primary mission waiting for the Navy in case of it going hot, was to win third battle of Atlantic, and provide supply and reinforcements to the troops in Europe. Hence many escorts designed to follow convoys, not exactly job requiring dash speeds. IMHO re-do of FFG using modern tech (mini-Aegis) should be more on the spot than LCS.

cdrsalamander said...

Get 'em .... I'll post 'em along with your narrative. 8-)

MR T's Haircut said...

I was impressed by the fact we never needed to go on water hours... even in the Persian Gulf.   2 Evaps I think....

Knox ride was very comfortable even in a gale.

MR T's Haircut said...

old school

MR T's Haircut said...

I am going to try to count the merits.....  starting with....  Bueller?  Bueller?

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Well, being in a large measure aluminum, I am sure LCS is recyclable.  So when it gets wrecked, at least you don't have to take it to the landfill.  I know in VT you could get five bucks or two dump tickets for it. 

doc75 said...

CDR, I have thoroughly enjoyed Fullbore Friday but this one just about tops them all.  I had no idea about a gun line action in Haiphong Harbor in 1972.  I thought I knew quite a bit about Nam, but never had any idea about a surface bombardment of Haiphong.  I did know about Chicago engaging MiGs during Linebacker II but not this.  Very interesting history.  And Shrikes on ships, too!  Now that's innovative.  It might not have been as earth shattering as Hellfires on Predators but I think the people who came up with that were of kindred minds with the Shrikes on ships developers.  And the Hellfire on Predator folks probably had no idea how prolific that concept would become anyway.  Bravo Zulu!

sid said...

From US Destroyers (1st ed) p163:

DE production experience can also be read as an object lesson in the pointlessness of austere designs for mobilization ["boxes" anyone?"]. In World War I the Bureau of Construction and Repair sucessfully opposed an attempt to build a new type of austere ASW destroyer on the ground that planning and design work in itself would so delay the new type that exisiting (and m0re complex) ships could be built far faster. In 1941 the Bureau of Ships used a similar argument but failed to convince the President, and the DEs were ordered. There were significant delays as designs were developed, and it can be argued that the bureau was correct in the preference for a slightly redesigned 1,620-tonner for "sea control." This experience was read postwar as indicating that although time and money might be saved by austerity, it was necessary to build mobilization types in advance of any emergency. The Dealey and Claud Jones classes resulted. Unfortunately, their relatively unimpressive characterisitcs, necessitated by the mobilization requirement, made them unpopular.

X BradTC said...

The "Hellfire on Predator" folks weren't as innovative as you might think. Sometime back in the 70s, someone came up with the idea of shooting Mavericks off BQMs. Tested, worked well, killed by the Air Force.

sid said...

I had a nice little recap of Ch 15....but it was too big...and it...Went. Away.

:'(

anyway, the reason the Knoxs didn't have turbines is because viable ones had not been developed in time. DE 1101 was suppossed to be fitted because it was cancelled.

Great tale on pp366-368 of how that evil Siren -Speed- caught then CNO Anderson's ear who dictated the escort design study known as Project Seahawk design the ship around a 40 kt speed. This in turn promptly drove the effort onto the rocks.

C-dore 14 said...

I'd bet that SWOS and/or the TACTRAGRUs still have copies squirreled away someplace.  The part I remember best is that during one part of the engagement they had a low flyer inbound that they couldn't engage with missiles for some reason.  Because the MK 68 GFCS was CASREP'd they trained their 5/54 and 3/50 out on the bearing and started blasting away using a drop-ranging ladder until the contact disappeared from the radar.

C-dore 14 said...

Although the KNOX eventually was used as a "general purpose escort" they were initially intended as a platform for the SQS-26CX sonar with ASW as their primary (if not sole) mission.  The initial weapons suite (ASROC, 21" torpedo tubes aft, MK 32 SVTT, and DASH) seems to bear this out.  Although I've never been able to confirm this, I was told that the initial design didn't include the 5/54.  I'm assuming that many of you aren't aware of the controversy that surrounded the introduction of this class, with its limited mission capabilities,into the fleet.  Just prior to my commissioning "Proceedings" gave its annual prize to a CAPT Smith for an article in which he strongly criticized the ship construction process using the KNOX class as a primary example of all that was wrong with the system.

I've always felt that the 1052 was an excellent example of how you can modify a platform over time to incorporate new technologies and offset shortcomings assuming that enough weight and space is set aside in the initial design.  IVDS, TACTAS, LAMPS MK I, and HARPOON were all installed in the years between '69 and '84 and eventually turned the KNOX into a reliable and relatively capable platform.

As for the engineering plant, let's not forget that these ships were initially authorized as part of the FY 64 program when 1200 psi steam was considered the best propulsion system for a warship.  Also, if you're developing an escort where you're trying to keep cost down you're not about to embark on a program that would involve creating all the repair. maintenance, support, and training that would go along with introducing a new propulsion system.

For MTH, I can tell that you didn't serve in a KNOX during the early days of the class when water hours were not unknown (although not as routine as they were aboard the DDG-2 class).  Let's also say that those ships could get pretty warm too until they installed the 3rd AC unit in the late '70s.

sid said...

All that controversy was swirling as I first came on watch...I used to have all those Proceedings (actually had copes dating back to the mid 50's-but lost them somewhere along the way) and remember that article.

The SQS-26 was a driving factor in the size of the ship, as it had been since the Bronsteins (which were considered too small), and Friedman makes note that it was the size of the Garcias/Brookes and Knoxes which made them the butt the criticism. 

They looked like DDs, so why were they not as capable?

William F Gibbs (of Gibbs&Cox-have to wonder how many times he has spun in the grave over those butt cheeks on Freedom)  complained that while steel is the cheapest component in ship costs, the natural inclination to fill them up with goodies makes them inevitably more expensive.

As for gas turbines, it took the advent of turbine sections capable of providing the power to large high bypass fan engines to come along before something other than hybrid steam/gas plants -extensively studied once Project Seahawk was mandated to go 40 kts- could be incorporated in ships of this size. The first capable US engine of this type was the GE TF39 developed for the C-5 program, and its civil variant the CF6, which provided the core for the LM2500.

I would argue though, that there are better cores out there today...But the consolidated engine manufacturing base doesn't seem so interested in pursuing any improvement.

C-dore 14 said...

Sid, you're right that an apparent lack of capabilities in comparison to these ships' size was behind a lot of the criticism, which was pretty vocal.  I remember my Company Officer (a Blackshoe) giving me a hard time about selecting a new construction 1052 instead of something like a FORREST SHERMAN ASW-mod, which he considered the best ship every designed.  ;)  

I'd add that the decision to return to a standard "D" type boiler instead of the BROOKE/GARCIA's "P-fired" boiler and to install a third SSTG contributed to the size increase as well.

sid said...

Those p fired boilers on the Garcias/Brookes were misery for everyone...Including those within painful earshot of them.

Thats something else Ch15 in US destroyers touches on. William Gibbs, who had convinced the USN to adopt them in the first place, was also the one to convince the USN to abandon them for the Knoxes.

Also, the comparative roominess of the initial Knox can also be attributed to the absence of the cancelled Sea Mauler.

I well remember the fanfare when the ASROC box of one of them was fitted with Standard...Pre Harpoon days.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Oh yes, I agree, the Sea Control version of the BRISTOLs would have been far superior, and it was already in production, so what was needed to build was known, and the parts were being made.  We would have seen a flood of honest to goodness DDEs in late 42.   Four fully directed 5"/38s,  more 40mm and 20mm, bigger, better riding hull, more powerful plant, oh, yes, a much better proposition all around.  Might even have figured out a way to add hedgehogs!

C-dore 14 said...

I spent two extremely long years as Weps aboard a BROOKE-Class FFG.  I remember the short comings of the P-fired boilers, which ranged from boiler-top fires to difficulty in plugging/replacing ruptured tubes.  Also, if the super-charger failed the boiler was OOC.  You could run a D-type boiler at reduced capability with a single FDB but the P-fired had no backup.

As a conning officer mooring the ship alongside the pier, however, I liked the fact that the supercharger "whine" let me know that my engine order was taking effect.

Anonymous said...

several neat things about the 1052's:

they were the first ship built with a "get home safe" auxiliary propulsion pod. this was a diesel driven maneuvering pod up forward that the official reason for was for working to piers and nests but the real gang that actually ran the ship said was to get home when the main plant crapped out. remember this was the 1200 lb years and those not that reliable.

the p fired boilers had ring type superheaters and each of those had something like 730 certified heliarce welds between the tubes (1") and the headers. (they could not weld the cres tubes to the chrome moley headers and so had to use an intermediate fitting that at the time was a real bear to manufacture. of course as was standard once we bought some machinery that would make the fool things with dispatch the navy took the ships out of commission.)

the forced draft blowers were called superchargers and had two main problems. first was that they were driven by exhaust gasses from the combustion chamber. there was an electric moter connection on one end of the rotating assy (which looked very much like the turbine core from the engines in b-52's) and a steam trubine at the other end. it took a verrrrrry savvy bunch to assemble the thing well enough that it would run without using make up steam on the steam turbine. the other thing was that the casing was so flimsey that they would not stay in alignment for any appreciable time and so everybody used make up steam on the turbine to run them at the desired rate.

at the time of construction there was no large military version of a controllable pitch propellor that would satisfy the power demands that a gas turbine installation would require in those beasts. in the early 70's usn took two hulls in hand (Barbey was the one on the west coast) cut the strut off the hull, replaced it with an oversized version and installed an experimental CP installation. that particular version dumped all five blades about 70 miles off of santa barbara and we installed the spare set of blades and did other tests at reduced power rates. later we removed the experimental system and went back to standard. (navsea grabbed the old strut and installed it on the ship on the east coast that had the runin with the russian sub but thats another story.

keep in mind that the above sea story is filtered through about 40 years of screaming, shouting and "if they knew what they were doing..." but wth....

C

MR T's Haircut said...

<span>C-dore, </span>
<span></span>
<span>I served on my Knox classes as Airdet LAMPS det circa 1989-1992  Elmer Montgomery, Bowen, Pharris, and the Paul... Not sayign they were perfect but we didnt have water hours that I recall.  I do remember the Wardroom getting all pissy when we had to move the Helo in and the Chains Dragged on the deck when pushing the helo in the barn... and we did have a problem with 400 hz power and had to bring our own NC-8 over from the Saratoga to start and do maintenance on our helo.. came with it's own AS3... also ironically enough named Nguyen... from South Vietnam.....</span>

C-dore 14 said...

Guest, I think you're referring to the APUs on the FFG-7 Class, the 1052 didn't have anything like that.  If you lost power you had to pray that the SSDG would light off and stay on line long enough for you to bring back the engineering plant.  If not, you had to attempt a procedure known as the "residual steam light off" (which was not an official sanctioned procedure) or wait for somebody else to show up to tow you back home.

The biggest problem I remember about the superchargers (which were on the Brooke and Garcia classes) was that their motor bearings had a tendency to freeze up placing the boiler OOC.

ponsdorf said...

Found one cruise book from the England. I'll bring it to the MilBlog Conference. Also a copy of our NUC for your perusal. Not FBF material, but you might find it of interest.
BTW, I'll be wearing a Dixie Cup. It was a hit last year. And on FB I'm Elmo Zumwalt... seemed right at the time.

C-dore 14 said...

MTH, by the late '80s the 1052s had reaped the benefits of the "1200 psi Improvement Program" in terms of better training, supply support, and equipment maintenance.  In my first two 1052s (early and late 70s) things were not so good in terms of evaporator reliability and boiler water chemistry.  In the latter case, a salty boiler means you have to dump, treat, and fill until back in specs.  Guess who did without until things were back to normal?

Byron said...

MTH, I worked on both the Montgomery and the Paul back in the 80's, the Paul several times with Atlantic Marine back then.

You wouldn't remember anything about a torpedo getting fired down Delta pier back then, would you? :)

sid said...

If you lost power you had to pray that the SSDG would light off and stay on line long enough for you to bring back the engineering plant.

There was the case where on FF had to "jumpstart" another off Senegal using shore power cables.

Cant' remember the exact configuration, but it was possible to get into a situation on a Knox in which the ship simply could not get itself back up and running.

More of the class's austere pedigree...

I remember that happend one time to an FF we (on a DDG/once a DLG) were in company with (Elmer Montgomery rings a bell but not sure) in the Med, and something similar happened. The guys on watch didn't notice she was not 10000 yards away anymore. We had a CDS onboard (14 IIRC), and when the Commodore came in and inquired where the FF was...nobody could tell him.

Damned glad I wasn't there!!!!

Anyway....now the USN its going to make its largest class of ships, an "austere" vessel that can't even match the warfare attributes of its forebears...Which were criticized for how little they brought to the fleet.

The L'il Crappy Ship is no break from history. Its a prisoner of the willful ignorance of it.

MR T's Haircut said...

C-dore,  Thanks for the perspective and history lessons on the Knox class!  I have no doubt you and your wardromm went without water before the crew, it is the kind of leader we have come to know you as around these parts.. would have loved to serve with you.

I hope the Navy ship building folks know that a lot of history and experience still lives in the folks on Phib's porch.. easy group to get the straight scoop on and use for any tech team to unf*(@ something... pronbably we would do it for the cost of beer....

MR T's Haircut said...

Byron, 

I was on Elmer Motngomery when the guys told me about that story.  They were very adamant about us not loitering around the tube bulkhead forward of the hangar...
my question was, How did the fish make it over the side without hitting a chain or stanchion.... and a good thing I suppose it went landside!  got more on that story Byron for us?

MR T's Haircut said...

Phib,

this about tears it,,, unintentional hijacks of a great thread about a tincan led to further discussion about Knox Classes... got any fulbore up your sleeve to discuss this ship class?

Byron said...

ASWO decided he needed to be with the STGs when they did the PMS on the tubes. I guess he wanted to be there when they fired the air slug. He told the LPO to use THIS tube. The LPO said there was a fish in it. ASWO insisted that all had been off-loaded. LPO again said there was a fish in it. ASWO told LPO, STFU and fire the air slug or go to Mast. Air slug fired, and tube goes flying northward down Delta barely missing several POVs (you could do that back in the 80s back before there a multitude of fences and gate guards. LPO got called to Mast, where the two other STGs backed his story. The ASWO was last seen heading towards D-gar :)  

Then there was the young enswine who thought it would be cool to fire a volley ball in the general direction of Saratogo.... damn near made from Delta one (the corner by the Delta Club, oh the days of beer in vending machines!) across to Charlie pier.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima cupla...

MR T's Haircut said...

me too!  too much fun to discuss about the Knox's

UltimaRatioRegis said...

<span>Let's share a cup-o-culpa.  But not in a ghey way.
</span>

sid said...

Y'all send the video :)

We can have that Shamwow guy hawk it for 19.99!

Anyway, I don't think we disparaged what the Rowan and Higbee and other FRAMS contributed in that era.

Instead we have been engaging in some "forward looking history" as we contrast and compare suceeding ship types.

Things won't be so different during the next scrap in the littorals.....

Anonymous said...

sir:

i was over in our carpenter shop one day (bout 1971) and they were building a full scale wooden mockup of the unit i was talking about. it was attributed to be for the 1052's (which now that i think about it were getting towards the end of their production run). yes that was about the time that we were doing a lot of experimental work for gas turbine ships and so i guess i stand corrected.

Anonymous said...

sounds like on the "little crappy ship" one of the best investments of discretionay funding might be one of those little honda generators with special wiring to be kept under the chengs' bunk.

C

sid said...

But you're rigth. This is about those old warhorses that were supposed to be gone by the early '70s...

But as CDS 14 noted, tthier replacements in the ASW escort role couldn't step up to that "other" mission that the ships found themselves in north of the DMZ.

Another reason they were so heavily used on the gunline was that their 5"38's were greatly more reliable that the 5"54's of the day. Then, the newer mounts were hydrualic nightmares. Plus they had 4 tubes (generally) rather than just the one on the Adams's or even the 3 on the Forrest Sherman's.

Anonymous said...

there was a period (middle sixties) when the boys in pearl just couldn't get it right.

someone blooped a subroc from the destroyer tender nest on ford island into the middle of the channel. when the divers went out to get it back another "something" landed right in the middle of thier little coffe klatch. then a couple of weeks later one of the ships tied up about midway down 1010 dock shot a torpedo across the parking lot which ended up more or less at the door to the exchange and stopped there just as an admiral was buying cigaretts at the cash register.

i saw the boats out at the subroc recovery and saw the scars in the parking lot (it was about 200 yards from the merry point liberty launch landing, there was no bridge to ford island at that time.) don't know about the admiral though as ph at the time was a real seastory base.

C

C-dore 14 said...

I'll take my share of the blame for unintentionally highjacking this thread (love talking about the 1052).  We got more than our money's worth out of the FRAMs and need to remember that fact.  In addition to ships like ROWAN, a FRAM I, there were still several FRAM IIs (a variation w/o ASROC some of which retained all three 5/38 mounts and added a VDS) deployed to 7th during this period.  Early one afternoon I watched LLOYD THOMAS firing a routine call fire mission when she took a round up forward in a CPO bunkroom.  Immediately she kicked up speed and started maneuvering while returning fire with her forward and after mounts.  I heard later that three CPOs had been slightly wounded and received Purple Hearts for taking a "nooner" that day.

C-dore 14 said...

Well, mostly...although during my JO staff days in DDG-2s I'll admit that I'd fill the stateroom sink with water when I knew that water hours were coming so I'd have something to shave with. :)

C-dore 14 said...

Maybe this explains why the correct procedure for firing air slugs is to ensure that torpedoes and air flasks are removed from all tubes except for the one being tested.

Heard many stories regarding accidents with ASW ordnance over the years, usually told by somebody who knew somebody who had seen it.  Some of them may even have been true  ;) .  My favorite was the one about the PH ship that launched a pattern of ceramic, ceremonial Hedgehogs into a "gendunk" stand while approaching the pier.

MR T's Haircut said...

C-dore,

I am sure the 3 CPO's were conducting training in the form of Acey-Duecy....

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

"Ceremonial Hedgehogs"?

C-dore 14 said...

The hedgehog was an ahead thrown ASW mortar installed forward of the bridge on DDs and DEs from WWII until the early '70s (although it was very obsolete by then and the system was pretty much gone when I entered the fleet).  The practice was to place inert rounds on the mount(s) while entering or leaving port.  Although I like this story it strains credibility in that the propelling charge was located in the base of the projectile so the GMs/TMs would have had to have left practice rounds on an activated launcher for this event to occur.  Not beyond the realm of "stupid sailor tricks" but somewhat unlikely.

Never the less, I heard this tale for many years and it was always attributed to a Pearl Harbor ship.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

You misunderstood me, I know what a hedgehog is, I had just never heard of ceremonial rounds. Were they painted a glos color, so they would look snazzy to anyone seeing them from shore?   

  I know an RN CAPTIAN class DE once laid a pattern of hedgehogs on the dockside at NYNY. Since Hedgehogs had hydrstaic fuses, it just scared a lot of people, but they were lucky they didn't kill anyone. 

   I have always found it odd that the USN liked the hedgehog far more than the RN did, but then, they went to the Squid.  The Bigger Hammer theory applied to ASW, I guess.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Could that have been the source of SARATOGA's desire to shoot things at DDs?

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

That was supposed to be a reply to Byrons post above, about the vollyball.

cdrsalamander said...

Wow, it has been a long time, methinks, since a FbF went three figures in comments ... and no one mentioned the perfect selection of "Bogy" as the posterchild of the hairy-face navy.

In the pre-show discussion before Midrats went live, EagleOne and I were talking about the fact that most of the things you hear about the early '70s Navy is so negative ... but the more I look into it and talk to those who were there, the more you have to be impressed with what they did.

This mission is just one example.  I really don't think they get the credit they deserve.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

How long since a FBF went over 100 comments, and stayed on topic? 

Byron said...

Could be, I know the Admiral was highly pissed. Fool shot this thing at 1000 in front of God and the world, damn near the whole basin could see it.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Did they do the merciful thing, and shoot him?

C-dore 14 said...

Scott, sorry about the misunderstanding.  As I understand it most ships had a set of inert blue shapes that were sometimes decorated with a star on the top of the round.  One of the ships I saw painted theirs with black boot topping laced with spar varnish so they'd shine.  Ships would put these out for sea details and ceremonies.  Your story indicates that the one I heard might even be true. 

C-dore 14 said...

Some of us have been trying to forget the E-2s with the scraggly beards  ;) .  

You're right about the early '70s Navy---lots of folks working hard for people who didn't much care for us.  The late-70s Navy, on the other hand, was not a pleasant experience when the leadership kept talking about "a full days work for a full days pay", a lot of good CPOs had retired in frustration, and most of the troops were on drugs.  My first DH tour '75-77 (Ford Administration) was probably the worst tour in my career.  Fortunately things started getting better in the '80s.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

My fault more than yours, Sir.  As a DESRON Commander you have forgotten more ASW stuff than I will ever know.  I worded the "ceremonial hedgehogs" poorly, too.

  Now that you mention it, I have seen photos of hedgehog launchers with projectiles with stars on them, I guess it just went in one side of my brain, and out the other, ( nothing there to slow it down, perhaps ).  I must have thought of them as covers for the fuse holes, to be removed and the fused screwed in, prior to use. 

jim_in_fla said...

was there for the mid 60's / early 70's Navy. We had a lot of guys enlisting (pre lottery) that were college grads or drops trying to keep a step ahead of the draft. One result was many smart people in dungarees. Another was some of the mainstream liberated culture norms folding into USN. When those guys got saved by the lottery and were no longer exposed to the draft, they went elsewhere. Sometime around 1970, project 100,000 kicked in and we got a lot of HS drops and discipline problems to fill the ranks. Yes, standards were lessened. Sound familiar? By 1970 -71 they early outed many of us. Z grams made the low rank E's happy but the chiefs and 1st's weren't having it. Lost a lot of leadership then.

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