Command History for 1969


During the first month of 1969, final preparations were made for KING's upcoming deployment with the U. S. SEVENTH Fleet in the Western Pacific. an extended upkeep period in her homeport of San Diego insured all phases of KING's sophisticated weapons system and Naval Tactical Data System were ready for the six month deployment in the combat zone commencing in early February. A final missile and conventional ordnance loadout was conducted at the seal Beach Naval Weapons Station on 22 January. The underway transit time in the southern California operations area allowed final adjustments to various equipment. Families and close friends of KINGSMEN were entertained on a dependents cruise on 24 January which included helicopter operations off San Diego Harbor.

A delay in the date of deployment from the first week of February to 24 February allowed further improvements of personnel and material rediness. In accordance with Commander U. S. FIRST Fleet Quarterly Employment Schedule, KING left San Diego on 24 February bound for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, with Captain L. D. CUMMINGS, Commander Destroyer Squadron FIFTEEN embarked. The transit time was utilized for exercises at General Quarters particularly in the ECM, communications and conventional gunnery areas. Arriving in Pearl Harbor on 2 March for four days, the ship received final Western Pacific operations plans and equipment and was soon enroute to Midway Island in company with the USS RADFORD (DD-466). During the Pearl Harbor stay, Admiral John McCain personally witnessed and commended KING for the exemplary appearance of her ship and personnel upon arrival. a short fueling stop at Midway Island on 8 March provided a brief exercise period for the crew before the next leg of the transit to Yokosuka, Japan.

During this particular part of the voyage KING experienced particularly rough seas causing minor damage on the weather decks and a general uncomfortable feeling for a large part of the crew. CYN3 Robert J. CRAWFORD who would have been twenty five years old, missed his birthday when 10 March was eliminated due to crossing the International Date Line. The crew welcomed the arrival in Yokosuka on 14 March. The four day stopover allowed KING sailors to tour to nearby Tokyo, Yokohama, and other Japanese attractions. Vice Admiral w. F. BRINGLE, Commander U. S. SEVENTH Fleet visited the ship on 17 March. Underway again on 18 March with RADFORD as an element of TU 71.1.2, KING was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Korea) proudly worn by her crew for the remainder of the cruise.

KING sailed to Sasebo, Japan on 23 March for a one week visit which combined an upkeep period with sight seeing opportunities for the crew. A short cruise along the southern coast of Japan brought KING to the bustling Japanese port of Kobe on 1 April where the frigate was the only United States Naval Ship present in the harbor. During the four day visit the U. S. sailors were welcomed throughout this thriving city and nearby Kyoto and Osaka. KING hosted a number of tours by such organizations as the Kobe Newspaper Reporters Guild, Kobe Rotary Club, Kobe Businessmens' Association, Tkuta Police Force, Boys' Town Orphanage, and a number of school groups.

Leaving Kobe on 5 April, KING sailed south for Subic Bay Naval Base, Philippine Islands. Enroute a surface-to-air TERRIER missile firing was conducted at the Okinawa test range on the eastern side of the island. Arriving in Subic on 9 April, the ship spent four days in upkeep and installed special equipment peculiar to the forthcoming mission as Strike Support Ship (SSS) and Search and Rescue (SAR) control ship in the Gulf of Tonkin of Vietnam. A UH2 helicopter and crew was brought aboard at this time.

The ship departed Subic on 12 April for the Gulf of Tonkin via Danang, Republic of Vietnam, for briefings and anti-PT boat training. On 16 April KING relieved USS STANDLEY (DLG-32) as CTU 77.0.2 on Positive Identification Radar Advisory Zone (PIRAZ) Station in the northern Gulf of Tonkin. The frigate continued on this station for thirteen days utilizing her Naval Tactical Data System (NTDS) facility to support the U. S. Navy and Air Force strike efforts over Vietnam. The computerized command and control system allowed KING air controllers to actively follow strike aircraft over the target area, issue MIG warnings, provide navigational assistance, exercise positive control of Navy CAP jet fighters and provide assistance to aircraft requiring emergency in-flight instructions.

During this period KING was continually accompanied in her critical mission on station by a “shot gun” destroyer providing added conventional firepower. The shot guns were successively the USS HOPEWELL (DD-681), USS CHEVALIER (DD-805), USS LEARY (DD-879) AND USS DOUGLAS H. FOX (DD-779). A vital role in maintaining this PIRAZ station was played by underway replenishment (UNREP) of fuel and supplies from various support ships to KING. Seven UNREPS were successfully completed during this first line period. The welcome supporting ships were USS NAVASOTA (AO-106), USS ALUDRA (AF-55), and USS PASSUMPSIC (AO-107).

On 28 April the ship received an emergency squawk from an A-7 jet aircraft losing engine power 10 miles away. KING's helicopter rescued the downed pilot, LTJG Morris E. MANSELL of VF-53 who was treated by ship's medical corpsman and quickly air-lifted back to his squadron.

KING was relieved on 2 May by her sister ship USS MAHAN (DLG-11) and directly returned to Subic on 4 May for a brief upkeep period alongside the destroyer repair ship USS KLONDIKE (AR-22). Underway again on 9 May, the ship joined the CTG 77.5 screen operating with the aircraft carrier BON HOMME RICHARD (CVA-31) on YANKEE Station in the Gulf of Tonkin. The NTDS capability enabled KING to act as Force Anti-Air Warfare Commander as well as Screen Commander for KING, USS CHEVALIER (DD-805) and USS SCHOFIELD (DEG-3). This mission continued for six days during which underway replenishment was conducted twice with the USS NAVASOTA (AO-106). This was the only time that other than a Carrier Division commander acted in the capacity of Force Anti-Air Warfare Commander and was the result of not having an NTDS aircraft carrier available in the Gulf.

On 16 May KING relieved STANDLEY on the South Search and Rescue (SAR) station. Captain J. S. KERN, Destroyer Division 142, embarked as Surface-Subsurface Surveillance Coordinator (SSSC) (CTG 77.9). In company with her shot gun USS SAMPLE (DE-1048), the frigate remained on South SAR for one week receiving repleneshment support from the USS PONCHATOULA (AO-148) and USS SACRAMENTO (AOE-1), the latter using the vertical replenishment (VERTREP) helicopter technique with great success.

On the afternoon of Friday 23 May, the Honorable John H. CHAFEE, Secretary of the Navy, visited KING on the South SAR Station. He was accompanied on his tour by Vice Admiral W. F. BRINGLE, Commander of the United States SEVENTH Fleet.

Late in the evening of 23 May, a flexible oil line in the after fire room ruptured, causing an extensive Class B fire in that space. Damage control parties brought the fire under control smothering the blaze with foam. Timely aid was provided by SAMPLE in the form of fire fighting equipment and communication support. KING sustained four fatal casualties, all Boiler Technicians on watch in the after fire room when the fire broke out.

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PIRAZ – An Unclassified Summary of PIRAZ (1968) 1)

Captain G. E. Lockee, Former USS Wainwright (DLG-28) Commanding Officer