USS MoKEAN (DD-784) is the second ship to bear the name of Commodore William Wister McKean whose naval career spanned the period of naval development from the War of 1812 to the Civil War. The first ship to bear the name McKEAN was a "Wickes" class four-stack destroyer (DD-90) which was commissioned on 25 February 1919. Laid up shortly after World War I, the first McKEAN was reclassified a fast transport (APD) and recommissioned on 2 August 1940. She saw service in both the Atlantic and the Pacific during World War II and participated in the New Georgia, Rendova, and Guadalcanal campaigns. On the night of 17 November 1943, she was attacked and sunk by Japanese torpedo planes off Bougainville. She went down with her guns blazing.
Today's McKEAN, (DD-784), was laid down in Seattle at Todd Shipyard. She was commissioned on 9 June 1945 and participated in the occupation of Japan. Following the outbreak of the Korean War, she participated in the landings at Inchon and bombardment and blockade operations off Wonson, Songjin, and Chinjou. McKEAN discovered the first minefield of the war while on patrol off the Chinnanpo River. In 1952, she was converted to a Radar Picket Destroyer (DDR) and made numerous patrols and deployments to Far Eastern waters. In 1963, McKEAN underwent conversion under the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM Mark 1) program. She emerged from the conversion with the then latest in ASW systems.
McKEAN made numerous deployments following FRAM conversion and has the distinction of being the only conventional destroyer to keep up with a nuclear powered carrier during a high speed transit. McKEAN distinguished herself during the Vietnam conflict for delivering accurate and effective naval gunfire and the rescue of downed pilots while assigned as search and rescue (SAR) destroyer during Tonkin Gulf operations.
In July 1972, McKEAN assumed another mission, that of training Naval Reservists. She thus enjoys the added distinction of having been involved in this vital mission longer than any other active destroyer. With a manning approximately 65% of normal, McKEAN has continued to carry out all missions required of a modern destroyer and additionally contributes to national se curity by serving as an operational, seagoing classroom for nearly 100 Selected Reservists. This year McKEAN celebrated her 36th birthday. Her continued readiness is a tribute to those officers and men, regular and reserve, who have manned her in the past. The same spirit, resourcefulness, and professionalism that enabled a shore spotter at My Trang, Vietnam to exclaim on his radio circuit "We are still here alive, and the territory is ours, thanks to McKEAN", lives on today.