DD 784 crew


The second USS McKEAN (DD-784) was laid down by Todd Pacific Shipyards, Inc., Seattle, Wash., 15 September 1944; launched 31 March 1945.She was a Gearing class destroyer. Second ship of the fleet to bear the name, she was christened in honor of Commodore William Wister McKean, commander of the Federal Gulf Squadron during the Civil War. Sponsored by Mrs. Thomas G. Peyton. USS McKean (DD-784)was first commissioned on June 9, 1945, Comdr. William D. Kelly in command.

Too late to see action in World War II she joined the fleet in the autumm of 1945, her first duty was a three month tour as a unit of the occupation forces in the Far East. Since then until the outbreak of the Korean War, she engaged in routine training and patrol operations.

After shakedown along the Pacific coast, MCKEAN departed for the Far East 22 September and during the next 3 months operated in support of occupation operations off Japan.During this time she completed two additional tours of duty in the Western Pacific. In two consecutive years, 1948 and 1949, she was awarded the Battle Efficiency Pennant, a distinction shared by but one other destroyer in the Pacific Fleet.

Following the outbreak of Communist aggression against the Republic of South Korea in June 1950, USS McKEAN joined the mighty 7th Fleet in August to suppress the overt threat to world peace. Her CO was CDR H. L REITER, JR, USN . She was assigned to Task Force 77 initially as part of DesDiv 112. She participated in the brilliant Inchon invasion which spearheaded the ground offensive operations against the North Korean Communists. Later, while steaming indepentently off the Chinnampo River, she discovered the first minefield reported during the police action in Korea. Commander John Weatherwax took command of McKean in November 1950. From October 1950 to December 1950, she joined patrolling destroyers with Task Force 72 in the Straits of Taiwan with the Cruiser Manchester, USS Frank Knox, USS Hollister, USS Ozbourn. They had to battle the typhoon Clara which broke apart into 2 typhoons.

The night of November 25th 1950 hundreds of thousands of Chinese Communist troops had crossed the Yalu River into North Korea to attack advancing U.N. forces. Hordes of Chinese cut oft and surrounded the 5th and 7th Marine Regiments with a human wall at Chosin Reservoir 27 November. The breaching of this wall and releasing of our troops depended upon air cover and fire power from planes of carriers stationed off the eastern coast. Mckean, Hollister and Frank Knox was released from patrolling the formosa straits sometime after Dec. 8th. Under a protective canopy of naval air cover, the leathernecks broke through 10 December at Chinhung-ni and moved to Hungnam for evacuation. The United States Navy completed the Hungnam withdrawal of 24 December after embarking 105,000 troops, 91,000 refugees and vast quantities of military cargo. Needing upkeep McKean first ported at Yokosuka, then to Sasebo until 23 December 1950. She was to rejoin TF 77 on 24 Dec 1950, Christmas eve. At that time TF 77 was the largest assembled fleet since WWII, with 4 carriers, the battleship Missouri, two crusiers and over 30 destroyers.

McKean left Sasebo, Japan's submarine nets only to find a surprise waiting for them, 3 Russian submarines waiting for bigger fish to fry. McKean was first to catch the waiting Russians on sonar, soon the Task force commander ordered USS McKean and USS Frank Knox to protect the Task Force. This story remained secret for 48 years, how the McKean helped sink a Russian submarine and recover top secret gear.

In January she began shore bombardment and blockade operations with Task Force 95 at Wonsan, Songjin, and Chinjou. She completed her deployment in the Far East in the spring of 1951 and turned to Long Beach in April. McKEAN received three battle stars for Korean service.

For more than a year McKEAN operated out of Long Beach while training men of the modern Navy. She entered Long Beach Naval Shipyard 20 June 1952; was reclassified DDR-784 on 18 July 1952; and during the next 7 months underwent conversion to a radar picket destroyer. Following shakedown, she joined Destroyer Division 131 and prepared for "keeping-the-peace" duty wherever she might be needed.

McKEAN returned to the Far East in June 1953 and carried out patrols and readiness exercises from Japan to the coast of Asia. Assigned to Destroyer Division 131, with which she joined Task Force 77 off Korea. While on this patrol she earned commendatory mention in the reports of the Task Force Commander for her excellent performance of duty.

In March and April of 1955, while operating from her home-port of Long Beach, California, she participated in operation Wigwam ( an underwater atomic test ) off the coast of California, during which her performance was commended in the reports of Commander Task Unit 7.3.3.

In August, 1955, she once again received the Battle Efficiency Pennant. Another WestPac deployment in 1956 sent her to the southwest Pacific and Australia.Enroute to Singapore, Malaya, she crossed the Equator for the first time in her career.During the latter half of the 1957 she completed another cruise to the "land down under." WestPac duty in 1959 sent her to the Straits of Taiwan where she resumed patrols of vigilance to protect Nationalist China from invasion by the Chinese Communists. And in 1960 she deployed to the restless waters of Southeast Asia and gave visible meaning to U.S. determination to protect and defend that troubled area of the world from the clutches of Asian communism.

Following 2 years of duty at Long Beach, McKEAN returned to the Far East in January 1962. Operating out of the Philippines, she conducted AAW and ASW exercises with HANCOCK, after which she rejoined the Taiwan Patrol in June. She completed her deployment and returned to Long Beach July 17th. Less than a year later, on 18 May 1963, she again deployed to WestPac. During the next several months she ranged the Pacific from the Aleutians and Japan to the Philippines and Hong Kong; thence, she returned to Long Beach 9 September.

Between 7 February and 9 November 1964 McKEAN underwent FRAM I (Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization Program)conversion at Long Beach Naval Shipyard. FRAM I involved removal of one 5 inch 38 caliber twin gun mount.Added were ASROC antisubmarine rocket launchers with Nuclear depth charge capability. Also added was a rear deck housing for 2 DASH drone antisubmarine helicopters.She reclassified to DD-784 on 1 Dec. 1963.She joined DesRon 19 1 July 1964; operated along the west coast and in EastPac during the next year, thence deployed to the waters off troubled Southeast Asia 10 July 1965. Her captain was CDR. John E Mitchell.

McKean Fram configuration
McKean underway 1971 in Fram configuration

McKEAN began duty with the mighty 7th Fleet in the South China Sea 5 August 1965 and during the next 4 months screened ships of the Attack Carrier Striking Group. She cruised off the troubled and inflamed Vietnamese coast and bolstered the might of American seapower as the United States increased the effort to protect and defend the independence and integrity of South Vietnam from overt external aggression of the North Vietnamese Communists. She cruised the coast of South Vietnam 7 December to direct intensive, accurate shore bombardment against the invaders.

While patrolling the coast of I Corps area, McKEAN delivered a timely, effective shore bombardment 15 December during a night sneak attack by a superior force of North Vietnamese regulars against an outnumbered South Vietnamese Regional Force, gallantly defending an outpost at My Trang, Quang Ngai Province. The well-equipped PAVN troops struck hard at the outpost, and the defenders soon ran short of ammunition. However, within 20 minutes after the start of the attack, MCKEAN took position offshore and delivered her first supporting fire. For 5 hours she accurately blasted enemy positions with white phosphorus, illumination and high-explosive fire; this devastating bombardment repulsed the attack, caused heavy enemy losses, and saved the outpost.

Maj. Gen. Huang Xauw Lam, the commanding general of the 2d Vietnamese Infantry, praised McKEAN's decisive action and stated; "Naval gunfire in this engagement was a major factor in defeating the enemy and making the battlefield so untenable that he abandoned his dead and wounded as well as arms and equipment."

McKEAN continued her vital gunfire support missions until 20 December, then steamed to Hong Kong and Yokosuka Departing Japan 31 December, she returned to Long Beach 13 January 1966. After completing preparations for further WestPac duty, she departed 18 November reached Subic Bay 8 December, and on 22 December 1966 began SAR duty in the northern station of the Gulf of Tonkin.

Serving as a gun destroyer and helicopter in-flight refueling ship, McKEAN patrolled the Gulf of Tonkin until 23 January 1967 and again from 23 February until 12 March. In addition she steamed to the gun line on four deployments between 17 February and 12 April to carry out gunfire support missions. During these assignments she fired more than 4,090 rounds of 5-inch ammunition at the enemy.

McKEAN departed the turbulent waters of Southeast Asia 24 April to visit Australian and New Zealand ports until 22 May when she sailed for the United States. Steaming via Samoa and Pearl Harbor, she arrived Long Beach 8 June.

Between 20 July and 10 November, 1967 she underwent overhaul at Mare Island. During this period many of the crew became familiar with the San Francisco area as well as Northern California. While in the yards, the duty rotation was set-up so that each duty section received a 96 hour liberty weekend once a month. Many among the crew took advantage of these long weekends to enjoy hunting and fishing trips into the various National Forests and State Parks found in Northern California. Following the yard period, McKean returned to her home port of Long Beach for the holidays and then on to San Diego early in 1968 for REFTRA as she prepared for her next WestPac deployment.

At the conclusion of REFTRA in March, McKean returned to Long Beach for a brief period and then on to WestPac with visits to Pearl Harbor, Yokosuka and Sasebo along the way. McKean was pulled off of liberty in Sasebo in order to join forces with a task force steaming off the coast of Korea in an attempt to influence the North Korean government to release the crew of the USS Pueblo. From Korea Straight and Sea of Japan duty, McKean continued on to the South China Sea and Tonkin Gulf. Her remaining time was split between serving gun line duty and carrier escort with R & R in Hong Kong and a not-to-be-forgotten R & R in Kaohsiung which was to be one week but became one month when boiler problems encountered enroute as well as a well-timed typhoon extended her stay.

McKean returned to Long Beach late in 1968 and served Local Ops duty along the coast of Southern California and enjoyed the holidays at home, moored to pier 15 much of the time. This was pretty much the routine through the first few months of 1969 until June at which time the ship took on a group of mid-shipmen for their summer cruise. With mid-shipmen aboard, McKean visited San Francisco, Vancouver and Pearl Harbor.

USS McKean again in February of 1970 departed Long Beach for another West-Pac, visiting Japan, Bankok, Guam, Hong Kong, and the Philipines. While operating off Vietnam she excelled again at gun fire support, operated at PIRAZ station, and was the blockade ship off of Cambodia for 30 days.One period she and her crew were at sea for 60 days, testiment to a strong ship and crew. Her skipper was CDR. William D. Hart.

From June 1970 to September 1971 she continued to train her crew as part of Desron 29, excelling during REFTRA and gunnery practice. During this time the Navy gave up on the remote control DASH helicopters, and the hanger became Chiefs territory. September 9,1971 she departed Long Beach for WESTPAC. Commanding officer was CDR. Andrew G. Merget. Sept.15-16 inport Pearl Harbor. Sept.21 inport Midway, 28 Sept. inport Guam. From 2-9 October she underwent upkeep in Subic Bay. She again operated as part of DESRON 13. October 10th she departed Subic for PIRAZ Station. Oct 16 departed for NGFS MR111 & MR1 Stations. November 1 departed for Singapore, upkeep til Nov.10. Nov.11 enroute Indian Ocean Ops (MIDLINK) with HMS EAGLE. November 16th crossed Equator 00 degrees-76 east. Midlink cancelled arrived Yankee Station November 25 for plane guard USS Enterprise.

December 10, 1971 departed for Bay of Bengal (Indian Ocean) to protect American interests during the India-Pakistan War. "Snuck" through Straits of Mallaca at 25 kts with Enterprise and escorts such as USS Decatur DD936, and Singapore news chopper reporting huge convoy to rest of the world. December 15th to January 7th Indian Ocean Ops, with numerous USSR cruisers steaming between us. Russians would loose the load often. If one of our ships did the same the captain would soon be in Antartica. January 8, enroute Subic Bay, PI. Other escorts (1200 psi boilers) having boiler, other problems. Enterprise skipper radioed USS McKean, can't wait for you, see you in Subic. Ha! Mighty Mac was still the fastest can in the fleet (35.6kts) arrived shortly after Enterprise, but made liberty call long before the Big E. (After 63 days)

January 17 enroute Yankee Station, by 23rd main control Evaporator problems. Aft engine room evap 4.0. Jan 26-31 in Subic for evap repairs. Jan 31 enroute Hong Kong. February 2-9 Hong Kong, great liberty. February 9, while getting underway, fire in after Engine room switchboard. Melted silver buss bars, damage control acted with great professionalism. Feb 11 arrived Subic for repairs. February 11 to 20th last time USS McKean at Subic for liberty call. During this cruise the McKean encountered the worst typhoon in 100 years, worse than the typhoons that sunk several destroyers during WW II. The McKean ran in front of the typhoon, but still had every thing carried away from the outside of the ship.

February 20, 1972 departed for CONUS. Crossed Equator Feb 24, at 00 degrees-145 East. Arrived secret island near New Guinea, crew disposed of cases of Tiger beer, much beach fun. March 1 arrived Brisbane, Australia. First time in WESTPAC we could wear uniform on the beach. Sadly departed Brisbane for Sydney. March 10 through 14th liberty Sydney, Australia. Enroute for Wellington, New Zealand, arrived with Arnold J. Isbell DD 869 March 17 for four days visiting with families in Wellington. First night liberty call had 900 New Zealand women arriving for dance at international pier. 1200 bottles of beer helped cement international relations. CNO AUS NAVY visits USS McKean, impressed with aft engine room shine!

March 21 departed for PAGO PAGO, American Samoa. March 25 arrived PAGO PAGO.One night liberty. Departed for Pearl Harbor,March 26th, arrived April 1th for brief fuel stop.April 7th, arrived home port, LONG BEACH, California.

May 1972 first cruise with reserves to Pearl Harbor. She then served as reserve ship for the Long Beach area. USS McKean and crew was great representative for US Navy, giving Los Angeles and Long Beach area excellant representation.

1975 USS McKean took part in the movie MIDWAY, can see ASROC launchers while tied to pier.

Stricken September 30, 1980. Given to ally TURKEY November 2,1982. Eventially cannibalized for parts. THE END OF THE MIGHTY MAC