& 1965-66 Mission of USS Newman K. Perry (DD-883)
Author: Lt. G. P. Caprio
NKP was one of the last long-hull 710 Gearing class
destroyers built and was completed as a DDR-an “anti Kamikaze”
picket destroyer whose purpose was to range well ahead of the Carrier
Task Group and provide early warning and air intercept control against
During the build-up of the Soviet submarine force
after WWII, a Fleet Rehabilitation And Modernization
(FRAM) Program was devised to convert as many short-hull (692
Sumner Class) and long-hull (710 Gearing Class) as well as a few
Fletcher Class into specialized Anti-submarine destroyers. Because the
long-hulls were built with an additional 14’ mid-section to
accommodate a larger fuel capacity, they were able to fit the ASROC
(short range missile system able to deliver MK-44/46 homing
torpedoes and MK-17 /B-57 Nuclear Depth Charges) between the stacks. The
addition of the SQS-23 Long Range Sonar and MK-32 Torpedo tubes
completed the ASW system and constituted the major weapons addition of
the FRAM I conversion. The short-hulls underwent FRAM II conversions
because they had no room for the ASROC but were fitted with VDS
(Variable Depth SQS-4 Sonar) at the stern while retaining their SQS-4
Hull mounted Sonars. Both FRAM I and II DD’s were also designed to
carry torpedo armed drone helicopters called DASH but they proved to be
unreliable and very few if any DD’s ever received them. (The hangars
were too small for conventional choppers but were great for storage as
we learned.) Both FRAM Classes complemented each other and most, if not
all DD squadrons were made up of both FRAM I and FRAM II DD’s. During
the conversions, the entire superstructure above the main deck of the
FRAM I’s was removed and a new aluminum structure replaced it. On the
FRAM II’s only part of the superstructure was replaced.
Both classes retained or were fitted with
long-range air search radar. Most of the DD’s received SPS-40 systems.
NKP retained her SPS-37 but lost her SPS-8 height finder. NKP was one of
the few ships in the Atlantic Fleet with the SPS-37(NKP had a slightly
different profile from other FRAM I DD’s because of the different
radar equipment compartment). Another was USS Wasp (CVS-18). We steamed
with her on ASW ops in the Atlantic and because there was a shortage of
SPS-37 ETR’s, Wasp was always trying to steal our ETR, J. Duke (As I
recall we used to hide him from them during 1965-66). A few FRAM II’s
were fitted with SPS-30 height finder radars.
Both classes retained their 5”/38 and MK37
Gunfire Control Systems but most FRAM I’s had to give up one forward
gun mount because of weight considerations. One of the other
“Perry’s”, USS Perry (DD-844) was the first FRAM I and carried
both gun mounts forward but I believe that configuration wasn’t
suitable from a stability point of view and all FRAM I’s that followed
had the mounts split fore and aft.
The NKP Mission in the Atlantic Fleet was very
different than in the Med. In the Atlantic we were part of a huge
Anti-submarine strategy to locate and destroy Soviet ballistic missile
and attack subs.
SOSUS (Underwater Sound Surveillance Systems)
located on the western perimeter of the Atlantic Ocean from Argentia in
Canada to Barbados in the Caribbean would pick up the sound of subs
approaching the U.S. Mainland. Then long-range patrol aircraft would be
dispatched to pinpoint the exact location using sonobuoys and magnetic
detection gear while the Anti-submarine carrier task group screened by
destroyers would head for the location. The task group commander would
then have the option of using the patrol aircraft, the Carrier’s
helicopters and fixed wing aircraft or the screening destroyers’ ASROC
and /or homing torpedoes against the sub.
In the Med, the US Navy role was hugely different.
At that time, the Carriers in the Med were CVA’s-attack carriers. The
Sixth Fleet was part of an integrated NATO force whose purpose was to
stop a Soviet invasion into Western Europe from the East Germany, Poland
and other Soviet Bloc countries that were staging points for Soviet
aircraft and Armored divisions. In effect we were multipurpose screening
vessels to protect the CVA’s from Soviet attack subs that would
presumably sneak into the Med through Gibraltar from the Atlantic and
through the Dardanelles from the Black Sea to attack the Carriers. The
Carriers we operated with, USS Forrestal (CVA-59), USS Franklin D.
Roosevelt (CVA-42) and USS Shangri-La (CVA-38) were loaded with tactical
nuclear weapons which could be used against invading armored tank
formations. It is interesting to note that NKP was armed with two rocket
propelled nuclear depth charges that were versions of the same B-57
nuclear device carried as aerial bombs by the aircraft that were to
attack the armored forces.
As can be surmised, there was a lot of tension in
the Sixth Fleet, especially with all those nukes. For all practical
purposes we operated on a near wartime schedule.
of USS Newman K Perry (DD-883) Operations, mid 1964, 1965-early 1966
Author: Lt. G. P. Caprio
Second half of 1964 in yard at Boston Naval
Shipyard undergoing FRAM I Conversion.
19 Jan: Sea Trials
5 Feb: Builders trials
2-3 Mar: Board of Inspection and Survey Trials
15-17 Mar: Underway enroute Earle, NJ via Cape Cod
Canal to load ammo and back to Newport, RI.
24-26 Mar: Underway local OPAREA to test fire ASROC.
Russian trawler in area. Calibrated sonar. ASW exercises with USS
Halfbeak (SS-352) and other DD’s.
27 Mar-19 May: Enroute GITMO via JAX OPAREA for
training exercises. GITMO: Intensive
day/night training exercises for all departments in GITMO with Fleet
Training Group. Operated with USS Lexington (CVS-16). Weekend visit to
Montego Bay, Jamaica. F-8 Crusader crashed nearby NKP during Air Defense
exercises, pilot killed. Escorted Soviet Bloc East German merchant ship
into Guantanamo City.
20-21 May: Enroute Culebra and Night Gunfire
Support exercises on high speed runs at Culebra.
Very high qualification scores.
22-25 May: San Juan, PR
25-29 May: Enroute Newport, RI
16-17 June: Underway exercises local OPAREA
28 June-2 July: Underway exercises local OPAREA
8 July: Family cruise local OPAREA in heavy fog.
12 July-3Aug: Enroute via Cape Cod Canal/ in Boston
Naval Shipyard, South Boston Annex for drydocking.
3-9 Aug: Enroute/in Newport.
9 Aug: Depart for Med with other DD’s via Azores.
11 Aug: Commodore lost overboard.
15 Aug: Arrived Ponta del Gada, San Miguel, Azores
17 Aug: Enroute Gibraltar.
19 Aug: Passed through Straits of Gibraltar,
21 Aug: Anchored in Pollensa Bay, Mallorca with
Task Group to effect turnover of instructions including Nuclear release
22 Aug: Enroute with USS Shangri La (CVA-38) Task
Group to Naples via Straits of Bonifacio. Heavy exercises enroute.
23-26 Aug: Med moored in Naples
26 Aug: Underway with Shangri La Task Group for
exercises in Tyrrehenian Sea.
27 Aug: 0115 Collision with Shangri La approx 115
nm SW Naples. Fred Greene killed.
28 Aug-8 Oct: Drydock, Naples for new bow.
11-14 Oct: Exercises with USS Forrestal (CVA-59)
Task Group. COMSIXTHFLT embarked in USS Springfield (CLG-7). Passed
through Straits of Bonifacio westbound.
USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) in collision with merchant
14-25 Oct: Anchored
26 Oct-6 Nov: Exercises with Forrestal Task Group
6-8 Nov: Anchored with Task Group in Golfo di
8-9 Nov: Exercises enroute Toulon, France. (Believe
NKP last ship visiting France after DeGaulle withdrew France from Nato.
COMSIXTHFLT shifted home port to Italy)
9-17 Nov: Toulon, France
17-20 Nov: Exercises enroute Pollensa Bay, Mallorca.
20-22 Nov: Anchored with Task Group in Pollensa
22-24 Nov: Exercises enroute Palma, Mallorca.
24-29 Nov: Palma, Mallorca.
29 Nov-1 Dec: Exercises enroute Barcelona with
Roosevelt Task Group.
1-5 Dec: Barcelona, Spain.
5-7 Dec: Exercises enroute Gibraltar.
7-8 Dec: Turnover of instructions including Nuclear
8 -18 Dec: Enroute
Newport, RI via Southern Route. Joined Roosevelt.
18 Dec-24 Jan 1966: Newport, RI
24-30 Jan: Enroute Carribbean ASW Exercises with USS Wasp (CVS-18) Task Group. 26-28 Jan-
severe Nor’easter. Wasp left DD’s to fend for themselves. Wasp
suffered major damage
30 Jan: St Croix, Virgin Islands
31 Jan-3 Feb: Underway gunnery exercises Culebra
5 Feb: St. John, Antigua, BWI
2-11 Feb: Exercises in Puerto Rico OPAREA
11-14 Feb: San Juan, PR
14 Feb: St Croix, Virgin Islands
16-18 Feb: Enroute to Newport via Bermuda
18 Feb: Bermuda
19-21 Feb: Enroute Newport
21 Feb-8 Mar: Newport
8 -9 Mar: ASW exercises local OPAREA
9-18 Mar: Newport
18-24 Mar: ASW exercises with Wasp
24 Mar: Newport