USS BELKNAP was the lead ship of the BELKNAP - class of guided missile cruisers and the first ship in the Navy to carry the SH-2 helicopter on deployment. In April 1986, BELKNAP relieved the USS CORONADO (AGF 11) as the Sixth Fleet Command Ship and was homeported in Gaeta, Italy. Later, the BELKNAP was relieved by the USS LA SALLE (AGF 3).
In 1995, the BELKNAP was decommissioned and about 3 1/2 years later she became the "victim" of a Sinkex of the Navy. The BELKNAP was sunk on September 24, 1998, off the east coast of the United States. The exact location is 036° 31' 00.3" North, 071° 58' 00.5" West.
|General Characteristics:||Awarded: May 18, 1961|
|Keel laid: February 5, 1962|
|Launched: July 20, 1963|
|Commissioned: November 7, 1964|
|Decommissioned: February 15, 1995|
|Builder: Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine.|
|Propulsion system:4 - 1200 psi boilers; 2 General Electric geared turbines|
|Length: 548 feet (167 meters)|
|Beam: 55 feet (16.8 meters)|
|Draft: 28,5 feet (8.7 meters)|
|Displacement: approx. 8,100 tons|
|Speed: 30+ knots|
|Aircraft: one |
|Armament: two Mk 141 |
|Crew: 27 officers and 450 enlisted + staff (accomodations for 64 officers and 546 enlisted)|
This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard USS BELKNAP. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.
USS BELKNAP Cruise Books:
Accidents aboard USS BELKNAP:
|November 21, 1975||Ionian Sea, 25 nautical|
miles off Italy
|USS BELKNAP is involved in an oil spill during refueling with the USNS WACCAMAW (T-AO 109) in the Ionian Sea.|
|November 22, 1975||70 nautical miles|
east off Sicily, Italy
|USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV 67) and USS BELKNAP collide in rough seas at night during air exercises east of Sicily. The overhanging flight deck of the carrier cuts into the superstructure of the cruiser setting off fires on the BELKNAP which are not controlled for two-and-one-half hours on account of frequent flarebacks.|
Because of the presence of nuclear weapons on board both ships the commander of Carrier Striking Forces for the Sixth Fleet sent a secret nuclear weapons accident message (a "Broken Arrow") to the Pentagon, warning of the "high probability that nuclear weapons aboard the BELKNAP (W45 Terrier missile warheads) were involved in fire and explosion but there were no direct communications with the BELKNAP at that time and no positive indications that explosions were directly related to nuclear weapons. An hour after the Broken Arrow message was sent the USS CLAUDE V. RICKETTS (DDG 5), alongside the BELKNAP fighting the fire, reported that BELKNAP personnel said "no radiation hazard exists aboard".
Seven people aboard BELKNAP and one aboard the KENNEDY are killed. The sailor aboard the KENNEDY died from smoke inhalation when he entered a smoke filled compartment without an OBA. Both ships got assistance from other ships: BELKNAP had three other ships helping her and the JFK had one.
The BELKNAP suffers serious damage, is put out of commission, and towed back to the US to effect repairs lasting four years. BELKNAP's destroyed superstructures were rebuilt at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard from 1978-80. BELKNAP rejoind the fleet in 1980.
Smaller fires and other damage aboard USS KENNEDY are quickly contained and the carrier continues operations.
The seven sailors killed aboard USS BELKNAP are:
MM2 Douglas S. Freeman
EM2 Michael W. Kawola
DS3 Gerald A. Ketcham
STG3 Brent W. Lassen
FA David A. Messmer
DS2 Gordon T. St. Marie
( click to enlarge )
About the Ship's Name:
USS BELKNAP was named after Rear Admiral George Eugene Belknap and his son, Rear Admiral Reginald Rowe Belknap.
George Eugene Belknap was born on January 22, 1832, in Newport, New Hampshire. He was appointed a midshipman on October 7, 1847. During 1856-1957, he served with the East India Squadron, taking a prominent part in engagements with the Barrier Forts, Canton River, China, in November of 1856.
Admiral Belknap’s role in the Civil War was an outstanding one. He commanded a division of boats from USS ST. LOUIS, which reinforced Fort Pickens, Florida, in April 1861. He participated in the operations in Charleston Harbor and commanded the ironclad CANONICUS in attacks on Fort Fisher, North Carolina, on December 24-25, 1864 and on January 13-15, 1865, which occasioned its surrender. He “fired the last gun” against the Charleston defenses prior to their collapse.
In 1867-1868, he commanded USS HARTFORD on Asiatic Station, and led the expedition against Formosa. During 1873-1874, he performed important work surveying in the Pacific, and from 1875 until the time of his retirement on January 1894 performed eminently in diverse positions at sea and ashore. During the latter period he was commissioned Rear Admiral, to date from February 12, 1889.
Rear Admiral Belknap died at Key West, Florida, on April 7, 1903, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
USS BELKNAP Image Gallery: