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USS Frank Knox (DD 742)

- formerly DDR 742 -
- decommissioned -

USS FRANK KNOX was one of the GEARING - class destroyers and the first ship in the Navy to bear the name. Both decommissioned and stricken from the Navy list on January 30, 1971, the FRANK KNOX was subsequently transfered to Greece where the ship was recommissioned as THEMISTOKLIS. Stricken in the early 1990s, the ship was sunk as a target in September 2001.

General Characteristics:Awarded: 1942
Keel laid: May 8, 1944
Launched: September 17, 1944
Commissioned: December 11, 1944
Decommissioned: January 30, 1971
Builder: Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine
FRAM II Conversion Shipyard: Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, CA
FRAM II Conversion Period: 1960 - May 1961
Propulsion system: four boilers, General Electric geared turbines; 60,000 SHP
Propellers: two
Length: 391 feet (119.2 meters)
Beam: 41 feet (12.5 meters)
Draft: 18.7 feet (5.7 meters)
Displacement: approx. 3,400 tons full load
Speed: 34 knots
Aircraft after FRAM II: none
Armament after FRAM II: three 5-inch/38 caliber twin mounts, Mk-32 ASW torpedo tubes (two triple mounts), two Hedgehogs Mk-10
Crew after FRAM II: approx. 275

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Crew List:

This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard USS FRANK KNOX. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.

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FRANK KNOX was launched 17 September 1944 by Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, Maine; sponsored by Mrs. Prank Knox, widow of Secretary Knox; and commissioned 11 December 1944, Commander J. C. Ford, Jr., in command. After extensive training on both coasts, FRANK KNOX arrived in San Pedro Bay, P.I., 16 June 1945 to join the fast carrier task forces in their raids against the Japanese home islands. With such a force, FRANK KNOX entered Sagami Wan 27 August, and was present in Tokyo Bay during the surrender ceremonies on 2 September. She served on occupation duty in the Far East until sailing for San Diego, her home port, 4 January 1946.

In 1947 and 1948, FRANK KNOX completed tours of duty in the Far East and was redesignated DDR 742 on 18 March 1949. Upon the outbreak of the Korean war, FRANK KNOX sailed 6 July 1950 to join the 7th Fleet's fast carrier task force in air operations against North Korea. During her tour of duty, she also took part in the Inchon invasion, conducted shore bombardments, patrolled the Taiwan Straits, and on 30 January 1951 joined in a mock invasion of the North Korean coast. This deception proved so effective that Communist troops were withdrawn from central Korea for a time. A final 40-day period was spent in bombardment of the east coast rail centers, Chongjin and Songjin, cutting supply and communications routes.

Returning to San Diego 11 April 1951, FRANK KNOX operated along the west coast and in the Hawaiians until 19 April 1952, when she sailed for Korean service again. Her duty, similar to that of her first wartime tour, included several weeks in Wonsan Harbor to give fire support to minesweepers. The destroyer returned to west coast duty 18 November 1952. During her 1953 Far Eastern cruise, which coincided with the Korean armistice, FRANK KNOX conducted patrols, and covered the transportation of former Chinese prisoners of war who had elected to go to Taiwan rather than return from Korea to mainland Communist China.

Her next tour of duty in the western Pacific, in 1955, found FRANK KNOX taking part in the evacuation of the Tachen Islands.

In 1960-1961 FRANK KNOX was modernized under the FRAM II program, which gave her updated radars and other new equipment. She was based in the Far East from late 1961 until mid-1964, then returned home via Australia and the south Pacific. Again deployed in June 1965, she briefly served off Vietnam conducting naval gunfire support and coastal patrol operations. While underway in the South China Sea on 18 July, FRANK KNOX ran aground on Pratas Reef, and was only freed after a very difficult salvage effort. Though she was badly damaged, and relatively elderly, her command and control capabilities justified an extensive repair job, which was carried out at Yokosuka, Japan, over the next year.

FRANK KNOX rejoined the active forces in November 1966 and resumed her pattern of nearly annual Seventh Fleet cruises, frequently taking part in Vietnam combat missions. Redesignated DD 742 at the beginning of 1969, she completed her final deployment in November 1970 and was decommissioned at the end of January 1971. USS FRANK KNOX was transferred to the Greek Navy a few days later. Renamed THEMISTOKLIS, she served for another two decades before being placed out of commission in the early 1990s. The old ship was sunk as a torpedo target by the Greek submarine in September 2001.

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About the Ship's Name:

William Franklin Knox was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on 1 January 1874. He attended Alma College, in Michigan, and served in Cuba with the First Volunteer Cavalry (the "Rough Riders") during the Spanish-American War. Following that conflict, Knox became a newspaper reporter in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the beginning of a career that grew to include the ownership of several papers. He changed his first name to Frank in about 1900. During World War I, Knox was an advocate of preparedness and United States participation. He served as an artillery officer in France after America entered the hostilities.

In 1930, Frank Knox became publisher and part owner of the Chicago "Daily News". An active Republican, he was that party's nominee for Vice President in the 1936 election. Knox, who was an internationalist and supporter of the World War II Allies, became Secretary of the Navy in July 1940, as President Roosevelt strived to create bi-partisan appeal for his foreign and defense policies following the defeat of France.

As Secretary, Frank Knox worked hard to expand the Navy into a force capable of fighting in both the Atlantic and Pacific. His selection of new uniformed leadership in the wake of the Pearl Harbor disaster was important to seeing the Navy through the difficult, losing months of 1942 and the intense fighting that marked the U.S. offensives that followed. Though he tended to leave military matters to the officer corps, his administrative talents and good judgement made invaluable contributions to the victory that he would not live to see. On 28 April 1944, following a brief series of heart attacks, Secretary Knox died in Washington, D.C.

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Accidents aboard USS FRANK KNOX:

November 15, 1946off Oahu, Hi.
USS FRANK KNOX and USS HIGBEE (DD 806) are damaged after colliding with each other.
July 18, 1965Pratas Reef, approx. 200 miles east south east of Hong Kong
In the early morning hours, while underway at sixteen knots in the South China Sea, USS FRANK KNOX ran hard aground on Pratas Reef. A salvage effort was immediately begun, and soon involved salvage ships GRAPPLE (ARS 7) and CONSERVER (ARS 39), tugs MUNSEE (ATF 107), COCOPA (ATF 101) and SIOUX (ATF 75) and submarine rescue ship GREENLET (ASR 10). Though FRANK KNOX was initially only somewhat damaged, several attempts to pull her free between 20 July and 2 August were unsuccessful, and the ship was driven further onto the rocks by waves from a pair of passing typhoons. She was now much more severely holed, with machinery spaces flooded and hull structure weakened.

When conventional hole patching and water removal methods proved inadequate, plastic foam was employed to fill flooded compartments, thus expelling the water and greatly enhancing FRANK KNOX' bouyancy. Her hull was reinforced by welding stiffeners to the main deck. Explosives were used to break up coral around the ship, but these also produced further damage, which led to a need for more foam. Another pulling effort took place on 11 August, with a ship steaming by offshore making waves to help break the reef's grip on the grounded destroyer, but this also failed.

Salvage tackle was re-rigged, more weights were removed from FRANK KNOX, pontoons were attached to her hull, additional foam was generated and the destroyer COGSWELL (DD 651) arrived to make waves as required. A pull on 22 August produced some favorable movement and, on 24 August, USS FRANK KNOX was finally afloat, after nearly six weeks of salvage work in a very difficult environment. Repairs were later done in Japan.


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After FRAM II Conversion:

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