Tuesday, January 8, 2008
USS Maddox (DD-731)
Figure 1: USS Maddox (DD-731) underway at sea, 28 January 1955. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Maddox stands by as a Polaris missile fired by the USS Ethan Allen (SSBN-608) breaks the surface of the Pacific Ocean, during Exercise "Frigate Bird" of Operation "Dominic", 6 May 1962. Photographed by PH1 Burwell. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: Tonkin Gulf Incident, August 1964. Photograph taken from USS Maddox (DD-731) during her engagement with three North Vietnamese motor torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin, 2 August 1964. The view shows all three of the boats speeding towards the Maddox. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: Tonkin Gulf Incident, August 1964. Photograph taken from USS Maddox (DD-731) during her engagement with three North Vietnamese motor torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin, 2 August 1964. The view shows one of the boats racing by, with what appears to be smoke from Maddox' shells in its wake. Official U.S. Navy Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: Captain John J. Herrick, USN, Commander Destroyer Division 192 (at left) and Commander Herbert L. Ogier, USN, Commanding Officer of USS Maddox (DD-731), on board Maddox on 13 August 1964. They were in charge of the ship during her engagement with three North Vietnamese motor torpedo boats on 2 August 1964. Photographed by PH3 White. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after a Marine Corps hero of the Mexican War, the USS Maddox (DD-731) was a 2,200-ton Allen M. Sumner class destroyer and was laid down at the Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, Maine, in October 1943. She was commissioned on 2 June 1944 and, after her shakedown cruise, left Boston and was sent to join the Pacific Fleet on 27 August. The Maddox was 376 feet long, more than 41 feet wide, had a top speed of 34 knots and a crew of 336 officers and men. She was armed with six 5-inch guns, 11 20-mm guns, 10 torpedo tubes and depth charges.
The Maddox arrived at Ulithi atoll in the Caroline Islands in the Pacific on 21 October 1944 and was assigned to the Third Fleet. She escorted American warships taking part in the Mindoro and Luzon invasions of the Philippines from 4 November 1944 to 21 January 1945. She served on picket duty in the South and East China Seas while carrier planes hit targets from Saigon to Formosa. The Maddox was hit by a Japanese suicide plane off Formosa on 21 January and was forced to go to Ulithi for repairs. After being repaired, the Maddox left Ulithi on 14 March 1945 and acted as a picket ship during American carrier strikes against the Japanese home islands of Kyushu and southern Honshu. She then took part in the invasion of Okinawa and stayed there for approximately three months, until 13 June 1945. The Maddox bombarded shore targets for the Marines on Okinawa and also screened aircraft carriers attacking the Japanese home islands. She continued performing screening, picket, and shore bombardment duties until the end of the war.
After Japan surrendered, the Maddox transported some military passengers to the United States and arrived in San Francisco on 5 October 1945. On 1 February 1946, the Maddox was sent back to the Far East where she supported the US naval occupation of Shanghai, Tsingtao, and Taku in China, along with the ports of Pusan and Jinsen in Korea. The Maddox returned to the United States on 24 March 1947 and for the next three years served as a training ship for the Naval Reserve off America’s West Coast. On 1 May 1950 the Maddox left San Diego for the Far East and arrived in Hong Kong 26 June, the day after war started in Korea. She left for South Korea the next day and acted as a screen for the carriers USS Valley Forge and HMS Triumph. The Maddox operated off the coast of South Korea until 4 August, when she was sent to Formosa to help initiate the “Formosa Patrol Force,” which was created to prevent the invasion of Formosa (now Taiwan) by China.
The Maddox returned to Korea on 7 September 1950 and was assigned to coastal blockade and bombardment duties. She continued these duties until January 1951, when she was sent back to the United States. Once she arrived back home, the Maddox underwent a major overhaul and then once again served as a training ship. But on 1 December 1951, the Maddox was sent back to Korea for her second tour of duty. From February to May 1952, the Maddox once again acted as an escort for carriers and bombarded shore targets when needed. She returned to what was now called the “Taiwan Patrol Force” and also participated in the siege of Wonsan Harbor in Korea.
After returning briefly to the United States for another overhaul in June 1952, the Maddox was sent back to Korea for her third tour of duty on 2 February 1953. As usual, the Maddox was assigned to carrier screening and shore bombardment duties. On 12 August 1953 she was sent back to the United States for another overhaul. From 4 May 1954 to 2 March 1962, the Maddox completed seven additional cruises to the Far East, including training operations with South Korean, Taiwanese, and Japanese naval forces. From March 1962 to March 1964, the Maddox cruised mainly off of the West Coast on training missions.
On 13 March 1964, the Maddox left her homeport at Long Beach, California, and headed for yet another tour of duty in the Far East with the Seventh Fleet. She began this tour by steaming with carrier groups in the Sea of Japan and East China Sea. On 18 May the Maddox began to patrol the waters off the coast of South Vietnam. On 31 July her patrol area moved to the Tonkin Gulf. Then on 2 August the Maddox, while steaming in international waters, was suddenly attacked by three North Vietnamese torpedo boats. After the North Vietnamese boats fired torpedoes at the Maddox, the American destroyer quickly returned fire. The Maddox scored direct hits on two of the torpedo boats, putting them out of action. At first the US Navy thought the attack was a mistake, but then two days later, on the night of 4 August, more North Vietnamese torpedo boats returned. By this time the Maddox was reinforced by the destroyer USS Turner Joy and both ships opened fire on the attacking North Vietnamese ships. Both US warships evaded another North Vietnamese torpedo attack and a running gun battle took place over the next two and one-half hours. Eventually, the North Vietnamese broke off contact and their ships returned to their bases. After the last attack on 4 August, both the Maddox and the Turner Joy returned to their patrol duties, completing them on 8 August. The Maddox then resumed her carrier escort duties and was sent back to the United States on 17 September.
These two attacks became known as the famous “Gulf of Tonkin Incident.” A few days after the attack Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which gave President Johnson authorization for what eventually became a full-scale war in Southeast Asia. In response to the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, President Johnson ordered air strikes against North Vietnamese naval bases and their supporting oil storage depots.
The Maddox remained in Long Beach until 10 July 1965. She then returned to the Seventh Fleet and resumed carrier escort operations in the Gulf of Tonkin. She also assisted in gunfire support missions off the coast of South Vietnam. At the end of November the Maddox was sent back to the United States and she arrived at Long Beach on 16 December. The Maddox would serve two more tours of duty off the coast of Vietnam from November 1966 to December 1968. In 1969 she became a Naval Reserve Training Ship and continued to function in this role on the West Coast until July 1972. The Maddox was then decommissioned and sold to Taiwan, where she was renamed the Po Yang. After a long and hard career, Taiwan disposed of the Maddox (or Po Yang) in 1985.
The USS Maddox was awarded four battle stars for her service in World War II, six battle stars for her service in the Korean War, and was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for her part in the Gulf of Tonkin Incident.
Posted by Remo at 8:35 AM