Tuesday, May 17, 2011
USS Coontz (DLG-9, DDG-40)
Figure 1: USS Coontz (DLG-9) underway off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii, 24 November 1968. Photographed by PH3 Bruce M. Laurich. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Coontz (DLG-9) at sea off San Diego, California, 25 July 1967. Photographed by PH2 Erb. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Coontz (DLG-9) crewmen at their stations on the ship's bridge during a naval gunfire support mission in the South China Sea. This photograph was received by the Naval Photographic Center in July 1969. Official US Navy Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Coontz (DLG-9). The Landing Signal Officer, Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Ronald E. Braley, signals to the pilot of a Kaman UH-2 "Seasprite" helicopter, as crewmen tie it to the ship's landing deck, July 1969. Official US Navy Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: USS Coontz (DLG-9) trails a Soviet Navy Kresta class guided missile ship in the Sea of Japan, April 1970. The Soviet warship was then participating in the world-wide naval exercise "Okean." Note Coontz' ASROC launcher and 5-inch Mk. 42 gun mount. Official US Navy Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: USS Coontz (now DDG-40) underway in the Atlantic Ocean, off Cape Henry, Virginia, on 28 October 1975. Photographed by PHAN W.H. Flynn. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: USS Coontz (DDG-40) at sea, 11 October 1978. Official US Navy Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: USS Coontz (DDG-40) letterpress reproduction of a photograph showing the ship underway in the Atlantic off the Virginia coast, October 1986. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 9: USS Coontz (DDG-40), date and place unknown. Click on photograph for larger image. Courtesy: http://www.navysite.de/dd/ddg40.htm
Figure 10: USS Coontz (DDG-40), date and place unknown. Click on photograph for larger image. Courtesy: http://www.navysite.de/dd/ddg40.htm
Named after Admiral Robert E. Coontz (1864-1935), who was the second Chief of Naval Operations (1919-1923), USS Coontz (DLG-9) was a Farragut class guided missile frigate that was built at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton, Washington, and was commissioned on 15 July 1960. The ship was approximately 512 feet long and 52 feet wide, had a top speed of 33 knots, and had a crew of 377 officers and men. Coontz was armed with one 5-inch gun, one Terrier Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) system, one ASROC Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) missile system, and six Mk. 46 ASW torpedo tubes. After a later modification, Coontz also carried two Mk. 141 Harpoon missile launchers and one helicopter.
After she was commissioned, Coontz joined the Pacific Fleet. In August of 1961, the ship began the first of seven deployments with the US Seventh Fleet in the Far East. This included active participation in the Vietnam conflict from 1964 to 1970. During her first tour of duty in Vietnam from 16 August 1964 to 6 February 1965, Coontz steamed 41,000 miles and was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for support of Vietnam War operations in the South China Sea. From December 1965 to January 1966, Coontz received a helicopter landing and handling capability while undergoing an overhaul at San Diego, California. This overhaul also included relocation of deck vents, clearing all fantail obstructions, installation of a JP-5 aviation fuel and purification system, and the addition of equipment that provided electrical power for the helicopter. Coontz was the first of her class to receive this conversion and a helicopter was an important addition to her already substantial armament.
Coontz’s second Vietnam tour lasted from January to August 1966 and during that deployment she visited Japan, the Philippines, and Taiwan. In March 1966, Coontz was awarded the Unit Commendation Ribbon for her Western Pacific (WESTPAC) deployment. In September 1966, Coontz underwent another overhaul at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard, California, which lasted until March 1967. On 25 July 1967, Coontz left San Diego for WESTPAC once again. She returned to the US Seventh Fleet and was assigned search and rescue duties and escorted aircraft carriers. In August 1967, Coontz visited Djakarta, Indonesia, and this was the first visit of a US naval vessel to that country since early 1963. Coontz spent roughly two months on the Northern Search and Rescue Station in the Gulf of Tonkin and assisted in the rescue of nine pilots. After a brief visit to Hong Kong, Coontz returned to San Diego, arriving there on 8 February 1968.
Coontz left for her final deployment to Vietnam on 15 November 1968. She arrived on Yankee Station off the coast of Vietnam a month later and spent Christmas performing her usual patrol and escort duties. Coontz also returned to the Gulf of Tonkin for additional search and rescue missions. The ship was ordered back to San Diego for yet another overhaul on 18 May 1969.
Coontz was decommissioned in 1971 for an extensive anti-air warfare modernization, but was re-commissioned in March 1972. Coontz spent the next 17 years with the US Atlantic Fleet, visiting ports in the Mediterranean, northern Europe, and Latin America. She was re-designated a guided missile destroyer in July 1975 and received a new hull number, DDG-40.
Coontz was assigned to the multi-national Standing Naval Forces Atlantic in 1976 and again from 1978 to 1979. In the early to mid-1980s, she patrolled the Black Sea. Coontz also participated in the American amphibious assault on the island of Grenada. For ten days Coontz provided gunfire support and small boat interdiction. For her part in Operation “Urgent Fury,” the name given to the invasion of Grenada, Coontz received the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and the Meritorious Unit Commendation.
During the Iran-Iraq War, also known as “The Tanker War,” Coontz left for the Persian Gulf on 5 February 1987. She was assigned the task of ensuring safe passage for US vessels in the Persian Gulf as well as maintaining a robust US Navy presence in the area as the Iran-Iraq war escalated. During this deployment, Coontz provided firefighting and rescue teams to the severely damaged American frigate USS Stark, which was hit by two Iraqi Exocet missiles. Coontz returned to her new home port at Norfolk, Virginia, on 5 August 1987.
Following her return to the United States, Coontz was assigned to the US Second Fleet until 1989. The ship was decommissioned for the last time on 4 October 1989. USS Coontz was sold for scrapping in April 1994, but was repossessed in October 1996. The ship was sold again in February 1999, but scrapping was not completed until March 2003. It was a long, sad end to a fine ship.