A Tin Can Sailors
Destroyer History


The Last Gearing
By Chic Sale

After reading in the July Issue of the Tin Can Sailor about the Mighty Gearings and the featuring of the first of the class, USS GEARING (DD-710), it seems appropriate to follow with a description of the last ship of the class, USS TIMMERMAN (EDD-828) and later (EAG-152).

The TIMMERMAN almost did not make it into this world. Her keel was laid on 01 October 1945, and at that time, she was intended to be just another standard destroyer of the class. On 07 January 1946, the Bureau of Ships ordered work suspended and what there was of her was transferred to the reserve fleet. This was remarkable due to the fact that many ships were cancelled and subsequently scrapped on the building ways.

Advanced machinery design had been on the minds of planners for years. During World War II, work had been done in this area and plans had been made to produce an advanced propulsion system and install it in a Fletcher Class hull. However, at the conclusion of the War, there were no Fletcher hulls available. The Fletcher hull was 376' 6" in length and 39'8" at the beam. The Sumner hull was the same length and 10" broader at the beam. The Gearing hull was the same as the Sumner except for the 14' length added amidships for fuel. This simply meant that a Fletcher hull and a Gearing hull were almost identical, most importantly in the machinery spaces.

On 24 May 1946, the U.S. Navy contracted to complete the TIMMERMAN as an advanced design destroyer. There were many delays due to design, research and development and she was not launched until 19 May 1951 - almost five years.

When commissioned on 26 September 1952, the U.S. Navy had one of their first completely experimental ships. Her propulsion system was rated at 100,000 Shaft Horsepower and a speed of 43 knots was anticipated. Naval records do not show that she ever exceeded 35 knots, but strong evidence indicates that the 43 knots was achieved and perhaps even exceeded during sea trials prior to commissioning.

Outwardly, there were several similarities between the TIMMERMAN and her sister Gearings. She had the standard 5" 38 cal. main battery, air and surface search radars and fire control radar. After that, it was difficult to find many more similarities.

The bow was raised a full two feet at the stem and faired into the sheer at frame 43. Mount 51 was moved aft seven feet. These two measures were intended to improve sea-keeping qualities, especially in view of the higher anticipated speeds. The standard Sumners and Gearings were notoriously "wet" forward and often Mount 51 would be damaged in a heavy sea. Lightweight Danforth anchors were recessed into the deck edge adding to the reduction of weight forward.

The superstructure was aluminum and there were "no expansion joints." One side was bolted and riveted and the other welded to test fabrication methods and structural stability.

The main battery of 5" 38's was the only armament on board TIMMERMAN. There were no torpedoes, Hedgehogs or depth charges. Because she was intended to be completely experimental, these weapons were not considered necessary and their omission added to the weight reduction program.

The propulsion system was the real experiment. The forward plant was 875 psi, 1050 degrees Fahrenheit and the after plant was 2000 lb. psi, 1050 degrees Fahrenheit. As was expected there were many problems related to the experimental machinery and many months were spent dockside while repairing or replacing the newly designed equipment that failed. The electrical system was 1000 volt, 400 cycle as compared to the 440 volt 60 cycle system of most other Navy ships. There were many electrical problems as well, mainly due to the higher rotative speeds of the electric motors. In a special compartment on the 01 level, forward of #2 stack, there was a motor generator set for the purpose of receiving shore power. The unit consisted of a 440 volt 60 cycle motor, which drove a 1000 volt 400 cycle generator.

The 14 foot section amidships, which was intended for fuel on a standard Gearing, was on TIMMERMAN a laboratory of gauges, test equipment and recording devices. The instrumentation in this space was subjected to undesirable vibration whenever the main batteries were fired.

On 11 January 1954, TIMMERMAN was reclassified as (EAG-152) and later her main battery was removed and replaced by concrete blocks to compensate for the weight loss. Also removed at a later date were the air search and fire control radars giving her a most unusual configuration.

The TIMMERMAN was a successful experiment in many ways. She proved that higher steam pressures and temperatures were possible, thus allowing for the development of the 1200 psi plant, which was first installed in the USS FOREST SHERMAN (DD-931) class and other later classes of ships. One of her emergency generators was driven by a gas turbine engine, believed to be one of the first marine installations of a gas turbine. There were other contributions to future ship design such as the aluminum super-structure, raised bow and other experiments, which were classified at the time.

Her short life of 46 months was a productive one. She was decommissioned on 27 July 1956 and sold for scrap on 21 April 1959.


From The Tin Can Sailor, January 1992

Copyright 2001 Tin Can Sailors.
All rights reserved.
This article may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from
Tin Can Sailors.