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
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
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
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
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
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
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.