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 A Tin Can Sailors
Destroyer History

USS VOGE
(DE-1047)

The USS VOGE (DE-1047) was named for World War II submarine commander Richard G. Voge, and was commissioned in 1966 at the Boston Naval Shipyard. Designed for antisubmarine warfare, she was equipped with the latest computerized ASW Ship Command and Control Systems and took an active part in developing and testing ASW equipment and tactics aimed at detecting, tracking, and, if necessary, destroying enemy submarines.

In April 1969, the VOGE left her home port, in Newport, Rhode Island, for a brief cruise to Northern Europe before joining ASW hunter/killer exercises with ships of the Spanish and Portugese navies. The first real test of her capabilities came en route to Newport, when she made sonar contact with a Soviet YANKEE-class ballistic-missile submarine. Using hold-down tactics, she forced the submarine to surface, a successful conclusion that earned her a Meritorious Unit Commendation. Back in Newport, routine operations and ASW testing occupied her until August 1970, when she entered the Boston Naval Shipyard for her first regular overhaul.

Her overhaul complete, the VOGE resumed operations out of Newport and returned to the Eastern Atlantic for another round of ASW training exercises with Spanish and Portuguese naval ships. The VOGE got underway in June 1972 for her first deployment to the Mediterranean where the Sixth Fleet was keeping a close watch on Soviet surface ships and submarines, especially the ECHO-class submarines armed with cruise missiles. In addition to exercises with Sixth Fleet and NATO ships, she operated with hunter/killer groups dogging Soviet submarines entering and leaving the Med. She ended her cruise on 10 December 1972 with a turnover to the USS DU PONT (DD‑941).

The VOGE resumed normal East Coast operations in January 1973, and, then, in mid-August, changed her home port to Mayport, Florida. Local operations out of Mayport kept her busy until January 1974, when the VOGE left Mayport for the Mediterranean where she relieved the CLAUDE V. RICKETTS (DDG‑5). Returning home after six months of NATO exercises and port visits, she entered the Charleston Naval Shipyard in September to begin a ten‑month overhaul, from which she emerged on 1 July 1975 as a fast frigate. Re-designated FF‑1047, she was one of the U.S. Navy’s most advanced antisubmarine warfare surface vessels.

Over the ensuing months, the VOGE engaged in training and naval gunfire support exercises and exercises in the Caribbean with units of the Netherlands and British navies. During her third Mediterranean deployment, which began in April 1976, she took part in an amphibious evacuation of U.S. citizens during political unrest in Lebanon. Late in her deployment, she resumed surveillance duties, keeping tabs on Soviet naval forces. In the sometimes crowded waters of the Mediterranean, ships and submarines of the U.S. and Soviet navies often came dangerously close to each other as they monitored one another’s activities.

Such a situation occurred on 28 August 1976. The VOGE was operating with the USS MOINESTER (FFT-1097) in the Ionian Sea off Crete, when a Soviet ECHO‑II‑class guided-missile submarine, later identified as the KRASNOGVARDEYETS (K-22), accidentally rammed her. (The event was described by Cyril Moriak in the October/November/December issue of this newsletter) The skipper of the Soviet sub, who had been tracking the MOINESTER for about two hours, was unaware of the VOGE’s presence. The VOGE, however, had the sub under surveillance, and some of her crew were on deck photographing the boat’s periscope, clearly visible in the choppy water. The sub’s skipper, who had lost track of the MOINESTER several times, lost her completely at 1815. Then, less than ten minutes later, he discovered that he was on a collision course with the VOGE and ordered an “emergency dive.” It was too late. At 1825, the submarine’s bow and conning tower hit the VOGE’s port side near the stern, splitting bulkheads and buckling plating, which flooded her after steering compartment. The collision also ripped off part of a propeller and caused a sailor to be injured when he fell from the 01 level to the main deck.

The VOGE immediately reported the incident, and word of the collision sped through navy channels to the Soviet fleet commander who dispatched a Soviet ship to escort the K-22 out of the area. The VOGE, however, had to be towed by the MOINESTER (FF 1097) and the salvage ship PRESERVER (ARS 8) to Toulon, France, where she went into dry dock for repairs. The U.S. and Soviet Union both registered complaints. A subsequent investigation of the incident  found both sides at fault. The VOGE remained in the Mediterranean for repairs until 20 November, when she returned to Mayport. She spent most of the ensuing seven months in port, and, then, in July 1977, headed back to the Mediterranean with the SARATOGA (CV‑60) and the KOELSCH (FF-1049). Her voyage was interrupted, however, when contaminated potable water tanks required her to turn back. With the problem corrected, she was back at sea and after crossing the Atlantic, alone, finally arrived on 3 August 1977. Port visits and exercises occupied her until 12 December when she headed for home.

She spent the first five months of 1978 in training exercises out of Mayport, leaving in June for submarine operations in the Bahamas. From there, she went on to offload ammunition at Charleston before proceeding to Boston for overhaul at the Braswell Shipyard from July to October 1979. Her overhaul was followed by refresher training in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and preparation for another deployment. She left in June 1980 to join the Middle East Force spending long periods in the harsh environment of the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. The war that erupted between Iran and Iraq in October 1980 increased her deployment’s difficulty but did not deter the VOGE from fulfilling her mission. Her crew was awarded the Navy Expeditionary Medal upon their return to Mayport in November 1980.

Betweem December 1980 and early summer 1981, the VOGE participated in ASW exercises at the AUTEC Test Range in the Bahamas and operated in the Caribbean for READEX 1‑81 and COMPTUEX, a major fleet exercise. A second Mid‑East deployment lasted from August to December 1981. For most of the time thereafter, she operated closer to home, conducting counter drug and law enforcement operations in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific.

The VOGE was decommissioned on 1 August 1989  and was stricken from the navy list on 15 December 1992. She was sold for scrap on 25 July 1995, a job that was finally completed in January 2001.

 

From The Tin Can Sailor, January 2005


Copyright 2001 Tin Can Sailors.
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