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Hull Number: DD-554

Launch Date: 12/07/1942

Commissioned Date: 07/30/1943

Decommissioned Date: 05/31/1946

Call Sign: NULS

Voice Call Sign: GIMLET (45)


Class: FLETCHER

FLETCHER Class

Data for USS Fletcher (DD-445) as of 1945


Length Overall: 376’ 5"

Beam: 39’ 7"

Draft: 13’ 9"

Standard Displacement: 2,050 tons

Full Load Displacement: 2,940 tons

Fuel capacity: 3,250 barrels

Armament:

Five 5″/38 caliber guns
Five 40mm twin anti-aircraft mounts
Two 21″ quintuple torpedo tubes

Complement:

20 Officers
309 Enlisted

Propulsion:

4 Boilers
2 General Electric Turbines: 60,000 horsepower

Highest speed on trials: 35.2 knots

Namesake: WILLIAM JOSEPH FRANKS

WILLIAM JOSEPH FRANKS

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, February 2018

William Joseph Franks, born in Pittsboro, N.C., about 1830, enlisted in the Navy 15 September 1863. He distinguished himself in action at Yazoo City 5 March 1864, when with others from his ship Marmora he landed a 12-pound howitzer with which to defend the city, threatened by strong Confederate attack. His group was in the thickest fighting, but no fire was heavy enough to drive them from their gun, which played a most important role in saving the Union position. He was awarded the Medal of Honor and promoted to acting master’s mate in recognition of his gallant service.


Disposition:

Sold 08/27/1973 to Zidell Explorations Inc., Portland, Oreg. for $121,001.19. Scrapped.


A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History

USS FRANKS DD-554

The Tin Can Sailor, October 2000

Built by the Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation, the FRANKS (DD-554) was launched on 7 December 1942 and commissioned 30 July 1943. By November 1943 she was on her way to the Gilbert Islands to cover marine landings on Makin and Tarawa.

At 0505 on 23 November she and the destroyers HUGHES (DD-410), MORRIS (DD-417), MAURY (DD-401), GRIDLEY (DD-380), and HULL (DD-350) were screening the task force accompanying the escort carrier LISCOME BAY (CVE-56) when an enemy sub broke through and torpedoed the carrier, which sank twenty-five minutes later.

The men of the FRANKS were shaken by the experience as they continued to patrol off the entrance to Tarawa Lagoon until mid-December when the ship returned to Pearl Harbor.

The FRANKS was back on antisubmarine patrol in the Marshalls on 31 January 1944. After the island of Kwajalein was secured, she took part in close-in reconnaissance and bombardment missions among other islands of the group, leaving the area with a few minor battle scars from enemy shore batteries.

She went on to patrol the Solomons where on 23 March 1944 her gunners bombarded Mussau Island, turning an enemy gasoline dump into a blazing inferno.

In May while screening mine layers operating in the Buka Passage, she and the HAGGARD (DD-555), HAILEY (DD-556), and JOHNSTON (DD-557) of Destroyer Division 94 were sent on a submarine hunt. With the memory of the LISCOME BAY fresh in their minds, the FRANKS’ crew were eager to avenge her loss.

On the morning of 16 May the destroyers began their search for the I-176 and at 2145, after twenty hours, the HAGGARD made contact and loosed a spread of depth charges. At 2213 she released another. Next it was the JOHNSTON’s turn, and then at 0015 on 17 May the FRANKS dropped a full pattern that finished the job. With daylight, debris on the water confirmed their success.

On 18 May the FRANKS joined an amphibious group bound for bombardment of Shortland Island in the Solomons. She went on to the Marianas where she remained on patrol through June 1944. Off Guam on the night of 14 July she was the target of an enemy plane but suffered no damage from the bomb that exploded 200 yards astern. In mid-September she was a part of the operations to secure Palau Island and Ulithi Atoll and in October joined Task Group 77.4 to participate in the Battle of Leyte Gulf where the JOHNSTON was sunk.

She later supported the action off Samar. The FRANKS remained in the Philippines through November when she rescued the survivors of three downed planes. She was reassigned to Task Force 38 to screen the carriers supporting the Mindoro occupation and in mid-December rode out the death-dealing typhoon Cobra.

The new year took her on to support the landings on Luzon and to screen the carriers as they launched air strikes against targets in the South China Sea. Moving to Task Group 58.4 she screened the carriers launching strikes against the home islands in support of the assault and occupation of Iwo Jima to the south. During this operation the FRANKS rescued two more pilots.

On 14 March 1945 the task force was again hitting the islands of Japan as American forces prepared for the assault on Okinawa. At 0730 on 18 March the task force came under heavy air attack, and the FRANKS’ guns downed one raider and assisted in splashing three others. Her guns covered the battleships bombarding the south coast of Okinawa on 24 March and three days later made several night sorties to shell Daito Shima.

Late in the afternoon of 2 April the FRANKS had just left her plane guard station astern of the YORKTOWN (CV-10) and was headed for her regular screen position when she collided with the battleship NEW JERSEY (BB-62). The collision demolished her port side armament and the bridge wing and killed her captain, Commander David R. Stephan. The following morning she retired to Ulithi for temporary repairs and then, with the carriers CABOT (CV-28) and HANCOCK (CV-19), headed for Pearl Harbor. She went on from there to Puget Sound for a complete overhaul.

By 10 August the FRANKS was back in operation, steaming for Eniwetok with the destroyers KIMBERLY (DD-521), HALSEY POWELL (DD-686), and YARNALL (DD-541). They were underway when they received news of the Japanese surrender on 15 August. Four days later she and the DUNCAN (DD-874) left Eniwetok to screen the escort carriers ATTU (ACV-102) and SITKOH BAY (ACV-86) southwest of Honshu where she remained until 10 September.

After a brief stay at Yokosuka, she left the Western Pacific en route to Seattle. The FRANKS was decommissioned on 31 May 1946 and assigned to the San Diego Reserve Group. Later she was transferred to the Bremerton Reserve Group where she was stricken from the navy’s list on 1 December 1972 and was sold on 17 September 1973.

USS FRANKS DD-554 Ship History

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, February 2018

Franks (DD-554) was launched 7 December 1942 by Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corp., Seattle, Wash.; sponsored by Mrs. Martha F. W. Carr, a cousin of Acting Master’s Mate Franks; and commissioned 30 July 1943, Lieutenant Commander N. A. Lidstone in command.

Franks arrived at Pearl Harbor 25 October 1943 to prepare for the invasion of the Gilbert Islands, for which she sortied 10 November. She screened escort carriers providing air cover for the Tarawa landings, then patrolled off Betio until 27 December, returning then to Pearl Harbor for a brief repair period. The destroyer was underway once more 22 January 1944 with the Southern Attack Force for the invasion of Kwajalein, during which she patrolled against submarines, as well as closing Ebeye Island for reconnaissance and bombardment. Again she replenished at Pearl Harbor, between 18 February and 4 March, then sailed for convoy and patrol duty in the Solomons, arriving at Purvis Bay 15 March.

Targets for Franks’ reconnaissance and bombardment missions in March and April 1944 included Mussau, north of New Ireland; Kapingamaringi; and Bougainville. In May, screening minelayers in Buka Passage, Franks and Haggard (DD-555) contacted, attacked, and sank Japanese submarine 1-176 on 16 May. Returning to the central Pacific the next month, Franks joined in the preinvasion bombardment of Guam from 12 July, and gave fire support to the assault troops who landed there 21 July. After replenishing at Eniwetok, Franks sailed back to the South Pacific to prepare for the invasion of the Palaus, off which she arrived 15 September. She served as screen and fighter-director ship, then covered the occupation of Ulithi 23 September.

On 1 October 1944, Franks sailed from Manus, beginning a month and a half of operations in the Philippines screening escort carriers. She took part in the preinvasion strikes on Leyte and the landings there, then fought gallantly to protect the escort carriers in the Battle off Samar phase of the Battle for Leyte Gulf, coming under the pounding fire of Japanese battleships 25 October. After replenishing at Manus, she returned to Leyte late in November, and in December joined the fast carrier task force to cover the landings on Mindoro, and to conduct strikes in preparation for the Luzon assault of January 1945.

Still screening the fast carriers, Franks took part in strikes on the Japanese home islands on 16 and 17 February 1945 on the eve of the invasion of Iwo Jima, then sailed from Ulithi 14 March for strikes on Kyushu and the Nansei Shoto in preparation for the Okinawa operation. On 18 March her task force came under heavy enemy air attack, and Franks splashed at least one of the attackers, joining in the fire which brought several others down. Joining the battleship group, Franks closed the southern coast of Okinawa 24 March for a preinvasion bombardment, which hid the intention to land at Hagushi on the western coast. Franks cruised off Okinawa, serving as plane guard for carriers covering the landings 1 April, until 2 April, when she was badly damaged and her commanding officer was fatally injured in a collision with New Jersey (BB-63). She sailed at once for temporary-repairs at Ulithi, from which she departed 13 April for overhaul at Puget Sound Navy Yard.

Franks returned to the western Pacific on 17 August 1945 at Eniwetok, and on 3 September rendezvoused with the fast carrier task force for air-sea rescue and weather station duty for flights between Okinawa and Honshu. She entered Tokyo Bay 13 September, and on 1 October sailed for the west coast. Franks was placed out of commission in reserve at San Pedro 31 May 1946.

Franks received nine battle stars for World War II service.