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Hull Number: DD-697

Launch Date: 03/13/1944

Commissioned Date: 05/17/1944

Decommissioned Date: 12/15/1973

Call Sign: NHSW

Voice Call Sign: REARGUARD (61-64), SUNSTROKE


Class: ALLEN M. SUMNER

ALLEN M. SUMNER Class

Data for USS Allen M. Sumner (DD-692) as of 1945


Length Overall: 376’ 6"

Beam: 40’ 10"

Draft: 14’ 5"

Standard Displacement: 2,200 tons

Full Load Displacement: 3,315 tons

Fuel capacity: 3,293 barrels

Armament:

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

Complement:

20 Officers
325 Enlisted

Propulsion:

4 Boilers
2 General Electric Turbines: 60,000 horsepower

Highest speed on trials: 34.2 knots

Namesake: CHARLES STILLMAN SPERRY

CHARLES STILLMAN SPERRY

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, June 2015

Charles Stillman Sperry, born in Brooklyn, N.Y., 3 September 1847, graduated from the Naval Academy in 1886. In November 1898 he became commanding officer of Yorktown, and later served as senior officer of the Southern Squadron on the Asiatic Station and as President of the Naval War College. As a rear admiral, he served in the United States delegation to the Geneva Convention and the Second Hague Conference, and as Commander in Chief, Battle Fleet, he led the Great White Fleet during the major portion of its historic cruise around the world in 1907 and 1908. Admiral Sperry retired 3 September 1909, but subsequently was recalled to active duty for special service. He died 1 February 1911 in Washington, D.C.


Disposition:

Stricken 12/15/1973. Transferred to Chile on 01/08/1974 as Ministro Zenteno.


USS CHARLES S. SPERRY DD-697 Ship History

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, June 2015

Charles S. Sperry (DD-697) was launched 13 March 1944 by Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Kearny, N.J.; sponsored by Miss M. Sperry; commissioned 17 May 1944, Commander H. H. McIlhenny in command; and reported to the Pacific Fleet.

After training in the Hawaiian Islands, Charles S. Sperry arrived at Ulithi 28 December 1944 to join the fast carrier force, TP 38. For the remainder of the war, she sailed in the screen of the third group of this mighty force, variously designated TF 38 and TF 58. She sortied with her group for the first time on 30 December, bound for the areas from which the carriers launched strikes against Japanese bases on Formosa and Luzon in preparation for the assault on Lingayen Gulf beaches. Continuing to neutralize Japanese airfields the force moved on to strike at targets in Indochina, on the South China coast, and on Okinawa before returning to Ulithi 26 January 1945.

Charles S. Sperry sailed with TF 58 once more on 10 February 1945, as the force began its familiar work in preparation for the invasion of Iwo Jima. An audacious raid against Tokyo itself was first on the schedule, the first carrier strikes on the heart of Japan since the Doolittle Raid. On 16 and 17 February, planes from the carriers guarded by Charles S. Sperry roared over Tokyo, in attacks which inflicted substantial material damage, and great moral damage, to the Japanese war effort. Now Charles S. Sperry’s force offered direct support during the assault landings at Iwo Jima. Twice, on 19 February and on 20-21 February, the carrier force came under air attack from the enemy, but antiaircraft fire from Charles S. Sperry and the other screening ships, combined with evasive maneuvering and a protective smoke screen, prevented damage to the great concentration of ships. A final round of air strikes was hurled at
Tokyo and Okinawa before TF 58 returned to Ulithi 5 March.

Once more designated TF 38, the force cleared Ulithi 14 March 1945 for the Okinawa operation, which would keep Charles S. Sperry and many other ships at sea almost continuously until 1 June. First came air strikes against Kyushu, for which the Japanese retaliated with heavy air attacks against the carrier force on 19 and 20 March. While carrier Franklin (CV-13) was badly damaged in these attacks, Charles S. Sperry and other escorts furnished effective antiaircraft fire which pre vented further harm to the force, and she shared in splashing several Japanese planes.

Charles S. Sperry turned south with her force for strikes against Okinawa. The destroyer joined in a bombardment of the Japanese airstrip on tiny but critically located Minami Daito Shima 27 March. Close air support was provided by TF 38 as the invasion began on 1 April 1945, and Charles S. Sperry served as plane guard and radar picket for her force. On 7 April, planes from the carriers she screened joined in sending the powerful battleship Yamoto, her accompanying cruiser, and four of eight guardian destroyers to the bottom. Charles S. Sperry herself fired often, aiding in splashing planes of the kamikaze strikes hurled at her force on 11, 14, 16, and 29 April, and 11 May. When carriers Hancock (CV-19) and Bunker Hill (CV-17) fell victim to the suicide planes, Charles S. Sperry stood by them, aiding in damage control, and rescuing men from the water.

The destroyer remained in San Pedro Bay, P.I., from 1 June to 1 July, and then sailed to support the carriers as they launched the final air strikes at the Japanese home islands. Cover for the first occupation landings and the evacuation of Allied prisoners of war from Japanese prison camps was flown by the carriers, and on 31 August, the great force arrived off Tokyo Bay for the surrender ceremonies held on 2 September.

Charles S. Sperry remained in the Far East, taking part in exercises, on patrol, and carrying mail, until 30 December 1945, when she departed Sasebo for the east coast, arriving at Baltimore 19 February 1946. For the next year, she remained at Boston with a reduced crew, and in March 1947, reported at New Orleans for duty as a training ship for members of the Naval Reserve until July 1950. After overhaul at Norfolk, she sailed for the Far East, arriving off embattled Korea 14 October 1950.

The destroyer operated almost continuously off Korea until June 1951. For her first 2 weeks in action, she fired on shore installations at Songjin, screened shipping, and patrolled areas swept of mines to guard against their remining. During November and December 1950 she continued her fire support and bombardments, covered the redeployments from Kojo, Wonsan, and Hung-nam, and screened salvage operations. On 23 December, while firing at Songjin, she was hit by three shells returned by an enemy shore battery, but suffered no casualties, and only minor damage, which was repaired at Sasebo early in January 1951. She returned to the Korean firing line to cover salvage operations north of the 38th parallel and conduct bombardments along the coast.

As operations leading to the classic blockade of Wonsan began, Charles S. Sperry entered the dangerous harbor 17 January 1951 to provide interdiction fire, and to cover the landings which secured the harbor islands. She cleared the Wonsan area 5 March for Songjin, where she joined in setting the siege, and until 6 June was almost constantly patrolling and firing on shore installations at Songjin. She then sailed for home, arriving at Norfolk 2 July.

Taking up the operating schedule of the Destroyer Force, Atlantic, Charles S. Sperry sailed from Norfolk through 1960. In 1953, 1955, 1956, 1958, and 1959 she cruised in the Mediterranean with the 6th Fleet. During her 1956 deployment, which coincided with the Suez Crisis, she escorted the transports which evacuated American nationals from Egypt. Midshipmen cruises and North Atlantic Treaty Organization exercises took her to northern European ports on several occasions, some of them in coordination with her Mediterranean deployments.

Late in 1959 Charles S. Sperry began an extensive overhaul for rehabilitation and modernization, which continued through 1960.

Charles S. Sperry received four battle stars for World War II service and four for the Korean War.

A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History

USS CHARLES S. SPERRY DD-697

The Tin Can Sailor, July 1998

DD-697 was launched by the Federal Shipbuilding construction crews on March 13, 1944. She had been named for RADM Charles S. Sperry, who had commanded the American battle fleet and served, briefly, as commander of Theodore Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet” during that force’s round the world cruise. RADM Sperry passed away in Washington, DC on February 1, 1911.USS CHARLES S. SPERRY was commissioned on May 17, 1944 and was ordered almost immediately to the Pacific for training in Hawaiian waters. By December, DD-697 was at Ulithi, ready to accompany task Force 38, one of the premier fast carrier forces in the Pacific. For most of her service in the Pacific War, SPERRY “sailed in harm’s way”, protecting carrier forces from kamikaze attack while cruising off enemy coasts. The carriers DD-697 protected lashed out at airfields around Japan, Formosa, the Philippines, and the coast of Indochina.

The invasion of Iwo Jima was supported by SPERRY’s task force, and the destroyer was pivotal in protecting her charges with accurate anti-aircraft fire and a smokescreen as enemy aircraft sought and found the huge force. The carriers swept past Japan once again, before returning to Ulithi.

Although TF 38 became TF 58 periodically to confuse Japanese intelligence, most of the escorting ships remained the same. USS CHARLES S. SPERRY and her sisters often stayed at sea for three months or more, either steaming to a new launch point for the carrier aircraft or withdrawing briefly for underway replenishment. In preparing for the invasion of Okinawa, SPERRY’s fast force struck targets in Kyushu. This time, the Japanese struck back heavily. DD-697 succeeded in splashing several attackers, but USS FRANKLIN (CV-13) was hit, and the destroyer was called upon to screen the badly damaged vessel.

Task Force 58 found itself in the thick of the action. In a final effort to blast American forces from Okinawa, the Imperial Japanese Navy sortied the mighty and, many thought, unsinkable dreadnought YAMATO. Escorted by a cruiser and eight destroyers, the battleship was expected to ground herself on an Okinawan beach, firing until she ran out of ammunition. Covering the attack were flights of kamikazes. The aircraft of the task force took care of the enemy battleship and most of her escort; DD-697 and her sisters took care of the kamikazes. Two of the group’s carriers, USS HANCOCK (CV-19) and USS BUNKER HILL (CV-17) were hit by attackers in April and May operations, but USS CHARLES S. SPERRY and the rest of the group’s escort helped with damage control and crew rescue.

DD-697 would cover the final air strikes against Japan. She was at sea when the cease f ire was announced. USS CHARLES S. SPERRY remained in Japanese waters, first to support occupation forces and repatriate prisoners of war, then on training exercises. She finally sailed for the East Coast in December, 1945, arriving two months later.

For the next several years, USS CHARLES S. SPERRY served as a training vessel for Naval Reserve units both on the East Coast and in the Gulf. Her relatively tranquil existence was not to last, however.

Following an overhaul in Norfolk, the destroyer was on her way to block North Korean incursions against the south. On October 14, 1950, USS CHARLES S. SPERRY found herself off the Korean coast, ready to take on a new enemy.

For eight months, DD-697 was in action almost continuously. The North Koreans came to know the gray-hulled ghost that swept unto the waters around Wonsan, Kojo, and Hungnam, blasting away at every target with superb accuracy and skill. At Wonsan, SPERRY steamed up the twisted channel, under fire from shore batteries, to provide support for landing forces assigned to capture the harbor islands. She would make life interesting for any number of Communist gunners, locomotive crews, and infantrymen up and down the coast. Usually arriving unheralded, she “interdicted enemy forces”, then left the immediate area for another assignment. Her deployment was not to end until the summer of 1952. SPERRY’s return to Norfolk marked a new point in her operational life. Soviet presence both in the eastern Mediterranean and the Atlantic made every destroyer, even one that was nearly ten years old and hardly “state of the art”, a vital element of the Atlantic fleet. Training exercises alternated with Mediterranean deployments with the Sixth Fleet and midshipmen cruises until 1959, when an innovative program promised yet another career for the vessel.

By the late 1950’s the Navy found itself in a familiar problem. Like her forces at the end of the First World War, the U.S. Navy after World War II found herself with large number of rapidly aging destroyers that were not really able to effectively counter the new technology arrayed against them. The few new vessels Congress was willing to fund would hardly provide much defense against what Navy intelligence saw as hordes of Soviet submarines in the Atlantic. The answer was a program what would modernize and rehabilitate existing hulls, buying five of new life for the tin cans. The program was called FRAM (Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization).

USS CHARLES S. SPERRY was selected for a FRAM II rebuilding. Weapons systems were modernized, electronics and communications suites were upgraded, and her hull and machinery were “rehabilitated.” With an expenditure of almost eight million dollars and a yard stay of nearly seven months, USS CHARLES S. SPERRY might be expected to be a “new” ship, and in many ways she was. Sporting hedgehog long-range torpedoes and remotely controlled drone helicopters called DASH, DD-697 was a very different ship from the one that had entered the Norfolk Navy Yard in June, 1960.

By the mid-1960’s, DD-697 had entered her third war. American involvement in the Vietnam War had escalated and strong naval forces were deployed in the area. SPERRY served in many of the same roles she performed off Korea more than ten years before. She served as a harbor defense ship for Danang, then sailed north to test her weapons against the Communist guerrillas. On January 15, 1966, one of the first 5-inch rounds the destroyer fired at a North Vietnamese target set off a spectacular secondary explosion. When the dust cleared, an ammunition dump and ten other structures had been completely destroyed, while another forty-one were heavily damaged. Within the next fifteen days, SPERRY fired one hundred thirty-five 5-inch rounds at enemy targets along the coast. The deployment ended on February 22, and SPERRY left for home.

A return to the States marked SPERRY’s return to the round of training cruises and “Med” deployments she had experienced before her Vietnam experience. Unfortunately, her operations became less and less routine. Breakdowns and equipment failures became frequent in reports. The material that had been added ten years before was no longer up to fleet standards. SPERRY had become obsolete.

In March, 1973 a Navy survey team concluded that USS CHARLES S. SPERRY was no longer useful for anti-submarine purposes. She was slated to be stricken from the Naval Vessel Register, effective on October 31, 1973.

As it happened, several South American allies were interested in acquiring “surplus” naval vessels from the United States. A deal was negotiated with the Chilean Navy in September for a total in excess of $229,500. The transfer was not entirely smooth; decommissioning was delayed while the Chilean government ironed out technicalities. Finally, on January 8, 1974, USS CHARLES S. SPERRY became MINISTRO ZENTENO, captained by CDR Francisco Johow. She served another sixteen years in the Chilean Navy before being stricken in 1990. Sources suggest she was scrapped soon afterward.

USS CHARLES S. SPERRY earned four battle stars for service in World War II, four for Korea, and additional commendations for her Vietnam service.