USS HANK DD-702 Ship History
The Tin Can Sailor, January 2000
Lt. Commander William E. Hank, captain of the destroyer LAFFEY (DD-459), was killed and his ship lost during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. His namesake was commissioned on 28 August 1944 and by the end of the year was part of the screen for Task Force 38, conducting air strikes on targets along the China coast, on Formosa and Luzon, and in Indochina. At dawn on 14 January 1945, the HANK captured and sank a Japanese fishing vessel and took its five-man crew prisoner. The five were subsequently transferred to the NEW JERSEY (BB-62).
In mid-February, the HANK was with Task Force 58 during raids in the Tokyo area and went on to support the invasion of Iwo Jima. She remained on duty there until 4 March when the task force struck the Japanese home island of Kyushu. After participating in the bombardment of Minami Daito on 27-28 March, she headed for Okinawa to cover the 1 April landings there. Screening carriers over the following week, she used her guns effectively against heavy kamikaze attacks. The destroyer then reported to a lonely radar picket station, where on 11 April, a suicide plane dove out of the sky headed directly for the her bridge. Her 40- and 20-mm gunners turned it aside and averted wide scale disaster, but the Zeke came in close enough to kill three sailors before crashing into the sea and exploding close aboard. Off Kyushu on 14 May, her guns brought down four enemy planes and a probable third.
After repairs at Ulithi, the HANK resumed screening and radar picket duty off Okinawa. In July, she screened the carriers of Task Force 38 during strikes against Japan and then resumed picket duty steaming fifty miles from the main body of ships. This routine was broken when she joined Destroyer Squadron 62 for an anti-shipping sweep off Tokyo Bay. Back on her picket station on 9 August, she and the BORIE (DD-704) found themselves under attack by five kamikazes. One of the raiders came so close to the HANK that it drenched both ship and crew with gasoline before the destroyers’ gunners destroyed it. In the battle, the BORIE was hit, suffering forty-eight dead and sixty-six injured. The HANK lost one man overboard and had five wounded. With the end of hostilities on August 15, she joined the occupation force, operating between Japan and Pearl Harbor until 30 December, when she sailed for the states.
The HANK operated mainly out of New Orleans as a naval reserve training ship and goodwill ambassador visiting Caribbean and Central American ports until September 1949 when she sailed for the Mediterranean. Almost exactly a year later, she was underway for the Far East and the Korean War. On 10 October at Kojo Bay, she was the first ship of Destroyer Squadron 16 to fire a shot against the enemy. Her operations in the Wonsan area were broken up by blockade missions at Chongjin, Songjin, and other East Coast targets. In early December, she supported the evacuation of Wonsan and then went on to cover the Christmas Eve evacuation of Allied forces from Hungnam. In the bitter cold weather of late January 1951, she supported the Eighth Army as it reestablished control over Seoul and Inchon. Still fighting the wintry weather on 10 February, the HANK steamed to Wolmi Do to neutralize enemy shore batteries. That night, her guns covered the landing of Korean marines and secured the area. To date, she had expended more than 4,000 rounds of 5-inch ammunition. Screening, blockade patrol, and shore bombardment, occupied the HANK until she left for Norfolk on 9 June.
A yard overhaul, peacetime operations, Caribbean exercises, and annual deployments to the Mediterranean kept the destroyer’s crew busy until the fall of 1956. During the crisis over the Suez Canal that year, she conducted patrols in the eastern Mediterranean. In October 1962, she was in the Caribbean operating with a replenishment group during the Cuban Missile Crisis and then early in 1963 patrolled the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Designated a reserve training ship in October 1963, she moved to Philadelphia. Thereafter, the HANK conducted training cruises along the East Coast from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and in the Caribbean. In November 1965, she steamed at twenty-seven knots for forty-two hours to reach the area of the search for a downed Argentinian plane carrying some sixty air cadets. Life jackets and a few pieces of the plane were all that the search force found. She spent 1967 undergoing overhaul and did not resume training cruises until January 1968. The HANK continued to play a vital role in training reserves into 1972 when her crew learned that the ship was due for decommissioning and transfer to the Argentine navy on 1 July 1972. In an impressive ceremony, the U.S. Navy career of the HANK ended, and she began a new life as A.R.A. SEGUI. She served there until 1983.