A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History
USS EUGENE A. GREENE DD-711
The Tin Can Sailor, January 1999
The EUGENE A. GREENE (DD-711) was named for navy fighter pilot, Eugene Allan Greene, an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve. Three months after reporting aboard the USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6), Ensign Greene was shot down leading a dive-bombing attack against Japanese forces during the Battle of Midway in June 1942.
Launched 18 March 1945, the GREENE was commissioned at the New York Navy Yard on 8 June 1945. Mrs. Anita M. Greene, widow of Ensign Greene, was her sponsor. During her early career, she was homeported in Norfolk and operated in the Atlantic and Mediterranean with the Second and Sixth Fleets and served as flagship for commanders of Destroyer Divisions 42 and 62.
Known as the ‘Steamin’ GREENE,’ she was capable of ranging farther than her shorter-hulled sisters in searching for, detecting, and destroying enemy submarines. In December 1952, the GREENE was recommissioned as Destroyer Radar Picket, DDR-711. As such, she was fitted out with the latest electronic equipment and devices. When working with an especially equipped carrier plane, she could extend a task group’s radar horizon to a distance of about 200 miles.
In July 1956, the crew of the GREENE found their Mediterranean deployment anything but routine. Arriving shortly after Egypt’s seizure of the Suez Canal and a build-up of British and French military forces in the area, the GREENE’s crew spent several anxious weeks patrolling the eastern Mediterranean. In October, Israel invaded the Sinai Peninsula, and Britain and France attacked Egypt. A cease fire finally brought an uneasy peace on November 7, and the GREENE headed for home.
Several times in the following years, the GREENE’s crew proved the worth of their training and their ship’s advanced radar and electronic search equipment. Operating again in the eastern Mediterranean in the summer of 1957, the destroyer’s crew braved rough seas for the nighttime rescue of two survivors of a downed plane from the USS FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (CVA-42). Early in 1958, the GREENE participated in a massive, eight-day air/sea search for a navy patrol plane lost in the vicinity of the Azores. Later that year, they rescued the pilot of a downed navy F4D northeast of Cape Hatteras.
The GREENE moved from Norfolk to Charleston, South Carolina, in July 1959, and as part of the Manned Spacecraft Recovery Force, she participated in operations off Cape Canaveral, Florida. International tensions shifted to the Caribbean in October 1962, and the GREENE served as part of the United States blockade during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In December, she headed for the Boston Naval Shipyard and Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM I) conversion.
Homeported again in Norfolk in December 1963, the GREENE assumed duty as the flagship of Destroyer Squadron 28, and in 1964 joined the “Anywhere-Anytime” Destroyer Squadron 32 and Task Group Alfa. She took part in the January 1965 recovery of the GEMINI space capsule following astronaut Edward White’s historic space walk.
On 6 June 1966, the GREENE transited the Panama Canal for duty in the Seventh Fleet, entering the Pacific for the first time. By August, she was operating in the Tonkin Gulf as escort and rescue destroyer for the USS CONSTELLATION (CVA-64) during air strikes against North Vietnam and later, supporting friendly forces in the Republic of Vietnam’s I Corps area. She fired more than 450 rounds of ammunition, killed between twelve and twenty-five enemy troops, annihilated an enemy base camp, provided starshell illumination for friendly outposts, and destroyed a number of enemy supply buildings. Before leaving North Vietnamese waters, the GREENE rejoined the attack carriers CONSTELLATION and CORAL SEA (CVA-43).
She was steaming at 27 knots east of Taiwan on 19 October 1966 when the ship’s port shaft parted in the stern tube and slid aft coming to rest against her port rudder. Her divers quickly immobilized the propeller, and the GREENE limped into Tse Ying, Taiwan, for a quick fix that would get her to Subic Bay, Philippines. There, she went into dry dock for installation of a new intermediate and tail shaft and a port propeller. Upon her return to Norfolk in December 1966, the Steamin’ GREENE had completed a 205-day around-the-world deployment.
The GREENE began 1967 with an overhaul of her major systems and installation of new equipment at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. In the fall, she embarked on a seven-month goodwill cruise with the U.S. Middle East Force, stopping at several ports along the east coast of Africa.
On 3 February 1968, the GREENE was the first U.S. ship to enter the new Iranian port of Bander Abbas. After a grounding in the uncharted harbor, her crew set about rectifying the situation. Before leaving, they had charted the entire harbor. Continuing on to Karachi, Pakistan, the destroyer again had trouble with her drive train and became the first U.S. Naval vessel of her size to be dry-docked in a Mid-East port. Following the replacement of both screws and shafts, she steamed non-stop to Port Louis, Mauritius, in record time-2,682.5 miles in six days.
Returning stateside in May 1968, the GREENE joined the valiant search for the missing submarine SCORPION (SSN-589), lost in the Atlantic with all hands. October found her operating with the Manned Space Craft Recovery Force for the recovery of the three Apollo 7 astronauts following their eleven-day flight.
For most of 1969, the GREENE was assigned to Cadre status, operating with less than half of her normal crew. When she finally put out to sea in June, her activities were curtailed because of a recurring propeller shaft problem, but by year’s end, the Steamin’ GREENE was fully operational again.
During a NATO exercise in June 1970, the destroyer’s helmsman lost steering control, and the GREENE suffered minor damage when she collided with the fuel oil tanker, USS WACCAMAW (AO-109). Routine operations took her into the spring of 1972 and preparations for her decommissioning. The USS EUGENE A. GREENE was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 31 August 1972 and entered service in the Spanish navy as the CHURRUCA (D-61). Her service with the Spanish navy ended in 1989, and in December 1991, she was sunk as a target.