A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History
USS BUCK DD-761
The Tin Can Sailor, October 2000
The BUCK (DD-761) was built by the Bethlehem Steel Company in San Francisco, California, and launched on 11 March 1945. Following her commissioning on 28 June 1946, she operated along the West Coast from Acapulco, Mexico, to Ketchikan, Alaska.
Over the next two years her operations were limited to training cruises because of post-war personnel shortages, but when needed in December 1948, she was ready. Two destroyers had collided during night maneuvers off China and the BUCK and her sister ship the JOHN W. THOMASON (DD-760) were sent to the Far East to replace them.
She returned to the Western Pacific a second time with the THOMASON to participate in maneuvers with British ships off the coasts of Indochina and Korea. She was in the states for an overhaul in April 1950 and upon its completion, rushed to sea to rescue the survivors of the hospital ship BENEVOLENCE (AH-13), which had sunk after colliding with a freighter off San Francisco.
Two months later, North Korea’s invasion of the south plunged the U.S. and other United Nations forces into war, and by autumn the BUCK was en route to join the Seventh Fleet as a unit of Destroyer Division 71 screening carrier task groups supporting U.N. ground operations in Korea.
During her third deployment to the Western Pacific in 1952, her gunners shelled enemy shore installations, bridges, and railroads; screened the fast carrier task force; and made two trips south to Okinawa. Following the war, which ended with an uneasy truce on 27 July 1953, the BUCK continued alternating operations on the West Coast with deployments to the Western Pacific.
The routine was broken in 1956 when her crew and those of other ships of Destroyer Division 71 saved a burning Norwegian freighter. To the rescue again during her 1957 tour, the BUCK fought ten-foot waves to pick up a downed pilot from the carrier BON HOMME RICHARD (C-31), and in 1958 while patrolling the Taiwan Straits, she rescued thirteen shipwrecked Chinese Nationalists. During the Laotian crisis in 1961, she operated with British and Australian forces.
In 1963 the BUCK increased her antisubmarine capabilities when she became the first destroyer to test and use the Drone Antisubmarine Helicopter (DASH) system. During 1965 she remained busy with operations and exercises along the West Coast and deployments to the Western Pacific and the waters of Vietnam. Her cruise in 1968 was her thirteenth career deployment and her ninth wartime cruise with the Seventh Fleet. Operations with the fleet included screening, plane guard, and picket duty in addition to search and rescue missions.
In May 1969 the BUCK’s antisubmarine warfare team detected an unidentified submarine and for several days coordinated the activities of the ships and aircraft tracking the boat. She continued her regular stints of rescue and plane guard duty in the Tonkin Gulf and on the gun line, where her gunners accounted for sixty-one bunkers destroyed or damaged, ten caves closed, and six buildings destroyed. In October 1969 she headed for home with the BON HOMME RICHARD, JOHN W. THOMASON, WILTSIE (DD-814), and PERKINS (DD-877).
July 1970 found the BUCK steaming for the Western Pacific with the LYNDE MCCORMICK (DDG-8), PERKINS, and WILTSIE. An engine problem sidetracked the BUCK to Pearl Harbor for repairs, but by late August she was anchored just north of Vung Tau, South Vietnam. Following fifteen days of almost non-stop firing on the gun line, the BUCK was relieved by the BAUSELL (DD-845). Headed for the Tonkin Gulf in early October, she took the place of the FOX (DLG-33) in search and rescue operations with the CHICAGO (CG-11), but spent most of her time avoiding typhoons before she was relieved by the CHEVALIER (DD-805).
Back on the gun line in November, she earned the nickname “fastest gun in WESTPAC” for the second straight year. After Christmas in Yokosuka, Japan, she set her course for Yankee Station where she destroyed or damaged sixty-nine bunkers and numerous structures and closed several fighting caves and trenches. After a New Year’s break, the BUCK was back on search and rescue duty in the Tonkin Gulf. Her fifteenth and final deployment to the Western Pacific ended on 24 January 1971 when she headed home with the WILTSIE and PERKINS.
Later that year she began a new career as a naval reserve training ship operating between ports in Mexico and Canada. Early in the summer of 1972 she made an extended reserve training cruise to Hawaii accompanied by the BAUER (DE-1025), HOOPER (DE-1026), and MCKEAN (DD-784) and ended the year preparing for her decommissioning. The BUCK was decommissioned and stricken from the navy’s list on 15 July 1973 and transferred the next day to the government of Brazil as the ALAGOAS. She served in the Brazilian Navy until 1995.