USS The Sullivans (DD-537)

USS The Sullivans (DD-537)

The first USS "The Sullivans" (DD-537) is a "Fletcher"-class destroyer. The ship is named in honor of the five Sullivan brothers (George, Francis, Joseph, Madison, and Albert) aged 19 to 27 who lost their lives when their ship, USS "Juneau", was sunk by a Japanese submarine during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on November 13 1942. This was the greatest military loss by any one American family during World War II.Fact|date=July 2008

The USS "The Sullivans" was originally laid down as the USS "Putnam" on October 10 1942 at San Francisco, California by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. She was renamed USS "The Sullivans" on February 6 1943 and launched April 4 1943. The ship was sponsored by Mrs. Thomas F. Sullivan, the mother of the five Sullivan brothers. USS "The Sullivans" was commissioned on September 30 1943 with Commander Kenneth M. Gentry in command. [ cite web |title = Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Vol. 7 |work = Washington: Naval Historical Center |year = 1981 |isbn = 2794587 |url = |accessdate = 2007-09-06 ]

After distinguished service in both World War II and the Korean War, USS "The Sullivans" was assigned to the 6th Fleet and was a training ship until she was decommissioned on January 7 1965. In 1977, she and cruiser USS "Little Rock" were processed for donation to the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park in Buffalo, New York. The ship now serves as a memorial and is open for public tours.

World War II service


Following shakedown, "The Sullivans" got underway with USS "Dortch" and USS "Gatling" on December 23 1943. The group arrived at Pearl Harbor five days later. During training operations in Hawaiian waters, the ship was assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 52. On January 16 1944, she steamed out of Pearl Harbor with Task Group 58.2 bound for the Marshall Islands. En route to Kwajalein Atoll the group was joined by Battleship Division (BatDiv) 9. Two days later, as the American warships neared their target, picket destroyers were sent ahead to protect the main force from the enemy. On 24 January, TG 58.2 arrived at the dawn launching point for air strikes against Roi. For two days, "The Sullivans" screened "Essex" (CV-9), "Intrepid" (CV-11), and "Cabot" (CVL-28) as they launched nearly continuous aerial raids. Thereafter, the destroyer continued her operations to the north and northwest of Roi and Namur Islands in the Kwajalein group until 4 February, when TG 58.2 retired to Majuro to refuel and replenish.

Underway at high noon on the 12th, "The Sullivans" screened the sortie of TG 58.2, outward bound for Truk. The same carriers whose planes had blasted Roi and Namur steamed in the van — "Essex", "Intrepid", and "Cabot" — now headed for the Japanese fortress-base in the Central Pacific. From the time the group arrived at its launching point on 16 February, the carriers launched what seemed to be nearly continuous air strikes against Truk. "No enemy opposition of any kind was encountered," wrote "The Sullivans"' commander, "indicating that the initial attacks came as a complete surprise."

While the enemy may have been slow to react at the outset, they soon struck back — torpedoing "Intrepid" at 0010 on the 17th. The carrier slowed to convert|20|kn|km/h and lost steering control. "The Sullivans", "Owen" (DD-536), and "Stembel" (DD-644) stood by the stricken carrier and escorted her to Majuro for repairs. Reaching Majuro on 21 February, the destroyer soon sailed on to Hawaii, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 4 March for drydocking and upkeep.

Underway again on the 22nd, "The Sullivans" covered the sortie of TGs 58.2, 58.9, and 50.15 from Majuro, bound for the Palaus, Yap, and Woleai Islands. On the evening of the 29th, while the American warships were approaching the target area, enemy aircraft attacked them but were driven off by the antiaircraft fire from the ships. The next day, "The Sullivans" screened the carriers during air strikes and that evening helped to beat off a Japanese air attack.

After returning to Majuro for replenishment, the warship screened TG 58.2 during air strikes on Hollandia (currently known as Jayapura), Tanahmerah, Wakde, and Aitape to support amphibious operations on New Guinea. Late in April, "The Sullivans" participated in support of air strikes on the Japanese base at Truk. On the 29th during one of these raids, the Japanese retaliated with a low-level air attack. American radar picked up four Japanese planes convert|16|mi|km away, coming in fast at altitudes varying from 10 to convert|500|ft|m. When the planes came within range, "The Sullivans" opened up with one 40-millimeter twin mount and all five convert|5|in|mm|sing=on guns. Two aircraft splashed into the sea due to the firing of the American ships, and one crossing ahead of "The Sullivans" was taken under fire and crashed in flames off her port beam.

"The Sullivans" arrived off the northwest coast of Ponape on the afternoon of 1 May and provided cover for the battleships led by "Iowa" (BB-61) which bombarded the island. From the disengaged side of the screen, "The Sullivans" fired 18 rounds from extreme range at Tumu Point. She then noted three beached Japanese landing barges and shifted her fire to them. However, she received the general cease-fire order shortly thereafter.

During the task unit's retirement, "The Sullivans" refueled from "Yorktown" (CV-10) and arrived at Majuro on 4 May. Ten days later, TG 58.2 sortied again, bound for Marcus and Wake Islands. Launching the first raid at 0800 on the 19th, the American carriers kept up nearly continuous air strikes with no enemy interruptions for three days. En route back to Majuro, "The Sullivans" and her sister destroyers conducted a thorough but unsuccessful search for a suspected submarine.

On 6 June, "The Sullivans" got underway again, bound for Saipan, Tinian, and Guam to screen carriers in conducting air strikes. On occasion while in the screen, "The Sullivans"' radar picked up enemy "snoopers" around the periphery of the formation—and before dawn at 0315 on the 12th, TG 58.2 shot down one in flames.

The second day's strikes against Saipan took place on the 13th to support the American landings there. Assigned to the duty of communication-linking station between task forces, "The Sullivans" remained within visual sighting distance of both TG's 58.1 and 58.2 during the day. That day, she picked up 31 Japanese merchant seamen after their ship had been sunk offshore and transferred these prisoners to flagship "Indianapolis" (CA-35).

On June 19 1944, during the first day of the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Japanese aircraft attacked the task group. "The Sullivans" picked up a plane visually at a range of less than five miles (8 km). "Judies," diving from convert|23000|ft|m, pressed home their attacks. One, taken under fire by "The Sullivans", took tracer fire from the ship's 20- and 40-millimeter batteries and, moments later, crashed just short of the horizon. American air attacks against Pagan Island, made without enemy retaliation, topped off the Saipan-Tinian-Guam strikes; and "The Sullivans" proceeded with TG 58.2 to Eniwetok for upkeep.

Underway on 30 June, "The Sullivans" resumed work in the screen of carriers launching air strikes to support operations against Saipan and Tinian. During this action, "The Sullivans" served as fighter-direction ship for TU 58.2.4.

On Independence Day, "The Sullivans" joined Bombardment Unit One (TU 58.2.4) to conduct a shore bombardment of airfields, shore batteries, and other installations on the west coast of Iwo Jima. The heavy ships in the group opened fire at 1500, and smoke and dust soon obscured targets along the western shore of the island, making spotting difficult. "The Sullivans", second ship in a column of destroyers, opened fire at 1548 on planes parked on the southern airstrip. After three ranging salvos, the ship commenced hitting twin-engined "Bettys" parked in revetments along the strip. Five planes blew up, and eight other planes were probably damaged by shrapnel and burning gasoline. Minutes later, an enemy ship resembling an LST came under "The Sullivans" gunfire and caught fire astern. While "Miller" (DD-535) closed to complete the destruction of the enemy vessel, "The Sullivans" and the remainder of the bombardment unit retired and rejoined TG 58.2.

From 7 to 22 July, TG 58.2 operated south and west of the Marianas, conducting daily air strikes on Guam and Rota Islands before returning to Garapan Anchorage, Saipan, to allow the carriers to replenish bombs. Underway at dawn on the 23d, "The Sullivans" accompanied the task group as it sped towards the Palaus for air strikes on the 26th and 27th. She joined TG 58.4 for temporary duty on 30 July and continued air strikes until 6 August, when she joined TG 58.7, the heavy bombardment group, and operated with TP 34 until 11 August, when the group returned to Eniwetok for replenishment.

Early in September, as the Navy prepared to take the Palaus, "The Sullivans" supported neutralizing air strikes against Japanese air bases in the Philippines. At dawn on the 7th, she began radar picket duty for TG 38.2 and continued the task through the strikes of the 9th and 10th. From 1800 on 12 September, the ships noted an increase in air activity—observing many bogies that merely orbited the formations as snoopers. The carriers conducted further raids on the central Philippines on the 13th and 14th and then shifted course to the north to subject Manila to air attacks commencing on the 21st. Three days later, American planes again hit the central Philippines.

Returning to Tanapag Harbor, Saipan, at dawn on the 28th, "The Sullivans" went alongside "Massachusetts" (BB-59) for ammunition, provisions, and routine upkeep. However, the cross-swells in the anchorage swept "The Sullivans" hard against the battleship's steel hide, damaging the destroyer's hull and superstructure. Following brief antisubmarine patrol duty, she proceeded to Ulithi on 1 October.

While undergoing tender repairs alongside "Dixie" (AD-14), "The Sullivans" formed part of a nest of destroyers blown away from the tender during a heavy storm that lashed the anchorage. "The Sullivans" drifted free downwind and got up steam "in a hurry." However, she collided with "Uhlmann" (DD-687). Many small boats were being tossed about, and "The Sullivans" rescued four men from "Stockham's" gig before it disappeared beneath the waves. As the storm abated on the 4th, the warship returned to Ulithi to complete the abbreviated tender overhaul alongside "Dixie".

At 1615 on 6 October, "The Sullivans" sortied with the carriers and protected them during raids against targets on Formosa and the Ryukyus. On the evening of the 12th, as the planes returned to the carriers, radar spotted the first of many Japanese aircraft coming down from the north. For the next six hours, approximately 50 to 60 Japanese aircraft subjected the American task force to continuous air attacks. Nearly 45 minutes after sunset, "The Sullivans" sighted a "Betty," coming in low on the starboard side, and took it under fire. During the next 15 minutes, the formation to which "The Sullivans" was attached shot down three planes; between 1856 and 1954, the destroyer herself took five planes under fire. Varying speed between 18 and convert|29|kn|km/h, the formation undertook eight emergency maneuvers. Again and again, timely turns and the great volume of gunfire thrown up by the ships repulsed the enemy air attacks.

The second phase of the attack began at 2105 on the 12th and continued through 0235 on the 13th. The Japanese increased the use of "window" to jam American radar transmissions while their flares lit up the evening with ghostly light. The formation made smoke whenever enemy flare-dropping planes approached, creating an eerie haze effect which helped baffle the enemy pilots. Meanwhile, "The Sullivans" and the other ships in formation executed 38 simultaneous turn movements at speeds between 22 and convert|25|kn|km/h as their guns kept up a steady fire to repel the attackers.

The next day, the carriers again launched successful strikes on Formosa. During the ensuing night retirement, the formation again came under attack by Japanese torpedo-carrying "Betties" which struck home this time and damaged "Canberra" (CA-70). "The Sullivans" then helped to protect the damaged cruiser. On the 14th, "Betty" torpedo bombers scored against "Houston" (CL-81)."The Sullivans" soon joined the screen which guarded the two battle-battered cruisers as they retired toward Ulithi.

Things progressed well until the 16th, when the Japanese mounted a heavy air attack to attempt to finish off the "cripples." "Houston" reeled under the impact of a second hit astern, and "The Sullivans" opened fire on the "Frances" which had made the attack and splashed the Japanese plane. "The Sullivans" and "Stephen Potter" (DD-538) then took a second "Frances" under fire and knocked it down off the bow of "Santa Fe" (CL-60).

"The Sullivans" rescued 118 "Houston" men and kept them on board until the 18th, when she transferred them to "Boston" (CA-69). While the damaged cruisers were making their way to Ulithi, a Japanese surface force attempted to close the formation before TF 38 intervened to drive them back. "The Sullivans" transferred salvage gear to "Houston" and helped with the ship's many wounded. For his part in directing the destroyer's rescue and salvage attempts, Comdr. Ralph J. Baum received his first Silver Star.

On 20 October, "The Sullivans" joined TG 38.2 for scheduled air strikes on the central Philippines in support of the Leyte landings. At dawn of the 24th, reconnaissance located a Japanese surface force south of Mindoro, and the American carriers launched air strikes all day against the enemy warships. That morning, a Japanese air attack developed, and "The Sullivans" downed an "Oscar" fighter plane.

By 25 October, enemy forces were sighted coming down from the north; TF 34, including "The Sullivans", was formed and headed north, following the carrier groups in TF 38. At dawn on the 25th, the carriers launched air strikes to harass the Japanese surface units, now some convert|60|mi|km north. At 1100, TF 34 reversed course, topped-off the destroyers with fuel, and formed fast striking group TG 34.5, with "Iowa" (BB-61), "New Jersey" (BB-62), three light cruisers, "The Sullivans", and seven other destroyers. The American force missed the Japanese by three hours, but ran across a straggler and reported sinking an Atago-class cruiser. Japanese records fail to confirm the claim.

After sweeping south along the coast of Samar hunting for enemy "cripples," "The Sullivans" and other units of TG 34.5 reported back to TG 38.2. The destroyer then remained in the Philippine area, screening the fast carriers and standing by on plane guard duties, through mid-November. At dusk on the 19th, during one of the many air attacks fought off by "The Sullivans", the destroyer damaged a "Betty" by gunfire and watched it disappear over the horizon, smoking but stubbornly remaining airborne. Six days later, she had better luck when her guns set a Japanese plane afire and splashed it into the sea. Two days later, her task group returned to Ulithi.

The destroyer undertook training exercises from 8 to 11 December before rejoining TG 38.2 to screen its warships during air strikes on Manila and southern Luzon beginning on 14 December. On the 17th, running low on fuel, "The Sullivans" commenced refueling but, with the weather worsening minute by minute, she broke off the operation. Typhoon “Cobra” swept through the Fleet, with the wind clocked at an estimated convert|115|kn|km/h on the morning of 18 December. Three destroyers were sunk and several ships damaged by the winds and waves. "The Sullivans", her "lucky shamrock" painted on her funnel, emerged from the typhoon undamaged and, on the 20th began searching for men lost overboard from other ships. The lingering bad weather resulted in cancellation of air strikes, and "The Sullivans" retired to Ulithi on Christmas Eve.


After a brief run to Manus and back, escorting Iowa, "The Sullivans" sortied from Ulithi on 30 December to screen TG 38.2's air strikes on Formosa in support of the American landings on Luzon. Heavy seas forced a three-day postponement of a high-speed thrust toward the target originally planned for the night of 6 January 1945. During the evening of the 9th, the task force passed through the Bashi Channel and entered the South China Sea. Three days later, carrier planes from TG 38.2 swept over Saigon and Camranh Bay, Indochina, hammering at whatever enemy merchantmen they found.

Soon after the conclusion of the air strikes, a bombardment group, TG 34.5, was formed to go after possible "cripples" and dispatch them by surface gunfire. Accordingly, two battleships, two heavy cruisers, three light cruisers, and 15 destroyers raced into Camranh Bay but found it devoid of Japanese shipping. Throughout the day, however, carrier pilots had better luck and enjoyed a veritable "field day" with coastal marus. During subsequent air strikes on Hainan Island, Hong Kong, and Formosa, "The Sullivans" served on radar picket duty convert|10|mi|km ahead of the task group.

A brief respite for upkeep at Ulithi in late January preceded the ship's deployment with TG 58.2, covering the carriers as they launched devastating air strikes against the Japanese homeland itself, hitting Tokyo and other targets on Honshū on 16 and 17 February. From the 18th through the 21st, American carrier-based air power struck at Japanese positions contesting the landings on Iwo Jima. More strikes were scheduled for Tokyo four days later, but bad weather forced their cancellation. Retiring from the area, TF 58 fueled and commenced a high-speed run at Okinawa at noon on 28 February. Later that day, "The Sullivans" sighted and destroyed a drifting mine. At dawn on 1 March, Hellcats, Avengers, Dauntlesses, and Helldivers pounded Japanese positions on Okinawa. The ships of the task force encountered no enemy opposition from sea or sky and soon retired towards Ulithi.

"The Sullivans" sortied 12 days later, bound for Kyushu and southern Honshū to support the invasion of Okinawa. Once again screening for TG 58.2, "The Sullivans" stood by as the carriers launched air strikes on 14 March. On 20 March, "The Sullivans" fueled from USS Enterprise (CV-6) at 1152, clearing the carrier's side five minutes later when a kamikaze alert sent the ships scurrying. At 1439, "The Sullivans" commenced maneuvering to go alongside "Enterprise" again—this time to pick up a part for her FD radar antenna. Soon, however, another enemy air attack scattered the ships. As a line had not yet been thrown across to the carrier, "The Sullivans" bent on speed and cleared her as other ships in the task group opened fire on the attackers. A Japanese plane plunged through the antiaircraft fire and crashed into USS Halsey Powell (DD-686) astern as that destroyer was fuelling alongside "Hancock" (CV-19). The stricken destroyer lost steering control and started to veer across the big carrier's bow, and only rapid and radical maneuvering on "Hancock"'s part averted a collision.

"The Sullivans" soon closed "Halsey Powell" to render emergency assistance. She slowed to a stop 11 minutes later and lowered her motor whaleboat to transfer her medical officer and a pharmacist's mate to "Halsey Powell", when another kamikaze came out of the skies, apparently bent on crashing into "The Sullivans". At 1610, the destroyer's radar picked up the "Zeke" on its approach; and, as soon as the motor whaler was clear of the water, "The Sullivans" leapt ahead with all engines thrusting at flank speed.

Bringing right full rudder, "The Sullivans" maneuvered radically while her 20- and 40-millimeter guns sent streams of shells at the "Zeke," which passed convert|100|ft|m over the masthead and escaped. Meanwhile, "Halsey Powell" managed to achieve a steady course at five knots; and, with "The Sullivans", she retired toward Ulithi. However, their troubles were not yet over. At 1046 on the following day, 21 March, "The Sullivans" picked up a plane, closing from convert|15|mi|km. Visually identified as a twin-engined "Frances," the aircraft was taken under fire at convert|10000|yd|m by "The Sullivans"' 5 inch battery. "Halsey Powell" joined in too; and, within a few moments, the "Frances" crashed into the sea about convert|3000|yd|m abeam of "The Sullivans". At 1250, a combat air patrol (CAP) Hellcat from "Yorktown", under direction by "Halsey Powell", splashed another "Frances." At 1320, a CAP Hellcat from Intrepid, directed by "The Sullivans", downed a "Nick" or "Dinah."

On 25 March, "The Sullivans" and "Halsey Powell" arrived at Ulithi, the former for upkeep prior to training exercises and the latter for battle repairs.

The warship next rendezvoused with TF 58 off Okinawa and guarded the carriers supporting the landings on the island. While operating on radar picket duty on the 15th, the ship came under enemy air attack, but downed one plane and emerged unscathed. She continued conducting radar picket patrols for the task group, ranging some 12 to convert|25|mi|km out from the main body of the force. On the afternoon of 29 April, she commenced fueling from "Bunker Hill", but a kamikaze alert interrupted the replenishment, forcing "The Sullivans" to break away from the carrier's side. During the ensuing action, USS Hazelwood (DD-531) and USS Haggard (DD-555) were both crashed by suiciders but survived.

Kamikazes continued to plague the ships of TG 58.3 as they supported the troops fighting ashore on Okinawa. Everything from landing craft to battleships proved fair game for those Japanese pilots determined to die for their emperor. On the morning of 11 May, a kamikaze crashed into "Bunker Hill". "The Sullivans" promptly closed the carrier to render assistance and picked up 166 men forced over the side by the fires that at one point ravaged the ship. After transferring them to ships in TG 50.8 and replenishing her fuel bunkers, she helped to screen TG 58.3 during air strikes on Kyushu.

In a morning air attack three days later, the gallant old warrior "Enterprise" was hit by a kamikaze. Four enemy planes were shot down in the melee—one by "The Sullivans" in what proved to be her last combat action during World War II.

"The Sullivans" anchored at San Pedro Bay, Leyte Gulf, on 1 June for recreation and upkeep. She departed Leyte on the 20th, bound, via Eniwetok and Pearl Harbor, for the west coast. The destroyer arrived at Mare Island, Calif., on 9 July and, two days later, commenced her overhaul. She thus missed the final fleet activity that rang down the curtain on the last act of the war. Worn down by a series of blows delivered by American seapower and stunned by the destructive power of two atomic bombs, Japan capitulated on 15 August, ending the war.

Meanwhile, since the return of peace greatly reduced the Navy's need for warships, "The Sullivans" was decommissioned at San Diego on 10 January 1946 — soon after her overhaul was completed — and she was placed in the Pacific Reserve Fleet.

Korean War service

The "The Sullivans" remained decommissioned at San Diego until May 1951, when she began to undergo reactivation. This was due to naval fleet expansion because of the Korean War. She was recommissioned on July 6 1951 with Commander Ira M. King in command. "The Sullivans" soon headed to her home port in Newport, R.I. by way of the Panama Canal. During the winter of 1951-52, the ship conducted training exercises off the east coast and in the Caribbean. "The Sullivans" departed Newport on September 6 1952 bound for Japan. Proceeding via the Panama Canal, San Diego, Pearl Harbor, and Midway she arrived at Sasebo, Japan on October 10 1952. The next day she got underway to join Task Force 77 off the eastern shores of Korea. Her duties included screening the fast carriers which were launching repeated air strikes to interdict enemy supply lines. She also supported United Nations ground forces who were battling communist forces. "The Sullivans" remained on this duty until October 20 1952 when she steamed to Yokosuka, Japan for a brief refit.

Following the refit, "The Sullivans" stopped at Buckner Bay, Okinawa and then proceeded to rejoin Task Force 77. Upon her arrival on November 16 1952 she resumed screening activities and plane guard duty. She supported the carriers as they made the northern-most stab at North Korean supply lines, approaching within convert|75|mi|km of the Soviet base at Vladivostok, Russia. MiG-15 fighters approached the task force, but combat air patrol Grumman F9F Panthers downed two of the attackers and damaged a third in history's first engagement between jet fighters over water. The destroyer arrived back at Sasebo, Japan on December 5 1952. From Sasebo she joined United Nations forces on December 14 1952 in blockading the Korean coasts. Her mission was to interdict seaborne traffic and bombard shore targets to support United Nations ground troops and interdict enemy supply operations. Arriving in Area "G" the following day, "The Sullivans" made contact with the enemy on the 16th off Songjin, North Korea which was an important rail terminus and supply center. For the next few days, she bombarded railroad trains and tunnels. She frequently opened fire to destroy railroad rolling stock, depots and prevented repairs to railroad tracks and buildings.On Christmas Day 1952, "The Sullivans" scored direct hits on a railroad bridge while under fire from enemy artillery positions on shore. Fifty rounds from enemy guns failed to touch the ship, although near-misses showered the warship's decks with shell fragments. Counter-battery fire from the ship destroyed at least one of the enemy artillery positions.

"The Sullivans" was ordered home and departed Yokosuka, Japan on January 26, 1953. On the voyage home the ship called at Buckner Bay, Okinawa, Hong Kong, Subic Bay, Singapore, Colombo, Ceylon, Bombay, India, Bahrein and Aden. "The Sullivans" then steamed through the Red Sea, transited the Suez Canal, and proceeded to Cannes, France via Naples. After a brief fueling stop at Gibraltar the warship reached Newport, R.I. on April 11 1953.

6th Fleet deployment

The destroyer operated out of her home port well into the summer of 1953, before deploying to the Mediterranean for a tour of duty with the 6th Fleet. She remained on this duty through the end of the year and returned to Newport on 3 February 1954 for operations off the east coast and into the Caribbean through May 1955. She again deployed to European and Mediterranean waters from May to August of that year before returning to Newport late in the summer.

In the years that followed, "The Sullivans" continued alternating east coast operations with Mediterranean deployments. The summer of 1958 saw a communist threat to the security of Lebanon, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered American ships to land troops there to protect Americans and to help stabilize the tense situation. "The Sullivans" supported the landings of marines at Beirut. After their presence had dispelled the crisis, she returned to the United States for a three-month navy yard overhaul and subsequent refresher training in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Back at Newport in March 1959, "The Sullivans" joined a hunter/killer group formed around the USS Lake Champlain (CV-39). Then, after making a midshipman training cruise in which she conducted antisubmarine warfare operations, the destroyer sailed for another Mediterranean deployment which lasted until she returned home in the autumn.

Operations out of Newport occupied "The Sullivans" until the spring of 1960 when she headed south for ASROC evaluations off Key West, Fla. During this deployment to southern climes, the warship helped to rescue five survivors from a crashed Air Force KC-97 Stratotanker that had splashed off Cape Canaveral.

Following NATO exercises in September, "The Sullivans" visited Lisbon, Portugal, prior to a quick trip through the Mediterranean, Suez Canal, and Red Sea, to Karachi, West Pakistan. In late October and into November, the veteran destroyer participated in Operation "Midlink III," joint operations with Pakistani, Iranian, and British warships. After returning to the Mediterranean, "The Sullivans" conducted exercises with the French Navy and with the 6th Fleet and reached home in time for Christmas.

In January 1961, "The Sullivans" assisted in the sea trials of the USS "Abraham Lincoln" off Portsmouth, N.H., before steaming south and taking part in Operation Springboard. While in the Caribbean, she visited Martinique. Briefly back at Newport early in March, "The Sullivans" soon returned to the West Indies to support marine landing exercises at Vieques, Puerto Rico.

In April, the ship began intensive training in the waters off Florida to prepare to cover a Project Mercury spaceshot. "The Sullivans" joined Lake Champlain at Mayport, Fla., and took station. On 5 May 1961, Comdr. Alan Shepard's space capsule passed overhead and splashed down near Lake Champlain and was speedily rescued by helicopters from the carrier. "The Sullivans" then made a midshipmen cruise in June, visiting New York and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

From September 1961 to February 1962, "The Sullivans" underwent a major overhaul in the Boston Naval Shipyard. She proceeded to Guantanamo Bay soon thereafter to train for duty as a school ship. She subsequently served as a model destroyer in which officer students could see and learn the fundamentals of destroyer operation. In May and again in August, "The Sullivans" made training cruises to the Caribbean for the Destroyer School.

In October 1962, after Soviet missiles were discovered in Cuba, "The Sullivans" joined American naval forces blockading the island during negotiations with the Soviet Union over the issue. When the Soviet Government withdrew the strategic weapons, the destroyer returned to Newport.

On 7 January 1963, "The Sullivans" got underway from Newport bound for the Caribbean and another training cruise. Following her return to Newport, she conducted local operations for the Destroyer School. The tragic loss of nuclear submarine USS "Thresher" off Boston on 10 April 1963 caused the destroyer to support emergency investigations of the disaster.

For the remainder of 1963 and into the first few months of 1964, "The Sullivans" continued to train officer students. On 1 April 1964, the destroyer was transferred to the naval reserve training force, and her homeport was changed to New York City. Departing Newport on 13 April, the warship proceeded to New York and took on her selected reserve crew. Her cruises with the reserves embarked were devoted mostly to ASW exercises and took the ship to Canadian ports such as Halifax, Nova Scotia; St. John, New Brunswick; and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, in the north to Palm Beach, Fla., in the south.

Museum ship

] "The Sullivans" received nine battle stars for World War II service and two for Korean service. On 7 January 1965, "The Sullivans" was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and she remained in reserve into the 1970s. In 1977, she and cruiser USS "Little Rock" were processed for donation to the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park in Buffalo, New York. The ship now serves as a memorial and is open for public tours.

The ship was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986.cite web|url=
title="USS THE SULLIVANS" (Destroyer)|accessdate=2007-09-19|work=National Historic Landmark summary listing|publisher=National Park Service
] ,cite web|url=PDFlink| [ "USS The Sullivans (DD-537)", May 1985, by Harry A. Butowsky] |243 KiB |title=National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination|date=1985-05|publisher=National Park Service] ,cite web|url=PDFlink| [ USS The Sullivans (DD-537)--Accompanying 3 photos, exterior, from 1985.] |614 KiB |title=National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination|date=1985-05|publisher=National Park Service]

Three other "Fletcher"-class ships are preserved as memorials:

* The USS "Cassin Young" (DD-793) at Boston
* The USS "Kidd" (DD-661) at Baton Rouge, Louisiana
* The HNS Velos (D-16) former USS "Charrette" (DD-581) at Athens, Greece

ee also

* Sullivan brothers
* Fletcher class destroyer
* World War II
* Korean War
* Task Force 77
* 6th Fleet



External links

* [ The Sullivan Brothers: History of USS "The Sullivans" (DD-537)]
* [ HNSA Ship Page: USS "The Sullivans"]

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  • USS The Sullivans — Two ships of the United States Navy have borne the name USS The Sullivans , named in honor of the five Sullivan brothers who lost their lives when their ship, USS Juneau (CL 52), was sunk in November 1942. This was the greatest sacrifice by any… …   Wikipedia

  • USS The Sullivans — Zwei Schiffe der United States Navy trugen den Namen USS The Sullivans, nach den Sullivan Brüdern: USS The Sullivans (DD 537), Zerstörer der Fletcher Klasse, in Dienst von 1943 bis 1965 USS The Sullivans (DDG 68), Zerstörer der Arleigh Burke… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) — For other ships of the same name, see USS The Sullivans. Career (US) …   Wikipedia

  • USS Juneau (CL-52) — The first USS Juneau (CL 52) was a United States Navy Atlanta class light cruiser sunk at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in November 1942. The five Sullivan brothers were killed as a result of its sinking.CommissioningShe was laid down by… …   Wikipedia

  • USS Norfolk (DL-1) — {|Infobox Ship BeginInfobox Ship Image Ship Ship caption=Infobox Ship Career Hide header= Ship country= Ship USN flag|1973 Ship class= Ship name= Ship ordered= Ship builder=New York Shipbuilding Corporation Ship laid down=1 September 1949 Ship… …   Wikipedia

  • USS Putnam — Two ships in the United States Navy have been named USS Putnam for Charles Putnam.* The first Putnam (DD 287) was a Clemson class destroyer, commissioned in 1919 and decommissioned in 1929. * The second Putnam (DD 757) was an Allen M. Sumner… …   Wikipedia

  • USS Kidd (DD-661) — USS Kidd (DD 661), a Fletcher class destroyer, was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, who died on the bridge of his flagship USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Admiral Kidd was the… …   Wikipedia

  • USS Juneau (CL-52) — Die USS Juneau (CL 52) im Februar 1942 im Hafen von New York Geschichte Kiellegung 27. Mai 1940 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • List of current ships of the United States Navy — Harry S. Truman visits Greece 2002 This is a list of current ships of the United States Navy. There are more than 400 ships believed to be in active service with the United States Navy, on reserve, or under construction, based on public reports… …   Wikipedia

  • Museum and historic ships of the Great Lakes — This is a list of museum ships and boats of the Great Lakes, North America, including surviving hulls, museum and/or historic ships at risk, other surviving historic hulls and interesting partial ships of note, etc. Contents 1 Museum ships and… …   Wikipedia

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