USS John King DDG-3 Association

John King History, the Ship

On 1 Dec. 1972, John King departed for her first western Pacific deployment, passing through the Panama Canal on Dec. 8.
After a three day visit to Manzanillo, Mexico,  the ship began her transit to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii arriving on Dec.23. She departed Dec 26 for Subic Bay, Phillippines after a brief stop for fuel at Guam. The ship arrived at Subic on 7 Jan. 1973.  On 15 Jan. 1973, John King commenced it's first tour of combat duty. Within minutes of arriving on the gunline in the early morning at Point Allison, John king received it's first naval gunfire support mission (NGFS).  Twenty nine missions were between 15 and 18 Jan. The most significant event occurred early in the morning hours of 18 Jan. when the RVN 147th brigade was attacked by seven battalion sized enemy troop concentrations supported by seven tanks.  Over several hours, John King assisted in turning back four assaults and blunting the overall attack! During this action, the ship received hostile fire from enemy shore batteries.  Following the action, Comdesron 15 stated in a message to John King,"your rapid response to this emergency and outstanding shooting  are noted with pleasure. Well done."

John King was detached from NGFS units at Point Allison on 19 Jan.,and was sent to Point Joey, arriving 20 Jan. Two fire missions  were called for and fired in support of RVN troops ashore. Immediately following, the ship was ordered south to Point Sasha in the vicinity of Phan Thiet, about 90 miles east of Saigon, and operated in that area from 21 Jan. until after the cease fire on 28 Jan. 1973. During this perion John King fired 37 missions in support of RVN units at a time when the city was receiving heavy pressure from large enemy concentrations in the surrounding hills  Two days prior to the cease fire, the senior US military advisor, a US Army Colonel and his counterpart, the Providence Chief (an ARVN Colonel), called by voice radio to express gratitude for the significant contributions made by John King to defending to defending Phan Thiet from large scale enemy attacks during the previous few days. These two Officers credited the ship with successfullly defying the enemy therby making nutralization by friendly forces possible.   

Throught the night of 27 Jan., and morning of 28 Jan., John King fired more than 400 rounds as enemy troops made final attempts to occupy territory around Phan Thiet.  The last round was fired ten minutes before the cease-fire took effect.  Following the cease-fire, the province once again came over the radio to express gratitude for support provided by  John King in the closing hours of the war.  Following the cease-fire, John King patrolled offshore Phan Thiet 28-30 Jan., then departed for Subic Bay.   After a one day anchorage in Subic Bay to offload long range bombardment ammunition, the ship proceeded to Sasebo, Japan for an upkeep period.  The upkeep period was followed by a visit to Keelung.

On 28 Feb., John King was again in the Gulf of Tonkin as CTU78.0.6  (Commander mine countermeasures surveillance unit).  This task unit provides surface surviellance of the MCM area, performing notification duties in connection with merchant ships approaching Haiphong, and was prepared to provide mutual support to the MCM task force in the event of hostile action. this operation continued until 7 March when John King departed for Hong Kong. The ship arrived in Hong Kong 9 March and departed on 15 March for another upkeep period in Subic Bay, Phillipines. John King remained in the Gulf of Tonkin 8-13 May, then headed for a port call to Yokosuka, Japan 19-21 May. The ship left for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, U.S.A. on 28 may. After leaving Pearl Harbor, passed through the Panama Canal the night of 9 Jun., and returned home to Norfolk, Va. 14 June, 1973.

On 24 Aug., Commander R.C. Wiley relieved commander Spadoni as Commanding Officer. Under Wiley's command, the ship underwent an overhaul to her 2A boiler after suffering a flareback on 8 May 1974 during ASW exercises USS Cavalla.  During the overhaul (17 May-13 Aug.1974) the ship also conducted much needed overhaul and maintenance on her engineering and electronics equipment as well as an extensive face lift conducted by the crew. John King left the shipyard on 13 Aug. and sucessfully completed sea trials on 2A boiler, returning to norfolk on 23 Aug.  After a quick week of inport preparations, John King got underway on 16 Sep. for "Northern Merger", a NATO exercise between American and British Navies. Completing Northern Merger on 27 Sep., the ship detached to proceed to Arendal, Norway for a four day visit. On 3 oct.  she got underway to join various other units. On 11 Oct., John King, along with uss McCandless arrived in Goteberg, Sweden. These were the first American warships allowed to visit Sweden since 1967During the three day stay, the ship recieved over 6,000 visitors, and the crew was treated to many parties and tours. On 14 Oct., John King again underway and transited the Dover Straits for a port visit in Plymouth, England. Following a short visit, the ship departed to join Amphibious squadron eight for the return Atlantic transit, arriving in Norfolk on 30 Oct. The ship entered an upkeep period in preparation for the upcoming operational propulsion plant examination or " OPPE" which was successfully completed on 14 and 15 Nov.  The ship remained in upkeep until 7 Dec., when she got underway for training in the VACAPES operating area, successfully firing two standard missles against a drone target.  John King returned home 6 Dec. and began a Christmas leave period and tender availability.In May of 1975, John King began a ten month overhaul at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

On 2 July 1975 Commander T.W. Kelly relieved Commander Wiley as Commanding Officer.  The overhaul ended 20 Feb.1976. ost trials and repairs went well, allowing the ship to finish ahead of schedule.  During the months of Mar.-Jun., John King conducted various missle and gun fire qualifications, earning all with high scores. During a REFTRA (refresher training period) 10-May-15-Jun., the ship was called away on a search and rescue mission north of Jamaica. A Cayman Island fishing vessel, the Neddob, was adrift in eight foot seas. A Jamaican gun boat was standing by, but was unable to take the floundering vessel in tow. Not without difficulty, a 5" towing hawser was passed to the Neddob. An arduous eleven hour eighty mile tow to safety in Ocho Rios, Jamaica followed. On return to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and REFTRA, the following radio message was recieved from Neddob: "for CO and all hands of the USS John King, thank you very much for your kind cooperation and assistance, pleasant sailing".

On completion of REFTRA on 15 Jun., the ship steamed east to the Atlantic fleet weapon range to take part in Operation Mobile Sea Range, a missle firing exercise against unaugmented target drones flying cruise missle profiles. The exercise was held in heavy ECM/ chaff environment. Next Port of Call: West Palm Beach, Fl. on 30 Jun. 1976. John King was inport and making preparations to celebrate the Nations 200th Birthday! (unfortunatly the Ocean Mist bar was off limits after the first day) The Bicentennial celebration was memorable and exiting and a great time for the crew of the John King. Arriving home at Norfolk 8 July Marked the end of a three month mini deployment. New years day 1977 found John King at home in Norfolk preparing for CARIBEX 1-77. In the first weel of exercises, the ship distinguished herself by scoring two direct missle hits. After a brief visit to Fredrikstad, ST. Croix, she resumed missle exercises scoring another direct hit. For this perfect three for three showing, John King recieved COMSECNDFLT'S award of top missler of CARIBEX 1-77.

On 31 Mar. 1977 John King departed for her ninth Sixth Fleet deployment to the mediterranean Sea. Arriving at Gibraltar on 12 April, John King effected a quick turnover with Claude V. Ricketts (DDG-5), and steamed to Naples, Italy the next day to join in the activation of the Naval on call forces Mediterranean (NAVOCFORMED). This NATO force was composed of John King, the Italian Destroyer Indomito, Turkish destroyer Cakmak, British frigate HMS Mohawk, and British oiler RFA Tidereach. On 25 April, in Palermo Sicily, Commander Jerry D. Beveridge relieved Commander T.W. Kelly as Commanding Offcer. On 28 May, John King in company with USS Charles F. Adams (DDG-2) returned to Palermo, Sicily for a two week maintenance availibility at a local civilian shipyard. John King was among the first ships to participate in this new program of US Warship maintenance performed by cvillian foreign shipyards. John King participated next in various NATO exercises, the most noteworthy being National Week XXIII. John King acting as a member of the orange force, was able to stay "afloat" until the final day of the exercise. This success was attributed in part to her "camouflage" of Itialian Navy hull numbers in place of her regular "3".   After ports of call in Brindisi, Italy; Toulon,France; Greece,Turkey, Israel, Tunisia,  John King finally arrived back at Gibraltar 8 Oct.for turnover with USS Truett (FF-1095), then headed for home, arriving 21 Oct. 1977. The end of 1977 saw the ship under the scrutiny of several Norfolk area repair facilities following discovery of major engineering plant maintenance requirements. Early 1978 saw the ship moved to Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for a four month overhaul of her main propulsion plant.  John King departed the Phila. yard on 19 May and conducted various training and qualification exercises including NGFS, and a engineering REFTRA at Guantanamo, Cuba. During July she took part in COMPTUEX 4-78.  On 3 Oct. John King got underway for her tenth Mediterranean deployment. On 3 Nov. John King made a port visit to Tunis, Tunisia. During the visit, the Commanding Officer, along with several officers and crew, participated in a wreath laying ceremony at the Sedjoumi Monument, a memorial to all Tunisians who died in thier fight for independence. The ship also recieved an official visit from the Tunisian CNO. Christmas 1978 was spent in Naples, Italy, and the beginning of the new year saw John King conducting ASW exercises off the Spanish coast, and participation in National week XXVI. On 15 Mar. 1979, John King departed the Med. for home, arriving in Norfolk on 4 Apr. to a large welcome. Shortly after, Commander William G. Collins, Jr. relieved Beveridge as Commanding Officer. During Jun.-Jul., the ship conducted training and held a board of inspections and survey (INSURV) inspection. On 16 Aug. the ship got underway for a dependents cruise. On 18 Aug. the ship left for NGFS quals and to participate in COMPTEX 3-79, where John King was to pose as a Kara class Soviet cruiser. John King was commended by COMSECONDFLT for her skillful operation and successful deception during this exercise.

1-10 Sept. saw the ship back in Norfolk preparing for the deployment to the North Atlantic. On 11 Sept., John King departed for Ocean Safari, a NATO exercise requiring close coordination with other foreign Between operations, John King enjoyed port visits to Kristiansand, Norway and Copenhagen, Denmark. Leaving Copenhagen on 22 Oct., the ship transited to Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She left for home on 27 Oct. and arrived 9 Nov.  The ship finished out 1979 preparing and conducting an engineering OPPE on 10-12 Dec., standing down for Christmas holiday and preparing for Carribean operations and regular overhaul in 1980. Following CARR-OP in early 1980, the ship entered Philadelphia shipyard in April. During the overhaul, she recieved an updated weapons system, Major electronics update and a revitalized engineering plant. On 7 Apr. 1981, the 21 year old destroyer got underway for the first time in more than one year for sea trials, returning to Philadelphia on 10 Apr. The overhaul continued until June 1981.

On 31 May Commander Stanley J. Pryzby relieved Commander Collins as Commanding Officer. Two weeks later the ship left Philadelphia and steamed to Norfolk, Va., arriving "home" 15 June. The remainder of the year was spent brushing up on rusty skills from the long overhaul period. Numerous underway periods in the VACAPES area, four months of weapons qualifying, and eight weeks of REFTRA in Guantanamo Bay, ensured that the ship and  crew was ready for sea service. The ship returned home 21 Dec. following port visits to Port Everglades and Mayport, Fl.  The first part of 1982 was busy preparing for her first MED/IO deployment. John King left on 8 Jun. During the deployment, the ship was scheduled to visit many ports. However, world events required her to spend a great deal of time off the coast of Beirut, Lebanon. One of the longest underway periods was 57 days. John King was later awarded the Navy Expeditionary Medal by the Secretary of the Navy. Port visits the ship did make were: Naples, Italy;  Alexandria, Egypt;  Augusta Bay, Sici;y;  and Rota, Spain. John King returned home to Norfolk 16 Nov.  In early 1983 John King underwent several inspections including: Defense nuclear safety inspection, Nuclear technical proficiency inspection, 3M inspection and INSURV. She also conducted a CNO special operation project for mine warfare, and participated in ASW exercises.

Commander Ronald F. Bishop assumed command, relieving Commander Pryzby as Commanding Officer. With a new Captain, the ship set out on 25 May. for a ten week Northern Euroean deployment. On this deployment, John King took part in operation Ocean Safari, and executed underway replenishments 7 times. On 18 Jun. John King arrived in Kiel, Germany where the ship hosted several representatives from both German and American Navies. Among them were Admiral W.H. McDonald, Commander of the supreme Allied command Atlantic.  On 27 Jun. John King left Kiel, Germany enroute to Antwerp, Belgium, arriving on 4 July. The ship hosted over 3500 visitors during her 4 day stay. The ship got underway for Edinburgh, Scotland on 8 Jul., arriving the 9th. John King spent two days in Edinbugh before leaving for home, arriving 5 Aug. 1983. 19 Sep. thru 3 Nov. saw the ship in Norfolk Naval shipyardfor major repairs and upkeep.  1984 was a busy year for the good ship and crew. Following major repairs, the ship went on to train a new crew, and then put forth maximum effort for a major Indian Ocean deployment. John King started REFTRA at GITMO on 19 Jan.  The  training was cut short due to a casulaty to the ships forward sonar dome. She returned to Norfolk for drydocking at Norfolk Naval shipyard. She returned to D & S piers in Norfolk on 25 Feb., underwent sea trials, and set sail back to GITMO on 14 Mar. She completed her training on 13 April, and then went on to a Comptuex exercise. Following this exercise, John King visited Naval Station Bermuda on 21 Apr. After three days of fun in the sun (woodstock?) , John King left of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Besides a great liberty opportunity, the ship would be operating with Canadian Naval forces.  The warmth of the Canadians hospitality made up for the cold weather. John King departed 30 Apr. with several Canadian ships for Squadex(Command Squadron Exercise).  After an unscheduled stop in Newport, R.I., the ship returned home on 10 May.

May had the crew preparing for a Caribbean cruise which began 05 Jun. First stop was Limon, Costa Rica on 11 Jun.  On 12 Jun., a VIP luncheon was held on board for the Governor of Limon Province, and for the US Ambassador to Costa Rica.  The ship left Limon on 15 Jun. for Colon, Panama for fuel, then proceeded to Willemstad, Curacao, where the ship spent 4 days.  The Dutch island proved a great liberty opportunity.  The ship left Curacao on 22 Jun for Santo Domingo, arriving 24 Jun, then heading home on 26 Jun.  The ship arrived in Norfolk on 29 Jun.  Jul. held inspections and training for the crew, along with short underway periods to Key West and Port Everglades, Florida. The ship began preparations for Readex 84 (readiness excercise) on 20 Aug.  After an ammunition on load and overnight anchorage, John King began the exercise under the control of Commander Cruiser Destroyer Group Two.  During the exercise, the ship fired a torpedo and conducted a missile exercise. John King returned to port 07 Sep.  The rest of Sep. and early Oct. was spent preparing for deployment to the Indean Ocean.

John King departed Norfolk on 16 Oct. 1984 for the Indian Ocean in company with the USS Independence Battle Group.  The ship transited the Suez Canal on 08 Nov., crossed the Red Sea, and transited the Bab El Mandeb  Straits on 11 Nov., then proceeded into the Indian Ocean.  While in the "IO", John Ding was engaged in a number of exercises such as acting as a picket station.  The ship also conducted exercised with the French Naval Vessel Victor Schoelcher.

The Thanksgiving holiday was celebrated with a USO-DOD show "Sizzling Hot"performed on the 01 Level Aft.  Christmas Day was spent at sea, but held a surprise - The Battle Group was directed to Singapore for a New Years port visit.  The ship pulled into Sembawang Port, Singapore on 29 Dec.  On the 30th, the USO-DOD sponsered a visit from the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.  John King left Singapore on 02 Jan. for the Suez and then home, arriving 20 Jan.

From February to July of 1985, the ship conducted inport and underway training.  In June 1985, Commander T.H. Smith relieved Commander Bishop as Commanding Officer.  In July, John King entered a restricted availability with several Norfolk area Sea and Shore repair commands.  This lasted the remainder of 1985 and much of 1986.  The Engineering plant received a great deal of needed attention.

As 1986 came to a close, the ship completed her repairs and, in September, departed for REFTRA in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  This was a demanding and difficult experience, as the Crew had been out of practice for some time, and many were at sea for the first time.  After Gunnery, Damage Control, Communications and Engineering exercises, the ship headed home.

On 02 Dec., the ship departed Norfolk for "legal Ops". With ComCarib Four and staff ( a Coast Guard detachment) aboard, the ship conducted small craft surveillance in the Caribbean.  For her participation, the ship earned the Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation, with "O".  John King returned to Norfolk on 21 Dec. for Christmas standdown.

1987 was more rewarding for the ship.  On 09 Feb., John King got underway for a 36 day Caribbean operation.  The ship visited several ports, including Fort Lauderdale, Nassau, and Martinique.

On 29 April, the ship departed for a return trip to where she was built 26 years earlier.  This time she visited the Bath Iron Works in Portland, Maine instead of Bath where her keel was laid.  The ship arrived in Prtland on 01 May, and departed on 05 May, returning home on 06 May.

On return to Norfolk, John King made preparations for Basic Fleetex 2-87 which began 11 May.  Comdesron twenty and staff were embarked.  The 11 day exercise included underway replenishment, on-loading Ammunition at sea, formation steaming, gunnery and missle exercises. 

On return, the ship began preparations for deplyment to UNITAS 28.  With Comdesron 20 embarked, John King left Norfolk for UNITAS on 20 Jul.  Arriving at Roosevelt Roads, P.R. on 24 Jul.,1987.  On arrival, the ship and squadron were placed under the command of USS Commander South (USCOMSOLANT).

The Task Force operated for the next five months while steaming around South America.  The mission of UNITAS was to conduct combined tactical operations in Caribbean and South American waters, emphasizing tactical interoperability, and providing warfare areas cross training with participating South American Navies.  Some of the Ports visited during UNITAS 28 were: Rio de Janiero, Brazil; Montevideo, Uraguay; Talcahuano and Valparaiso, Chile; Callao, Peru; Manta,Ecuador; Panama Canal transit;
Cartegena, Columbia; Marcaibo, Venezuela.  John King was released from her duties on 07 Dec.  On 09 Dec., one day before returning home, Commander T.H. Smith was relieved by Commander Richard H. Funke as Commanding Officer.  After returning home, John King entered an upkeep and leave period, lasting through the holidays.

1988 was the John Kings 27th year of service, and was marked by a successful OPPE ond some time in the shipyards.  30 Mar. had John King in Earle, N.J. for offloading weapons.  The ship then sailed to Portsmouth, N.H..  The crew enjoyed a New England port visit and the ship hosted over 2000 visitors during her stay 01-05 Apr..  She returned to Norfolk on 08 Apr..

On 03 May, 1988, John King entered Metro Machine Corporation Shipyard in Porsmouth, Va. for a 23 week, multi-million dollar overhaul.  Significant repairs included: complete boiler overhauls, Missile Launcher replacement with refurbished unit, and engineering Auxiliary equipment work.  On 20 Oct., the ship left Metro Machine for sea trials and returned to the Norfolk naval base the next day.  John King remained in Norfolk un 29 Nov. when she joined other Desron Two ships for Type Commander Team Training (TCTT 1-89).  She returned home on 16 Dec. and began holiday leave and upkeep.1989 was a busy time for John King.  Rumors of decommissioning were circulating, but it was clear that John King still had some work left to do.. Within the first three months of the year, she underwent several major inspections including 3m inspection, Combat systems evaluation, OPPE and command inspection.  As always, John King successfully passed them all.  John King also took part in Fleetex 1-89 and 2-89, while making preparations for her Twelfth and Final Mediterranean deployment.

Jonh King left for the Med on 31 May 1989 with the Coral Sea Battke Group.  John King was scheduled to visit a number of ports, including Sevastopol, Russia - the first by a US Ship in many years.  World events prevented that, and John King was again on duty off the coast of Lebanon for 30 Day straight underway period.  John King also participated in NATO exercises.  The ship performed as wll and better than other ships half her age.

Another significant event was an underway cold iron maintenance availability with USS Shenandoah.  John King actually tied up along-side the tender, drifted during the day, then moved back into position at night.  A first for both ships.

Port visits during the cruise were: Marseilles, Cannes, Golfe Juan, and Toulon, France; Bizerte, Tunisia; Izmir and Antalya, Turkey; Monte Carlo, Monaco.

John King was relieved of her duties on 31 Oct. by USS Barney (DDG-6).  On the Transit home, the ship again proved her youth by flexing her muscles.  The ship reached 8 turns over 33 Knots during a full power run, exceeded builders trial speed astern, and fired 40 two gun continuous salvoes.  The ship returned home on 10 Nov., 1989, ending her last deployment.

Crew departures, inspections and decommissioning preparations filled the next few months.  The ship was decommissioned in a aceremony held pierside in Norfolk on 30 Mar., 1990.  Rear Admiral Sackett (ret.) , John Kings first Commanding Officer, was the guest speaker at the ceremony.  So ended 30 years of service for the John King.

For a decade, the ship was mothballed at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and then was scrapped.  Her memory lives on in the minds of her former crew members.