USS Hamner (DD-718)

The USS Hamner (DD-718) was a Gearing-class destroyer (a fast, maneuverable long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and to defend them against smaller short-range attackers).  It served in the United States Navy during the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

The ship was named after Henry Rawlings Hamner. He had been born on March 13, 1922 in London, England. Appointed to the United States Naval Academy from Virginia, he graduated and gained his commission in June of 1942. Hamner served to fit out and commission several new ships during the war, in addition to serving in the 12th Naval District and at Norfolk, Virginia. He was appointed lieutenant in July 1944. Lieutenant Hamner died 6 April 1945 aboard USS Howorth (DD-592), when the ship was crashed by a Japanese kamikaze attack off Okinawa.

Hamner launched on November 24, 1945 by the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Port Newark, New Jersey. The destroyer spent nine months operating with Destroyer Division 111 out of various Chinese and Japanese ports before returning to the States for six months of training operations. Hamner followed this pattern of cruises until hostilities began in Korea on June 24, 1950.

Deployed in the Far East at the time, Hamner sailed to the Korean coast and began shore bombardment of Communist positions and supply lines. After participating in the evacuation of Yongdok and the defense of Pohang Dong, Hamner joined Task Force 77 for the amphibious operations against Inchon on September 15, 1950.

After operating along the Korean coast to screen aircraft carriers whose planes were pounding Communist troops, Hamner returned to the States in March of 1951. She was back on line in October of that same year and continued to patrol waters surrounding the peninsula with various task forces and bombardment groups, effectively damaging and checking the enemy. In March 1952 she spent five weeks on shore bombardment off the east coast of Korea near Kojo. Returning to the States in May 1952, Hamner resumed her duties along the Korean coast on 2 January 1953, remaining there on the bombline, at the siege of Wonsan Harbor, and on Formosa patrol until the Korean Armistice Agreement of July 1953.

Hamner returned to the Western Pacific every year thereafter visiting ports in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Australia. The destroyer made many good-will visits to Asian ports and engaged in exercises and Formosa patrol. She arrived off Taiwan for six weeks duty with the Taiwan Patrol Force at the end of 1958, just after another flareup of the Quemoy-Matsu crisis. When not deployed in the Pacific, Hamner trained out of San Diego, California.

Entering the San Francisco Ship Yard in January 1962, she underwent a Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) overhaul designed to add 10 to 20 years to her operating efficiency. Fitted with a new superstructure and the Navy’s most modern electronic equipment, Hamner left the shipyard on December 5, 1962 and sailed for her 13th WestPac cruise on May 18, 1963. During this cruise she was part of the ready amphibious group in South Vietnam coastal waters in September.

Hamner returned to San Diego the following November. She operated along the West Coast throughout 1964 and sailed again for the Orient in early 1965. In May she sailed North to cover Seabee landings at Chu Lai. “Operation Market Time” began five days later and on the 20th Hamner shelled Communist positions in South Vietnam in the first scheduled shore bombardment by the U.S. Nayy since the Korean War. Thereafter she screened Coral Sea, bombarded the Trung Phan area on 25 June, and covered the landing of Marines from Iwo Jima (LPH-2) at Qui Nhon on July 1. Two weeks later the destroyer sailed home, reaching San Francisco on the 26th.

Overhaul at Hunter’s Point and operations off the West Coast occupied the next year. Hamner got underway for her 14th WestPac deployment on July, 2 1966. Late in the month she bombarded South Vietnam. Following patrol duty, she steamed up the Lòng Tàu River to shell the Rung Sat Special Zone.

Hamner joined TG 77.6 as plane guard for Oriskany (CVA-34) on October 1 and continued this duty until receiving an emergency call from the carrier at 0730 on the 26th — “I am on fire.” Maneuvering alongside, Hamner sprayed cooling water on the charred and buckled bulkheads until this threat had gone then escorted her to Subic Bay for repairs.

Returning to the gunline off Vietnam on November 6, the destroyer spent two weeks in Operation Traffic Cop, shelling the junks that were bringing arms and supplies to the Viet Cong. Within a fortnight, Hamner had destroyed 67 craft. On November 14 & 19. shore batteries fired on Hamner and John R. Craig (DD-885). Although several rounds sprayed the destroyers with shrapnel, neither ship was damaged. On each occasion the American ships moved outside range of the enemy guns and bombarded the shore batteries. Leaving the gunline on 20 November, a month and a day later, Hamner reached San Diego.

After spending several years on Swan Island in Portland, Oregon as a vessel used for Naval and Marine reserve training, she was decommissioned in the 1970s and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in October 1979. She was sold to Taiwan in December 1980 and renamed ROCS Yun Yang. She was reclassified as a guided-missile destroyer (DDG-927). Yun Yang was decommissioned in December 2003. She was sunk by Hai Hu (SS-794) as target practice off Ping Tung on September 6, 2005.