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Histories for USS Ozbourn - DD 846

History of the USS Ozbourn DD-846
As compiled by Ron Kott (63-65), Captain?s yeoman.

The USS Ozbourn (DD 846) was a 692-class long hull destroyer (Gearing Class) named in honor of Private Joseph William OZBOURN, USMC. The OZBOURN was built at Bath, Maine by the Bath Iron Works and was launched on 22 December 1945. She was commissioned at Boston, MA on March 5, 1946. Mrs. Joseph W. Ozbourn was present at the launching. Commander Bernard A. Smith was the first to assume command of the new destroyer. In August 1946 he took the ship from Boston through the Panama Canal to her new home port of San Diego, CA. On 6 January 1947 the OZBOURN departed from San Diego with Destroyer Div. 171 for her first tour of duty in the Far East. During this tour the OZBOURN was instrumental in saving a Chinese tanker that was in distress. Attaching a cable to the tanker, the Ozbourn successfully towed it to Kiirun, Formosa. In May 1947 while enroute to La Perouse Straights the Ozbourn again came to the aid of a distressed vessel. A Sakhalin merchant ship ran aground and later broke in half. The OZBOURN picked up the crew and transported them safely to Yokosuka, Japan. The OZBOURN returned to San Diego on October 1947, and on 21 October Commander SMITH was relieved as Commanding Officer by Commander Norman E. Blaisdell.

On 1 October 1948 the OZBOURN departed San Diego for her next tour of duty in the Far East. This proved to be a short tour because the Ozbourn and the USS Chandlier (DD 717) collided. The crew was at general quarters during darken ship operations when the collision occurred resulting in the loss of two crew members. The quick thinking and hard work of the damage control parties saved the ship, and she headed back to the Long Beach Naval Shipyard for repairs and to replace the bow. On 14 May 1949 Commander BLAISDELL was relieved as Commanding Officer by Commander Ross E. FREEMAN. During the summer the OZBOURN participated in a six week Naval Midshipman training cruise visiting Panama and participating in various fleet exercises. After undergoing a routine overhaul at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, the Ozbourn in company with the USS Norton Sound left San Diego in April 1950 to conduct the first guided missile tests at sea. The OZBOURN acted as observing ship and assisted the NORTON SOUND in what was considered a bold step in the use of guided missiles by the surface fleet. Upon completion of the tests, the OZBOURN stopped at the Christmas Islands before returning to San Diego. Upon the opening of the Korean hostilities, the OZBOURN joined Task Force 77. She participated in the invasion of Inchon and conducted air operations off the Korean coast where she twice won the Korean Presidential Citation.

On 19 September 1950 Commander FREEMAN was relieved as Commanding Officer by Commander Charles O. Akers. In February 1951 the OZBOURN received two direct hits and several near hits while under Communist shore battery fire off the Northern coast. On the same day Ozbourn sent out a motor whale boat to rescue a downed pilot from the carrier USS Valley Forge. The downed pilot, while fourteen miles from the Ozbourn was floating in an enemy mine field. The boat officer received a Bronze Star and the crew members received Letters of Commendation with combat distinguishing devices for their parts in the rescue. The Ozbourn remained on the firing line until March 1951.

The Ozbourn returned to San Diego in April 1951, and after undergoing repairs and overhauling, she left again for Korea. During this time Commander Akers was relieved as Commanding Officer by Commander W. B. Fargo. Upon arrival at Wonsan area Ozbourn was assigned to Task Force 95. Entering Wonsan Harbor she blasted the Communists with her guns, destroying railroad cars, trucks, sampans and coastal gun emplacements. Returning to Task Force 77 in July 1952 the Ozbourn rescued 18 men from the carrier USS Boxer who had jumped from the ship to avoid a menacing fire. On the following day Ozbourn rescued three downed airmen from the carrier USS Essex. In early October 1952 the Ozbourn steamed south to Formosa to train Chinese Nationalist Officers in the operation and upkeep of shipboard equipment. Later in October the ship participated in the mock invasion of Kojo, Korea. On 17 October the ship returned to Task Force 77 and conducted a special firing mission on Wonsan and Suwon Don, Korea. The Ozbourn then returned to San Diego.

During the next two years the Ozbourn made regular tours to the Far East for duty with the Seventh Fleet, and the rest of the time was spent conducting routine training operations in the San Diego area. On 1 April 1954 Commander Fargo was relieved as Commanding Officer by Commander H.T. Scott, Jr. In February 1955 the Ozbourn played an important role in the evacuation of the Chinese Nationalist Forces from the Tachen Islands off he coast of China. The ship followed the minesweepers in on the first day and remained within easy firing range of unfriendly islands during the entire operation. On 27 November 1955 Commander Scott was relieved as Commanding Officer by Commander A. J. Toulon, Jr. In December 1955 while enroute to Yokosuka, Japan, for duty in the Far East, the Ozbourn was diverted by the Commander Naval Forces, Far East, to search for survivors of a Japanese fishing vessel reported sunk during a typhoon 100 miles northeast of Chashi, Japan. The Ozbourn received serve damage due to the heavy weather including the loss of the forward 5? gun mount. The following morning an Air Force Search plane sighted three men on a raft and vectored the Ozbourn to the scene. These men proved to be the only survivors of a crew of 24 from the fishing vessel capsized by the typhoon. The Ozbourn took the survivors to Yokosuka.The Ozbourn returned to San Diego on 11 March 1956, and entered the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in April for repairs. Upon completion of the overhaul on 23 June 1956 she returned to San Diego for six weeks of intensive training. In September 1956 the Ozbourn departed again for her yearly tour of duty in the Far East. The ship visited New Zealand, Pago Pago, Manus Island and the other ports normally visited while in the Far East. The ship returned to San Diego 24 March 1957.

During the summer of 1957 the Ozbourn visited Portland, Oregon as a guest of the Portland Rose Festival. The ship then visited Seattle, Washington to take part in the Seattle Sea Fair.

Commander Toulin was relieved as Commanding Officer by Commander Charles A. Kuhl in September 1957. On October 25 1957 the ship departed for Brisbane, Australia, for a seven day visit. The ship then went to Japan for duty with the Seventh Fleet. The Ozbourn returned to San Diego 23 April 1958. From April to June 1958 the Ozbourn operated locally in the San Diego area. In June the ship went to Mare Island Naval Shipyard for a three month extensive overhaul. In September 1958 the ship returned to San Diego for Refresher Training. The ship left for the Western Pacific on December 17. While operating with the Seventh Fleet the Ozbourn participated in Exercise Seademan, an exercise conducted in April 1959 with members of all SEATO nations participating. Before returning to the United States the ship went southward to Australia to take part in the Coral Sea Celebration visiting Adelaide, Perth and Darwin, Australia. The Ozbourn returned to San Diego on 13 June 1959. Commander Kuel was relieved as Commanding Officer by Commander William W. Turner on July 1, 1959. The Ozbourn conducted local operations in the San Diego area from June 1959 until February 1960. On 23 September 1959 the Ozbourn was privileged to serve as the flagship for Rear Admiral Luis Gomez. Commander in Chief of the Navy of Ecuador while Destroyer Division 112 demonstrated anti-submarine warfare tactics. In February 1960 the ship departed for duty and operated locally in the San Diego area. In August 1960 the Ozbourn trained NROTC students from various colleges throughout the country for four weeks. In October 1960 the ship visited San Francisco to participate in the Pacific Festival.

On March 2 1961 the Ozbourn entered Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington to undergo FRAM Mark I conversion. On 15 March 1961 Commander Turner was relieved as Commanding Officer by Lieutenant Commander Donald V. Gorman, the Executive Officer at the time. On 16 June Lieutenant Commander Gorman officially became the Commanding Officer. The first sea trials for the newly converted ship were held on 6 and 7 November in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. The Post Repair Trials were held in the same area on 16 and 17 November.

On 2 December 1961 Lieutenant Commander Gorman was relieved as Commanding Officer by Commander William W. Lancaster. Lieutenant Commander Gorman reverted to his former billet as Executive Officer. On 5 and 6 December the ship successfully completed her INSURV Trials. A final trial was held on 18 and 19 December, and the ship completed her conversion and was released from the shipyard as scheduled on 22 December. The ship remained in the Bremerton area after completion until the beginning of February for post FRAM availability to conduct tests and evaluations of the new equipment On February 9, 1962 the Ozbourn departed Bremerton for her new home port of Long Beach, CA, arriving an February 12. On February 20 the ship began Refresher Training in San Diego. The ship completed Refresher Training on April 7. The ship participated in the striking force exercise Pork Barrel off the southern coast of California from May 14-22.

The Ozbourn departed June 7, 1962 for duty with the seventh fleet in the Western Pacific. While in Hawaii the ship participated in the Amphibious Operation Flying Disk off the coast of Oahu from June 20-22. From October 11-14 while patrolling the Formosa Straights, the Ozbourn trained four Chinese Nationalists destroyers in Anti-submarine Warfare techniques. On November 19 while enroute to Sasebo, Japan the Ozbourn sighted a Japanese fishing boat in distress. The USS Hollister (DD 788), operating with the Ozbourn, towed the vessel safely into Sasebo, Japan. The Ozbourn arrived in Long Beach on December 21, 1962.

The Ozbourn operated locally in the Long Beach-San Diego area until March 1963 when she was given the special mission with the USS Small (DDR 838) to escort the USS Constellation (CVA 64) to duty in the western Pacific and to escort the USS Kitty Hawk (CVA 63) from Japan to the United States. The Ozbourn returned to Long Beach on April 6 1963.

In May 1963, the Ozbourn joined Task Group 10 to prepare for a major Presidential Demonstration which would display the power and versatility of the First Fleet AAW and ASW forces. The Ozbourn was selected, from all First Fleet destroyers, as the ASROC firing control ship for the Anti-submarine portion of the exercise. President John F. Kennedy, from a grandstand seat on the flight deck of the USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) watched the Ozbourn successfully launch her Anti-Submarine rocket on 6 June. During the summer months the Ozbourn served as night plane guard for the USS Hornet (CVS 12), USS Bennington (CVS 20), USS Midwar (CVA 41), and the USS Ticonderoga (CVA 14). She also provided services for the Pacific Fleet Marine Force with a three day gunnery shoot at San Clemente Island during which time she expended nearly 1000 rounds of 5? ammunition. (Ed. note. With all the ammo shelled on poor San Clemente the US Navy has yet to sink it)

On Sep. 9 the Ozbourn departed Long Beach with elements from DESRON 11 and DESRON 23, rendezvousing with the USS Hornet (CVS 12) in a new and unfamiliar roll. Ozbourn had joined her first HUK group, Task Group 31.8, and participated in exercise ?Saddle Soap? from the 9th to the 20 of September. Twenty-one ships and dozens of aircraft, including units from the Canadian Pacific Fleet conducted a full-scale war game of the ASW mission.

The Ozbourn barley had time to catch her breath from ?Saddle Soap? when an INSURV Inspection team boarded, scoured, and found the ship in good condition, ready for sea or war. Two days after INSUR on the third of October, Commander William W. Lancaster was relieved by Commander David W. Berger on board. CDR Berger took his new command to sea the following Monday for two weeks of ASW training in company with the USS Yorktown (CVS 10), DESDIV 112 and CORTRON 3. The HUK group, working with the USS Bluegill (SS 42) conducted several exercises under extreme adverse weather conditions. During January 1964 Ozbourn participated in the major fleet exercise ?Operation Turk?s Head? and received a letter of commendation from COMASWGRU FIVE Rear Admiral Caldwell. In February Ozbourn entered Long Beach Naval Shipyard for her semi-annual overhaul. During this time major repairs were accomplished along with the installation of much new and modern equipment. After leaving the shipyard in early May, the ship underwent six weeks of intensive underway refresher training conducted by COMFLETRAGRU San Diego. On July 1964 Ozbourn sailed for Pearl Harbor to join ASW Group ONE and DESDIV 233 enroute to a six month Western Pacific deployment. After a short stay in Pearl Harbor, during which time COMDESDIV 233 shifted his flag to the Ozbourn, the ship sailed for Yokosuka, Japan. On August 7, 1964 Lt. Commander Marvin D. Nelson, JR., relieved Commander Berger as Commanding Officer. After six days in Yokosuka, Japan the Anti-Submarine Warfare group sailed for the South China Sea on alert after the North Vietnamese PT boat attacks on US Naval Ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. This brings to a conclusion the history of the USS Ozbourn as told by shipmate Ron Kott who served as the Captain?s yeoman from 1963-1965.

The following history for the years 1966 to 1968 was written by former Ozbourn captain John Denham.


OZBOURN returned to her home port in Long Beach, California from another SEVENTH. Fleet employment on 7 February 1966 . For the next month she underwent stand-down and a much needed shipyard availability. In March Commander John G. Denham ,USN relieved Commander Nelson as Commanding Officer. and commenced a concentrated period of training in preparation for assignment as a home ported unit of the SEVENTH Fleet in Japan On 25 June 1966 OZBOURN departed with COMMANDER DESTROYER DIVISION 92 embarked in company with DESTROYER DIVISION 92 (HOLLISTER,CHANDLER,MANSFIELD) for Japan with a short stop over in Pearl Harbor. On arrival in Yokosuka, Japan on 15 July DESTROYER DIVISION 92 joined with DESTROYER DIVISION 91 and replaced DESTROYER SQUADRON 3 as the home ported Western Pacific Destroyer Squadron.. Although the ships changed, many of the DESTROYER SQUADRON 3 enlisted crew members swapped with the newly arrived DESTROYER SQUADRON 9 sailors who were eager to return to the Continental United States. The meaning of "Asiatic Fleet Sailor" was evident immediately. By 1 August OZBOURN was settled in and began local Anti-Submarine Warfare training operations as a unit of the SEVENTH Fleet. On 13 August, with families still arriving OZBOURN departed for a Naval Gun Fire Support (NGFS) assignment in Vietnam. "Gun Line" duty consisted of patrolling in an assigned area and providing shore bombardment as requested in support of friendly forces. Army, Marine, Navy and Air Force air and ground spotters kept OZBOURN busy almost around the clock as she moved from zone to zone on the coast and up the rivers of Vietnam. During 1966 OZBOURN visited Singapore, Subic Bay, Okinawa, and, conducted special operations with the Republic of Korea Navy in the Sea of Japan. On November 3, OZBOURN returned to Yokosuka and was fitted out as a recovery vessel for Operation Gemini, astronaut recovery. This was followed by a special assignment as Station Ship Hong Kong which allowed OZBOURN families to visit Hong Kong and the crew to get in their Christmas shopping. OZBOURN was at home in Yokosuka for Christmas and the holidays. In this short period overseas OZBOURN had steamed 15,000 miles conducted 29 Underway Replenishments and indoctrinated 200 polliwogs into the Realm of Neptunus Rex.

1967 started with an assignment escorting the ENTERPRISE in the Gulf of Tonkin. Normally a quiet employment , this tour was frequently interrupted with a special task of herding snooping trawlers out of the operating areas. Although escort and plane guard duty are not normally exciting, the ability of a destroyer to function properly in all facets of naval warfare must be honed constantly. A month with the fast carrier task groups provided OZBOURN with cracker-jack 30 knot task force Officer of the Deck's, bridge-Combat Information Center teams and a steam tight engineering plant. In late February, after months of hard steaming and fleet operations OZBOURN was rewarded with a much needed availability and dry docking in Yokosuka; accompanied with several inspections. In spite of the heavy demands for operations and involvement in the combat areas OZBOURN successfully completed all the requirements for combat operational readiness and training competition and was awarded the 1966 type commanders "E" in all departments and the squadron"E"

After a few weeks in the home port, which was more work than rest, OZBOURN again headed South. On 25 March 1967 OZBOURN was taken under fire at the DMZ and sustained two direct hits knocking out the gun director, radars, the Anti-Submarine rocket (ASROC) missile system and magazine. Two ASROC missiles were ignited generating intense heat and flame that caused other units in the area to think OZBOURN had blown up. With heavy smoke streaming from her midsection and damage control parties still putting out hot spots, OZBOURN limped seaward. Senior Chief McCarthy (Chairmen of ship's Welfare and Recreation Committee) joined the C.O. on the bridge. While both were viewing the charred remains of the ASROC deck, the chief casually mentioned "We don"t want to miss our Underway Replenishment Captain, you know how the boys look forward to their mail." Repairs were completed in Subic Bay and the crew was given a short visit to Manila and a special visit to the San Miguel Brewery before returning to the Gulf.

OZBOURN was equipped with Destoryer Anti-Submarine helicopters and was frequently called to demonstrate the use of these unmanned helos in Anti-Submarine Warfare. A unique version of the DASH installation was developed by SEVENTH Fleet technical representatives; OZBOURN's birds were fitted with video cameras. Nicknamed SNOOPY , they were experimentally used to fly over Vietnam gun positions for spotting purposes. Several successful missions were accomplished during 1967. Electronic and control problems at extreme ranges precluded further development of the concept. On one mission North of the DMZ , SNOOPY closed in on a target area close enough to identify North Vietnamese ground forces aiming their rifles at the bird and firing at it. In April OZBOURN visited Thailand and participated in joint Anti-Submarine Warfare exercises with the Thai Navy. On the 23-25th of May OZBOURN was involved in several counter-battery actions against North Vietnamese units near the DMZ.

A six weeks overhaul in Yokosuka ended in June 1967 and OZBOURN was ready for sea having successfully passed all inspections and evaluations. This was the first period since departing from The Continental United States that the crew had some time to relax and spend with their families. Prior to departure for Vietnam OZBOURN conducted a one day dependents cruise in Tokyo Bay. The next tour in Vietnam was different. OZBOURN was assigned as a unit in Operation SEA DRAGON, a special cruiser-destroyer task group formed to conduct round the clock H&I mission on designated targets North of the DMZ. No longer did the Condition Three teams handle routine calls for gunfire support, rather the entire crew spent hours at General Quarters while the task group proceeded at flank speed into coastal waters and shelled identified gun and missile positions and provided support for rescuing helo's plucking downed aviators from the grasps of enemy patrols. Frequently all units would be under heavy fire and had to shoot their way in and out while radically maneuvering to avoid being shelled or to defeat missile lock-on. On 4 December OZBOURN ran out of luck. A single projectile hit at the base of the after 5 inch gun mount exploding in the berthing compartment. Seaman Edward S. O'Brien and Commissary man Raymond L. Cork, Jr. were killed. Disbursing Clerk Collins and Seaman Sauer were both seriously injured and evacuated at sea. In spite of the heavy damage to the lower ammunition handling area and personnel casualties, the gun crew continued to provide counter-battery fire in local control until the other units in the task group were clear of enemy fire.

After repairs in Subic Bay OZBOURN returned to Yokosuka and the holidays with their families. During this in port time the ship held its first all hands party at the Enlisted Men's Club. As a special surprise Rear Admiral Sheldon Kinney, Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Group Western Pacific Command had arranged that the squadron be home for Christmas. It was the only time that DESTROYER SQUADRON 9 was together in the same port. An additional surprise was revealed at the ship's party when several OZBOURN sailors, who for reasons unknown (?) had been detained by the Military Police, were returned to the party and informed if they needed transportation just call the MP. It was later learned the Provost Marshall had given orders that OZBOURN had saved his unit at the DMZ when they were pinned down by heavy enemy fire and for the holidays all OZBOURN's were under his protection.

On 23 January 1968 OZBOURN received FLASH traffic to proceed to the Sea of Japan at best speed and escort the ENTERPRISE in special operations: USS PUEBLA (AGER2) had been seized by the North Korean Navy. On 24 January a task group consisting of ENTERPRISE, OZBOURN and three other destroyers headed North for Wonson Harbor. Within a week the largest group of naval vessels assembled in the Sea of Japan since the Korean conflict was formed as a special task force to resolve the PUEBLA seizure. For over thirty days OZBOURN was on short-notice to proceed when directed and with air and surface support forcefully extract PUEBLA from Wonson Harbor. On 4 March OZBOURN was released to proceed for a short visit to Yokosuka. This passage home was quickened with the approval of a transit through Shimonoseki Channel and the Inland Sea of Japan.

OZBOURN joined with Her Majesty's Australian Ship (HMAS) PERTH from 12 to 24 March as part of the Sea Dragon strike group shelling targets near the entrance to Haiphong harbor. On completion of this demanding duty OZBOURN was ordered to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) , to relax, and provide Naval Gun Fire Support (NGFS). After a short visit to Subic Bay and some needed logistics and Rest and Recreation OZBOURN participated in some much needed Anti-Submarine Warfare and Fast Task Force training to retain her Destroyer skills; this tour included a stopover in Keelung, Taiwan with a final destination in Yokosuka for a needed dry docking because of propeller vibrations. On 22 May OZBOURN was back at sea headed for Sea Dragon and gun line duty, followed with another short visit to Hong Kong. The word was out, OZBOURN's tour was nearly over, replacement was on the way. After the Hong Kong visit, a short stop over in Kaoshuing, Taiwan for political reason and a final tour on Sea Dragon and then heading North to home in Yokosuka, Japan.

On 29 July 1968 OZBOURN was detached from the Western Pacific Command Cruiser-Destroyer Group and ordered home to Long Beach, California via Admiralty Island, Brisbane and Sydney, Australia, Suva, Fiji Islands and Pearl Harbor. Again, most of the "Asiatic Fleet Sailors" swapped with the replacements. We said our farewells to these top professionals and wished them luck. The log showed: 150,120 miles of steaming using over 9 million gallons of fuel; 263 days in the combat areas, 435 days at sea; 168 underway replenishments; engaged in direct action against the enemy 10 times, damaged by enemy gunfire twice; conducted 89 Sea Dragon strikes, and expended 17,844 rounds of 5/38" projectiles. Awards included two squadron "E", the Meritorious Unit Commendation, 4 Bronze stars, 11 Navy Commendation Medals, 7 Achievement Awards, 4 Purple Hearts, and promotion to the rank of Captain for Commander Denham courtesy of the officers and men of OZBOURN. DESTROYER SQUADRON 9 was later awarded the Navy Unit Commendation.

The Ozbourn continued her career until she was decommissioned in the spring of 1975. The Ozbourn was sold for scrap in December 1975 to General Metals, Tacoma, Washington for $157,227.00. (You couldn't buy one of her main turbines for that money).

The Ozbourn earned five battle stars for her service in the Korean war, the association is working to determine the battle stars earned in the Vietnam conflict.

Jun 21 2000 10:11:39:000PM

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