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.
USS OZBOURN HISTORY 1966-1968
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
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
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.