USS Duncan (DDR - 874)

" Galloping Ghost of the Korean Coast ".



(Date of collision (Sunday, July 20, 1952)
obtained from Duncan Deck Logs)

Duncan Deck Logs of Sunday, July 20, and Sunday, August 10, 1952

donated by crew member Winston Caldwell.

Image 52decklog1 Image 52decklog2 Image 52decklog3

July 20 logs detail leadup to, and then the collision with Essex.
August 10 log documents departure of Duncan from Yokosuka, enroute back to San Diego.

Image CollisionA Image CollisionB

Above photos taken by crew member Leland Hewgley.

Image essex52a_duncan

Documentation and personal accounts of the disaster

Personal photos and account of collision courtesy, Tom Lathrop

Operating with Task Group 50.8 off the southeast coast of China, Duncan was on Plane Guard duty with the Carrier Essex in the Taiwan Straits. The date, July 20, 1952. This was one of her last assignments prior to the long journey stateside. The Duncan, along side Essex, and secured by cables, was taking on fuel.

The incident began when Duncan's steering synchros went on the blink. Since it's the job of these synchros to transfer steering information from the helm on the bridge to the steering engines at the rudders, rudder control was lost. An attempt was made to transfer control to the emergency steering station aft on the upper deck.

"As the account was related to me," writes Lathrop, "the man on watch at this station was either asleep or not attentive to his duties, and this critical transfer was not made."

"I was standing the throttle watch in the after engine room at that time...the speed indicator went from 2/3 ahead to full astern that fast. Also my cleaning station was the after steering area ...I was held to blame for a while but later exonareted after they found out what had happened," said crewman Ray Hartman.

The actual sequence of events next is uncertain, but Lathrop surmises that power to the props was most likely reduced, causing Duncan to be pulled aft and under the upper structure of Essex. Duncan took on a sharp heel to starboard from the pressure of Essex on the port side.

"At this point many crew, me included, ran to the starboard side of the boat deck away from the terrible things happening on the port side," pens Lathrop. "The starboard decks were awash at this time. Then the cables either broke or were released and Duncan continued her grinding path along the starboard side of Essex," he continued.

Image duncan52_per7

"Various appendages sticking out from Essex's hull proceeded to tear up everything on Duncan's port side. Main casulties were the aft 5" gun mount, port aft quad 40mm gun, captains gig & davits, forward twin 40mm gun, life rafts etc., a couple radars, all of our long range radio antennas and considerable damage to our collective pride. We deep sixed much of the damaged gear and dragged our tails back to Japan and on home," Lathrop recalls.

The next day Duncan was detached and sailed to Yokosuka for initial repairs. We remained there until the 10th of August when we joined up with DesDiv 52 and sailed for San Diego.

"We were a sorry sight steaming into San Diego to our big welcome. We looked more battle scarred than any of the other cans and accepted the misplaced praise with proper humility," he concludes.

Image duncan52_per8

Image duncan52_per6

Free Guestbook
My Guestbook

Created: Sunday, July 27, 1997
Last update: Tuesday, July 18

©Copyright 2001 USS Duncan DDR 874 Crew & Reunion Association. The information you receive on-line from this site is protected by the copyright laws of the United States. The copyright laws prohibit any copying, redistributing,
retransmitting, or repurposing of any copyright-protected material.