DD-692 Allen M. Sumner Class
The US Navy commissioned over 50 of these destroyers between 1944 and 1945. Based on the successful 'Fletcher' class, the 'Sumners' were larger and more heavily armed and they remained in service longer. They are often referred to as 'short-hulls' as the subsequent Gearing class DD's were essentially the same as the Sumner class except for a 14 foot extension inserted into the middle of the hull.
The Sumner class, as originally constructed, was the next evolutionary step from the Fletcher class and reflected the increasing need for Anti-Aircraft Warfare defense. The Sumner Class DD's received numerous modifications to the weapons and electronics on board. This extensive modernization was conducted under the "Fleet Rehabilitation And Modernization" program. In order to achieve the minimum numbers believed necessary for its surface ASW force the Navy chose in 1958 to modernize existing World War II DDs by giving them the maximum ASW suite that would fit in their hulls. Known as the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) program,, FRAM II saw 52 Sumner/Fletchers given a more austere suite including SQS-4, DASH, and an SQS-9 variable depth sonar (VDS). This "FRAM II" work, done to over thirty Allen M. Sumner class destroyers, provided enhanced anti-submarine capabilities and extended her expected working lifespan. Improved surface and air search radars, ECM (Electronic Counter Measures) equipment, fixed and directable hedgehog launchers, new torpedoes and torpedo launching systems, DASH (Drone Anti Submarine Helicopter), fixed and variable depth sonar (VDS) systems were added. It also markedly changed the external configuration. This represented an evolutionary development path constrained both by budget limitations and by the continued commitment to an active acoustic approach to the ASW problem.
USS Allen M. Sumner was commissioned in 1944 as the lead ship of its class. It served during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and participated in the blockade of Cuba during the 1962 missile crisis. Allen M. Sumner was decommissioned in 1973, after nearly 30 years of service.
In March 1964 DD-721 Maddox began an especially eventful Seventh Fleet tour. On 2 August 1964, while on patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin, she was attacked by North Vietnamese motor torpedo boats. During the night of 4 August a second attack was believed to have taken place, leading to retaliatory strikes on North Vietnam by U.S. carrier planes. This Gulf of Tonkin Incident was a very important precursor to the direct U.S. combat role in Southeast Asia that began the next year. During 1965-1968, Maddox served three more times in the Far East, doing her part to support the Vietnam War effort and other U.S. interests in the region. In mid-1969, Maddox became a Naval Reserve Training Ship. She performed this duty along the west coast until early July 1972, when she was decommissioned and sold to the Republic of China. Renamed Po Yang, the destroyer served in the Taiwan area with the ROC Navy until about 1985.
The Sumner class survived until the early 1970s, when they were sold off to allied navies. Today they are operated by Brazil (four), Greece (one), Iran (two), Korea (two), Taiwan (two) and Turkey (one). Armament and esnsor fits vary from navy to navy. The Taiwanese destroyers have locally made SSM, most others have improved anti-aircraft weapons varying from Bofors guns to the 20 mm Vulcan cannon fitted to the Korean ships. All except the Taiwanese and Turkish ships carry a helicopter.
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