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DD-710 Gearing Class

The Gearing Class were the largest American destroyers built during World War II. The Gearing class was essentially the same in design as the Sumner but with an extra 14 feet of length to accomodate additional fuel capacity, and therefore increased range, as well as added AA armament. The pre-eminent destroyer to emerge from World War II - the Gearing class - with the help of the Fleet Rehabilitation And Modernization program (FRAM I) - survived for over three decades as a useful arm of the fleet.

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 I saw 79 Gearing class DDs given SQS-23, ASROC/DASH, and Mk. 111 digital fire control. These middle-aged destroyers were given an extensive "FRAM-I" modernization to better equip her for contemporary anti-submarine warfare. 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.

In 1945 the first warship named for a woman by USN took part in combat operations. The Higbee (DD-806), a Gearing-class destroyer, was named for Lenah S. Higbee, Superintendent of Navy Nurse Corps 1911-1922. The ship served in in the Fast Carrier Force. USS Gearing (DD 710) and USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (DD 850) were among the numerous ships that "quarantined" Cuba to prevent further construction of Soviet nuclear missile on the Cuban mainland. The Cuban Missile Crisis ended with Russia removing all missiles, bombers and equipment out of Cuba on 28 October 1962.

The Gearing class are no longer active, and technological and tactical advances have marked the end of an era when high-speed steaming at close intervals, bent-line-screen reorientations, management of superheated steam, and a lack of stand-off weapons were routine.

One Gearing class destroyer, the USS Gurke was still serving as an active ship fifty years after commissioning - as the Greek destroyer Tombazis. Taiwan's Navy also has more than a dozen older, World War II-era Gearing-class destroyers and numerous smaller combatants and auxiliaries in its operational inventory.



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