HISTORY OF USS HOEL (DDG-13)
Presented at Hoel Reunion 18 October 2013 in San Diego, California
by Captain Todd Creekman, USN (Ret.)
First Lieutenant, 1969-1971
1. (USS Hoel (DDG-13), photo circa 1970):
a. You may recall shipÕs namesake was William R. Hoel who was a Mississippi River steamboat pilot before he joined the Union Navy in October 1861. He played a prominent role in GrantÕs successful campaign against Vicksburg in 1963. Hoel was promoted to Acting Volunteer Lt. Cdr. and discharged December 1865 after the warÕs end.
2. (USS Hoel (DD-533), photo circa 1944):
a. Our ship was actually named for the first USS Hoel; commissioned in July 1943.
b. She was immersed in the thick of Pacific war fighting by November 1943.
c. Less than a year later, on 25 October 1944, task group ŌTaffy 3Ķ consisting of 6 escort carriers screened by seven destroyers including Hoel, was operating off the Philippine island of Samar in support of the Leyte Gulf landings.
d. Japanese Admiral KuritaÕs Center Force of 4 battleships, 6 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, and 11 destroyers suddenly appeared threatening the landing force and the vulnerable escort carriers.
e. Memorialized in James D. HornfischerÕs The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, Hoel and fellow destroyers laid smoke and attacked the Japanese ships with torpedoes and 5-inch guns against 14-inch guns. After taking over 40 hits, Hoel sank, losing 253 officers and men; only 86 survived. The fierce resistance by the Taffy 3 destroyers confused the Japanese and caused Kurita to withdraw from what could have been almost certain annihilation of the landing force and escort carriers. Hoel was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for heroism displayed on that memorable day.
f. Some of you will recall that we passed over the site of HoelÕs final resting place, in 4,000 fathoms of water, while enroute Subic Bay from New Zealand, 25 years to the day after her loss, 25 October 1969—we stopped engines and laid a wreath in memory of the brave Sailors of the first USS Hoel.
3. (Photos showing ship being built in Bay City, Michigan);
a. 12th ship of 29-ship Charles F. Adams (DDG-2) class of guided missile destroyers (23 for USN; 3 for Australian navy; 3 for West German navy); first post WWII class of ships purpose built with anti-air warfare as its primary mission area using area defense Tartar missile system. Last class of steam-powered destroyers built for the USN.
b. While the class was built in 6 different shipyards, Hoel and three of her USN class-mates and her three Australian class-mates were built along the Saginaw River at Defoe Shipbuilding Co., Bay City, Michigan—a shipyard that had turned out 154 ships for the Navy during WWII.
4. (Photos of Christening and Launching):
a. Christened by Mrs. Harry H. Long, granddaughter of namesake and launched on 4 August 1960.
5. (Image of Commissioning Program):
a. After completion and trials, voyage from Great Lakes to Atlantic, commissioned 16 June 1962 in Boston, MA.
6. (Cover of ŌYear OneĶ cruise book):
a. And so began HoelÕs 28-year career in the U.S. Navy.
b. She arrived at her permanent homeport, San Diego, CA on 11 Sep 1962.
c. She completed 15 WESTPAC deployments, 5 major Long Beach/HunterÕs Point Naval Shipyard overhauls, and had 17 commanding officers.
(1) 6 Vietnam War deployments 1965-1972, saw combat.
(2) Late 70s through 80s, deployments stretched to Indian Ocean/Persian Gulf, reflecting regional tensions and conflicts, and need to protect oil tanker routes.
(3) The winner of several Battle ŌEsĶ during her career, the ship was also the recipient of the Pacific FleetÕs 1982 Arleigh Burke Award for demonstrating the greatest overall improvement over the previous years.
(3) Just after celebrating her 25th anniversary of commissioned service, she saw combat again on 19 October 1987 during Operation Nimble Archer, as she and three other destroyers bombarded two Iranian oil platforms in the Persian Gulf in retaliation for an Iranian attack on a Kuwaiti oil tanker. Nimble Archer was part of Operation Earnest Will, the effort to protect Kuwaiti shipping amid the Iran-Iraq War.
7. (4 ships moored to buoys in Pearl Harbor):
a. Her warfighting technology having grown obsolescent and the Cold War waning, she was decommissioned in San Diego on 1 October 1990, and sent to swing at anchor in the mothball fleet in Hawaii with three of her class-mates.
8. (Map of North and South America):
a. HoelÕs Odyssey: built in MI, commissioned in MA, served in CA and points west, finished in Brazil.
b. Stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in November 1992, she was sold in June 1994 to Charleston Shipbuilders, who planned to use the shipÕs SSTGs to generate up to 50 MW of electricity for commercial use somewhere in the world.
a. The goal of the 1997 project was to power the city of Manaus, Brazil whose rapid economic expansion had left it experiencing frequent blackouts. Manaus is the capital and most populous city of BrazilÕs state of Amazonas and is situated at the confluence of the Negro and Solimoes rivers. Hoel was towed to Brazil, but the age of the 1200 psi plant, and difficulty of getting repair parts doomed the project—and thatÕs where USS HoelÕs story finally comes to an end—we think!
10. (Satellite photo of Hoel anchored near Manaus pier):
a. In the late 90s or early 2000s, satellite imagery shows the ship anchored near a pier on the eastern edge of the city. A check of that same location on Google Earth today reveals open water in that location, and a scan along the various river banks fails to disclose the distinctive 9:1 length to beam hull ratio of a modern high speed warship. Some reports say she was scrapped in Manaus, and thatÕs probably correct, given the ship building (and probably ship breaking) industries in Manaus. If you ever get a chance to vacation in Brazil, think about dropping by and scanning the waterfront, just in case!
11. (Deck Log page and Command History page):
a. HoelÕs Legacy—primary sources: So whatÕs left of that great ship? What remains to remind us of past glories?
b. Deck logs—National Archives, DC.
c. Gunfire support mission records—National Archives ii, College Park, MD (thanks to tip from Dave Etherton).
d. Command histories, an annual requirement, generally end up being written by a junior officer and are not always submitted in a comprehensive or timely manner; or reliably received at their destination. Archived at the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) at the Washington Navy Yard, DC, the shipÕs records are spotty; for example, while the command histories for 1966, 69,70, 71 and 72 covering Vietnam War deployments are in the files, 1965, 67 and 68 are missing; misfiled or never received by the archivists.
12. (Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships):
a. HoelÕs Legacy—DANFS: Hard copy ŌHĶ volume published around 1968; so the NavyÕs written history of the ship stops in mid-1967. Though DANFS is now online (www.history.navy.mil) the Navy doesnÕt have the resources to update the hundreds of ships histories that unfolded after the Korean War period.
13. (Photo of cruise books):
a. HoelÕs Legacy—Cruise Books: Housed at the NHHCÕs Navy Department Library cruise books highlight her first year and 12 of the shipÕs 15 WESTPAC deployments (her first deployment, 1963-64, and the 1965 and 1966-67 deployments apparently never had cruise books produced).
14.(Photo of USS Hoel circa 1969):
a. HoelÕs Legacy—Photos: NHHC Photo Archives contains many images, mostly black and white. Not currently accessible to the public due to budget woes.
15. (Photo of shipÕs bell):
a. HoelÕs Legacy—Artifacts: NHHC visits decommissioning ships with a prepared list of material to remove and catalog. DDG-13Õs artifacts in the NavyÕs collection include:
- 2 bronze builderÕs plaques.
- Battle E plaques (1967, 1970)
- Commanding Officer name board.
- SWO qualification plaque.
- 1982 Arleigh Burke Award plaque.
- DD-533 WWII battle stars and awards plaque.
- Some sort of shipÕs wheel.
b. And the bell! NHHC accession #93-44-D; 16 inches tall, 15 inches diameter.
16. (Photo of inside of bell):
a. HoelÕs Legacy—Bell: Inscription: ŌKira Ann & Charles J. H. Tremaine, Christened 21 Mar 90, On Board USS Hoel,Ķ demonstrates that the tradition of christening children aboard ship, with the baptismal water held in the upturned bell, was conducted at least once.
17. (USS HoelÕs profile by retired Captain George Bieda):
a. Here is a way to remember your service in DDG-13. (Source: www.windjammer-arts.com).
18. (Adams Class Naval Ship Museum logo):
a. Jacksonsville Historic Naval Ship AssociationÕs has proposed to construct the Adams Class Naval Ship Museum and bring DDG-2 to a waterfront berth in downtown Jacksonville, FL.
19. and 20. (Photos of DDG-2 in ŌmothballsĶ in the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard):
a. Also decommissioned in 1990, DDG-2 languishes in the Philadelphia Naval ShipyardÕs mothball fleet awaiting the funds to be raised and plans approved by the Navy so the ship can be donated to the Florida organization.
21. (Image from 1967-68 Hoel WESTPAC deployment cruise book):
a. What is the true legacy of USS Hoel? We veterans. We need to write our memoirs, tell our sea stories, and gather at reunions like these with our families to keep the legend alive!
22. (Naval Historical Foundation logo):
a. Please contact me for more information on cruise books, ship photos and other shipÕs history matters. My job as the Executive Director of the 87-year old Naval Historical Foundation, headquartered in the historic Washington Navy Yard, brings me in contact with all the NavyÕs archives. And if we canÕt find the information (usually free to members; reasonable research fees if not), I and my staff can usually figure out where to send those questions to find the answers. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-678-4333. Website for more information is www.navyhistory.org.