HISTORY OF USS JAMES C. OWENS (DD776)

HISTORY OF USS JAMES C OWENS (DD776)

James C. Owens, Jr., born 5 December 1910 in Batavia, N.Y. was appointed Naval Aviation Cadet, USNR, 3 September 1935. Following flight training at Pensacola, Florida, he served on board Lexington (CV-2); and on 1 September 1941, he joined Torpedo Squadron 8 on board Hornet (CV-8). Appointed Lieutenant 6 January 1942, Owens was with this squadron when it pressed home a courageous and determined attack against Japanese carriers 4 June 1942 during the Battle of Midway. Without the protection of fighters or accompanying dive bombers, the gallant pilots exposed themselves to overwhelming firepower; and every plane of the squadron was shot down. By forcing the enemy ships to maneuver radically and eliminating Japanese air cover, the "stark courage and relentless drive" of the torpedo pilots, such as Lieutenant Owens, made possible the American victory that followed. For extraordinary heroism in the face of overwhelming danger, Lt Owens received the Navy Cross and the Presidential Unit Citation Posthumously.

James C. Owens (DD-776) was laid down 9 April 1944, by the Bethlehem Steel Co., San Pedro, California; launched 1 October 1944; sponsored by Mrs. James C. Owens, Jr., widow of Lt. Owens; and commissioned 17 February 1945, Comdr. R. H. Blair in command.

After shakedown off southern California, James C. Owens departed San Pedro 10 May 1945, escorting USS California (BB-44) to Pearl Harbor, arriving 16 May. She cleared Pearl Harbor 24 May and sailed as convoy escort via Eniwetok and Ulithi to Okinawa. Arriving 17 June, she continued to Kerama Retto to join DesRon 24, which steamed 24 June for Leyte, where it joined a cruiser-destroyer striking force. Sailing 13 July via Okinawa, the force entered the East China Sea 22 July to conduct antishipping sweeps. James C. Owens operated with the striking force for a month and then operated out of Okinawa until departing 20 September for Japan as part of the Wakayama Occupation Group. Arriving 22 September, she supported occupation landings, patrolled off southern Japanese islands, and served as courier and escort ship. Steaming from Japan 5 December 1945, she reached San Diego the 22nd, departed for the East Coast 3 January 1946, and arrived New York 15 January.

For more than 16 months, James C. Owens operated along the Atlantic Coast from New England to Texas. She conducted ASW training out of Newport, RI; participated in destroyer maneuvers off the Florida coast; and served as escort and plane guard for Saipan (CVL-48) in the Gulf of Mexico. Following operations out of Norfolk, VA, she departed Quonset Point, RI, 30 July 1947, with DesRon 2 for deployment with the 6th Fleet. She cruised the Mediterranean from Algeria to Italy and supported U.S. efforts to settle the unstable situation in Trieste before returning to the United States 21 December 1947. She returned to the Mediterranean in June 1948 and supported U.N. efforts to establish peace between Israeli and Arab forces. During this deployment, she patrolled the coast of Palestine, supported the evacuation of the U.N. Mediation Team in July, and helped to prevent the spread of conflict in the Middle East. Returning home early in October, she operated along the Atlantic coast until she decommissioned at Charleston, SC, 3 April 1950.

With Communist aggression in Korea and increased tension in Europe and the Middle East, James C. Owens recommissioned 20 September 1950, Comdr. R. B. Erly in command; and commenced readiness and antisubmarine training operations. Departing for the Far East 22 January 1952, she arrived in the Western Pacific 27 February for blockade and interdiction patrols along the Korean coast. While operating off Songjin 7 May, she engaged enemy shore batteries and silenced several of them, but sustained six direct hits. Departing Korea 22 June, she steamed via the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean to Norfolk, VA, arriving 19 August, 1952. She returned to Korean waters 10 November 1953, and patrolled coastal waters to prevent violations of the armistice signed 27 July. She remained on this important peace-keeping duty in the Far East until she departed Yokosuka, Japan 11 March 1954. Steaming via Midway, the West Coast and the Panama Canal, she arrived Norfolk 1 May 1954.

For almost 2 years, James C. Owens operated out of Norfolk and Guantanamo Bay on ASW and destroyer division maneuvers. While in the Caribbean during September 1955, she provided search and rescue assistance to the citizens of Puerto Rico after a destructive hurricane. In April 1956 she sailed with DesDiv 221 via Northern Europe for the Middle East to operate in the Mediterranean, Red Sea, and Persian Gulf. During the Suez crisis, she transited the Canal to demonstrate American interest in a peaceful solution to the crisis. Returning to Norfolk in October, she again deployed to the Mediterranean 29 February 1957 to support the 6th Fleet as guardian of peace in the Middle East; then she returned to Norfolk 7 May. On 3 September she sailed to the North Atlantic for the NATO Operation "Strikeback"; after coastal operations for 8 months, she deployed 6 June 1958 on a midshipman cruise to northern Europe. Following fleet and NATO operations, she returned to Norfolk 4 August.

James C. Owens deployed on her fifth cruise to the Mediterranean and Middle East 7 August 1959. She ranged the Mediterranean from Italy to Lebanon and transited Suez 14 October for 2 months of patrol and convoy exercises in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. Returning to the Mediterranean 15 December, she operated with the 6th Fleet for 2 months; then sailed for Norfolk, arriving 3 March 1960. During September she joined NATO forces in the North Atlantic for Operation "Swordthrust", which stressed both offensive and defensive naval tactics of atomic warfare. In November, she steamed to the Caribbean and patrolled the coasts of Nicaragua and Guatemala to intercept Cuban arms bound for Castro-oriented rebels. Retiring to Norfolk 20 December 1960, she departed for the Mediterranean 2 February 1961. Before returning to Norfolk 20 August 1961, she operated with the 6th Fleet from Spain to Greece.

After joining the ASW Defense Force 25 September 1961, James C. Owens steamed to Charleston 11 January 1962, for an 8-month FRAM II overhaul that readied her for a new and vital role in the modern Navy. She resumed operations on 19 December 1962 with surveillance patrols off the Cuban coast, then returned to Charleston 4 January 1963, for fleet exercises. Departing 6 August 1963 with DesDiv 42 for the Mediterranean again she conducted ASW operations with the 6th Fleet from France to Cyprus. Returning to the United States 23 December 1963, she received DASH facilities at Norfolk during February 1964. She continued her ASW operations during a midshipman cruise to the Mediterranean 11 June - 3 September 1964. During the remainder of 1964, James C. Owens maintained her peak efficiency and readiness in coastal operations with nuclear submarines. After returning to Charleston 12 July 1964, she was designated a recovery ship for the Gemini V orbital space mission. With the mission successfully completed, the ship returned to her home port 13 September 1964. On 2 November, she entered the Charleston Naval Shipyard for extended overhaul.

In March 1966, James C. Owens was back on line at Guantanamo Bay. While there, she rendered assistance to a burning cruise ship, Viking Princess. After returning to Charleston for a brief visit, James C. Owens embarked midshipmen for their annual at-sea training. In late August 1966, she was assigned as the close in recovery ship for the second in a series of apollo unmanned space launches. In September, the destroyer was deployed with the 6th Fleet; and while operating in the Aegean Sea, she was ordered to the scene of the sinking Greek ferry, Heraklion, where she helped rescue the crew. James C. Owens returned to Charleston 31 January 1967.

James C. Owens received two battle stars for World War II and two for the Korean conflict.

She was stricken from the Navy List on 16 July 1973 and on the same day was transferred to Brazil where she is still in active service for that country under the name of Sergipe (D-35).


[The above was obtained from DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL FIGHTING SHIPS and 1990/91 COMBAT FLEETS OF THE WORLD through the cooperation of the United States Naval Institute.]


The following Command History was contributed by Jim Souby who served in Owens 1968-71

USS JAMES C. OWENS (DD-776) Command History - 1970, Basic Narrative

USS JAMES C. OWENS (DD-776) was moored at U.S. Naval Station, Charleston, South Carolina, 1 January 1970. The ship was under the command of CDR Stephen C. MONTGOMERY. CDR MONTGOMERY assumed command 17 May 1969.
In accordance with Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) message date time group 222124Z Oct 69, JAMES C. OWENS' official homeport became Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 1 January. However, the ship remained stationed in Charleston until March, 1970. For this period, the ship was under the operational control of Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Forces, Atlantic (COMCRUDESLANT) and a unit of Destroyer Squadron Six (DESRON 6).

January found the destroyer undergoing intensive preparations for the impending transfer to the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Of great concern to the command was the turnover of personnel. Manning was to be a problem until the ship deployed to the Western Pacific in June. Many of JAMES C. OWENS' experienced personnel elected to remain on the East coast. The period between January and March saw a turnover of almost half the crew which seriously detracted from the ship's high state of readiness developed during refresher training of the previous summer. The ship entered the Pacific with 267 of her allowed 274 enlisted personnel aboard and 15 of her 16 officers (figure as of 14 March). Manning levels during the deployment (3 June until 25 November) fluctuated from 257 to 270 enlisted personnel and 15 to 17 officers. On 31 December 1970 the levels were 243 and 17, respectively.

JAMES C. OWENS' pre-overseas movement status in Charleston was interrupted, 7 January, when she was directed to proceed at high speed to Guantanamo, Cuba. The ship's mission was as contingency naval gunfire support ship. Underway in less than seven hours, JAMES C. OWENS loaded out at the Charleston Naval Ammunition Depot and steamed south at nineteen knots. The destroyer arrived at U.S. Naval Base, Guantanamo, Cuba, 9 January. In addition to her contingency duties, JAMES C. OWENS took advantage of the excellent training facilities during three days of exercises in the Guantanamo Operation Area. The ship conducted air and surface gunnery exercises, ASW training with USS GRENADIER (SS-525) and completed a token underway replenishment with USS BUTTE (AE-27). On 15 January, USS EUGENE A. GREEN (DD-711) relieved JAMES C. OWENS of her NGFS duties and the ship steamed for Charleston via the Straits of Florida. For her fast reaction to the contingency duty assignment, JAMES C. OWENS was commended by COMCRUDESLANT.

JAMES C. OWENS returned to Charleston, 18 January, and resumed preparations for her transit to Hawaii. To enhance her readiness posture, the destroyer scheduled numerous "fast cruises" while in port to supplement the limited operating time. Local training operations were conducted in the Charleston and Jacksonville Operation Areas 10 to 12 February and 18 to 19 February. On 17 February, JAMES C. OWENS crew took time out to celebrate the ship's twenty-fifth anniversary with all hands enjoying a cake cutting ceremony.

Although no definite word of the ship's sailing date had been received by 1 March, the destroyer continued preparations and scheduled further operating periods. On 4 March, however, sailing orders were received. JAMES C. OWENS departed Charleston Tuesday morning, 10 March for the Panama Canal. Early the morning of 14 March the destroyer entered Limon Bay at the Canal Zone. Later in the morning she commenced the canal transit, entering Gatun Locks. All hands enjoyed the transit which included narrative comments from the bridge via the general announcing system and a fresh water wash down while crossing Gatun Lake.

Continuing through the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores Locks, the ship moored for the evening at U.S. Naval Station, Rodman, C.Z. At this time, JAMES C. OWENS joined the U.S. Pacific Fleet and came under the operational control of Commander, First Fleet (COMFIRSTFLT) as Task Unit 15.8.8. The next morning the ship set out for San Diego, a transit which included a brief stop for fuel at Manzanillo, Mexico, 20 March. The 23rd and 25th of March were spent at U.S. Naval Base, San Diego, where several voyage repairs were undertaken after nearly 5,000 miles at sea.

JAMES C. OWENS entered Pearl Harbor 30 March, standing off Ford Island to receive her new Commodore, Commander, Destroyer Squadron Twenty-five. COMDESRON 25 presented the ship a traditional lei, placed over the bow of the ship. Mooring along Bravo Pier at U.S. Naval Base, Pearl Harbor, the destroyer officially joined DESRON 25 and chopped to Task Unit 15.2.2 for Mid Pacific operations.

After a week of early liberty to allow JAMES C. OWENS personnel to settle in their new homeport, the ship began preparing for her upcoming deployment to the U.S. Seventh Fleet in the Western Pacific. Through intensive import training and local operations in the Pearl Harbor Operation Area the ship readied for combat. Highlights of the training were JAMES C. OWENS participation in COMPTUEX 8-70, 27 to 30 April. Joining Task Unit 178.4.2, commanded by COMDESDIV 112, the destroyer completed all her outstanding training requirements. Naval gunfire support qualification at Kahoolawe Island occupied the first day, followed by a day of surface and air gunnery. Late 28 April, with other members of the Task Unit, USS DAVIDSON (DE-1045) and USS KNOX (DE-1052), the ship participated in a complex anti-air warfare exercise included an jamming demonstration by an EB-47 aircraft, an anti-shipping cruise missile defense phase and multiple threat phase in which JAMES C. OWENS utilized combat air patrol.

On 29 April, the three destroyers commenced Anti-Submarine Warfare exercises with services provided by USS TANG (SS-563). JAMES C. OWENS successfully launched a MK 44-1 exercise torpedo in a W-2-U attack exercise later the same day. Throughout the night the three destroyers teamed together for a Cold War hold-down exercise with Commanding Officer, JAMES C. OWENS acting as Scene of Action Commander. Utilizing Variable Depth Sonar, JAMES C. OWENS maintained continuous contact on TANG throughout the exercise. As SAC, C.O. JAMES C. OWENS evaluated Commander Anti-Submarine Warfare Forces, Pacific (COMASWFORPAC) attack method "Christie" as a hold down technique. On 30 April the Task Unit practiced screening operations during a mock underway replenishment with USS PLATTE (AO-24). JAMES C. OWENS then returned to Pearl Harbor and rejoined Task Unit 15.2.2.

After a welcome tender availability with USS BRYCE CANYON (AD-36), 1 to 14 May, JAMES C. OWENS embarked COMDESRON 25, 18 May, for her Operational Readiness Inspection. Passing all phases of the ORI, the ship was ready in all respects for the ensuing combat operations in the Western Pacific.

On 3 June, JAMES C. OWENS joined Task Unit 15.8.1 comprised of USS FOX (DLG-33) with COMDESRON 5 embarked, USS BAUSELL (DD-845), and USS CARPENTER (DD-825) for the westward transit to Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines. The transit included brief stops for fuel at Midway Island, 6 June, and Guam, 13 June. On 12 June, near Guam, JAMES C. OWENS joined the U.S. Seventh Fleet as the Task Unit received the new designation of 70.0.2. JAMES C. OWENS entered Subic Bay on 17 June where she joined Cruiser Destroyer Group Seventh Fleet, Task Group 70.8.

Voyage repairs were completed at Subic Bay and the ship received the SLQ-19 electronic deception repeater installation for automatic response to selected enemy threat emitters. During this inport period, major maintenance was accomplished with assistance of Ship Repair Facility (SRF) Subic, on the ship's number one main feed pump.

On 21 June the destroyer loaded out final provisions and ammunition. The following day, JAMES C. OWENS departed fro the coast of South Vietnam and naval gunfire support (NGFS) duties. JAMES C. OWENS arrived on the "gunline" 24 June. Steaming in the vicinity of Vung Tau in the III Military Region (Previously III Corps), the destroyer provided gunfire support for the 1st Australian Task Force from 24 until 28 June as an element of Task Unit 70.8.9. Targets consisted of bunkers, caves and structures in the Viet Cong controlled coastal area fifteen to twenty-five miles northeast of Vung Tau. The ship supported operation EMU, the continuing ANZAC ground effort in the coastal area. During the period, seven Australian and New Zealand soldiers visited the ship for liaison with JAMES C. OWENS' NGFS team and to enjoy the destroyer's hospitality for a night.

The destroyer conducted her first underway replenishment of the deployment on 25 June, refueling from USS MATTAPONI (AO-41) and rearming from USS FIREDRAKE (AE-18) in brief departures from the coast. On 28 June the ship completed her fire support for the Australians who paid JAMES C. OWENS a compliment, comparing her gunnery to that of their own fine destroyer, HMAS HOBART.

The morning of 29 June found the JAMES C. OWENS near Tuy Hoa in the II Military Region where she rendezvoused with USS ST PAUL (CA-73). After refueling from the heavy cruiser, the destroyer relieved as II MR NGFS ship. The destroyer fired in the vicinity of Tuy Hoa and Mui Lang for the ensuing five days, supporting the 26th Regiment, Republic of Korea Army and local Vietnamese units advised by USMACV personnel. On 30 June, JAMES C. OWENS welcomed aboard several Korean and Vietnamese guests, including Colonel Tu, the local Province chief. During their visit the ship was called upon for several fire missions and graphically demonstrated the speed and effectiveness of naval gunfire support.

On the beach, the ship's 1'st ANGLICO air observer reported the ship's accuracy unmatched in his tour as a spotter. The following day several MACV advisers, U.S. Army officers, aboard for orientation witnessed JAMES C. OWENS' gunnery reputation further enhanced when a U.S. Air Force forward air controller requested the destroyer's assistance to hit some of his more difficult targets. After obtaining clearance from Tuy Hoa Tactical Operations Center the destroyer neutralized several of the FAC's targets with four gun salvoes prompting compliments and a series of barrel rolls overhead. The ship was also very effective in night illumination missions, disrupting two Viet Cong ambushes with accurate and timely fire. On 5 July, JAMES C. OWENS assumed NGFS duties near Phan Thiet, firing for one day in support of U.S. Army units. The following morning the destroyer left the gunline and proceed to Subic Bay for a brief upkeep period, detaching from Task Unit 70.8.9

JAMES C. OWENS sailed from Subic, 9 July, enroute Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin. Arriving on 11 July, the destroyer joined Task Force 77 for exercise Beacon Tower II, a combined air and surface threat exercise. At this time the destroyer joined Task Group 77.3, escorting USS BONHOMME RICHARD (CVA-31). JAMES C. OWENS Commanding Officer assumed duties as CTU 77.3.2, screen commander for OWENS and USS CARPENTER (DD-825) until 15 July.

The destroyer transferred to Task Group 77.5 on 15 July, joining USS ORISKANY (CVA-34) and USS DAVIDSON (DE-1045). Commanding Officer, JAMES C. OWENS was again tasked as screen commander, CTU 77.5.2, while ORISKANY conducted strike operations. On 20 July the ship joined TG 77.3 for gunner exercises south of Hainan Island. During this surface to air gunnery JAMES C. OWENS shot down two of three sleeves streamed by the exercise aircraft. After gunnery exercises the ship rejoined TG 77.5.

Following her detachment from TG 77.5, 25 July, JAMES C. OWENS joined Task Group 77.6, comprised of USS AMERICA (CVA-66), USS HIGBEE (DD-806) and CARPENTER for further strike operations. Late the evening of 31 July, JAMES C. OWENS was detached from TG 77.6 and directed to proceed at best speed to the I Military Region for NGFS duties. At 0330H, 1 August, JAMES C. OWENS relieved USS JOSEPH STRAUSS (DDG-16) just south of the DMZ, allowing STRAUSS to return to port for repairs to her gun mounts. The destroyer commenced shore bombardment at 0530H, firing in support of the 1st ARVN Division and the U.S. Army 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (mechanized). From 1 until 4 August the ship fired continuously in her most active gunline period. On 3 August, JAMES C. OWENS laid down supporting fire for Operation LAM SON 365/2, an allied infantry sweep just south of the DMZ and was credited with destroying several enemy positions. For this gunline period JAMES C. OWENS was commended by Commanding General 1st ARVN Division, Commanding General, U.S. Army 1st Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (mech) and Commanding General, U.S. Army XXXV Corps Artillery.

Following the NGFS duties, JAMES C. OWENS steamed to Kao Hsiung, Republic of China for a welcome upkeep and liberty period. Until the Kao Hsiung visit the destroyer had been in port only seven days and at sea for a total of fifty-seven days. The ship arrived on 6 August, looking forward to six days in Taiwan. Typhoon Wilda interrupted the port visit, however, and the ship was forced to leave for Subic, 10 August, to evade the storm. From 12 until 22 August the destroyer remained import Subic completing necessary maintenance, particularly to her SPS 10B surface search radar and number one main engine, again with valuable assistance from SRF, Subic. During this period many of JAMES C. OWENS' personnel contributed off hours to two community relations projects in the city of Olongapo: Father Vaughn's Boys' Town and Girls' Town orphanages, and at Pope John XXIII Community Center. At both charity organizations crewmembers refurbished buildings and repaired equipment.

JAMES C. OWENS rejoined Task Group 77.6, comprised of AMERICA and USS GOLDSBOROUGH (DDG-20) at sea, 22 August. Commanding Officer, JAMES C. OWENS assumed duties as CTU 77.6.2. The task group spent tow days conduction exercises in the Philippine Sea and then proceeded to Yankee Station. At 0530H, on 25 August, Task Group 77.6 resumed combat operations with AMERICA's first strike launch. On 29 August, at 2225H, AMERICA reported a man overboard and JAMES C. OWENS immediately responded - closing into the estimated area. The destroyer recovered a helmet and flashlight further verifying the report at 2249H. JAMES C. OWENS assumed control of two of the carrier's helicopters and commenced a search of the area. At 0015H, 30 August, however, the carrier secured the search after a careful muster revealed all personnel accounted for. The carrier commended JAMES C. OWENS for her quick reaction and the nearly impossible feat of recovering a small flashlight which apparently caused the false alarm. The helmet remained unexplained and it was transferred to the carrier for further investigation.

On the 4th and 5th of September JAMES C. OWENS joined USS ROBISON (DDG-12) and USS DIODON SS-349) for ASW exercises near Yankee Station. After this valuable training, JAMES C. OWENS detached from TG 77.6 and set out independently for her long awaited visit at Hong Kong, B.C.C. After four enjoyable days, JAMES C. OWENS was again forced to sea, 12 September, this time to evade Typhoon Georgia. The destroyer steamed in company with USS OKINAWA (LPH-5) and her amphibious group, TG 76.4, and USS ASHTABULA (AO-51) long enough to refuel from the oiler and then increased speed to reach Subic in time for a one night port visit.

The destroyer was underway the next morning, 15 September, and rendezvoused in the Philippine Sea with TG 77.5, ORISKANY and USS SAMPLE (DE-1048). After a day of exercises the task group steamed to Yankee Station where TG 77.5 commenced combat operations.

JAMES C. OWENS commenced three days of ASW exercises on 28 September with USS LYNDE MCCORMACK (DDG-8) and USS GREYBACK (SS-574). After completing this operation, the ship rejoined ORISKANY, USS R. B. ANDERSON (DD-786), USS PERKINS (DD-887) and resumed escort duties. TG 77.5 departed Yankee Station fro Yokosuka, Japan on 15 October. The units arrived 19 October and commenced a ten day upkeep period. JAMES C. OWENS entered dry dock for three days of repairs to both rudders and to have her underwater hull repainted. While in port, the ship arranged tours for her crew members most of JAMES C. OWENS' personnel visited Tokyo and Mt. Fuji.

TG 77.5 departed Yokosuka on 29 October. JAMES C. OWENS intended to detach and proceed independently to Manila for a port visit, however, R. B. ANDERSON reported an engineering casualty and returned to Japan. JAMES C. OWENS was then directed to remain with TG 77.5 until relieved at Yankee Station. While enroute to the Gulf of Tonkin, TG 77.5 participated in a one day ASW exercise with USS BLACKFIN (SS-322), 31 October, and in Exercise Bluesky, 3 November, a joint AAW exercise with the Republic of China. JAMES C. OWENS was tasked as plane guard and air intercept control ship. TG 77.5 resumed Yankee Station operations on 6 November. At 0001H, 10 November, the destroyer was detached from TG 77.5 to return to Subic. On her departure, JAMES C. OWENS was commended by ORISKANY for air intercept control during task group operations. With almost negligible casualties to her AN/SPS -40 air search radar, JAMES C. OWENS became a prime air control unit during her Yankee Station line periods and often, found herself asked to take control of aircraft from other task groups and units at Yankee Station.

On 14 November, JAMES C. OWENS joined BAUSELL, CARPENTER and USS SOUTHERLAND (DD-743) in Task Unit 70.0.9 at Subic Bay for the transit to Pearl Harbor. The ships steamed via the San Bernadino Straits for Guam, evading yet another Typhoon, Patsy, enroute. On 17 November, JAMES C. OWENS entered Guam for fuel. The destroyer detached from the Seventh Fleet on 21 November while enroute to Midway Island. ON 22 November the destroyer refueled at Midway and at 1000W, 25 November, JAMES C. OWENS moored at Pearl Harbor concluding her six month deployment and joined Task Unit 15.2.2.

Following a restful three weeks, JAMES C. OWENS commenced a tender availability with BRYCE CANYON, 16 December. On 31 December, the ship lay in a nest of destroyers alongside BRYCE CANYON at Pearl Harbor.

Rounds expended: 3700 (300 illumination)
Underway replenishments: 53
Fuel Oil consumed 4 million gallons

From: Commanding Officer, USS JAMES C. OWENS (DD 776)
To: Director of Naval History (OP 09B9) Washington Navy Yard,
Washington, D. C. 20390

Subj: Command history

As the sun of New Year's Day 1973 travelled westward, USS JAMES C. OWENS (DD 776) was securely nestled at Pier Fifteen, United States Naval Station, Treasure Island, San Francisco, California. The crew was beginning to come back to its full strength after the Holidays' leave period. OWENS remained there until 17 January, with a brief junket northward to the Naval Weapons Station, Concord, California to empty her magazines. This move was imperative in view of the impending shipyard availability she faced. On seventeen January she shifted her berth from the Naval Station to the neighboring Naval Shipyard at Hunter's Point. Amidst the hectic daily routine of the shipyard, OWENS received a month of invaluable overhaul work to prepare her for her unknown future.

On 23 February OWENS' bow cut a swath westward under the Golden Gate Bridge as the crew took her out for sea trials. Until the second of March she plied her way in a southerly direction, having replenished her ammunition stocks at Concord. This at sea period proved invaluable in once again polishing the crew into a combat ready team. After successfully accomplishing a twenty knot economy run, and gunfire support exercises (at San Clemente Island) the OWENS ease her mast under the Coronado Bridge and into the Naval Station at San Diego on 2 March.

Three days of San Diego seemed enough for the men of OWENS as they eagerly envisaged their training cruise to Mazatlan, Mexico on 5 March in company with USS WALLACE C. LIND (DD 703). From 5 to 10 March OWENS operated in Southern California waters with her reserve compliment, while edging southward towards Mexico. From the tenth through the fourteenth of March, the crew celebrated in the popular resort town. Mazatlan and Mexico faded into the horizon as OWENS set course for San Diego once again; arriving on 16 March.

She remained in San Diego only overnight and was once again headed for San Francisco, arriving 18 March. From 18 March until 12 April she was assigned a routine upkeep period in her home port; however not any bit of it was routine. OWENS, a respected addition to the Naval Reserve Fleet was slated for decommissioning and possible sale to foreign government. Her spot in the Reserve Fleet was to be occupied by USS HAMNER (DD 718) from San Diego. Since OWENS was home-ported in San Francisco, and HAMNER in San Diego the crews were directed to "cross deck" or shift crews en masse to preclude possible dislocation of families. On 12 April OWENS left the Golden Gate in her wake once more as she made a brief junket to San Diego to establish preliminary contacts with her new crew. Fifteen April she was again at Pier 15 at Treasure Island until 7 May, her last sight of one of her myriad home ports.

During her inport period OWENS was undergoing extensive upkeep in conjunction with her scheduled INSURV. On 30 April the INSURV board's findings were published and the Federative Republic of Brazil opted to purchase the gallant lady, to add to their burgeoning Navy. Equally important during this period, from 15 April until her final arrival in San Diego on 8 May, was that on the eleventh of May, CDR Raymond W. HINE, U. S. Navy relieved CDR Francis W. McGIRR, U. S. Naval Reserve, as Commanding Officer, USS JAMES C. OWENS (DD 776).

8 May through 12 June saw the former HAMNER crew bidding adieu to DD718 as they dug in, to commence their new tasks. In early June the Brazilian Naval personnel began arriving on board and the crews began to learn from each other. By the middle of June, the old HAMNERMEN had switched allegiances and were proud to have the opportunity to demonstrate their new ship to the Brazilians, which they did in the Southern California Operating Areas on 12 and 13 June. Demonstrating the engineering plant, anchoring, and test firing the main battery were the highlights of the two days. Returning to Pier One at the Naval Station, OWENS personnel began the last leg in preparing their ship for her new owners. The week of 9 July brought the characteristic turmoil and confusion as each department zealously endeavored to pass its responsibilities to the Brazilians. That week all spaces were formerly turned over to the Brazilians.

On 16 July 1973, at 1400 RADM Mark W. WOODS (Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Force, Pacific) transferred USS JAMES C. OWENS (DD 776) and USS BUCK (DD761) to the Brazilian Navy. RADM LABARTHE, the Brazilian Naval Attache accepted the ships on behalf of his government. The United States crew marched off and the ensign was lowered for the last time. More than one sailor had that curious sensation of nostalgia in his throat as they marched ashore. The sailors that smiled at their Brazilian counterparts were not smiling out of relief, but out of a strong mutual respect and bond of friendship that had been forged over the last two months.

As RADM LABARTHE directed CDR LIZE to commission CT SERGIPE (D 35) the American Naval Heritage of JAMES C. OWENS was concluded. However, there was an immense satisfaction to the crew in realizing that the hoisting of the Brazilian ensign opened an entirely new horizon to the gallant lady, who would indeed feel the rush of blue water under her heel again.



The following is an excerpt from a letter to Jesse Ward from Paulo C. Biasoli, LCDR, Brazilian Navy.


" You talked about the collision that happened. This is a sad story, but I was there. It happened on December 26th 1984. We were operating with our carrier (NaeL MINAS GERAIS) as rescue destroyer about 60 NM from Rio de Janeiro. It was about 2030P and I was in the Wardroom watching TV.

Everything happened really fast, I listened to the collision alarm starting and then the ship was hit and seemed to shake twice. I run to my GQ station (CIC) and I couldn't see what had happened, but on the Surface Contacts Board was "3503 - CPA Collision". I requested the Watch Supervisor to start working on the information to abandon ship and went to the Bridge. The OOD was like crystalized and shaking and the Conning Officer was reducing the speed and assuming course following the seas. Just at that time I looked over our Bow, it was gone. We hit the liner "EUGENIO C". The collision was our Port side (because the OOD ordered right full rudder on the last minute) on her starboard side. All I know is that the OOD, as we had the right away, waited until the last minute to maneuver. What a sad moment. The bow (until the barrel of the Mount 51) was totally destroyed. We were lucky that there was just one Chief injured (light). No explosions (the ammo magazines were seriously affected) nor progressive flooding (outstanding DCA) happened. All the crew spent the whole night moving the ammo that was still accessible to the fantail, preparing for our emergency dock. We entered Guanabara Bay without tugs and about 270430P DEC, we were mooring.

That was my worst night. I could see in everybody's face exhaustion, frustration and the question: What happened? Those were not, definitely, good days for our James C. Owens/Sergipe. During the shipyard time (8 months) a lot of hard work and dedication brought her to the seas again. I still stayed until December 86 and I was glad to be part of her crew. This is what I can remember and I (then an Ensign and First Lieutenant) can tell you that it marked my Navy life forever."


Jesse Ward received the following e-mail August 17th, 2001..

Mr. Ward,
I am following up on a response our Defense Attache Office made to your request for information on the USS James C. Owens. Just wanted to confirm that you received the answer you requested.

To summarize, the USS James C. Owens was transferred to the Brazilian Navy 29 June 1973. It was renamed the Sergipe D35. It was decommissioned from the Brazilian Navy 6 July 1995 and sold for scrap 17 October 1995.

While in the Brazilian Navy she sailed 350,560 miles and was at sea for a total of 1,377 days. Her commendations included the Almirante Ayres da Fonseca Costa Cup for best gunnery in 1979, three time champion for "grenade launchers", and placed second for the ECHO-BARRA award for efficiency in 1980. She was nick-named the "Siri Danado" or "Angry Crab".

Sorry not to be able to report that she would be available to your group, but I hope that this information on her service with the Brazilian Navy may be of some benefit to complete the history of your ship.

Regards,
LTC Ed Passmore, USA
U.S. Military Liaison Office, Brazil