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