Unraveling the USS Killen story

The post-WWII career of USS Killen (DD-593) is an interesting example of how the USA’s Cold War atomic tests, along with sloppy record-keeping and the unavoidable passage of time, resulted in a public relations mess at the turn of the millennium.

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(USS Killen at sea in the Pacific during WWII)

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(Wreckage of USS Killen on the Caribbean seafloor in the 21st century)

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WWII CVEs into AKVs: Korean & Vietnam wars

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(USS Card departs San Francisco, CA with a load of F-102 Delta Dagger fighters on the wooden WWII flight deck. The supersonic F-102 was based at home, at overseas airbases in Japan, West Germany, and the Philippines; and during the Vietnam War in South Vietnam. It was also exported to Greece and Turkey.)

After WWII, some of the US Navy’s escort carriers were converted for aircraft ferry use. While not the most glamorous mission, they filled an important niche in the use of American airpower during the Cold War.

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Postwar advertising legacy of WWII

The defense industry is a business like any other, and just like any other industry, advertising is a part of it. After WWII’s end in 1945, many wartime weapons systems remained in Cold War use and required upkeep, upgrading, resale, integration with newer systems, and eventually disposal.

Some of these advertisements ran in general-interest magazines and newspapers. Others were limited to niche defense journals and trade gazettes, and were typically unseen by the mass public.

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Above is a 1971 newspaper ad for the disposal of USS Hazard (MSF-240), an Admirable class minesweeper of the WWII US Navy. Typically, smaller mothballed WWII ships like this were bought cheaply in lots by brokers, then parceled out individually to scrapyards for a profit. USS Hazard was bought by a group of Nebraska businessmen and is today a museum ship in Omaha, NE.

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ENS Ibrahim el-Awal: captured at sea

HMS Mendip, a  British WWII destroyer, served in four navies after the war and saw combat in two wars, including being captured on the high seas, certainly a rarity in the modern era.

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(HMS Mendip serving in the Royal Navy during WWII.)

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(The former HMS Mendip in Israeli service as INS Haifa after her capture at sea from the Egyptians.)

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Mothballing the US Navy after WWII: pt.2

(part 2 of a 2-part series)

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(The 1945 decommissioning ceremony of USS Tunny (SS-282), showing the blown plastic preservation technique on the deck gun.) (official US Navy photo)

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(Protective grease is applied to machinery on a mothballed warship, in a still from a  post-WWII training video.)

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(Mothballed WWII destroyers at Charleston, SC in the 1950s, with their radars removed and AA guns enclosed in igloos.)

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Mothballing the US Navy after WWII: pt.1

(part 1 of a 2-part series)

The US Navy at the end of WWII was the largest on the planet, and would be unaffordable at that size  in peacetime. What followed was the largest warship preservation effort in history.

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(WWII Cruisers USS Huntington (CL-107), USS Dayton (CL-105), and battleship USS South Dakota (BB-57) in mothballs at Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility Philadelphia, PA in August 1961. These warships had been in reserve for 14 years and show the characteristic “igloos”.) (official US Navy photo)

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(The Suisun Bay, CA facility packed full of mothballed warships after WWII.)

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The Shah’s Sumners

The USA exported WWII Sumner and Gearing class destroyers around the globe during the Cold War. One of the most unique examples were two sold to Iran, which ended up being the only ones ever to end up with a “hostile” regime.

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(USS Zellars – the future Iranian IIS Babr – at sea during WWII.)

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(Left: The flag of Iran prior to the 1979 revolution. Right: A logo used by General Dynamics for the RIM-66 Standard missile export program during the 1970s.)

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