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USS Sterett 1972

A4sForever

BTDT OLD GUY
pilot
Contributor
Complicated, but some examples:

A. Polish ship, loaded with arms etc...
Funny thing @ that ... one of my classmates -- HELO kine' guy flyin' off a DD -- was flyin' into Haiphong Harbor on a SAR launch to pick up a downed USN Aviator JET-GUY ... when a Polish freighter at anchor opened up on him ... he said it was 5-10 AK's on the rails and the whole works -- the guys in the HELO were taking hits through the skin -- and then he told his door gunner: "CLEAN OFF THAT FUCKING DECK ..."!!!

The door-guy opened up ... bodies and AK's went flyin' ... the rest is history ...

They got the downed USN Aviator and beat feet 'bak-sheep' ...

He got a Sliver Star and some other things ...

He also got a letter of reprimand in his jacket and was sent home. His USN Aviation career was over ...

He had 5 rows of ribbons -- back when ribbons meant something.

The beat goes on ... :)
 

The Chief

Retired
Contributor
... The beat goes on ... :)
An A4 driver, inbound with ord hung everywhere, jumped by a couple of MIG's over a "restricted area", dropped ordance to engage. Made it back to the boat. Court-martialed or at least Art 32 for ordance in a restricted area? Circa 1967? I was on the boat at the time, but simply cannot remember which one, as I was on about every one of them, for short periods of time,
 

gmontg

New Member
Yes it's true, but still best kept secret naval action during the Vietnm War.

Good Morning Gentlemen,
I was the radarman Track Supe in CIC during the Dong Hoi action. It started out on my regular watch during gun line action targeting Dong Hoi just above the DMZ and lasted 2.5 hours through GQ. The Oklahoma, Thomas and Higbee were just exiting the line operation. We were within 5-10 miles of the coast. Once those migs went feet wet it was only seconds to be on top of us and it was not too hard for the Mig pilot to trace the wakes of a cruiser and two destroyers beating feet at 20-25 knots. It was harder for him to see us at 5 knots providing air cover during the action and the retreat. You see we a had some feints that went feet wet leading up to that action. I suppose that is why CTF77 placed us there at the time. There is a reasonably good historical fiction titled On the Edge of Honor by Captain, Retired JT Deutermann based on the action by Sterett.

We tracked at least 3 confirmed Migs out of Dong Hoi during that action. The first came low and fast from the west and picked up by my tracker ordered to scale down his console, got the Higbee and nailed by our terriers as it rose and banked off its attack. Guys on deck got photos of the whole thing it was that close. The photo silhouettes made no doubt it was a Mig 17 and the damage to Higbee and injuries to her crewmen was not made by 130 mm. Our lookout and bridge had front row visual on the whole thing just in case some don't believe we had Migs up and attacking. The second was low and from the north also first picked by one of my trackers well within our terrier range and downed before it could move out.

The third is still controversial today. Our SPQ-spook 55s and EW tracking two closing PT boats sounded SSM warning . . . tracking skin moving faster and rising in altitude off the PT tracks, firing was automatic from there. The question? Was it a Styx missle or the third Mig coming in low over the PT boats? You see NV was not known to have Styx capability on the KOMAR class PTs, but who knows. I tend to lean toward the third Mig theory because after that, no more bandit or unknown bogey tracks. At that point we turned to the east to retreat behind the Higbee and unmask our 5" to take on the still closing PTs.

If you are interested I'll send copies of the photo sequence of the Mig approach, attack, rise and bank and the cloud of dust after terrier impact. We weren't at GQ at first so there were a lot of men on deck watching the line action and then the Oklahoma, Thomas and Higbee going by at full speed when the 17 first attacked.

I have nothing by the greatest respect for both brown shoe and black shoe Navy, Marines, Airforce and Army that served and serve honorably today.


See the attached Declassifed documents. I'd love to hear form anyone who might have more information on this event.
 

Attachments

gmontg

New Member
USS Sterett 1972 At least one Mig went down

At least one Mig went down that day. Other sources indicate high probability of more. Not sure why when you look up Oklahoma City on Wikipedia it says something else?
 

Attachments

Catmando

Keep your knots up.
pilot
Super Moderator
Contributor
While we often went into harm's way during the day, we felt pretty safe and secure in the dirty shirt wardroom, then later relaxing in the ready room for the evening's movie.

Except for one night!

"General Quarters, General Quarters, all hands man your battle stations.... this is not a drill... hostile aircraft inbound!"

After that "scare" proved later uneventful, we stood down. The word the next day was that they were "runaway symbols" of MiGs inbound – not a real threat. Fair enough, I thought.

Then two days later I was helo'ed to the Red Crown ship for an unrelated meeting. Talking to them, there was no doubt MiGs had over-flown them – from the ship's skipper to the contollers. They not only fired on the MiGs, they actually heard the MiGs pass close overhead in the night. (We as friendlies would never do that.)

But it was never publicized. It was deemed only 'runaway symbols" and not "real".
Whether it really happened, or was imagined, I never knew.

Fog of war. But I will tell you, a real "GQ" with inbound enemy aircraft does get one's attention. ;) :D
 

HAL Pilot

Well-Known Member
None
Contributor
But I will tell you, a real "GQ" with inbound enemy aircraft does get one's attention. ;) :D
I knew that feeling for a short while on TR our first night in the Persian Gulf at the start of Desert Storm. We went to GQ after an inbound air raid was detected by our shotgun cruiser, the USS Leyte Gulf.

There were only two problems.....
1. The inbound air raid was our returning strike aircraft.
2. The USS Leyte Gulf steamed close aboard firing chaff into the air to protect TR. But instead of the chaff blooming over TR and drifting away as it fell, it bloomed upwind and FODed out our flight deck as it fell. We had to divert many planes elsewhere while we cleaned up the mess.

The Admiral sent the Leyte Gulf away shortly after and instead we used a FFG as our shotgun. The SWOs took it as an insult toward their mighty AEGIS cruisers (then still pretty new). We saw it as getting rid of a fucked up ship (the Leyte Gulf was always causes problems in our battle group the whole time I was on TR).
 

FTG2Woolum

New Member
I was there on 4/19/72 assisting on the gun fire control radar. I remember the stress as we let the boats close on us. weather was a bit rough, skies overcast and we had trouble maintaining a lock on target which is why we had to let them close to an effective range for our guns. But we got 'em. I can still feel the ship tremble as birds left the rail and the rear mount fired salvos. What a rush.
 

Pugs

Back from the range
None
I knew that feeling for a short while on TR our first night in the Persian Gulf at the start of Desert Storm. We went to GQ after an inbound air raid was detected by our shotgun cruiser, the USS Leyte Gulf.
Thread from the past...

Right after the "all hands man your battle stations this is not a drill" was "launch the alert Prowler" I was manning my rack in 03-94-2L and my roomie Gordo said "did he say not a drill?" we rolled out and threw on our bags and grabbed our gas masks (Mine was a quality vintage that said property of Ens Chester Nimitz :) ) and headed to ready 1.

At the same time our alert crew was heading down the port passageway aft (opposite all traffic) to the jet parked back in the finger and everyone on the 0-3 level is in their face. Psycho pulls out his sidearm and yells alert crew coming through! and everyone hits the deck and bulkheads like it's the MARDET (no, just a motivated ECMO 1) is coming through.

They man the jet and get everything spooled up and aligned and head to cat four and just as a lighting bolt comes down (it was a dark and stormy night) the boss yells "missiles inbound" over the 1MC. My buddy Zeke, in the left seat, says it looked like a bunch of cockroaches as every man-jack on the deck went face down at once. They bang off the cat and went right into our ASMD profile working the threat axis for a couple orbits until (as HAL pilot pointed out) the clue light came on and we found our own strike returning.

Ah, those memories of life aboard the Teddy Ruxpin circa 20 years ago.
 

Bio

Member
None
Great stories about the Sterett and Higbee! I'd never heard any of this before....
 

Blackshoe

New Member
The inaccuracies, speculation and rumors repeated here are pretty common in Internet discussions. I have been studying the history of the USS Oklahoma City CLG-5 for years - I served on the ship (LTJG) 69-72 in the missile battery and was CIC and Weapons Control (TALOS) Officer.

1. The OK City never shot down a MIG or any other aircraft in combat. It did conduct the first successful surface-to-surface combat antiradiation shot in US Navy history in 1972. I was the Weapons Control Watch Officer on this shot:

http://www.okieboat.com/Talos antiradiation shot.html

2. TALOS had a theoretical range of 130 nautical miles. The longest range intercept was of a target drone at 98 miles by the USS Chicago in 1967. The Chicago bagged a MiG at 48 miles in 1972. The USS Long Beach CGN-9 bagged two MiGs in 1968 at a range of 68 and 61 miles. Those were the only successful combat surface-to-air TALOS shots. None of this was secret - it was published in newspapers.

3. The main reasons we didn't have more success with TALOS were a) after the Long Beach killed the two MiGs the NVN kept track of what ships were offshore and just didn't fly within 100 miles of a TALOS ship (Dong Hoi was the exception) and b) our aviators really didn't want us shooting anything in the air while they were flying (I'm sure the pilots on this forum understand that concern). Come on, guys, you would have been totally safe ...

The Oklahoma City didn't have a chance to fire at Dong Hoi. The TALOS missile had a minimum intercept distance of about 9 miles and the ships were only a few miles off shore. The MiGs came out of the hills at about minimum range. That's why the Sterrett was there - they had a shorter minimum range.

4. There was no concern about killing Ruskies as stated elsewhere. If they were in combat with our forces in Viet Nam they were targets. An Air Force Wild Weasel destroyed a soviet BARLOK radar near Laos and our guys on the ground found two dead Russian officers in the wreckage. Likewise, the BARLOK that the OK City destroyed was probably manned by Russians. We didn't care.

****

Personally I am skeptical of the Sterrett's claim to have shot down a MiG at Dong Hoi - they did shoot at one. Also, more recent unclassified intelligence reports reveal that the NVN didn't get Komar patrol boats with Styx missiles until December 1972, eight months after Dong Hoi. Again, they shot at something, but whether it was a real target or false return is questionable.

Finally, "eye witness" accounts can be wildly inaccurate. I heard one sailor comment that the OK City had fired a nuclear armed TALOS and he had seen the explosion! I was Nuclear Weapons Officer, and the "eye witness account" was pure BS.

If you want to read an acurate history of the USS Oklahoma City look here:

http://www.okieboat.com/Ship's history.html

It was based upon official US Navy command histories located here:

http://www.okieboat.com/Official ships history.html

The history of TALOS is here (everything you ever wanted to know and a lot more):

http://www.okieboat.com/Talos history.html
 

Gregory Pratt

New Member
Has anyone else ever heard this?? I received this story in an email today...

April 19, 1972: The Battle of Dong Hoi. U.S.S. Sterett, DLG-31, on station off the coast of North Vietnam with her escort destroyer U.S.S. Higbee, was attacked by two MIG-17 fighters from just north of Haiphong. One place dropped a 500 lb. bomb that blew the 5" after gunmount off the Higbee. Sterett fired two Terrier surface-to-air missiles at point blank range at one plane, one of which punched right through the cockpit to blow up on the other side. The second plane ran for home, but was shot down by another Terrier just before it reached the safety of the mountains around Haiphong. Two hours later, two North Vietnamese PT boats attacked Sterett with Styx anti-ship missiles. Sterett fired two more Terriers at the Styx missiles, knocking both down. She then opened up with her 5" 54 cal. after mount, firing 11 rounds of air frag over the radar position of the PT's, smashing them into kindling and sinking both.

This was the only full on naval engagement of the Vietnam War, and was the first combat kill with the Terrier missile. True story
I'm not aware of this incident aboard the Sterett, but I was aboard the Gridley in '71 when we fired 2 two bird salvos at four incoming MIGs and got confirmation on three hits. Anybody hear about this incident? I was VERY involved with this shoot since I controlled the forward fire control RADARs that were tracking the MIGs. We got immediately relieved off the north SAR station and sent to subic for a meeting with every Admiral and Captain available in WestPac. We violated a fundamental rule. No firing over the 17th parallel.
 

BusyBee604

St. Francis/Hugh Hefner Combo!
pilot
Super Moderator
Contributor
We violated a fundamental rule. No firing over the 17th parallel.
Exactly the reason we lost so many aircraft and aircrew over the 'nam..."fundamental rules" i.e. Rules Of Engagement (ROE)! The fundamental rule, they violated - "Never fight with one hand tied behind your back" (especially in mortal combat)...:(
BzB
 

rondebmar

Ron "Banty" Marron
pilot
Contributor
Exactly the reason we lost so many aircraft and aircrew over the 'nam..."fundamental rules" i.e. Rules Of Engagement (ROE)! The fundamental rule, they violated - "Never fight with one hand tied behind your back" (especially in mortal combat)...:(
BzB
Had a friend ...(cough, cough) ...didn't much subscribe to either ROE's or NATOPS manual ...never once forgot the fundamental rule ...never once fought with one hand only ...details by phone when I return, Hugh ...;)
 

custermode

New Member
I'm not aware of this incident aboard the Sterett, but I was aboard the Gridley in '71 when we fired 2 two bird salvos at four incoming MIGs and got confirmation on three hits. Anybody hear about this incident? I was VERY involved with this shoot since I controlled the forward fire control RADARs that were tracking the MIGs. We got immediately relieved off the north SAR station and sent to subic for a meeting with every Admiral and Captain available in WestPac. We violated a fundamental rule. No firing over the 17th parallel.
If you remember the Sterett relieved us in April. We spent our time on station dueling with the MIGS. They tried everything they could to get wet feet and attack. They would come up over the mountain and drop down and make a beeline for the water or make a turn left or right with the mountain as a clutter screen. Do you remember what system modes we used? The best part was when we went manual and used the gunslinger joy stick. THEY NEVER GOT WET FEET ON OUR FIRE CONTROL CREW!! WE LOCKED THEM UP EARLY AND THEY RETURNED HOME. Looking back in time, I would like to think that our Fire Control crew were VERY good war fighters as were the rest of our ship's crew. I was not on Sterett but I AM SURE THEY WERE ATTACKED. FTM-2 LEE now do you remember.
 
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