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USS Sterett 1972

Renegade One

Well-Known Member
None
Interesting resurrected thread. In another thread, I think it was CATMANDO who gave a "shout out" to the TOPSCOPE course at Navy Fighter Weapons School in the late '70s-early '80s timeframe. Among much else, one of the blocks of instruction I was responsible for was a lecture on US Naval SAM and other A-A defensive capabilities. I recall that it included a number of claimed/reported "MiG and ASCM Shootdowns" from the Vietnam war. Some were probably "fog of war" events that may or may not have actually happened, but I recall debriefing "the battle reports" from both USS STERETT (then DLG-31…later CG-31) and USS BIDDLE (then DLG-34, later CG-34), each of whom claimed both MiG and SS-N-2 STYX kills, along with the somewhat numerous "better confirmed" MiG kills by USS LONG BEACH (CGN-9) (possibly 7 MiGs downed with TALOS, and NUMEROUS AIC-controlled fighter shoot downs by both USAF and USN F-4s), USS CHICAGO (CA-136) (one MiG and shore-based radar installations…all with TALOS) and USS OKLAHOMA CITY (then CLG-5, later CG-5), credited with the first successful combat surface-to-surface missile shot in US Navy history, using the new Talos RIM-8H anti-radiation missile to destroy a North Vietnamese mobile air control radar van.
If you're a SWO, this is the sort of stuff that should get your blood pumping. :)
 

JW Greywolf

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 was aboard the Sterett, watched the attach from my battle station which was on the helicopter deck. The Terrier missile hit the MIG and it disappeared in a big puff of smoke, I can't say that it went through the cockpit! Jim Reich, AMS2
 

RadicalDude

Social Justice Warlord
I was aboard the Sterett, watched the attach from my battle station which was on the helicopter deck. The Terrier missile hit the MIG and it disappeared in a big puff of smoke, I can't say that it went through the cockpit! Jim Reich, AMS2
That’s an amazing story. Must have been quite a sight!
 

Chief1972

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 am a retired CPO and was ship's company in 1972 at the time this occurred. The facts are as follows: We were attacked by MIGs. They passed directly over Sterett and dropped a bomb on higbee. We had visual contact when the first terriers were fired and destroyed one of the MIGs. A sequence of pictures showing the kill are in our Cruise book. The second MIG was engaged with terriers but had retreated into the mountains and we had no visual but the kill was confirmed by a USAF pilot who did. Nearly simultaneous to the air engagement we were engsged by motor torpedo boats inbound at 40 knots. We engaged with 5 inch 54 main battery sinking two (disappeared from radar). The remaining boats hightailed it. A high speed contact broke from on of the boats and Sterett once again fired terriers at what was presumed to be a styx missile. It too disappeared from radar. It was never confirmed as to what it was. We saw the wreckage of the two boats as we escorted Higbee from the area. The Sterett was awarded the Combat Action Ribbon and the Navy Unit Commendation for actions that day. In addition a number of our officers and enlisted received personal decorations for their part including a Bronze Star for the operator who took the initiative to launch terriers at the styx which was second away from impact with the Sterett.
 

Chief1972

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.
Greetings shipmate. I was an RM2 on the Sterett at that time. We were not on watch and catching some rays on the fantail when the action started. The first two MIGs passed right over us as I recall and dumped on the Higbee. They came out of the mountains low and fast and RD told me they didn't see them on radar until they were right on top of us. It happened so fast that the Higbee got hit before we went to GQ. I was running forward to Radio Central when the first terriers were fired and have tinnitus and hearing loss to prove it. I didn't actually see the MIG get hit but later that day Wolfman had developed the pictures he took of the intercept (that series of photos is in our Cruise Book). I also have the certificate that was presented to crewmembers by Teledyne for the first hostile kill with a Terrier missile. There has been a lot of chit chat on here about the limitations of the Terrier but it served us well that day (incidentally, the range of the terrier is 40 nautical miles). The styx, or whatever it was, intercept was outside the envelope (too close) but apparently did the trick. I guess we will never know if it was a styx or not but one thing is certain; if it was we might not be having this conversation were it not for the quick thinking in CIC. Fair winds and following seas!
 

PatsyC

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
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
My husband was on board the USS Sterett when this occurred and all hands were readied for an unknown. This was interesting to read. I will always to proud of my husband and his military service. PatsyC
 

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