USS Frank E. Evans: Disaster in the South China Sea

USS Frank E. Evans: Disaster in the South China Sea

6/12/2006 • Vietnam

Niobrara is a very small town in Nebraska–so small it doesn’t have a cinema, and the locals could not have flocked to see Saving Private Ryan. But Niobrara has a memorial outside its library dedicated to the three Sage brothers, who were the first family group allowed to serve together on a U.S. warship after World War II. Radarman 3rd Class Gregory Sage and Seaman Recruits Gary Sage and Kelly Sage died together, along with 71 shipmates, on USS Frank E. Evans when the Australian aircraft carrier Melbourne literally cut their destroyer in two at 3 o’clock on the morning of June 3, 1969, in the South China Sea. Most of Evans’ 272-man crew were asleep at the time of the collision. Jolted awake by the impact, the Americans began a struggle to save their lives, if not their ship. The Australians soon joined in the desperate struggle.

Few Australians are aware of the collision that claimed 74 American lives during Operation Sea Spirit exercises at the height of the Vietnam War and led–in the face of tragedy–to a bond between sailors on either side of the Pacific. Now living in the United States, the retired skipper of the Australian carrier recalled the few awful minutes that changed the lives of hundreds of men. ‘It’s still very vivid, still bad memories, still a very traumatic occasion,’ said John Stevenson.

A court-martial and the inquiry that followed found Captain Stevenson not at fault, yet his career was doomed from the moment his crew readied Evans to take up plane guard/rescue position, as Melbourne prepared for night-flying operations. Earlier in the exercise, Melbourne had had a near miss that was fresh in Stevenson’s memory on June 3. ‘A couple of nights before one of the other [American] destroyers took a run at us,’ Stevenson recalled, but that time Melbourne had managed to get out of the destroyer’s path.

Melbourne had signaled Evans, one of five U.S., British and New Zealand destroyers on the inner screen, to prepare to take up the position of plane guard, 1,000 yards behind the carrier. It was the fifth time that night that Evans had carried out the maneuver. The sea was dead calm, the water moonlit. As an extra precaution, Melbourne had her navigation lights at full brilliance. Procedures had been clearly established for the smaller vessel to turn away from the carrier before falling into a position well behind. But instead, the American destroyer turned into the huge carrier’s path.

The June 3 collision is something former Sub-Lieutenant Graham Winterflood, a Westland Wessex helicopter pilot serving aboard Melbourne, won’t ever forget. ‘We were anti-submarine screen forward of the ship….’ he said. ‘We took off and were sent out on a heading ahead of Melbourne, and funnily enough, on the way there, I was the co-pilot and I could see a masthead light up ahead of us, so we had to dodge around that. Little did I know at the time that that was the USS Evans.’

Petty Officer Ron Baker was in Melbourne‘s radio room. ‘It was like riding over a piece of corrugated iron on a bicycle,’ he recalled. ‘There was a shuddering as we went over something and the initial reaction was, ‘We’ve run aground!’ Of course this was all split-second thinking, and then we realized we were in 1,100 fathoms of water so the chances of running aground were pretty slim. Another thought that went through our heads was that we’d hit a submarine,’ Baker added, ‘because we knew there was a Russian submarine in the area monitoring the exercise.’

At that moment, Lieutenant Winterflood was hunting that submarine. ‘We were just about to lower our sonar ball, when the ship recalled us, saying they’d had a collision,’ he remembered. ‘We flew back to the Melbourne, and tied alongside was half a destroyer. It was an unbelievable sight.’

Melbourne had ridden over the destroyer with such an impact that one of Evans‘ lookouts, Seaman Marcus Rodriguez, was thrown into the air, landing on the flight deck of the carrier and suffering horrible injuries. In the less than three minutes it took Winterflood’s helicopter to return, the front section of the American ship had disappeared.

Aircrew and aircraft handlers were preparing to launch S-2E Tracker aircraft. Their engines were shut down immediately, and the crews rushed to help. Some dangled fire hoses over the carrier’s side as makeshift ladders, while others secured Evans‘ stern alongside Melbourne with wire cable.

‘It was all very quick,’ recalled Stevenson. ‘Very chaotic, but organized as far as the Melbourne was concerned. They all knew what they were doing. The stern half of the Evans was secured to the ship, and people hopped over the edge to help survivors back onto Melbourne.’

Ron Baker remembered: ‘Some of the [Melbourne] officers dropped cargo nets over the side and scrambled down. Four of them actually went through the aft section of the Evans to make sure no one was left on there after the Americans had climbed on board.’

Stevenson recalled that ‘Bob Burns, who’s now dead, was one of the stars of the side. He dived over the stern, and a lot of guys did that.’

‘He went over twice,’ recounted Baker. ‘He pulled in one guy who’d been crushed, got him in and was no sooner back on board than he spotted another bloke in the water, jumped over again and towed him to a lifeboat. He got the George Medal [the British Commonwealth’s second highest award for noncombat heroism].’ In the end, Melbourne crewmen received 15 Naval Board commendations, with two Queen’s commendations, two British Empire Medals, a Member of the British Empire and one [British Commonwealth] Air Force Cross.

It was a bright, moonlit night, but down in the shadow of Melbourne was blackness. Jock Donnelly used the 10-inch signal lamp as spotlight, calling to the rescuers, ‘There’s another one!’

Winterflood’s Wessex helicopter arrived overhead. ‘There were two or three helicopters airborne at the time,’ he recalled, ‘and while ours didn’t have a winch, we used our landing light to spotlight survivors, while the other two Wessexes used their winches.’

The unit citation awarded to Winterflood’s No. 817 Squadron by the U.S. secretary of the Navy gave this account: ‘Thirty-eight of the 111 men in the forward section of USS Frank E. Evans were able to escape or were thrown into the water. Within 25 minutes of the collision all these men had been returned to the Melbourne. The helicopters and men of 817 Squadron were called upon for maximum effort, not only during these first critical minutes when survivors were being illuminated in the water, but also during the more than 15 hours during which search operations continued.’

Overhead the helicopter crews were tired and stunned. Lieutenant Winterflood looked down on a scene alarmingly similar to the site of an accident five years earlier. ‘There was a lot of stuff in the water,’ he recalled. ‘There were life rafts, motor cutters getting around and helicopters with lights. But the actual sight of half a ship was very hard to come to grips with because, having seen it once before, it was hard to imagine the same thing could happen again.’

Back in 1964 HMAS Voyager had collided with Melbourne, killing 82. Captain Stevenson had that earlier tragedy in mind on the occasion of the near-collision with an American destroyer in the spring of 1969. ‘I now know what my friend Robbie [Captain John Robertson] went through,’ he wrote his wife. ‘He didn’t have a chance of dodging Voyager. This destroyer was much farther away from me, and I didn’t have much chance of avoiding her, but I just managed to get away.’ Little did Stevenson know that a few days later, when Evans crossed Melbourne‘s path, he would have an even better idea of the horror Captain Robertson had experienced.

The helicopters flew all day on June 3, 1969, landing for hot refueling and then returning to the search area. Petty Officer Baker spent the long hours sending hundreds of messages. He described that morning as something like a dream sequence. Baker reckoned the last of the 198 sailors saved from the South China Sea was Chief Petty Officer Larry Malilay.

‘Larry thought he was gone,’ Baker said. ‘He just drifted off, and for a while he could see and hear the choppers, but he was drifting away, and when he was finally rescued the pilot said, ‘Hang on, I think I can see someone swimming for the Philippines,’ and they winched him aboard.’

On board Melbourne the strangest scene was being played out. Captain Stevenson ordered the band onto the deck, and the beer vault was opened for the American survivors. Australian sailors recall their mates giving away the clothes from their backs. One sailor went below and brought up his entire kit, while the clothing store was opened and blankets were passed out. Eventually the survivors were lifted off and taken to USS Kearsarge. At that point, Baker heard a sound he’ll never forget: ‘As they were about to leave our ship, they stood on the quarterdeck and gave us three cheers. We had just cut their ship in half and here they were giving us three cheers.’

The end of USS Frank E. Evans was the beginning of an enduring bond between the two crews. Those who served aboard Melbourne have certainly suffered, but the survivors of the battered crew of Evans had it worse.

‘I think a lot of the crew suffered trauma,’ said Stevenson. ‘More so in the Evans than the Melbourne….A lot of them have lost wives and families, can’t work and are still having a bad time of it.’

Serving in her third conflict, the aging destroyer was on the gun line off the coast of Vietnam when she was moved out of the combat zone for Operation Sea Spirit. Like the two crews who’d served aboard Evans before them, the U.S. sailors had seen combat service. Yet the names of those who died in the collision have never been added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. ‘It’s a cause of great hurt to the American survivors,’ said Stevenson. ‘Their shipmates were lost, but their names are not on the Wall, and they’re working hard to get that done, but they’re not making much progress.’

A few members of the Melbourne Association made a point of seeking out members of the Evans Association and getting together. In Ipswich, Australia, Ron Baker struck upon the idea of a reunion to mark the 25th anniversary. ‘When I broached the subject of a reunion 24 years after it happened, a lot of people said, ‘Forget it, let it rest,’ and I wondered if perhaps I was opening old wounds,’ Baker said.

Like Stevenson, Baker was well aware of how much former crewmen had suffered. Some had been in mental institutions, while others had become alcoholics. Nonetheless, a reunion was organized, and word came from the United States that members of the Evans Association would attend.

Shortly after that, Baker received a phone call from a woman in Alice Springs, Australia. ‘She said her husband was on the Melbourne when it happened,’ he recalled. ‘It was his first voyage, he was 18, and this was his introduction to the navy, and he’d been carrying the ghost of this thing for all those years. She put him on a plane and flew him over, and I reckon he went away a different man.’

The following year, Australians attended a memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery, and a commitment was made that representatives of the two crews would meet each year. Although cleared of any blame, Captain Stevenson, the former skipper of Australia’s last aircraft carrier, had his own burden to bear. ‘At that point I had a wife and two kids and a mortgage and all the rest of that stuff,’ he recalled. ‘I went out and lost everything. I had no future, no career, no pension, no nothing. It was a very big bang.’

Stevenson believes the bond that has grown is easing the trauma. In 1999 he was in Sydney, along with many others from the United States, for a 30th anniversary memorial service. The retired captain said, ‘It was such a pleasure to see the Melbourne team again, and I have an expectation that they’ll bring great warmth and humanity to the survivors of the Evans, and that together, they can ease their own pain.’

While the battle to get recognition for the American sailors lost in the 1969 accident continues in the States, those fallen seamen have been honored in Australia. According to Ron Baker, ‘They were killed doing their duty for their country, and it doesn’t matter if you’re killed by an enemy bullet or a friendly ship.’

This article was written by Phil Smith and originally published in the August 2001 issue of Vietnam Magazine.

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112 Responses to USS Frank E. Evans: Disaster in the South China Sea

  1. Jane H. Pattee says:

    My brother-in-law, Dwight Scott Pattee 1968 graduate of Annapolis…23 years old) was killed on the Frank E. Evans….We have missed him terrible for nearly 40 years….such a great loss…. the men that were killed. Jane H. Pattee

  2. Frank Jablonski says:

    73 men went down that early morning. We have been looking for relatives of LTJG Pattee. Please contact me. Go to our site at

    The Historian

    • Michael Clark says:

      It was actually 74 men.

      • John Coffey says:

        Michael, 74 died. 73 bodies were not recovered and went down with the forward half. One was recovered. Kenny Glines is buried in Independence, MO. I have been to his grave when a memorial was placed there by our association and the people of Independence. Kenny was on outside watch on top of the bridge. He was knocked out and was tangled in the sound powered phone lines. Attempts were made to untangle him but time would not allow a rescue. But the sea loosened his lines and he was recovered by an Aussie team in a rescue boat. John Coffey, Communications, USS Frank E Evans DD754 Association,

      • Michael Clark says:

        Thanks John. I was under the impression that all 74 went down with the ship.

      • Michael Clark says:

        John, were you a radioman on the Evans? When I first came into this site, I for some reason remembered that name for some reason. Then again, I was quite friendly with all the radiomen in the squadron. I was an RM3 on the Schofield.

      • John Coffey says:

        No a Radioman, but a Radarman. I was on from 62 to 64 in OI Division.



  4. Patrick Stevenson says:

    I am looking for all list of the ships that were in Operation Sea Spirit in June of 1969. Espec ially those that were in company with the HMAS Melbourne. It is very important that I can not only find the names, but the records that would confim those ships. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Tom Ramsey says:

      I was serving on HMS CLEOPATRA ROYAL NAVY we were only 2 miles away and I was on watch in operations room on radar we saw the contacts of USS EVANS and HMAS MELBOURNE collide our captain gave the order full speed and turned our ship to assist we arrived on scene in a short time EVANS stern was all we could see left and a huge hole in the bow of the MELBOURNE we lowered boats and also sent divers down to assist .WE also heard the ships saying on the radio before the impact that they were on collision course this was a month before my nineteenth birthday. I have never forgot this incident. I served in the ROYAL NAVY 1966 to 1974

    • Michael Clark says:

      Patrick, I was a Radioman on watch at the time of the accident. I was onboard the USS Schofield (DEG-3) at the time. I remember this very well. We were on search and rescue duty for 3 days after the accident. There was a chief petty officer from the Evans that was in the water. When he saw the front half of the ship on its side, he swam back to the ship, went in and pulled a crewman out. He swam back to get another crew member and when he entered the ship, it sank. It was a very very sad time for all of us. Losing the Frank E. Evans was like losing a member of your family.

      • bob yates says:

        USS KEARSARGE CVS33 we took the survivors back to Subic Bay. that night we were close enough to have our boats and Helicopters searching the waters all night

  5. Stanley G Foster says:

    To Patrick Stevenson,(Comments above), I was serving on HMNZS Blackpool, (in company with FEE & Melbourne) on the night of 2/3 June 1969. I actually saw the incident unfold and my Bridge Communications Log was taken to the official enquiry after. Unfortunately, I do not recall the names of the other ships in our Task Force.
    Stanley G Foster
    ASG B18677
    RNZN (Rt’rd)

  6. GARY JOHNSON says:

    In 1969 I was stationed on board the USS PICKING out of Long Beach, California. I was going to reenlist but needed to find someone that was willing to swap duty stations and on a ship going to Vietnam so I could take advantage of the reenlistment bonus. I remember finding a sailor that matched up with my credentials on board the FRANK E. EVANS. I had to go and meet with him and his Communications Officer to confirm we both met the criteria for this swap. Based on my interview with his communications officer and some unknown intervention I choose not to go ahead with this. I was on duty in the early hours of this tragedy and received the flash message coming across the teletype machine. Needless to say I was emotionally distraught both for my good fortune and their bad fortune. I don’t remember the sailors name that I would have replaced nor do I remember if he survived. If anyone has the list of names I would like to know. Its been over 39 years and the tragedy is still fresh in my mind. I also have more details about this event that some people may not know. If anyone would like to communicate with me I can be reached at PGINTENN@AIM.CO

  7. Stanley G Foster says:

    Can someone please help me. After the Frank E Evans was sunk, I spent some 8 hrs in our ships boat (HMNZS Blackpool), and we picked up 1 survivor. I cannot remember what ship he was from, (originally thought he was from the FEE), but do not know for sure.
    Can anyone please shed some light on this for me.
    Stanley G Foster

  8. Stanley G Foster says:

    To Patrick Stevenson:
    Ships in company with HMAS Melbourne on night of 2 – 3 June
    HMAS Melbourne; HMNZS Blackpool; HMS Cleopatra;
    USS Frank E Evans; USS Everett F Larson; USS James E Keyes.
    I trust this is of some help to you.
    Stanley G Foster

    • Michael Clark says:

      The USS Schofield was also with them. I was a radioman on watch at the time of the accident.

  9. jesse mccracken says:

    May God always remember our shipmates. I worked plane guard during vietnam and was inport in the Philipines when this tragedy happened. I will never forget the sight of my shipmates ship, or should i say half a ship being towed to port as we left. Fair wind, and following sees to my shipmates.

  10. JIMMIE O. J;OHNSON says:

    I am still disapointed that the names of the departed sailors, did not get on the memorial wall in DC. The Sage brothers, that
    did not survive the colision, were the sons of my first cousin. Mrs. Ernest Sage. I was at the dedication of the Memorial in Niobrara, Neb. and met a lot of the survivors, and I want to thank all of them for the kindness that they showed to Eunice Sage. I am still hopefull that the lost members of ;the Evans will someday be put on the WALL. I know that Sen. Hagle of Neb. has tried, but with no results. If anyone has any info on what might be done to get the names on, I will try to contact my state’s legislators to try to get the job done.


  11. Jennifer Chadney says:

    My sister’s boyfriend was killed on the Frank E Evans….Jim Kerr. He will always be in our hearts and memories!

  12. Fred Kerr says:

    My brother was/is Jim Kerr. 40 years has not lessened the void. He was just a big kid and yes,LaurelChadney was the love of his life.Nice to connect with you Jennifer! Drop me a note. I will attend the FEE memorial on 6/3 in LB. Lest we forget.

    • Steven Garber says:

      For some reason, this morning– 21 July 2012 –I was thinking of Jim’s death, and then of course of you. A week ago today we had the funeral for the 19 year-old sister of our daughter-in-law, killed in car accident. And my wife and I are still thinking about it, most of the time. In our conversations today, I remembered Jim’s death, and the tragedy it was for you and your family. It has been most of life now since we have talked, but some days I still think of you, Fred.

      And here you are– lest we forget.

  13. John Lucas says:

    I was on the Evans 1960 to 1963. Took her thru FRAMII shipyard. The gray ghost came out very beautiful. We proudly sailed her to Westpac cruise in 62. For an old tin can, there was a lot of love for her. I was ASW Officer and shipyard gave her a refit sonar that could actually pickup subs. She was a great ship and the collison hit me and a few of the other officers of that day very hard. What’s more, Admiral King’s hearing proceedings were a disgrace. The two people who coud have shed light on the whole mess were excused because they might have future legal problems. Is their careers more important that the lives that the evans lost?
    That the OOD was writing his log when the orders came t go to lifeguard station. And the JOD was also excused even tho he was the person with the “con” and had not passed his lifeguard qualifications two weeks prior.. The stationing from the screen station to lifeguard is very easy…but ony when you know what the carrier is doing.
    Oh man, excuse the rant. It helps naught.

    John Lucas, LTJG Gun Officer Uss Frank E. Evans DD754 (very retired.)

  14. Jackie (Glines) Holland says:

    My Brother was Kenneth W. Glines . He was a Great Brother and Person to all. I was only 9 yrs old when he died .It was a Great lost to Our Family . And He and all the other Men died for us and Our Freedom & Country. All their names should be on The Wall in D.C. I wish that my Parents could have been here for the memorial at Mt. Washington Cemetery ,in Kansas City , Mo . They were so Proud of Kenny and all those men that Lost their lives . It’s hard to believe that it’s been 40 Years . It’s seem forever !!!

  15. Mark Macayan says:

    My Father is Florentino F. Macayan, BTCS USN and the Chief of the watch on the Evans the night of the accident. He carried the scars of that night (physical and mental) all the way to his passing in Feb. 2000. Our family didn’t know anything about the Evan’s accident until right before his passing. All we knew was that our Mom and Dad went to Navy reunions for one of the ships our Dad served on called the Evans. Our Mom shared the story of the accident, as told to her by our Father, of the events the morning of June 3, 1969 and subsequent events after the accident. She told us that He carried guilt and remorse for the 73 lives lost and that’s why he never talked about it with us. He viewed the scars on his body from the accident as badges of shame that he saw every day for the rest of his life for not being able to do more to help the 73.

    Unfortunately our Dad was unable to communicate directly to use the events of that day due to his deteriorating health so we will never exactly how he felt. Since his passing I have researched the accident, spoke with previous Service Men who served on the Evans including survivors and Melbourne and have attended 2 Evans Reunions. The guilt and remorse that my Father felt seems to be a common theme among the survivors. It really is a shame that the US Government and Navy will not recognize the 73 lives lost on the Evans by adding their names to the Vietnam War memorial. One day I hope the Government will recongize the sacrafice they gave and give them recognition they rightly deserve.

  16. Gayle Pierce says:

    My cousins, Gary, Gregory and Kelly Sage were killed in the Evans collision. I first found the Navy’s website on the Evans’ disaster about 10 years ago. I was 16 years old when this happened in 1969 and it was such a tragedy for our family. I am so thankful to have been able to meet many of the survivors of the crash when we had a memorial celebration for my cousins in Niobrara Nebraska in 1999. My aunt, Eunice Sage, is still alive and well as is their brother Douglas and, of course, many many relatives. I also am grateful to Pete Peters for all he did to bring us all together in 1999. We miss them all dearly and will never forget them, nor will we forget this horrible tragedy. My heart and best wishes go out to all of the survivors and their families. I recently lost my 26 year old son, Kelly (yes, named after Kelly) in an accident and I have an idea of what my aunt and uncle went through when their three sons were killed. It is such a horrible ordeal.

    Best wishes to you all!

    • Louise Esola says:

      Can you please contact me? I am writing a book about the USS Frank E. Evans and am seeking information about the Sage family.

      • Patrick Richardson says:

        Hello Louise:
        My name is Patrick Richardson , I was on HMAS Melbourne ,
        the night of the collision with USS Frank E Evans . I assisted in recue
        efforts after the collision . Anything I can help you with . Email me
        I am known to a lot of the guys in FEE Association & was at San Diego
        reunion .
        Patrick Richardson.

  17. Cindy Trese says:

    My father was on the Frank E. Evans in 1969. He took leave the week of the wreck. His name was Frank G. Young PO 1st Class. He was a cook and other odd jobs. I learned, as a Rn at a local hosptial, that the service man that filled my father’s position that week survived but was later killed on land when he was mobbed. And today I ran into another serviceman today that served under the commander of the Evans. My father passed away a few weeks ago, and it is nice to run into him memory for while it lasts.

  18. Peter Varley says:

    To Jackie Glines Holland: Hi Jackie, I was the skipper of the HMAS Melbournes first rescue boat in the water after the collision in 1969 and we recovered the body of your brother Ken, and 29 survivors.
    It was such a bad time for all of us, and I really felt for the families of those guys who didn’t make it. i agree with you about their names missing from the Vietnam Memorial wall, it is such a bloody shame and really an insult to their memory.
    I will remember Kens name until the day I die!
    I wish you good luck. Peter Varley

  19. Peter Varley says:

    To any of the guys from USS Frank E Evans who were picked up by the Melbournes rescue boat: I was the skipper of the first rescue boat in the water, and we were pretty overloaded when we went back to the Melbourne, to offload survivors and Ken Glines body.
    If you would like to make contact with me I would be happy to respond. I live in Perth Western Australia.
    Peter Varley

    • Jeff Robinson says:

      I was aboard Kearsarge at the time. The following is an excerpt from a FOCAF FLAG Press Release: “Emergency Stations were sounded in HMAS Melbourne before her collision with USS Frank E. Evans in the South China Sea at 3:15 AM on Tuesday, 3 Jun. Almost to a man the ship’s company were at their sea emergency stations at the time or shortly after the impact. This automatic reaction on the part of Melbourne’s crew was responsiblefor saving the lives of many U.S. Sailors. All Melbourne’s port self-inflating life rafts and all her boats were in the water. The port side motor cutter was coxswained by Leading Seaman Peter John Varley of Kalgoorlie, W.A. who by chance was in his boat at the time emergency stations were sounded. Varley watched the forward sectionof Evans scrape by. By then his crew members were arriving and the boat was launched. With the boat at the water line with 29 U.S. survivors plus the crew it returned to Melbourne throwing out life jackets to other U.S. Sailors before returning to the rescue……” There’s more, but I think you get the point that Varley and his crew were heros of the day.

  20. Pete Townsend says:

    I served abourd Uss.Walke DD723 . Evans was sister ship.I wittnest 1/2 of Evans after strike.

  21. Wes Martin says:

    I was onboard Blackpool on that Far East trip … anyone remember me ? Wes Martin N.Z.19336

  22. Michael Wade says:

    It is Memorial Day, 5/30/10 and I was thinking about the sailors who went down on the USS Frank E. Evans. I was a sonar tech on the USS Bronstein, in the same squadron as the Evans, on the SEATO excercise when the Evans was hit. We were awakened at 3:15 AM and told to go topside, for search and rescue. By the time we got to the site, there were just papers floating on the surface.
    I don’t remember his name, but we took one of the petty officers who worked with DASH, aboard the ‘Stein for the rest of the cruise. He told us how some of the chief petty officers were pushing younger sailors up, out of the bow of the ship, to the surface, and then went down with the ship because of their selfless actions. Those men were TRUE HEROES!
    To the families of those men, I pray for you and the memory of your loved ones. I will wear a black arm band with the ship’s name on it when I go to work on Monday, in honor of your heroes!

    • mike johnson says:

      I was on the Bronstein and remember the call to search and rescue as well, it is not the same as the movies, it is real.

    • Ken Lee says:

      Hi Michael,’ I was also aboard Bronstein DE-1037 that night. The sight of half a ship will stay with me forever.

      • Michael Clark says:

        I agree with you Ken. It was a horrible sight. I saw the back half in drydock in Subic. It’s amazing that anyone survived that crash. BTW, since you were on Bronstein, would you by any chance know where your ship’s barber, James Hayes, is or any info you may have on him. I was on Schofield and he and I were very good friends. Thanks for the help.

  23. Adrian Crossman says:

    I was on HMAS Melbourne on that dreadful day. I saw the forward section of FEE sink, I saw the boys in the water and heard their calls for help. Talk about “Silence of the lambs”, the voices of the boys in the water calling for help haunt me to this day.

  24. Brian Twyman says:

    I was OOW of HMNZS Blackpool that night and I still remember every detail. .I suppose we all will never forget. The concern when FEE turned towards the carrier. The horror that the worst had happened. Closing the bow section to rescue survivors : only to see the faint lights disappear. The shock to find there were no survivors from there.The whole day spent searching for survivors and finding not one. The turmoils of the Court of Inquiry. Called again for the court martials.

    And I was a mere witness. How much more so for the FEE crew.

    My indignation at the way the RAN treated Captain Stevenson….. he was a real gentleman and a CO of the finest order.

    My deep disappointment the names of the lost are still not on the wall.

    No, I guess we will never forget.

    • wes martin says:

      How are your sir ? … Wes Martin

    • Brent Bramley says:

      Brian, I have often wondered what happened to you. I knew that after the FEE / MELBOURNE collision that you were required to attend the Court of Inquiry, but never heard another word about you!! I drafted off BLACKPOOL in August 69, and served in the RNZN until late 1985. Now in Perth, Western Australia. Regards, Brent Bramley

  25. Tom Gabianelli USN says:

    I will never forget the tragedy of that day when the FEE was cut in half. I was on board the aifcraft carrier USS Kearsarge in sick bay after havein surgey on a pilonidal cyst. I will never forget the survivers that were brought in and the screams of pain those sailors were experienceing from the steam burns. Those painful calls for help continue t huant me to this day. I was so afraid, I didn’t know the details of what had happened and wasn’t certain until later what was truely going on.

    I am embarrased that those brave sailors who lost their life are not included on the Vietnam Wall.

  26. Rich Fichtelman says:

    I was the ASW officer on the Evans from 1966 until early 1968. I knew many of the men who were lost as many were on the Evans when I left the ship to go to Viet Nam.
    I was at the Destroyer School in Newport RI when I heard about the collision – found it very hard to believe. Having been the OOD on the Evans a number of times during plane guard duty I’m sure both the OOD and JOOD that night completely “lost the bubble” on what the situation was regarding the Melburne. I have often wondered if the OOD or JOOD checked with CIC to comfirm the carrier’s course prior to turning the Evans – have never been able to determine if they did.


  27. edward lacey says:

    ed lacey usn,i was aboard the uss kearsarge that terrible morning.i was up on the catwalk of the flight deck having a smoke before going on watch,observing flight ops. when i seen the evans cut hard starboard at a distance it’s hard to tell but she looked awful close.then a moment later the destroyer rolled portside with the behemoth carrier rolling up over her snaping her in half then her rolling violently back like a giant catapult.the screams of men drowning,the putred smell of burn’t flesh and the bodies of 2 of my friends whose memories of olongopo is what i’ll the way we had just come off line in the tonkin gulf for a few weeks respite.during this seato exercise we had swim call in 15,000 ft. water and were preparing to cross the equater.your right there names should be included on the wall.god bless them and the sailors of both navies.

    • bert says:

      I was on the Kearsarge. My roommate was a communications officer. We were 40 miles behind when the collision occurred. The phone rang immediately.

      • bert says:

        The collision occurred about 3:30 in the dark morning. It took us over 2 hrs to get to the site.

  28. Rich (Torch) Laughner says:

    I was a MM2 stationed on the John W. Thomason – DD 760 and was one of the few who got to board “The Evans” in Subic Bay after the disastor. I went to salvage parts from the After-Engine Room. It’s hard to put into words what it felt like being on that ship. It almost felt like standing on hallowed ground. I remember walking up the port outside walkway and it came to a sudden end. I looked out and the whole bow section was missing. I took off my white hat, stood there for a number of minutes, pondered on how this could have happened and thought about the sailors that were lost. After a time, I met my buddies in the engine room, we went about our business, but in a very uncharacteristically quiet and respectful sort of way. It was a day I’ll never forget. I also believe that these sailor’s names should be added to “The Wall”.

  29. Steven Painter says:

    I spent 1963-64 on the Evans, my final tour before getting out of the Navy after my four year enlistment. Although I did not know any of the shipmates on board at the time of the disaster, my thoughts are with them.

  30. Ron Davis says:

    I served on the Kearsarge with Gabby (Tom Gabinelli) and remember the Captain coming over the 1MC telling us about the accident. We were about 2 hours away from the accident and I remember when we arrived the moon was bright and the water was glassy. The thing that stands out in my mind was seeing the remainder of the FEE bobbing in the water and seeing paper and Foster beer cans floating everywhere. Melbourne took survivors onboard and gave them beer.

    With all due respect Ed Lacey, we were too far away for you to have seen the accident as I remember it taking a minimum of 2 hours steaming full speed to get there. We were in the middle of SEATO exercizes and we were on the far end of the quadrant and they were on the other end.

    • ed lacey says:

      to ron davis,i,m sorry to say my dad suffers from alzheimer,s ,his recolection of time and events are diffulcult,no disrespect. god bless all who were there. erin lacey

      • Ron Davis says:

        So sorry to hear about your Dad. Please give my best wishes to him.


  31. Jeff Robinson says:

    30: Are you LT Ron Davis? CWO Jeff Robinson asks?

  32. James Buchanan says:

    In the early morning of June 3 1969 I was Mirror Control Officer for HMAS MELBOURNE and dozing on the mirror platform, waiting for the carrier to commence launching aircraft. I was woken by the impact as our ship cut through USS FRANK E EVANS. The memories still overwhelm me: The mirror sponson was on the carrier’s port side so I woke up to the horror of smoke, fumes, and the bows of Evans drifting clear of the carrier’s bows.
    I joined the recovery work, first spotlighting survivors trying to swim clear of the bows, then rigging scrambling nets and climbing down to the stern of Evans to assist stunned survivors up to the carrier flight deck. A few hours later I gained a co-pilot seat in a Wessex helicopter to help with the air search for survivors and in spotting impact debris. My logbook records one landing on USS KEARSARGE to transport passengers from the Melbourne: I have no idea who they were after all this time. So many experiences follow from this event. A few months later I obtained a posting back to Australia for Huey training and then joined the US Army 135th Assault Helicopter Company in Dong Tam, South Vietnam, for the 1970-71 period.

    It is hard to describe the impact of stumbling onto your site: I am grateful for this opportunity, after so long, to express my sincere condolences, not only to friends and family of those who died that night but to all who shared the trauma of the accident and the haunting memories that will remain forever.

    Jim Buchanan

  33. John Coffey says:

    Anyone who served on any ship involved with the incident of 3 June, 1969, as well as any family or friends of those who served, please contact any of the members of the USS Frank E Evans DD754 Association. We welcome any communications and there is an open invitation to anyone who would like to attend our yearly reunions.
    John Coffey at – Association Director of Communications
    Frank Jablonski at – Association Historian
    Steve Kraus at – Association Vice President
    Pete Peters at – Association Director of Survivor Relations

    Thanks, and we look forward to meeting and communicating with you.


  34. Rodney Lanthorne says:

    I received the link to the story about the loss of the FRANK E. EVANS from my good friend and Navy buddy, Rich Fichtelman, who served on the EVANS as ASW officer from 1966-1968.

    At the time of the loss of the EVANS, I was a reserve JO (Assistant Gun Boss and 2nd Division officer) on the USS MANSFIELD (DD728). MANSFIELD was an ALLEN SUMNER class FRAMII destroyer, just like the EVANS. In June 1969, MANSFIELD was in our homeport of Long Beach preparing for our next WESPAC cruise in September. EVANS was also homeported in Long Beach, and I recall that some of our more senior JOs lived ashore in the same apartment complex in Belmont Shores that some of the EVANS JOs lived, including the unfortunate OOD at the time of the collision with the Melbourne.

    The Navy held a memorial service for those lost on the EVANS 2~3 weeks after the tragedy at the Long Beach Naval Station. I recall that I had duty on the day of the memorial service, and the MANSFIELD received a request from the Naval Station to host EVANS’ family members that had voiced a desire to witness first hand what the EVANS physical configuration was as the coffin for their loved ones. You may imagine how eerie and uncomfortable this was for the MANSFIELD sailors that conducted the tours; our only prayer was that the experience of touring the forward berthing spaces may have, in some way, brought closure to the families.

    Two other linkages: First, Rich Fichtelman joined MANSFIELD in July, shortly after the memorial service after he had completed Destroyer School and assumed responsibilities as MANSFIELD’s Weapons Department head. MANSFIELD deployed for a six month cruise in September. During an extended period on the gun line off SVN, we encountered a casualty stemming from accelerated bore erosion in one of our 5″38 gun mounts. During a short visit to Subic Bay, we turned in the defective barrel and replaced it with one of the barrels from EVANS’s mount 53. It was strange feeling seeing the stern section of the EVANS, knowing that 74 American sailors had gone down with the forward half, giving the last, full measure of service for their country.

    My recollections was that the EVANS’ CO, XO, the OOD, JOOD and CIC Watch officer all survived the collision. Nearly everyone else in the forward section perished. Surely, the memories and sense of responsibility for those in command must have been very heavy. As a young, reserve line officer that stood many bridge watches on MANSFIELD, I can only say “…. there but by the grace of God go I.”

    I had never previously read about the heroic and comforting actions taken by the officers and men of the Melbourne. That being said, it doesn’t surprise me, as their actions seem entirely in character for the Aussies and the professionals that I had the priviledge to meet from the Australian Navy.

    It’s been over 42 years since the EVANS’s loss. My heart goes out to the men aboard the EVANS that evening and for the family and loved ones for those that perished. The sentiments embodied in the Navy Hymn (“Eternal Father, Strong to Save”) certainly apply.

    Very respectfully,
    Rod Lanthorne

  35. John Coffey says:

    Mr. Lanthorne,

    I enjoyed reading you memories of our ship and I will forward a copy of it to our association historian, Frank Jablonski. One correction if I may. The CIC officer, Ens. Alan Armstrong, and everyone in CIC were killed, probably on impact. But no one survived in CIC or Sonar (in the same section behind the bridge.)

  36. Lauren Spray says:

    My husband, STG2 John R Spray, was lost with the ship on June 3rd. It was 4 days after my 21st birthday and 1 week before our 1st anniversary. I will never forget that day as long as I live.

    I attended the reunion in Long Beach several years ago and it was so beautiful to see that the men were not forgotten.

    I had the priviledge to meet some of the men who sailed with him (and knew him who could tell me stories and share some of their memories) and also to meet some of the men from the Melbourne. Although they could not have helped John, I did thank them for rescuing so many and saving their lives.

    For many years I was kept in the dark about what actually happened and it is only now that I am reading more and more reports about the incident.

    • Jim Bialecki says:


      I have just read your blog as well as 36 others. My deepest belated sympathy. I was a Radarman 3rd class aboard the Everett Larson, DD830 and on the bridge that evening. In fact we were not even a mile a way and saw the whole episode. I am supprised that none of my other shipmates responded. Perhaps, they have not seen just as I. There were a number of the deceased I knew. This episode (which I still have photos) and others in 1972 have stayed with me all these years. While I have never met you, I do hope the years following saw you and your family happiness.

      • John Coffey says:

        Jim, Lauren is in contact with the Evans Association. We will have our reunion in Dallas, TX from 27 Sept through the 30th. If you are available, we would love to meet you. We have had others from the Keys attend and would be honored to have you there, too. If you would like to contact me, John Coffey – Communications Director, USS Frank E Evans DD754 Association, at or by phone at 706-335-0724, I can give you more information. Or go to our web site at

        Lest We Forget…

  37. Mike Butzke says:

    I was on the USS Kearsarge when this happened. I can vividly remember the site and the boarding of the survivors. I teared up just reading this article. God’s blessing to the survivors and the families of the deceased.

  38. Carole E Bakken says:

    My Husband MR1 Donald A Bakken was on the Frank E Evans He passed 10/1/1992 It changed our live forever..Don was never quiet the same after the Evans . Gone but not forgotten I have quiet a few things pretaing to the acc if any one is interested.

  39. Brent Brumfield says:

    I am in the USMC and at a training command. My academics chief, who was in the USN, and is a Navy and Amphibous history guru. He told me of this story this a.m. in the smoke pit. This is an amazing story and websight. It saddens me that it this event has gone away from the memmory of most. In 2007 i was stationed on the LPD3 USS Kearsarge for almost 2 months. Not a word was said about this when talking to any of the Sailors about how old the ship was. If there is a book out i would love to know the name so i can pick up a copy and keep this historical event alive for the generations to come. thank you.
    and god speed

    • Jeff Robinson says:

      Brent, the Kearsarge referred to is the USS KEARSARGE (CVS-33). I was aboard her when she was decommissioned in 1970.

    • steve painter says:

      Brent, there are a couple of excellent books available. The first one is called In The Wake, By Jo Stevenson, and the second book is called Unsinkable Sailors by Paul Sherbo. I think that they are both available at Amazon.

    • John Coffey says:

      Brent, I am the Director of Communications for the USS Frank E Evans DD754 Association and our Historian, Frank Jablonski, has several books out about the events of 3 June ’69. The best, and one he updates each year with new stories and memories as they come in, is “The 278 Men Of The USS Frank E Evans DD754 – 3 June 69” and can be purchased on We also have a web site, that also list memories and the lost 74. Thank you for your interest, and help us keep the memories of these guys alive – until we can get their names on The Wall.

      John Coffey

  40. wes martin says:

    I was onboard HMNZS Blackpool that night …. why wont anyone make contact with me ? ? …wes martin N.Z. 19336

    • John Coffey says:

      Wes, I am the communication director of the USS Frank E Evans DD754 Association and you can contact me. I have email addresses of a few HMAS Melbourne sailors as well as some of the survivors from the collision.

      I will be glad to help you find some mates.

      John Coffey.

    • Del Francis says:

      Wes, I would love to hear from you. I went on a tour to a resort in the Philipines prior to the accident and some ot the Blackpool crew was there. I don’t remember any names but would love to hear from them.

  41. John Coffey says:

    Wes, I am the communication director of the USS Frank E Evans DD754 Association and you can contact me. I have email addresses of a few HMAS Melbourne sailors as well as some of the survivors from the collision.

    I will be glad to help you find some mates.

    John Coffey.

  42. Danielle Nichols says:

    My uncle Thomas Moore was a broiler operator on the Frank E. Evans. He was a survivor, but was never the same after that accident. He saw so many of his friends perish that day. My heart goes out to all the families of those lost.

    • John Coffey says:

      Danielle, I am the Communications Director of the USS Frank E Evans DD 754 Association, a very active band of Evans Destroyermen from the commissioning in 1945 through the sinking. We meet each year at our reunions where we have a memorial service for the lost 74. This year we will be in Dallas, TX from 27 Sept through the 30th. Many survivors of that night attend and would love to know about Thomas – including a bunch of Snipes (what Thomas was.) If you would like more information please contact me at or by phone at 706-335-0724. That goes for any other men who served on other ships that night. All are welcome.

      John Coffey – Lest We Forget…

  43. John Sowden says:

    My name is John Sowden I was attached to 817 Squadron on H.M.A.S. Melbourne at the time of the collision with USS Frank E Evans. My duties were as a Search and Rescue diver in volved in carrying out plane guard during daylight hours whilst aircraft were being launched and recovered. I was part of two crews on the night. Our Helicopter was WX220. The first flight was scrambled at 0325hrs to carry out search and rescue missions. My pilot was Leiutenant Commander Riley and my other crewman was Leiutentant commander Powell. We ended up location and rescueing one crewman from out of the ocean who was off the Frank E Evans. My job was to be lowered by winch and rescue this crewman (whose name escapes me). We returned to HMAS Melbourne at 0520hrs. I was again airborne at 0725 hrs with Leiutenant Commander Rodgers and Petty Officer Poole in the same helicopter to continue searching for survivors, non were found and we returned to HMAS Melbourne at 0950hrs. I was issued with a Meritorious Unit Commendation and a ribbon . Unfortunately I have misplaced my M.U.C. and wondered if someone from the Frank E Evans survivors could steer me in the right direction to obtain a copy. My rank at the time was N.A.A.H. J.L.C.Sowden R59471, and also does anybody know the name of the Frank E Evans crewman that was winched to safety at about 0500-0515hrs. Much appreciated any help that can be given.

    • Frank Jablonski says:

      Chief Storekeeper Larry Malilay.

      In the book, “The 278 Men of USS FRANK E. EVANS (DD 754) 3 June 1969” on pages 176-177, Larry describes how he escaped from the forward section of the ship and how he was rescued, the last man too.

  44. Ron Puttee says:

    My name is Ron Puttee I was 18 years old and on my first trip to sea as a young member of VS816 Squadron aboard Melbourne , the night of the collision. For some of the crew onboard Melbourne, there was a serious fight for almost 24 hours after the collision to prevent further flooding as far back as “Charlie” section near Melbournes bows. I have been encouraged by many to write my autobiography, as I have experienced many incredible and sometimes tragic events in my life. The actual moments of the collision of FEE & Melbourne starts my book as the “prelude”.
    I have yet a ways to go with this project, but the memory of that night will never fade. A horrific experience for many so young.
    My military experiences started very young, I was a Junior Recriut (or JR) when I joined the RAN at aged 15!!

  45. Daniel Ness says:

    I was a Radioman and teletype repairman on the Frank E. Evens from 1964 to 66 it was a great ship, many memories. My heart still sinks when I think of the men who went down with it. Also the men who was on that ship it has to be aweful memories. No matter how men or women die in war time it’s still hurts for the families from losing loved ones. I am greatful for the days the Lord has given me.
    Let us be greatful for our Country and get out and Vote.

    • John Coffey says:

      Daniel, great comment. Give me an email and I will tell you about the USS Frank E Evans Association. We meet every year and this year we will be in Dallas, TX. We would love to have you attend and join the association and meet some of your old shipmates.

      John Coffey
      USS Frank E Evans DD754 Association

  46. Michael Mortimer says:

    Hello folks. I am posting this around the Net to alert people that I am passing on a Zippo lighter that was salvaged by Cmdr. McLemore as he was abandoning ship.

    I have had it for 38 years. I came across it as I was cleaning out my basement and listing things on eBay.

    It is item number 230867939770

    I tell the backstory about how I came to own it (Marc McLemore, the CO’s son, gave it to me).

    I think it is historically interesting, but maybe I’m the only one who thinks that.

  47. Trostle Kalebaugh DC1 says:

    While I was reading the above this it came to me what might have happen to the USS Frank E Evans DD754 on that night.
    I was aboard the USS Southerland DD743 same class as the USS Frank E Evans DD754 . About a month before the USS Frank E Evans DD754 was cut by the Carrier we were beside a Carrier off of the Hawaiian Islands. We were going to swing right to go behind the Carrier. The helm was then turned to full right rudder but the rudders went full left. We did an emergency back down to avoid the Carrier. We set dead in the water for about four hours before the Interior Communications electricians got the rudders to answer the helm right and then we went on to the Philippine Islands where I saw the DD 754 in floating dry dock. This could have also happened to the USS Frank E Evans DD754.

  48. Brent Bramley says:

    I have posted a link to this article as I know that many of you will be interested. I was there on the HMNZS BLACKPOOL, and even after 43 and a half years not a day goes by that I don’t think of this disaster. Fair winds and following seas my friends.

    • Wes Martin says:

      Brent were you a ” writer ” onboard Blackpool ? … Wes Martin

    • Del Francis says:

      Hi Brent and Wes, I am off the Evans. We went to a resort in the Phillipines, the “sailor name” for it was Pajama Falls, because we weren’t able to master the real name. There were several members of the Blackpool crew there. Had a great time. Del

      • Brent Bramley says:

        Hi Del,

        Before the start of Operation Sea Spirit BLACKPOOL was in Manila for about five days – I didn’t get much further than the first bar on each occasion I “hit the beach”. Ended up drinking with a lot of guys in one bar and some of them were off of DD754, but can’t remember names.
        Don’t know of any of our crew who would have been at the resort you’ve mentioned, but will ask around some of my old shipmates and see if we can locate anyone you may have met all those years ago! If I don’t get back to you, it’s because I haven’t heard anything!

  49. Wes Martin says:

    Brams , your the first person on the Blackpool I`ve spoken to in 43 years … Wes

  50. Wes Martin says:

    I drafted off the Blackpool and onto the Endevour , did the N.Z. trip on her then drafted onto Kiama . Frank Arnott was the Captain [ you`ll remember him as the Directional officer on Blackpool ] Believe it or not I ended up in the N.Z army as a Private in a Infantry unit . I got discharged in 73 and came to Australia in 74 . I have never been back to N.Z. and your the only one I`ve spoken to . Wes

    • Brent Bramley says:

      Where in Oz are you? I did a bit over 20 years and got out late 1985, moved to Brisbane during Expo 88 and while I go home every now and then, have no intention of returning permanently. Moved to Perth at start of 2005 and now working FIFO. Brams

      • david anderson says:

        i was onboard HMAS Vampire on the night of the collision….i have a few slides taken from dawn of that morning. We searched with the HMNZS Blackpool , through out the following day, also have a slide of the blackpool with its 4.5″ barrels lowered in respect , during the search.

  51. john mcgowan says:

    I was with COMDESRON 14 on the USS Mullinnix DD 944, and as I recall the Evans was part of our squadron during this particular WESTPAC Cruise. This was an event that none of us will ever forget, and our prayers go out to the families of those who lost their lives that night.

  52. Ed Holsopple says:

    Served aboard the USS Frank E. Evans DD-754. Oct. ’64 to Feb. ’67 as a FTG2. I am now a member of the Association, and all of you former shipmates who do not belong and do not attend reunions are missing a great time, it is a well organized unit and a great group of shipmates, families. and friends. We will be in Bremerton, WA. the 1st week of Oct. 2014, plan to go, you’ll not regret it and wonder why you didn’t attend long ago. You become addicted to attending. If your out there LT. Ramsey we would love for you to attend, anyone and all like minded folks can join the Association, as John Coffey (like the drink but spelled different, Green Mile) states. We have many Aussies from the Melbourne who belong and come to the reunions, some every year. Join in our struggle to have the 74 names inscribed on the \Wall\. Fair winds and following seas….Lest We Forget

  53. Ron Puttee says:

    Hi Ed….

    Please forward me details of the reunion in October as they come to hand please…

    I’d like to attend for the first time…

  54. John Coffey says:

    Ron, the USS Frank E Evans DD754 Associaton will be having our reunion in Seattle from 1 Oct through 4 Oct. It will be at the Doubletree Suites Hotel, 16500 Southcenter Parkway, Seattle, WA 98188. Contact Steve Kraus at to get on the contact list and for reservation information.

    John Coffey

  55. John Coffey says:

    Brent, sorry it took so long to respond to your offer. I am John Coffey the Communications Director for the USS FRANK E EVANS DD754 Association and would greatly like to have a copy of your picture(s) from the accident and search. Please contact me by email at I would be glad to cover any expense.

  56. Steve McMikle says:

    I was a LTJG serving as DCA on the USS Schofield (DEG-3), and was on the bridge some 6,000 yds away when the message came, \Evans in two halves\. I still have the hard copy of that message. She was part of our squadron, DESRON 23, assigned to be part of Operation Sea Spirit. I will never forget that night, as long as I draw breath. Every Ensign was quartered forward of frame 76, so every one of them went down. Had many a good liberty with crew from Evans. I still think of them and hold them in my prayers.

  57. Jim Nelson says:

    I was aboard the USS James E Kyes DD787 at the time and remember it well.

  58. Andy Hughes says:

    I was on the USS Sample in ’69, and we came in to Subic Bay and saw the half of the Evans that didn’t sink tied to a pier. It was spooky to see that ship cut in half as if some giant chain saw had torn it in two. My heart goes out to those lost in that accident.

  59. Robert C Compton Jr says:

    I was on duty June 3 1969 on the USS Kearsarge CVS 33 ASW group 1. A Marine attached to that ship. I recall that night as if it were Yesterday. We got a message a may day from USS Frank E Evans Had been struck and sinking.. we Rushed to that site. our choppers were dispatched to pick up those who were survivors. Burned amputees and many hurt came aboard the Kearsarge . I want to say My Eyes have seen that wreckage and those who were saved, I pray those who didn’t make it that morning, are now watching us on our path to them.

  60. Bruce Whistler says:

    I was an aircrewman in HS-6 on the Kearsarge. Earlier on the exercise I had been transferred over to the Evans as part of a cross training exercise. Our berthing compartment was right where the Melbourne cut into the Evans. I was unable to find any of the crew who I had worked with after the accident. I was awakened at dawn and we took off to look for survivors. I’ll never forget the sight. The ocean was like glass and it was cut slowly by the ships of many nations slowly moving and searching. We saw the aft of the Evans, but the bow being top heavy had rolled over and sank immediately. It was the strangest sight like the sea was in mourning. I can close my eyes and see that sight still.

  61. bob yates says:

    took the ship a couple hours to reach the scene and lower boats but we sent HS6 right away to aid in the search

  62. Rick Dimas says:

    We are searching for a Andrew J. Botto who was on The Evans, his name was enshrined in our Vietnam Memorial Wall here in Stockton California, and would like some information as to his rank and or other information that is available.

  63. Thomas says:

    I was an 18-year-old communications yeoman seaman working at the Communications Center in Subic Bay in the Philippines and on watch in the morning hours when the collision took place. I had befriended several members of the ship’s radio crew who had utilized our center when the Frank E. Evans had been in port, and several died in the accident. As the court martial got underway, I later became friends with the LtJG who was the OOD that morning on the Frank E. Evans, as I helped him in his defense efforts sorting through message traffic, etc. Later I went down to the docks at Subic Bay and photographed the aft section of the destroyer that had been recovered and towed into the harbor. I still have that amazing photo that shows a U.S. Navy destroyer that looks like it had been clumsily cut in half by a giant scissors. The LtJG was a very decent man who was devastated by the event and for me, as a young man barely in the Navy much more than six months, the whole experience was wrenching and very sad.
    RM2 Thomas O’Connell

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  65. GBGeezer says:

    It’s something I will never forget. The collision happened during my final Westpac deployment with Biddle DLG-34. While in Subic we were to go aboard Evans and remove any salvageable supplies. Ship had been cleanly cut in half between the stacks, a surreal sight. However, as I can remember, the watch was still posted on the aft quarterdeck and we saluted the ensign as we came and went.

  66. WesternView says:

    “Unsinkable Sailors: The Fall and Rise of the Last Crew of USS Frank E. Evans” tells about the sinking of the Evans. It includes interviews with survivors, photos and summarizes thousands of pages of documents. More information at the publisher’s website,

  67. Fidei Defensor says:

    When I was a cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, this collision and the events aboard the Evans leading up to it were used as a case study during our “Deck Watch Officer” course. It was sobering, gripping, and compelling, and definitely motivated this young man to pay close attention to the training that I was being given. God be with the survivors of these ships — may their heroism during this tragedy never be forgotten.

  68. J. Fred says:

    Why is there no mention of the negligents of those in command of the Evans?

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