Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Ship History: Mine Strike! - USS Warrington (DD-843)

After Korea, before the mines of the Arabian Gulf hit Samuel B. Roberts, Princeton and Tripoli, one ship* of the United States Navy took a couple a mine hits and, through heroic effort her crew, was brought into port afloat and with no loss of life. Perhaps because the incident was deemed one of "friendly fire" (the ship was either in the wrong place or the mines were not where they were supposed to be), less is heard of the saving of USS Warrington (DD-843) in July, 1972.

Warrington was an East Coast destroyer, a FRAM Gearing-Class, completed shortly before the end of WWII. Brought through the Panama Canal to help with Naval Gunfire Support off Vietnam, following the Easter Invasion by the North Vietnamese down the South Vietnamese coast. On July 17, 1972, Warrington had been on the gun line in the morning.

As part of Operation Pocket Money, much of the navigable water of inshore North Vietnam had been mined by aerial mining:
By the end of the year Navy and Marine Corps bombers had dropped more than eight thousand mines in North Vietnamese coastal waters and three thousand in inland waterways
As you might imagine, some mines may not have ended up exactly where intended.

Warrington may have stumbled upon a couple of such outlier mines:
USS Warrington was irreparably damaged when it detonated what was believed to be
After the mine hit
mislaid mines 20 miles (32 km) north of Đồng Hới on 17 July 1973. (ND E1: Wrong date by a year Wikipedia!)
There were a small number of injuries to the crew, resulting in the award of 5 Purple Hearts.

Flooding, bent equipment, loss of power. Damage control parties. Restoration of enough steam power to get the ship moving offshore. Well-trained crew saves the ship - just enough.

Assistance from other ships, fleet tug arrives, tows the ship to Subic Bay. In Subic, at the ammo piers, she is brought alongside USS Pyro (AE-24) where the Pyro crew feed them warm food and help off-load Warrington's munitions.

Warrington then heads to the drydock and the decision is made that she is not worth repairing. She is sold to Taiwan and her parts cannibalized.

Sure, no one died - but the crew of Warrington deserves a great deal of credit. And, after all these years, a little praise for a job well done.

Photos from the various sites linked herein. They are worth a visit.

*There is an indication here that USS King (DLG-10) also had a mine strike during the Vietnam War, but a time line of the King's operations makes no reference to a "mine strike" although it is reported here that she had a boiler casualty in 1969, well before the mining operation. Neither is there a report, of USS John King (DDG-3) ever hitting a mine during the 1972-3 time frame. Dr. Truver has far more expertise in such matters than I do, but I know for a certainty about Warrington.


  1. Anonymous1:16 AM

    Bravo Zulu to the crew of Warrington.

  2. Anonymous9:16 PM

    I went aboard the Warrington as part of an engineiring working party tasked with salvaging what we could. I do not remember the exact date but it was probably just before she was towed to Taiwan. The aft engine room was my area of expertise so that is were I headed. As I recall the area under the starboard ladder was a real mess, all or part of the number two main circulating pump was missing. Weather or not it was removed in the yard I do not know, but it was just a jumble of machinery.

  3. Anonymous4:44 PM

    As a former member of the USS Hanson, we thank your ship for it's guro when ours broke down so we could complete our tour during those times of the Hue offensive. . . .

  4. OS2 David Dankenbrin4:58 PM

    I was on the ship when we hit the mines.

    1. I was on an LPD not far from where this took place. I was in the Marine Corps flying mission with Cobra's of three different LPD's at different times LPd"S 7,8,9.

  5. OS2 David Dankenbrin5:00 PM

    I was On the ship when we hit the mine

    1. Anonymous9:12 AM

      I was also...Cheers
      Bill Stankowski EMFN

  6. Anonymous3:07 PM

    I'm a female and was on the Pyro in the late 80's/early 90's. Nice to read about the Pyro here, but better yet, BRAVO ZULU Warrington crew-members!

  7. LTJG Ralph Heimlich, SC3:07 PM

    Check out the last cruise book material here http://troop424.freeservers.com/warrington/

  8. LTJG Ralph Heimlich, SC3:09 PM

    Check out the last cruise book material here

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. Anonymous9:52 AM

    I was aboard Warrington that Day I was the #1 investigator for Repair 5 and a BT3. I was assigned to BT1 Harry Hans to learn to take over as "Oil King" duties from him. I recall making many, many piping patches all over Engineering with the help of my friends to say Engineering was a mess is being kind, Boilers, Main Turbines, Main Steam and Aux. Steam system were shot, fuel and seawater leaks were everywhere if it wasn't for the assistance of other "Cans" nearby giving us P500's and P250's I do not think we would have made Subic, If I recall correctly an MM3 who had taken Scuba lessons went over the side to stuff mattress into the hole in Main Engine Room ruptured seam.. glad they sent me to DC School Twice..it paid off still using what I learned from those school today..