The first months of 1972 saw KING homeward
bound from her eighth WESTPAC deployment, enjoying the fruits
of her labors by stopping in several good liberty ports on
the journey. Detached from Task Force 74 in Indian Ocean operations
on New Year's Day 1972, KING turned east and steamed back across
the Bay of Bengal and through the Malacca Straits bound for Singapore and
a week of well-earned liberty as well as preparation for the
forthcoming Australia visit. WESTPAC purchases thought missed
because of a Hong Kong visit cancellation carne aboard in large
quantities and KING sailed from Singapore on 10 January for
Subic a contented ship. In Subic Bay, off-loading of WESTPAC
equipment occupied every available moment. The helo. detachment
(HC-7) from Cubi Point and CT's with their quic-van had departed
by the 14th. As vital WESTPAC gear was taken away other items
appeared ¬motorcycles between the stacks and duty-free
liquor in the 3" magazines. In company with USS ORLECK (DD-878)
as a task element, KING sailed from the Philippines on the
17th, bound south for the Admiralty Islands through the San
Bernardino Straits and across the Celebes Sea to the eastern
shore of Manus Island. A brief stop for fuel” at
Manus Island and then Australia awaited us.
Buoyed by the anticipation of sailing into new and exotic waters, KING approached the Equator on the morning of 20 January. Traditional ceremonies were observed and old shell¬backs initiated nearly 90% of the crew into. the solemn mysteries of the Ancient Order of the Deep.
Landfall was made at Manus Island early on the morning of January 22nd. KING prepared for a quick refueling and departure that evening, but unexpected complications .with the fuel transfer for KING's ND system necessitated waiting for the arrival from an island tanker. Departure from Manus was delayed until late evening on the 23rd.
Steaming alone now, (the Sydney-bound ORLECK having departed Manus earlier that day), KING continued south past the countless small green islands and coral reefs between New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Sunny equatorial weather and calm seas eased KING's passage through the Coral Sea. Last minute tasks of painting out and cleaning up the ship were accomplished smoothly. KING entered the muddy waters of Australia's Hunter River on the morning of January 28th and was fast to the quay in Newcastle by
midmorning. Calls were made by the Captain and returned
by city officials; that evening there was a wardroom party
on the HMAS PARAMOTTA and a shipboard dance which over
300 Australian girls attended. The novelty of a United
States Ship's presence brought over 10,000 Australians
aboard during the four days of general visiting and tours.
Celebration of Australia Days on shore meant participation
in the festivities for a number of KINGSMEN. A marching
unit joined the Grand Parade on 31 January and over a dozen
of the crew competed in athletic events that afternoon,
but the American visitors were treated to hospitality which
far exceeded anyone's expectations. When KING sailed on
the first of February, all on board felt regrets, for in
Newcastle the phrases people to people program" became a most enjoyable reality.
KING's track to Wellington, New Zealand carried her across the Tasman Sea and further south into cooler climes . The three day transit was uneventful but for the sighting of several whales. The arrival on the brisk, sunny morning of February 4th was observed by only a few curious bystanders.
Formal receptions and calls again began the five-day visit. The Vice CNO of the New Zealand Navy as well, as city, state, and diplomatic officials were onboard KING on the afternoon of February 4. A cocktail party for the wardroom and a Navy League dance the same evening provided, KINGSMEN, an opportunity to meet some of the residents of this most English city outside of Great Britain. Here, too, numbers of the crew had a chance to travel outside of the city and stay in local homes. A weekend tour of a sheep ranch was arranged and about two dozen KINGSMEN participated.
Departure from Wellington, on February 9th, was quickly followed by a rough eastward passage through Cook Strait which, immediately brought the crew back to the reality of being at sea. Proceeding along the eastern coast of New Zealand's North Island, KING now with ORLECK, which had come from Dunedin, steamed northward, towards the Samoan Islands. Seas were calm enough by February 10th for both ships to hold GQ drills and horizon gun shoots.
On the afternoon of 11 February a ruptured tube in IB boiler reduced KING’s transit speed to 17 knots. Steaming on 2A boiler alone, KING approached the harbor at Pago Pago, American Samoa on the evening of 12 February. Torrential tropical rains washed over KING as she moored at the oil pier just a few steps from the modern Intercontinental Hotel with its interesting thatched roof and architecture. Faced with almost certain delay in returning to the states a number of WESTPAC veterans detached in Pago Pago to fly home for schools. Chief Hospital Corpsman Iosefa provided the Commanding Officer with a personal tour of his island home. The probability of an indeterminate stop in Pearl Harbor for boiler repairs plagued homeward bound KINGSMEN as the ship got underway early on St. Valentine's Day, February l4th. A lengthy but relatively dull transit to Pearl Harbor was made even longer when another tube in lB boiler ruptured during the midwatch on 17 February. With temporary repairs completed on the 18th, KING entered Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, at sunset On the 19th.
CRUDESPAC boiler inspectors boarded as soon as possible, and the riggors of U.S. Customs inspection were concluded and repair work soon started toward giving KING a dependable engineering plant for the final leg of the deployment. The next day saw the arrival of fifteen brothers and sons and the Commanding Officer's and Weapons Officer's fathers for the transit to the mainland. The young guests were invited by the Commanding Officer to share in the Navy life of their sponsors during the transit to San Diego; they were formed into their own "B-S" Division and had a full schedule laid out for them.
With repairs satisfactorily completed, KING got underway from Pearl Harbor in the evening of 23 February on the last leg of her journey home. Expectations of rough seas were not fulfilled and the ship cruised without incident with general quarters and a gunshoot held on the 26th, largely for the benefit of the guests. Finally, on the morning of 29 February, KING approached Point Loma, received a large 65-foot decorative lei for her bow, hoisted the San Diego city flag loaned to KING on the occasion of her return, passed under the Coronado Bridge, and made fast to Pier 4, San Diego Naval Station.
A month of standdown followed in which most of the crew took leave. April saw a return of regular routine and a slow buildup towards another deployment. Increased activity by the North Vietnamese and the United States' reaction to it caused flurries of anticipation in San Diego. On April 25th, however KING's immediate operational plans were shattered by an explosion in the After Fireroom which occurred as 2A boiler
was being brought on the line. Fortunately, only one man was slightly injured with minor burns. Once again the engineering plant repair became the dominant theme of KING's inport period. A change of command on board the flagship for COMDESRON 5 on May 11th saw Commodore C.A. GUTHRIE relieved by Captain Guy NEELEY in a well-decorated ceremony aboard KING.
The hasty departure of the USS TICONDEROGA, for WESTPAC brought KING an opportunity to fill her RAV period at Hunter's Point, San Francisco. On May 30, the short transit north to NAVWEPS Station, Seal Beach was begun, where the weapons off-load was completed before midmorning on the 31st and KING was underway for San Francisco to arrive on a sunny, calm June 1.
June and July were devoted to RAV. Boiler repairs, Ship Alts, work on electronic gear, and other equipment overhauls occupied the hours of yard workers and crew alike. Improvements were made in the galley, mess decks, and berthing spaces as well as engineering and weapons spaces.
Also while at Hunter's Point, KING served as host ship for the Australian DDG HOBART. Several parties and a beer/ball game were planned; Captain NICHOLSON of the HOBART, came aboard KING on 13 July for dinner.
Work progressed satisfactorily through July. Light-off began on the l5th and dock trials and sea trials falling on the 17th and 21st of the month.
Upon successful completion of sea trials, KING was underway for the annual Sea Fair in Powell River, Canada. The seven day transit period from San Francisco to Powell River proved to be an excellent opportunity for refresher training for all hands and a chance for initial indoctrination, at sea for the many new personnel who had reported aboard during the Hunter's Point RAV. Mr. Tom FAIRWEATHER of Powell River joined KING for the transit, briefing the ship on Powell River and the Sea Fair Festivities.
Arriving in Powell River on the 28th of July, KING was greeted by a large turnout from the small Canadian town. KING hosted several thousand visitors during the next three days for' tours of the ship. HMCS MACKENZIE was tied up alongside for the last two days with MACKENZIE hosting a cocktail party on the evening of the 29th for KING's Wardroom and many civilian guests. KING's marching platoon took part in the Sea Fair parade and crowning of Sea Fair Royalty. Miss Powell River and attendants were guests at a dinner cooked by the KING Wardroom. The Fair and other activities were capped off by sporting events joined by KINGSMEN from the Wardroom and Crew.
On the 31st of July, KING was underway for Esquimault, B.C. where two days of excellent R&R liberty was had by all in Victoria.
The 1st of August found KING enroute £or the Seattle Sea Fair. After an overnight stop at Manchester for fuel, KING arrived in Seattle early in the morning of the 3rd of August. The many preparations made for the expected visitors who would be touring the ship paid off as over 8000 visitors were escorted around the topside spaces during the 3-day period that followed. KING hosted the Seattle Sea Fair Queen and court to lunch in the enlisted mess and a leisurely tour around the ship by personal guides. FTM2 Francis ZURAWSKI was elected Prince of the Sea Fair with the crowning ceremonies held on the 5th of August. $100 and the use of a convertible were awarded to the Prince and his Princess of the Sea Fair. Many civilian and military invitations were accepted by the Wardroom and crew during the Seattle visit. On August 3rd, KING was enroute to NWS Seal Beach to on-load all the ammunition that had been taken off prior to the Hunter's Point RAV. Arriving in Long Beach on the evening of the tenth, KING departed on the morning of the 11th for Seal Beach to load ammunition.
Most of the 11th was spent loading over 1800 rounds of three and five inch ammunition, TERRIER missiles, ASROC, and torpedoes. The evolution proceeded smoothly and KING departed for the Southern California Operation areas for a night and day of training prior to returning to families after a long separation from home port San Diego on the 13th.
Upon return to San Diego, KING was told she was to deploy to the Seventh Fleet earlier than had been expected. This began a busy period of preparation for her ninth WESTPAC cruise since commissioning in 1961. The scheduled INSURV inspection was cancelled to allow for all the many necessary predeployment preparations. The first weeks back were spent preparing for and undergoing a pre-deployment and PMS inspection. KING's complement of crew and officers began to grow as many new personnel were received to bring the allowance up to deployment strength. During this period many personnel were attending last minute, team training courses for deployment with necessary WESTPAC skills.
KING served as DATC school ship with underway training from 12 to 15 September. During this at-sea period, KING also had a successful missile firing exercise and returned to Seal Beach to onload 1300 more rounds of three and five inch ammunition. Returning home to San Diego on the 15th of September, KING began the last big push to prepare for Vietnam. duty with a Command Inspection conducted by COMDESRON FIVE. KING's material readiness condition was reaching WESTPAC status with the correction of PDR discreparicies and the crew was rewarded with a week of deserved POM (Pre-Overseas Movement)time off.
October 2nd found KING's, families arid friends standing on pier #4 in San Diego waving farewell as she departed for WEST PAC. Underway as CTU 15.8.3 enroute to Pearl Harbor, KING spent her first day on the San Clemente NGFS Range firing at G.Q. battle conditions and battle messing while the NGFS team achieved grades of "excellent" on all four assigned exercises.
Leaving San Clemente the 2nd of October, the six day transit to Pearl Harbor began. While enroute KING completed the
first of numerous deployment UNREPS with USNS TALUGA, with many junior officers getting their first experience in conning alongside.
Arriving in Pearl on the 9th, KINGSMEN spent the next two days attending CINCPACFLT Predeployment briefings in intelligence, weather, operations, etc. The 11th of October was spent at sea for gunnery exercises, scoring excellent on the surface shoots and in an air shoot, knocking down the sleeve.
Twelve October was spent in Pearl Harbor, however the following morning KING was underway for Subic Bay via Barstur Missile Range, where missile, ASROC and torpedo firing exercises were completed successfully.
In company with GOLDSBOROUGH,(DDG-20) (Commander Destroyer Squadron ELEVEN embarked), USS MORTON (DD-945) and USNS, TALUGA, departed, Barstur Missile Range on the evening of the 13th. The transit period was used to further develop and sharpen the ship's readiness as the transit group conducted training exercises in fleet maneuvers, CIC drills, gunline type gunnery exercises and tactical communication drills.
Arriving in Subic on the 27th of October, the following days were spent with final preparations and last minute briefings prior to the ship's first special assignment in the Gulf of Tonkin.
From inchop on 24 October 1972 until the commencement of 30 day's duty as MIDSAR picket on 14 December 1972, KING demonstrated her versatility assuming eight changes in task unit assignment ranging from CTU 77.0.4 as MIDSAR Picket to CTU 75.6.1 for Naval Gunfire Support in MR II.
After arrival Subic Bay, an initial WESTPAC inport period of only 2 days provided the bare minimum of time for installation of both WESTPAC pool and special project equipments. On 29 October KING departed Subic for the Gulf of Tonkin to assume duties as AAW escort and logistics support ship for USS INFLICT (MSO-456) serving as CTU 77.0.5 for the operations. KING escorted INFLICT on an Environmental Survey of the coastal waters of North Vietnam for three days during which INFLICT conducted both magnetic observations and bottom samplings at selected points.
On 3 November, when a BIG MOTHER SAR helo suffered a disabling casualty aboard USS LONG BEACH (CGN-9)at PIRAZ Station, KING was abruptly detached from Survey Ops to serve as TU 77.0.2 and provide SAR helo landing facilities. After a brief 48 hour tour as PIRAZ escort, KING reassumed CTU 77.0.5 on 5 November, relieving USS HENRY B. WILSON (DDG-7), only to be tasked 36 hours later on 6 November to relieve USS REEVES (DLG-24) as CTU 77.0.4 at MIDSAR.
KING received her initiation as a dedicated SAR unit during three days of evading Typhoon Pamela in the South China Sea and realized only one day on SAR Station in the Gulf of Tonkin. KING was relieved at MIDSAR on 9 November and then assumed duties as CTU 77.6.2 while acting as Mutual Support Ship for USS AMERICA (CVA-66). During KING's five day stay with AMERICA, valuable OOD training was accomplished. Captain Bert SHEPARD, Commanding Officer of the AMERICA, was a guest aboard KING for lunch.
On 15-16 November, KING proceeded to Pt. Joey in MR II to relieve USS TOWERS (DDG-9) as CTU 75.6.1. During her stay in MR II KING answered daily calls for fire and expended 175 rounds of 5"/54 ammunition. Upon relief in MR II by USS RAMSEY (DEG-2) on 20 November and, after a rigorous and increasingly familiar ammunition VERTREP, KING commenced NGFS Ops on 21 November as a unit of TG 75.9 in northern MR I. Within two days on station KING expended 431 rounds from her single 5" mount and, after the 12th UNREP and 3rd rearming in 24 days, proceeded to SSAR to relieve USS ENGLAND (DLG-22) as CTU 77.0.3. At SSAR, KING provided AAW coverage and air control assistance for USS MONTICELLO (LPD-35) who was conducting MARHUK cps and surveillance of the HON LA anchorage.
On 27 November, after being relieved by USS PREBLE (DLG-15), KING sailed for Subic Bay and a scheduled 10-day upkeep period the first in over 90 days.
During the ten-day upkeep KING accomplished major repairs to SPS-29, fire-room steam system, and the air conditioning system. An unexpected boiler valve casualty required three additional days in Subic. However the, problem was corrected in just over 24 hours, and KING departed Subic on the morning of 8 December for her second gunline assignment. During this import period KING, was commended by CTF75 for her liberty parties zero curfew violations.
After reporting for duty withTG75.9 at Pt. Allison on the northern MR I gunline later On 11 December, KING's single 5"54 mount fired 994 rounds in 48 hours including 275 rounds in one 8 hour period. Two ammo VERTREPS were conducted during this hectic gunline tour. On completion of her NGFS assignment on 13 December, KING had fired 1636 rounds of Naval Gunfire Support during the deployment, a total believed to be the highest for DLG-type ships in the Vietnam War. These two gunline periods constituted the first time that KING’s guns have ever been fired in combat. During this time that KING on two separate occasions, came under fire from a coastal defense site and returned over 20 rounds of counter-battery fire for which she was awarded the Combat Action Ribbon.
Upon relieving USS HORNE (DLG-30) as CTU 77.0.4 at MIDSAR on14 December, KING resumed standard missile frigate duties as a dedicated AAW SAR Picket. As KING settled into her MIDSAR tasking, she received a message on 14 December conveying congratulations for “good shooting” from CTG 75.9 and a kudo from CTF 75 complimenting KING on her "all around performance.
The next 30days at MIDSAR proved noless busy while KING, operating as TRIPLE THREAT, participated in the resumption of Air Force B-52 raids over North Vietnam above the 20th parallel as well as daily Navy ALPHA and DELTA strikes. Although cast in a back-up role for the massive strikes, KING acted as a strike support ship and primary control for Navy strikes diverted to WEATHER ALTERNATE targets in the RP II, III, and IV operating areas. KING contro1led up to fortyB-52 sorties in one 24-hour period as well as support aircraft for each strike. This included MIGCAP, Electronic Warfare Aircraft, and Flak Suppression Aircraft. Much of the controlling was done at extreme ranges during periods of heavy aircraft activity including local air strike and reconnaissance missions. As the WEATHER ALTERNATE controller for Navy ALPHA and DELTA strikes, KING controlled CVA strike aircraft of all types when the missions were diverted from their primary target assignments. With the cessation of bombing in the North on 30 December, the Air Force shifted emphasis to the southern portion of North Vietnam, DMZ and Laos.
Christmas in the Gulf saw a Turkey dinner fro the Crew and Wardroom, with all hands opening carefully saved packages from home. A visit from the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet and Secretary of the Navy, John WARNER, came on Christmas and the two men were extremely well received. They spent an hour discussing current problems and answering questions from the Crew on the ASROC deck and then visited the Chiefs and First Class messes. The tone of the visit was invigorating and it rounded out the holidays.