Those Who Took Our
Destroyer to Sea


Those Who Waited Out
Her Return



On the 12th of February, 1944 a new destroyer was launched at Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine. Christened "LYMAN K. SWENSON" by its sponsor, Miss Cecilia Swensen in honor of her father, Captain Lyman K. Swenson, this ship was destined to perform outstanding service to our nation in three wars over the better part of three decades.

Captain Lyman K. Swenson commanded the cruiser, U.S.S. JUNEAU and was lost when that ship was torpedoed and sunk in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on 13 November, 1942. He was born in Pleasant Grove, Utah in 1892 and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1916. Prior to World War II he served in surface ships and submarines and commanded a destroyer division. Captain Swenson was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism as commanding officer of JUNEAU.

U.S.S. LYMAN K. SWENSON (DD-729) was placed in commission at the Boston Navy Yard on 2 May, 1944 with Commander Francis T. Williamson USN assuming command. A 2200-ton SUMNER class destroyer, the SWENSON had a length of 376 feet and a beam of 41 feet. Principal armament consisted of three 5"/38-caliber twin gun mounts, two quintuple torpedo tube mounts, two quadruple and two twin mounts of Bofors 40-mm guns, and depth charges. Four boilers provided 60,000 shaft horsepower to twin screws, and a speed of 33 knots at full load. Contract price was said to be $5,100,000.


Following shakedown at Bermuda and a post-shakedown availability at the Boston Navy Yard, SWENSON set sail for the Panama Canal escorting the aircraft carrier HANCOCK. After a stop in San Diego she went on to Pearl Harbor where she joined up with Destroyer Squadron 61. As the first squadron of twin-mount destroyers coming to the Pacific, these ships attracted a lot of attention from the Destroyer Force staff who were interested in learning what the ships' six-gun firepower capabilities were. The SWENSON made a great impression. Her gunnery was so good it was said that she had to shoot last in surface and anti-aircraft exercises -- if she didn't, there wouldn't be any sled or sleeve left for the other ships to shoot at! Upon completion of the Destroyer Force pre-combat training program the squadron proceeded via Eniwetok Atoll to Ulithi Atoll, major fleet anchorage and logistics base in the western Pacific. Here, DD-729 received orders to escort some fleet oilers to the Philippine area as reinforcements to Admiral Halsey's replenishment group.

While SWENSON screened the replenishment group from 23 to 26 October, the Battle of Surigao Strait and the Battle off Samar were fought. On 27 October she reported to the screen of Carrier Task Group 38.4. Three days later off Samar she saw action -- the first appearance of Japanese Kamikaze suicide planes. The LYMAN K. was credited with being first to open fire on the diving planes. Two of our carriers received hits and the task group returned to Ulithi for replenishment and repairs, arriving there on 2 November, 1944.

As the LKS was entering the anchorage she received immediate orders to fuel, provision, load ammunition, and join Task Group 38.1. By late that afternoon she had assumed her place in the task group screen. From 5 to 24 November the task group made attacks on Luzon and then returned to Ulithi for upkeep.

On 7 December the SWENSON was underway with Task Group 38.2 to attack Luzon in preparation for the amphibious troop landings. Strikes were launched on the 14th, 15th, and 16th. Several planes returning from their missions were forced to land in the water because of damage. The DD-729 rescued four pilots and three enlisted aircrewmen.

Our ships encountered a severe typhoon on 18 December. At the height of the storm three destroyers capsized and were lost. The LYMAN K. rode it out successfully, but suffered considerable minor damage, and loss of the gig, two life rafts, and much topside gear. On the 19th and 20th, when the storm had abated, the SWENSON joined with other ships in a search for survivors while carrier planes again blasted Luzon. The task group then returned to Ulithi, arriving the day before Christmas. On Christmas day all hands were treated to a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

As the new year dawned LYMAN K. SWENSON was steaming with Task Group 38.1 on a 3800-mile raid which would wreak destruction on enemy shipping and shore installations. From 3 to 10 January, 1945 Luzon and Formosa were the targets. On the morning of 11 January the task group passed through Bashi Channel into the South China Sea. From 12 to 20 January, as the SWENSON plowed through China Sea waters, Navy aircraft struck Cape St. Jaque, Camranh Bay, Saigon, Hong Kong, Luzon and Okinawa, searching out and successfully mauling Japanese naval and merchant ships. This was one of the most successful shipping strikes of the war. But the weather was miserable. Admiral Halsey pushed his fleet to the limit, the destroyers taking a terrible beating seas breaking over the bow with such force that stanchions buckled and plates cracked. Fueling and provisioning at sea were nearly impossible. But Halsey never stopped -- and accomplished a great victory. On the 20th the task group steamed through Balintang Channel back into the Pacific Ocean. While in the narrow confines of the channel, Japanese planes attacked.

Many planes were shot down and the task group came through undamaged. The next two days strikes were launched against Okinawa. The task group returned to Ulithi on 26 January.

The LYMAN K. was again underway on 10 February heading north with Task Group 58.1 (The THIRD Fleet had now become the FIFTH Fleet) for two days of aircraft attacks on Tokyo. Then from 19 to 23 February task group aircraft supported the amphibious landing on Iwo Jima. As bad weather prevented additional planned attacks on the Japanese home islands, the task group headed toward Okinawa. While in that area the LKS joined Task Unit 58.1.22 to bombard Okino Daito Shima. At 0041, 2 March her guns opened up with a six-gun starshell spread; then blasted the assigned targets on the island. At 0135 "cease fire" was given, and the unit proceeded to rejoin the task group which was then en route to Ulithi.

On 14 March, 1945 Task Group 58.1 sortied to conduct operations against the Japanese home islands in preparation for the Okinawa campaign. By the 17th the ships were off Kyushu and the carriers were launching their air strikes. Shortly after midnight on the 18th the task group came under enemy air attack. Surface ships shot down two enemy planes. Just as day was breaking the SWENSON was attacked by a Japanese "Frances" aircraft which she promptly "splashed". Air attacks continued sporadically throughout the day and into the night. Eight more planes were shot down. The DD-729 fired at seven of them, scoring hits on several. A few minutes after midnight on the 19th the attacks ended.

The task group headed for Okinawa where, commencing 22 March, its planes blasted installations on that island. Enemy aircraft attacked the task group several times but did no damage. On 27 March, while on picket duty, the SWENSON received a near-miss from a bomb dropped by a diving "Judy". The aircraft was shot out of the sky by the ship's gunners.

Destroyer Squadron 61 was detached on 21 April to bombard Minami Daito Shima. At 1847 LYMAN K. and the other ships opened fire, destroying warehouses and docking facilities. Afterward, they rejoined the task group and on the 30th they again entered Ulithi Atoll.

On 9 May the task group was again on the prowl. The island of Kyushu felt its might from 12 to 17 May. During this period the enemy made repeated air attacks on the task group but caused no damage. From Kyushu the ships went on to Okinawa to continue the destruction started in previous strikes. On 27 May the FIFTH fleet changed to the THIRD Fleet again. On 5 June the ships rode out another typhoon. On the 9th the DD-729 again bombarded Minami Daito Shima; this time the objective was the radio and weather station. The spotting plane said that the shots sped true to their mark.

After completing the bombardment she rejoined the task group which was proceeding south, and on 13 June the ships anchored in San Pedro Bay, Leyte, Philippines.

On 1 July, 1945 LYMAN K. SWENSON was underway with Task Group 38.1 to stay at sea for the remainder of the war. Commencing on 13 July the task group blasted the Japanese home islands of Kyushu, Honshu, and Hokkaido.

On the night of 22-23 July the SWENSON, with Destroyer Squadron 61, conducted a high-speed anti-shipping raid just off the entrance to Tokyo Bay. At 2330 on the 22nd radar contact was made on an enemy convoy. The squadron took a closing course for torpedo and gunfire attack. At 2352 each of the nine destroyers launched two torpedoes at a range of 10000 to 12000 yards. At 2354 they opened up with 5-inch gunfire. When "cease firing" was given fifteen minutes later, two freighters had been sunk, and a third freighter and the escorting vessel had been damaged. The squadron then steamed at 30 knots to rejoin the task group.

Task Group 38.1 kept up its air strikes on Japan until cessation of hostilities on 15 August. However, the SWENSON remained underway in Japanese waters until after the formal surrender 2 September, 1945 on board U.S.S. MISSOURI, having spent a total of 71 days continuously at sea.


On 20 September, 1945 came the welcome order to return to the United States. LYMAN K. SWENSON left Yokosuka, Japan with a 30-foot "homeward-bound pennant" flying. A stop was made at Okinawa to pick up passengers and then an easterly course was set for home. She arrived at Port Angeles, Washington in time to celebrate Navy Day. The LKS had steamed more than 200,000 miles from commissioning until her return to the United States. The engineers never once missed a bell!

The ship went next to Mare Island, California for a two-month navy yard overhaul. This was followed by a short training period off San Diego.

The SWENSON departed on 1 February, 1946 for a tour of duty in the Far East as part of the Seventh Fleet. Based in Tsingtao, China the ship made several mail runs between ports of call: Taku Bar, Tsingtao, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Seoul, Korea. On two occasions the ship acted as the point of reference for minesweepers clearing the approaches to the Yangtze River. LYMAN K. SWENSON was one of two destroyers representing the U.S. Navy in the Philippines on Philippine Independence Day, 4 July, 1946. In November she joined the Tsushima Strait Patrol.

Between patrols, visits were made to Seoul, Pusan, Sasebo, Kobe, and Yokosuka. Then it was "home again" to San Diego via Kwajalein, arriving in March, 1947.

In May, 1947 the ship participated in the first post-World War II large-scale First Fleet exercise off the West Coast, and then made a port visit to San Francisco. The next two years were spent in routine shipboard training and in conducting Naval Reserve cruises as a unit of Destroyer Squadron 9.

The LYMAN K. entered Mare Island Naval Shipyard for overhaul in the spring of 1949. This was during the time of the Department of Defense's "economy jag". The skipper wrote years later, ". . . .ships of the division were withheld funds for modernization of radars and fire-control equipment as they were scheduled for decommissioning in the near future". Well, the "bean counters" were wrong -- their candidate for "red-lead row" was to serve gloriously for another 22 years! But, she did come out of the yard still wearing her old World War II outfit of electronics: SC-series air-search radar, Mk.12/Mk.22 fire-control radar, and "ping, train, listen" "searchlight" sonar.

Following the overhaul, SWENSON and the other three ships of Destroyer Division 91, MANSFIELD (flag), DE HAVEN, and COLLETT, went through refresher training at San Diego. They then participated in exercise "MIKI", which was at that time the largest joint Army-Navy training operation since World War II. It consisted of a supported amphibious force transit from the West Coast to Hawaii, and an assault landing on the western shore of Oahu. One night during the transit, while acting as carrier plane guard in heavy seas, the DD-729 picked up an aviator who had come in too low and had landed his TBF in the water -- an outstanding rescue job at considerable risk to the Chief Boatswain's Mate and his sailors. After a few days of liberty at Pearl Harbor the force returned to San Diego, conducting more fleet-type exercises en route. Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays were observed in leave and liberty status at San Diego. The SWENSON basketball team won second place in the Destroyer Force basketball tournament.

On 20 March, 1950 LYMAN K. SWENSON and COLLETT headed west six weeks in advance of their scheduled WestPac deployment to relieve two destroyers assigned as escorts for the carrier BOXER. After fuel stops at Pearl Harbor, Midway, and Guam, they joined BOXER off Okinawa. A month of Seventh Fleet operations in Philippine waters included a weekend in Manila and a four-day visit across the South China Sea to Hong Kong.

In mid-May the LYMAN K. proceeded to Sasebo, Japan to become a unit of Naval Forces Far East. Some time was spent on Tsushima Strait Patrol and visits were made to the Kyushu port cities of Kagoshima and Fukuoka. COLLETT soon joined SWENSON, and these "sister ships" operated together out of Sasebo for a spell.

One day during this time a message was received from ComNavFE that three junks loaded with Chinese Nationalist soldiers were en route Shanghai to Japan to report to General MacArthur "to fight the Chinese communists". Orders: "Find them and keep them from landing in Japan." Weather was windy and rainy and visibility was poor. So the two ships formed a radar scouting line and headed southward. After some hours had passed, three radar contacts appeared on the screen, and sure enough, upon closing, there were the three junks. The COLLETT sent a message to Tokyo announcing the find. This caused some consternation on the Staff there because, the East China Sea being as big as it is, nobody really expected that two DD's would find the junks! That night, while the destroyers shepherded their charges, a message was received: "Make the junks go to Formosa where they can report to Chiang Kai-shek." Morning came and the junks were taken in tow. A course was set toward Formosa. COLLETT then sent a message: "COMJUNKTOWDIV AND HIS THREE RELUCTANT DRAGONS RIDING NICELY IN TOW" followed by position, course, and speed. It was later learned that Tokyo was not amused by this humor. Orders came the next day to turn the junks loose and return to Sasebo.

Later, COLLETT and SWENSON went on up to Yokosuka where the other two ships of the Division arrived sometime in June.


When the North Koreans invaded on 25 June, 1950 SWENSON was part of an amphibious exercise in Sagami Bay (near Tokyo Bay). Receiving immediate orders, she returned to Yokosuka, fueled, made a high-speed run to Sasebo (where she fueled again) and proceeded at 25 knots to a patrol station off the Korean west coast. While there she took life guard station on 3 July for the first air strikes against the enemy from the aircraft carrier VALLEY FORGE. Returning to Sasebo on 5 July she embarked the 560th Military Police Company and transported them to Pusan, then proceeded up the east coast of Korea. There she joined the British cruiser JAMAICA.

The mission was to patrol and to destroy observed sea and vehicular traffic. On the 8th JAMAICA was taken under fire and hit by enemy shore batteries. SWENSON counterbattery fire minimized damage to the cruiser -- as the Captain of JAMAICA wrote, "(SWENSON's) action was as effective as it was welcome to JAMAICA". The DD-729 was then ordered into Pusan for the uninspiring job of communication link ship. Fortunately, the approach of typhoon "Grace" made a good excuse to get back out to sea.

A week or so was spent patrolling the Korean east coast and firing at targets of opportunity in company with the new U.S.S. JUNEAU.

From 23 July to 8 August, which included a brief replenishment run to Sasebo, SWENSON conducted naval gunfire support missions in the vicinity of Yongdok (about 80 miles north of Pusan), which was at that time the location of the front lines. These missions were mostly indirect call-fire, day or night, against specific enemy targets, spotted by army observers ashore with whom the Ship was in radio communication. Spotters reported SWENSON gunfire very effective". This was at a time when all effort was being made to hold the "Pusan perimeter" More than 1700 rounds of 5" were fired during this period.

The rest of August was spent on patrols and sweeps up and down the east coast of Korea. On the night of 20-21 August the SWENSON conducted a heavy bombardment of the northern coastal city of Chongjin, about 50 miles from the Soviet border. More than 100 rounds of 5-inch were fired into what the chart showed as warehouses, railroad yards, a radio station, harbor installations, and part of the Mitsubishi Iron Works. Resulting flames were visible from the ship up to a distance of 18 miles. The Task Group Commander, Rear Admiral John M. Higgins started his Op-Summary message the next day with "Last night was LYMAN K. SWENSON night in Task Group 96.5...".

In early September, the ship spent four days in Chinhae Bay, about 25 miles west of Pusan, furnishing gunfire support to the 25th Division which was holding down the southern end of the Pusan perimeter. Again, call-fire missions, this time with air spot -- and with excellent results. Returning to Sasebo for logistics on 8 September, the SWENSON learned of the planned Inchon assault in which she was to participate

On 12 September the LYMAN K SWENSON sailed as a ship of Task Element 90.62, the Destroyer Element of the Gunfire Support Group of the Inchon Attack Force. The following day (D-2) at noon the six-ship Destroyer Element stood into Inchon harbor. On the way in they encountered a mine field. Because it was low tide the mines were visible, floating on the surface! SWENSON exploded one mine with 40-mm gunfire.

After anchoring in assigned positions, the destroyers conducted a one-hour bombardment against observed and suspected gun positions on the island of Wolmi-Do and in the city of Inchon. This reconnaissance-in-force was intended to draw the fire of North Korean batteries. Thus their location would be revealed for neutralization by destroyer or cruiser gunfire, or by air strikes. The bombardment was highly successful. The press, and later on the historians, aptly dubbed the ships of the Destroyer Element as 'Sitting Ducks Upon retirement from the harbor, some enemy guns that had not been silenced opened up on the narrow channel through which the destroyers must pass. Shell fragments killed one officer and wounded another on board the SWENSON during channel transit.

On D-1 a similar reconnaissance-in-force was made. But little resistance was met this time. In due course the ships retired and then rendezvoused with other units of the Attack Force preparatory to the next day's assault landings.

In the early morning hours of 15 September, 1950 the Attack Force, with the Destroyer Element in the van, proceeded up Flying Fish Channel to assigned positions. The destroyers anchored and at 0545 commenced pre-"L-hour" bombardment. At 0630 the first wave of Marines hit the Wolmi-Do beach. At 0835 the island was reported secure. Shortly thereafter a message was received from General MacArthur, "THE NAVY AND THE MARINES HAVE NEVER SHONE MORE BRIGHTLY THAN THIS MORNING".

During the day, the destroyers conducted neutralization and preparation fire for the main landings as the 29~foot tide ebbed and then flooded again. At 1730, "H-hour", the first wave of Marines scrambled up the Inchon city seawalls. Then the LST's and other large landing craft beached and began unloading. By late evening most resistance had ceased.

On the days following, unloading continued, and destroyers carried out gunfire support missions until the Marines advanced outside of gun range. On 23 September the LYMAN K. was detached from the Attack Force and proceeded to Sasebo for replenishment. During the Inchon operation she had fired 1400 rounds of 5" and three thousand rounds of 40-mm.


The LYMAN K. SWENSON and the other ships of the Destroyer Element were awarded the Navy Unit Commendation "For out-standing heroism in action

For the next two weeks the DD-729 operated off the Korean east coast conducting gunfire support as friendly troops pushed the enemy north. She was with MANSFIELD, attempting to rescue the crew of a reported downed B-26 bomber in the harbor of Changion on 30 September when MANSFIELD struck a mine. That ship sustained considerable damage but no loss of life. From 10 to 23 October the SWENSON participated in the minesweeping operation in Wonsan harbor, serving as sonar and radar picket, communication link, and gunfire support ship.

Then, with orders in hand to return to the Continental United States, the ship proceeded to Yokosuka where she arrived on 26 October. During her four-month participation in the Korean campaign the LYMAN K. steamed over 20,000 miles and fired over 6,000 rounds of 5" ammunition, and the engineers never once failed to answer a bell!

A week of upkeep and logistics and LYMAN K. SWENSON, in company with COLLETT and DE HAVEN, got underway. After fuel stops at Midway and Pearl Harbor, the ships arrived at San Diego on a very foggy 18 November, 1950. Holiday routine was observed for the remainder of the year.

In January, 1951 SWENSON, with the rest of the Division, commenced overhaul in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Like in the Kipling poem, what a difference a little war can make! This time when they came out of the yard they all had: tripod mast, ANISPS-6B air-search radar, Mk.25-Mod.3 fire-control radar, QHB scanning sonar, and twin fixed "hedgehogs" (antisubmarine ahead thrown weapons). The after torpedo tube mount having been removed some time before, an additional 40-mm quad mount was installed. And the well-worn five-inch gun barrels were replaced.

Refresher training at San Diego was followed by another WestPac cruise. On 18 June, 1951 the SWENSON, with the other ships of Destroyer Division 91 again headed west. First assignment was to join the screen of the Seventh Fleet carrier force. After that, the ship operated with a hunter-killer group conducting anti-submarine exercises.

Later in the year LYMAN K. SWENSON was given patrol and bombardment assignments on the east coast of North Korea. While acting as escort of a heavy cruiser for a shore bombardment mission in Wonsan harbor, the SWENSON came under heavy, accurate fire from enemy shore batteries. By returning rapid continuous" counterbattery fire with all guns, and taking evasive maneuvers, she completed her mission unscathed. One wintry night the ship surprised a North Korean train on a section of track that ran parallel to the beach, and destroyed the locomotive and box cars by accurate gunfire. The DD-729 also participated as a unit of a task group, which included rocket-firing ships, assigned to destroy North Korean harbor and railroad installations. On several occasions the ship embarked South Korean personnel and put them ashore in enemy territory for clandestine operations. And she rescued several downed U.S. aviators. The LYMAN K. twice earned the praise of Vice Admiral H.M. Martin, Commander Seventh Fleet for her performance of duty.

The next WestPac tour began 15 September, 1952. Duties remained much the same as they had been on previous tours. SWENSON continued to take special pride in her ability to disrupt railroad and highway transportation with her gunfire.


In 1953, following the Korean armistice, things quieted down and "routine events became the routine". Two WestPac deployments during the period 1953-1955 included training exercises, time spent on the Formosa Patrol, and a visit to Nagasaki. In April, 1954 the ship entered a commercial ship-yard in Sasebo to repair a cracked hull plate. The yard was in the process of building several jumbo tankers that seemed to swallow the SWENSON like Jonah and the whale as the "Tin-Can" disappeared in their midst in a gigantic graving dock!

In Long Beach Naval Shipyard for overhaul in late 1955 the ship received her 3"/50-caliber rapid-fire battery consisting of two twin mounts and two single mounts and a Mk.56 director to control them. A Mk.5 target designating system was also installed. The 40-mm gun mounts were removed.

During refresher training off San Diego the LYMAN K. scored a merit of 178 on her main battery long-range gunnery shoot (although the maximum allowable score was 100).

The 1956 deployment to WestPac with Destroyer Division 91 included "chasing carriers", and conducting a large anti-submarine warfare exercise with ships of the Australian Navy. While en route to Kure (the Australian Navy's base on Japan's Inland Sea) to plan for the exercise, a leak was discovered in a nozzle block of the after main engine. Following the ASW exercise, DesDiv 91 proceeded to Subic Bay. There, the Ship Repair Facility lifted the SWENSON's turbine casing and repaired the leak -- an interesting evolution!

Upon return to Long Beach the LYMAN K. was transferred to Destroyer Division 92, and became its flagship. The other ships of the division were two 2100-tonners, BLACK and IRWIN, and radar picket destroyer EVERETT F. LARSON.

LYMAN K. SWENSON was judged by COMCRUDESPAC to have the most outstanding destroyer supply department in the entire U.S. Pacific Fleet in fiscal year 1956. Also, she painted "E"'s on her three 5" gun mounts and on the main battery director.

In late 1956 a Distant Early Warning (DEW) line (extended) destroyer barrier patrol was ordered because of some perceived Russian threat. A number of ships, including DesDiv 92, sailed to Pearl Harbor on short notice and the patrol was set up. The SWENSON steamed north to relieve a destroyer on the patrol line. Because of wintry North Pacific weather, ships on the line faced severe problems trying to refuel on station. So she had sailed with super~topped-off fuel tanks, steaming on one boiler cross-connected for maximum economy.

Sure enough, as soon as the LYMAN K. took over the station -- some 500 miles to the north -- the alert was canceled. Decision time: Return to Pearl, refuel, then on to Long Beach OR try for Long Beach direct? With northwest gales pushing her homeward, still cruising cross-connected, the DD-729 made Long Beach direct with about 2% fuel remaining!

Another WestPac deployment in 1957. This was marked by operations with aircraft carriers, a stint on the Formosa Patrol, and a tender availability alongside repair ship JASON in Kobe/Osaka.

The LYMAN K. SWENSON won the 1957 Battle Efficiency Competition within Destroyer Squadron 9. A letter of commendation from Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Force, Pacific Fleet to the commanding officer stated: "Your superb leadership has produced an exceptional performance in all elements of the Competition and reflects outstanding credit upon yourself, your officers and your crew". The ship also won the "E" for Operations and the "E" for ASW during this same period. For the second year in a row she put an E" on each 5" gun mount and on the main battery director.

In the autumn of 1957 the DD-729 again entered the Long Beach Naval Shipyard for overhaul. At this time she received the AN/SQS-4 sonar.

Following this overhaul, SWENSON again headed to WestPac for a rather routine tour. Perhaps the highlight of this 1958 deployment was visits to Pago-Pago, Aukland New Zealand, and Manus on the way out. The tour included ASW Group exercises, the Formosa Patrol, and the usual fall typhoon. There was some excitement in the typhoon when the fantail WIT hatch turned out to be not watertight, the steering motor room flooded, and steering was lost. It then became apparent that "shift to hand steering" drill had not been practiced in a long time. But everything turned out OK.

Steaming out of Sagami Bay on the way home the ship received the unwelcome message to return to Yokosuka. Chinese communists had commenced a heavy bombardment of Quemoy and Matsu, which appeared to be a preliminary to invasion of those islands, and U.S. naval forces in the Far East were put on alert. After "steaming around for a month doing nothing", the LYMAN K. was released to proceed stateside.

Admiral Arleigh Burke1 Chief of Naval Operations paid a visit to the LYMAN K. SWENSON shortly after the ship's return. The ship was truly "all spit and polish.' for the arrival of the World War II destroyer hero!

A five-month overseas tour commenced with departure from Long Beach 16 June, 1959. DesDiv 92, in company with oiler PASSUMPSIC steamed via Pearl Harbor and arrived at Subic Bay three weeks later. SWENSON spent ten days in Task Group 70.4 working with the ASW carrier HORNET Japanese destroyers AYANAMI and URANAMI joined the task group for a short time. The month of August was spent on Formosa Patrol with visits to BoKoKo Island in the Pescadores, and Kaohsiung. This was followed by a week in Hong Kong. DD-729 spent the remainder of the deployment in Japanese waters with visits to Sasebo, Yokosuka, and Kobe. In November she returned with her Division to Long Beach.

The LYMAN K. received the 1960 Battle Efficiency "E".

In June, 1960 the ship entered the Mare Island Naval Shipyard for an eight-month-long "FRAM II" refit. The Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization Program had been established to add five to eight years to the service life of World War II destroyers, and to upgrade their weaponry and sensors. Shipyard work included major overhaul of hull and machinery, and the removal of 3"/50-caliber gun battery, quintuple torpedo tube mount, and depth charges. The following were installed: helicopter platform and hangar (designed for use with the "DASH" drone helicopter), new AN/SPS-1O surface-search radar, new AN/SPS-29 long-range air-search radar, new AN/SQS-29 (8-kc) sonar, two triple launchers for Mk.43 ASW torpedoes, two tubes for Mk.37 ASW torpedoes, and AN/WLR-1 electronic countermeasures equipment.

In January, 1962 Destroyer Division 92, now consisting of LYMAN K. SWENSON (flagship), COLLETT, BLUE, and SHELTON, left Long Beach for extended duty in the Far East. The ships of Destroyer Squadron 9 spent the next two-and-a-half years in the western Pacific, homeported at Yokosuka, Japan.

During this time the SWENSON ranged widely over western Pacific waters. As a unit of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, she participated in exercises with U.S. ships and with the ships of friendly Far East countries. These included SEATO exercise "TULUNGAN", the largest amphibious training operation ever conducted in WestPac, and "CRAZY HORSE", which involved a great number of ships. She served on the Taiwan (formerly Formosa) Patrol Force half a dozen times, patrolling the Taiwan Straits, and she operated with nearly all the aircraft carriers that deployed to the western Pacific. Visits were made to Sasebo, Osaka, Iwakuni, Hong Kong, Kaohsiung and Subic Bay. In October of 1962, in Yokosuka, a Destroyer Ball celebrating the 60th anniversary of U.S. Navy Destroyers was disrupted by the Cuban missile crisis. All hands rushed back to their ships which soon put to sea. The LYMAN K. screened a carrier south of Sasebo until things settled down a fortnight later. In April of 1964 the LKS was selected to represent the U. S. Navy on a goodwill tour to Bangkok, Thailand in company with the flagship of Vice Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, Commander Seventh Fleet.

This visit was indeed a highlight of the WestPac tour. Leaving Bangkok on 30 April, the LKS made a 4-day visit to Saigon, South Vietnam, which proved to be an exciting experience for all hands.

As a final reward for outstanding service, SWENSON was ordered to return to "Uncle Sugar" via Australia. On 18 June she bid "sayonara" to Yokosuka. Brief stops at Iwo Jima and Guam were followed by a crossing the line" ceremony and a fueling stop at Port Moresby, New Guinea. The crew then spent a most enjoyable ten days in Brisbane and Sydney, Australia. The last leg of SWENSON's homeward journey was via Pago-Pago and Hawaii. She steamed into San Diego harbor 27 July, 1964 with "homeward-bound pennant" flying!

In January of 1965 LYMAN K. SWENSON, now assigned to Destroyer Squadron 5, entered Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for over haul. Later, after completing refresher training in San Diego, she participated in the hosting of four Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force destroyers which were in San Diego on a summer cruise.


In August, 1964 Congress had authorized the President to conduct military operations against North Vietnam. So, one year later, on her next WestPac deployment, LYMAN K. SWENSON proceeded to the coast of Vietnam. Her first assignment put her with Task Unit 70.8.9. From 3 to 18 October she conducted a great number of well-executed gunfire support missions, working with I Corps and II Corps army spotters ashore. Several hundred targets were destroyed. During this period she fired 2966 rounds of 5" ammunition -- as much as in two months of comparable duty during Korea! Screening and plane guard duties with INDEPENDENCE and TICONDEROGA followed.

Following return to San Diego in early 1966, SWENSON participated in the annual midshipmen training cruise in June. She was then assigned to Destroyer Squadron 17 and spent the remainder of the year operating out of her home port of San Diego, conducting both gunnery and anti-submarine training exercises. During February, 1967 the ship underwent pre-deployment repairs at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard.

On 8 April, 1967 the LYMAN K. again sailed for Vietnam via Yokosuka. From May through August she carried out search and rescue duties in the northern Tonkin Gulf. She then operated as part of a carrier screen.

Arriving home on 6 October, 1967 after another successful deployment, the veteran destroyer served as Engineering School Ship and also operated with the Development and Training Command through the end of the year.

Her last overhaul, in Long Beach Naval Shipyard, was followed by refresher training, inspections, and fleet exercises as a workup for the next WestPac deployment. Over the Fourth of July, 1968 SWENSON was host ship for the Japanese destroyer URANAMI during that ship's visit to San Diego.

A word about the helicopter facilities installed during FRAM: Part of the time the LYMAN K. carried and exercised with the "DASH" (Drone Anti-submarine Helicopter). This was a small, unmanned, radio controlled helicopter that could be tracked by radar and vectored to where the ship's sonar indicated a submerged submarine to be. There, it could drop homing torpedoes on the target. Sometimes the helicopter platform was used to receive small manned helicopters for personnel transfer; for example, in Vietnam to bring out a naval gunfire support coordinator for conference. The platform was also used for vertical replenishment (VERTREP) at sea, in which a large helicopter would bring palletized stores or ammunition in a cargo net and hover while lowering the load onto the platform.

On 15 November, 1968 LYMAN K. SWENSON again headed west in company with COONTZ (ComDesRon 17), DUNCAN, HOPEWELL, and the destroyer tender SAMUEL GOMPERS. This was a busy time. Duties included escorting aircraft carriers on Yankee Station, "shotgun" escort on search and rescue stations, and special surveillance missions in the Gulf of Tonkin. Additionally, naval gunfire support missions were carried out. While serving as an escort of the RANGER task group, two runs were made north to the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan, once for special operations and the other in response to the EC-121 shoot-down incident. Christmas and New Years Day were spent on station in the Gulf of Tonkin.

In April, 1969 while awaiting her turn to refuel, the SWENSON rescued seven crewmen from a helicopter that crashed into the sea while transferring stores from an oiler to a carrier. Also in April, she rescued four Vietnamese fishermen in a small rattan basket boat. They had been adrift without food for four days since their fishing boat had sunk in a storm. While in Sasebo for logistics, a great ship's party was held, and guided tours to Nagasaki were arranged. En route home from Subic Bay to San Diego, the 25th anniversary of the ship's commissioning was celebrated complete with a cake-cutting ceremony on the "flight deck". The Chief of Naval Operations said, "One of the most active of the Navy's always-busy destroyers... rounds out a full quarter century of continuous active duty. Congratulations on your past achievements and best wishes for continued success". The ship arrived at San Diego on 18 May, 1969.

After a "stand down" period of a few weeks, the ensuing months were spent in maintenance, fleet exercises, operations as Gunnery School Ship and Engineering School Ship, and midshipmen training.

While on plane guard station for the CONSTELLATION, the ship rescued the pilot of an F-4 Phantom that crashed on take off. During this time spent in home waters, SWENSON served as host ship for the Italian Naval Ship BAFILE and for His Swedish Majesty's Ship ALVSNABBEN.

In December, 1969 the LYMAN K. underwent a highly successful period of interim refresher training. Commander First Fleet wrote, "...I was impressed by the high scores in the areas of Ship Control, Navigation, Communications, and Weapons (during your final battle problem). . . Performance such as this is indicative of imaginative leadership and long hours of preparation. . . Well Done."

In February, 1970 LYMAN K. SWENSON was awarded the "E" for Gunnery, the "E" for Operations, and the "E" for Supply.

LYMAN K. SWENSON began her final WestPac deployment on 9 March, 1970. While on this tour the ship furnished naval gunfire support for ground forces, escorted carriers on Yankee Station, and served as "shotgun" escort on search and rescue stations in the Gulf of Tonkin. In May, after 64 days at sea over a 69-day period, ComDesRon 17 signaled: "THE VIGILANT VIKING CAN HOLD HER HEAD HIGH AS DESRON 17'S SUPERLATIVE STEAMER". In August, prior to return to the United States, the LYMAN K. spent two days at Kobe, Japan where the crew enjoyed a visit to Japan's "EXPO 70". She returned to her home port of San Diego on 5 September, 1970.

During these last two deployments the ship made port calls at Pearl Harbor, Midway, Guam, Subic Bay, Danang, Kaohsiung, Hong Kong, and Sasebo.

In September, 1970 CINCPACFLT announced that LYMAN K. SWENSON was the Cruiser-Destroyer Force nominee for the Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy. This meant that the SWENSON had achieved the greatest improvement in Battle Efficiency and Readiness within all of CRUDESPAC during fiscal year 1970.

In October, 1970 the Board of Inspection and Survey found the LYMAN K. to be "Fit for further service".


But the time came eventually for this proud and intrepid destroyer, veteran of three wars over a span of 27 years of continuous commissioned service, to ring up her final "STOP" bell. LYMAN K. SWENSON's colors were hauled down for the last time on 12 February, 1971 -- the 27th anniversary of her launching -- at a decommissioning ceremony in San Diego, California. Rear Admiral Francis T. Williamson USN (Ret.), the ship's first commanding officer, was the invited keynote speaker (but he was not able to be there).

Mrs. Kenneth L. Anderson, the daughter of Captain Lyman K. Swenson and sponsor of the ship, was in attendance.

The ship was stricken from the Navy Register on the first of February, 1974. On 6 May, 1974 she, along with four sister ships, was transferred to the government of Taiwan for use as spare parts to support SUMNER-class destroyers previously transferred to that country

A "plankowner" junior officer said, "We were a lucky and proud ship throughout World War II". A 1950's Machinist's Mate said, "I have many fond memories of our great ship during Korea". A skipper of the ship late in her active life said, "Commanding the LYMAN K. SWENSON was the highlight of my career". And in a letter to the last commanding officer written in 1971, the first commanding officer wrote, "The LYMAN K. SWENSON will always be uppermost in my mind when I think of a great little ship She indeed was Unconquerable!" Also, in her spare time the DD-729 served as training ship for future Navy leaders -- four officers who served in the ship attained the rank of Rear Admiral!

It would seem that the ship possessed some magical charm to inspire excellence and valor throughout her long and gallant lifetime. Maybe. But good leadership, and proud, enthusiastic, responsive crews had a lot to do with it also!



LYMAN K. SWENSON approach for high-line transfer, World War II


In addition to the Navy Unit Commendation, the ship earned the following awards: American Campaign, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign (with 5 battle stars), World War II Victory, Navy Occupation Service, China Service, National Defense Service, Korean Service (with 6 battle stars), Armed Forces Expeditionary, Vietnam Service (with 10 stars), United Nations Service, Philippine Liberation (with one star),Korean Presidential Unit Citation, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign

Commanding Officers of U.S.S. LYMAN K. SWENSON:

Francis T. Williamson 44-45

William B. Braun 45-46

Frederick R. Matthews 46-48

Lawrence H. Birthisel 48-49

Robert A. Schelling 49-51

William E. Kuntz 51-53

James G. Ross 53-55

Carl L. Scherrer 55-57

C. John Smits 57-59

W. C. Cook 59-61

Robert J. Trott 61-62

David D. Work 62-63

Burton W. Hancock 63-65

R. L. Thorson 65-66

N. L. Rockwell 66-68

Larry J. Brown 68-70

Richard V. Dalton 1970

Gary B. Lowe 70-71


"Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships" (Navy Dept.)

"Sea Power" (Potter & Nimitz)

"United States Destroyer Operations in World War II" (Roscoe)

"The Sea War in Korea" (Cagle & Manson)

"U. S. Destroyers" (Friedman)

NAVPERS 15,632 (World War II Battle Stars)

LKS "Factual Account of Ship's War (WWII) Operations"

LKS War Diary and Action Reports, June-November, 1950

LYMAN K. SWENSON 1962-1964 Cruise Book

LYMAN K. SWENSON 1970 Cruise Book

"Tin Can Sailor" November, 1979


Ben B. Blackburn

Richard A. Brockhouse

Larry J. Brown

Peter J. Gaskin

James E. Harter

Gary B. Lowe

George Murdoch

James G. Ross

John J. Rowan

Cohn H. Saari

Robert A. Schelling

Carl L. Scherrer

Leonard Siegel

Russell A. Smith

C. John Smits

Charles P. Tesh