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Like Bill, some Vietnam veterans just can't sit still...

 A couple of days ago, an email popped up...

John- Big fan of the site, thought you might appreciate this photo taken last week onboard USCGC DALLAS (WHEC 716) one of the LAST ships around to have ever fired her main gun in anger. Vietnam veteran she'll be decommissioned this march after her last JIATF patrol.

The emailer was Commander Carlson, XO of Dallas, and a man of discerning taste in his internet reading.  And he was right.  Nice gun pr0n!

Main gun of the Vietnam veteran USCGC Dallas during live fire practice in the Caribbean, November 2011.
Click that turret for a larger version!

The following is shamelessly swiped from the USCGC Dallas' website - I think we got our money's worth from that good ship and crew...  And I'm guessing most of us don't realize just how varied the Coastie mission set is - I know I didn't until relatively recently.  

Originally commissioned in 1967 at Avondale Shipyard in New Orleans, DALLAS is the sixth cutter to bear the name of Alexander J. Dallas, the Secretary of the Treasury under President James Madison (1814-1816). DALLAS was first home-ported at the former Coast Guard base on Governor’s Island, New York. She was relocated to her current homeport of Charleston, South Carolina on September 14, 1996.

During seven combat patrols off the coast of Vietnam, DALLAS compiled an impressive list of accomplishments, including 161 Naval gunfire support missions involving 7,665 rounds of 5-inch ammunition. This resulted in 58 sampans destroyed and 29 supply routes, bases, camps, or rest areas damaged or destroyed. Her 5-inch gun made her very valuable in support of the naval gunfire missions in the area.

In 1980, DALLAS was the command ship for the historic Mariel Boatlift, during which 125,000 Cuban refugees set sail for the shores of Florida. At the time, it was the largest humanitarian operation ever undertaken by the Coast Guard. In 1983, DALLAS earned a Coast Guard Unit Commendation for achievements that included the seizure of seven vessels smuggling over 103,000 lbs. of marijuana and the interdiction of 90 illegal Haitian migrants. In 1986, DALLAS served as the on-scene commander for the search and rescue operation following the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. For her service during this operation, DALLAS received the Coast Guard’s Meritorious Unit Commendation.

During the Haitian migrant crisis of 1991-92, DALLAS performed as the flagship of a flotilla of over twenty-seven Coast Guard cutters that rescued 35,000 migrants from hundreds of overcrowded, unseaworthy vessels. DALLAS received a Humanitarian Service Medal and another Coast Guard Unit Commendation for her monumental effort in establishing an operation task organization that serves as the model for today’s Coast Guard multi-unit operation.

In response to the renewed threats of a mass exodus from Haiti, Operation Able Manner began in January 1993, with large numbers of Coast Guard and Navy ships and aircraft deploying to the Caribbean. DALLAS assumed command of this flotilla on three separate patrols in 1993, earning yet another Coast Guard Unit Commendation.

DALLAS spent the summer of 1994 representing the Coast Guard at the 50th Normandy D-Day invasion anniversary. During these festivities, DALLAS sailed with the reenactment fleet to commemorate the event. Soon after, DALLAS was called upon to serve as the flagship for Operation Able Vigil in response to another mass exodus from Cuba. Able Vigil was the largest Coast Guard commanded, multi-service operation since the 1940s.

During the summer of 1995, DALLAS was selected to operate with the U.S. Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. Among the ship’s many assignments, DALLAS worked with the USS Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group in support of Operation Deny Flight off the coast of the former Yugoslavia. DALLAS’ crew conducted nation-building training and professional exchange in various countries in the Mediterranean, Adriatic, and Black Seas. DALLAS worked with the navies, coast guards, and maritime agencies of Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Tunisia, Slovenia, Albania, and Italy. This marked the first time that a U.S. Coast Guard cutter operated with the U.S. Sixth fleet and entered the Black Sea. DALLAS earned the Armed Forces Service Medal for her contributions to Operation Deny Flight, Maritime Monitor, and Sharp Guard.

During 1997 and 1998, DALLAS served as the flag ship for Operations Frontier Shield and Frontier Lance, the most effective and largest interagency, international counter-narcotic operations in the Caribbean.

In the summer of 1999, DALLAS was again assigned to the U.S. Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean and Black Seas to support allied forces during the conflict in Kosovo. During her transit, the conflict was resolved, but DALLAS was tasked to remain in theater and conduct training and professional exchanges with US Naval units and foreign naval forces. DALLAS became the first Coast Guard cutter to enter the ports of Haifa, Israel, Italy, and Turkey and executed training exercises with the Ukrainian Navy, Turkish Coast Guard, Georgian Navy, and the armed forces of Malta.

In 2006 and 2007, DALLAS remained an integral part of the nation’s counter-drug strategy by taking a leading role in the Caribbean operating area. DALLAS crewmembers and embarked aviation detachments were responsible for the seizure of over 790 lbs of cocaine and the interdiction of 86 illegal migrants attempting to enter the United States.

In the Summer of 2008 DALLAS was deployed with the U.S. Sixth Fleet in West and Central Africa in support of the Africa Partnership Station, strengthening international relationships within this newly important maritime theater. During this time period DALLAS also hosted law enforcement personnel from Cape Verde and became the first US vessel to assist a foreign nation with enforcing its laws within its internationally recognized territorial seas. DALLAS also participated in Operation Assured Delivery, providing much needed humanitarian supplies to the people of the Republic of Georgia during recent conflicts with the Russian Government.

Today, DALLAS serves as one of the most capable cutters stationed on the East Coast. The Coast Guard’s Deepwater initiative plans to replace Hamilton class cutters during the next decade. Until that time, DALLAS will continue to serve the nations’ interests both close to home and overseas.

And she's not done.  Commander Carlson said she's likely to be like our Bill, and continue serving elsewhere - in her case, the Philippines.


Alas, a number of years ago they removed the 5"/38 main mount and replaced it with a 76mm Oto Melara which is what you see in the picture above.  The OTOMAT takes less men to operate and fires more rapidly than the old 5 inch, but doesn't give you nearly the bang per trigger pull.
I don't care which gun is in the pic, those are purty smoke rings. Guns are Fun! Oh, yeah, they are also deadly weapons.
While I was still in the navy, the CG changed uniforms. Up until that time the difference between us and them were the Officer's crests, the Chief's crest, and the Shield which was used on Shoulder Boards in place of the star, and on one sleeve of the dress and undress blues. First time I saw a Coastie in the new uniform I almost asked him what an Air Force ossifer was doing down at the piers at NOB NorVA. I think they've changed the shade of blue slightly since then so they aren't so readily confused with zoomies.

I had thought the Hamilton Class Cutters mounted 5"/54. The navy had quit using them in the late 50s early 60s as I recall and don't understand why they would retain the shorter gun. The SpruCans all mounted 5"/54 and they started building those before Hamilton class cutters. Same with the Knox class DEs which were fairly similar in size to the Hamilton Class Cutters, and about as capable.
It wouldn't stun me, QM, to find the USCG was using redundant USN turrets for their new construction to save bucks, since they were the unloved stepchild of the Department of the Treasury and later the Dept of Transportation, IIRC.
Probably also had to do with the fact that the 5"/38 was also used on the predessors of the Hamiltons, the Governor Class.  That way the CG could stay with one gun for training/support purposes.  That is also why they switched to the 76mm later on as that was the gun that was placed on the 270' Cutters.  Remember, the USCG is a TINY service compared to the USN.  Less people than the NYPD !

PI! Where do I sign up?

I could probably get my brother to go too. Then we would have navigation and radio covered. He was on the Morgenthau WHEC 722 and knows his way around Olongapo.

 John you may be right about that. They were stripping Fletcher class cans, which used that type of mount, then (still were even after I got out in '74. They had pulled one up to the D&S piers at NorVA strip it. In the early 70s there wer a bunch of WW2 ships sitting around Norfolk in the Elizabeth River, and anywhere else they shove them. When I got off the Courtney at the Inactive Ships Facility in Portsmouth I wanted to look around. There looked to be a rep from almost every ship class from WW2 tied up there.

There were still a bunch of Sumner class cans active at the time, although we called them Gehring class for soem reason. Those used twin 5"/38 mounts rather than the Fletcher singles. Byron likes to say "SLEP the Figs" but they SLEPed and FRAMed the Gehrings to keep them active. I don't know when teh Gehring went,but the Fletchers were long gone when I joined in June '72.
I pulled a two week Reserve ACDUTRA on a Fletcher in '63.  We had liberty call in Ensenada, MX.  We experienced a hang fire on mount 52 during a gunnery exercise.  They evacuated the mount except for the GMG1 who beat on the breach with a mallet until the round went off..