Joseph P. Kennedy DD- 850 - History

Joseph P. Kennedy DD- 850 - History

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Joseph P. Kennedy DD- 850

Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.

(DD-850: dp. 2,425; 1. 390'6"; b. 41'4", dr. 18'6", s. 35 k.; cpl. 367; a. 6 5", 12 40mm., 10 20mm., 10 21" tt., 6 dcp., 2 dct.; cl. Gearing)

Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. ( DD-850) was launched by Bethlehem Steel Co., Quincy, Mass., 26 July 1945; sponsored by Miss Jean Kennedy, sister of Lt. Kennedy; and commissioned at Boston 15 December 1945, Comdr. H. G. Moore in command.

The new destroyer sailed 4 February 1946 for shakedown training in the Caribbean. She returned to her homeport, Newport, in April, and was occupied for the next few months in Naval Reserve Training. Arriving Norfolk 8 October, the ship joined Admiral Leahy's nagship Wisconsin BB-64, and other units for a cruise to Chile and Venezuela. She transited the Canal twice on this voyage, and was reviewed by the President of Venezuela 25 November 1946. Joseph P. Rennedy, Jr., returned to her home port 14 December 1946.

During 1947 the destroyer operated on the East Coast and in the Caribbean. She sailed for fleet maneuvers off Puerto Rice 9 Februnry and upon completion steamed eastward to join the 6th Fleet in the .Mediterranean. During this period of great unrest in Europe, the neet carried out the important role of peacekeeper and stabilizer. visited various Mediterranean ports before arriving Newport 26 June 1948. The remainder of the year was spent in antisubmarine exercises and the flrst half of 1949 saw her make two training cruises to the Caribbean.

The ship sailed 23 August 19~19 for 6th Fleet duty as flagship of Destroyer Squadron 18, returning 27 January 1950. With the advent of war in Korea she carried out reserve training during July 1950. followed by bombardment and convoy exercises to prepare for action defending South Rorea from Communist aggression. Kennedy, Jr., sailed for Japan 3 January 1951 by way of the Panama Canal, Pearl Harbor, and Midway. At Sasebo she loaded ammunition and, exactly 1 month after departure from Newport, joined Task Force 77 off Korea. From February to April she screened the attack carriers as they pounded enemy positions and supply lines. She departed 8 April for the Formosa Patrol, helping to prevent further hostilities across the volatile Straits. Kennedy, Jr., then returned to Korea arriving off Wonsan 20 May to take up bombardment station in support of the Allied siege and occupation of harbor islands. This duty continued until 13 June, a period of almost constant bombardment of great importance to the operation, after which the ship steamed to Sasebo.

Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., did not return to the West Coast immediately upon the termination of this combat duty, but instead steamed westward to complete a circuit of the globe. With other units of Destroyer Squadron 8, she visited Singapore, Bahrein, Port Said, Naples, and Gibraltar before returning to Newport 9 August 1951. Until January 1953 she conducted battle practice and served as school ship for the Fleet Training School at Newport that serves well to keep the fleet abreast of the latest developments. She sailed 7 January for another 6th Fleet cruise, returning to Newport 18 May 1953. Antisubmarine training exercises and another Mediterranean cruise January-May 1954 comprised her duty through most of 1955, and she sailed 5 November for Arctic maneuvers olf northern Europe. The ship visited Oslo, Norway, and Bremerhaven, carrying out tactical exercises with units of the 6th Fleet before returning to Newport 5 March 1956.

In June 1956 the veteran ship arrived Annapolis with Iowa ( BB-61) and New Jersey ( BB-62) to embark Naval Academy midshipmen for a practice cruise. Upon returuing from Northern Europe 1 August, the ship took part in training operations until 6 May 1957, when she sailed once more for 6th Fleet duty. The Jordanian crisis had just passed with the strong support of the fleet, and Joseph P. Kennedy. Jr., took part in carrier operations until September, when she steamed to the coast of Norway for NATO joint maneuvers. She returned to Newport 22 October 1957. Again in 1958 the ship sailed to the Mediterranean, and on this cruise spent April in the Persian Gull, with the Middle East Force that helps stabilize that critical area before arriving Newport 1 July 1958.

After a needed period of overhaul at Boston, Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., arrived Annapolis once more 3 June 1959 for midshipman training. Along with other ships of the task group, she entered the St. Lawrence and represented the Navy at the opening of the Seaway 26 June 1959. Following the ceremonies, in which both President Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II took part, the destroyer entered the Seaway and stenmed to Chicago 2 July. The ship visited various ports before returning to the Atlantic 6 August. In 1960 she returned to the Mediterranean with Forrestal (CVH-59) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB-42), returning to Newport 15 October,

In January 1961 Joseph P. Kcnnedy, Jr., steamed' to Washington for the inauguration of John F. Kennedy, brother of her namesake. During February and April of that year she took part in space shots in the Project Mercury series. She then arrived New York 1 July 1961 for a FRAM ( Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization ) overhaul in the Naval Shipyard. During this period she received the latest in antisubmarine gear, a new helicopter flight deck and hangar aft, and numerous other modifieations designed to increase greatly her useful life. After emerging in her new dress in late May 1962, she underwent exhaustive shakedown out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba returning 26 August 1962.

Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., with other ships of the fleet, reacted quickly to the threat of offensive missiles in Cuba, and President Kennedy's quarantine order. Sailing 22 October, the ship took an active part in the blockade which forced an easing of the crisis, and boarded Greek freighter Marucula 26 October. After participating in this graphic demonstration of the power and mobility of the modern Navy, Joseph P. Kenncdy, Jr.. remained on patrol in the Caribbean until returning to Newport 7 December 1962.

During 1963 the veteran destroyer carried out training operations off the Virginia Capes and Nova Scotia. She departed Newport 29 April 1964 for another Med cruise until 26 August, and in October was underway for Operation "Steel Pike I", one of the very largest amphibious operations since World War II. During the passage of the task force to the Spanish coast, she acted as antisubmarine screening ship. returned to Newport 19 November 1964.

Late in January of 1965, Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., put to sea for Port Canaveral, Fla., v here she helped qualify two newly constructed Polaris submarines for patrol over seas. There followed a regular 3-month overhaul in the Boston Naval Shipyard.

Comdr. J. W. EIayes took over command of Joseph P. FLcnnedv, Jr., from Capt. V. Peters on July 14; the next day, a 2-month period of refresher training commenced as the ship set sail for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The U.S. Man In Space Program was one of Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.'s most recent commitments; leaving Newport on November 27, 1965, the ship took station 1,200 miles southeast of Bermuda as part of the afloat recovery team for Gemini 6 and 7 on a 14-day orbital and rendezvous mission in space. The shots a success and her duty done, Joseph P. returned to Newport 21 December to prepare for another deployment in the Meditarranean.

Assigned to DesRon 10, .loscph P. Kenndey, Jr departed Newport 15 February 1966 for duty with the 6th Fleet. After arriving Gibraltar 24 February, she participated during the next 4 months in AANV and ASNV operations and ranged the Mediterranean from the North African coast to Turkey. She completed her peace-keeping patrols late in June and returned to Newport 8 July.

During the remainder of the year she conducted destroyer exercises and carrier screening operations off the eastern seaboard. In mid-November she participated in recovery operations following the successful 4-day flight of Gemini 12. On 1 March 1967 Joseph P. again sailed for duty with the mighty ffth Fleet. She eruised the Mediterranean until late April, thence transited the Suez Canal for the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. Late in June she departed the Gulf of Aden for the United States. Steaming via the Cape of Good Hope and South America, she arrived Newport the following month. There she resumed readiness training in preparation for any duty in the interest of the nation and the free world. received two battle stars for Korean service.

USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (DD-850)

USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (DD-850) is a United States Navy Gearing-class destroyer. The ship was named after Lieutenant Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., a naval aviator, son of the former Ambassador to Britain, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., and older brother of future President John F. Kennedy. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. would serve, with interruptions for modernization, until 1973. Among the highlights of her service are the blockade of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the afloat recovery teams for Gemini 6 and Gemini 7. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. is presently on display as a museum ship in Battleship Cove, Fall River, Massachusetts.


Thank you to the great group of 10 visitors that participated in our "Tin Can Titans" Behind the Scenes Tour of USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. This sold-out guided tour of all weapons, sensors, major equipment , and destroyer history lasted over three hours and provided the story of the heroic tale of the Tin Can and the men who served on them.

The Gearing class destroyer platform enhanced the tour with the mix of WW2 through Vietnam War equipment that allowed for discussion of fighting destroyers through WW2 along with stalking Soviet ships in the Atlantic and gunfire support off Vietnam.

Thank you to John Morrison (JPK 850), John Waggoner (Stickell 888), Mike Waggoner (Stickell 888), Jake Deschamps, Ted Hayes, and Rich Angelini for supporting this effort.

USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr.: Cuban Missile Crisis Veteran

USS JOSEPH P KENNEDY JR in a 1952 photo. NHHC photo number NA43-3112.

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. During that dramatic confrontation, ships and aircraft of the U.S. Navy formed a blockade around the island of Cuba, to put a stop to Soviet efforts to build an offensive nuclear force on that island nation (watch a video about the Crisis here). One of the many ships involved in what was termed a “quarantine” operation was the Gearing class destroyer USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. (DD 850). The destroyer is now open to the public as a museum ship in Massachusetts.

USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. was commissioned in late 1945, just missing the action of World War II. It was named after the older brother of future president John F. Kennedy, who died in 1944 during an experimental program which used bombers as explosives-laden guided missiles. Human pilots were required to get the aircraft off the ground and pilot them for the first part of their remote controlled voyage. Lieutenant Kennedy’s PB4Y-1 aircraft exploded prematurely over the skies of England on the way to its target in France. Kennedy and his co-pilot, Lieutenant Wilford Willy, were both killed. DD 850 was named in honor of the naval aviator, with his sister Jean Kennedy serving as ship’s sponsor. The family connection with the destroyer was a strong one, with brother Robert serving in the ship as an apprentice seaman during its shakedown cruise in early 1946.

Kennedy had its first taste of combat during the Korean war, where the destroyer served in carrier screens, and pounded shore targets with her main guns. In 1961, Kennedy underwent Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization upgrades (FRAM) and re-entered service in the middle of 1962. Just a few months later, the crisis around Cuba unfolded, and Kennedy found itself playing a leading role in the blockade operations. Of particular note was the boarding operation of the Lebanese flagged freighter Marucla (see photo below).

Destroyer USS JOSEPH P KENNEDY JR sends a boarding party over to freighter Marucla during the Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1962. NHHC photo USN 711187.

Kennedy remained in service for another 11 years, and participated in the recovery operations for NASA’s Gemini 6, 7, and 12 missions, as well as the later Apollo 4 mission. After nearly 30 years of service, the destroyer was finally decommissioned in 1973. Kennedy is now one of the feature attractions at Battleship Cove, in Fall River, MA. As with other museum ships, keeping this 67 year old steel ship in top condition in a maritime environment is hard work. Twice a year, curators and maintenance staff team up with dedicated volunteers for a Field Day to tackle restoration projects. Earlier this year, in May, over 70 people turned out to work on the ship. The group included a mix of active duty Navy personnel, Navy veterans, and civilians from around the country. In addition to extensive repainting of several passageways, the Field Day team restored Electronic Countermeasures Room Number 1 within the Combat Information Center (see photo below of the restored and functioning SPA-25 Radar Repeater).

Restored SPA-25 Radar Repeater in Combat Information Center on board USS JOSEPH P KENNEDY JR. Photo by Edward Hayes.

The fall Field Day on board Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. is scheduled for 11-14 October, and volunteers are always needed. Those interested in lending a hand should contact Rich Angelini at [email protected], or call the museum at 1-508-678-1100. Throughout the month of October, the Navy and the nation will be remembering the Cuban Missile Crisis. Battleship Cove is hosting a series of events on October 27, and here in the Washington DC area we’ve designed a set of exhibit panels remembering the confrontation (see our earlier story here). If you look closely at the panel on the right, you’ll see that Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. is part of the presentation – displaying the seapower of the United States in the face of adversity.

May 2012 Field Day volunteers and staff on board USS JOSEPH P KENNEDY JR. Photo by Edward Hayes.

At: Bethlehem Steel Company, Quincy, Massachusetts.

Commissioned: December 15, 1945

Length: 391 feet

Beam: 41 feet

Draft: 19 feet

Displacement: 2,616 tons

Armament: four 5-inch/38 caliber guns ten 21-inch, Mk 32 torpedo tubes depth charges Anti-Submarine Rocket (ASROC) Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter (DASH).

5 Water Street, P.O. Box 111

Latitude: 41.705688, Longitude: -71.163071

Destroyer Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. was named after President Kennedy’s older brother who died during a top-secret airplane mission over Europe in World War II. In 1946, another Kennedy brother, Robert, served as a radarman on board Kennedy, and the new destroyer spent the rest of the decade conducting training exercises in the Atlantic and Caribbean, and executing peacekeeping duties as a member of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. On February 3, 1951, she joined the carrier task force attacking North Korean positions. In May of that year she stood off Wonsan, North Korea, using her 5″ guns for nearly a month of continuous bombardment duty. Kennedy left the war zone and arrived back in the States in August 1951, and for the next several years she completed several Sixth Fleet tours of duty, midshipmen cruises, and joint NATO maneuvers.

In early 1961 she operated in the Caribbean, assisting with the first Mercury space flight’s recovery efforts. She arrived at New York Naval Shipyard in July for renovation under the FRAM I (Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization) program. This conversion afforded her new anti-submarine gear, a helicopter hangar and flight deck, and other improvements designed to extend her useful life. Following a post-refit shakedown cruise, she returned to Newport, RI, in September 1962 to embark President John F. Kennedy for his observation of that year’s America’s Cup Races.

In October Kennedy was dispatched to the Caribbean to participate in the naval blockade of Cuba. It was here on October 26 that Kennedy stopped and boarded the Soviet-chartered freighter Marucla, suspected of ferrying missile components to Cuba.

From the early 1960s until her decommissioning in 1973, Kennedy again performed innumerable duties. She was stricken from the Naval Register of Ships in 1973 and acquired by Battleship Cove in 1974.

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The 2010 reunion will be held in Fall River, Massachusetts, from 30 SEP 10 through 03 OCT 10.
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. . . A D V E R T I S E M E N T . . .
The USS JOSEPH P. KENNEDY JR (DD-850) Ship's Store now has T-shirts, mugs,
baseball jerseys, mousepads, and other items. All have the ship's name or
patch printed on them. Click on the following:

. . . A D V E R T I S E M E N T . . .
(note: The Webmaster is NOT involved with this company, nor do I make ANY profit
from sales, but I have dealt with this vendor before, and was very satisfied with
the products and service - bru h, webmaster)


The keel was laid by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation on Staten Island in New York on April 2, 1945. The commissioning under the command of Lieutenant Commander HG Moore took place on December 15, 1945 in Boston . The test drive began on February 4, 1946 and led to the Caribbean . During this time Joseph P. Junior's younger brother Robert F. Kennedy served as a simple seaman on the ship. In April, the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. returned to its homeport of Newport, Rhode Island .

In the following years, the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. served as the flagship of the destroyer squadron of the 6th Fleet of the United States Navy and as a training ship . From May 20, 1951 to June 13, she participated in the blockade and bombing of Wonsan during the Korean War .

In the time thereafter, the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. continued to be part of the 6th Fleet and was involved in numerous maneuvers and training trips worldwide, including the Mercury program from February to April 1961 . From October 22, 1962, she actively supported the sea ​​blockade during the Cuban Missile Crisis and on October 26, together with the destroyer USS John R. Pierce (DD-753), stopped the freighter Marucla, which was chartered by the Soviet Union . The subsequent search of the merchant ship registered in Lebanon by a boarding team of the United States Navy was the first of its kind during the naval blockade of Cuba, during the reign of President John F. Kennedy , also a brother of the namesake. In late 1965, the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. was in the Gemini 6 and Gemini 7 salvage formation .

After retirement in 1973, the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. became a museum ship in Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts. On September 30, 1976, the ship was added to the National Register of Historic Places . On June 29, 1989, the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. was recognized as a National Historic Landmark .

Destroyer USS Joseph P. Kennedy, DD-850

The Destroyer Joseph P Kennedy is a Gearing Class Destroyer. The ship's specs are:

Length: 390 feet
Beam: 40 feet
Draught: 12 feet
Crew: 350
Displacement: 2,400 tons
Max Speed: 35 knots (40mph)
Fuel Capacity: 740 tons of fuel oil
Original Armament:
6 5 inch 38 3 dual gun mounts
12 40mm Bofors AA
11 20mm Oerlikon AA
10 21 inch Torpedoes
Today the armament consists of four 5 inch 38 cal. mounts (if they were over 5" they would be Turrets) and an ASROC anti submarine rocket launcher system
Power Plant: 4 oil fired boilers powering geared steam turbines driving 2 screws with 60,000 Shaft Horsepower
Launching Date: July 26, 1945 at the Bethlehem Steel Company Quincy, MA

You can visit the Destroyer USS Joseph P. Kennedy at the Battleship Cove Naval Museum in Fall River, MA. Commissioned in July of 1945, DD-850 was too late to see combat during the second world war. This destroyer first saw action during the Korean War, bombarding enemy shore positions along the Korean coast line. The Joseph P. Kennedy also participated in the naval blockade of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. The Destroyer also took part in the recovery of the Gemini 12 space capsule in 1966. One of the Destroyer's more infamous incidents was the ship's collision with the supply ship USS Nitro AE 23. There are some great photos on that site of the Destroyer Joseph P. Kennedy getting it's stern portside crunched. The same site has an amusing story of the destroyer testing an ASROC torpedo (an ASROC torpedo is pictured above) with the submarine USS Scorpion. I only wish they had the photos of the torpedo sticking out of a vent in the submarine's sail as it surfaced. It must have been a hoot!

What I liked most about this Destroyer was the attention to detail shown in the setup of the interior compartments. The staff have done a good job of sourcing period clothes, equipment and other artifacts and making many of the compartments look like they were in use just a few moments ago. The control room is immaculate and it looks like everything that should be there is there. The bridge has seen better days but with enough hands and time it could be as impressive as the better compartments on the USS Joseph P Kennedy . The tour is self guided and the more interesting compartments are protected with plexiglas partitions which for the most part were clean and in good shape, but it does make photography more difficult.

If you are able to make it to the Battleship Cove Naval Museum to see the Destroyer Joseph P Kennedy , be sure to allow yourself a full day to see everything. There is a lot to see on the museum site including the Elco PT Boat PT-617, the Higgins PT Boat PT-796, the US Fleet Submarine Lionfish SS-298, the Soviet Missile Cruiser Hiddensee, and the South Dakota class Battleship USS Massachusetts, BB-59. If you get hungry you can get burgers and the like in the grill/snack bar in the galley of the Battleship. It's a fun place to spend a day.

USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. (DD 850)

Decommissioned at an unknown date.
Stricken 1 July 1973.

USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. is a World War II Gearing class destroyer. Although none of the Gearing class were built in time to see much combat, they represented the ultimate stage in World War II American destroyer design. Knowledge gained from the construction of the previous Fletcher and Allen M. Sumner classes was incorporated into the design of the Gearing destroyers, all of which remained in service after the war. Most of the Gearing destroyers were ultimately subjected to FRAM reconstruction and modernization, and many were converted into specialized antisubmarine warfare ships. USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. took part in the first United Nations counteroffensive of the Korean War. Later, she gained worldwide attention during the Cuban Blockade when she intercepted a Soviet freighter. Stricken from the Navy Register in 1973, Kennedy is now berthed at Battleship Cove with the battleship Massachusetts, PT 617, PT 796, the Russion-built missile corvette Hiddensee, and the submarine USS Lionfish. Exhibits aboard USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. include the Admiral Arleigh Burke National Destroyermen's Museum. USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. is a National Historic Landmark.

Commands listed for USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. (DD 850)

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1T/Cdr. Harry Grimshaw Moore, USN15 Dec 1945

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USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. DD-850

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