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NavSource Naval History
Photographic History of the United States Navy


Flag Hoist/Radio Call Sign - NTVM

Tactical Voice Radio Call Sign (circa 1968) - LOCKWOOD

Displacement 3218 Tons (Full), Dimensions, 376' 6"(oa) x 40' 10" x 14' 2" (Max)
Armament 6 x 5"/38AA (3x2), 12 x 40mm AA, 11 x 20mm AA, 10 x 21" tt.(2x5).
Machinery, 60,000 SHP; General Electric Geared Turbines, 2 screws
Speed, 36.5 Knots, Range 3300 NM@ 20 Knots, Crew 336.

Operational and Building Data
Built by Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding, Seattle, WA (YN 32)
Laid down 24 December 1943
Launched 19 July 1944
Commissioned 25 October 1944
Completed FRAM upgrade May 1960
Decommissioned and stricken from Naval Register 19 March 1971
Transferred to Iran 19 March 1971
Commissioned IIS BABR [Tiger] (DDG-7, later D 61) 12 October 1973
Fate Placed out of service 1994, still afloat 1998 awaiting scrapping; final fate unknown
(possibly scrapped in Pakistan about 1998)
40 men were killed in action 12 April 1945 aboard and remain on duty

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Zellars 134k

Thomas Edward Zellars was born in Grantville, Georgia, on 11 August 1898. Prior to his appointment to the Naval Academy 'Tommie' attended Culver Military Academy, where he received his childhood education. Appointed a midshipman at the Naval Academy on 13 June 1917, Zellars graduated with the Class of 1921 on 03 June 1920, a year early as the result of the wartime shortening of the Academy's course of instruction. On 09 July 1920, he reported for duty in Mississippi (Battleship No. 41). Zellars served his entire, brief Navy career in Mississippi, being promoted to the rank of Lieutenant (junior grade) in summer 1923 and attaining the position of turret commander in Mississippi's No. 2 14-inch turret.

On June 12, 1924, Mississippi, along with battleships Tennessee (BB-43) and Idaho (BB-42), were engaged in gunnery practice off San Clemente Island. The ships were simulating a chase, firing only their forward turrets at close range. Battleship California (BB-44) towed a large target. The gunners on all three battlewagons were competing for a $20 prize that Congress had voted to award the fleet's most proficient naval marksman. Mississippi enjoyed a reputation for collecting gunnery awards, and the day before had hit 52 out of 55 targets. Several salvos were fired by each ship, but then there was trouble with "Missy's" number two turret. The right gun had just fired and was returned to loading position and the plug opened. The next shell was rammed into the gun and the four powder bags on the spanner tray were rammed into place behind it. As the rammer was withdrawn, there emerged from the breech a small grayish ball of smoke and flame followed by a large flash. Flame and gases immediately filled the gun compartment, passed through the safety doors above the shell table to the other two gun compartments and through the peep doors to the turret officer's booth. Almost instantly, forty-five men and three officers were dead from asphyxiation. It was one of the worst disasters suffered by the Navy during peacetime.

An inquiry found that there had been inadequate air pressure forced through the gun to expel the incandescent gases and other flammable residue after firing. Smoldering material left in the gun had ignited the powder charge of the next shot. The flames and gases had overcome the men so quickly that recovery crews found many of the men still at their positions. One man who was recognized as a hero of the disaster and credited with saving the ship was the turret captain, Lieutenant Zellars. He had instinctively closed the doors to the ammunition hoist and flooded the magazines. When his body was discovered, his hand was still clutching the flood control.

Investigators concluded that a faulty gas-ejection system prevented one of the gun's breech plugs from closing securely, thereby permitting a jet of flame to spurt back into the powder-filled room when a salvo was fired. Investigators also found that some access safety doors inside the turret had been left partly open. Also, the crew failed to examine one or more of the gun bores and call out "Bore clear!" -another violation of regulations.

Funeral services were held 17 June 1924 on Trona Field at San Pedro, California, the home of the Pacific Fleet. Forty-seven coffins were arranged on the field. Lieutenant Zellars' body had already been sent to Georgia for burial. Vice Admiral Henry A. Wiley and Rear Admiral William V. Pratt presided over the ceremony. Naval officers in dress uniforms stood in front as 1200 sailors in dress blues stood on the sides of the coffins. Two hundred sailors of each battleship of Battleship Division 4 were present. Another 2700 sailors observed the services. A seven man Marine rifle squad fired three volleys.

Above bio derived from Heroes of the United States Naval Academy Facebook page. Photo from the 1921 Lucky Bag, the United States Naval Academy Yearbook

Bill Gonyo / Dave Wright
Zellars 222kThomas Edward Zellars' final resting place in Grantville City Cemetery, Grantville, Georgia.Ron Reeves
USS Zellars (DD-777)
Zellars 92kOriginal oil painting by George "Bill" Samson.John Patterson
Zellars 20kUndated, location unknown.-
Zellars 134kRefuelling from the USS Kearsage (CV-33), date and location unknown.Robert Hurst
Zellars 98kUndated, location unknown.Robert M. Cieri
Zellars 141kUndated, location unknown.Bill Gonyo
Zellars 43kUndated, location unknown.Yucel Umar, CPO Turkish Navy (Ret.)
Zellars 70kUndated, location unknown.Yucel Umar, CPO Turkish Navy (Ret.)
Zellars 62kUndated, location unknown.Yucel Umar, CPO Turkish Navy (Ret.)
Zellars 35kUndated, location unknown.Yucel Umar, CPO Turkish Navy (Ret.)
Zellars 190kZellars passing close aboard another vessel, probably during the 1960s. Location unknownDave Wright
Zellars 52kUSS Zellars (DD-777) underway off Puget Sound Navy Yard, 23 January 1945. National Archives photo 19-N-77480Robert Hurst
Zellars 100kTwo ships in the gunfire support group TF 54, were hit nearly simultaneously on 12 April 1945; the difference in their sizes accounted for the relative seriousness of the damage they suffered. USS Zellars (DD-777), on the right, was hit by a 'Jill' with a large bomb that exploded under her bridge. Fortunately, the explosion carried aft, away from the 5" magazines, but it forced the abandonment of the forward fireroom and started a fire that took several hours to contain. Zellars was ultimately repaired, but not in time to rejoin the war. USS Tennessee (BB-43) also took a single hit, from a 'Val' also carrying a large armour-piercing bomb. The bomb penetrated her main deck and exploded in warrant officers' country, which was gutted by a persistent fire. She, however, was back on the firing line two days later.
National Archives photo
Robert Hurst
Zellars 162kAt Taranto, Italy 12 November 1947.Ed Zajkowski
Zellars 81kCirca 1955, location unknown. Photo courtesy P. Gildea-Evans.Robert Hurst
Zellars 104kUSS Zellars (DD-777) and USS Massey (DD-778) at St. Thomas, USVI, 1956.Jeff Savage
Zellars 108kAt Beirut, Lebanon, April 1959.Bob Armstrong
Zellars 113kAs above.Bob Armstrong
Zellars 62kUSS Zellars (DD-777) circa 1961, location unknown. Photo from "Jane's Fighting Ships" 1961-62 edition.Robert Hurst
Zellars 89kCirca 1962, location unknown.Richard Miller BMCS USNR RET.
Zellars 81kChesapeake Bay, July 1964.© Richard Leonhardt
Zellars 204kAt Riva Trigoso, Italy, 06 July 1969.Carlo Martinelli
Zellars 107kNewport, Rhode Island, August 1970© Richard Leonhardt
Zellars 85kCirca 1967, location unknown.Marc Piché
Zellars 78kUSS Zellars (DD-777) underway in 1968, location unknown. Note the QH-50C DASH hovering in the air. USN photoRobert Hurst
Zellars 170kUSS Zellars (DD-777) and the USS Kenneth D. Bailey (DD-713) at Genoa, Italy, 29 June 1968.Carlo Martinelli
Zellars 50kShip's patch.Mike Smolinski
IIS Babr
Zellars 92kUndated, location unknown.Yucel Umar, CPO Turkish Navy (Ret.)
Zellars 909kBabr underway, 01 November 1977. USN photo 6420606Dave Wright
Click here to see our Special Feature - Interior Views of Sumner Class Destroyers as Built

USS ZELLARS DD-777 History
View This Vessels DANFS History Entry at the Naval History & Heritage Command page

Commanding Officers
01CDR Blinn Van Mater (USNA 1927)25 October 1944 - 08 February 1945
02CDR Leon Samuel Kintberger (USNA 1932)08 February 1945 - ???
03LCDR William Melvin Montgomery (USNA 1942)15 June 1946 - 02 March 1948
04CDR Joe McKnitt Alexander (USNA 1934)02 March 1948 - 1950
05CDR Fred Daniel Michael (USNA 1936)1950 - ???
06CDR Joseph Harry Floyd USNMarch 1955 - 1956
07CDR Richard Michael Hayes (USNA 1938)1957 - ???
08CDR Lewis Clark Bartlett USN15 July 1957 - July 1959
09CDR Herbert Henry Anderson USN??? - ???
10CDR Jesse Capers Huggins, Jr. USN??? - ???
11CDR James Edward Murphy, Jr. USN1962 - June 1963
12CDR Leo Joseph Marshall, Jr. USNJune 1963 - September 1965
13CDR Warren Wilber Erikson USN1966 - 1967
14CDR Norbert Felix Walczak USN1967 - ???
15CDR Leo Joseph John Zable (USNA 1954)1969 - ???
16CDR Minot Cobb Morse, Jr. USN??? - 19 March 1971
Courtesy Wolfgang Hechler and Ron Reeves

Crew Contact And Reunion Information

Contact Name: Howard Blessitt
Address: 1306 Lassiter Rd., Forsyth, Georgia 31029
Phone: 770-504-1064
E-mail: None

Note About Contacts.

The contact listed, Was the contact at the time for this ship when located. If another person now is the contact, E-mail me and I will update this entry. These contacts are compiled from various sources over a long period of time and may or may not be correct. Every effort has been made to list the newest contact if more than one contact was found.

Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
USS Zellars website
Tin Can Sailors Website
Destroyer History Foundation
Destroyers Online Website
Official U.S.Navy Destroyer Website

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This page was created by Fred Willishaw (ex ARG-4, AS-11 & DD-692) and is maintained by David L. Wright
All pages copyright NavSource Naval History
Last Updated 24 July 2020