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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

Contributed by Mike Smolinski

USS Munsee (ATF-107)

USS Munsee (ATF-107) and the USS Franx Knox (DD-742)

Contributed by LCDR Warren H. Fischer USN Ret.
Commanding Officer USS Munsee 1965-66

In the early hours of July 18, 1965, while underway at sixteen knots in the South China Sea, the Destroyer USS Frank Knox (DD-742) ran hard aground on Pratas Reef, some two hundred miles south east of Hong Kong.

USS Munsee was the first ship on the scene and quickly passed a tow line to the stranded ship. The salvage effort soon involved the salvage ships Grapple (ARS-7) and the fleet tugs Conserver (ARS-39), the tugs USS Cocopa (ATF-101) and USS Sioux (ATF-75) and the submarine rescue ship USS Greenlet (ASR-10).

Though Frank Knox was initially only somewhat damaged, several attempts to pull her free between July 20 and August 2 were unsuccessful, and the ship was driven farther onto the rocks by waves from a pair of passing typhoons. She was then much more severely holed, with machinery spaces flooded and the hull structure weakened. When conventional hole-patching and water-removal methods proved inadequate, plastic foam was employed to fill flooded compartments, thus expelling the water and greatly enhancing Frank Knox buoyancy.

Her hull was reinforced by welding stiffeners to the main deck. Explosives were used to break up coral around the ship, but these also produced further damage, which led to a need for more foam. Another pulling effort took place on August 11, with a ship steaming by offshore, making waves to help break the reef's grip on the grounded destroyer, but this also failed.

Salvage tackle was re-rigged, more weight was removed from Frank Knox, pontoons were attached to her hull, additional foam was generated, and the destroyer USS Cogswell (DD-651) arrived to again generate waves to help dislodge Frank Knox. A pull on August 22 produced some favorable movement and, on August 24, Frank Knox was finally afloat after nearly six weeks of salvage work in a very difficult environment.

In the midst of salvage operations, on July 28, Munsee was diverted to make a run to Cam Rahn Bay, Vietnam, with high-priority barges in tow. By the time we completed that assignment Frank Knox had been towed to Taiwan. Munsee the ship from Taiwan to Yokosuka, Japan for repairs, a distance of about 1300 miles.

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