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Navsource Online: Destroyer Escort Photo Archive

Ship's patches courtesy of Mike Smolinski
Name Tab courtesy of Al Grazevich

USS Roark (DE 1053)

Flag Hoist / Radio Call Sign:
N - O - U - R
Tactical Voice Radio Call: "Coal Haven"

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row: Combat Action Ribbon - Navy Battle "E" Ribbon (6)
Second Row: Navy Expeditionary Medal - National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 star - Vietnam Service Medal w/ 3 stars
Third Row: Humanitarian Service Ribbon - Sea Service Deployment Ribbon - Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal

"Victory Through Service"
Class: Knox
Type: SCB No. 199C / 1964
Number in Class: 46
Displacement: 3020 tons (std), 4065 tons (full)
Length: 415' (wl), 438' (oa)
Beam: 46' 9" (extreme)
Draft: 24' 9" (draft limit)
Propulsion: 2 Combustion Engineering 1200psi boilers; 1 Westinghouse geared turbine; 35,000 shp; 1 shaft
Speed: 27 kts
Range: 4,500 nm @ 20 knots
Complement: 16 / 211
Missiles: 1 8-tube Mk25 Sea Sparrow BPDMS in DE 1052-1069, 1071-1083, 1 8-tube Mk29 NATO Sea Sparrow IPDMS in DE 1070, Harpoon missiles from modified ASROC launcher
Guns: 1 x 5"/54 cal. DP Mk 42 (600 rds)
ASW Weapons: 1 Mk16 ASROC launcher (16 missiles), 4-12.75" (324mm) Mk 32 (4x1 fixed) tubes / Mk 46 torpedos (6)
Radars: AN/SPS-10 (surface), AN/SPS-40 (air), AN/SPS-58 threat warning in some ships
Sonars: AN/SQS-26CX, AN/SQS-35 IVDS in FF-1052, 1056, 1063-1071, 1073-1076, 1078-1097
Fire Control Systems: Mk68 Mod. 11/13/14 Gun FCS, Mk114 Mod 14/16 ASW FCS
Helicopter: 1 - SH-2 LAMPS Helicopter
Roark (DE 1053) Building and Operational Data:
  • 22 July 1964: Building contract awarded to Todd Shipyard Corp.
  • 02 February 1966: Keel laid by the Todd-Pacific Shipyard Corp., Seattle, Wash.
  • 24 April 1967: Launched and christened, co-sponsored by Mrs. William M. Roark (widow) and Mrs. Frank F. Roark (mother)
  • 22 November 1969: Commissioned at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Cmdr. W. L. Beech in command, assigned to Destroyer Squadron 21 (DesDiv 212) at San Diego, Cal.
  • 30 June 1975: Reclassified Frigate (FF 1053)
  • 01 June 1987: Assigned to Naval Reserve Force, Pacific, at San Francisco, Cal.
  • 14 December 1991: Decommissioned after 22 years and ˝ month of service
  • 11 January 1995: Struck from the NVR
  • 13 October 2003: Contract for $598,665 awarded to International Shipbreaking Ltd, Brownsville, Tex. for towing / scrapping
  • .. October 2004: Scrapping completed
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    For Full Size Image
    Size Image Description Contributed
    By And/Or Copyright
    Edw. McDonnell



    William Marshall Roark was born on 23 October 1938 at Sioux City, Iowa and grew up in Omaha, Nebr. In 1956, he graduated from Central High School where he was the cadet colonel and commanding officer of the school’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. It was also at Central that he met his future bride, Karen Krause. He was appointed to the United States Naval Academy in 1956, from which he graduated and was commissioned an ensign on 08 June 1960. Subsequently selected for a career path in Naval aviation, he attended flight training in Pensacola, Fla. and Beeville, Tex., before his eventual assignment to Attack Squadron 153 in Lemoore, Cal.

    Lt. Roark deployed twice with VA-153 aboard USS Coral Sea (CVA 43). On the second deployment in 1965, the flight crews of Coral Sea saw the first heavy and sustained action of the war in Vietnam during Operation ROLLING THUNDER. On 07 April, Lt. Roark was leading a two ship section armed reconnaissance mission in the area of Dong Hoi, North Vietnam. His flight detected an anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) site and engaged the target. Following the first attack, as the site had not been destroyed, Lt. Roark attacked again. On the second attack his aircraft was struck by the AAA fire. His A-4C Skyhawk was too severely damaged to continue, and Lt. Roark ejected over hostile coastal water where he was fired upon continuously while parachuting to the sea.

    In his last letter to his wife, Lt. Roark wrote "I don't want my sons to fight a war I should have fought. I wish more Americans felt that way. I will not live in a totalitarian society and I don't want you to, either. I believe in God and will resist any force that attempts to remove God from society, no matter what the name".

    Lt. William Marshall Roark was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was survived by his parents, his wife Karen and three children, Lisa, John and William. His remains were recovered in March 1977 and he was buried at Evergreen Memorial Park Cemetery, Omaha, Nebraska. In 2004, his alma mater, Central High School, named Roark to their hall of fame, and in 2005, the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets Corps of Dyersburg, Tenn, named their unit the Lt. William Roark squadron in his honor.

    USS Roark (DE 1053) (1969-1991) was the first ship to be named in his honor, and the first ship to be named for someone lost in the Vietnam War.

    (Photo from the site: U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1960)
    Bill Gonyo
    Downey, Cal.

    Assoc. Researcher
    779k September 1969: the Pacific Ocean - The future escort ship USS Roark (DE 1053) underway off the Washington coast.

    (U.S. Navy Photo, Catalog S-572, Catalog Photo #S-572.01K-81934 from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
    Mike Smolinski
    Clifton, N.J.

    Archive Manager
    DE / FF / LCS Archive
    Roark  1.) 557k   Roark  2.) 453k   Roark  3.) 823k

    10 September 1969: the Pacific Ocean - A three view series of PCU Roark (DE 1053) on sea trials in Puget Sound.

    (U.S. Navy National Archives photos #1.) USN 1141100, #2.) USN 1141104, and #3.) USN 1141103, from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
    273k 20 February 1970: the Pacific Ocean - Two views of the escort ship USS Roark (DE 1053) underway off the coast of San Diego, California.

    (U.S. Navy Photo #K-81934 and #K-81935 from the United States National Archives)
    Mike Green
    Port Angeles, Wash.
    292k Spring 1971: Yokosuka, Japan - Three U.S. Navy Knox-class destroyer escorts at Yokosuka, Japan (l-r): USS Hepburn (DE 1055), USS Gray (DE 1054) and USS Roark (DE 1053).

    (U.S. Navy photo from the All Hands Magazine, May 1971)
    Mike Smolinski
    Clifton, N.J.

    Archive Manager
    DE / FF / LCS Archive
    313k undated: the Pacific Ocean - USS Roark (DE 1053) at sea.

    (U.S. Navy National Archives photo #K-93024 from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
    160k undated Peter M. Leenhouts
    Commander, USN (ret.)
    753k 23 May 1972: Subic Bay, P.I. - USS Roark (DE 1053) and USS Francis Hammond (DE 1067) along side USS Piedmont (AD 17).

    (Photo #720909 by G. R. Sirkis)
    Glenn R. Sirkis
    MMFN, A Div.
    USS Ashtabula (AO 51)
    83k December 1973: Midway Island - Berthed opposite USS Hull (DD 945) Earl Axe
    256k 02 July 1975: the Pacific Ocean - The recently reclassifed frigate USS Roark (FF 1053) underway off the California coast.

    (U.S. Navy National Archives photos #K-109640 and #K-109636 from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
    Mike Smolinski
    Clifton, N.J.

    Archive Manager
    DE / FF / LCS Archive
    83k late 1970's: at Sydney Harbor, Australia (Photo © Barry Seward) Barry A. Seward
    Melbourne, Australia
    144k February 1979: the South Pacific Ocean - The U.S. Navy frigate USS Roark (FF 1053) underway in the South Pacific during exercise "SouthPac 79", taken from the fantail of USS Robert E. Peary (FF 1073)

    (Photo by Matt Schaaf)
    Bob Hurst
    Worksop, Nottinghamshire,
    England, United Kingdom
    257k 14 September 1990: At sea - A port bow view of Roark underway.
    (Note date of photo. Date has to be incorrect since the hull upgrade isn't done yet.)

    (U.S. Navy photo DVID #DN-ST-90-11614 by PHAN Burgess from the Defense Visual Information Center )
    Mike Smolinski
    Clifton, N.J.

    Archive Manager
    DE / FF / LCS Archive
    91k undated -
    143k 12 May 1981: At sea - A port bow view of Roark underway en route to Hawaii.

    (U.S. Navy photo DVID #DN-SC-90-11732 by PH3 Swinland from the DVIC )
    Mike Smolinski
    Clifton, N.J.

    Archive Manager
    DE / FF / LCS Archive
    233k 15 June 1982: Naval Station, Subic Bay, Luzon, P.I. - An aerial view of the U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility. Berthed at the shipyard are the Knox-class frigates Roark and USS Harold E. Holt (FF 1074). Moored alongside them is the guided missile frigate USS Brooke (FFG 1).

    (U.S. Navy photo DVID #DN-SN-84-06232 by PH1 David McLean from the DVIC )
    73k April 1983: the North Central Pacific Ocean - Taken during FleetEx 83-1 from USCGC Rush (WHEC 723). USS Roark approached us from astern as we formed a gun line for an upcoming gunnery exercise. Bryan Fisher
    766k 01 August 1992: Naval Inactive ship Maintence Facility, Bremerton, Wash. - View of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton, Washington. The following ships are identifiable (front to back): Three Agile-class minesweepers, with USS Pluck (MSO 464) as the first in the row; USS Hornet (CVS -12); USS New Jersey (BB 62); USS Roark (FF 1053); USS Stein (FF 1065); USS Oriskany (CV 34) with a Knox-class frigate; two Asheville-class gunboats; USS Bennington (CVS 20) with an old WWII-submarine alongside; USS Midway (CV 41) with six Knox-class frigates. The active carriers USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) are visible in the background.

    (U.S. Navy photo Digital ID #HAER WASH, 18-BREM.3-2 from the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
    Mike Smolinski
    Clifton, N.J.

    Archive Manager
    DE / FF / LCS Archive
    180k July 1994: Naval Inactive ship Maintence Facility, Bremerton, Wash. - Sailfish (USS 572), Francis Hammond (FF 1067), Stein (FF 1065) and Roark in mothballs at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

    (Photo by Gilbert Gyssels).
    Gilbert Gyssels
    ***Roark / Knox***
    37k 1996: Naval Inactive ship Maintence Facility, Bremerton, Wash. - Roark in reserve, nested with Francis Hammond (FF 1067), Knox (FF 1052) and Hepburn (FF 1055) alongside.

    (Photo © James H. Hopper III)
    James H. Hopper III
    Commander, USN (ret.)
    155k 27 July 1996: Naval Inactive ship Maintence Facility, Bremerton, Wash. - Francis Hammond (FF 1067), Stein (FF 1065), Roark, and New Jersey (BB 62) in mothballs, nested at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

    (Photos by Gilbert Gyssels)
    Gilbert Gyssels
    27k 11 February 2004: Roark passing San Padre Island, Tex. on the way to International Shipbreaking

    (from the website of International Shipbreaking Corp., Brownsville TX)
    Tom Bateman
    110k 19 February 2004: Brownsville, Tex. - Roark awaits the cutting torches at the shipbreakers in the Port of Brownsville.

    (Photo © Michael Martin from Pinemikey's Pbase Galleries)
    Michael Martin
    183k William M. Roark's place on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC. Panel 1E Line 107. Panel 1E is right where the memorial bends. Steve Dietrich

    Roark Memorabilia
    Ship's Plaque
    (pre 1975, as DE)
    Courtesy of

    Mike Smolinski
    Ship's Plaque
    (post 1975, as FF)
    Courtesy of

    Tommy Trampp

    Roark History
    View the USS Roark (DE 1053) DANFS history entry located on the Naval History and Heritage Command web site.

    Roark's Commanding Officers
    Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler & Ron Reeves
    Dates of Command Commanding Officers
    1.)   22 Nov. 1969 - Nov. 1970Cmdr. Wayne L. Beech
    2.)   Nov. 1970 - May 1972Cmdr. Arthur Stanley Moreau Jr.* (USNA '53) (Mount Ranier, Md.) (died as Adm.)
    3.)   May 1972 - Nov. 1972Cmdr. Robert Joseph Kerrigan (enl. '50 / OCS '55) (Greely, Nebr.)
    4.)   Nov. 1972 - May 1974Lcdr. Griffin Freeman Hamilton (USNA '59) (Wilmington, N. C.)
    5.)   May 1974 - May 1976Lcdr. Paul Davis Moses (USNA '61) (Quincy, Fla.) (ret. as Radm.)
    6. )  May 1976 - May 1978Cmdr. Jack Lane Weston (USNA '57) (Marion, Oh.)
    7.)   May 1978 - 17 Mar. 1981Cmdr. Thomas Edward Ferguson (OCS '62) (Miami, Fla.)
    8.)   17 Mar. 1981 - Oct. 1982Cmdr. Frederick Gilbert Kleyn III (OCS '62)
    9.)   Oct. 1982 - Feb. 1985Cmdr. Hugh Leonard Webb (OCS '64) (Girard, Oh.)
    10.) Feb. 1985 - May 1987Cmdr. Jeffrey R. Beinbrink (USNA '67) (Manhasset, N.Y.)
    11.) May 1987 - Feb. 1990Cmdr. Warren E. Small (East Nassau, N.Y.)
    12.) Feb. 1990 - 14 Dec. 1991Cmdr. Steven Earle Pilnick (OCS '70) (Rockaway Beach, N.Y.)

    * Adm. Moreau died of a heart attack in Naples, Italy while serving as CinCUSNavEur - 08 Dec. 1986
    Crew Contact And Reunion Information

    Note About Contacts

    Contact information is compiled from various sources over a period of time and may, or may not, be correct. Every effort has been
    made to list the newest contact. However, our entry is only as good as the latest information that's been sent to us. We list only
    a contact for the ship if one has been sent to us. We do NOT have crew lists or rosters available. Please see the Frequently Asked
    Questions section on Navsource's Main Page for that information.

    Additional Resources

    Tin Can Sailors
    The U.S. Navy Memorial
    Destroyer Escort Sailors Association
    The Destroyer Escort Historical Museum
    The Destroyer History Foundation
    USS Roark Page on Military.Com
    Tin Can Sailors Shipmate Registry - USS Roark
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    This Page Created And Maintained By Mike Smolinski
    All pages copyright Navsource Naval History
    by Paul R. Yarnall, All Rights Reserved.
    Page Last Updated: 28 June 2022