Surplus Tin Cans of Asia
It always seemed that America’s former SEATO and ROK allies were always particularly adept at keeping weary second-hand escort vessels in service long past their prime. For instance, the Philipines are just now retiring PCEs meant for wartime (WWII) service only.
Besides front-line vessels, these seagoing nations have likewise kept said escorts around as well-maintained museums. This brings us to a pair of stories from the Pacific of old museum ships being turned back over to their respective governments as, due to COVID restrictions, are unable to remain fiscally viable with lower numbers of visitors.
In Thailand, the “70 years old” Knox-class destroyer escorts/fast frigates HTMS Phutthayotfa Chulalok (FFG-461), ex-USS Truett (FF-1095); and HTMS Phutthaloetla Naphalai (FFG-462), ex–USS Ouellet (FF-1077), were only recently decommissioned in 2017 after two decades of service with first the U.S. Navy and then the Thai fleet. After a few years of touring the coast as roaming (self-propelled?) museums– an interesting idea–, they are now looking at being scrapped or reefed.
They still look pretty good, too.
Meanwhile, in South Korea, two ships, the Gearing-class destroyer ROKS Jeonbuk (DD-916), ex-USS Everett F. Larson (DD/DDR 830); and landing ship ROKS Suyeong, ex-USS Kane County (LST-853), have been returned to that country’s navy after the regional authorities that they had been loaned to as museums could no longer justify keeping them around.
Importantly, Suyeong/Kane County saw WWII service in the Marianas, Philippines, and Okinawa, earning a battle star; while Jeonbuk/Larson spent 30 years with the U.S. Navy in a variety of tasks including helping to deep-six 26 captured IJN submarines in 1946.
So long, Bonnie Dick
Finally, in some semi-related stateside disposal news, the gutted hulk that is the planned lightning carrier USS Bon Homme Richard (LHD-6) is set to formally hold a decommissioning ceremony on April 14, 2021, in San Diego, California.
“Following the removal of equipment and dismantlement of systems and components for other ships, USS Bonhomme Richard will be towed to Galveston, Texas for dismantlement,” says ESG-3.