Gearing Class


Country: United States

The late war Gearing Class design was based on the earlier Sumner Class and was essentially the same design but with an extra 14 feet of length to accommodate additional fuel capacity and therefore provide increased range. The AA armament was also increased. The Gearing Class were the largest American destroyers built during the Second World War. 150 were ordered, but of these 47 were canceled in 1945. In addition seven were scrapped only partly built. Produced in such large numbers they were the pre-eminent destroyer to emerge from the conflict. Improved and updated through the Fleet Rehabilitation And Modernization program (FRAM) – many survived for over three decades and formed a useful arm of the American fleet.

As the Cold War developed the US Navy became increasingly alarmed by the threat of Soviet submarines. In order to provide the maximum number of anti submarine surface vessels it began a massive modernization programme known as the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) programme. This saw 79 Gearing class destroyers given SQS-23, ASROC/DASH, and Mk. 111 digital fire control to better equip them for their Cold War duties..

In 1945 the first warship named after a woman by US Navy entered combat. The USS Higbee (DD-806), a Gearing-class destroyer, was named after Lenah S. Higbee, Superintendent of Navy Nurse Corps 1911-1922. The ship served in the Fast Carrier Force.

Gearing Class destroyers took part in the quarantine action around Cuba during the 1962 Missile Crisis.

Large numbers were disposed of to other navies as they were retired by the US Navy. In NATO the Greek and Turkish navies were the major recipients; Greece seven active plus two for spares and Turkey nine plus one for spares. Spain received five. The United States also supplied Argentina (1), Ecuador (1), Iran (1), Mexico (2), Pakistan (6), South Korea (7), Taiwan (17+2).

The Gearing Class is a milestone in ship design. Built between 1944 and 1947 no less that 52 of the 96 built were still in active service with navies throughout the world at the end of the Cold War. Although all had been retired from the US Navy many years before 20 were still operational with NATO navies in 1991.

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