"Red Sails in the Sunset"

U.S.S. William R. Rush (DDR-714)
Narragansett Bay - 1955
Photo Courtesy of: Charles Newbold, MM1

History of the
USS William R. Rush (DD/DDR-714)

{A biography of Captain W. R. Rush can be found on the "In Memoriam" page of this website.}

The contract for the construction of William R. Rush (DE-288) - a Rudderrow-class destroyer escort slated to be built at Hingham, Mass., by the Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyard - was canceled on 12 March 1944 before her keel had been laid.

The name William R. Rush was assigned to DE-556 - a John C. Butler-class destroyer escort scheduled to be built by the Boston Navy Yard - but the order for the ship's construction was canceled on 10 June 1944.

(DD-714) Information: displacement: 2,425; length 390'6"; beam 41'1"; draft 18'6" (max.); speed 35.0 kts.; crew 336 officers & men; Weapons 6 5" guns, 12 40mm, 20 20mm, 5 21" torpedo tubes, 6 depth charge, 2 dct.; class Gearing)

William R. Rush (DD-714) was laid down on 15 October 1944 at Newark, N.J., by the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Co.; launched on 8 July 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Dorothy Flagg Biddle, a cousin of Capt. Rush; and commissioned on 21 September 1945, CDR Theodore E. Vogeley in command.

Photo of RUSH in WW II era configuration donated by John Denehy
USS William R Rush (DD 714) WW II Era

After fitting out at the New York Navy Yard and shakedown training out of Guantanamo Bay and Casco Bay, Maine, William R. Rush took part in 8th Fleet maneuvers off the eastern seaboard into May of 1946. The destroyer then moved southward, to Pensacola, Florida, where she served as a plane guard for Ranger (CV-4) as the veteran carrier conducted flight training operations. Arriving back at Newport, R.I., her home port, on 28 July, William R. Rush spent the rest of the year in local operations.

The destroyer departed Newport on 9 February 1947, bound for Europe and her first overseas deployment. She touched at ports of call in England, Ireland, Norway, France, Germany, Denmark, French Morocco, and Gibraltar before returning to Newport in June. For the next two years, William R. Rush operated off the eastern seaboard, exercising with submarines and escorting and plane guarding for carriers.

RUSH in England, 1949. Donated by Suzan Moore Winkler
RUSH in 1949, Hull, England

In July 1949, William R. Rush sailed for Europe for an extended European and Mediterranean deployment that lasted into the following year. She touched at ports in France, Greece, Crete, Turkey, Gibraltar, England, Scotland, and Belgium before she returned to Newport. Subsequently overhauled for three months at Boston, the destroyer carried out refresher training in Guantanamo Bay from May into July 1950. Commencing in mid-July, William R. Rush conducted a training cruise that took the warship and her embarked midshipmen from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Guantanamo Bay.

Returning to Newport on 1 September 1950, William R. Rush visited Argentia and St., Johns, Newfoundland, during October; spent much of the following month engaged in Operation "Convex I", a convoy and striking force exercise; and underwent a period of upkeep back in her homeport, preparing for her next extended deployment.

On 3 January 1951, William R. Rush sailed for the Far East. Steaming via the Panama Canal, Pearl Harbor, Midway, and Sasebo, Japan, the destroyer subsequently joined Task Force (TF) 77 in Korean waters and conducted her first shore bombardment mission on 7 February, shelling North Korean rail lines along the coast. Bombardment and escort missions kept the ship continuously occupied until 13 June, when she began her voyage to the United States, steaming via the Indian ocean, The Suez Canal, the Mediterranean, and the North Atlantic.

William R. Rush completed her circumnavigation of the globe when she returned to Newport on 8 August 1951. She spent the rest of 1951 on maneuvers and exercises from her home port before she entered the Boston Naval Shipyard at the end of the year for conversion to a radar picket ship.

The ensuing refit - during which she was decommissioned on 21 December 1951- entailed replacing the ship's 40-millimeter Bofors batteries with rapid-fire 3-inch mounts; removing her torpedo tubes; and receiving improved electronic and radar equipment to enable the ship to perform her new picket role, itself an outgrowth of World War II experience with kamikazes in the Pacific.

Reclassified to DDR-714 on 18 July 1952, William R. Rush was re-commissioned on 3 September 1952, CDR N. B. MacIntosh in command.

Returning to Newport from her shakedown cruise as a DDR soon thereafter, William R. Rush underwent refresher training in Guantanamo Bay before she called at Mobile Bay, Alabama, for the 1953 Mardi Gras festivities.

William R. Rush conducted her second 6th Fleet deployment from April to October and then operated locally out of Newport. She performed varying duties into the summer of the following year, carrying out, in succession: antisubmarine warfare (ASW) exercises; plane-guard duties with carriers; and a tour as engineering school ship for the Atlantic Fleet Destroyer Force. She next embarked 66 NROTC midshipmen and sailed for the British Isles, touching at Irish and British ports before she returned to Guantanamo Bay for training. Disembarking the midshipmen at Norfolk on 3 September 1954, William R. Rush soon thereafter shifted to Boston for a three-month overhaul.

Over the next decade, from 1954 to 1964, William R. Rush was deployed to the Mediterranean, for tours of duty with the 6th Fleet, on eight occasions, touching at ports that ranged from Gibraltar to Beirut, Lebanon, and including Pollensa Bay and Palma, Majorca; Naples and Leghorn, Italy; Athens and Salonika, Greece; Golfe Juan, France; Barcelona and Rota, Spain. During her service with the 6th Fleet, William R. Rush operated as plane guard and radar picket for fast carrier task forces and participated in NATO exercises. There were highlights of the cruises: in 1955, while at Golfe Juan, the destroyer hosted Mrs. James J. Cabot, the daughter of Capt. William R. Rush; and, in 1957, the ship cruised the Mediterranean with Naval Academy midshipmen embarked.

In between the Mediterranean deployments, William R. Rush operated from the Arctic Circle to the Caribbean, homeported first at Newport, from 1954 to 1958, and then from Mayport, Fla., from 1958 to 1964. She twice penetrated north of the Arctic Circle, in the autumn of 1957 and late in 1960, both times on NATO exercises.

USS RUSH (DDR 714) circa 1958. Photo contributed by John Denehy.
USS RUSH (DDR 714) circa 1958

There were highlights of the ship's closer-to-home deployments as well. In the summer of 1960, the ship embarked 35 Naval Academy midshipmen and took part in operations off the eastern seaboard with the Atlantic Fleet. She visited Quebec, Canada; Hamilton, Bermuda; and Poughkeepsie, N.Y., during the cruise. That autumn, the ship served on "barrier patrol" when Cuban Premier Fidel Castro threatened the Caribbean nations of Nicaragua and Honduras. Two years later, in the fall of 1962, after American reconnaissance planes discovered the presence of Soviet offensive missiles in Cuba, William R. Rush returned to the area and operated with TF 135 on the Cuban "quarantine" line from 20 October to 3 December. The ship was at sea continuously during that period, except for an availability alongside the destroyer tender Yosemite (AD-19) from 12 to 17 November.

William R. Rush departed Mayport on 22 June 1964 and arrived at the New York Naval Shipyard on the 26th. Once at the shipyard, the ship commenced a 10-month Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) overhaul, at the completion of which she would resume her old classification, DD-714.

William R. Rush departed New York on 30 April 1965. Homeported back at Newport, the modernized destroyer soon commenced regular operations with the Fleet, following essentially the same sort of schedule that she had pursued since commissioning in 1945.

As a member of Destroyer Squadron (Desron 10), she operated off the eastern seaboard between Newport and Key West, FL., assuming a new role as an anti-submarine warfare ship. Returning to Newport on 27 July 1965 from refresher training out of Guantanamo Bay and a week of providing services to the Fleet Sonar School at Key West, William R. Rush embarked 25 NROTC midshipmen for three weeks at sea with Canadian Navy units on exercise "CANUS (Canadian and United States) SILEX 1-65."

The ship then went back to Newport for availability alongside Yosemite and then conducted two weeks of type training before moving south to Key West for a month of Sonar School services. A highlight of that deployment to Florida coastal waters came in September when she rescued seven Cuban nationals who had originally been bound back to Cuba to bring out relatives. Their two boats had developed engine trouble and were in danger of capsizing in heavy seas.

William R. Rush returned to Newport shortly before Thanksgiving of 1965 and spent the remainder of the year in home waters before getting underway on 14 February for the Mediterranean. Highlighting the ship's 10th Mediterranean deployment were the usual good will stops at ports in Italy, Rhodes, Sicily, and Turkey; ASW exercises with American and Spanish Navy units, including Exercise "Spanex I-66"; and 6th Fleet antiaircraft and ASW maneuvers. Relieved on 21 June at Gibraltar, the destroyer returned to the east coast of the United States.

William R. Rush spent the remainder of 1966 on operations off the eastern seaboard, ranging from Newport to the Virginia capes, pursuing a well-rounded slate of exercises including, among others, such areas as gunfire support and ASW. Early in 1967, the ship enhanced her capabilities as an ASW destroyer by receiving two Destroyer Antisubmarine Helicopters (DASH) and becoming fully qualified in DASH operations.

William R. Rush departed Newport on 1 March 1967 and crossed the Atlantic in company with Galveston (CLG-3). The destroyer subsequently called at Gibraltar, Sardinia, and Athens. Just prior to transiting the Suez, Captain Garlinghouse signed and released a letter to family and friends.

RushGram1967.jpgBy selecting the image at the left, the reader can view a copy of the letter, dated 30 March 1967, that was sent from the RUSH under the signature of Captain Garlinghouse. The newsletter is in Adobe Acrobat PDF format and will open in a new window. The letter was provided to the USS William R Rush Association by Thomas Blackstone. The letter was sent to the families and friends of the members of the crew. Thomas Blackstone served in RUSH from 1965 through 1969; he was an Electrician's Mate Third Class petty officer. The letter was mailed to his parents.

Satillite view of the Suez Canal

The entire length of Egypt's Suez Canal (dark north-south line) is visible in this low-oblique, northeast-looking photograph. Extending from the port city of Suez in the south to Port Said in the north, a distance of approximately 100 miles (160 kilometers), the canal connects the Red Sea with the eastern Mediterranean Sea. (Photograph courtesy of NASA)

On 1 April 1967, the ship then made the transit of the Suez Canal. She relieved Steinaker (DD-863) the following day at Port Suez. William R. Rush then set course for Bahrain, a small island in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Saudi Arabia. En route, the destroyer was fueled from the French oiler Aritrea at Massawa, Ethiopia, on 6 April.

Arriving at Bahrain on 13 April, William R. Rush joined Valcour (AGF-1), the flagship of Rear Admiral E. R. Eastwold, Commander, Middle East Forces (MidEastFor). In the ensuing weeks, the destroyer - on her first MidEastFor deployment - visited Al Misirah, a small island off the coast of Oman, where the British Royal Air Force maintained a small logistics airfield; Karachi, Pakistan; and Massawa, Ethiopia for a fuel stop. William R. Rush returned to Port Suez on 21 May and was relieved there by Fiske (DD-842).

The next day, William R. Rush transited the Suez Canal on her way back to the Mediterranean. At that time, tension was great in the Suez since the President of the United Arab Republic, Gamal Abdel Nasser, had demanded on 17 May that the United Nations Expeditionary force (UNEF) be withdrawn from Egypt and the Gaza Strip posthaste. On the 20th, Egypt began patrolling Israel's coast.

The growing aura of uneasiness in the Middle East was noticeable. The destroyer's commanding officer subsequently reported: "As RUSH passed through the Canal we could feel an atmosphere of tension all about us; gun emplacements and troops were obvious on both sides of the canal."

Over the next few days, the situation worsened. Meanwhile, William R. Rush moored alongside Tidewater (AD-31), where she spent the first few days of June undergoing a tender availability. However, the outbreak of full-scale war between Israel and her Arab neighbors on 5 June meant a hurried deployment seaward.

The destroyer operated with 6th Fleet units as they conducted emergency contingency force operations until the 17th. She subsequently called at Istanbul from 21 to 26 June before serving as plane guard and picket for America CVA-66) south of Crete. The destroyer later touched at Kavalla, Greece; Sardinia, Italy and Rota, Spain, homeward bound. She finally reached Newport on 20 July, ending the eventful deployment.

That autumn, William R. Rush operated off the coast of Florida, aiding the Fleet Sonar School in training officers and participating in ASW exercises. She then enjoyed a period of leave and upkeep at her home port to round out the year.

Late in January 1968, William R. Rush operated out of Newport as school ship for the Naval Destroyer School. In mid-March, she continued her training-oriented activities when she embarked 32 prospective destroyer officers and sailed for the Caribbean in company with Gainard (DD-706) and Glennon (DD-840). During that cruise, she visited St. Croix, US Virgin Islands; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Soon after the ship returned to her home port, she shifted to the Boston Naval Shipyard for a four-month overhaul.

Over the next few years, William R. Rush conducted two more Mediterranean deployments, in early 1969 and from the autumn of 1970 to the spring of 1971, in between which she operated, as before, off the eastern seaboard and into the Caribbean. Ports visited with the 6th Flee included Rota and Barcelona, Spain; Piraeus, Greece; Venice, Genoa and San Remo, Italy; Sfax, Tunisia; and Valetta, Malta. A social highlight of the 1969 deployment was when the officers and men of the ship were hosted royally on three separate occasions by Contessa Catherine Rush Visconti-Prasca - the daughter of the Ship's namesake - at her villa in Italy.

During that deployment, the ship participated in the usual slate of maneuvers and exercises including stints plane guarding for Forrestal (CVA-59) and John F. Kennedy (CVA-67), and taking part in NATO Exercise "Dawn Patrol." On the Return home, William R.Rush visited Liverpool, England and Oslo, Norway, and then spent a grueling period in the North Atlantic - operating, on occasion, north of the Arctic Circle again - with a hunter-killer group tasked with perfecting ASW tactics. For her part in that significant evolution, operating in company with Wasp (CVS-18), William R. Rush received the Meritorious Unit Commendation.

Highlighting the ship's 1970 and 1971 6th Fleet deployment was a special intelligence mission. On 23 January 1971, William R. Rush departed Naples and, over the next 26 days, shadowed the Soviet helicopter carrier Leningrad in the Gulf of Sollum, gathering new and noteworthy intelligence data on that ship and her operations. One of the rewards for that grueling period at sea included an at sea swim call along with a special treat of two COLD beers for each crewmember. Following that event, the destroyer resumed her other duties, ultimately returning home to Newport on 2 May 1971.

On 5 April 1972, William R. Rush - in company with Charles H. Roan (DD-853) - departed Newport for her last extended deployment under the Stars and Stripes, bound for the Middle East and Indian Ocean. En-route, the ship visited Port-au-Spain, Trinidad; Recife, Brazil; Luanda, Angola; and Lourenco Marques, Mozambique, before arriving at Port Louis, Mauritius, on 11 May. William R. Rush subsequently stopped at Moronia, Grand Comoro, Comores Islands; Mombassa, Kenya; Karachi, Pakistan; and Kharg Island, off the coast of Iran. Additionally, the ship spent a two-week upkeep period at the MidEastFor home port, Bahrain, where she was visited by the Honorable William P. Rogers, the Secretary of State, on 3 July. Rush later called at Dammam, Saudi Arabia, where she embarked 19 Royal Saudi Naval Force officers for underway training from 15 to 19 July.

A Red Sea excursion took William R. Rush to Massawa and return visits to Mombassa, Port Louis, and Bahrain. In the course of the deployment, and during transits between ports, William R. Rush twice conducted surveillance operations at Russian naval anchorages near Socotra Island and Cape Guardafui and once at Coetivy Island.

During the time spent operating under the aegis of Commander, MidEastFor, William R. Rush operated primarily as an ambassador of good will, "showing the flag" in an area where the Soviet Union's naval presence was becoming more marked.

Eventually, after conducting exercises with Charles H. Roan and the British frigate HMS Lowestoft, William R. Rush departed Bahrain. She continued her circumnavigation of the globe with visits to the ports of Karachi, Pakistan; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Singapore; Hong Kong; Yokosuka, Japan; Midway; Pearl Harbor; San Diego; and the Panama Canal before she arrived back at Newport on 31 October 1972.

William R. Rush subsequently operated out of Newport on local operations into March 1973. Then, after an overhaul at the Boston Naval Shipyard, William R. Rush was assigned to Desron 28 on 2 July 1973 for service as a Naval Reserve training ship.

Homeported at Fort Schuyler, Bronx, N.Y., William R. Rush spent the next five years training selected reserve crews and operating between the Virginia Capes Operating Area and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

William R. Rush was decommissioned at Fort Schuyler on 1 July 1978 and was simultaneously struck from the Navy list. Transferred that same day to the navy of the Republic of Korea (ROK) under the terms of the Security Assistance Program, the destroyer became ROKS Kang Won (DD-922) and operated with the South Korean Navy well past 1979.

(Source: Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships - Volume VIII: W through Z)

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History Note:

Rush was placed in decommissioned status on the last day of December, 2000.

Jim Kelly, ship's historian, wrote to the U.S. Navy Commander of Fleet Activities, Chinhae, South Korea seeking information about the Rush. His question was: "Has she in fact been placed in a decommissioned status pending her ultimate fate" and if so, "has she been sunk or scrapped?"

The answer from Commander Fleet Activities:

"Currently the ship is at anchor a mile or so out from Somodo Pier. Chinhoe City is going to convert the ship for use as a Naval War Ship afloat museum and has expended a great deal of money and effort to do so. A mooring pier is being constructed at Myundong, Chinhoe (about 15 kilometers from downtown Chinhoe along the coast road) to be completed by November this year (2002). Once the pier is completed, the plan is to move the ship to the pier to complete renovation and upkeep in preparation for a May 2003 opening as a museum ship."

As best as can be determined, the Republic of Korea has honored only one other modern ship with museum status. The "Willy R" is a lucky ship indeed. Those long hours at GQ off the Korean coast in 1951 had, in the end, saved her for posterity. Dedication to duty has seldom reaped such a grand reward.

Ex USS RUSH moored at Museum construction site. Photo donated by Houston Milstead (1950-1951).
ROKS Kang Won (DD 922) at Museum construction site.

Ex USS RUSH at Museum construction site. Photo donated by Houston Milstead (1950-1951).
A different view of ROKS Kang Won at the construction site.

Ex USS RUSH at Jin Hea - Now a Museum. Photo donated by Houston Milstead (1950-1951).
ROKS Kang Won (DD 922) Museum Ship

ROKS Kang Won (DD 922). Photo donated by Jim Kelly.
ROKS Kang Won (DD 922) at Jin Hae, Korea

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