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Successor to DE695

Photo credit: David E. Paxton

Photo above is of DD/DDE-820 in her final of three configurations, FRAM II, circa 1964.

    USS RICH DD/DDE-820 was the successor to the USS RICH DE695. This second vessel carrying the name of Lieutenant junior grade Ralph McMaster Rich was laid down on May 16, 1944 by the Consolidated Steel Corporation of Orange, Texas. The ship was launched on October 5, 1945 and was sponsored by the widow of Ralph McMaster Rich. 

    RICH was commissioned in Orange, Texas, on July 3, 1946 with Commander R. C. Houston being her first commanding officer. Her wartime compliment was nominally 350 officers and men. She was a Gearing (DD-710) Class destroyer, a lengthened version of the earlier Allen M. Sumner (DD-692) Class. There were 168 vessels produced in the Sumner-Gearing configuration. She displaced 2,425 tons, was 390' 10" in length and had a breath of 41'. The engineering plant of four boilers and two sets of geared turbines was designed to give the ship a maximum speed of 35 knots. At 15 knots her design range was 6,500 nautical miles.

    As built, her main armament consisted of 6, 5"/38 caliber dual purpose guns in three turrets, two forward and one aft as well as 10, 21" Mark 15 torpedoes located on the deckhouse amidships. Her antiaircraft battery, at commissioning, consisted of 12, 40mm and several 20 mm antiaircraft guns. As a multipurpose fleet destroyer she was equipped to combat submarines with both stern racks and side throwing depth charge projectors. Throughout her some three decades of service to the country, she went through two major and many minor modifications. The first occurred in 1950 when she officially became an "escort destroyer," configured principally for anti-submarine warfare (ASW).

    RICH widely ranged the major oceans and seas during her long and useful operational life. She was, however, principally an Atlantic Fleet destroyer. Over this life many of her crew was drawn from the east coast. The crew, like that of many similar destroyers, was made up of a mixture of career and reserve officers and enlisted personnel. Many sailors received their initial introduction to the "tin can" Navy aboard the RICH. In the Atlantic Fleet she constantly trained to perfect her ASW capabilities. She served in the screening and plane guard forces in several destroyer squadrons for many aircraft carriers. She was an active participant in the Lebanon Crisis of 1958 and the Cuban Quarantine in 1962. The excursion into the Pacific took her to the Tonkin Gulf and the gun-line off Vietnam. At the end of her life, she, like many of her contemporaries, provided a vessel dedicated to the training of naval reservists. It was after this final service to the Navy she was stricken from the Navy's registry on December 15, 1977.

Visit the USS Rich DD / DDE-820 website, ably run by Marshall K. DuBois.

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