+13 USS FULLAM DD474 History
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Fullam Statistics
Standard Displacement: 2,050 tons.
Armament: Five 5-in .38 caliber dual purpose guns.
Length overall: 376.6 ft.
Beam: 39.8 ft.
Draft: 17.9 ft.
Speed: 37 knots.
Complement: 273 Officers and Men.
Fletcher Class


William Freeland Fullam, born 20 October 1855 in Pittsford, N.Y., was a member of the Naval Academy class of 1877. His commands through his long and distinguished naval career ranged from the sailing ship Chesapeake in 1904 to the battleship Mississippi in 1909. During World War I, Rear Admiral Fullam commanded the Reserve Force, Pacific Fleet, and Patrol Force, Pacific Fleet, and was senior officer in command of the Pacific Fleet during the absence of the Fleet's Commander-in-Chief in South Atlantic waters. The merit of his service in such responsible positions was recognized with the award of the Navy Cross. Chief among his assignments ashore was the superintendency of the Naval Academy in 1914 and 1915. Rear Admiral Fullam retired 8 October 1919, and died 23 September 1926 at Washington, D.C.


Fullam (DD-474) was launched 16 April 1942 by Boston Navy Yard; sponsored by Miss Mariana F. Welch, granddaughter of Admiral Fullam; and commissioned 2 March 1943, Commander H. C. Daniel in command.

Fullam served briefly as an east coast escort, then arrived at San Diego, Calif., 28 June 1943. After training in the Hawaiian Islands, she arrived at Efate New Hebrides, 28 August for escort and patrol duties in the Solomons. From 1 November, when she covered the landings on Cape Torokina, Fullam guarded convoys carrying reinforcements and supplies to Bougainville as well as bombarding enemy installations in the Empress Augusta Bay area 25 January 1944. Four days later, at Vella Lavella, transports Fullam screened, embarked a mixed reconnaissance party of New Zealanders and American sailors, which was landed on the Green Islands, 30 January. The party was reembarked that night, and the landings in force by New Zealand troops on the Green Islands took place 15 February, as Fullam and her task force provided protective cover.

Through the next 3 months, Fullam continued her patrol, escort, and bombardment missions in the Solomons, joining in the landings on Emirau 20 March 1944. After training and replenishment at Port Purvis and Espiritu Santo, the destroyer joined the 5th Fleet for the assault on the Marianas. She arrived off Tinian 12 June for the bombardments on Tinian and Saipan which began the next day and continued until the landings of 15th. Ordered west to search for an enemy task force known to be moving into position to oppose the landings, Fullam rejoined the carrier task force 19 June as the Battle of the Philippine Sea opened. During this 2-day engagement, she joined in the general firing which combined with fighter actions brought down the vast majority of the Japanese naval aviation as an effective element in the war. Completing her assignment in the Marianas with duty screening the cruisers bombarding Guam as well as firing on targets there herself, Fullam departed the Marianas 10 August for Eniwetok.

After training at Guadalcanal, Fullam sortied from Port Purvis 6 September 1944 for the assault on the Palau Islands. Six days out, she and Noa (APD-24) collided, Noa sinking in 6 hours, and Fullam being badly damaged. Despite this, Fullam not only rescued all of Noa's men, but also carried out daily shore bombardment and night harassing fire, as well as covering the work of underwater demolition teams, as Peleliu was assaulted, then sailed for temporary repairs at Manus and a west coast overhaul.

Fullam returned to Pearl Harbor for training 24 December 1944, then sailed for picket duty off Pagan Island before Reaching Saipan 15 February 1945. Here she joined a task group for the Iwo Jima assault, sailing 16 February to serve as screen and fire-support ship during the assault and the bitter fighting which followed until 28 February. After replenishing at Leyte, she sailed 27 March in the screen of an escort carrier group for the Okinawa operation. After providing air cover to the landings of 1 April, her group began continual strikes on the airfields on the Sakashima Clunto from which suicide flights were launched by the Japanese. On 4 May, while screening Sangamon (CVE-26) with another destroyer, Fullam fired on a group of four kamikazes attacking the carrier. The screening destroyers shot down three of the attackers, but the fourth crashed the escort carrier's flight deck, forcing many of her men over the side. Three were saved by the destroyers, who stood by as Sangamon extinguished the huge fire.

From 13 May 1945, Fullam was assigned to antisubmarine patrol and antiaircraft fire support off Hagushi Beach, as well as antiaircraft fire support ship for fighter-director ships on radar picket stations away from the island. She sailed from Okinawa 1 July to escort landing craft to Guam, and an escort carrier from Guam to Eniwetok. Assigned to operate with carriers against northern Japan, Fullam cleared Eniwetok 11 August for Adak, but arriving after the close of hostilities, instead took up escort and patrol duties in the Aleutians until entering Puget Sound Naval Shipyard 13 November. In March 1946 she sailed south to San Diego, where she was placed out of commission in reserve 15 January 1947.

Fullam received seven battle stars for World War II service.

The "Demise" of the USS FULLAM DD474
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The following is taken from various pages accumulated by Paul T. Beyer.

In June of 1959 the USS FULLAM DD-474 was assigned to miscellaneous service at Norfolk, Virginia. Because of her use in underwater testing she became extremely radioactive. She was stricken from the Navy list 1 June 1962 and sunk off Norfolk in July of 1962.

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Fullam's' Future in Doubt.
From the Portsmouth (VA) Star July 15, 1961

PORTSMOUTH -- The old destroyer Fullam used by the Navy in several underwater explosion tests, has been damaged so extensively that she may not be repaired, a Navy spokesman said Thursday.

The Fullam was blast tested last November and last April in the Chesapeake Bay near the Patuxent River MD, Naval Air Station.

EXPLOSIONS RECORDED She was loaded with various types of shipboard equipment. The underwater explosion research division at the shipyard had its laboratory barge posted nearby for recording effects of the explosions on the ship and equipment.

Explosions of varying sizes were ignited at different depths and distances to determine how much the ship and equipment could take.

The damages were not accidental, the spokesman said.

The purpose of the project was to determine possible weak points in the ships structure and in the equipment so these and future types could be designed to withstand more severe blasts.

Another old destroyer, the Killen, is being towed here from Pearl Harbor as a replacement for the Fullam. She will arrive sometime in August.

A decision may be made later to go ahead with repairs to the Fullam so that she can be used in future testing, but at this time there is no plans for repairing her.

The following is taken from copies of letters from the Chief of Naval Operations.

Ser 795P43
28 May 1962

From: Chief of Naval Operations
To: Secretary of the Navy

Subj: Striking and disposal of USS FULLAM (DD-474)

Ref: (a) Public Law 85-436, May 29, 1958, 72 Stat. 153
(b) 10 USC 7307(a)

1. Pursuant to provisions of reference (a) the USS FULLAM (DD-474) was utilized as a target for weapons test and thereafter was employed for other experimentation. The ships retains residual radioactivity and is considered to be unseaworthy.

2. It is recommended that the USS FULLAM be stricken from the Naval Vessel Register effective 1 June 1962 and that it be sunk at sea subsequently.

3. As required by reference (b), it is hereby certified that the USS FULLAM (DD-474) is not essential to the defense of the United States.

By direction

Ser 796P43
31 May 1962

FIRST ENDORSEMENT on CNO ltr ser 795P43 of 28 June 1962

From: Secretary of the Navy
To: Chief of Naval Operations

1. Returned, approved. USS FULLAM (DD-474) is unfit for further service and shall be stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 June 1962.

2. Authority is granted to dispose of FULLAM pursuant to existing law.

ORIG. MRS L K HARRISON op-432C, Op-432
15 May 1962 - Cain - X56879


From the Portsmouth Star,
Portsmouth VA
Saturday Afternoon
July 7, 1962

Radioactive Destroyer
Friendly Fire Sends Fullam to Grave

Norfolk:-- At 10 a.m. today, the destroyer Fullam was scheduled to sink beneath the waves she had ridden so stalwartly for the past two decades.

Guns, missiles and torpedoes from the Second Fleet's Carried Division 4, under Rear Adm. R. D. Hogle, were to open fire while the Fullam lay dead in the water some 180 miles southeast of Cape Henry.

She was towed there yesterday by the Service Force salvage ship Recovery.

The Fullam, built in Boston in 1940, was used for experimental purposes in the April-June 1958 nuclear test in the Pacific.

Radioactivity rendered her unacceptable as scrap, and the job of scrubbing her clean thought to be more expensive than she was worth.

The fire power exercise was to be covered on a pool basis by CBS television, which will be make the film available to other networks.

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U.S.' Great Unwashed Executed

ABOARD THE USS FORRESTAL AT SEA -- The often punished destroyer Fullam was put out of her misery Saturday.

The 2,100-ton Fletcher class vessel was sent to the bottom of the Atlantic 180 miles southeast of Cape Henry by air-to-surface Bullpup missiles and shells from friendly ships.

She was radioactive from 1958 atomic test in the Pacific and badly broken from a series of underwater explosion research operations in the upper Chesapeake Bay in 1960-61.

The lone victim of the Navy's realistic training exercise fell to missiles from A4D Skyhawk aircraft flying from the Forrestal and nuclear powered Enterprise, and by shells from guns on the 2nd Fleet flagship Newport News and other vessels.

Rear Adm. R. D. Hogle, Commander of Carrier Division 4, supervised the exercise from the Forrestal, his flagship.

The radiation level on the Fullam was not considered unsafe but federal regulations prevented the Navy from selling her for scrap. The job of scrubbing her clean would have cost more than she was worth, the Navy figured.

The Fullam was built in Boston in 1940's.


The Fullam was commissioned 2 March 1943.
(Taken from Ship Historical Identification Card
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P 071844z (July 1962)




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