Consolidating air miles

A CHANGE OF PLANS KIRK sailed from San Diego in early March 1975, beginning her second Western Pacific deployment since commissioning in 1972.

She was fully manned, fully trained, and loaded for bear.

The unmistakable sound of American heavy helicopters thundering in from the sea and across the city signaled to those below that the evacuation was in full swing.

All morning long, KIRK patrolled her assigned defensive area off the coast at Vung Tau, near the mouth of the Saigon River, and witnessed the American helicopters cycling in from the sea and back out, delivering their human cargo to the ships beyond the horizon.

But finally, on the morning of 29 April, with Communist forces penetrating the city from all sides, there were no remaining options. American ambassador Graham Martin reluctantly ordered the long-anticipated pullout from Saigon, and “Operation Frequent Wind” was underway.

This excellent result is notably due to the improvement of the equipment, such as lighting, and the integration of this objective in the contracts of the suppliers.

KIRK was eager to pull her weight in the Seventh Fleet, but what began as a “normal” deployment soon changed dramatically.

War was still raging in Vietnam, but it was no longer KIRK’s war, as American combat forces were long gone.

It proved to be a quick, orderly extraction of fewer than 300 Americans – hardly a preview of the controlled chaos that awaited her later off the coast of Vietnam 2.

The Cambodia operation behind her, KIRK sailed south with USS COOK (DE-1083) and USS MIDWAY (CV-43) and steamed into Singapore on 16 April for a welcomed visit to that exotic port.

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