The USS Kirk was the 36th Knox-class frigate to be constructed in this series of 46 US Navy vessels. Alan Goodrich Kirk (1888-1963)—a US Navy Admiral who served in World War I and World War II and who took on the role of American diplomat subsequent to his retirement from the Navy—served as the ship’s namesake. Bearing the motto “What’s Next?” the USS Kirk served her country for 20.9 years.
Avondale Shipyard (Westwego, Louisiana) was awarded the contract to build the USS Kirk on August 25, 1966. The keel of this vessel was laid down on December 4, 1970 and she was later launched and christened in a ceremony held on September 25, 1971. Officially commissioned as a destroyer escort (DE) on September 9, 1972, the USS Kirk was later reclassified as a frigate (FF) on June 30, 1975.
The USS Kirk was guided by an advanced array of radar and sonar equipment and outfitted with a solid defense system that included one MK-16 eight-cell missile launcher for antisubmarine rocket (ASROC) and Harpoon missiles, one MK-42 five-inch/54 caliber gun, MK-46 torpedoes from single tube launchers, and one Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS). This vessel was equipped with one Westinghouse geared turbine and two Combustion Engineering boilers that allowed her to achieve speeds in excess of 27 knots. The 438-foot USS Kirk displaced approximately 4,200 tons (full load) and housed one SH-2 Seasprite Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) helicopter on board.
The USS Kirk was designed to support an antisubmarine warfare (ASW) platform—a position she upheld for the entirety of her career. Her primary mission during deployments was to serve as a means of protection for aircraft carriers against vessels that traveled below the ocean’s surface.
November 1973 marked the USS Kirk’s departure on her first deployment. She traveled to the waters of the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean where she remained on active duty through May of 1974.
The USS Kirk was a participant in two key military operations in April of 1975—Operation Eagle Pull and Operation Frequent Wind. Operation Eagle Pull was the evacuation by US forces of nearly 300 individuals from Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Operation Frequent Wind is noted as one of the most impressive humanitarian efforts in US military history. During the final days of the Vietnam War, the USS Kirk was responsible for rescuing the South Vietnamese Navy and tens of thousands of Vietnamese refugees from South Vietnam and relocating them to the Philippines.
As the USS Kirk’s career progressed, she carried out further deployments to the Western Pacific in July of 1976, January of 1981, and June of 1983. During the years spanning from 1979-1985, she conducted three shellback initiations in the Indian Ocean and one in the Pacific Ocean.
The USS Kirk endured a regular overhaul period from July of 1989 through March of 1990. This overhaul period gave way to two more deployments—one to South America (December 1990-February 1991) and one to the Western Pacific (February-August 1993)—prior to the USS Kirk’s decommissioning.
Simultaneously decommissioned and leased to the country of Taiwan on August 6, 1993, the USS Kirk was renamed Fen Yang and assigned the hull number 934. The US struck the former USS Kirk from the Naval Vessel Register on January 11, 1995. Taiwan later purchased this vessel on September 29, 1999.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Kirk (FF-1087)
The extensive use of asbestos by the Navy combined with the limited airspace of a US Navy vessel has proven over time to be a deadly combination. Since asbestos-derived diseases possess extended latency periods ranging upwards to 50 years, individuals who served aboard vessels such as the USS Kirk may be at risk for the development of disease even if no symptoms are currently present.
Mesothelioma and other diseases associated with asbestos exposure warrant optimal medical care and sound legal advice. Please contact us for an informational packet free of charge that can put you in touch with medical experts and experienced lawyers specializing in asbestos cases.Sources