USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. DD850 Destroyer Museum
at Battleship Cove, Fall River, Massachusetts.
Secure from General Quarters!!
History of USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. DD850
Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. ( DD-850) was launched by Bethlehem Steel Co.,
Quincy, Mass., 26 July 1945; sponsored by Miss Jean Kennedy, sister of
Lt. Kennedy; and commissioned at Boston 15 December 1945, Comdr. H. G.
Moore in command.
new destroyer sailed 4 February 1946 for shakedown training in the
Caribbean. She returned to her homeport, Newport, in April, and was
occupied for the next few months in Naval Reserve Training. Arriving
Norfolk 8 October, the ship joined Admiral Leahy's flagship Wisconsin
BB-64, and other units for a cruise to Chile and Venezuela. She
transited the Canal twice on this voyage, and was reviewed by the
President of Venezuela 25 November 1946. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.,
returned to her home port 14 December 1946.
During 1947 the destroyer operated on the East Coast and in the
Caribbean. She sailed for fleet maneuvers off Puerto Rico 9 February
and upon completion steamed eastward to join the 6th Fleet in the
.Mediterranean. During this period of great unrest in Europe, the fleet
carried out the important role of peacekeeper and stabilizer. Joseph P.
Kennedy, Jr. visited various Mediterranean ports before arriving
Newport 26 June 1948. The remainder of the year was spent in
antisubmarine exercises and the first half of 1949 saw her make two
training cruises to the Caribbean.
The ship sailed 23 August 1949 for 6th Fleet duty as flagship of
Destroyer Squadron 18, returning 27 January 1950. With the advent of
war in Korea she carried out reserve training during July 1950.
followed by bombardment and convoy exercises to prepare for action
defending South Korea from Communist aggression. Joseph P. Kennedy,
Jr., sailed for Japan 3 January 1951 by way of the Panama Canal, Pearl
Harbor, and Midway. At Sasebo she loaded ammunition and, exactly 1
month after departure from Newport, joined Task Force 77 off Korea.
From February to April she screened the attack carriers as they pounded
enemy positions and supply lines. She departed 8 April for the Formosa
Patrol, helping to prevent further hostilities across the volatile
Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., then returned to Korea arriving off Wonsan 20
May to take up bombardment station in support of the Allied siege and
occupation of harbor islands. This duty continued until 13 June, a
period of almost constant bombardment of great importance to the
operation, after which the ship steamed to Sasebo.
Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., did not return to the West Coast immediately
upon the termination of this combat duty, but instead steamed westward
to complete a circuit of the globe. With other units of Destroyer
Squadron 8, she visited Singapore, Bahrein, Port Said, Naples, and
Gibraltar before returning to Newport 9 August 1951. Until January 1953
she conducted battle practice and served as school ship for the Fleet
Training School at Newport that serves well to keep the fleet abreast
of the latest developments. She sailed 7 January for another 6th Fleet
cruise, returning to Newport 18 May 1953. Antisubmarine training
exercises and another Mediterranean cruise January-May 1954 comprised
her duty through most of 1955, and she sailed 5 November for Arctic
maneuvers off northern Europe. The ship visited Oslo, Norway, and
Bremerhaven, carrying out tactical exercises with units of the 6th
Fleet before returning to Newport 5 March 1956.
In June 1956 the veteran ship arrived Annapolis with Iowa ( BB-61) and
New Jersey ( BB-62) to embark Naval Academy midshipmen for a practice
cruise. Upon returning from Northern Europe 1 August, the ship took
part in training operations until 6 May 1957, when she sailed once more
for 6th Fleet duty. The Jordanian crisis had just passed with the
strong support of the fleet, and Joseph P. Kennedy. Jr., took part in
carrier operations until September, when she steamed to the coast of
Norway for NATO joint maneuvers. She returned to Newport 22 October
1957. Again in 1958 the ship sailed to the Mediterranean, and on this
cruise spent April in the Persian Gulf, with the Middle East Force that
helps stabilize that critical area before arriving Newport 1 July 1958.
After a needed period of overhaul at Boston, Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.,
arrived Annapolis once more 3 June 1959 for midshipman training. Along
with other ships of the task group, she entered the St. Lawrence and
represented the Navy at the opening of the Seaway 26 June 1959.
Following the ceremonies, in which both President Eisenhower and Queen
Elizabeth II took part, the destroyer entered the Seaway and steamed to
Chicago 2 July. The ship visited various ports before returning to the
Atlantic 6 August. In 1960 she returned to the Mediterranean with
Forrestal (CVA-59) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB-42), returning to
Newport 15 October.
January 1961 Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., steamed to Washington for the
inauguration of John F. Kennedy, brother of her namesake. During
February and April of that year she took part in space shots in the
Project Mercury series. She then arrived New York 1 July 1961 for a
FRAM ( Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization ) overhaul in the Naval
Shipyard. During this period she received the latest in antisubmarine
gear, a new helicopter flight deck and hangar aft, and numerous other
modifications designed to increase greatly her useful life. After
emerging in her new dress in late May 1962, she underwent exhaustive
shakedown out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba returning 26 August 1962.
Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., with other ships of the fleet, reacted quickly
to the threat of offensive missiles in Cuba, and President Kennedy's
quarantine order. Sailing 22 October, the ship took an active part in
the blockade which forced an easing of the crisis, and boarded Greek
freighter Marucula 26 October. After participating in this graphic
demonstration of the power and mobility of the modern Navy, Joseph P.
Kennedy, Jr.. remained on patrol in the Caribbean until returning to
Newport 7 December 1962.
During 1963 the veteran destroyer carried out training operations off
the Virginia Capes and Nova Scotia. She departed Newport 29 April 1964
for another Med cruise until 26 August, and in October was underway for
Operation "Steel Pike I", one of the very largest amphibious operations
since World War II. During the passage of the task force to the Spanish
coast, she acted as antisubmarine screening ship. Joseph P. Kennedy,
Jr. returned to Newport 19 November 1964.
Late in January of 1965, Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., put to sea for Port
Canaveral, Fla., where she helped qualify two newly constructed Polaris
submarines for patrol over seas. There followed a regular 3-month
overhaul in the Boston Naval Shipyard.On July 15 Kennedy began a
2-month period of refresher training as the ship set sail for
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The U.S. Man In Space Program was one of Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.'s
mid-60's commitments; leaving Newport on November 27, 1965, the ship
took station 1,200 miles southeast of Bermuda as part of the afloat
recovery team for Gemini 6 and 7 on a 14-day orbital and rendezvous
mission in space. The shots a success and her duty done, Joseph P.
Kennedy, Jr. returned to Newport 21 December to prepare for another
deployment in the Mediterranean.
Assigned to DesRon 10, Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr departed Newport 15
February 1966 for duty with the 6th Fleet. After arriving Gibraltar 24
February, she participated during the next 4 months in AAW and ASW
operations and ranged the Mediterranean from the North African coast to
Turkey. She completed her peace-keeping patrols late in June and
returned to Newport 8 July.
During the remainder of the year she conducted destroyer exercises and
carrier screening operations off the eastern seaboard. In mid-November
she participated in recovery operations following the successful 4-day
flight of Gemini 12. On 1 March 1967 Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. again
sailed for duty with the mighty 6th Fleet. She cruised the
Mediterranean until late April, thence transited the Suez Canal for the
Red Sea and Indian Ocean. Late in June she departed the Gulf of Aden
for the United States. Steaming via the Cape of Good Hope and South
America, she arrived Newport the following month. There she resumed
readiness training in preparation for any duty in the interest of the
nation and the free world.
After years of heavy steaming, the Kennedy took her final cruise to the
Mediterranean in December 1972, with the sixth fleet, as a member of
her way back to be decommissioned in 1973 and closing the coast of New
England, the Commander of the sixth fleet let loose the destroyers. The
Kennedy's Captain, Captain McCraine ordered," Full Speed Ahead". With
the throttle wide open, the Kennedy was the first ship into Newport
while some of the new destroyers didn’t make it for another few days.
Till the end, JPK and her crew showed the world the excellence of the
American destroyer service. The ship was then decommissioned and
stricken from the Navy Register of Ships.
Now the USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. DD850 proudly tells the tale of
destroyer life at sea during a tense time in world relations. She is
berthed at Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts. With her is
the USS Massachusetts (BB59), USS Lionfish (SS298), and two PT boats
from World War II. Please come down and experience the history of the
ships and the men who rode them.
JPK earned two Battle Stars in Korea:
3 Feb-13 Apr 51
5 Feb-3 Apr 51
First UN Counter Offensive: 25 Jan-21 Apr 51
21 May-17 Jun 51
8-9 Apr 51
First UN Counter Offensive: 25 Jan-21 Apr 51
30 May-13 Jun 51
Communist China Spring Offensive: 22 Apr-08 Jul 51
JPK also earned the following:
--United Nations Service Medal --South Korean Presidential Unit Citation --China Service Medal --Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for the Cuban Missile Crisis.