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USS Knox (FF-1052)

Destroyer Escort

United States | 1969

"USS Knox FF-1052 led her class of 46-strong frigates serving the United States Navy during the tumultuous Cold War period."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 06/01/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Knox-class fighting frigate was an all-important addition to the United States Navy (USN) inventory in the early Cold War (1946-1991) period. The group was an evolutionary step in the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) category and proved ultra-critical to global operations by the service - particularly as the Soviet Navy's underwater force proved an adversary to be reckoned with. While 55 of the class were planned, 46 were ultimately completed with nine being cancelled. All served solely with the USN and two ended up as floating museum ships, the class doomed by ballooning operating costs and aging technologies.

The class' design began along the lines of "Ocean Escort", which was itself an evolution of the World War 2 (1939-1945) era "Destroyer Escort" surface warships. In time (post-June 1975), the Ocean Escort classification was dropped in favor of the more conventional "Frigate" naming convention.

The lead ship of the class was USS Knox (FF-1052) and named after Commodore Dudley Wright Knox (1877-1960), a U.S. veteran of both World Wars. The warship was awarded to Todd Pacific Shipyards of Seattle, Washington in July of 1964 and saw her keel laid down on October 5th, 1965. On November 19th, 1966, she was officially launched and taken into USN service on March 28th, 1969. Later that year, on April 12th, the warship was formally commissioned. Her original hull identifier was DE-1052 when classified a Destroyer Escort. This was eventually changed to FF-1052 upon her reclassification to Frigate.

As completed, the frigate displaced 3,070 tons under standard load and 4,130 tons under full load. Overall length reached 438 feet with a beam of 46.8 feet and a draught down to 24.8 feet. Power was from 2 x Combustion Engineering (CE) boiler units feeding 1 x Westinghouse geared steam turbine, developing 35,000 horsepower to drive a single shaft astern. Maximum speed under ideal conditions could reach beyond the listed 27 knots and range was a useful 5,200 miles (4,500 nautical miles).

Aboard was a crew complement made up of 16 officers and 211 enlisted personnel. The ship carried the AN/SPS-10 surface search and AN/SPS-40 air search radar fits as well as AN/SQS-26CX conar, AN/SQS-35 IVDS towed sonar array, and the AN/SLQ-32 series Electronic Warfare (EW) suite.

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Armament was a modest mix of ballistic, missile, and rocket weaponry; there was 1 x 5" (127mm) /54 caliber Mark 42 series turreted deck gun over the forecastle, 1 x 8-tube launcher for the "Harpoon" anti-submarine missile or Anti-Submarine ROCket (ASROC) solution, and 1 x 8-cell launcher housing the RIM-7 "Sea Sparrow" medium-range Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) weapon system.

Beyond this, the warship supported a single Kaman SH-2 "Seasprite" (LAMPS I equipped in later forms) navy helicopter as well as the DASH helicopter drone, both of which could be armed with ship-sinking torpedoes and patrol beyond-the-horizon.

Once in service from 1969 onward, with the Vietnam War (1955-1975) in full swing, USS Knox was stationed in the Pacific Theater where she was used to run the gamut of ASW-related sorties but also included surveillance, blockade, and Search & Rescue (SAR) initiatives. In 1975, along with other American assets, she was used to good effect to evacuate U.S. military personnel from Phnom Penh during Operation Eagle Pull". Just after this, she was reclassified to a Frigate and handed a new hull designation (the aforementioned "FF-1052"). Beyond this, and with the Cold War ending in 1991, there was little more notable action, leading to her ultimate decommissioning on February 14th, 1992. She was struck from the Naval Register in January 1995 and ultimately sunk as a target ship off the coast of Guam in August of 2007. This was part of Exercise Valiant Shield, a massive U.S. wargame in the Pacific.

During the course of her decades-long ocean-going career, the ship and her crews were awarded multiple ribbons and medals including the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation (with two Bronze Stars), Navy Expeditionary Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary (with Bronze Star), Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal (with Bronze Star), and the Vietnam Campaign Medal.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one sea-going vessel design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for USS Knox (FF-1052).
2 x Combustion Engineering (CE) boilers feeding 1 x Westinghouse geared steam turbine developing 35,000 horsepower to 1 x Shaft astern.
27.5 kts
31.6 mph
Surface Speed
4,519 nm
5,200 miles | 8,369 km
The bow-to-stern, port-to-starboard physical qualities of USS Knox (FF-1052).
438.0 ft
133.50 meters
O/A Length
46.8 ft
14.26 meters
24.8 ft
7.56 meters
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of USS Knox (FF-1052).
1 x 5" (127mm) /54 caliber Mark 42 turreted deck gun.
1 x 8-tube Anti-Submarine ROCket (ASROC) / "Harpoon" anti-ship missile launcher.
1 x 8-cell RIM-7 "Sea Sparrow" medium-ranged Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) launcher.
Air Arm
Available supported fixed-wing / rotary-wing aircraft featured in the design of USS Knox (FF-1052).
1 x Kaman SH-2 "Seasprite" LAMPS I navalized helicopter.
1 x DASH Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) / rotary-wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
Ships-in-Class (55)
Notable series variants as part of the USS Knox (FF-1052) family line as relating to the Knox-class group.
USS Know (FF-1052); USS Roark (FF-1053); USS Gray (FF-1054); USS Hapburn (FF-1055); USS Connole (FF-1056); USS Rathburne (FF-1057); USS Meyerkord (FF-1058); USS W.S. Sims (FF-1059); USS Lang (FF-1060); USS Patterson (FF-1064); USS Whipple (FF-1062); USS Reasoner (FF-1063); USS Lockwood (FF-1064); USS Stein (FF-1065); USS Marvin Shields (FF-1066); USS Francis Hammond (FF-1067); USS Vreeland (FF-1068); USS Bagley (FF-1069); USS Downes (FF-1070); USS Badger (FF-1071); USS Blakely (FF-1072); USS Robert E. Peary (FF-1073); USS Harold E. Holt (FF-1074); USS Trippe (FF-1075); USS Fanning (FF-1076); USS Ouellet (FF-1077); USS Joseph Hewes (FF-1078); USS Bowen (FF-1079); USS Paul (FF-1080); USS Aylwin (FF-1081); USS Elmer Montgomery (FF-1082); USS Cook (FF-1083); USS McCandless (FF-1084); USS Donald B. Beary (FF-1085); USS Brewton (FF-1086); USS Kirk (FF-1087); USS Barbey (FF-1088); USS Jesse L. Brown (FF-1089); USS Ainsworth (FF-1090); USS Miller (FF-1091); USS Thomas C. Hart (FF-1092); USS Capodanno (FF-1093); USS Pharris (FF-1094); USS Truett (FF-1095); USS Valdez (FF-1096); DE-1098 through DE-1100 and DE-1102 through DE-1107 were unnamed vessels and cancelled.
Global operator(s) of the USS Knox (FF-1052). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national naval warfare listing.

Shipbuilder(s): Todd Pacific Shipyards - USA
National flag of the United States

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Image of the USS Knox (FF-1052)
Image from the National Archives and Records department.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to seaborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
USS Knox (FF-1052) Destroyer Escort appears in the following collections:
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