1st Korean Cruise (1951-52)

“Black Flag Replenishment”

Memory from: Dale Tapp

Setting the Scene

Dale Tapp, former Operations Officer aboard USS HOPEWELL (DD-681), a division mate of the KIDD's in DESDIV 152 during the Korean War, tells how the KIDD's reputation as "the Pirate of the Pacific" was sometimes the cause of a few misadventures.

The Recollection

The Pac Fleet destroyer KIDD, to emphasize the name and sort of break the monotony, had an 8′ tall buccaneer painted on each side of the forward stack. But after the end of WWII, it was only a matter of time until KIDD’s stack art was embalmed—by official request—with two coats of standard topside gray. Despite this setback, the spirit of KIDD lived on; after a decoy interval of exemplary conduct, it became this destroyer’s habit during the Korean War to display at appropriate times (such as completion of a snappy underway fueling) a skull-and-crossbones pennant at the yardarm. This gambit eventually caused the other DDs of DESDIV 152 to consider themselves at somewhat of a disadvantage, pennant-wise. So one night in a WestPac port with the division scheduled to sail at dawn, the officers of HOPEWELL, the division flagship, decided it was their bounden duty to liberate KIDD’s presumptuous pennant. At 0300, quiet shadows filtered through the darkness. At 0530, the division stood out to sea.

The deed was done. Came underway replenishment a few days later, and the flag DD awaited an opportunity to break out the captured Jolly Roger. By a stroke of luck, HOPEWELL was ordered to refuel from the starboard side of the fleet oiler at the same time that KIDD was refueling to port. Both destroyers did their utmost to top off as fast as possible, and signaled PREP almost in a dead heat. HOPEWELL won by a hair and, feeling very smug, sheared out to starboard and triumphantly ran up the purloined skull-and-crossbones. Hardly a moment later, KIDD pulled ahead to port at flank speed . . . and promptly hoisted a Jolly Roger that was twice as big! It’s a fair question as to which DD got the better of what, but on the bridge of the oiler was the most surprised-looking skipper in the fleet.

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