On 3 June 1969, while operating with the Royal Australian Navy between Saigon and Spratly Island, Evans was operating in company with the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne. At flying stations, Melbourne signalled Evans, which was to port of the carrier, to take up the rescue destroyer position. The logical movement would be to make a turn to port and describe a circle taking up station on the carrier's port quarter. Inexplicably, instead of turning to port, Evans turned to starboard, cutting across Melbourne's bow and was cut in half in the ensuing collision. Her bow section sank instantly, taking 74 of her crew down with it. At the time of the collision Evans's captain was asleep. The officer of the deck (a junior officer who was not qualified to stand watch, having failed at his previous board) failed to notify him when he executed the station change as required by the Commanding Officer's standing orders. Evans was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 July 1969. The stern section was sunk as a target in Subic Bay on 10 October 1969.
To the memory of all sailors who ever served aboard the Destroyer USS Frank E. Evans DD - 754. A special commemeration to the Crew who sailed with her on that fateful morning, June 3, 1969 when USS Frank E. Evans DD-754 collided with the Australian Aircraft Carrier HMAS Melbourne (R21) and was cut in half. The forward section of USS Frank E. Evans DD-754 sank in 1100 fathoms of water within two minutes. Seventy-four lives were lost. USS Frank E. Evans DD-754 was struck from the Navy Register in 1969. May we never forget the ship, The men who proudly sailed with her, And those who paid the ultimate price in service Aboard USS Frank E. Evans DD-754.
USS FRANK E. EVANS (DD 754), an Allen M. Sumner class destroyer, was named in honor of Frank Evans, a leader of the American Expeditionary Force in France during World War I. She served in late World War II and the Korean War, and Vietnam War before being cut in half in a collision with the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne in 1969.
Her keel was laid at the Bethlehem Steel Company shipyard in Staten Island, New York. She was launched on 3 October 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Frank E. Evans, widow of General Evans, and commissioned on 3 February 1945, with Commander H. Smith in command.
Frank E. Evans arrived at Pearl Harbor on 18 May 1945 for her final training, and crossed to Eniwetok, Guam, Ulithi, and Okinawa on escort duty. Reaching action waters on 24 June, she was assigned to radar picket and local escort duty, often firing on enemy aircraft. At the close of hostilities, she patrolled the Yellow Sea and the Gulf of Chihli, embarked released Americans from prisoner of war camps near Dairen, Manchuria, covered occupation landings at Jinsen, Korea, and continued to operate in the Far East until 6 March 1946, when she sailed from Tsingtao for San Francisco, California. Immobilized there on 31 March, Evans was decommissioned and placed in reserve on 14 December 1949.
Recommissioned on 15 September 1950 for duty in the Korean War, Evans sailed from San Diego, California on 2 January 1951 for duty with the 7th Fleet. On 26 February, she began her part in the lengthy siege of Wonsan, during which she engaged enemy shore batteries eleven times. On 18 June, she was struck by 30 shrapnel hits, which caused minor wounds to four crew members before the destroyer silenced the enemy battery.
During this tour of duty, Evans also bombarded targets in the Songjin-Chongjin area, rescued downed aviators, and coordinated and controlled day and night bombing missions by United Nations aircraft. She returned to San Diego on 4 September 1951.
Evans sailed on 22 March 1952 for her second Korean tour, serving on patrol and shore bombardment duty along the coast of Korea and on the Taiwan Patrol before returning to her new home port, Long Beach, California, on 6 November 1952. Her tour in the Far East from 13 June to 20 December 1953 coincided with the Korean armistice, and was devoted primarily to patrol duty.
From 1954 to 1960, Evans completed five deployments to the Far East, as well as joining extensive training operations along the west coast and in the Hawaiian Islands, occasionally with Canadian ships.
From 1962 to 1963, the ship was the fictitious Appleby in the NBC military comedy series
Ensign O'Toole, starring Dean Jones in the title role.
On the night of 2-3 June 1969, Evans was participating in SEATO exercise SEA SPIRIT in the South China Sea with elements of the Royal Australian Navy and other allied navies. Evans was operating in company with the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne. At flying stations, Melbourne signalled Evans, which was to port of the carrier, to take station astern of her. The most plausible action by Evans would have been to make a turn to port (away from the carrier) and describe a circle, taking station astern of the carrier. Because of confusion as to Melbourne's course and intentions and errors of judgment, instead of turning to port, Evans turned to starboard onto a collision course. After being warned by Melbourne, she came hard right, while Melbourne simultaneously (or nearly so) came hard left. Evans was cut in half in the ensuing collision. Her bow section sank in two minutes, taking 74 of her crew down with it. At the time of the collision, Evans's captain was asleep. The officer of the deck failed to notify him when he executed the station change as required by the Commanding Officer's standing orders. Evans was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 July 1969. The stern section was salvaged and sunk as a target in Subic Bay on 10 October 1969.