Working the Gun Line


USS Beale (DD-471) crewmembers use a fire hose to cool the barrel of the ship’s forward 5″/38 cal gun. Note the jumble of empty shell casings near the gun mount. Possibly taken during Beale’s mid-1966 naval gunfire support operations off Vietnam. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 103718

During the Vietnam Conflict from just May 1965 to June 1968, U.S. surface warships fired over 1.152 million rounds of ammunition. One destroyer fired over 48 tons of ammunition in a 48 hour period – over 1,300 projectiles. Such high-tempo operations required destroyers providing naval gunfire support to replenish from AEs sometimes several times a week, and store shells temporarily on deck or in mess areas while clocking back in to answer calls on the gun line.

The barrels of the USS Boston, an 8-inch gun cruiser, were worn nearly…

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