|U.S.S. Allen M. Sumner DD-692|
|Mediterranean Deployment - July to December 1956|
Official Ship's Deck Log for 1956
On the morning of July 28th, ADM Arleigh Burke CNO, ADM Jerauld Wright CINCLANTFLT and RADM C. H. Lyman COMDESFLOT 4 stopped at Pier 7 at the Naval Operating Base in Norfolk and bid the Sumner a smooth journey during her latest deployment. That afternoon she got underway with DESDIV 161, DESDIV 42, DESRON 2 less USS Pierce and USS Strong for the Atlantic crossing.
After two weeks of drills and training Sumner moored at Valetta, Malta on August 11th where she was visited by VADM C. D. Glover, Deputy CINCAFMED. Remaining in Valetta overnight the 692 put to sea again the following morning as a unit of the Sixth Fleet bound for Phaleron Bay, Greece where she anchored on the 14th. Underway again on the 21st she returned to operations to the Eastern Mediterranean anchoring in Iskenderun, Turkey on the 28th. The anchor was aweigh again on the 31st for an overnight run to Beirut, Lebanon where the U.S. Ambassador, D. R. Heath, paid a visit.
The 5th of September found her again at sea and bound for Izmir, Turkey where she anchored on the 10th. On the 13th she sailed overnight for a return visit to Phaleron Bay and Athens. The next morning she again put to sea heading for Sicily while maintaining a barrier patrol across the Straits. This patrol continued until the 21st when Sumner anchored in Naples, Italy. On the 24th she joined Task Group 60.1 with the USS Randolph (CV-15) and USS Coral Sea (CV-43) for Air Operations and ASW training.
October 2nd she moored port side to USS Cascade (AD-16) in Cannes, France returning to sea with the carriers again on the 8th. After a week of ASW exercises Sumner dropped anchor at Istanbul, Turkey on the 15th for a week of sightseeing. Underway on the 22nd she once again dropped her anchor at the Island of Rhodes, Greece returning to sea on the 27th. On the 30th units were detached to proceed to Alexandria, Egypt for the evacuation of American citizens during the Suez Crisis. A article about this operation appears at the bottom of this page
The Ship's Log entry for November 2nd includes the comments: "City of Alexandria observed to be under air attack. Bomb bursts sighted and anti-aircraft bursts sighted." On the 5th Captain Haisten departed by helicopter to the USS Coral Sea and Captain Beers took command with operations continuing until the 21st when she anchored in Augusta Bay, Sicily departing that evening for Gibraltar. Sumner arrived in Gibraltar on the 25th and proceeded on to Norfolk the next day.
December 4th found her pierside in Norfolk and another successful deployment complete.
THE SUEZ CRISIS
The following is an extract from the Institute for International Strategic studies and is a part of the McNair Papers,
Number 33 Chapter 6, January 1995
Few ongoing situations are as complex as the Arab-Israeli Wars, which frequently have involved major power centers of the world but never in a more confused environment than the Suez Crisis. Traditional alignments were cast to the winds as national interests dictated British and French policies the United States opposed. And, while the Soviets threatened to enter the fighting against the British and French, the United States pondered how it might avoid taking the same course--and how to stop the Soviets.
In this environment ships of the Sixth Fleet found themselves conducting noncombatant evacuations during some of the heaviest fighting of the conflict from 31 October through 2 November 1956. The small fast transport BURDO, and the destroyers HARLAN R. DICKSON, and HUGH PURVIS went into Haifa as the Israelis engaged the Egyptian destroyer IBRAHIM EL AWAL just outside the port. The attack transport CAMBRIA also found herself off the Gaza strip evacuating United Nations truce observers whose position was under fire. And, in the worst situation of all, the attack transport CHILTON, the attack cargo ship THUBAN, and the destroyers CHARLES S. SPERRY and ALLEN M. SUMNER accompanying the amphibious force ship FORT SNELLING made an uninvited approach on Alexandria to conduct the evacuation there. Once inside the harbor nearly 40 air raids, opposed by heavy anti-aircraft fire, occurred in the immediate vicinity of these ships, with shells passing directly over CHILTON. Then, upon sortie on 2 November, during yet another air raid on the port, force commander Commodore Laing was confronted with taking over 4500 non-combatants through an inadequately swept minefield. Regarding his guidance the Commodore reported:
I'd had no instructions about shooting back and thereby upsetting the international applecart but good. I told Admiral Brown (Commander Sixth Fleet) I'd play that by ear. I am not sure that he had any instructions in the matter. It was one of damnedest international situations I'd ever heard about and I don't really think it has ever existed before. . . . If anybody got tough and gave me any more trouble than I was already having--like lead bullets--I was going to toss a few back and then go to sit around a long green table (at inquiry or court martial).
Fortunately, the ships were not directly engaged. If they had been, the Commodore apparently had the right idea about how to respond. It seems that Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Arleigh Burke had told Admiral Brown concisely, "If United States citizens are in danger protect them. Take no guff from anyone." It is worrisome that the guidance apparently was not shared with the on scene commander!
Do you have any stories, the Cruise Book or memorabilia of the cruise? If you do, please let us know