Fletcher Class

  Of the 175 Fletcher Class Destroyers built during World War II, ONLY three ships of this class received a FRAM "update": RADFORD, JENKINS and NICHOLAS. These three ships received their FRAM II overhaul all at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard during FY 1960.

    The mainstay of the World War II Destroyer fleet, the Fletcher Class destroyers were the first destroyers equipped with radar and were the largest destroyers of their day (over 900 tons heavier than the Gleaves class, standard weight).         

    While equipped with 5 qty, 5"/38 caliber MK 30 single gun mounts, the Navy sought in October 1941 to eventually increase the fire power of the FLETCHER CLASS 2100-ton destroyers. However these meetings resulted in a heavier vessel being built upon the Fletcher's hull and machinery. By May 1942 this "New Fletcher class" became the Allen M. Sumner class destroyer having 3 qty, MK-38 twin 5"/38 caliber gun mounts as its main weapon system.

    FRAM: By 1948-1951 the remaining Fletchers were re-classified Destroyer Escorts (DDE) and for the RADFORD, JENKINS and NICHOLAS, they were reclassified as DD's after receiving FRAM II. The more than 7 month FRAM II overhaul brought Variable Depth Sonar (for RADFORD and NICHOLAS) and 2 qty, DASH aircraft onboard these ships (DASH on Nicholas, seen right), yet these Fletchers lost all of their Anti-Aircraft guns to save on top-side weight. This included the removal of the 6 qty, 40mm Bofors guns in three twin turrets, 7 qty, 10 x 20mm Oerlikon guns along with the 5 qty, 21" twin torpedo tubes.

    While it is known that only 3 Fletcher class destroyers received the "official programmed" FRAM II overhaul, it must be noted that the Fletcher class destroyer, USS HAZELWOOD (DD 531-seen left) which did not receive FRAM, but which was a DASH Ship, was the prototype DASH ship for DASH trials in 1958 while maintaining her DD status and therefore was subject to the same installation criteria that the other Fletcher class ships underwent. By 1963, alone, USS HAZELWOOD recorded over 1,000 DASH landings.    
    Accordingly, we recognize the USS HAZELWOOD (DD-531) here for being the FIRST DESTROYER to carry the operational DASH system. 


Name of Ship

Hull No.




Stricken Date




Bath Iron Works, Bath ME

03 May 1942
10 Nov. 1969




Federal Shipbuilding, Kearny NJ

21 June 1942
02 July 1969




Bath Iron Works, Bath ME

19 Feb. 1942
30 Jan. 1970



2,325 tons standard (2,924 tons full load)


376 5" Length x 39' 7" beam x 13 9" draught


2 qty, 5 inch/38 caliber MK 30 mod 19 enclosed single mount guns with MK 12 barrel


2 qty, DASH Helicopters, 6 homing torpedo tubes (2 Triple mounts), 7.2 inch anti-submarine Hedgehogs (ahead thrown weapons), MK 108 Antisubmarine Rocket Launcher (known as Weapon A). SPS-6 Radar


2 General Electric Geared turbines. 2 shafts. SHP: 68,000 = 38 knots


Four Babcock & Wilcox boilers

Oil Fuel:

492 tons


6,500 miles at 15 knots


Allowance: 329 (20 officers, 309 enlisted men) 

Please Note: 


RADFORD completed FRAM modernization by November 1960 and received her Variable Depth Sonar, AFTER FRAM, at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in February 1963.


JENKINS completed FRAM modernization by January 1961 and received her Variable Depth Sonar, AFTER FRAM, at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in February 1962.


NICHOLAS completed FRAM modernization by July 1960

    The following are Gyrodyne FRAM-DASH installation pictures of one of the FLETCHER class ships that under went FRAM II, that being the USS RADFORD.

U.S.S. RADFORD (DD-446/DDE-446)

  A FLETCHER class destroyer, she displaced 2924 tons when full, was 376 feet 5 inches long, had 60,000 SHP, General Electric Geared Turbines powering 2 screws to a maximum speed of 38 knots. Her crew numbered 273.

    She was laid down by Federal Shipbuilding of Kearny, New Jersey on October 2, 1941. Launched May 3, 1942 and commissioned on July 22, 1942, she was decommissioned January 17, 1946 due to the end of WW II. Recommissioned October 17, 1949, she was reclassified DDE-446 on March 26, 1949 and then reclassified again, back to DD-446 on June 30, 1962. Eventually, however, RADFORD was decommissioned and stricken from the naval register on November 10, 1969 and sold and broken up for scrap in October of 1970.

   Above is a view of the ONLY test set equipment located in the DASH hangar. This view is portside-mid section of the RADFORD's DASH Hangar. The test set at left is the AN/ASM-103 Automatic Flight Control Field Analyzer. The equipment below the AN/ASM-103 was the control monitor, transmitter control and decoder test sets.    

   Above, a technician on the RADFORD, has hooked up the AN/ASM-103 to QH-50C, DS-1199, to test the avionics. The AN/ASM-103 was designed to be directly connected to AFCS connector on the QH-50 drone and, with the Rotary servo actuator powered up with an auxiliary drive electric motor, analyze the complete avionics and flight control system of the drone and detect problems that needed adjustment. The AN/ASM-103 did this by simulating signals from the ship-based control system and then measured the avionics system response. A complete functional test using this piece of test equipment was required before a flight!  


   This picture on the RADFORD (above-left) provides an idea of the limited space provided for these aircraft and why their 20' rotor diameter and compactness afforded by the coaxial rotor system made DASH possible. The left picture was taken standing AGAINST the port wall, looking forward and starboard. With each Destroyer having a twin DASH installation (2 aircraft per ship), space was tight between the aircraft (see right photo). Note the winches at the forward wall for the cable-retrieval system when rolling-pitching seas made Drone handling difficult. This system was later abandoned due to easier ground handling gear and top-weight considerations.    Above shows the starboard side of the middle of the DASH hangar on RADFORD. The black hose is for fueling of the aircraft (note nozzle on the end). Also hanging on the wall are the cable assemblies for the winch arrangement. After a ASW (anti-submarine warfare) flight and removal of the twin MK-44 homing torpedoes to the side weapons locker, the QH-50 was relatively easy to move with its two ground handling wheels placed at the center of its gravity on the bottom landing gear skid.




Home Up Fletcher Class Sumner Class Gearing Class Frank Knox Class Carpenter Class Basilone Class Dealey Class DE Bronstein Class Mitscher Class Destroyer Tenders JMSDF Destroyers


Helicopter Historical Foundation
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