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The Official Newsletter of the
Shenandoah Valley Chapter #313
Korean War Veterans Association
Volume 12, Issue 02
Paul E. Bombardier,  Editor
February, 2019
Tin Can 01.png
Farewell to the Tin Can Navy.
A Narrative by Jack Keep.

Most people (of our age) have heard some reference to the ships called “Tin Cans”. And those of us who served in those ships proudly wear the title of “Tin Can Sailors”. There is even an organization dedicated  to these men and their ships.


The term “Tin Can” evolved from the fact first, that the hull of the Destroyer is very thin (3/8”) without armor plating and is designed for speed and maneuverability, and second, that it is tossed in heavy seas like a “Tin Can”.

The first destroyers were called “Torpedo Boat Destroyers”. They were designed to combat the early torpedo boat, but through the years their role expanded to the point that they were armed to do combat in the air, on the surface and below the sea.


The keel for the first destroyer (hull #1) was laid in Philadelphia in August 1899. The name was USS Bainbridge. Historically, destroyers were named after men - although we knew our home as “Her”. Bainbridge was250 feet long and displaced 420 tons. Through the years there have been 49 classes of Destroyers. Many classes were limited to only a few ships.

USS Charles Ausburne (DD-570), commissioned 24 November 1942, a Fletcher-class destroyer, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for Charles L. Ausburne, a sailor in World War I who was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. DD-570 was transferred to West Germany, 12 April 1960.

The largest is the “Fletcher” class, of which there were 175 commissioned in 1943. I (Jack Keep) served on one of these for four years (USS Gatling DD-671).


A number of our members are also “Tin Can Sailors”. Those of whom I am aware are David Clark (USS Laffey DD-724”, Richard Ewing (USS Potter DD-538), and Ray Ewing (USS Savage DD-386). No doubt there are others, if so, I would like to hear from you.


Sadly, the term “Tin Can” and “Tin Can Sailor” appears to have lived it’s life. While the WW2 and Korea “Tin Cans” were 375 feet in length, the newer ships are up to 610 feet long and sport armor plating of 4 inches. The trend is now to call us “Destroyermen”. Somehow, I prefer the old term.

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