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All aboard the ROCS Te Yang. Beware of bears

A WWII-era American destroyer is a museum ship in Taiwan. Here's a look at this ship's long history. And its bears.

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headshots_Geoffrey_Morrison_140x100.jpg

Geoffrey Morrison

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1 of 43 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

USS Sarsfield

The USS Sarsfield is a WWII-era destroyer that has had a long and interesting career, ending up all the way across the Pacific on the west coast of Taiwan and renamed the ROCS Te Yang

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Parkside

The Te Yang, as it's now known, has its own park. Of all the many museum ship tours I've done, this was by far the most crowded. I think there might have been more people here than all the people I've ever seen on every other museum ship combined.

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A tank or two

The park, in Tainan City, also has some tanks, painted green from top to treads.

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'45

The Sarsfield is a Gearing-class destroyer, completed at the end of WWII.   

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Long service

The Sarsfield/Te Yang was in service for 60 years.

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Guns

Armament varied, but several of these Mark 12 5-inch/38-caliber guns were typical.

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Transfer

In 1977 the Sarsfield was transferred to the Republic of China Navy.

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Pipes from the gates of dawn

In case of biological or nuclear attack, these pipes would spray the outside of the ship with a mist, using seawater, to help decontaminate the superstructure and deck.

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Gearing

Many of the 98 Gearing-class destroyers were sold to other countries, including Spain, Greece and South Korea. Most were decommissioned in the '70s. 

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Speed and a bear

Top speed was around 42 mph (68 km/h).

And don't ask me to explain the bear. I have no idea. But he's everywhere.

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Antisub

Though used for many roles, antisubmarine warfare was an important one.

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Racks

Depth charge release racks.

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Pad

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Te Yang is that, due to its long service, it has gone through several refits with updated technology, like this helipad which was installed in the late '50s.

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Cafe

In a clever use of space, the former helicopter shed is now a cafe.

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Early drone

The hanger was too small for standard helicopters of the day, so instead it housed a QH-50C DASH, aka a Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter. 

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Fans

This bear is extremely popular.

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Like a roc

An ASROC (or Anti-Submarine ROCket), which launched torpedo-tipped rockets.

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Rocket control

From here, sailors would control the ASROC launcher's movement.

The bear sees all.

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You can't stop the signal

The Signal Station officers would send and receive signals between ships using semaphore. This was the their station.

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Flags flying

The Sarsfield and crew received a battle star for a tour during the Vietnam War.

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Bridge

The bridge, or as the Taiwanese call it, the Rudder House.

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Packed (wheel) house

Not surprisingly, this was one of the busiest spots on the ship.

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Fancy a drive?

The ship's wheel, updated a bit, with the engine control on the left. The dial above and to the right of the wheel shows the position of the rudder.

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All ahead full

Two steam turbines generated 60,000 horsepower. Range was approximately 5,157 miles, or 8,300 kilometers.

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PPI

The plan position indicator, essentially the radar display.

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Multilingual

One of my favorite aspects of exploring the Te Yang was seeing what had remained in English, and what had instead had been labeled in Chinese.

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Mixing board

Essentially a big mixing board. Turn a knob, send sound to a specific place.

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Disruptor

This is the CR-201 disruption rocket system which could, depending on need, jam radios, act as a decoy, deploy chaff and more. 

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Radio room

Checking out one of the last pieces of gear in the radio room.

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Watch your awwww

This is the cutest "watch your head" sign I've ever seen.

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History

Several rooms had been repurposed as a sort of museum-within-a-museum, documenting the history of  the ship.

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Test bed

While with the US Navy the Sarsfield helped test new technologies, and was even a support ship during the Mercury space missions.

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Wardroom

The captain had two quarters, here, and aft of the bridge. While under sail he'd spend most of his time in the latter.

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More missles

These are Hsiung Feng I antiship missile launchers, which were based on an Israeli design.

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Triplets

Three torpedoes could be stored and launched in this rotatable launcher.

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Superstructure

In the late 50s the Sarsfield underwent an extensive modernization program. The superstructure was heavily modified, and throughout the ship modifications were made to convert it to primarily an antisubmarine ship. 

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Like new

If you've looked at these images and marveled at what good shape the ship is in, it's because it went through an extensive and elaborate cleanup before becoming a museum ship.

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To Taiwan

As part of Taiwan's modernization program, the landing pad and hangar were updated to be able to launch and land MD 500 Defenders.

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Sarsfield of the past

This photo, from Naval History and Heritage Command via the National Archives, shows the Sarsfield using flags to signal during exercises in 1969.

Catalog #: NH 73859

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In formation

From front to back, the Colombian destroyer ARC Almirante Tono (formally the USS Bassett), the Sarsfield, and the USS Taussig during UNITAS exercises in 1969.

Catalog #: L53-41.08.01

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Depth charge practice

The USS Epperson (center) and USS Sarsfield (right), dropping depth charges during antisubmarine warfare exercises. 

Catalog #: 80-G-415520

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Sarsfield '73

The Sarsfield near Sicily in July, 1973.

Catalog #: NH 107002

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ROCS Te Yang

Despite the heat and the crowds, the ROCS was a fascinating tour and well worth a visit.

For more about the ship and the tour, check out the links here.

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