|USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., DD-850|
"The Joey P"
|LT Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr., USNR|
25 July 1915 - 12 August 1944
The young Naval Aviator was killed at the age of 29 on a special mission.
Operation Aphrodite (US Army Air Forces) & Operation Anvil (US Navy) made use of unmanned, explosive-laden Army Air Forces Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and Navy PB4Y-1 Liberator bombers, that were deliberately crashed into their targets under radio control. These aircraft could not take off safely on their own, so a crew of two would take off and fly to 2,000 feet (610 m) before activating the remote control system, arming the detonators and parachuting from the aircraft.
After U.S. Army Air Forces operation missions were drawn up on July 23, 1944, Kennedy and Lieutenant Wilford John Willy were designated as the first Navy flight crew. Willy had "pulled rank" over Ensign James Simpson (who was Kennedy's regular co-pilot) to be on the mission. They flew a BQ-8 "robot" aircraft (a converted B-24 Liberator) for the U.S. Navy's first Aphrodite mission. Two Lockheed Ventura mother planes and a Boeing B-17 navigation plane took off from RAF Fersfield at 1800 on 12 August 1944. Then the BQ-8 aircraft, loaded with 21,170 lb (9,600 kg) of Torpex, took off. It was to be used against the Fortress of Mimoyecques and its V-3 cannons in northern France.
Following behind them in a USAAF F-8 Mosquito to film the mission were pilot Lt. Robert A. Tunnel and combat camera man Lt. David J. McCarthy, who filmed the event from the perspex nose. As planned, Kennedy and Willy remained aboard as the BQ-8 completed its first remote-controlled turn at 2,000 feet near the North Sea coast. Kennedy and Willy removed the safety pin, arming the explosive package, and Kennedy radioed the agreed code Spade Flush, his last known words. Two minutes later (and well before the planned crew bailout, near RAF Manston), the Torpex explosive detonated prematurely and destroyed the Liberator, killing Kennedy and Willy instantly. Wreckage landed near the village of Blythburgh in Suffolk, England, causing widespread damage and small fires, but no injuries on the ground. According to one report, a total of 59 buildings were damaged in a nearby coastal town. W
|B-24D, the aircraft type some of which the Army Air Forces converted to BQ-8 drones.|
|PBY4-1, two of which the Navy converted to BQ-8 drones though some sources indicate that the Navy did not call them BQ-8s. It was in this type aircraft that Navy Lieutenants Kennedy and Willy lost their lives.|
In 1945 the Gearing-class destroyer DD-850 was laid down in the Bethlehem Steel Corporation's Fore River Shipyard at Quincy, Massachusetts. She was christened the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. She is "the last surviving Destroyer built in the State of Massachusetts, the only vessel to stop and board a Soviet chartered ship during the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and the last US Navy configured Gearing class Destroyer in the world" (source).
A young Robert Kennedy served on her during her shakedown cruise in February 1946. JFK and Jackie Kennedy watched the America's Cup races from her decks in 1962, anchored off of Newport, here in Little Rhody. The old ship has strong ties to New England. I had the honor, and privilege, of visiting this proud ship just recently at her final mooring at Battleship Cove in Fall River, MA.
|The Joey P's bridge. Yes, that hatch was locked. Yes, Murph and I tried to open it.|
|The flight deck of the Joey P. Murph and I were surprised that she has a flight deck. We wondered what sort of helo could fly off such a small platform. We discovered that, as you shall, a bit further down.|
|You can climb up to Joey P's flight deck, so of course, we did.|
|Part of Joey P's enlisted berthing. No doubt Skip would consider this spacious.|
|This machine shop can be seen in the previous photo. Can you imagine trying to catch some rack time with some machinist mate working in there? I can't.|
|Looking towards Joey P's bow and her forward 5-inch gun mount. (Torpedo launcher in left foreground, see below.)|
|Search radar (the box-spring looking thing) on the mast and a gun fire control radar dish forward of the mast.|
|Aft end of the eight cell RUR-5 ASROC launcher. Manufactured by Honeywell, this launcher held 8 Anti-Submarine Rockets, essentially a torpedo with a rocket strapped to its butt.|
|Business end of the ASROC launcher.|
|An exercise ASROC mounted on its loader.|
(If it's blue it won't go boom. If it's gray, get out of it's way.)
|Port side Mk 32 SVTT (detail from the photo above looking towards the bow).|
|Joey P's stack (think engine exhaust...)|
|The hangar just forward of Joey P's flight deck. Home to two Gyrodyne QH-50 DASHs (Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopters). They're not that big, which is how the flight deck can be so small. Manned helos need not apply!|
|Placards detailing the drones. Not sure if you can read them. Need good eyes!|
|Another placard showing a DASH lifting off.|
|On to the Lionfish, where I brained myself.|
Farewell Joey P!