The final moments for the USS Reeves have been recorded by the Royal Australian Air Force as the ship was used as a target during at sea exercise Tandem Thrust in the South Pacific in 2001. Watching any ship sink is a terrible moment. Watching the Reeves sink was especially heart breaking. It is to be noted the the Ironlady's back wasn't broken during the bombardment excercises and that she settled into the warm Pacific waters very gracefully, as if waiting for just a moment before slipping under the tropical green surface. She now rests intact about three miles down where she will provide a safe haven for the denizens of the deep. Because of the depth of her final resting place, no Sunday divers or curiosity seekers will disturb her decks.
Reeves was decommissioned on 12 November 1993, stored at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility (NISMF), Pearl Harbor. (See Tom Bailey's photos taken in 1999.) She was ultimately used as a target ship on 31 May 2001 during a sink exercise (SINKEX) off the coast of Queensland, Australia during a joint U.S and Australian naval exercise. Her final resting place is 26°26′53.0″S, 155°24′27.0″E where she lies at a depth of 2,541 fathoms.
The video of her last moment can be seen at this link. You will need Real Player to view it. This video is a large file and downloads slowly, even with a high speed internet connection. The focus isn't all that clear, but it does contain the last live pictures of the ship.
The photo below was taken just after the last bombing run. Visible are damages to the starboard bow area and the starboard port quarter which were classified as direct hits. The Ironlady is showing signs of taking on water aft and will settle beneath the surface barely 30 minutes later.
Perhaps it's just as well that Reeves rests in the Pacific. She spent her entire life in the Pacific, homeported in Long Beach, California, Yokosuka, Japan, and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Except for a one-time trip to Bath, Maine, for her first major upgrade, she was always a WESTPAC ship, except for her last trip that took her into the Indian Ocean. There, she nearly ended her life prematurely with a run in with a couple of 500 pound bombs. How many polywogs became shellbacks on her decks?
See Dr. John White's sinkex web page that also includes a letter from LT Jim Arnold.
© 2008 USS Reeves Association. All rights reserved. Last update: 9/20/2008