Updated December 27, 2007

Pictured above from left, Capt Allen P Cook Jr and Capt James T Hodgson Jr. against a circa 1952 background of the Benham DD 796.

American Flag


The 16th annual reunion of the USS Benham will be held in Buffalo, NY on September 9-13, 2008. Watch for information on this reunion to be posted here as the reunion agenda develops.


Dear Dick [Spangler],

Thanks for your message.  From a personal point of view it is sad to see those pictures, I agree.  However taking into consideration the historical aspects, it was a very important event for our Navy.

Our Navy had decided to adopt the Exocet SS38 as the main Surface to Surface weapon system. Two Daring Class destroyers (ex Royal Navy) were retrofitted with the Exoct System (8 launchers) being the second Navy in the world to use them. So the manufacturers had a big interest in shooting some real missiles to real targets.

Our BAP Villar (Ex USS Benham) had been removed from service in those days and the Navy Command decided to use her as a target ship for the Exocet missile. So they painted the hull in orange for easy visual identification and towed her to open seas, left her there and fired the missile. You can see the result in the picture below. The setting of the missile was to hit above sea level so that the target would not sink and damage could be evaluated. Believe me, if there was a crew  in that area, including the bridge, the result would be effective. A real warship could not continue operating after receiving that missile. All the radio, ECK ESM or radar antennas were destroyed by the explosion. If the missile had been set to hit at lower level, the ship would have sunk.

The firing ship (Hull 74) was the BAP Ferre that you can see in the pictures. She is still in service but seeing her last days.

For me personally, all this is very significant as I was part of the crew onboard the BAP Villar (target) and also the Engineer Officer on the BAP Ferre (Launcher) so I witnessed my best two ships, kind of fighting a "simulated war."

I hope you guys have a great time in San Diego. I will be thinking of you and hoping I can make it to the next reunion in Phildelphia.

Up Navy! Up Sailors!

With best regards,

Fernando B. Byrne

Cdr.(r) Peruvian Navy, Lima, Peru email: ferbyrne@terra.com.pe


Square that hat and salute Old Glory matey, then come aboard for another cruise on the USS Benham, a cruise down memory lane. One designed to renew old friendships and kinships, to bring back memories of those things that were special, and so much a part of our lives, as together we sailed the seas of the known....and the unknown. A critical voyage for many of us who came aboard as boys, and went home as men. And to those who did not make it back home, a special "hello" to their families...with hope that by some means they will learn of this site and be able to read of the Benham history and know that their loved ones are not forgotten by their shipmates.

This is the web site of the Destroyers USS Benhams DD796, DD397 and DD49 and of the various crew members who graced their decks during their lifetimes. This page is designed much as a scrap book, no frames or tables to complicate printing the pages for filing in a scrapbook. Permission to reproduce any and all parts of this site for other than commercial purposes is given. Material to reproduce and publish on this page is solicited. Any photos or documents anyone can lend me will be scanned and returned.

This WEB Site is Dedicated to the Memory of John Sharpe


The USS Benham web page was an undertaking started several years ago by our crew member John Sharpe. He passed the web page to me several years ago with the knowledge that he was not able to keep it up due to health problems. It is with deep regret that I learned John Sharpe passed away on Feb. 27, 2004 after a long illness. It is my hope that this web site will be a fitting memorial to a man with vision and with much effort developed a web page when the Internet was just begining to be a household word. It was his interest in bringing together his shipmates that this site continues.
May God welcome you John and peace be with your family. Thanks from all your shipmates for a job well done.
John Bowerman, webmaster

I want to take this opportunity to give a belated "well done" to Dick Spangler for the great job he has done over the years. Much of my printed material came from the "Benham Salts" and having researched material for the past few months I have a great deal of respect for the effort extended in his gathering of information for publication in our newsletter.

While this is the homepage of the Benham Salts it also contains information relating to activities and functions of the WWII Plankowner/crew member Association and also the DD397 Association. Thanks to Don Moshier and Bob Frank for providing the information. Data for all groups can be found on the Association page.

Please note that we have a memorial page for our shipmates who are deceased. Please forward any information relating to past shipmates you may know of and review the page when you visit.   


By signing our guest book below you can leave a message for others to view and let us know you have been here. Also, you can read the messages others have left. It can be slow at times so please be patient. After all, it has been 40 to 50 or more years, so what is a few more minutes? Visit often and add messages, hunt for old shipmates, use it in any manner which you wish.

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Feedback please

John Bowerman
7199 W. Sundown CT
Frederick, MD 21702
Tel# 301-663-8035


Send email to... jbower10@yahoo.com