RICHMOND -- Retired Admiral Barry K. Atkins, who commanded a destroyer that sank a Japanese battleship in a historic World War II battle, died Tuesday, his family said. He was 94.
Admiral Atkins, a 1932 Naval Academy graduate who retired from the Navy in October 1959, received the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism as commanding officer of the USS Melvin during the Battle of Surigao Strait in the Philippines.
Military historians think the sinking of Japan's Fuso was the only instance in the war of a destroyer sinking a battleship.
On Oct. 25, 1944, a torpedo fired by the Melvin hit the Fuso broadside, triggering a series of explosions that ultimately sank the Fuso.
The Melvin's crewmen have been waging an effort to have a ship named in honor of their former commander.
''They are like a band of brothers that went through so much together, and the events created a bond and connection that none of us can ever understand," Admiral Atkins's daughter, Sue Keener, wrote of the Melvin's crew in an e-mail to the Associated Press for a story on that effort.
In addition to his service on Melvin, Admiral Atkins had tours of duty on the USS Parrott, USS Tennessee, and USS New Mexico, among other ships, and received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and many other commendations.
He leaves four children.
Services with full military honors will be held Jan. 30 at Arlington National Cemetery.