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Gridley II DD-380 - History

Gridley II

DD-380: dp. 1850; 1. 341'5"; b. 35'6"; dr. 10'4" s. 40
k.; cpl. 158; a. 4 5", 16 21" tt.; cl. Gridley1Jj

The second Gridley was launched at the Fore River plant of Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Quincy, Mass., 1 December 1936; sponsored by Mrs. Lewis Buddy III, daughter of Captain Gridley; and commissioned 24 June 1937, Comdr. Leroy W. Busbey, Jr., in command.

Gridley fitted out at Boston Navy Yard, and conducted shakedown in the Caribbean area until 27 October 1938, visiting Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Venezuela. She then underwent alterations at the Boston Navy Yard until 13 June 1938, when she departed that port, transited the Panama Canal, and entered San Diego harbor 5 July 1938. Joining Destroyer Division 11, Gridlely spent the next months in tactical maneuvers off the coast of California, and 4 January 1939 departed with the Battle Force for combined maneuvers in the Caribbean. She participated in Fleet Problem 20 with the Fleet off Cuba and Haiti, after which she returned to Boston for repairs.

The destroyer again sailed into San Diego 13 July 1939 and became flagship of Division 11. She conducted maneuvers off California until 2 April 1940, when Gridely and other ships of the fleet conducted Fleet Problem 21 in Hawaiian waters. Subsequently, Gridely operated out of Hawaii.

Gridley, cleared Pearl Harbor 28 November 1941 as part of the antisubmarine screen for famed carrier Enterprise, flagship of Admiral Halsey, and after a stop at Wake Island, reversed course for Pearl Harbor. The Task Force was approaching that base on the morning of 7 December when the astounding message heralding the beginning of the war was received: "Air raid on Pearl Harbor, this is no drill." ~Gridely entered the harbor next day to help protect against renewed attack, and during the next 5 months was occupied escorting transports and repair vessels to and from Pearl Harbor and South Pacific ports. Her last such voyage was completed 27 May 1942 and 5 June she arrived at Kodiak, Alaska, with cruiser Nashville. In the Alaskan theater, Gridley escorted transports and patrolled the Japanese-held islands of Kiska and Attu, assisting in the bombardment of Kiska 7 August 1942. She acted during this period as flagship for famous destroyer man Comdr. Frederick Moosbrugger.

Departing Dutch Harbor 25 September 1942, Gridley joined the Saratoga task force in Hawaiian waters and later Performed escort missions for troth combatant and non combatant ships in the Fiji and New Hebrides. In December 1942 she escorted oiler Cimarron out of Noumea to fueling rendezvous with the carrier task forces supporting the bitter fighting in the Solomons. Shifting her base of operations to Purvis Bay, in the Solomons, 13 July, Gridley guarded the high-speed transports which rescued survivors from Helena in Parasco Bay 16 July 1943, and teamed with destroyer Maury to escort infantry landing craft from Guadalcanal for the landings on Tambatuni, New Georgia. She bombarded shore installations near the invasion beaches 25 July and screened the ships supporting the landing, In company with six other destroyers she destroyed Japanese landing barges in Vella Gulf 10 August, and screened Saratoga during air operations in the Solomons until 25 August.

Gridley returned to Pearl Harbor with escort carriers Suwance and Long I,land 4 September 1943 and then departed for San Diego, where she remained for repairs 11 September to 26 October 1943. The Gilbert Islands were her next destination, and Gridely left Pearl Harbor once more 10 November 1943 for Makin Island. She assisted in the bombardment of that island, screened aircraft carriers, and then conducted independent patrol in the area until setting course for Hawaii 1 December.

Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's Carrier Task Force 58 departed Pearl Harbor 18 January 1944 for the great offensive in the Marshalls, with Gridely again acting as screening ship for Saratoga. Gridley guarded the carrier during the crucial strikes against Wotje and Eniwetok, and 8 March sailed for the New Hebrides with carriers Yorktown, Princeton, and Langley, assisting them in support of the developing New Guinea offensive. The veteran destroyer sailed with the Hornet task force 7 June 1944 to take part in the invasion of the Marianas, where the carriers pounded Saipan, Rota, and Guam. In all these operations Gridley and her sister destroyers rendered invaluable service protecting the carriers against air and submarine attack.

Gridely was with American forces in the pivotal Battle of the Philippine Sea 19 to 20 June 1944, when four massive waves of Japanese torpedo bombers and escorting fighters were decimated by fleet air and surface units. Gridely's antiaircraft fire helped to protect the aircraft carriers, with the result that Japanese air strength was virtually ended with this battle.

Gridley departed Eniwetok Atoll 30 June 1944 bound with the carriers for strikes on Iwo Jima, Guam, Yap, Ulithi, and the Volcano Islands. She supported directly the American landings on Peleliu 15 September 1944. shooting down at least one Japanese attack plane. After screening the carriers in attacks on Okinawa and Formosa, Oridleg joined the mounting American forces for the invasion of the Philippines. While protecting the large ships off Luson 28 October 1944 she and destroyer Helm detected and sank Japanese submarine I~4 with a series of devastating depth charge attacks. In the succeeding days, Oridleg fought off Japanese suicide planes and returned to Ulithi with damaged carriers Franklin and Belleau Wood 2 November.

Gridely was soon at sea again, however, clearing Ulithi 5 November with the fast carrier task force for the Leyte operation. She later joined a group of escort carriers and served as a bombardment and patrol ship during the landings in Lingayen Gulf until 10 February 1945.

After stopping again at Ulithi, Gridely escorted battleship Mississippi en route to Pearl Harbor, and then sailed via San Diego and the.Panama Canal for New York, where she arrived 30 March 1945. She entered the New York Navy Yard next day for much needed repairs, and after finishing her overhaul departed the United States 22 June

for the Mediterranean. Gridley spent the next 7 months in passenger. freight and convoy operations between Casablanca, Oran, Napies, and Marseilles.

Subsequently, Gridley returned to New York in February 1946 and then sailed on the 20th of that month for Hawaii She embarked military passengers and cargo at the Panama Canal and San Diego before arriving at Pearl Harbor 16 March for inactivation. Gridley decommissioned at Pearl Harbor Navy Yard 18 April 1946 and was sold for scrapping 20 August 1947.

Gridley was awarded 10 battle stars for service in World War II.

Gridley Class Destroyers

The Gridley class destroyers marked a victory for those in the US Navy who saw the destroyer as primarily an offensive ship, and the torpedo as its main weapon. On the Farragut, Mahan and Dunlap classes guns had been seen as being as important as torpedoes, and they were armed with five 5in guns and eight (Farragut) or twelve torpedoes (Mahan and Dunlap).

In March 1935 the General Board issued a specification that called for a destroyer with four guns and sixteen torpedoes carried in four quad mounts, two on each side. New gyro controlled torpedoes were being developed that in theory would allow all sixteen torpedoes to be fired in one go, using 'curving ahead fire' to curve onto the correct course after being launched. The new design was to have a single funnel, and was meant to be lighter than 1,500t standard displacement so that it would be faster on the same engine power. The specifications eventually called for a speed of 37kts on 44,000shp, although by the time they were build advances in engine technology meant that they achieved nearly 39kts on 50,000shp.

In 1935 Bethlehem wasn't yet ready to move to the high speed turbines introduced on the Mahan Class, and so the Gridley class was built with low-speed turbines. However they did accept the need for more advanced boilers, and the boilers on the Gridley class ships operated at 600psi and 700 degrees F. The uptakes from the boilers were trunked into a single funnel.

A total of twenty-two sixteen torpedo destroyers were built. These fell into three classes and two batchs. The first batch of ten ships included the first two Gridley class ships, built by Bethlehem's Quincy yard and the eight-ship Bagley class, which combined the new layout with the General Electric turbines introduced on the Mahan class. The second batch, built using FY 36 funds, included ten Benham class ships, which used a new gun mount, and two more Gridley class ships, this time built at Bethlehem's San Francisco yard.

The first two Gridley class ships were thus funded by the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of June 1934, which funded twelve 1,500 ton destroyers and two 1,850 ton destoyers under fiscal year 1935. The final two were funded in 1935, with money from fiscal year 1936.

Individual Ships

USS Gridley (DD-380) was at sea when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Between then and May 1942 she escorted convoys between Pearl and the south Pacific. She then moved to the Aleutians, before returning south for more escort duties. In July 1943 she supported the invasion of New Georgia. Later in the year she took part in the invasion of the Gilbert Islands, then early in 1944 the Marshall Islands. In June she took part in the invasion of the Marianas and the battle of the Philippine Sea. In September she supported the invasion of Peleliu. She then supported the invasion of the Philippines. In February 1945 she began a trip back to the US for repairs.

USS Craven (DD-382) was at sea when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. She took part in the early carrier raids, then moved to the US west coast to take part in convoy escort duties. In November 1942 she joined the fighting off Guadalcanal, where she spent the next nine months. In August 1943 she took part in the battle of Vella Gulf. In 1944 she supported the invasion of the Marshall Islands, Hollandia and the Marianas. She took part in the battle of the Philippine Sea, then supported the fast carriers during their raids. In 1945 she changed theatre, and spent the first half of 1945 conducting anti-submarine patrols off the US East Coast, before escorting a convoy to Britain in May 1945. She then moved to the Mediterranean where she remained until 1946.

USS McCall (DD-400) was also at sea. She took part in the early carrier raids, then escorted convoys to Samoa, Fiji and Tonga. In May she moved to the Aleutians, before in November joining the campaign off Guadalcanal. She spent most of 1943 in the Solomons, mainly on escort or anti-submarine duties. In 1944 she escorted the fast carriers during their raids, supported the invasion of Hollandia, and then the Marianas. She took part in the battle of the Philippine Sea then supported the fast carrier raids. She took part in the invasion of the Philippines, and fought at the battle of Leyte Gulf. In February-March 1945 she took part in the invasion of Iwo Jima, then returned to the US for a refit that was still underway when the Japanese surrendered.

USS Maury (DD-401) was also at sea and took part in the early carrier raids. She was sent south in an attempt to take part in the battle of the Coral Sea, but arrived too late. She was in place to take part in the battle of Midway. She guarded the Enterprise during the initial landings on Guadalcanal, and fought in the battle of the Eastern Solomons and the battle of Santa Cruz. She was based in the Solomons for the next ten months. After a six week break in the summer of 1943 she took part in the invasion of the Gilberts in November 1943 and supported the fast carriers during the raids in the first half of 1944. She then took part in the invasion of the Marianas and the battle of the Philippine Sea. She took part in the invasion of the Philippines and fought in the battle of Leyte Gulf. After leaving the Philippines she took part a period of training, and then returned to the US, where she was decommissioned.

USS Gridley (DD 380)

Decommissioned 18 April 1946.
Stricken 25 February 1947.
Sold 20 August 1947 and broken up for scrap.

Commands listed for USS Gridley (DD 380)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

1John Templar Evans, USNJun 193915 May 1940
2Edward Alva Solomons, USN15 May 19401 Mar 1942 ( 1 )
3Lt.Cdr. Donald Allen Crandell, USN1 Mar 19422 Mar 1942
4Lt.Cdr. Fred Russell Stickney, Jr., USN2 Mar 19428 Feb 1943 ( 1 )
5T/Cdr. Jesse Hogan Motes, Jr., USN8 Feb 194311 May 1944 ( 1 )
6T/Cdr. Philip Decatur Quirk, USN11 May 194429 Nov 1944
7George Francis Dalton, USN29 Nov 194410 Jul 1945 ( 1 )
8John Thomas Evans, USNR10 Jul 194511 Nov 1945
9Cmdr Stuart Trowbridge Hotchkiss, USNR11 Nov 194518 Apr 1946 ( 1 )

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The Gridleys introduced an armament of four 5 inch (127 mm) dual purpose guns (anti-surface and anti-aircraft (AA)) in single mounts and sixteen 21 inch (533   mm) torpedo tubes in quadruple mounts for US destroyers. [2] The class was initially equipped with the Mark 11 torpedo or Mark 12 torpedo, which were replaced by the Mark 15 torpedo beginning in 1938. [8] Their near-sisters the Bagleys and Benhams duplicated this armament, the heaviest in torpedoes ever on US destroyers. Compared with the Mahans, they sacrificed one gun for four additional torpedo tubes. It was suggested that these ships could use "curved ahead fire", using the adjustable post-launch gyro angle of their torpedoes to launch a sixteen-torpedo spread ahead of the ship. [2] One reason for the heavy destroyer torpedo armament was that, alone among the major navies, the last nine of the seventeen US Treaty cruisers built in the 1920s and 1930s lacked torpedoes eventually all of the US Treaty cruisers' torpedoes were removed in 1941 in favor of additional heavy AA guns. [9]

As with most other US destroyers of this period, the 5 inch guns featured all-angle power loading and were director controlled, making them as effective as the technology allowed against aircraft. By late 1942, radio proximity fuses (VT fuses) made them much more effective. As in the last two Mahans, the two forward 5 inch guns were in enclosed mounts, while the after guns were open. However, in common with all US surface combatants in the 1930s, the light AA armament was weak only four .50 caliber machine guns (12.7   mm) were equipped. It was apparently felt that the heavy AA armament would shoot down most incoming aircraft in all situations, but the attack on Pearl Harbor showed that this was not true. [10] The Gridleys' weak AA armament was partially remedied after Pearl Harbor by replacing the machine guns with seven 20 mm Oerlikon cannon (0.8   in). [11] The Gridleys were alone among the 1930s and 1940s destroyers in not receiving any 40 mm Bofors guns (1.6   in) due to stability concerns. [3] [12] Most of these destroyers had some or all torpedo tubes replaced by light AA guns during World War II, but not the Gridleys.

As with their contemporaries, the Gridleys' anti-submarine warfare (ASW) armament started with two depth charge racks aft. Photographs show that these were augmented during World War II by four K-gun depth charge throwers. [11]


From their completion through mid-Battle of Kolombangara in July, and with Craven for the Battle of Vella Gulf in August. Maury then received a Presidential Unit Citation for the period 1 February 1942 to 6 August 1943. [13] Gridley and Maury were at the Gilbert Islands/Tarawa invasion in November of that year. All four destroyers operated together in the Marshalls and Marianas campaigns (including the Battle of the Philippine Sea) through mid-1944, and, less Craven (which went to the Atlantic), continued screening escort carriers off the Philippines (including the Battle of Leyte Gulf) and Formosa into 1945. [3]

In 1945, due to their poor suitability for adequate anti-aircraft upgrades, the three ships remaining in the Pacific were withdrawn. Maury, with a crack in her deck that was no longer deemed worth repairing, was decommissioned in October, two months after hostilities ceased. McCall was overhauled at New York but then decommissioned in November. Gridley was overhauled in New York in early 1945, and Craven at Pearl Harbor in late 1944. Both operated in the Atlantic and Mediterranean until January 1946, but then returned to Pearl Harbor where they were decommissioned in 1946. In common with nearly all pre-war US destroyers, all were scrapped by the end of 1948. [3]

Gridley II DD-380 - History

The USS Los Angeles (CA-135) was laid down by the Philadelphia Naval Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 28 July 1943 and was launched 20 August 1944, and commissioned on 22 July 1945 Capt. John A. Snackenberg in command. The ship was sponsored by Mrs. Fletcher Bowron, wife of the former City of Los Angeles Mayor.

USS Los Angeles passing under the Golden Gate Bridge in late Jan. 1947, flying the homecoming pennant. The pennant, which flew from the mainmast, is described in the John Ferlin link below.

To view a larger picture, click on the picture at left.

Contributed by John Ferlin , 2001 & 2009.

Homecoming Pennant (Jan 1947)

The Los Angeles was decommissioned at Hunter's Point on 9 April 1948 and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet.

Korean War 1951-1953

In response to the American effort to thwart Communist aggression in the Republic of South Korea, the Los Angeles was recommissioned on 27 January 1951 with Capt. Robert N. McFarlane in command. Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz was the senior officer present at the Commissioning Ceremony. She sailed for the Far East on 14 May 1951 and joined Naval Operations off the eastern coast of Korea on 31 May 1951 as the Flagship for Rear Admiral Arleigh A. Burke's Cruiser Division Five.

During the next 6 months, she ranged the coastal waters of the Korean Peninsula from Hungnam in the east, to Haeju in the west while her guns pounded enemy coastal positions.

After returning to the United States on 17 December 1951 for overhaul and training, she made her second deployment to Korean waters on 9 October 1952, and participated in the 11 October concentrated shelling of enemy bunkers and observation points at Koji-ni.

During the next few months, she continued to provide offshore gunfire support for American ground operations and, in addition, she cruised the Sea of Japan with the fast carriers of the Seventh Fleet.

During the bombardment of Wonsan late in March and early April 1953, she was hit twice by enemy shore batteries. No lives were lost, but twelve men were wounded when an enemy shell struck the ship's mainmas t. The men were awarded Purple Hearts see Purple Hearts and this video. She continued operations until sailing for the United States west coast in mid April. She arrived in Long Beach, California, on 15 May 1953.

While serving two tours of duty in Korea, she fired about 25,000 rounds of ammunition at enemy shores (see Navy message below). She was the first U.S. Navy vessel to take enemy fire in Korea, and established a record for the longest-sustained bombardment ever logged by an American warship.

Contributed by Bill Allen, SKSN, S-1 Div. (on LA '52-'53)

The USS Los Angeles (CA-135) received five battle stars for service during the Korean Conflict.

Korean Service Streamer
with one silver star
(equals 5 bronze stars)

1953-1959 Cruises

Between November 1953 and July 1959, the Los Angeles made six more deployments to the Far East where she served as a Cruiser Division Flagship with the Seventh Fleet in support of "keeping the peace" operations in that troubled part of the world. Her operations sent her from the Coast of Japan to the Sea of Japan, the Yellow Sea, and the East and South China Seas. With the units of the mighty Seventh Fleet, she steamed to American bases in South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, and Formosa. See Time-Line for a details about all the ship's cruises & activities from 1943 to 1974, including Westpac maps.

In 1954, the Los Angeles began modifications to deploy a stern-launched, sub-sonic REGULUS I guided missile system. The first Operational Suitability Test for REGULUS I took place on 15 February 1955 with the successful launch of the first operational tactical missile system (minus nuclear components) from the USS Los Angeles (CA-135) near Hawaii. The Los Angeles deployed soon after to the Western Pacific, carrying three tactical missiles, each armed with W-5 nuclear warheads.

On 27 August 1958, the Los Angeles made an emergency deployment to Formosa (now Taiwan), departing from Long Beach with only 24 hours notice. Known as the Quemoy-Matsu Crisis, Los Angeles joined Task Group 77.6 of the Seventh Fleet on 10 September, 35 miles from Formosa, to protect Formosa from a possible invasion by Communist China.

Significantly, the Chinese Communists ceased firing on the islands on the day the Los Angeles took station opposite the Island of Quemoy, only to begin again after the cruiser left the area! On 5 October 1958, with USS Los Angeles stationed 14 miles from Quemoy and performing air control duties, the Chinese bombardment of Formosa ended and a cease fire was declared.

After departing the Taiwan Straits, the ship participated in the Black Ship Festival in Shimoda, Japan, and paid goodwill visits to Yokosuka, Nagoya, Kobe, and Hong Kong.

For more photos of this time period, see 1955 to 1959 Photos.

For service in Taiwan (Quemoy and Matsu Crisis), she was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with two battle stars.

Armed Forces Expeditionary
Service Streamer
with 2 bronze stars

In early 1959, USS Los Angeles played a small role in the testing
of the underwater launching of the Polaris missile at San Clemente Island.

Marine color guard onboard USS Los Angeles.
From left, PFC R.D. Ott, S.Sgt R.L. Scroggin,
Sgt R.C. Robinson & PFC S.M. Greer.
US Navy photo, Long Beach, CA, Oct. 1959.

(click on the photo to see a larger size)

This photo is from a fine collection of USS LA
photos at the Naval Historical Center website:

USS Los Angeles at Seal Beach in 1959
to off-load ammuntion prior to overhaul
at Long Beach Shipyard.

(click on the photo to see a larger size)

US Navy photo
(Photo provided by Seal Beach Weapons Station)

The Los Angeles deployed on her last two cruises in 1961 & 1962. She returned to Long Beach from her final Far East deployment on 20 June 1963.

For more photos of this time period, see 1960 to 1963 Photos. Also, see Time-Line for a details about all the ship's cruises & activities from 1943 to 1974, including Westpac maps.

Click on photo to view a larger size

Across the street at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum (LAMM), other ship's artifacts are on display including the bow section and ship's bell. Many other items including the flying bridge and memorabilia from shipmates are displayed inside the LAMM.

See CA-135 Memorials Page for pictures of these items.

This photo is taken from a larger photo at: George Bell

Source data for these ribbons is at: USS LA Ribbons

National Archives and Records Administration
Military Awards and Decorations

The U.S. Navy turns 242 years old this week, see how its ships have changed

1 of 50 Oct. 13 marks the 242 anniversary of the creation of the U.S. Navy.

2 of 50 U.S. destroyer vessels through the years

Bainbridge class

Pictured above: The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Chauncey (DD-3) photographed prior to World War I.

U.S. Navy History and Heritage Command Show More Show Less

4 of 50 Truxtun class

Pictured above:United States Navy Battleship Destroyer USS Whipple at sea, ca. 1907.

Pictured above: U.S.S. Smith, 1910

Bain News Service/Getty Images, Buyenlarge Show More Show Less

7 of 50 Paulding class

Years active: 1909 - 1920

Pictured above: USS Henley (DD-39), port bow, camouflaged, 1918 at Queenstown, Ireland.

8 of 50 Cassin class

Pictured above: The U.S. Navy Cassin-class destroyer USS Downes (DD-45). The photo is dated "1913", although Downes was launched on 8 November 1913 and commissioned on 11 February 1915. Note that the ship is not armed yet.

Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress Show More Show Less

10 of 50 Aylwin class

Pictured above: USS Parker (DD-48) in the North River off New York City, 20 May 1921. Cropped from NH 103514, a panoramic photograph by Himmel and Tyner, New York.

Himmel and Tyner, New York/U.S. Naval Historical Center Show More Show Less

11 of 50 O'Brien class

Pictured above: USS Ericsson (DD-56), Steaming at 19.93 knots during Run No. 10 of builder's trials, 18 May 1915. Her armament has not yet been installed.

13 of 50 Tucker class

Pictured above: The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Conyngham (DD-58) in port, 1918

U.S. Navy History and Heritage Command Show More Show Less

14 of 50 Sampson-class

Pictured above: The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Davis (DD-65) on Dec. 10, 1916.

16 of 50 Caldwell class

Pictured above: USS Gwin (DD-71)

17 of 50 Wickes class

Pictured above: USS Wickes in harbor, circa the early 1920s

19 of 50 Clemson class

Pictured above: The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Lamson (DD-328) underway, circa 1927.

U.S. Navy History and Heritage Command Show More Show Less

20 of 50 Farragut class

Years active: 1934 - 1945

Pictured above: The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Worden (DD-352) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, Calif., on Nov. 21, 1942. Note the barrage balloons aloft in the distance.

Naval History and Heritage Command, U.S. Navy Show More Show Less

22 of 50 Porter class

Pictured above: USS McDougal (DD-358)

23 of 50 Mahan class

Pictured above: The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Drayton (DD-366) underway at sea, off the U.S. West Coast, circa October 1941. Photographed from a Navy North American SNJ Texan aircraft, whose chrome yellow starboard wing is in the foreground. Note Drayton´s Measure 1 camouflage, which was the source of her contemporary nickname "The Blue Beetle".

25 of 50 Gridley class

Pictured above: The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Gridley (DD-380) before World War II.

26 of 50 Bagley class

Pictured above: USS Patterson (DD-392)

28 of 50 Somers class

Pictured above:USS Sampson (DD-394)

U.S. Navy, Naval Historical Center Show More Show Less

29 of 50 Benham class

Pictured above: USS Trippe off Washington, D.C., 1940

Pictured above: USS Anderson on 18 May 1939, just before commissioning.

32 of 50 Gleaves class

Pictured above: The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Gleaves (DD-423) underway on June 18, 1941. This photo shows a good example of the U.S. Navy Camouflage Measure 2 graded system. Note the unusual placement of the hull number below the bridge. The Benson-/Gleaves-class destroyers were notoriously topheavy. Therefore, the shields of gun mounts 3 and 4 were open and covered by canvas to reduce weight. Gleaves is also already missing the searchlight platform aft. Later, the No. 3 gun was removed and the No. 4 received a standard turret.

34 of 50 Benson class

Pictured above: The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Charles F. Hughes (DD-428) off Charleston, South Carolina (USA), in 1945. She is painted in Measure 21 camouflage.

35 of 50 Fletcher class

Pictured above: United States Navy Battleship Destroyer USS Sullivans, DD-537, at sea, ca. 1943.

37 of 50 Allen M. Sumner class

Pictured above: United States Navy Battleship, Destroyer USS Allen M. Sumner, at sea ca. 1943.

38 of 50 Gearing class

Pictured above: A U.S. Navy Gearing-class destroyer USS William C. Lawe (DD-763) coming alongside the the destroyer tender USS Yosemite (AD-19) during "Operation Springboard" in the Atlantic Ocean, circa 1967.

40 of 50 Mitscher-class

Pictured above: The U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG-35) entering Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on a late afternoon in January 1975.

Michael Holley/Wikimedia Commons Show More Show Less

41 of 50 Forrest Sherman class

Pictured above:A U.S. Navy destroyer USS Forrest Sherman (DD-931) underway, circa in 1978.

43 of 50 Farragut class

Pictured above: An aerial view of the U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG-37), in 1982.

44 of 50 Charles F. Adams class

Pictured above: A starboard bow view of the guided missile destroyer USS JOHN KING (DDG-3) underway off the coast of Norfolk, Va.

46 of 50 Spruance class

Pictured above: Eastern Pacific (Jun. 25, 2002) -- The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fife (DD 991) is the U.S. Task Group flagship for the Pacific Phase of the annual UNITAS exercise conducted between June 27 and July 11, 2002, with naval forces from five nations off the coast of Chile. The ships five-month deployment to the Eastern Pacific Ocean for Counter-Drug Operations and the UNITAS exercise is the final deployment for the Spruance-class destroyer, which is scheduled to be de-commissioned in February 2003.

Pictured above: The U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer USS Chandler (DDG-996) anchored off North Island, San Diego, California (USA).

49 of 50 Arleigh Burke class

Pictured above: This March 21, 2013 US Navy handout image shows the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) sailing in the waters off the Korean Peninsula during exercise Foal Eagle 2013. McCain a member of Destroyer Squadron 15, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, and is underway to conduct exercise Foal Eagle 2013 with allied nation Republic of Korea in support of regional security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region.

On Oct. 13, 1775, the Continental Congress created the Continental Navy, or as it's now known, The U.S. Navy.

The same day as its creation, Congress purchased the Navy's first two ships, the USS Andrew Doria and USS Cabot.

By the end of the year, the Navy's size had grown to eight ships. The tiny fleet, which typically battled alone or in pairs, focused on tactical raids against British transport vessels or commercial ships.

Unfortunately, all eight ships were either captured or destroyed by the British Royal Navy within the next few years.

Thankfully, the American Navy's small size was offset by the help of the French Navy, which most notably saw victory against the Royal Navy during the Battle of the Chesapeake, a decisive battle that stopped the British from reinforcing troops in Yorktown, Virginia.

The British defeat at Yorktown, the last major land battle of the American Revolution, would eventually lead the British Empire to sue for peace.

Today, the U.S. Navy has some 430 ships in in active service or reserve.

Where you or someone you know in the Navy? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Mục lục

Gridley được đặt lườn tại Xưởng hải quân Boston vào ngày 3 tháng 6 năm 1935. Nó được hạ thủy vào ngày 1 tháng 12 năm 1936 và được đưa ra hoạt động vào ngày 24 tháng 6 năm 1937.

Trước chiến tranh Sửa đổi

Gridley được tiếp tục trang bị tại Xưởng hải quân Boston, và tiến hành chạy thử máy tại khu vực biển Caribe cho đến ngày 27 tháng 10 năm 1938, viếng thăm Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Venezuela. Sau đó nó được cải biến tại Xưởng hải quân Boston cho đến ngày 13 tháng 6 năm 1938, khi nó rời cảng, băng qua kênh đào Panama và đi đến cảng San Diego vào ngày 5 tháng 7 năm 1938. Gia nhập Đội khu trục 11, con tàu trải qua những tháng tiếp theo cơ động chiến thuật ngoài khơi bờ biển California, và đến ngày 4 tháng 1 năm 1939 đã khởi hành cùng Lực lượng Chiến trận để cơ động phối hợp tại vùng biển Caribe. Nó tham gia cuộc tập trận Vấn đề Hạm đội XX cùng với hạm đội ngoài khơi Cuba và Haiti, rồi quay trở về Boston để sửa chữa.

Chiếc tàu khu trục lại đi đến San Diego vào ngày 13 tháng 7 năm 1939 và trở thành soái hạm của Đội khu trục 11. Nó tiến hành các cuộc cơ động ngoài khơi California cho đến ngày 2 tháng 4 năm 1940, khi nó cùng các tàu chiến khác tham gia cuộc tập trận Vấn đề Hạm đội XXI tại vùng biển quần đảo Hawaii. Sau đó nó hoạt động từ Hawaii.

1942-1943 Sửa đổi

Gridley rời Trân Châu Cảng vào ngày 28 tháng 11 năm 1941 trong thành phần hộ tống chống tàu ngầm cho tàu sân bay Enterprise, soái hạm của Đô đốc William Halsey, Jr., và sau một chặng dừng tại đảo Wake đã quay mũi trở về Trân Châu Cảng. Lực lượng đặc nhiệm đang trên đường trở lại căn cứ vào sáng ngày 7 tháng 12 khi họ nhận được tin tức về việc Hải quân Nhật đã bất ngờ tấn công, khai mào chiến tranh tại Thái Bình Dương. Chiếc tàu khu trục đi vào cảng vào ngày hôm sau giúp vào việc phòng thủ đề phòng những cuộc tấn công khác, và trong năm tháng tiếp theo đã làm nhiệm vụ hộ tống các tàu vận tải và tàu sửa chữa đi lại giữa Trân Châu Cảng và các cảng tại khu vực Nam Thái Bình Dương. Chuyến đi cuối cùng của nó hoàn tất vào ngày 27 tháng 5 năm 1942, và đến ngày 5 tháng 6, nó đi đến Kodiak, Alaska cùng với tàu tuần dương hạng nhẹ Nashville. Tại chiến trường Alaska, nó hộ tống các tàu vận tải và tuần tra ngoài khơi các đảo bị Nhật Bản chiếm đóng Kiska và Attu, trợ giúp vào việc bắn phá Kiska vào ngày 7 tháng 8 năm 1942. Trong giai đoạn này, nó phục vụ như là soái hạm của Trung tá Hải quân Frederick Moosbrugger.

Khởi hành từ Dutch Harbor vào ngày 25 tháng 9 năm 1942, Gridley gia nhập cùng lực lượng đặc nhiệm tàu sân bay Saratoga tại vùng biển Hawaii, và sau đó làm nhiệm vụ hộ tống cho cả các tàu chiến đấu lẫn không chiến đấu tại khu vực Fiji và New Hebride. Trong tháng 12, nó hộ tống tàu chở dầu Cimarron rời Nouméa để đi đến điểm hẹn tiếp nhiên liệu cùng các lực lượng đặc nhiệm tàu sân bay, nhằm hỗ trợ cho cuộc chiến đấu ác liệt tại khu vực quần đảo Solomon. Chuyển căn cứ hoạt động đến vịnh Purvis tại Solomon vào ngày 13 tháng 7 năm 1943, nó hộ tống các tàu vận chuyển cao tốc vốn đã cứu vớt những người sống sót từ chiếc tàu tuần dương hạng nhẹ Helena tại vịnh Parasco vào ngày 16 tháng 7, rồi cùng với tàu khu trục Maury hộ tống các xuồng đổ bộ bộ binh từ Guadalcanal cho các cuộc đổ bộ lên Tambatuni, New Georgia. Nó bắn phá các công sự phòng thủ đối phương gần các bãi đổ bộ vào ngày 25 tháng 7, rồi bảo vệ các tàu hỗ trợ cho việc đổ bộ. Cùng với sáu tàu khu trục khác, nó tiêu diệt các sà lan đổ bộ Nhật Bản trong vịnh Vella vào ngày 10 tháng 8, và hộ tống cho Saratoga trong các chiến dịch không kích tại vùng quần đảo Solomon cho đến ngày 25 tháng 8.

Gridley quay trở về Trân Châu Cảng cùng các tàu sân bay hộ tống SuwanneeLong Island vào ngày 4 tháng 9 năm 1943, rồi khởi hành đi San Diego, nơi nó ở lại để sửa chữa từ ngày 11 tháng 9 đến ngày 26 tháng 10. Quần đảo Gilbert là mục tiêu tiếp theo của nó, khi nó rời Trân Châu Cảng vào ngày 10 tháng 11 để đi đến đảo Makin. Nó làm nhiệm vụ bắn phá bờ biển, hộ tống các tàu sân bay, rồi tiến hành các cuộc tuần tra độc lập tại khu vực này cho đến khi khởi hành đi Hawaii vào ngày 1 tháng 12.

1944 Sửa đổi

Lực lượng Đặc nhiệm 58 dưới quyền Phó đô đốc Marc A. Mitscher đã khởi hành từ Trân Châu Cảng vào ngày 18 tháng 1 năm 1944 cho cuộc tổng tấn công quần đảo Marshall một lần nữa Gridley lại hoạt động trong thành phần bảo vệ cho Saratoga. Nó đã hộ tống chiếc tàu sân bay trong các cuộc không kích lên Wotje và Eniwetok, và vào ngày 8 tháng 3 đã lên đường đi New Hebride cùng các tàu sân bay Yorktown, PrincetonLangley, trợ giúp chúng phát triển việc tấn công tại khu vực New Guinea. Chiếc tàu khu trục kỳ cựu khởi hành cùng đội đặc nhiệm tàu sân bay Hornet vào ngày 7 tháng 6 để tham gia cuộc tấn công quần đảo Mariana, nơi các tàu sân bay không kích xuống Saipan, Rota và Guam. Trong mọi chiến dịch trên, Gridley và các tàu khu trục chị em đã bảo vệ các tàu sân bay khỏi các cuộc tấn công từ trên không và bởi tàu ngầm.

Gridley đã có mặt cùng lực lượng đặc nhiệm trong Trận chiến biển Philippine từ ngày 19 đến ngày 20 tháng 6 năm 1944, nơi bốn đợt tấn công lớn bởi máy bay ném bom-ngư lôi và máy bay tiêm kích hộ tống đối phương bị đánh bại bởi các đơn vị trên không và mặt biển. Hỏa lực phòng không của Gridley đã giúp bảo vệ các tàu sân bay, góp phần vào việc đánh bại hầu như hoàn toàn không lực của Hải quân Nhật Bản.

Gridley rời Eniwetok vào ngày 30 tháng 6 để cùng các tàu sân bay tấn công vào Iwo Jima, Guam, Yap, Ulithi và quần đảo Volcano. Nó trực tiếp hỗ trợ cho việc đổ bộ lực lượng lên Peleliu vào ngày 15 tháng 9, bắn rơi ít nhất một máy bay Nhật đã tấn công. Sau khi hộ tống các tàu sân bay không kích lên Okinawa và Đài Loan, nó tham gia lực lượng được tập trung cho việc chiếm đóng Philippines. Đang khi bảo vệ cho các tàu chiến lớn ngoài khơi Luzon vào ngày 28 tháng 10, nó cùng với tàu khu trục Helm phát hiện và đánh chìm chiếc tàu ngầm Nhật I-51f bằng một loạt các cuộc tấn công với mìn sâu. Trong những ngày tiếp theo, Gridley đánh trả các cuộc tấn công của máy bay cảm tử kamikaze Nhật Bản, và quay về Ulithi với các tàu sân bay bị hư hại FranklinBelleau Wood vào ngày 2 tháng 11.

Gridley lại nhanh chóng phải trở ra biển, khi nó rời Ulithi vào ngày 5 tháng 11 cùng với lực lượng đặc nhiệm tàu sân bay nhanh cho chiến dịch Leyte. Nó sau đó gia nhập một đội tàu sân bay hộ tống, và phục vụ như là tàu bắn phá và tuần tra trong lúc đổ bộ lên vịnh Lingayen cho đến ngày 10 tháng 2 năm 1945.

1945 Sửa đổi

Sau một chặng dừng tại Ulithi, Gridley hộ tống thiết giáp hạm Mississippi đi Trân Châu Cảng, rồi lên đường đi ngang qua San Diego và kênh đào Panama để đi New York, đến nơi vào ngày 30 tháng 3 năm 1945. Nó đi vào Xưởng hải quân New York vào ngày hôm sau để tiến hành những sửa chữa đang rất cần thiết, và sau khi hoàn tất đại tu lại rời Hoa Kỳ vào ngày 22 tháng 6 năm 1945. Nó phục vụ tại vùng biển Châu Âu từ tháng 7 năm 1945 đến tháng 1 năm 1946.

Gridley được cho xuất biên chế vào ngày 18 tháng 4 năm 1946. Nó bị bán để tháo dỡ vào tháng 8 năm 1947.

Gridley được tặng thưởng mười Ngôi sao Chiến trận do thành tích phục vụ trong Chiến tranh Thế giới thứ hai.

Gridley II DD-380 - History

The first real move north was to Rendova Island in the New Georgia Group about 180 miles northwest of Lunga Point, but this most worthwhile step was preceded by an advance a stone's throw away to the Russell Islands lying only 30 miles northwest of Guadalcanal Island.

It was more than several months after Rear Admiral Turner arrived at Noumea from Guadalcanal for the first time, on 13 August 1942, before he started to think about, and his staff started to plan, the first offensive step forward from Guadalcanal to Rabaul.

The Amphibians had learned a good deal from the August landings at Tulagi and Guadalcanal, and they continued to learn a great deal during the long, hard five months' struggle to maintain logistic support for these two important toe holds in the Southern Solomons. By January 1943, marked changes had occurred in their thinking about the techniques of support through and over a beachhead, and new amphibious craft were just becoming available. They were anxious to test these changes and the new craft on a strange shore.

Ten days after the 13th of August arrival at Noumea, recommendations for improvement in the logistic area of the landing phases of amphibious operations had been sought from all commands in TF 62 by Rear Admiral Turner. It was on the basis of the recommendations received, that Commander Amphibious Forces SOPAC made proposals for revisions in Fleet Training Publication (FTP) 167, the Amphibians' Bible, and it was on the basis of these recommendations and those coming in from the Atlantic Note: With the close of Chapter XII, Admiral Turner disappears, with very minor exceptions duly noted, as a direct source of information, comment and opinions not only of this work, but of the events related.

The author, due to Admiral Turner's sudden death, did not have the opportunity to discuss with him, in detail, any of the later operations of the World War II amphibious campaigns of the Pacific.

Fleet after the North African Landings that COMINCH issued on 18 January 1943, Ship to Shore Movement U.S. Fleet FTP 211.

This new publication brought into step the differing procedures used by amphibious ships trained separately in the Atlantic and the Pacific Fleet. It expanded markedly the Naval Platoon of the Shore Party, and more clearly defined its duties during the crucial early hours of logistic support of an assault landing. 1

The Russells

The last of the Japanese troops evacuated Guadalcanal on 7-8 February 1943, at which time W ATCHTOWER could be marked in the books as completed. The pressure was immediately on the amphibians to get moving.

Thirteen days later the amphibious forces of the South Pacific Area landed in major strength on the Russell Islands.

This landing, on 21 February 1943, if it did not do anything else, fulfilled Major General Vandegrift's requirement that

. . . landings should not be attempted in the face of organized resistance if, by any combination of march or maneuver, it is possible to land unopposed and undetected. . . . 2

The Russell Islands landings were made unopposed and undetected. Since there was no blood and gore associated with the operation, it has been brushed off lightly in most historical accounts of the period.

The Planning Stage

Admiral Nimitz visited the South Pacific in late January 1943 in company with Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox. At a COMSOPAC conference of principal commanders and their planning officers on 23 January 1943, COMSOPAC had Brigadier General Peck of his staff present to Admiral Nimitz a concept for a Russell Islands operation. COMSOPAC received from CINCPAC a tentative and unofficial approval, tempered by a cautionary "No

decision will be reached" which really meant "go ahead with the planning while my staff back in Pearl takes a hard look at the proposition." 3

In this connection, the memory of the COMPHIBFORSOPAC's Chief of Staff at the time is that:

Admiral Turner conceived the idea of taking over the Russell Islands, some 60 or 70 miles N.W. of Henderson Field, and up towards 'The Slot.' Admiral Halsey was lukewarm on the idea, he wanted something on a larger scale. However, he said 'go ahead, as some kind of action is better than none.' 4

Shortly thereafter, on 28 January, COMSOPAC informed CINCPAC that if the reconnaissance then underway indicated the Russell Islands were undefended, he planned immediate occupation. After CINCPAC gave his formal approval (29 January) and despite somewhat misleading information received from the coast-watcher intelligence organization about "enemy activity Russell Islands increasing," COMSOPAC issued his preliminary operational warning order to the prospective commanders involved on 7 February 1943. COMSOPAC issued his despatch Operation Order first and then his Plan

The Staff Allowance, Commander Amphibious Force South Pacific: Rear Admiral Kelly Turner in center with Colonel Henry D. Linscott, USMC, Assistant Chief of Staff, on his right and Captain James H. Doyle, USN, Operations Officer, on his left.

  1. to strengthen the defense of Guadalcanal, and

  2. to establish a staging point for landing craft preliminary to further forward movement.

In the language of the amphibians this meant that the assault movement of personnel and material would move direct from a shore staging area to the landing beaches of the assault objective, involving no further transfers between types of landing craft or into landing boats during the assault movement. The shore staging area designated for C LEANSLATE was Koli Point, Guadalcanal. Gavutu Island in Purvis Bay would handle the overflow.

Such a "shore to shore movement" meant that the long distance over-water movement to Guadalcanal of the amphibious troops participating in the D-Day initial landings of the C LEANSLATE Operation had to be carried out prior to the final embarkation at Guadalcanal for the assault.

A desire to effect complete surprise if the Japanese were still in the Russells, or if they were not, a desire to deny the Japanese knowledge of the occupation of the Russells for as long as possible, prompted the decision to carry out a shore-to-shore-type operation. 7

The TF 61 organization for C LEANSLATE was as follows:

C LEANSLATE Organization--TF 61

    TG 61.1. Transport Group--Rear Admiral Turner (1908)

    TU 61.1.1 TRANSDIV Twelve--Commander John D.l Sweeney (1926)

      Stringham (APD-6) Lieutenant Commander Adolphe Wildner (1932)
      Manley (APD-1) Lieutenant Otto C. Schatz (1934)
      Humphreys (APD-14) Lieutenant Commander Maurice J. Carley, USNR
      Sands (APD-13) Lieutenant Commander John J. Branson (1927)
      Each with 4 LCP(L) and 15 LCR(L) on board.

    TU 61.1.2 Mine Group--Commander Stanley Leith (1923)

      Hopkins (DMS-13) Lieutenant Commander Francis M. Peters, Jr. (1931)
      Trever (DMS-16) Lieutenant Commander Joseph C. Wylie (1932)
      Southard (DMS-10) Lieutenant Commander John G. Tennent, III (1932)
      Maury (DD-401) Commander Gelzer L. Sims (1925)
      McCall (DD-400) Commander William S. Veeder (1925)

    TU 61.1.3 TRANSDIV Dog--Commander Wilfrid Nyquist (1921)

      Saufley (DD-465) Commander Bert F. Brown (1926)
      Craven (DD-382) Lieutenant Commander Francis T. Williamson (1931

      Hovey (DMS-11) Lieutenant Commander Edwin A. McDonald (1931)
      *Gridley (DD-380) Commander Fred R. Stickney (1925)
      Zane (DMS-14) Lieutenant Commander Peyton L. Wirtz (1931)

    TU 61.1.4 TRANSDIV Easy--Commander Thomas J. Ryan (1921)

      Wilson (DD-408)Lieutenant Commander Walter H. Price (1927)
      Landsdowne (DD-486) Lieutenant Commander Francis J. Foley (1931)
      LCT-158 Lieutenant Edgar M. Jaeger, USNR, LCT-58, LCT-60
      LCT-159 Lieutenant (jg) Frank M. Wiseman, USNCR, LCT-156, LCT-369
      LCT-181 Lieutenant Ashton L. Jones, USNR, LCT-62, LCT-322
      LCT-63 Lieutenant (jg) Ameel Z. Kouri, USNR, LCT-323, LCT-367

    Each destroyer types except Hopkins,Wilson, and Landsdowne towing 1 LCM, 1 LCV and 2 LCP.

    TU 61.1.5 Service Group--Lieutenant James L. Foley (1929)

      Bobolink (AT-131) with 1000-ton flat top lighter in tow.

    TG 61.2 Attack Group--Lieutenant Allen H. Harris, USNR

      Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron TWO (THREE)
      8 of the 11 boats in the Squadron were to be picked for the operation.

    TG 61.1 Occupation Force--Major General Hester

    TU 61.3.1 Landing Force--Major General Hester

      43rd Infantry Division (less 172nd Combat Team)
      3rd Marine Raider Battalion (temporarily attached)
      one-third 11th Marine Defense Battalion
      one platoon of COmpany B, 579th Aircraft Warning Battalion (Radar)
      one regiment from C ACTUS Force (when assigned)

    TU 61.3.2 Naval Base--Commander Charles E. Olsen (1919)

      Naval Advance Base Force
      A CORN Three
      one-half 35th Construction Battalion
      Naval Communication Units
      C LEANSLATE Boat Pool (50 boats)

At the Landing Craft Level

The Landing Craft, Tank (LCT) of 1942-43 was 112 feet over-all, had a 32-foot beam, and a draft of a little over three feet. It was normally expected to carry four 40-ton tanks or to load 150 to 180 tons or about 5,760 cubic feet of cargo. Its actual speed, loaded and in a smooth sea, was a bit more than six knots, although it had a designed speed of ten knots. These large tank landing craft, which shipyards in the United States started to deliver in large numbers in September and October of 1942, were the first of their kind to be used offensively in the South Pacific.

The LCT had but one commissioned officer and 12 to 14 men aboard them when they arrived in the South Pacific. The LCT's were not commissioned ships of the Navy, the one officer being designated as the Officer in Charge. They had insufficient personnel to keep a ship's log, much less a war diary, and by and large they passed in and out of their service in the Navy leaving no individual record, except in the memories of those who served in them or had some service performed by them. Presumably, the LCT Flotilla and LCT Group Commanders kept a log and a war diary, but if they did so, by and large they have not survived to reach the normal repositories of such documents.

The first mention of the LCT in Rear Admiral Turner's Staff Log occurs on 19 December 1942, when 6 LCT (5) were reported at Noumea loading for Guadalcanal. Presumably the LCT arrived on station earlier that month.

Through the leadership efforts of Rear Admiral George H. Fort (1912), his Chief of Staff, Captain Benton W. Decker (1920), and after arrival in SOPAC his senior landing craft subordinate, Captain Grayson B. Carter (1919), the Landing Craft Flotillas, PHIBFORSOPAC, were trained under forced draft. After only 12 months of war, the landing craft were manned to a marked extent with officers and men who had entered the Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor. To assist in the training, Commander Landing Craft Flotillas in due time issued a comprehensive Doctrine full of instructions and information for the dozens of landing craft moving into the SOPAC command during the January to June period in 1943. 8 The LCT "Veterans" of C LEANSLATE became the nuclei for this massive training effort.

As a matter of record, the first 12 LCT's to get their bottoms crinkled in war operations in the South Pacific were LCT-58, 60, 62, 63, 156, 158, 159, 181, 322, 323, 367, 369, organized administratively as follows:

    LCT Group 13--Lieutenant Ashton L. Jones, USNR
      LCT Division 25--Lieutenant Ashton L. Jones, USNR
        LCT-58--Ensign Edward H. Burtt, USNR
        LCT-60--Ensign Austin H. Volk, USNR
        LCT-156--Ensign Richard T. Eastin, Jr., USNR
        LCT-158--Ensign Edward J. Ruschmann, USNR
        LCT-159--Ensign John A. McNiel
        LCT-62--Ensign Robert T. Capeless, USNR
        LCT-63--Ensign Lunsford L. Shelton, USNR
        LCT Division 27--Lieutenant Decatur Jones, USNR
          LCT-322--Ensign Carl M. Barrett, USNR
          LCT-323--Ensign Carl T. Geisler, USNR
          LCT-367--Ensign Robert Carr, USNR
          LCT-369--Ensign Walter B. Gillette, USNR
          LCT Division 29--Lieutenant Laurence C. Lisle, USNR
            LCT-181--Ensign Herbert D. Solomon

          The Spit Kit Expeditionary Force

          Task Force 61, in effect the Joint Expeditionary Force, consisted of the Army troops and Marines in the 9,000 Landing Force, seven destroyers (Craven, Gridley, Landsdowne, Maury, McCall, Saufley, Wilson), four fast destroyer-type transports (Stringham, Manley, Humphreys, Sands), four fast minesweepers, the logistic service ship Bobolink, eight motor torpedo boats

          (PTs) of Torpedo Boat Squadron Two, and twelve LCT's of Landing Craft Tank Flotilla Five.

          The TF 61 Operation order for C LEANSLATE indicates that the 12 LCT's were from LCT Group 13, but as a matter of fact there were seven LCT's from Group 13, four LCT's from Group 14, and one from Group 15, all temporarily assigned to LCT Group 13 for operational control.

          Of the 16 ships, 108 large and small landing craft and 8 motor torpedo boats in the spit kit amphibious force and C LEANSLATE , only the fast minesweepers Hopkins, Trever, Southward, and Zane, and the destroyer Wilson of the ships in the original W ATCHTOWER invasion task force shared with Rear Admiral Turner the satisfaction of participating in the initial phase of the first forward island jumping movement of the South Pacific Area. The Hovey (DMS-11) lost out on this high honor when she did not arrive at Guadalcanal in time to load and the Gridley (DD-380) was substituted for her in the initial phase of C LEANSLATE .

          In addition to the 43rd Infantry Division (less its 172nd Regimental Combat Team) the major units named to participate in the operation were the Marine 3rd Raider Battalion, anti-aircraft elements of the Marine 11th Defense Battalion, half of the 35th Naval Construction Battalion and A CORN Three, and the naval unit designated to construct, operate, and maintain the planned aircraft facilities on Banika Island. An A CORN was an airfield assembly designed to construct, operate, and maintain an advanced land plane and seaplane base and provide facilities for operation. Marine Air Group 21 and the 10th Marine Defense Battalion were enroute to the South Pacific Area and were to be assigned to the Russells upon arrival.

          C LEANSLATE was the first major amphibious island jumping operation where radar-equipped planes, "Black Cats," were used to cover all of the night movements of our own ship and craft against the approach of enemy surface and air forces.

          Supporting Forces

          CTF 63, COMAIRSOPACFOR, Vice Admiral Fitch, was ordered to provide long-range air search, anti-aircraft cover, anti-submarine screen and air strikes. If needed, he would supply direct air support during the landing and advance from the beaches.

          Cruiser Division 12, at the moment commanded by Captain Aaron S. (Tip) Merrill, about to be elevated to Flag rank, was ordered to provide immediate

          support to TF 61, and the fast carrier task forces were ordered to be within supporting distance of the Russells on D-Day to deal with any major Japanese Naval Forces entering the lower Solomons.

          When COMSOPAC issued his despatch Operation Order for C LEANSLATE on Lincoln's birthday, 1943, the 43rd Division troops, A CORN Three, and the naval base personnel were in New Caledonia 840 miles south of Guadalcanal, while the Marine raiders and the construction battalion were in Espiritu Santo 560 miles to the south.

          By the time the unanticipated needs and expressed desires of the Commander Landing Force, who doubled as Commander Occupation Force, had been met, the Landing Force totaled over 15,000. CINCPAC's Staff, after receiving COMSOPAC's list of C LEANSLATE participating forces, noted in their Daily Command Summary:

          The forces planned for this operation are greatly in excess of those mentioned in the recent conference between Admirals Nimitz and Halsey. [i.e. one Raider Battalion and part of a Defense Battalion.] 9

          The staging movement of Army troops and Marines, Seabees, and other naval personnel into Guadalcanal and Gavutu was accomplished in large transports and cargo ships, six echelons arriving before D-Day, 21 February, and four follow-up echelons moving through after the 21st.


          During the nine-day period between the issuance of COMSOPAC's C LEANSLATE Operation Order and the actual landing, two groups of observers from TF 61 visited the Russells and reported that the islands had recently been evacuated by the Japanese. These parties obtained detailed information in regard to landing beaches and selected camp locations and anti-aircraft gun sites. The second group remained to welcome the Task Force, and marked the landing beaches to be used. This was a task later to be taken over under more difficult and dangerous conditions by the Underwater Demolition Teams.

          The main movement of the amphibians from the staging areas to the Russells was planned and completed in four major echelons. Over 4,000 of these were landed in the Russells from the first echelon ships and craft on the first day.

          The over-water movement from Koli Point, Guadalcanal, to the Russells for the initial landings was planned and largely carried out as shown on the accompanying movement chart.

          During the preliminary movement when the first echelon of the 43rd Division was being staged the 840 miles from New Caledonia to Koli Point, Rear Admiral Turner moved with them in the McCawley which carried part of the amphibian troops. On 16 February 1943, he shifted his operational staff ashore to Koli Point from the McCawley. During the first phase of the C LEANSLATE landing operations he flew his flag in the fast mine-sweeper Hopkins, and commanded the Transport Group, TG 61.1.

          On 19 February 1943, one task group (4 APA, 1 AO, 6 DD) carrying the second echelon of the amphibians and their logistic support from Noumea to the Koli staging area on Guadalcanal was subjected to a seven aircraft Japanese torpedo plane attack when about 20 miles east of the southern tip of San Cristobal Island. By radical maneuver, the transports and their destroyer escorts escaped damage, and by spirited anti-aircraft fire accounted for five Japanese aircraft lost. Otherwise, the ten-day preparation period was largely unhampered by the Japanese.

          The Landings

          Rear Admiral Turner's (CTF 61) and Commander Landing Force's orders called for three simultaneous landing at dawn on 21 February 1943. These were (1) on the north of Pavuvu Island at Pepesala Bay, (2) at Renard Sound on the east coast of Banika Island, and (3) at Wernham Cove on the southwest coast of Banika Island. According to Rear Admiral Turner's Operation Order:

          The landing beaches in the Russells are bad, with much coral. Every precaution will be taken to prevent damage to boats, particularly propellers. 10

          For the initial landings totaling 4,030 officers and enlisted 11 on Pavuvu and Banika, more than 200 men were ferried on each of the seven destroyers, four destroyer transports, and four fast minesweepers. Additionally, all the destroyers except the Wilson (DD-408) and the Lansdowne (DD-486), which were designated for anti-submarine patrolling around the task units, and all the fast minesweepers (less the Hopkins, designated both as Flagship

          The C LEANSLATE Objective.

          and for anti-submarine patrolling) towed four landing craft: two Landing Craft, Personnel (LCP) and two Landing Craft, Vehicle (1 LCV and LCM). The four fast transports each carried, in addition to troops, four LCVPs and 15 rubber landing boats. The mighty Bobolink (AT-121) towed a 1,000-ton flat top lighter for use at Wernham Cove.

          For the initial landings:

          The plan was for destroyers carrying a naval base unit and certain number of troops to tow LCVs and LCVPs from naval bases at Guadalcanal and Gavutu (near Tulagi). I can remember the Operations Officer, Captain Doyle, designing towing bridles for these small craft and ordering several of our vessels to make up a number of them. 12 * * * * * During three nights prior to the first movement, special pains were taken to obtain radar information as to the detailed night movement of enemy planes near GUADALCANAL and especially along the route from there to the RUSSELLS. The radar showed enemy planes were operating every night in areas to the westward of SAVO ISLAND from shortly after dark until about an hour before midnight. Consequently, movements of the C LEANSLATE force to the westward of SAVO were withheld until after that hour on

          February 20th, and [after final] decision was made to effect the first landing at daybreak the 21st. 13

          The 800 men of the 3rd Marine Raider Battalion, which had missed out on the W ATCHTOWER Operation, were loaded onto four destroyer transports at Koli Point and at 0600 on 21 February landed on Beach Red in Pepesala (Paddy) Bay, Pavuvu Island, where the Japanese formerly had their main strength and where Major General Hester, Commander Landing Force, in his Operation Order expressed the opinion "definite possibilities exist that enemy patrols and small units may be located."

          Rear Admiral Turner, Major General Hester, and their operational staffs went ashore from the Hopkins onto Beach Yellow in Wernham Cove, Banika Island. They landed just after 800 troops from two DDs and two DMSs and additional troops ferried in by eight LCT's had landed. The Naval Base Headquarters was established on the north side of Wernham Cove.

          Another 800 troops from three DDs and one DMS and additional troops aboard four LCT's landed at Beach Blue, Renard South. Most of the Banika Island troops came from the 103rd Regimental Combat Team of the 43rd Infantry Division.

          A follow-up landing of 800 troops from the 169th Infantry Regiment of the 43rd Division, U.S. Army, took place on the sandy beaches of Pepesala (Paddy) Bay in northern Pavuvu Island, early on the morning of 22 February, the day after the Marines had landed in this area. At the same time 1,400 more troops landed at Beach Yellow in Wernham Cove.

          The second to fourth follow-up echelons moved on D plus 2, D plus 3, and D plus 4. The ships and craft continued to make most all their movements between Guadalcanal and the Russells at night, so as not to alert the Japanese to the operation. The destroyer-types made a complete round trip at night, while the LCT's largely made one-way passage each night. No public disclosure of the landing was immediately made and the base at C LEANSLATE maintained radio silence.

          In two days 7,000 troops were landed. By 15 March, 15,500 troops were in the Russells and by 18 April when, at long last, command passed to the Commanding General, Guadalcanal, 16,000 men were busy there and no less than 48,517 tons of supplies had arrived there by amphibious effort. The Japanese did not react to the occupation for 15 days. On 6 March 1943, they made the first of a series of air raids.

          Commander Charles Eugene Olsen (1919), who had successfully skippered the early base building efforts at Tongatabu, and who had impressed Rear Admiral Turner when he had flown through the Tonga Islands in July 1942, was brought down and given the task of building the Advanced Naval Base in the Russell Islands. By the end of March, on Banika Island, there was a good airfield with three fighter squadrons on Marine Air Group 21, a motor torpedo base (at Renard Sound) and a growing supply activity.

          Old Man Weather and his twin, navigational hazard, unhappily put three destroyer-types (Lansdowne, Stringham, Sands) on the beach on February 26th. The landing craft had a normal ration of unintentional groundings and breakdowns, but none of the destroyer-types became permanent additions to the Russells.

          Airfield on Banika Island in the Russells.(NH 69103)

          COMPHIBFORSOPAC report of the operation stated that:

          As soon as all forces had landed, the airfield constructed, and stocks of ten units of fire and sixty days supplies built up, command was to pass to the Commanding General at Guadalcanal.

          Long before this blessed event occurred, Rear Admiral George H. Fort relieved Rear Admiral Turner as Commander Task Force 61 (on 3 March 1943) and Rear Admiral Turner returned to Noumea to continue his favorite chore of planning the next operation.

          Results Achieved

          This C LEANSLATE Operation, with its most appropriate code name for the Southern Solomons, has been both praised and superciliously sneered at. Time Magazine, for example, said the

          operation went more smoothly [than Guadalcanal]. The Japs had evacuated. 14

          A week after the initial landings in the Russells, CTF 61 (Turner) sent out a routine logistical support despatch report to his superiors. Rear Admiral Turner listed the considerable number of troops and quantities of material already in the Russells and the extensive logistic support movements planned for the Russells during the next weeks. The sending of the despatch was prompted by COMSOPAC's urgent desires to begin to get ready to move further up the Solomon Islands chain toward Rabaul, and by the desire of one of his subordinates (Turner) to give him some heartening news of logistic readiness. 15

          This despatch came into COMINCH's Headquarters at a time when the question of Phase Two operations following Phase One of P ESTILENCE operations was under daily review. Admiral King, as always, was against diversionary use of limited resources. So he reacted sharply. And while he very possibly set COMSOPAC and CINCPAC back on their heels for an instant, he also gave them an opportunity to enlighten the big boss on what they were hoping and planning to do reasonably soon. 16

          Although it has been inferred by several authors that Admiral King questioned the worth of the C LEANSLATE Operation by this despatch, this is

          not so. 17 What Admiral King questioned was the extent and purpose of the build-up in the Russell Islands following C LEANSLATE . His despatch contained these questioning words:

          . . . What useful purpose is being served by operations on scale indicated by CTF 61's 270628? . . .

          Admiral Nimitz and Vice Admiral Halsey supplied these satisfying answers to Admiral King:

          Halsey is planning to take Vila-Munda with target date April 10.

          Troops and material [are] headed in proper direction and thus completing first stage of next movement.

          In June 1943, Rear Admiral Turner made a simple exposition to newspaper correspondents as to why we needed the Russells, before moving into the central Solomons:

          When the Russell Islands logistical support movements were completed, COMSOPAC took note of this and smartly changed the code name of the Russells to E MERITUS .


          From the point of view of both COMSOPAC and COMPHIBFORSOPAC, the Russells had two great advantages over any and all other immediately possible objectives necessary to carry out the 2 July 1942 Joint Chiefs of Staff directive. The Russells (1) were on the direct line from Guadalcanal to Rabaul and (2) they lay within COMSOPAC's command area, so that high level arrangements in regard to command did not have to be negotiated, a process taking weeks or months. It is merely a guess but the latter reason surely carried the greater weight with COMSOPAC in choosing a spot where a quick operation could be carried out when W ATCHTOWER was completed.

          A complementary benefit, however, was operational. The amphibians had an excellent opportunity to put together the dozens of suggestions arising out of W ATCHTOWER for the improvement of amphibious operations and test them under conditions far more rugged than any rear area rehearsal could provide. The Russells added not only skill but confidence to the amphibians. As Rear Admiral Turner pointed out:

          During the course of the operation a technique was developed for the movement of troops and cargo from a forward base to a nearby objective without the use of APAs and AKAs. It is expected that the experience of this operation will prove useful in planning future offensives.

          The C LEANSLATE Operation again demonstrated that the overwater movement and landing of the first echelon of troops is only the initial step in a continuous amphibious series, all of which are integral parts of the same venture. Success of the venture depends upon the ability to deliver safely not only the first, but also the succeeding echelons of troops, engineers, ancillary units, equipment and operating and upkeep supplies and replacements. The aggregate of personnel and cargo for the later movements is far greater than that carried initially. Each movement requires protection, and losses in transit from the logistic bases to the combat position must be kept low enough to be acceptable. It is particularly when small vessels are used that an uninterrupted stream of them must be maintained.

          The first movement for the seizure of a position the exploitation on shore of that position the long series of succeeding movements of troops and material, together form a single operation. All parts must be accomplished, under satisfactory security conditions if the whole operation is to be successful. 19


          From the period of its activation in July 1942 to the completion of its first major tasks in January 1943, the Amphibious Force, South Pacific had about the same number of ships and landing craft assigned with replacements being supplied for ships sunk or worn out in war service. But there was a steadily growing prospect of a real increase in size when the coastal transports and larger landing craft, building or training on the East and West Coasts of the United States, were finally cut loose and sailed to the South Pacific to fulfill their war assignment.

          By late January 1943, the ships and landing craft assigned to the Amphibious Force South Pacific had grown sufficiently so that a new organization was established as follows:

            APA-18 President Jackson (F) Commander C.W. Weitzel (1917)
            APA-20 President Hayes Commander F.W. Benson (1917)
            APA-19 President Adams Captain Frank H. Dean (1917)
            AKA-8 Algorab Captain J.R. Lannon (1919)
            APA-17 American Legion (F) Commander R.C. Welles (1919)
            APA-27 George Clymer Captain A.T. Moen (1918)
            APA-21 Crescent City Captain J.R. Sullivan (1918)
            AKA-12 Libra Commander W.B. Fletcher (1920)
            AKA-6 Alchiba Commander H.R. Shaw (1929)
            APA-14 Hunter Liggett (F) Captain L.W. Perkins, USCG
            APA-23 John Penn Captain Harry W. Need (1918)
            AKA-9 Alhena Commander Howard W. Bradbury (1920)
            AKA-5 Fomalhaut Commander Henry C. Flanagan (1919)
            APD-6 Strinham (F) Lieutenant Commander Adolphe Wildner (1932)
            APD-1 Manley Lieutenant Otto C. Schatz (1934)
            APD-5 McKean Lieutenant Ralph L. Ramey (1935)
            APD-7 Talbot Lieutenant Commander Charles C. Morgan, USNR
            APD-8 Waters Lieutenant Charles J. McWhinnie, USNR
            APD-9 Dent Lieutenant Commander Ralph A. Wilhelm, USNR
            APA-15 Henry T. Allen (F) Captain Paul A. Stevens (1913)
            APA-7 Fuller Captain Henry E. Thornhill (1921)
            APA-4 McCawley (FF) Commander Robert H. Rodgers (1923)
            AKA-13 Titania Commander Victor C. Barringer (1918)
            APD-10 Brooks (F) Lieutenant Commander John W. Ramey (1932)
            APD-11 Gilmer Lieutenant Commander John S. Horner, USNR
            APD-14 Humphreys Lieutenant Commander Maurice J. Carley, USNR
            APD-13 Sands Lieutenant Commander John J. Branson (1927)
            LST Groups 13, 14, 15
            LST-446 Lieutenant William A. Small
            LST-447 (FF) Lieutenant Frank H. Storms, USNR
            LST-448 Ensign Charles E. Roeschke
            LST-449 Lieutenant Carlton Livingston
            LST-460 Lieutenant Everett Weire
            LST-472 Lieutenant William O. Talley
            LST-339 Lieutenant John H. Fulweiller, USNR
            LST-340 (FF) Lieutenant William Villella
            LST-395 Lieutenant Alexander C. Forbes, USNR
            LST-396 Lieutenant Eric W. White
            LST-397 Lieutenant Nathaniel L. Lewis, USNR
            LST-398 (F) Lieutenant Boyd E. Blanchard, USNR
            LST-342 (GF)
            LCI Groups 13, 14, 15
            LCI-61 (F) Lieutenant John P. Moore, USNR
            LST-62 Lieutenant (jg) William C.Lyons (12570)
            LST-63 Lieutenant (jg) John H.l McCarthy, USNR
            LST-64 Lieutenant Herbert L. Kelley, USNR
            LST-65 Lieutenant (jg) Christopher R. Tompkins, USNR
            LST-66 Lieutenant Charles F. Houston, Jr., USNR
            LCI(L)-21 Ensign Marshall M. Cook, USNR
            LCI(L)-22 Lieutenant (jg) Spencer V. Hinckley,USNR
            LCI-67 (F) Lieutenant (jg) Ernest E. Tucker, USNR
            LCI-68 Lieutenant Clifford D.Older, USNR
            LCI-69 Lieutenant Frazier L. O'Leary,USNR
            LCI-70 Lieutenant (jg) Harry W. Frey, USNR
            LCI-327 (F) Lieutenant (jg) North H. Newton, USNR
            LCI-328 Lieutenant Joseph D. Kerr, USNR
            LCI-329 Lieutenant William A. Illing, USNR
            LCI-330 Lieutenant (jg) Homer G. Maxey,USNR
            LCI-331 Lieutenant RIchard O. Shelton, USNR
            LCI-332 Lieutenant William A. Neilson, USNR
            LCI(L)-23 Lieutenant Ben A. Thirkfield, USNR
            LCI(L)-24 Lieutenant (jg) Raymond E. Ward (12444)
            LCI-333 Lieutenant Horace Townsend, USNR
            LCI-334 Lieutenant (jg) Alfred J. Ormston, USNR
            LCI-335 Lieutenant (jg) John R. Powers, USNR
            LCI-336 Lieutenant (jg) Thomas A. McCoy, USNR
            LCI-222 Ensign Clarence M. Reese, USNR
            LCI-223 Lieutenant Frank P. Stone, USNR
            LCT Groups 13, 14, 15

            LCT GROUP 13
            Lieutenant Ashton L. Jones, USNR LCT Division 25 Lieutenant A.L. Jones, USNR
            LCT Division 26 Lieutenant (jg) Ameel Z. Kouri, USNR LCT GROUP 14
            Lieutenant Decatur Jones, USNR LCT Division 27 Lieutenant Decatur Jones, USNR
            LCT Division 28 Lieutenant (jg) Thomas B. Willard, USNR LCT GROUP 15
            Lieutenant Laurence C. Lisle, USNR LCT Division 29 Lieutenant Laurence C. Lisle, USNR
            LCT Division 30 Lieutenant (jg) Frank M. Wiseman, USNR

            LCT Groups 16, 17, 18

          LCT's. However, in late January 1943, only a few of the early birds had been formed up organizationally in the United States, much less trained in amphibious operations and pushed at speeds of eight knots or less across the wide spaces of the Central Pacific to the South Pacific.

          Additional to the ships and craft listed above, four more APDs and 50 coastal transports (APCs) were under order to report to COMPHIBFORSOPAC, but they had not even reached the stage of paper organization into divisions and squadrons. When they reported, the force would consist of more than 200 ships and large landing craft. 20

          It is interesting to note from this roster list that the fast learning officers of the Naval Reserve had learned enough by January 1943 to take over command of some of the destroyer transports. And it is a commentary on how slowly the sky rocketing wartime promotion system spread to the Amphibious Force SOPAC, to note that a year after the Pacific War started, a fair number of the captains of the large and important transports of PHIBFORSOPAC had 23- 25 years of commissioned service but were still wearing the three stripes of a commander.

          A Promise Kept

          UPDATE: The wreckage of USS Helena (CL-50), the WWII-era St. Louis-class cruiser that survived the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor and played an integral roll in defending Marine Corps operations in the Battle of Guadalcanal, was discovered last month by a team of researchers financed by billionaire philanthropist Paul Allen. Read the full story here.

          The loss of the cruiser Helena was a demoralizing blow to the U.S. Navy. But the daring rescue of her surviving sailors gave the ship’s story an uplifting ending.

          The heavy rumble of naval gunfire continued intermittently throughout the hellish morning. As the sky grew lighter, the sea had become less crowded with drifting clusters of men desperate for rescue. Determined to save all of them, the two destroyers—their decks packed with hundreds of oil-coated men—stayed to the last possible moment. Finally, at sunrise and under enemy fire, they pulled out. At some point during the long, grueling early hours of 6 July 1943, a shouted promise was made to the men treading water: The destroyers would “be back” for them.

          Central Solomons Battleground

          The lull in offensive action in the Solomon Islands following the capture of Guadalcanal had ended. Late June and early July 1943 found U.S. amphibious forces assaulting areas of the Japanese-held central islands, including New Georgia’s Rice Anchorage. Supporting Marine Raiders and soldiers ashore was a U.S. Navy task group (TG 36.1) built around three powerful light cruisers of Cruiser Division Nine—the USS Honolulu (CL-48), St. Louis (CL-49), and Helena (CL-50)—and screened by a revolving cast of Squadron 21 destroyers.

          It had been a very tense, demanding week for the ships operating as a quick-reaction force out of Segond Channel, Espiritu Santo. Since departing their New Hebrides anchorage on the afternoon of 28 June, they had been almost constantly at sea, expecting combat. The time was spent patrolling the Solomon Sea to keep the ships close to New Georgia Sound—“the Slot”—a long, narrow body of water dividing the roughly east-west string of islands comprising the Solomons. It was down the Slot that the periodic nighttime “Tokyo Express” (mainly destroyers with their deadly “Long Lance” torpedoes) would make sorties to reinforce and resupply Japanese troops scattered on islands of the chain. TG 36.1 had slipped into Tulagi Harbor twice, on 3 and 4 July, just long enough to refuel the cruisers once and the destroyers twice. When they sortied from Tulagi on Independence Day, it was with orders to head west to create some fireworks with shore bombardment work.

          In the enshrouding nighttime darkness of 4–5 July, the warships entered the watery cul-de-sac of Kula Gulf from the Slot. They were soon pounding the Japanese airstrip at Vila on the southern tip of Kolombangara Island with rapid fire from their five- and six-inch batteries. The cruiser column, with destroyers ahead and trailing, made the sharp left turn near the bottom of Kula Gulf and within a few minutes was sending high-capacity rounds into the enemy anchorage at Bairoko on New Georgia. One of the lead destroyers, the USS Strong (DD-467), was torpedoed and sunk, but most of her men were saved. TG 36.1 then headed toward Tulagi.

          Once there, a survivor-laden destroyer entered port while the remaining five warships continued steaming for the Coral Sea and more patrolling. However, a midafternoon dispatch had them reversing course to intercept a “probable” Tokyo Express run into Kula Gulf. A couple of hours after sunset, two destroyers, the USS Jenkins (DD-447) and Radford (DD-446), joined their sisters, the Nicholas (DD-449) and O’Bannon (DD-450), in the screen protecting the cruisers.

          Missing Cruiser in Kula Gulf

          Steaming at 29 knots up the Slot, TG 36.1 was off northern New Georgia at midnight. At 0137 on 6 July, under a moonless and cloudy sky, the first of several surface radar contacts was made on some ships exiting Kula Gulf. Battle Formation “A”—a column of ships with destroyers leading and trailing the cruisers—was ordered by the officer in tactical command, Rear Admiral Walden Ainsworth in the Honolulu. Just shy of 0200, the line of U.S. warships commenced firing on Japanese targets leaving Kula Gulf. In the middle of the cruiser line, the muzzle flashes of the Helena’s 6-inch rifles were extraordinarily bright aiming points for the enemy (the cruiser had expended her flashless powder).

          Five minutes after opening fire, the Helena was struck by torpedoes. Following at 1,000 yards, the St. Louis had to turn to the right to avoid her. The Helena slowed to a stop as the sea fight swirled past her shattered hulk. Ripped open by a trio of Long Lances, the cruiser sank slowly enough to allow her men to scramble overboard. But they struggled to swim in the heavy, clinging fuel oil that gushed from the Helena’s ruptured hull and rose to the water’s surface. The few life rafts cut adrift quickly were occupied by oil-slimy men with other sailors clutching the attached lifelines, all hoping for U.S. warships to return and retrieve them.

          About an hour after the Helena was hit, Admiral Ainsworth ordered the Radford to make a radar sweep for enemy ships in Kula Gulf. As the destroyer commenced her search, the Honolulu, north of the gulf, vainly tried to contact the missing Helena by signal blinker. Later, during a second sweep of the gulf, the Radford bathed a radar contact in a searchlight beam from 3,100 yards—it was the raked bow of a broken ship. At 0332, Radford observers identified the number “50” on the drifting bow and the search for survivors began. The Nicholas was ordered to assist and reached the survivor area moments before the Radford. Both destroyers lowered volunteer-crewed whaleboats and commenced rescue operations.

          Ordeal of the Survivors

          The task group, less the Nicholas and Radford, departed for Tulagi at 0430 time was precious and dawn (with the inevitable marauding enemy aircraft) was just over two hours away. Obviously, the longer the destroyers could remain in the area, the more men they could snatch from the sea and the Japanese, but the drifting survivor field was right where the enemy warships were. Thus, that night’s battle action likely was not over. Both destroyers made numerous radar contacts, all presumed hostile, over the following hours. Time and again they quickly had to get under way, leave the vast survivor field, and charge off to attack an enemy ship or ships. They fired their 5-inch main batteries they fired torpedoes they dodged torpedoes. And after each engagement, they doggedly returned to pull men from the sea.

          The survivors thrashed about in the black, choking oil, most held afloat only by their bulky kapok life vests. For the majority, the struggle was mercifully short, thanks to their rescuers. The dauntless destroyermen worked furiously, helping sailors climb up the oil-slippery cargo nets draped over the ships’ rails as multiple reports of approaching Japanese warships deluged their skippers. The intermittent sniping continued between the destroyers and various seaborne enemies. There were near misses but no damage to the U.S. ships. Ultimately, with sunrise only minutes away, the destroyers were forced to leave the area.

          During the start-and-stop fighting, some men were left clinging to the destroyers’ rope nets when the ships’ engine rooms went to full power. While some of them had climbed high enough to escape the rush of bow-wave water and eventually were able to clamber aboard, others were washed back into the sea. One of the latter was popular Commander Elmer Charles Buerkle, the Helena’s executive officer. Buerkle, one of the few commissioning officers who had remained on board the cruiser, had fleeted up from assistant engineering officer, and was known for the fairness, even temperament, and hardy laugh that brought him respect from all. When he fell back into the sea he was without a life jacket the dedicated officer then drifted into oblivion.

          With their decks packed with hundreds of survivors, the Nicholas and Radford headed toward Tulagi. Between them, the destroyers had wrested 745 men from fate’s fickle grasp. Yet there remained fully one-third of the Helena’s complement still adrift in the dangerous waters of the Slot.

          The destroyermen departed with heavy hearts, but they resolved to return for the many men left behind, including seven of their own boatmen. They knew what might await their brothers-in-arms. By mid-1943 any U.S. serviceman involved in Pacific combat understood—through reports, personal observation, or simple scuttlebutt—that their intractable and brutal Japanese foes could be expected to cruelly abuse, torture, and even kill their captives. The Helena had been a very well-known, popular, and hard-fighting ship of the South Pacific Force, and it was imperative that her men be recovered. Consequently, the Navy pulled out all stops to extricate the remaining survivors, and in doing so made a resounding statement.

          There were two groups of survivors hoping for a ship to return for them. A large cluster of men gravitated to the floating bow of the sunken cruiser but eventually left it behind after a passing Navy bomber dropped some inflatable rubber rafts. That group was led by Lieutenant Commander John L. “Jack” Chew, the Helena’s combat information center officer and assistant gunnery officer. They were completely at the mercy of wind and current, drifting westward with the oil and debris field.

          Commanded by the cruiser’s skipper, Captain Charles P. Cecil, a smaller group of 81 survivors, with the seven destroyer boatmen on board three motor whaleboats, purposefully were making their way east toward New Georgia. Later that day, they made landfall on the north shore of the island near Visu Visu Point. Well after dawn the next morning, they were retrieved by two destroyers. The USS Gwin (DD-433) and Woodworth (DD-460) had been dispatched in a daring two-ship dash up the Slot to search for survivors. With all the rescued on board the Gwin, and the whaleboats burned, the two destroyers high-tailed it to Guadalcanal, where the survivors were transferred to a waiting transport.

          Stranded on Vella Lavella

          That left Lieutenant Commander Chew’s group, which became more strung out with the slow drift toward Japanese-occupied Vella Lavella Island, northwest of Kolombangara, and became ever smaller as exhausted men floated away during the following two long days and nights. On the morning of 8 July, Chew and two others decided to swim for the island the rest stuck with the rafts and paddled in that direction. During the late afternoon, the swimmers were picked up by local natives in a canoe who took them ashore and then paddled back out to bring in the rafts.

          The natives, who spoke Pidgin English that Christian missionaries had taught them, hated the Japanese, murderers of many of their people. They led all the men they brought ashore into the hills for safety. By the end of the day, there were 104 Helena survivors, including several in bad condition, in the small jungle camp where they were all taken. Chew soon got things organized to maintain health, safety, and naval discipline. Major Bernard T. Kelly, the commander of the Helena’s Marine detachment, organized a police and security force with his five enlisted Marines and a few recruited sailors. Food was scarce for everyone, but the locals shared their meager resources with the survivors.

          Other survivors were farther west, around the bend of the coast, but contact between the groups was limited only to messages. A missionary on the island made radio contact with an Australian coastwatcher. It was not very long before command decisions were being made.

          On 14 July, two destroyer transports (APDs) of Transport Division 12 were ordered on standby in Tulagi Harbor. The next morning, they departed for Guadalcanal’s Koli Point to rendezvous with four destroyers of Captain Thomas J. Ryan’s Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 12. The six ships, TG 31.2, got under way in the early afternoon, headed northwest. The USS Dent (APD-9) and Waters (APD-8) formed in column with the Maury (DD-401) trailing and the other three destroyers—the Taylor (DD-468), with Captain Ryan on board Gridley (DD-380) and Ellet (DD-398)—spread out around the column. They pointed their bows toward Vella Lavella and “the rescue of Helena survivors.”

          A couple of hours after the ships had departed Guadalcanal, another quartet of destroyers slipped out of Tulagi Harbor. With orders to be the distant screening force for the other group, these four Fletcher-class destroyers—the Nicholas, O’Bannon, Radford, and Jenkins—had been nearby when the Helena was sunk, as well as at the Battle of Kolombangara, fought just two nights earlier. With DesRon 21 commander Captain Francis X. McInerney still on board the Nicholas, they were keeping their promise to return for the men that the Nicholas and Radford were forced to leave behind.

          Dangerous Rescue

          The survivors had been on the island for seven days when word was relayed to Chew that he and his men were to be extracted early the next morning. Plans were made for the trek down the hills and through the thick jungle to Lambu Lambu Cove. They started out in midafternoon, hoping to make it through the jungle before sunset but not wanting to arrive at the beach too early in case the Japanese interfered. There was some confusion getting everyone together on the beach, but they all eventually made it to the rendezvous location, leaving them with nothing to do except nervously wait.

          While Chew’s sailors groped their way to the beach, TG 31.2 was making turns toward the first extraction at Paraso Bay. After passing Cape Esperance on Guadalcanal, the APDs and their escorts avoided the Slot by heading west into the Solomon Sea. Their course had them passing south of the Russell Islands at about the same time that Chew’s group of survivors started their jungle trek. About seven hours later, TG 31.2 passed Rendova Island from well out to sea. It was nearing midnight as the formation passed through the Gizo Strait. Rounding the eastern tip of Vella Lavella, the formation turned left, proceeded into the Slot, and ran up the island’s northeastern coast.

          At 0120, the formation arrived off the entrance to Paraso Bay, and while three destroyers patrolled, the Taylor led the APDs through the reefs ringing the bay. After 20 minutes of minimal headway and several course changes, the APDs proceeded toward the rendezvous in a cove also called Paraso. At 0155, barely making headway, the Dent exchanged signals “with a small boat in accordance with [the] previously arranged procedure.” The ADP slowed to a stop and lowered three of her Higgins boats. Stopped a little farther out, the Waters lowered her four boats, which followed the others toward the beach. Meanwhile, McInerney’s four covering destroyers came within sight of Ryan’s destroyers patrolling outside Paraso Bay.

          A little more than an hour after leaving the APDs, the seven Higgins boats returned and moved alongside their respective destroyer transports. Once the boats were hoisted on board, the officers and men of the Waters were disappointed to find that their boats were empty—the Dent boats had embarked all 61 survivors and one Japanese prisoner, who had been captured by natives guarding the Americans. Within minutes the APDs were under way, and by 0332 they were taking station in formation with Ryan’s shepherding destroyers, headed down the coast for Lambu Lambu Cove at 23 knots. Twenty-one minutes later, the Dent turned right at the curve of the coast and immediately slowed to five knots. Within five minutes the escorting destroyers were patrolling and the APD, lying to, had lowered her boats. The Waters was a few minutes behind, and her boats headed for the beach well after those of the Dent.

          Impatiently waiting at Lambu Lambu Cove were Lieutenant Commander Chew and his men. Suddenly, around 0400, the APDs appeared from the gloom. Chew thought “it was the most wonderful feeling in the world to see [their boats] coming in.” After the boats beached at the appointed spot, machine guns ready for action, the survivors and some Chinese civilians who had fled from the Japanese when they had arrived on the island, were embarked. In just over 30 minutes, the Dent’s boats returned with most of the evacuees, followed by the Waters’ boats at 0443 transporting the remainder. Chew was in the last boat and among the 40 who were “quickly embarked” on board the Waters.

          Ryan’s destroyers then maneuvered to take stations ahead of the APDs, which worked up to a 25-knot dash down the Slot. Shortly after sunrise, McInerney’s covering force joined and assumed screening stations astern of the formation. By 0730 a large number of friendly aircraft were flying protectively overhead. On board the transports, the ecstatic and immensely relieved survivors were enjoying their salvation as well as hot soup and fresh coffee. Seven hours later, the APDs moored in Tulagi Harbor and the exhausted Helena survivors were transported to a camp ashore.

          Dispiriting Loss, Uplifting Ending

          The loss of the Helena was a demoralizing blow for the U.S. Navy. But the rescue had an important aspect besides the singularly critical issue of the survivors’ salvation: It became a tremendous morale booster for the entire South Pacific Force. The Navy accomplished the improbable by sending thin-skinned destroyers in harm’s way to retrieve the stranded U.S. servicemen in an area where Japanese forces abounded and were on high alert. Against very long odds, the successful conclusion of the survivors’ saga underscored an unstated but profound pledge: Every effort would be made to recover any and all marooned Allied service personnel, no matter the circumstances. Hence, 166 Americans were saved and, undeniably, a promise kept.

          Action Report for 6 July 1943, USS Helena, Record Group (RG) 38, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD (hereafter NARA II).

          CDR John L. Chew, “Some Shall Escape,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 71, no. 8 (August 1945).

          USS Helena (CL-50) website,

          William C. Henderson Jr., Escape from the Sea: The USS Helena—Pearl Harbor to Kula Gulf and Beyond (published by the author, 1995[?]).

          Samuel Eliot Morison, The Rising Sun in the Pacific (vol. 3), Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier (vol. 6), History of United States Naval Operations in World War II (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1954, 1950).

          LT C. G. Morris, USNR, with Hugh B. Cave, The Fightin’est Ship: The Story of the Cruiser Helena (New York: Dodd, Meade & Co., 1944).

          War Diaries, USS Honolulu, St. Louis, Nicholas, Radford, Gwin, Taylor, Dent, Waters, and Maury, RG 38, NARA II.

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