USS Halford (DD-480) after removal of the catapult, 1943
|Builder:||Puget Sound Naval Shipyard|
|Laid down:||3 June 1941|
|Launched:||29 October 1942|
|Commissioned:||10 April 1943|
|Decommissioned:||15 May 1946|
|Struck:||1 May 1968|
|Fate:||Sold for scrap, 2 April 1970|
|Class and type:||Fletcher-class destroyer|
|Displacement:||2,050 tons (2,083 t)|
|Length:||376 ft 6 in (114.7 m)|
|Beam:||39 ft 8 in (12.1 m)|
|Draft:||17 ft 9 in (5.4 m)|
|Propulsion:||60,000 shp (45 MW); 2 propellers|
|Speed:||35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph)|
|Range:||6500 nmi. (12,000 km) at 15 kt|
|Aircraft carried:||1, one catapult (removed 1944)|
USS Halford (DD-480), a Fletcher-class destroyer, was a ship of the United States Navy named for Lieutenant William Halford (1841–1919), a recipient of the Medal of Honor.
The Fletcher class was a class of destroyers built by the United States during World War II. The class was designed in 1939, as a result of dissatisfaction with the earlier destroyer leader types of the Porter and Somers classes. Some went on to serve during the Korean War and into the Vietnam War.
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast, maneuverable long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller powerful short-range attackers. They were originally developed in the late 19th century by Fernando Villaamil for the Spanish Navy as a defense against torpedo boats, and by the time of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, these "torpedo boat destroyers" (TBDs) were "large, swift, and powerfully armed torpedo boats designed to destroy other torpedo boats". Although the term "destroyer" had been used interchangeably with "TBD" and "torpedo boat destroyer" by navies since 1892, the term "torpedo boat destroyer" had been generally shortened to simply "destroyer" by nearly all navies by the First World War.
The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. with the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the Navy is the third largest of the service branches. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the second-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force.
Halford was laid down on 3 June 1941 at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington; launched on 29 October 1942, sponsored by Miss Eunice Halford, daughter of Lieutenant Halford; and commissioned on 10 April 1943, with Lieutenant Commander G. N. Johansen in command.
Bremerton is a city in Kitsap County, Washington, United States. The population was 41,500 according to the 2018 State Estimate, making it the largest city on the Kitsap Peninsula. Bremerton is home to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and the Bremerton Annex of Naval Base Kitsap. Bremerton is connected to Downtown Seattle by two ferries: a 60-minute ferry that carries both vehicles and walk-on passengers, and a 28-minute fast ferry that carries passengers and a limited number of bicycles.
Ship commissioning is the act or ceremony of placing a ship in active service, and may be regarded as a particular application of the general concepts and practices of project commissioning. The term is most commonly applied to the placing of a warship in active duty with its country's military forces. The ceremonies involved are often rooted in centuries old naval tradition.
Halford was one of the three Fletcher-class destroyers to be completed (out of six planned) with a catapult for a float plane, the others being Pringle and Stevens. The catapult and an aircraft crane were located just aft of the number 2 smokestack, in place of the after torpedo tube mount, 5 inch mount number 3, and the 2nd deck of the after deck house which normally carried a twin 40 mm anti-aircraft gun on most ships of the class. (The twin 40 mm mount was moved to the fantail, just forward of the depth charge racks, where most ships of the class carried 20 mm mounts.) It was intended that the float plane be used for scouting for the destroyer flotilla which the ship was attached to. It would be launched by the catapult, land on the water next to the ship, and be recovered by the aircraft crane. It turned out to be not operationally suitable for the intended purpose, and the three ships were ultimately converted to the standard Fletcher-class configuration.
A catapult is a ballistic device used to launch a projectile a great distance without the aid of explosive devices—particularly various types of ancient and medieval siege engines. In use since ancient times, the catapult has proven to be one of the most effective mechanisms during warfare. In modern times the term can apply to devices ranging from a simple hand-held implement to a mechanism for launching aircraft from a ship.
USS Pringle (DD-477), a Fletcher-class destroyer, was a ship of the United States Navy named for Vice Admiral Joel R. P. Pringle (1873–1932).
USS Stevens (DD-479), a Fletcher-class destroyer, was the second ship of that name in the United States Navy. This ship was named for both Rear Admiral Thomas H. Stevens, Jr. (1819–1896), and his father, Captain Thomas Holdup Stevens (1795–1841).
In 1943 when the struggle in Pacific was raging, the Pacific Fleet prepared for its mighty sweep across Micronesia. In an effort to strengthen the "seeing eyes" of the fleet, Halford was constructed with a cruiser catapult and scout observation plane. She departed San Diego 5 July en route Pearl Harbor arriving five days later. For the next 3½ months Halford was to test the feasibility of carrying scout planes on small vessels. Because of tactical changes and the Navy's growing strength in aircraft carriers, Halford returned to Mare Island Naval Shipyard 27 October 1943 for alterations which replaced the catapult and scout plane with a second set of torpedo tubes and the number 3 5 inch mount.
Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, composed of thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It has a shared cultural history with two other island regions: Polynesia to the east and Melanesia to the south.
Pearl Harbor is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. It has been long visited by the Naval fleet of the United States, before it was acquired from the Hawaiian Kingdom by the U.S. with the signing of the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is now a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet. The U.S. government first obtained exclusive use of the inlet and the right to maintain a repair and coaling station for ships here in 1887. The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan on December 7, 1941, was the immediate cause of the United States' entry into World War II.
An aircraft carrier is a warship that serves as a seagoing airbase, equipped with a full-length flight deck and facilities for carrying, arming, deploying, and recovering aircraft. Typically, it is the capital ship of a fleet, as it allows a naval force to project air power worldwide without depending on local bases for staging aircraft operations. Carriers have evolved since their inception in the early twentieth century from wooden vessels used to deploy balloons to nuclear-powered warships that carry numerous fighters, strike aircraft, helicopters, and other types of aircraft. While heavier aircraft such as fixed-wing gunships and bombers have been launched from aircraft carriers, it is currently not possible to land them. By its diplomatic and tactical power, its mobility, its autonomy and the variety of its means, the aircraft carrier is often the centerpiece of modern combat fleets. Tactically or even strategically, it replaced the battleship in the role of flagship of a fleet. One of its great advantages is that, by sailing in international waters, it does not interfere with any territorial sovereignty and thus obviates the need for overflight authorizations from third party countries, reduce the times and transit distances of aircraft and therefore significantly increase the time of availability on the combat zone.
By 6 December, with increased fighting power and a new profile, Halford again departed for the South Pacific. She called at Pearl Harbor, Funafuti, Espiritu Santo, and Tutuila, Samoa; then took up convoy duties which included a Christmastime assignment of protecting the troopship Lurline with Marine reinforcements embarked for Guadalcanal. Arriving at Guadalcanal, she assumed command of the anti-submarine screen and took up station off Lunga Point. In addition to Guadalcanal, Halford supported the beachhead at Bougainville, screening supply trains and participating in coastal bombardments.
The South Pacific Area (SOPAC) was a multinational U.S.-led military command active during World War II. It was a part of the U.S. Pacific Ocean Areas under Admiral Chester Nimitz.
Funafuti is an atoll and the capital of the island nation of Tuvalu. It has a population of 6,025 people, making it the country's most populated atoll, with 56.6 percent of Tuvalu's population. It is a narrow sweep of land between 20 and 400 metres wide, encircling a large lagoon 18 km long and 14 km wide. The average depth in the Funafuti lagoon is about 20 fathoms. With a surface of 275 square kilometres (106.2 sq mi), it is by far the largest lagoon in Tuvalu. The land area of the 33 islets aggregates to 2.4 square kilometres (0.9 sq mi), less than one percent of the total area of the atoll. Cargo ships can enter Funafuti's lagoon and dock at the port facilities on Fongafale.
Espiritu Santo is the largest island in the nation of Vanuatu, with an area of 3,955.5 km2 (1,527.2 sq mi) and a population of around 40,000 according to the 2009 census.
Anti-shipping sweeps on New Ireland's east coast, punctuated by counter-battery fire off East Buka Passage made tense and exciting days for Halford, Waller and Wadsworth during January 1944, a month which also saw the destruction by this three-ship task force, of the strategic Japanese facilities on Choiseul Island.
New Ireland or Latangai, is a large island in Papua New Guinea, approximately 7,404 km2 (2,859 sq mi) in area with ca. 120,000 people. It is the largest island of New Ireland Province, lying northeast of the island of New Britain. Both islands are part of the Bismarck Archipelago, named after Otto von Bismarck, and they are separated by Saint George's Channel. The administrative centre of the island and of New Ireland province is the town of Kavieng located at the northern end of the island. While the island was part of German New Guinea, it was named Neumecklenburg.
USS Waller (DD/DDE-466), a Fletcher-class destroyer, was a ship of the United States Navy named for Major General Littleton Waller, USMC (1856–1926).
USS Wadsworth (DD-516), a Fletcher-class destroyer, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for Commodore Alexander S. Wadsworth (1790–1851). The ship was commissioned in 1943 during World War II. After seeing extensive action during the war, the ship was placed in reserve following it. In 1959 the destroyer was loaned to the West German Navy and renamed Zerstörer 3. She remained a part of the West German Navy until 1980 when the destroyer was transferred to the Hellenic Navy and renamed Nearchos. Nearchos was active until 1991 when she was sold for scrap.
Halford next became the flagship for Admiral T. S. "Ping" Wilkinson's Green Islands Attack Force. Carrying Major General Harold E. Barrowclough's 3rd New Zealand Division Admiral Wilkinson's destroyer-transport group sortied from Vella Lavella and the Treasuries, 12 – 13 February, arrived off Barahun Island at 06:20, 15 February and lowered their landing craft fully manned.
Halford took up station off Green Island and began patrolling while unloading operations proceeded. At 09:40 General Barrowclough, RNZA, and staff disembarked to land on Green Island. Within two hours after the initial landing, all New Zealand forces were ashore; 5,800 men were landed during D-Day, 15 February. The fact that such a force could put thousands of troops ashore virtually without opposition 115 miles (210 km) from Rabaul demonstrated the might and mobility of the Allied fleets in the Pacific.
Halford next joined a destroyer squadron to make shipping sweeps off the west coast of New Ireland. On the night of 24 – 25 February 1944, Halford and Bennett sank two small coastal ships and severely damaged a patrol vessel. For the next three days, Halford carried out her sweeps south of the strong Japanese naval base of Truk then returned to Purvis Bay for supplies.
The Spring of 1944 found Halford busily escorting supply units to the northern Solomon Islands. Halford then prepared for the longest cruise of her career—commencing early in June with the campaign for the Marianas.
The initial phase of Operation Forager which kept Halford at sea for seventy five days was the bombardment of Tinian's west coast defenses, followed by night harassing fire and the screening of heavy shore bombardment units. On 17 June Halford joined the battle line of Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's famed Task Force 58 (TF 58) for the greatest carrier action of all time: the Battle of the Philippine Sea. 19 June found Halford in the first phase of the battle:—the "Marianas Turkey Shoot"—as repeated enemy carrier strikes were shot down by surface fire. In the two day battle of the Philippine Sea, the Japanese Fleet lost 395 of its carrier planes, thirty one float planes, and three aircraft carriers.
While Guam footholds were being secured, Halford covered beach demolition units giving close bombardment support to assault troops and rescuing a number of friendly natives who had escaped through Japanese lines. Halford then joined the Angaur Fire Support Group in the bombardment of Angaur Island (4 – 21 September 1944).
Halford turned next to the campaign for the recapture of the Philippines. Joining Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf's Fire Group of the Southern Attack Force, Halford participated in the pre-invasion bombardments in Leyte Island. Then, on 24 October, when Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid estimated that Admiral Shoji Nishimura's Southern Force would try to enter Leyte Gulf via Surigao Strait, Halford prepared for the Battle of Surigao Strait (24 – 25 October 1944). That night and in the early morning hours of 25 October Halford, as a member of Destroyer Division 112, witnessed virtually the complete destruction of the Japanese Southern Force except for destroyer Shigure. American casualties totaled 39 men killed and 114 wounded, most of them in destroyer Albert W. Grant. Admiral Oldendorf said after the battle, "My theory was that of the old-time gambler: 'Never give a sucker a chance.' If my opponent is foolish enough to come at me with an inferior force, I'm certainly not going to give him an even break."
After the epochal Battle of Leyte Gulf, which broke the back of Japanese sea power, Halford departed Leyte Gulf 1 November 1944 and took up operations with the 3rd Fleet out of Ulithi until 2 December when she returned to Leyte as part of the covering force for the landings. On 6 December she was dispatched to escort damaged SS Antone Sautrain into Leyte, but the ship was lost in air attack. Returning to Leyte Halford next escorted supply echelons to Ormoc Bay and troopships to Mindoro.
In the afternoon of 2 January 1945 Halford sortied from Hollandia to escort transports of Task Force 79 to Lingayen Gulf for the occupation of Luzon Island; delivering the transports safely despite heavy air attack she commenced patrolling the entrance to the Gulf. Then on the afternoon of 11 January, Halford took part in the shipping strike on San Fernando Harbor in which three small cargo ships, a landing craft, and several barges were sunk. Next morning she took part in the bombardment which neutralized the town of Rosario.
On 14 February, while patrolling Saipan Harbor, in a smoke screen, Halford rammed M.S. Terry E. Stephenson. Although there were no injuries, it necessitated Halford's return to Mare Island, where she arrived on 24 March 1945.
On 27 May 1945 Halford departed San Diego on her way west again. She proceeded to the Marshall Islands via Pearl Harbor where she escorted transports from Eniwetok to Ulithi. On 11 August Halford departed Eniwetok en route to Adak, Alaska as a unit of the Northern Pacific Fleet. With a task force composed of light carriers, cruisers, and destroyers, Halford departed Adak on 31 August and steamed into Ominato, Northern Honshū, Japan 12 September. Under the direction of Vice-Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, this force was responsible for the initial occupation of the Ominato Naval Base and surrounding areas.
With Admiral Fletcher's Task Group, Halford cleared Ominato on 20 September returning to Adak five days later, thence on via Kodiak to Juneau for Navy Day.
Halford departed Juneau, Alaska, on 1 November 1945, and arrived at Bremerton, Washington, three days later to begin inactivation overhaul. She departed Bremerton on 23 January 1946. She joined the Pacific Reserve Fleet at San Diego on 28 January and decommissioned there on 15 May 1946.
Halford was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 May 1968; she was sold on 2 April 1970 and broken up for scrap.
Halford received thirteen battle stars for World War II service.
USS Fletcher (DD/DDE-445), named for Admiral Frank Friday Fletcher, was the lead Fletcher-class destroyer, and served in the Pacific during World War II. She received fifteen battle stars for World War II service, and five for Korean War service.
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