USS Hamilton (DD-141)

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USS Hamilton (DD-141)
Career (US)
Namesake: Lieutenant Archibald Hamilton (1790-1815)
Builder: Mare Island Navy Yard
Laid down: 8 June 1918
Launched: 15 January 1919
Commissioned: 7 November 1919 to 20 July 1922
Decommissioned: 20 July 1922
Recommissioned: 20 January 1930
Decommissioned: 16 October 1945
Reclassified: Fast minesweeper (DMS-18) 17 October 1941
Miscellaneous auxiliary (AG-111) 6 May 1945
Struck: 1 November 1945
Fate: Sold for scrapping 21 November 1946
General characteristics
Class & type: Wickes class destroyer
Displacement: 1,090 tons
Length: 314 ft 5 in (95.83 m)
Beam: 31 ft 9 in (9.68 m)
Draft: 8 ft 8 in (2.64 m)
Speed: 35 knots (65 km/h)
Complement: 113 officers and enlisted
Armament: 4 × 4" (102 mm), 3 x .30 cal. (7.62 mm), 12 × 21" (533 mm) torpedo tubes

The second USS Hamilton (DD–141) was a Wickes class destroyer in the United States Navy following World War I, later reclassified DMS-18 for service in World War II. She was the first ship named for Lieutenant Archibald Hamilton.

Hamilton was launched 15 January 1919 by the Mare Island Naval Shipyard; sponsored by Miss Dolly Hamilton Hawkins, great-grand-niece of Archibald Hamilton; and commissioned 7 November 1919, Lieutenant Commander R. G. Coman in command.

Service history[edit]

Based at San Diego, Hamilton participated in battle practice and maneuvers along the California coast with Destroyer Squadron 17. In the summer of 1920 she also took part in torpedo and smoke screen operations in Hawaii. Battle practice and other readiness operations ranging across the Pacific to Hawaii continued until Hamilton decommissioned at San Diego 20 July 1922.

Hamilton recommissioned 20 January 1930 and, after shakedown, reached her new home port, Norfolk, 26 November. She served with the Scouting Force, operating along the East Coast throughout 1931, and then returned to San Diego in January 1932. After a year of plane guard duty and battle exercises along the California coast, Hamilton again shifted to the East Coast, reaching Norfolk 29 January 1933. Based at Newport, Rhode Island, she served with the Scouting Force in local operations and exercises.

In 1938 an activated-tank stabilization system designed by Nicolas Minorsky was tested in the Hamilton but exhibited control stability problems. Outbreak of World War II in Europe in the fall of 1939 interrupted further development as the Hamilton was called to active duty.[1] Hamilton joined other four-stackers on the Grand Banks Patrol, which sent American ships as far north as Iceland and Greenland to protect their own and neutral shipping. Hamilton continued this duty until converted to a fast minesweeper in June 1941. Reclassified DMS-18 on 17 October 1941, she resumed patrol duty along the East Coast and into the North Atlantic.

World War II[edit]

When America was catapulted into the war 7 December 1941, Hamilton's pace accelerated greatly. Wartime duties now took the old flush-decker on coastal convoys from New York through German U-boat infested waters as far south as the Panama Canal Zone.

The Caribbean and the waters off Cape Hatteras were particularly rich ground for U-boats, and Hamilton more than once attacked U-boats sighted on the surface or detected by sound contacts. On 9 June 1942 Hamilton rescued 39 survivors of Gannet, torpedoed just north of Bermuda.

The shifting tide of war drew Hamilton from the coastal convoy route in the fall of 1942 as she became part of "Operation Torch," the Allied invasion of North Africa. Hamilton sailed for North Africa 24 October with Rear Admiral H. K. Hewitt's Task Force 34, a part of America's giant overseas amphibious thrust. Two weeks later, she cruised off the Moroccan coast providing antisubmarine protection and fire support for the first waves of invasion barges as the Allies landed at Casablanca, Oran, and Algiers 8 November 1942.

Hamilton remained along the North African shore on minesweeping and escort duty out of Casablanca until December when she sailed for the Brooklyn Navy Yard, arriving 26 December. The following year saw Hamilton engaged primarily in coastal convoy duty, guiding and protecting merchantmen as they threaded their perilous way through German submarine packs from Iceland to the Caribbean.

Departing Norfolk 3 December 1943, Hamilton transited the Panama Canal 5 days later and reached San Diego 16 December. From San Diego she steamed to Pearl Harbor and, after a brief training period, sailed for Kwajalein Atoll, a key target in the Marshalls. As the Marines stormed ashore there 31 January 1944, Hamilton steamed in the area to screen transports and provide the fire support that made it possible to land and stay.

After the successful conclusion of that invasion, Hamilton retired to Noumea, New Caledonia, to prepare for the invasion of the Admiralty Islands. At Nouméa, Hamilton joined forces with three other flush-deckers converted to fast minesweepers-Hovey, Long, and Palmer—to form an important preliminary sweep unit. It was the mission of these ships to enter enemy harbors three to five days before D-day to clear out mines and provide safe anchorage for the invasion force. The toll of these operations, conducted before enemy shore batteries had been taken out, was high. Of her original unit only Hamilton survived the war.

Under unceasing enemy fire, Hamilton and her group entered Seeadler Harbor, Admiralty Islands, 2 March 1944 to begin sweeping operations. After the invasion was launched, she remained in the area screening transports and patrolling on ASW duty until early April when she returned to Nouméa to prepare for the invasion of Aitape. After sweeping operations there before the 22 April invasion, Hamilton served on general sweeping duty in the Solomons and then readied for the Mariana campaign.

Entering Saipan Harbor 13 June, Hamilton helped clear the way for the invasion. The struggle for Saipan was important not only in itself, but also in that it precipitated the Battle of the Philippine Sea, as known as the "Marianas Turkey Shoot" because of the number of Japanese planes shot down during the intensive engagement fought on 19 June and 20 June. American carrier planes and ships under the command of the famous Admirals Raymond A. Spruance and Marc A. Mitscher decimated Japan's air arm, downing 395 carrier planes, and 31 float planes. In addition, Cavalla and Albacore sank Shōkaku, and Taihō, while carrier-based planes chalked up a third, Hiyō Hiyō.

The conquest of Saipan was followed by an equally hard-fought struggle for Guam. The day organized enemy resistance on Saipan ended, Hamilton sailed from Eniwetok 9 July to take part in the preliminary bombardment and sweeping activities at Guam. This time a long period on the firing line preceded Hamilton's entrance into the harbor. Then 3 days before D-day, 21 July, she started to sweep the harbor. After screening transports in the retirement area, Hamilton sailed to Pearl Harbor for repairs.

Hamilton's next tour of mine sweeping duty fell at Peleliu Island. Arriving off the Palaus 12 September 1944, Hamilton joined her unit and proceeded through several heavily mined channels. In Kossol Passage, the converted destroyers exploded 116 mines. For destroying three extensive mine fields, which the Japanese had hoped would ward off or severely damage the invasion force, Hamilton and the other minesweepers received the Navy Unit Commendation. Then, after duty in the transport screen, she escorted convoys from the staging areas to the Palaus to prepare for the assault on the Philippine Islands.

She departed Manus on 10 October and entered Leyte Gulf on the 17th. Three days before Army divisions came ashore, Hamilton swept the channels around Diriagat Island and Looc Bay to clear the way to the invasion beaches. To add to the usual turmoil of battle, the fleet as a whole was under almost constant air attack. In the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Imperial Japanese Navy was virtually annihilated. As the battle raged 23 October to 26 October, American submarines, planes and surface ships sank three battleships, four carriers, six heavy and four light cruisers, and nine destroyers. American losses were two escort carriers, a light carrier, and three destroyers. This battle marked the end of Japanese sea power as an important threat. The fleet had cleared the way for the final assaults leading into Japan.

Arriving at Manus, Admiralty Islands, 31 October, Hamilton underwent availability and repairs and, once more ready for battle, sailed 23 December to prepare the way for the invasion of Lingayen Gulf. As the minesweepers steamed through the channel 6 January 1945, wave after wave of kamikazes attacked. Hamilton emerged from the kamikaze attacks unscathed. After the invasion forces landed at Lingayen Gulf 9 January, Hamilton remained as a transport screen and escort until 1 February when she sailed for Saipan.

From Saipan, the veteran ship again steamed into battle, this time appearing off Iwo Jima. Hamilton recorded no casualties during sweeping operations which began 16 February, but she had to aid Gamble, left powerless by a direct bomb hit on the 18th. In addition to helping the wounded ship fight myriad fires, Hamilton took on board and care for the more seriously injured sailors. After marines stormed ashore on Iwo Jima 19 February, Hamilton patrolled off the island until 27 February. The four-stacker then returned to Iwo Jima as a convoy escort 7 March. Three days later Hamilton sailed from the battle and from the Pacific War. Steaming for Eniwetok, she changed course to rescue 11 men from a downed B-29 11 March.

Hamilton reached Pearl Harbor via Eniwetok 25 March 1945 and, after a brief period of training, headed home. As she sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge 8 April, the destroyer ended over 100,000 hard miles of steaming in the Pacific struggle. Scheduled for overhaul and modernization, she went into drydock at Richmond, California; but she was subsequently reclassified AG-111 (miscellaneous auxiliary) 6 May 1945 and taken out of dry-dock. The faithful four-stacker spent the few remaining months of the war participating in experimental mine-sweeping work along the California coast out of Santa Barbara. Two weeks before the Japanese surrender, Hamilton sailed to the destroyer base at San Diego, where she decommissioned 16 October 1945. Her hulk was sold to Hugo Neu of New York City for scrapping 21 November 1946.

Awards[edit]

Hamilton earned nine battle stars for World War II service.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Flügge-Lotz, I. (1971). "Memorial to N. Minorsky". IEEE Transactions On Automatic Control, Vol. AC-16, No. 4. 

External links[edit]