USS Hutchins (DD-476)
USS Hutchins (DD-476)
|Namesake:||Carleton B. Hutchins|
|Builder:||Boston Navy Yard|
|Laid down:||27 September 1941|
|Launched:||20 February 1942|
|Commissioned:||17 November 1942|
|Decommissioned:||30 November 1945|
|Struck:||19 December 1945|
|Fate:||Sold for scrap, January 1948|
|Class & type:||Fletcher-class destroyer|
|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)|
|Range:||6500 nmi. (12,000 km) @ 15 kt|
USS Hutchins (DD-476), a Fletcher-class destroyer, was a ship of the United States Navy named for Lieutenant Carleton B. Hutchins (1904–1938), a naval aviator who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Hutchins (DD-476) was launched by Boston Navy Yard, Boston, Mass., 20 February 1942; sponsored by Mrs. C.B. Hutchins, widow of Lt. Hutchins; and commissioned 17 November 1942, Lieutenant Commander B.W. Herron in command. Hutchins was to be one of six Fletcher-class destroyers built with a catapult for a float plane but the plan was abandoned.
After completing shakedown cruise in Casco Bay, Maine, Hutchins got underway from Boston 17 March 1943 and escorted two tankers to Galveston, Tex. From there she proceeded through the Panama Canal to San Diego, where she arrived 11 April. Following an escort voyage to New Caledonia and Espiritu Santo, Hutchins arrived Pearl Harbor 30 May for armament alterations. While testing her guns in Hawaiian waters 25 June, an electrical failure caused the gun to fire into Hutchins' stack, killing nine men and wounding twenty. While repairing at Pearl Harbor, the ship was fitted with the newest Combat Information Center (CIC) equipment.
The ship returned to San Diego 11 July 1943 for training, and got underway with an LST group seven days later for the voyage to Adak Island in the Aleutians. She took part in the occupation of Kiska 15 August as the Japanese gave up their Aleutians foothold, and in the months that followed patrolled the islands and engaged in fleet training maneuvers.
Hutchins departed the bleak northern Pacific 18 November 1943 for the steaming and bitterly-contested coast of New Guinea. She arrived Milne Bay 19 December and soon afterward screened LSTs during the landings at Cape Gloucester. Designed to secure the important straits between New Britain and New Guinea, the landings began 26 December. Hutchins and the other screening vessels came under severe air attack in the days that followed, with Hutchins downing one aircraft and assisting with another. After escorting a support convoy to Cape Gloucester from Buna on mainland New Guinea, the destroyer steamed with another LST group to Saidor, farther up the coast of New Guinea. During a rain squall she collided with another destroyer in the congested assault area, and was forced to steam to Cairns, Australia 16 January 1944 for bow repairs.
Hutchins departed Cairns 22 February and, after important night tactical drills, sailed 28 February with Admiral Daniel E. Barbey's amphibious group for the Admiralties. Arriving next day, the ship carried out shore bombardment of Manus, the base which was to become so vital in the coming campaigns, and with Rear Admiral Victor Crutchley, RN, in HMAS Shropshire, established a patrol off Manus. During late March and April Hutchins and other destroyers made bombardment sweeps of Wewak and Hansa Bay, encouraging the Japanese in the mistaken belief that the next amphibious assault would be in that area. In reality it was planned for much farther up the coast, at Hollandia.
Steaming from Cape Sudest 18 April, Hutchins arrived Hollandia 22 April and with other fleet units gave close gunfire support to the well-executed initial assault. She then retired to screen escort carriers providing air cover and, near the end of April, bombarded Wakde Island. The versatile destroyer steamed south of Truk 10 May to pick up survivors of a B-24 raid on the Japanese stronghold, returning south for the next step in New Guinea.
Hutchins next took part in the Wakde-Sarmi operation 17 May. After shore bombardment and screening operations she moved on to Biak with its vital airbase site 10 days later. Early in June the destroyer operated with Task Forces 74 and To off Biak, and on the night of the 8th, the ships detected Japanese ships approaching from the northwest. The enemy destroyers cast off their troop-laden barges and with Hutchins and the rest of Adm. Crutchley's force in pursuit, retired rapidly. During a long stern chase the destroyers exchanged gunfire at long range; Allied ships broke off the chase just before 02:30 and returned to the assault area.
In July Hutchins took part in the Noemfoor landings, providing the all-important gunfire support, and operated with the nimble PT boats in the Aitape area 15–25 July in harassing Japanese communications. She also took part 30 July in the landings at Sansapor, completing the brilliant series of amphibious hops along the northern coast of New Guinea.
August 1944 was spent at Sydney and on fleet exercises off New Guinea, and, after a drydock period, Hutchins sailed from Humboldt Bay 12 September to take part in the Morotai landings, an important steppingstone to the Philippines. She bombarded airstrips 16 September and returned to Seeadler Harbor 29 September to prepare for the invasion of the Philippines. The giant invasion fleet sortied to arrive Leyte Gulf 20 October. Hutchins took part in preinvasion bombardment, gunfire support, and patrolled the entrance after the initial phases of the assault.
As the Japanese fleet moved toward the Philippines in a gigantic three-pronged attempt to stop the invasion, Hutchins joined Admiral Jesse Oldendorf's surface forces waiting in Surigao Strait for Adm. Shoji Nishimura's Southern Force. In this major phase of the larger Battle for Leyte Gulf, Hutchins, flagship of Captain K.M. McManes' Destroyer Squadron 24 (DesRon 24), was stationed on the right flank of the powerful array of firepower Oldendorf had assembled. As Nishimura steamed up the strait early 25 October his ships were harassed by PT-boats and then attacked by destroyers on both sides. Hutchins' group steamed south, launched torpedoes at about 03:30, and turned to close the range. As the large Japanese ships began to slow and scatter, the destroyers fired another spread of torpedoes, this time blowing up destroyer Michishio. After exchanging gunfire with the Japanese heavy ships, McManes brought Hutchins and the rest of the squadron out of range, their job done, so that the big guns of the waiting fleet could open fire. Oldendorf won a crushing night victory, and Japanese naval power was dealt a death blow.
After the decisive actions of Leyte Gulf, Hutchins returned to screening. She ran onto an uncharted hulk 26 October and after helping to repel air attacks until 29 October, sailed for San Francisco via Pearl Harbor, arriving 25 November 1944 for repairs.
Hutchins returned to Pearl Harbor to resume her combat duty 26 January 1945. Training exercises were carried out until 3 February when she steamed toward Saipan to join a carrier force for the Iwo Jima operation. Her carrier group arrived 3 days before the landings to pound Japanese defenses and continued to support the operation during February and March 1945. With this important island in allied hands, Hutchins returned to Ulithi briefly before sailing 27 March for the giant Okinawa operation, last step on the long island campaign toward Japan. She screened a transport group during the landings 1 April and for 3 days following, undergoing numerous air attacks which she skillfully helped repel. Assigned to gunfire support 4 April, in the battle-filled days that followed Hutchins spent her days close to the beaches and her nights screening the larger ships during bombardment and air defense. Hutchins shot down several attacking planes during the great air attack 6 April, rescuing survivors from the stricken Newcomb (DD-586), and was under severe attack again 12–13 April.
While on close support operations 27 April, Hutchins was attacked by a Japanese suicide boat. The small fast boat slipped through the formation and dropped a large explosive charge close aboard. Hutchins was shaken violently by the explosion and her hull severely damaged, but no casualties were suffered and damage control parties brought flooding under control. The ship retired to Kerama Retto for temporary repairs, thence to Portland, Oregon, 15 July 1945.
Still undergoing repairs at war's end Hutchins was towed to Puget Sound 20 September 1945. She decommissioned at Bremerton, Washington 30 November 1945, and was sold for scrap in January 1948 to Learner & Co., Oakland, California.
- USS Johnnie Hutchins (DE-360) has a similar name.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.