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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND
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Ainsworth

 

Walden Lee Ainsworth—born on 10 November 1886 in Minneapolis, Minn.—entered the Naval Academy on 21 June 1906 and graduated on 3 June 1910. Following successive two-year tours at sea in Iowa (Battleship No. 24) and in transport Prairie, he shifted to Florida (Battleship No. 30) during the spring of 1914, just in time to act as the adjutant of one of the battalions that landed at Veracruz, Mexico, on 21 April. Upon the successful completion of that operation, he returned to Florida and served in her until sent to DeKalb in May 1917. During the participation of the United States in World War I, he served in transports DeKalb (Id. No. 3010) and in America (Id. No. 3006). During the last months of the conflict, he found himself in Frederick (Armored Cruiser No. 8).

 

In February 1919, the young officer went to Charles Town, W. Va., for two years as inspector of ordnance at the Navy's Armor and Projectile Plant before returning to sea as executive officer of the transport Hancock (AP-3). Then, after a brief stint holding the same post in the light cruiser Birmingham (CL-2), he commanded the destroyer Marcus (DD-321) for a year before becoming inspector of ordnance at Pittsburgh. In August 1924, orders sent him to the New York Navy Yard.

 

By the end of 1925, Ainsworth's growing stature in the field of ordnance won him the position of gunnery officer on the staff of the Commander, Destroyer Squadrons, Asiatic Fleet. In July 1927, he took command of Paul Jones (DD-230), but left that destroyer late in the summer of 1928 to begin three years at the Naval Academy as an instructor in the Department of Navigation.

 

At the end of the 1930-31 academic year, Ainsworth returned to sea in Idaho (BB-42) to serve as that battleship's navigator. Next came a tour in heavy cruiser Pensacola (CA-24) and one as communication officer for the 14th Naval District before he reported to the Naval War College at Newport, R.I., for the senior course. In June 1936, Ainsworth became the executive officer of Mississippi (BB-4l) and, two years later, he became Professor of Naval Science and Tactics at Tulane University in New Orleans.

 

World War II in Europe was almost a year old when he took command of Destroyer Squadron 2 on 22 July 1940, and the United States had just entered that conflict when he returned to Mississippi as her commanding officer on 19 December 1941. Ainsworth promptly took that veteran battleship to the Pacific to strengthen the Navy's surface force in that ocean which had been seriously weakened by the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

 

On 4 July 1942, Ainsworth took administrative command of all Pacific Fleet destroyers. On 10 December of that year, Admiral Halsey gave him the additional duty of commanding Task Force (TF) 67 which had been badly mauled in the recent Battle of Tassafaronga; and, under his leadership that cruiser destroyer force was soon winning renown as the "Ainsworth Express" for its fierce fighting in support of the final American drive to push Japanese troops off Guadalcanal. Its bombardment of the new Japanese air base at Munda on the island of New Georgia would be, in the words of naval historian, Samuel Eliot Morison, "... long regarded as a model . . . ."

 

Transferred to command of TF 18 and Cruiser Division 9, Ainsworth continued his success during a prolonged series of runs up the long, narrow body of water between the central Solomon Islands which American bluejackets had nicknamed "the Slot." These operations parried the thrusts by Japanese warships challenging Allied control of the area. At the end of June, the tempo of American fighting in the southwestern Pacific picked up since the Navy had finally managed to assemble enough amphibious shipping in that theatre to resume the offensive. On the night of 4 and 5 July, TF 18 moved up "the Slot" and bombarded Japanese positions at Vila on Kolombangara and at Baiko on New Georgia. The next afternoon, while Ainsworth's force was retiring from this action, word reached him that a large Japanese force was heading toward "the Slot." In an effort to meet and check this new threat, his warships again reversed course and headed toward the enemy. Ainsworth's ". . . outstanding leadership, brilliant tactics and courageous conduct . . ."in the ensuing battle of Kula Gulf won him a Navy Cross. He also received the distinguished Service Medal for his overall performance in the southwestern Pacific.

 

About a year later, Ainsworth won the Legion of Merit Medal by his ". . . exceptionally meritorious conduct ..." while commanding the fire support group during operations which recaptured Guam. Finally, he received a gold star in lieu of a second Legion of Merit for his display of ". . . exceptional ability and aggressiveness in handling the organization and administration of the cruisers, destroyers, destroyer escorts, and patrol frigates of the Pacific Fleet."

 

After returning to the United States in the summer of 1945, Vice Admiral Ainsworth commanded the Fifth Naval District until retiring on 1 December 1948. He died in Washington, D.C., on 7 August 1960.

 

(DE-1090: dp. 4,255 (f.); 1. 438'; b. 46.8'; dr. 24.8'; s. 27 + k.; cpl. 245; a. 1 5", 4 15.5" tt, ASROC, BPDSMS; cl. Knox

 

Ainsworth (DE-1090) was laid down at Westwego, La., on 11 June 1971 by Avondale Shipyards, Inc.; launched on 15 April 1972; sponsored by Mrs. Katherine Gardner Ainsworth, the widow of Vice Admiral Ainsworth; and commissioned on 31 March 1973 at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Va., Lt. Comdr. Terrence E. Siple in command.

 

Following fitting out, the new ocean escort departed her home port, Norfolk, on 11 June and headed for Port Everglades, Fla., to prepare for sensor tests and calibration. She then proceeded to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for shakedown training. While the members of her crew were becoming familiar with their ship and their duties, Ainsworth visited Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and then proceeded on to La Guaira, Venezuela, where she joined warships of four other navies in a voyage to Maracaibo to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Lake Maracaibo, a naval victory which helped Venezuela to win her independence.

 

En route home, the ship made recruiting stops at New Orleans and Miami before reaching Norfolk on 16 August and beginning preparation for her post-shakedown overhaul. She got underway on 16 October and, two days later, entered the Charleston (S.C.) Naval Shipyard. Less than a week after the work started, it was interrupted by rising tension in the Middle East; and Ainsworth was placed in a 36-hour ready standby status so that she would be able, if necessary, to race to the Mediterranean. However, the stressful situation soon eased sufficiently for her to resume the repairs which were completed late in February 1974.

 

The escort operated along the east coast and in the West Indies until 18 July when she began a voyage in which she would circumnavigate South America, sailing south via the West Indies to Brazil and then proceeding on down the coast. Rio de Janeiro and Montevideo were among her ports of call before the ship rounded Cape Horn. While returning north in the Pacific, she visited Valparaiso and Callao before reentering the Atlantic through the Panama Canal. After stops at La Guaira and Cumona, Venezuela, she proceeded home via Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, and reached Norfolk on 16 December 1974.

 

Following leave and upkeep, the ship underwent tender availability alongside Puget Sound (AD-38) and then prepared for operations in the Caribbean which lasted until 24 March 1975 when Ainsworth again headed home. She arrived in Hampton Roads on the 27th and, but for a midshipmen training cruise during the latter half of June and a run back to the West Indies from 22 to 29 August, she worked in the Norfolk-Virginia capes area until early autumn. During that summer the ship was reclassified a frigate and redesignated FF-1090 on 30 June 1975.

 

On 3 October, the ocean escort headed across the Atlantic for her first visit to the Mediterranean, beginning a routine of alternating deployments to the 6th Fleet with operations on the east coast of the United States and in the Caribbean. She reported to the 6th Fleet at Rota, Spain, on 13 October and relieved Capodanno (FF-1093). During the remainder of the month, she visited Tangier, Morocco; conducted operations in the western Mediterranean; and made a port call at Malaga, Spain.

 

She left the Mediterranean on the last day of October and devoted the next three weeks to Operation "Ocean Safari" in the northern Atlantic and then spent from 22 to 28 November at Portsmouth, England, in company with Bowen (FF-1079). She headed back toward Gibraltar on the latter day and rejoined the 6th Fleet at Rota on 3 December. Her operations during the next five months took her almost the full length of the Mediterranean as she visited ports in Italy, Greece, Turkey, France, and Spain before she headed home on 26 April 1976.

 

After reaching Norfolk on 5 May, the frigate operated in the Hampton Roads-Virginia capes area for the remainder of the year with the exception of a trip up the Chesapeake Bay to Annapolis in late September and early October for a visit to the Naval Academy. On 17 January 1977, Ainsworth sailed for the Caribbean. She stopped at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Fort-de-France, Martinique; and San Juan, Puerto Rico, before taking part in Exercise "CARIBEX 1-77" from 11 to 21 February.

 

Upon her return to Norfolk on George Washington's Birthday, the ship readied herself for another deployment to European waters and got underway across the Atlantic on the last day of March. After reaching Rota on 12 April, she sailed for Skaramangas, Greece, on the 16th; reached there on the 21st; and remained at that port for a month before proceeding via Suda Bay, Crete, to the Ionian Sea. There she took part in a series of 6th Fleet operations which—but for runs to nearby ports—kept her busy until mid-July.

 

On 15 July, she sailed for the Levant and visited Haifa, Israel, from the 20th to the 24th. Then, after sailing westward, she reached Naples on 29 July and underwent a tender availability there until 11 August. Three days at Augusta Bay, Sicily, preceeded her participation in 6th Fleet Exercise "National Week XXIII" from 16 to 22 August. During her ensuing operations in the western Mediterranean, she called at ports in France, Spain, and Portugal before sailing for home on 10 October.

 

The ship reached Hampton Roads on 21 October and remained there until getting underway on 28 November for MARCOTT 3/77, a joint exercise with Canadian warships which kept her busy until she returned to Norfolk in mid-December. She devoted the full month of February 1978 to the Atlantic Fleet's annual readiness exercise and then spent the first 12 days of March in upkeep at Norfolk before representing her sister frigates in Exercise "Shamrock," a combined weapons test and training exercise. Carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), guided missile cruiser Virginia (CGN-38), and destroyer Peterson (DD-969) also took part in this demonstration which was observed by President Jimmy Carter. On St. Patrick's Day, she arrived at Jacksonville, Fla., and spent the rest of March in that vicinity supporting advanced underway training of surface warfare officers. She returned to Norfolk on 1 April to serve off the Virginia capes as deck landing qualifications ship for LAMPS Squadrons 30, 32, and 34. During the five-day procedure 725 landings were made while 94 pilots were qualified. Then, following further operations in the Norfolk-Virginia capes area, Ainsworth entered the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for her first regular overhaul which kept her busy until 1 March 1979.

 

Underway for her home port the following day, she arrived at Norfolk on the 3d and conducted local operations until getting underway on 10 May for refresher training in the Caribbean. This West Indies cruise, which lasted through mid-summer, took her to the Bahamas, Guantanamo Bay, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Then, with fighting skills again honed to a keen edge, she returned to Norfolk on 23 August and operated locally until putting to sea on 1 October for 12 days of combined underway training exercises along the east coast and in waters off Puerto Rico. Upon returning home on the 13th, she began preparations for another deployment, got underway on 10 November, and proceeded via the Azores to Rota. After entering the Mediterranean, she continued on—via the Suez Canal and the Red Sea—to the Persian Gulf and transited the Strait of Hormuz on 9 December. While in the Middle East she visited Jidda, Saudi Arabia; Djibouti, Afars and Issas; and Sitra, Bahrein. She departed the latter port on 22 December 1979 and began 84 consecutive days of service underway at sea ready to act in any emergency which might arise in the area which might result from the prolonged crises precipitated by Iran's capture and occupation of the American Embassy in Teheran and the imprisonment of the American citizens who worked there.

 

On 11 March 1980, the ship finally put in to Muscat, Oman, for fuel as she began her voyage homeward. Three days later, she topped off her oil bunkers at Djibouti and continued on through the Red Sea, the Suez Canal, and the Mediterranean, to Gibraltar. Following brief stops in the Azores and at Bermuda, she ended the deployment upon her arrival at Norfolk on 17 April.

 

After a month of leave and upkeep, the ship took part in COMPUTEX 4-80 and carried out naval gunfire support qualifications. At the end of a four-day visit to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, she got underway for home on 19 June and proceeded via Port Everglades to Norfolk which she reached on the 23d. Two days later, she entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for a restricted availability which lasted until 11 August. She then began preparations for overseas movement and got underway on the 29th for Exercise "United Effort" and "Teamwork 80" which kept her at sea in the North Atlantic and the North Sea until she arrived at Copenhagen, Denmark, on 24 September. She also put into Oslo, Norway, Leith and Rosyth, Scotland, and Portsmouth, England, en route home which she reached on 2 November.

 

After remaining in the Norfolk area into the new year, the frigate sailed on 6 January 1981 for Narragansett Bay, R.I., where she supported submarine training until the 9th. She then prepared for READEX 1-81 and gunfire qualifications which kept her busy until 17 February when work began on making the ship ready for another deployment to the Middle East. She got underway on 18 March and reached Rota on the 29th. After transiting the Suez Canal and the Red Sea from 14 to 17 April, she entered the Indian Ocean and headed back toward the Persian Gulf. After refueling at Sitra, Bahrain, she operated near the Strait of Hormuz until 11 May and then took part in Exercise PASSEX in the Gulf of Oman with HMS Bacchante and HMS Minerva. Next came battle group operations with America (C V-66) and a visit to Kenya. En route to Mombasa, the ship crossed the equator on 23 May. Upon finishing another PASSEX on 3 June, an exercise conducted with two fast patrol boats of the Kenya Navy, she sailed for Sitra, Bahrain, in company with Kitty Hawk (CV-63), en route to the Persian Gulf, and conducted operations with that carrier's battle group.

 

Following almost a month's labors in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf, she sailed for Djibouti on 8 July—beginning the first leg of her voyage home—and took part in further exercises with Bacchante and Minerva in the Gulf of Oman and in operations with America in the Arabian Sea. She reentered the Mediterranean on the 19th and reached Haifa, Israel, two days later. Heading eastward on the 24th, she stopped at Palermo, Sicily, from 27 July to 8 August and then operated with carriers Nimitz. (CVN-68) and Forrestal (CV-59) until the 19th. On the last two days of those operations, she took part in a missile exercise in the Gulf of Sidra, in international waters off the coast of Libya. After arriving at Rota on 22 August, Ainsworth took part in Exercises "Ocean Venture" and "Magic Sword" before sailing for home on 4 September with the battle group built around Forrestal and reached Norfolk on the 15th.

 

Following a month in leave and upkeep status at Norfolk, the ship moved to the York River on 15 October to take part in ceremonies celebrating the bicentennial of the American victory at Yorktown. On the 20th, she headed for the Bahamas to serve as a schoolship in antisubmarine warfare training for future commanding officers on the AUTEC Range at Andros Island. She returned to Norfolk on 2 November and, three days later, entered the Home Brothers' Shipyard for a selected restricted availability. This work was completed on 4 January 1982; and, but for short operations in the Caribbean during the latter half of February and the first half of October, the frigate spent most of the year in the vicinity of Norfolk.

 

She again weighed anchor on 27 December 1982 and proceeded eastward across the Atlantic, via Bermuda and the Azores, to Rota where she arrived on 7 January 1983. The next day, she pushed on toward the Levant to serve as a naval gunfire support ship backing the multi-national, peace-keeping force at Beirut, Lebanon. She served off that troubled land from 13 to 29 January and then proceeded via the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, and the Gulf of Aden for the Arabian Sea. Following a tender availability at Masirah, Oman, she got underway with carrier America's battle group for "Weapons-Week" operations in the vicinity of Diego Garcia, the American naval base in the Indian Ocean. Following these exercises, she arrived at Male, Maldive Islands, on 7 March for a port visit. Underway again on the 13th, she worked her way back with America's battle group to Masirah which she reached on 26 March. Two days later, she sailed for Kenya and put into Mombasa on 5 April. On the llth, the ship headed back toward the northern Arabian Sea in company with America and, en route, participated in Exercise "PASSEX" which included Australian warships. She also took part in submarine exercises with Boston (SSN-703). The ship transited the Suez Canal on 30 April and conducted special operations in the central Mediterranean with Nimitz's battle group before she was detached from the 6th Fleet on 10 May to return home. She pulled into Norfolk on the 20th and began a post deployment leave and upkeep period.

 

Her ensuing operations along the east coast took her to New England waters before she departed Hampton Roads on 10 August for an overhaul at the Charleston (S.C.) Naval Shipyard. The yard work, which included upgrading of the ship's sonar equipment and installation of a close-in weapon system lasted into the spring of 1984. Ainsworth sailed for Norfolk on 28 March and reentered her home port the next day. But for a run to the Bahamas during the second week of July for acoustic trials on the AUTEC range, the ship operated on the east coast for the remainder of the year and well into 1985. Late in March of 1985, she traveled south to Florida and thence to the West Indies where she conducted shore bombardment practise at Vieques Island.

 

Returning north to Norfolk in mid-April, Ainsworth operated in the immediate vicinity until late summer. On 27 August, the frigate stood out of her home port bound for a tour of duty with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. For the next seven months, the warship escorted the carriers of the 6th Fleet as they traveled the length and breadth of the Mediterranean. She participated in a number of exercises testing the fleet's readiness and its ability to operate with elements of allied navies. When not so engaged, the frigate called at a variety of ports on

goodwill missions. She completed turnover formalities at Rota, Spain, early in April 1986 and then set out across the Atlantic on the 6th. Ainsworth stood into Norfolk again on 16 April.

 

Following the usual month of post-deployment leave and upkeep, the warship entered the yard at the Norfolk Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. to begin a 12-week repair period. Emerging from the yard again on 12 August, she operated in the immediate vicinity of Norfolk—either in the lower Chesapeake Bay or just off the Virginia capes—until early in October. On 4 October, Ainsworth headed south to the coast of Florida where she occupied the rest of the month carrying out refresher training. The frigate returned to Norfolk on 31 October and spent the remainder of 1986 in port. As of the beginning of 1987, Ainsworth was still at Norfolk.

 

Ainsworth, Fred C., see Fred C. Ainsworth (AP-181)

 

 

Ainsworth (DE-1090) in Chesapeake Bay, 27 April 1973, in this view taken by Chief Photographer Roger E. Barnes. (K-99628)