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Halford

 

William Halford was born in England 18 August 1841, and enlisted in the Navy in 1869. While serving on board Saginaw, which had run aground near Midway 29 October 1871, Halford was one of four who volunteered to sail the ship's boat 1,500 miles to Honolulu for help. After great suffering the party reached Kauai Island 19 December after 31 days at sea. In attempting to land through the heavy surf, all but Halford were drowned, but he managed to reach shore and bring help to his shipmates in Saginaw. Halford received a commendation for his bravery and served until 1910, when he retired. Promoted to Lieutenant on the retired list, he returned to the Navy in 1917 and died 7 February 1919 at Oakland, Calif.

 

(DD-480: dp. 2,050; l. 376'5" ; b. 39'8" ; dr. 13'9" ; s. 37 k.; cpl. 273; a. 45", 1040mm., 720mm., 521" tt, 6 dcp., 2 dct.; cl. Fletcher)

 

Halford (DD-480) was launched 29 October 1942 by the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash.; sponsored by Miss Eunice Halford, daughter of Lieutenant Halford; and commissioned 10 April 1943, Lt. Oomdr. G. N. Johansen in command.

 

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 our fleet, Halford was one of six destroyers constructed with a cruiser catapult and scout observation plane. She departed San Diego 5 July en route Pearl Harbor arriving 5 days later. For the next 3˝ months Halford was to test the feasibility of carrying scout planes on small vessels. Because of tactical changes and our growing aircraft carrier strength Halford returned to Mare Island 27 October 1943 for alterations which replaced the catapult and scout plane.

 

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 enormous troopship Lurline with Marine reinforcements embarked for Guadalcanal. Arriving Guadalcanal she assumed command of the antisubmarine 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.

 

Anti-shipping sweeps on New Ireland's east coast, punctuated by counter-battery fire off Bast 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 strategic Japanese facilities on Choiseul Island.

 

Halford next became flagship for Admiral T. S. "Ping" Wilkinson's Green Islands Attack Force. Carrying Major General Barrowclough's 3d New Zealand Division Admiral Wilkinson's destroyer-transport group sortied from Vella Lavella and the Treasuries, 12-13 February, arrived off Barahun Island at 0620, D-day 15 February and lowered their landing craft fully manned.

 

Halford took up station off Green Island and began patrolling while unloading operations proceeded. At 0940 General Barrowclough, RNZA, and staff disembarked to land on Green Island. Within 2 hours after the inital landing all New Zealand forces were ashore; 5800 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 from Rabaul demonstrated the might and mobility of our 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 3 days Halford carried out her sweeps south of the strong Japanese naval base of Truk then returned to Purvis Bay for supplies.

 

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 75 days was the bombardment of Tinian's west coast defenses, followed by night harassing fire and the screening of heavy shore bombardment units. 17 June Halford joined the battle line of Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's famed Task Force 58 for the greatest carrier action of all time; the Battle of the Philippine Sea. 19 June found Halford in the first phase 5f the battle—the "Marianas Turkey Shoot" as repeated enemy carrier strikes were shot down by surface fire. In the 2-day battle of the Philippine Sea the Japanese Fleet lost 395 of its carrier planes, 31 of its float planes, and three 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 J. 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 Kinkaid estimated that Admiral Mishimura's Southern Force would try to enter Leyte Gulf via Suriago Strait, Halford prepared for the Battle of Suriago Strait (24-25 October 1944). That night and in the early morning hours of 25 October Halford 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 3d 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. Steplienson. Although there were no injuries, it necessitated Halford's return to Mare Island, where she arrived 24 March 1945.

 

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. 11 August Halford departed Eniwetok en route Adak, Alaska as a unit of the Northern Pacific Fleet. With a task force composed of light carriers, cruisers and destroyers, Halford departed Adak 31 August and steamed into Ominato, Northern Honshu, Japan 12 September. Under the direction of 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 20 September returning to Adak 5 days later, thence on via Kodiak to Juneau for Navy Day.

 

Halford departed Juneau, Alaska, 1 November 1945 and arrived Bremerton, Wash., 3 days later to begin inactivation overhaul. She departed Bremerton 23 January 1946. She joined the Pacific Reserve Fleet at San Diego 28 January and decommissioned there 15 May 1946. She remains berthed at San Diego.

 

Halford received 13 battle stars for World War II service.