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Hamilton

 

The first Hamilton was named for Alexander Hamilton. See Alexander Hamilton for biography. The second Hamilton was named for Archibald Hamilton.

 

Archibald Hamilton was the son of Paul Hamilton, Secretary of the Navy from 7 March 1809 to 31 December 1812. Archibald was appointed Midshipman 18 May 1809 and assigned to work with a new kind of hollow shot needed by frigate President. He next sailed for Europe in John Adams 31 January 1811 carrying dispatches for American officers in the Mediterranean. On his return to the United States, Archibald Hamilton was assigned to United States on which he won high commendation from his commanding officer, Commodore Stephen Decatur, for gallantry in action during the capture of British frigate Macedonian, 25 October 1812. Decatur selected him to bear the captured British flags to Washington.

 

Appointed Acting Lieutenant 21 December 1812 and Lieutenant 24 July 1813, Hamilton served with distinction throughout the War of 1812 only to be killed shortly after the Treaty of Ghent had formally ended the war. Because of the slow communications of the day word of peace had not reached New York by 15 January 1815 when frigate President, carrying Hamilton, ran the blockade out of that port. The next day British men-of-war Endymion, Pomone and Tenedos overtook and captured President after a long and bloody running fight in which Hamilton was killed.

 

II

 

(DD-141: dp. 1,090; l. 314'5" ; b. 31'9" ; dr. 8'8" ; s. 35 k.; cpl. 113; a. 44",3.30cal., 1221" tt.; cl. Wickes)

 

Hamilton (DD-141) was launched 15 January 1919 by the Mare Island Navy Shipyard; sponsored by Miss Dolly Hamilton Hawkins, great-grand-niece of Archibald Hamilton; and commissioned 7 November 1919, Lt. Comdr. R. G. Coman in command.

 

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, R.I., she served with the Scouting Force in local operations and exercises until 1939. When war broke in Europe in the fall of that year, 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. Reclassi-fled DMS-18 on 17 October 1941, she resumed patrol duty along the East Coast and into the North Atlantic.

 

When America was catapulated 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 U-boat infested waters as far south as the Canal Zone.

 

The Caribbean and the waters off Cape Hatteras were particularly rich ground for the Nazi marauders, 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 destroyer 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 stormed ashore 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.

 

Then as 1943 waned, the ebb and flow of war once again drew Hamilton from home waters, and sent her into the fiercely raging Pacific war. Departing Norfolk 3 December 1943, Hamilton transited the Panama Canal 5 days later and reached San Diego 16 December. The long giant steps across the Pacific had begun to accelerate, and Hamilton was soon to have her first taste of battle in the crucial Marshall Islands campaign. From San Diego she steamed to Pearl Harbor and, after a brief training period, sailed for Kwajalein Island, 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 Noumea, 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 hazard ous and vital 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 Noumea 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, the far-spreading battle known to the Navy as the "Marianas Turkey Shoot" because of the number of Japanese planes shot down during the intensive engagement fought on 19 and 20 June. American carrier planes and ships under the command of the famous Admirals R. A. Spruanee and Marc A. Mitscher decimated Japan's air arm, downing 395 carrier planes, and 31 float planes. In addition American submarines Cavalla and Albacore sank two of Japan's few remaining carriers, Shokaku and Taiho, while carrier-based planes chalked up a third, Hiyo. After this decisive battle had crippled them, the Japanese high command thoroughly understood that the war was lost, and that now they could only delay the end.

 

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 hazardous mine sweeping duty fell at Peleleiu 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 coveted 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 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. Then the Japanese made the one final dramatic but futile effort to regain control over the Pacific seas and repel the Amercians from the Philippines. In this bitterly fought effort, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the already depleted Imperial Navy was virtually annihilated. As the battle raged 23 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 as the Japanese suicidally hurled themselves at the American fleet, bent on destroying it no matter what the cost. Hamilton, emerged from the desperate kamikaze attacks unscathed, although she saw other ships struck time and again by the "divine wind" and other air attacks. 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 gallant veteran ship again steamed into battle, this time appearing off Iwo Jima, the rock-bound Japanese island which was to cost America so dearly. Hamilton recorded no casualties during sweeping operations which began 16 February, but she had to aid her sister-ship 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 fortress 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 and, after a brief period of training, headed home. As she sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge 8 April, the tireless destroyer ended over 100,000 hard miles of steaming in the Pacific struggle. Scheduled for overhaul and modernization, she went into drydock at Richmond, Calif.; 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.

 

Hamilton earned nine battle stars for World War II service.