Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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USS Aaron Ward (Destroyer No. 132 / DD-132)
1919-1941 

Please see below for indivual images and donated collections including photos of USS Aaron Ward (DD-132)

The first USS Aaron Ward (Destroyer No. 132) was laid down on 1 August 1918 at Bath, Maine, by the Bath Iron Works; launched on 10 April 1919; sponsored by Mrs. Washington Lee Capps, the daughter of Rear Adm. Aaron Ward and the wife of Rear Adm. Capps; and commissioned on 21 April 1919, Cmdr. Raymond A. Spruance in command.

On 17 July 1920, the Navy adopted alphanumeric identification numbers, and USS Aaron Ward became DD-132. Her work with Battle Fleet was interrupted early in 1921 by two rescue missions near the Canal Zone. Between January and March of that year, she cruised the waters along the coast of the Canal Zone searching for the flying boat, NC-6, that had crashed in the vicinity. In February, she turned from that mission to pursue another errand of mercy, the rescue of survivors from Woolsey (DD-77), that had sunk after a collision with the U.S. freighter Steel Inventor on 26 February. USS Aaron Ward (DD-132) resumed normal duty with the Battle Fleet in March 1921 and continued that duty until she was decommissioned on 17 June 1922 and berthed with the Reserve Fleet at San Diego.

The destroyer remained inactive for almost eight years and then was recommissioned at San Diego on 24 May 1930. After active service until mid-1932, she entered the Rotating Reserve in which she alternated active periods at sea with intervals of inactivity pierside with a minimal crew embarked. The ship continued in that status until December 1934 when she returned to full activity. On 1 April 1937, the destroyer once more was placed out of commission and returned to the Reserve Fleet.

On 30 September 1939, USS Aaron Ward (DD-132) came out of reserve for the final time. Recommissioned on that day, in response to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's establishment of the Neutrality Patrol following the outbreak of war in Europe at the beginning of the month, she became flagship of Destroyer Division 65, Pacific Fleet. In December, she was transferred to the Atlantic Fleet and, on the 11th, arrived at Key West, Fla. For the remainder of her United States Navy career, she conducted neutrality patrols in the Gulf of Mexico and in the West Indies.

On 9 September 1940, USS Aaron Ward (DD-132) was decommissioned at Halifax, Nova Scotia. Transferred to Great Britain as one of the overage destroyers traded to that nation in return for the right to establish American bases on British possessions in the western hemisphere, she was commissioned in the Royal Navy that same day as HMS Castleton, 44-year old Cmdr. Frank H. E. Skyrme, RN (Ret.), in command.

For the full history of the USS Aaron Ward (DD-132) please see its DANFS page.