Richmond Pearson Hobson was born 17 August 1870 In Greensboro, Ala., and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1889. After duty in Chicago he underwent additional training and was appointed Assistant Naval Constructor in 1891. Hobson then served at various Navy Yards and facilities, including a tour of duty as instructor at the Naval Academy. In the early days of Spanish-American War, he was with Sampson in New York, and arrived off Santiago 1 June 1898. In order to bottle up Cervera's squadron Hobson took temporary command of collier Merrimac, which he would attempt to sink as an obstruction in the channel. The gallant attempt was made early 3 June under heavy Spanish fire, which disabled the steering gear of the collier. Hobson did sink Merrimac, but was unable to place her in the shallowest part of the channel. With his intrepid crew of six, he was picked up by Admiral Cervera himself, and treated quite chivalrously for his gallant expedition. Hobson was advanced 10 numbers in grade after the war and later, in 1933, awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic attempt to block the channel. After the Spanish-American War he worked on the repairing and refitting of captured Spanish cruisers at Cavite and at various shore stations of the Navy. Resigning in 1903, Hobson remained a staunch supporter of the Navy and during his subsequent career as a Congressman from Alabama, 1905-15, was a firm advocate of naval expansion. In 1934, by special act of Congress, he was advanced to Naval Constructor with a rank of Rear Admiral, and placed on the retired list. Rear Admiral Hobson died 16 March 1937 in New York City.
Hobson (DD-464) was launched by Charleston Navy Yard, Charleston, S.C., 8 September 1941; sponsored by Mrs. R. P. Hobson, widow of Rear Admiral Hobson; and commissioned 22 January 1942, Comdr. R. N. McFarlane in command.
Following extensive shakedown and training operations in Casco Bay, Maine, the new destroyer joined veteran carrier Ranger at Norfolk and sailed 1 July to escort her to Africa. Carrying a vital cargo of 72 P-40 aircraft. Ranger arrived safely via Trinidad, unloaded the planes and returned with Hobson 5 August 1942. The destroyer then conducted training exercises off Newport and Norfolk until 3 October, when, she departed Norfolk for Bermuda on escort duty.
As the Allies prepared to land in North Africa in a bold amphibious assault across the Atlantic, Hobson joined the Center Attack Group. Her main job was to screen and to protect Ranger while the carrier's mobile air power supported the assault. Departing 25 October from Bermuda, Hobson's group arrived off Fedhala 8 November and as the landings proceeded provided the indispensable air support. Ranger's planes hit shore batteries, immobile French battleship Jean Bart, and later helped turn back the attack by French ships on the transport area. Hobson screened Ranger until she sailed 11 November for Norfolk leaving the Allies fully in command of the assault area.
Upon her return to Norfolk 27 November 1942, the destroyer took part in exercises in Casco Bay, later steaming with a convoy to the Canal Zone in December. The ship again joined Ranger in early 1943 and the antisubmarine patrol group sailed 8 January to patrol the western Atlantic. Groups such as Ranger's did much to protect Allied shipping in the Atlantic from U-boats and contributed mightily to the eventual victory in Europe. Typical of Hobson's versatile performance was her rescue of a group of survivors from SS St. Margaret off Bermuda 2 March 1943.
In April Hobson and Ranger arrived Argentia and began operations out of that base. The ships provided air cover for convoys and antisubmarine patrol, and in July 1943 had the honor of convoying HMS Queen Mary, carrying Prime Minister Churchill to the Quebec Conference. The veteran destroyer arrived Boston 27 July to prepare for new duties.
Hobson sailed with Ranger and other ships 5 August to join the British Home Fleet at Scapa Flow. Arriving 19 August, she operated under Royal Navy orders in northern waters, helping to provide cover for vital supply convoys to Russia. While at Scapa Flow 21 September, she was inspected by Secretary of the Navy Knox and Admiral Stark. Hobson accompanied Ranger on a daring raid 2-4 October 1943, as carrier aircraft staged a devastating attack on German shipping at Bodo, Norway. Following this operation the destroyer continued to operate with Home Fleet. She screened HMS Formidable during flight operations in November and after two convoy voyages to Iceland returned to Boston and U.S. control 3 December 1943.
During the first 2 months of 1944, Hobson trained in Chesapeake Bay and operated with carriers between the East Coast and Bermuda. She joined escort carrier Bogue and other escorts at Norfolk, departing 26 February. These hunter-killer groups played a major part in driving German U-boats from the sea lanes, and this cruise was no exception. After patrolling for over 2 weeks, the destroyers spotted an oil slick, made sonar contact, and commenced depth charge attacks on the afternoon of 13 March. Weather-reporting submarine U-575 was severely damaged and was forced to surface, after which gunfire from Hobson and the other ships sank her. After further antisubmarine sweeps as far east as the Azores, Hobson returned to Boston 2 April.
For some time the Allies had been building up tremendous strength in England for the eventual invasion of France, and the destroyer sailed 21 April 1944 to join the vast armada which would transport and protect the soldiers. She spent a month on patrol off Northern Ireland, arriving Plymouth 21 May for final preparations for the invasion. Assigned to Rear Admiral Moon's Utah Beach Assault Group, Hobson arrived off Normandy with other ships of the bombardment group at 0140 6 June, and blazed away at German shore batteries. During the early hours Carry struck a mine and sank, after which Hobson and Fitch fired at German shore positions while simultaneously rescuing survivors from the water. Hobson continued to lend powerful fire support until returning to Plymouth later that afternoon.
The destroyer was not long out of the fray, however, returning 8 June to screen the assault area. She also jammed gilder bomb radio frequencies 9-11 June and provided channel convoy protection. With the Allies sorely in need of a good port in France, Hobson steamed to Cherbourg 25 June to assist in the bombardment. She fired at the large batteries, screened battleships Texas and Arkansas; and when the battleships were dangerously straddled, Hobson and Plunkett made covering smoke which allowed all to retire. A few days later the Allies occupied Cherbourg.
Hobson's next duty took her to the Mediterranean; she arrived Mers el Kebir, Algeria, 11 July, and for a month performed convoy duties to and from Taranto, Italy. Joining Rear Admiral Rodgers Delta Assault Force, she sailed from Taranto 11 August for the invasion of Southern France. Early on 15 August she acted as spotter for Nevada's preliminary bombardment; and, as troops stormed ashore, provided direct fire support with her own batteries. The destroyer remained in the assault area until the next evening, arriving Palermo 17 August to take up Mediterranean convoy duty.
As the allied offensive in Europe gained momentum, Hobson steamed as a convoy escort between Algeria, Italy, and France protecting vital supplies and troops. She sailed for the United States 25 October 1944, and arrived Charleston via Bermuda 10 November. There she entered the Naval Shipyard and was converted to destroyer-minesweeper, and reclassifled DMS-26, 15 November 1944. Through December she underwent trials and shakedown training off Charleston and Norfolk.
Hobson sailed 4 January 1945 via the Panama Canal to join the naval strength deployed against Japan in the Pacific. Arriving Pearl Harbor 11 February, the ship underwent further mine warfare training before sailing 24 February for Enlwetok and a part in the last and greatest of the Pacific amphibious operations, Okinawa.
Sailing 19 March with the minesweeping group, Hobson arrived Okinawa well in advance of the assault troops to sweep the offshore areas, and was often attacked by Japanese planes. As the assault began 1 April, the ship also took up patrol duties and provided night illumination during the first critical days of the campaign. As desperate enemy suicide attacks were repulsed with heavy losses, Hobson was called upon 13 April to take up a radar picket station on which Mannert L. Abele had been sunk in a heavy attack the previous night. She continued picket and sweeping duty into 16 April, when another suicide attack approached at about 0900. Hobson splashed one of the attackers, but another crashed Pringle, causing a violent explosion. Only minutes later, another plane was splashed just off Hobson's starboard side, but her bomb exploded on the main deck starting a major fire. Still firing on kamikazes, the ship restored power, fought fires, and picked up over 100 survivors from the sunken Pringle. After the attack she anchored at Kerma Retto, returning to Ulithi 29 April and Pearl Harbor 16 May. Hobson then sailed via San Diego and the Canal Zone to Norfolk Naval Shipyard, where she arrived 16 June 1945 for repairs.
The surrender of Japan came with Hobson still undergoing repairs; and, after completing shakedown training, she spent February 1946 on minesweeping operations out of Yorktown, Va. The remainder of the year was spent in training and readiness exercises in the Caribbean and off Norfolk. Until 1950 the ship continued to operate off the East Coast and in Caribbean waters on amphibious and mine warfare operations. In late 1948 she visited Argentina and Halifax on minesweeping operations with Canadian ships.
With the outbreak of the Korean conflict in June 1950, Hobson's schedule of training intensified. She took part in amphibious exercises off North Carolina and in Puerto Rico 1950-51 and took part in carrier operations as a plane guard and screening ship. During one such operation, with carrier Wasp, Hobson was steaming in formation 700 miles west of the Azores on the night of 26 April 1952. While the ships turned into the wind so that Wasp could recover aircraft, Hobson crossed the carrier's bow from starboard to port and was struck amidships. The force of the collision rolled the destroyer-minesweeper over, breaking her in two. Rodman and Wasp rescued many survivors, but the ship and 176 of her crew were lost, including her Commanding Officer, Lt. Comdr. W. J. Tierney. Thus ended in tragedy the long career of a gallant ship.
Hobson received six battle stars for World War II service, and shared in the Presidential Unit Citation awarded to the ships in the Bogue antisubmarine task group in the Atlantic.