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Hughes (DD-410)

(DD-410: l. 348'2" ; b. 36'1" ; dr. 17'4" ; s. 35 k.; cpl. 450; a. 4 5", 8 21" tt.; cl. Sims)

Edward Merritt Hughes, born 28 January 1850 in Ohio, was appointed to the Naval Academy in 1866. After service in a number of ships and stations ashore, he reached the high point in his career during the Spanish-American War. He was Executive Officer of Petrel during the Battle of Manila Bay. Immediately after the action, he commanded a small boat which boarded and set fire to five Spanish ships lying in Cavite Harbor, despite reports that fuses had been set to their magazines and in the face of a large and excited armed force on shore nearby. He was advanced five numbers in rank for eminent and conspicuous conduct on this occasion. Commander Hughes died at Yokohama, Japan, 28 September 1903.

Hughes (DD-410) was laid down 15 September 1937 by Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine; launched 17 June 1939; sponsored by Mrs. Edward M. Hughes, widow of Commander Hughes; and commissioned at Boston Navy Yard, 21 September 1939, Lt. Comdr. Donald J. Ramsay in command.

Following shakedown in the Gulf of Mexico, Hughes joined the Atlantic Fleet. From July 1940 through December 1941, Hughes served in the Atlantic, first on patrol off Martinique to watch Vichy-controlled French Forces there and then on Neutrality patrol off Iceland. During this time, she became the first American destroyer to escort a British convoy all the way to England.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, warships were urgently needed in the Pacific and Hughes sailed from Norfolk 18 December 1941, arriving San Diego in company with Yorktown (CV-5), 30 December. She departed San Diego 12 January 1942 as an escort for ships bringing reinforcements to Samoa. Hughes then sailed from Samoa as part of a carrier striking force built around carrier Yorktown. She screened the carrier in strikes on Jaluit, Makin, Mili, and Canton Islands; then supported the combined Lexington-Yorktown Task Force 17, as it attacked Japanese bases at Lae and Salamaua, 10 March 1942. Missing the Battle of the Coral Sea while escorting a tanker carrying fuel to Noumea, Hughes reached Pearl Harbor in time to participate in the Battle of Midway.

Hughes, while protecting carrier Yorktown during this action, shot down two torpedo planes and assisted in shooting down two others. After Yorktown was hit 4 June, Hughes continued an all-night vigil to prevent her capture. When the carrier was torpedoed by a submarine 6 June, Hughes helped damage the attacker with depth charges, and rescued the survivors when Yorktown sank the next day.

After a brief time as convoy escort, she joined American Forces at Guadalcanal, where she screened the carrier Hornet (CV-8) throughout the campaign. During the Battle of Santa Cruz. Hughes splashed one Japanese plane and assisted in downing two more. Despite her valiant efforts, Hornet was hit and sunk 27 October 1942. Joining Task Force 16, 10 November 1942, Hughes participated in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal by screening Enterprise (CV-6). Hughes continued screening operations until the end of February 1943.

Following a refit and brief convoy duty, Hughes was detached from the South Pacific and sailed to Pearl Harbor, departing 18 April for the Aleutian Islands and arrived on the 24th. Bombardments of Kiska on 6 and 22 July were high points of her months in northern waters. After Kiska was occupied, Hughes departed the Aleutians for overhaul 25 August in San Francisco.

Following overhaul, Hughes sailed for Pearl Harbor 26 October to prepare for the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. She sailed 10 November as part of the screen for the escort carriers covering the invasion of Makin Atoll. When Liscombe Bay (CVE-56) was sunk 24 November, Hughes rescued 152 of the survivors. She began screening the transport group 27 November, and 2 days later departed for Pearl Harbor, and arrived there, 7 December 1943. On 13 January 1944, Hughes joined Task Force 53 for the invasion of the Marshall Islands. She joined in the preinvasion, 3 to 11 February 1944. The destroyer continued to support the escort carriers during the strikes against Palaus 31 March.

Hughes took part in the invasion of Hollandia, New Guinea, 23 April, acting as a screen for the CVE group which provided air cover for the landings at Aitape and Tanahmerah Bay. Then Hughes remained off New Guinea as a convoy escort and fire-support ship of the 7th Fleet, until 25 September when she departed for the invasion of the Philippines. During this time, Hughes participated in the invasions of Biak, Noemfoor, Cape Sensapor, and Morotai, serving as flagship of Rear Adm. William M. Fechteler during the latter campaign.

During the invasion of Leyte, Hughes was the flagship of Rear Adm. Arthur D. Struble commanding the tiny task group detailed to capture the small islands of Dinigat and Homohon guarding the entrance to Leyte Gulf. Following the successful conclusion of this operation, Hughes screened Philippine bound convoys, making frequent trips to and from New Guinea until 6 December 1944 when she reembarked Admiral Struble and departed for the invasion of Ormoc Bay, Leyte. Following this operation, Hughes was serving as a picket destroyer off the southern tip of Leyte when she was hit by a kamikaze 10 December 1044. Badly damaged with one engine room demolished and much of her other machinery destroyed, Hughes was towed to San Pedro Bay, Leyte, where, after temporary repairs, she departed for Humboldt Bay, New Guinea, 19 December en route to Pearl Harbor, where she arrived 23 January 1945. Following more repairs, she sailed for San Francisco, arriving Hunter's Point Naval Drydocks 2 February. Hughes remained there for the next 3 months undergoing extensive overhaul.

After a long testing period, Hughes was declared combat ready and departed for Adak in the Aleutians 4 June 1945. Assigned to the Northern Pacific Force, she remained in the Aleutians until the end of the war, harassing enemy shipping and bombarding Japanese bases. Hnnlies then served as part of the patrol force off Northern Honshu until relieved 20 October. She sailed for the United States 10 days later with Destroyer Squadron 2. She was decommissioned 28 August 1946, and struck from the Navy List 26 November 1948.

Hughes earned 14 battle stars for World War II service.

Published: Mon Jul 20 13:46:26 EDT 2015