USS Hutchins (DD-476)

USS Hutchins (DD-476), a Fletcher-class destroyer, was a ship of the United States Navy named for Lieutenant Carlton B. Hutchins (19041938), a naval aviator who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Built by Boston Navy Yard, the destroyer entered service in 1942 and was assigned to the Pacific fleet in March 1943. Hutchins took part in campaigns in the Aleutian Islands, amphibious landings at Cape Gloucester, the Wakde-Sarmi operation and Iwo Jima. On 25 April 1945, the destroyer was attacked by a suicide boat and severely damaged. Still under repair at the end of the war, the destroyer was decommissioned in 1945 and sold for scrap in 1948.

USS Hutchins (DD-476)
History
United States
Namesake: Carleton B. Hutchins
Builder: Boston Navy Yard
Laid down: 27 September 1941
Launched: 20 February 1942
Commissioned: 17 November 1942
Decommissioned: 30 November 1945
Struck: 19 December 1945
Fate: Sold for scrap, January 1948
General characteristics
Class and type: Fletcher-class destroyer
Displacement: 2,050 tons
Length: 376 ft 6 in (114.7 m)
Beam: 39 ft 8 in (12.1 m)
Draft: 17 ft 9 in (5.4 m)
Propulsion: 60,000 shp (45 MW); 2 propellers
Speed: 35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph)
Range: 6500 nmi. (12,000 km) at 15 kt
Complement: 336
Armament:

Service history

Hutchins (DD-476) was launched by Boston Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts, 20 February 1942; sponsored by Mrs. C.B. Hutchins, widow of Lt. Hutchins; and commissioned 17 November 1942, Lieutenant Commander B.W. Herron in command. Hutchins was to be one of six Fletcher-class destroyers built with a catapult for a float plane but the plan was abandoned.

1943

After completing shakedown cruise in Casco Bay, Maine, Hutchins got underway from Boston 17 March 1943 and escorted two tankers to Galveston, Texas. From there she proceeded through the Panama Canal to San Diego, where she arrived 11 April. Following an escort voyage to New Caledonia and Espiritu Santo, Hutchins arrived at Pearl Harbor on 30 May for armament alterations. While testing her guns in Hawaiian waters 25 June, an electrical failure caused the gun to fire into Hutchins' stack, killing nine men and wounding twenty. While repairing at Pearl Harbor, the ship was fitted with the newest Combat Information Center (CIC) equipment.

The ship returned to San Diego 11 July 1943 for training, and got underway with an landing ship tank (LST) group seven days later for the voyage to Adak Island in the Aleutians. She took part in the occupation of Kiska 15 August as the Japanese gave up their Aleutians foothold, and in the months that followed patrolled the islands and engaged in fleet training maneuvers.

Hutchins departed the bleak northern Pacific 18 November 1943 for the steaming and bitterly contested coast of New Guinea. She arrived Milne Bay 19 December and soon afterward screened LSTs during the landings at Cape Gloucester. Designed to secure the important straits between New Britain and New Guinea, the landings began 26 December. Hutchins and the other screening vessels came under severe air attack in the days that followed, with Hutchins downing one aircraft and assisting with another. After escorting a support convoy to Cape Gloucester from Buna on mainland New Guinea, the destroyer steamed with another LST group to Saidor, farther up the coast of New Guinea. During a rain squall she collided with another destroyer in the congested assault area, and was forced to steam to Cairns, Australia 16 January 1944 for bow repairs.

1944

Hutchins departed Cairns 22 February and, after night tactical drills, sailed 28 February with Admiral Daniel E. Barbey's amphibious group for the Admiralties. Arriving next day, the ship carried out shore bombardment of Manus, a base which was to become vital in the coming campaigns, and with Rear Admiral Victor Crutchley, RN, in HMAS Shropshire, established a patrol off Manus. During late March and April Hutchins and other destroyers made bombardment sweeps of Wewak and Hansa Bay, encouraging the Japanese to believe that the next amphibious assault would be in that area. In reality it was planned for much farther up the coast, at Hollandia.

Steaming from Cape Sudest 18 April, Hutchins arrived Hollandia 22 April and with other fleet units gave close gunfire support to the initial assault. She then retired to screen escort carriers providing air cover and, near the end of April, bombarded Wakde Island. The destroyer steamed south of Truk 10 May to pick up survivors of a B-24 raid on the Japanese stronghold, returning south for the next step in New Guinea.

Hutchins next took part in the Wakde-Sarmi operation on 17 May. After shore bombardment and screening operations she moved on to Biak ten days later. Early in June the destroyer operated with Task Forces 74 and To off Biak, and on the night of the 8 June, the ships detected Japanese ships approaching from the northwest. The Japanese destroyers cast off their troop-laden barges and with Hutchins and the rest of Crutchley's force in pursuit, retired rapidly. During a long stern chase the destroyers exchanged gunfire at long range; Allied ships broke off the chase just before 02:30 and returned to the assault area.

In July Hutchins provided gunfire support to the Noemfoor landings and operated with PT boats in the Aitape area 1525 July in harassing Japanese communications. She also took part in the 30 July landings at Sansapor, completing a series of amphibious hops along the northern coast of New Guinea.

August 1944 was spent at Sydney and on fleet exercises off New Guinea. After a drydock period, Hutchins sailed from Humboldt Bay on 12 September to take part in the Morotai landings, a stepping-stone to the Philippines. She bombarded airstrips on 16 September and returned to Seeadler Harbor on 29 September to prepare for the invasion of the Philippines. The large invasion fleet sortied to arrive at Leyte Gulf on 20 October. Hutchins provided pre-invasion bombardment and gunfire support, and patrolled the entrance after the initial phases of the assault.

As the Japanese fleet moved toward the Philippines in a large three-pronged attempt to stop the invasion, Hutchins joined Admiral Jesse Oldendorf's surface forces waiting in Surigao Strait for Admiral Shoji Nishimura's Southern Force. In this major phase of the larger Battle for Leyte Gulf officially referred to as the Battle of Surigao Strait, Hutchins, flagship of Captain K.M. McManes' Destroyer Squadron 24 (DesRon 24), was stationed on the right flank of the powerful force Oldendorf had assembled. As Nishimura steamed up the strait early 25 October his ships were harassed by PT boats and then attacked by destroyers on both sides. Hutchins' group steamed south, launched torpedoes at about 03:30, and turned to close the range. As the large Japanese ships began to slow and scatter, the destroyers fired another spread of torpedoes, blowing up destroyer Michishio. After exchanging gunfire with the Japanese heavy ships, McManes brought Hutchins and the rest of the squadron out of range so that the big guns of the waiting fleet could open fire. Oldendorf won an important night victory.

After the decisive actions of Leyte Gulf, Hutchins returned to screening. She ran onto an uncharted hulk 26 October and after helping to repel air attacks until 29 October, sailed for San Francisco via Pearl Harbor, arriving 25 November 1944 for repairs.

1945

Hutchins returned to Pearl Harbor on 26 January 1945. Training exercises were carried out until 3 February, when she steamed toward Saipan to join a carrier force for the Iwo Jima operation. Her carrier group arrived three days before the landings to pound Japanese defenses, and continued to support the operation during February and March 1945. After the island was captured, Hutchins returned to Ulithi briefly before sailing on 27 March for the operation to capture Okinawa, the last step on the long island-hopping campaign towards Japan. She screened a transport group during the landings during the first four days of April, helping to repel numerous air attacks. She was assigned to gunfire support on 4 April. Hutchins spent the following daytime hours close to the beaches and her nights screening the larger ships during bombardment and air defense. Hutchins shot down several attacking planes during a large air attack on 6 April. Hutchins was first on the scene after the destroyer Newcomb was hit, but left after just a few minutes when ordered to make way for Leutz to rescue the survivors from the stricken Newcomb,[1] and was under severe attack again on 1213 April.

Fate

While on close support operations 27 April, Hutchins was attacked by a Japanese suicide boat. The small fast boat slipped through the formation and dropped a large explosive charge close aboard. Hutchins was shaken violently by the explosion and her hull severely damaged, but no casualties were suffered and damage control parties brought flooding under control. The ship retired to Kerama Retto for temporary repairs, thence to Portland, Oregon, 15 July 1945.

Still undergoing repairs at war's end Hutchins was towed to Puget Sound 20 September 1945. She was decommissioned at Bremerton, Washington 30 November 1945, and was sold for scrap in January 1948 to Learner & Co., Oakland, California.

Honors

Hutchins received six battle stars for World War II service.

See also

References

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