USS John Rodgers (DD-574)
USS John Rodgers (DD-574) was a Fletcher-class destroyer of the United States Navy commissioned during World War II. She was the second Navy ship of that name, in honor of three members of the Rodgers family who served in the Navy from the War of 1812 through World War I. John Rodgers served in several wartime actions in the Pacific, receiving 12 battle stars.
USS John Rodgers (DD-574) at Charleston, South Carolina, 29 April 1943
|Name:||USS John Rodgers (DD-574)|
|Namesake:||three members of the Rodgers family|
|Builder:||Consolidated Steel Corporation, Orange, Texas|
|Laid down:||25 July 1941|
|Launched:||7 May 1942|
|Sponsored by:||Miss Helen Perry Rodgers|
|Commissioned:||9 February 1943|
|Decommissioned:||25 May 1946|
|Struck:||1 May 1968|
|Fate:||Transferred to Mexico, 19 Aug 1970|
|Name:||ARM Cuitláhuac (E02)|
|Acquired:||19 Aug 1970|
|Struck:||16 July 2001|
|Class and type:||Fletcher-class destroyer|
|Length:||376 ft 6 in (114.7 m)|
|Beam:||39 ft 8 in (12.1 m)|
|Draft:||17 ft 9 in (5.4 m)|
|Speed:||35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph)|
|Range:||6,500 nm at 15 kn (12,000 km at 28 km/h)|
She was laid up shortly after the end of the war, but sold to the Mexican Navy in 1970, where she served until 2001 as BAM Cuitláhuac, becoming the last of the Fletcher-class in active service. She was scrapped in Mexico in 2010-2011, after efforts failed to return her to the U.S. for use as a museum ship.
Construction and commissioning
John Rodgers was laid down by Consolidated Steel Corporation, Orange, Texas, 25 July 1941; launched 7 May 1942, sponsored by Miss Helen Perry Rodgers, daughter, great grandniece, and great granddaughter of the ship's namesakes; and commissioned 9 February 1943, Commander H. O. Parish in command.
United States Navy
After shakedown in the Caribbean, John Rodgers departed Norfolk, Virginia on 13 May escorting a convoy through the Panama Canal to Pearl Harbor. Following a short training period there, the destroyer joined the screen of a fast carrier task force in August during damaging raids on Marcus Island, Tarawa, and Wake Island which also gathered invaluable information for future landings.
Then, in a joint cruiser-destroyer force, she sailed for Empress Augusta Bay to support landings on Bougainville on 1 November. While screening the transports there a week later, she assisted Santa Fe in splashing a Japanese torpedo plane.
From this action she joined the destroyer screen of the Southern Attack Force for the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. She protected the transports during the landings on Betio Island on 20 November and remained in the area supporting the Marines ashore until Tarawa Atoll was secure.
Late in December the destroyers sailed to Pearl Harbor to prepare for the next major offensive. John Rodgers departed Pearl Harbor on 22 January 1944, headed for the Marshall Islands. Profiting from experience gained in previous engagements, the Navy launched a well-coordinated attack on Kwajalein Atoll on 31 January. In addition to providing antiaircraft and antisubmarine protection, John Rodgers supported the landing forces with gunfire which knocked out enemy troop concentrations and pill boxes. After the last resistance disappeared on 7 February, the destroyer patrolled the Marshall Island area until late March.
During April, she acted as escort for ships bringing men and weapons as American forces surprised the enemy at Hollandia. Naval fire support helped ground troops to secure airfields giving the United States a closer base for future attacks on the remaining Japanese-held islands.
In May, John Rodgers operated out of Guadalcanal screening convoys and bombarding enemy positions. Early in June she sailed to the Marshall Islands to prepare for the Marianas Campaign and departed Eniwetok on 17 July with the Guam invasion force. Beginning on 21 July, John Rodgers fired more than 3,600 rounds at targets on Guam helping to knock out enemy troop concentrations and defensive works. The destroyer remained in the Mariana Islands until 4 August and provided antisubmarine screen for transports bringing reinforcements.
In August, John Rodgers began preparations for the Morotai Invasion and departed Humboldt Bay on 14 September to support and screen the landings there. After this operation, which provided the only Allied base from which to stage short-range fighters and bombers to Leyte, she remained on patrol duty in the area.
John Rodgers returned to Hollandia on 2 October to prepare for the long-awaited invasion of the Philippines. She got under way for Leyte on 13 October and arrived to support landings 7 days later. Now commanded by Commander J. G. Franklin, she screened the ships carrying General Douglas MacArthur and his troops back to the Philippines. As American fighting men moved inland and took two important airfields, the destroyer provided fire support and patrolled the area.
Meanwhile, risking all to save the Philippines, Japan committed her entire remaining naval force to battle. The U.S. Navy met this challenge by routing the Japanese in the decisive Battle for Leyte Gulf, and reducing their once powerful navy to a mere shadow of its former strength.
Following this historic action, John Rodgers departed the Philippines 30 October for Mare Island Naval Shipyard, California, and a badly needed overhaul. Rejuvenated by early January 1945, the destroyer sailed west to join Admiral Raymond Spruance's Task Force 58 (TF 58) on 7 February for final offensive operations against the enemy. Carrier strikes on the Japanese homeland began 16 February and, in 2 days of relentless air attacks, destroyed nearly 800 enemy planes.
John Rodgers turned toward the Bonin Islands to screen a fast carrier task force covering the invasion of Iwo Jima on 19 February. Although air raids and heavy guns knocked out many enemy defensive works, the island was well enough fortified to make the Navy pay a high price in lives and weapons for this vital stopover for B-29 Superfortresses raiding Tokyo.
Following Iwo Jima, John Rodgers resumed duty with the fast carrier task force raiding Japan while awaiting the invasion of Okinawa, last and greatest amphibious operation of the Pacific war. John Rodgers operated with the carriers as they continued to bomb both Japan and Okinawa. She began screening operations as the first assault wave hit the beach on 1 April. She stood by protecting the carriers and splashed two kamikazes as they dived toward the flattops. She remained in the area supporting operations until Okinawa was finally secure on 21 June.
As the war closed, John Rodgers screened the 3rd Fleet during almost continuous raids on Japan. As the Flagship of Destroyer Squadron 25 (DesRon 25) since September 1943, the USS John Rodgers lead DesRon 25 in late July on the Suruga Wan antishipping sweep and penetrated to within 1½ miles of the Japanese shoreline, probably the closest approach made by any Allied surface ships during the entire war. Admiral William Halsey congratulated the division commander who had led the sweep on board John Rodgers: "Loud applause to you and your boys for a well planned sweep conducted in the best destroyer tradition. You have been enrolled on the emperor's blacklist."
Following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the subsequent collapse of Japan, the indefatigable destroyer screened transports carrying occupation troops into Tokyo Bay on 6 September. The triumphant entry into Tokyo was a fitting and well-deserved climax for John Rodgers who had fought in almost every major offensive campaign of the Pacific war without losing a single man.
Her stay was brief, however, as she sailed for home and arrived Boston, Massachusetts on 17 October. She moved to Charleston, South Carolina on 3 November, decommissioned there on 25 May 1946, and entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. She was moved to Philadelphia in 1954, and Orange, TX, in 1968.
The ship was sold as-is to Mexico 19 Aug 1970. She served in the Mexican Navy as ARM Cuitláhuac (E 01), named after Cuitláhuac (?-1520), the second-to-last Aztec emperor of Mexico. Cuitláhuac was retired by the Mexican Navy 16 July 2001, bringing to an end the 60-year service history of the Fletcher-class ships.
After deactivation, John Rodgers was acquired by Beauchamp Tower Corp., a small non-profit foundation based in Florida, in late 2006 with the stated purpose of returning her to the States as a museum in Mobile, Alabama. But these plans fell through, and John Rodgers was moored unattended at a granary pier at the Port of Lázaro Cárdenas, Mexico, accumulating more than $2 million in liens and penalties for unpaid towing and wharfage. The Mexican Government in 2008 announced plans to seize and dispose of her as a derelict, and on 2 August 2010, declared that the ship was abandoned property, ordering her to be scrapped.
John Rodgers received 12 battle stars for her World War II service.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- Ships History Branch, Naval Historical Center