- USS Hunt (DD-674)
"Hunt" was launched by the
Federal Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Kearny, N.J., 1 August 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Henry Kent Hewitt, wife of Vice AdmiralHewitt, and granddaughter of the namesake; and commissioned 22 September1943, Commander Frank P. Mitchell in command.
World War II
After shakedown off
Bermudaand final alterations in New York Navy Yard, "Hunt" cleared Norfolk, Va. for the Pacific 2 December1943. She entered Pearl Harbor 24 December1943 and joined Vice Adm. Marc A. Mitscher's Fast Carrier Task Force(then 5th Fleet's TF 58, later 3rd Fleet's TF 38) operating as a part of the antisubmarine screen for a task groupwhich included aircraft carriers "Essex" (CV-9), "Intrepid" (CV-11), and "Cabot" (CVL-28).
"Hunt" sortied with the carrier task force
16 January 1944to support the invasion of the Marshall Islands, the operation which, in the words of Rear Adm. Richard L. Conolly, "... really cracked the Japanese shell. It broke the crust of their defenses on a scale that could be exploited at once." At dawn 29 January, Mitscher's planes opened the operation with strikes against enemy-held airfields on Roi Island, KwajaleinAtoll, while "Hunt" protected the carriers from which they were launched. The next day she joined battleships "North Carolina" (BB-55), "South Dakota" (BB-57) and "Alabama" (BB-60) in shelling pillboxes and other targets on the northern beaches of Roi and Namur Islands. After 2 days on bombardment station she rejoined the screen of the carriers who were furnishing planes to support landing operations on the small islands adjoining Roi and Namur. She entered newly won MajuroLagoon in company with "Essex" 5 February1944 for replenishment.
12 February"Hunt" sailed with most of the Fast Carrier Force to neutralize Truk Atoll, that reputedly impregnable enemy air and naval base which threatened both General Douglas MacArthur's forces then encircling Rabauland Rear Adm. Harry W. Hill's amphibious vessels preparing to assault Eniwetok. In the early morning darkness of 17 February, "Hunt" arrived off Trukwith the rest of the force which began the systematic destruction of the Japanese ships and planes caught in the area. A group of heavies—two battleships, two heavy cruisers, and four destroyers—circled the atoll to catch enemy ships attempting to escape, while carrier-based planes attacked targets on the islands and in the Lagoon. "Hunt"'s role in the operation was to protect Admiral Albert E. Montgomery's carrier group from submarineor air attack. When her task force steamed away the following evening, its planes and ships had sunk two light cruisers, 4 destroyers, 3 auxiliary cruisers, 6 auxiliaries of different types, and 137,091 tons of merchant shipping. Moreover, the destruction and damaging of between 250 and 275 enemy planes was especially gratifying to the Navy which, by this successful raid, had forced the Japanese Combined Fleetto shun Truk, its base since July 1942, in favor of safer areas closer to home.
After clearing Truk, "Hunt", in company with carrier "Enterprise" (CV-6), cruiser "San Diego" (CL-53), and five other destroyers, left the main body of the task force to raid "leapfrogged"
JaluitAtoll, Marshall Islands, 20 February1944. The next day she anchored in Majuro Lagoon from which, after a brief visit to Pearl Harbor, she put to sea as a part of the screen of the "Bunker Hill" carrier task group (TG 58.2) bound for the Palau Islands 22 March. She steamed on station as the first air strikes at Peleliuwere launched 30 March. Intense and accurate antiaircraft fire from "Hunt" and her sister ships drove off three flight groups of Japanese torpedo bombers as strikes continued during the next 3 days. On 1 Aprilshe left the formation with destroyer "Hickox" (DD-673) to destroy two 125-foot patrol craft which had been firing on American planes.
She returned to Majuro on
6 Aprilfor replenishment, then sejt course with the "Bunker Hill" carrier task group to lend support to the invasion and occupation of Hollandia, D.N.G. Planes from the carriers repeatedly struck enemy emplacements in the area, and night fighters successfully repelled all enemy planes which approached the warships. On the passage returning to Majuro "Hunt"'s carriers paused off Truk 29 and 30 Aprilfor another raid on that weakened but reinforced enemy base. Thereafter Truk was almost useless to the Japanese.
May was a welcome interlude devoted to training exercises in the Marshalls enlivened by a diversionary raid on
Wake Island 24 Mayto draw attention away from the Marianas. "Hunt" put to sea with the "Bunker Hill" carrier task group 6 Junefor the invasion of the Marianas. The first air strikes of the operation against the Island Group were launched on 11 Juneand continued until 15 Junewhen the marines hit the beaches, and attention shifted to providing close support for troops ashore. On that day, Admiral Raymond A. Spruancereceivedj a warning from submarine "Flying Fish" (SS-229) that an enemy carrier force was approaching from San Bernardino Strait. In the early hours of 19 Juneit arrived within striking distance of the fast carrier force which guarded the amphibious forces off Saipan. The Battle of the Philippine Seabegan in a series of dog fights over Guam, where American planes were neutralizing Japanese land-based air forces. About an hour and a half later, the major phase of the battle, nicknamed "The Marianas Turkey Shoot", opened when the American flattops launched their fighters to intercept the first of four raids from the Japanese carriers. During the ensuing 8 hours of fierce, continuous fighting in the air, Japan lost 346 planes and 2 carriers while only 30 U.S. planes splashed and 1 American battleship suffered a bomb hit but was not put out of action. "Hunt" then steamed westward with the carriers in pursuit of the fleeing remnants of the enemy fleet. The following afternoon planes from the carriers caught up with their quarry and accounted for carrier "Hiyō" and two oilers while damaging several other Japanese ships. This carrier battle, the greatest of the war, virtually wiped out the emperor's naval air power which would be sorely missed in the impending battle for Leyte Gulf.
The next evening the task force gave up the chase and set course for Saipan. On the return passage, "Hunt" rescued four pilots and seven crewmen from planes which had been unable to land on their carriers. Once back in the Marianas, "Hunt" and her sister ships resumed the task of supporting the American forces which were taking Saipan, [Battle of Tinian|Tinian] j] , and Guam. They continued this duty until fighting in these islands ended early in August.
After voyage repairs at Pearl Harbor, she departed
30 Augustas part of the screen for Admiral William F. Halsey's flagship, "New Jersey" (BB-62). "Hunt" joined the "Bunker Hill" Carrier Group off the Admiralty Islands 6 Septemberfor operations south of the Palau Islands. On 11 Septembershe carried Admiral Halsey from "New Jersey" to carrier "Lexington" (CV-16) for a conference and returned him to his flagship. In the following days she guarded the carriers which were repeatedly raiding the Palaus to soften them up for the invasion. When marines [Battle of Peleliu|landed on Peleliu] j] 15 September, planes from these carriers supported the efforts on shore until the determined leathernecks finally stamped out the last organized resistance of the dogged Japanese defenders. "Hunt" entered Kossol Passage 30 Septemberto embark Admiral Halsey and his staff for passage to Peleliu. "Hunt" put him ashore that afternoon and steamed off shore as stand-by flagship until the following afternoon when he again came on board to be returned to Kossol Passage.
6 October, she cleared port with the "Bunker Hill" carrier task group for air strikes against Okinawa Jima. "Hunt" rescued a pilot and two crewmen of a splashed "Bunker Hill" plane 10 October. She repeated this fjeat 2 days later when she saved a pilot and two crewmen whose plane had been downed during an attack on Formosan airbases.
"Hunt" accompanied the carriers off Northern
Luzonduring the landings on Leyte 20 Octoberwhile they struck again and again at Japanese airfields throughout the Philippinesto eliminate enemy airpower during General MacArthur's long-awaited return. During the decisive Battle for Leyte Gulfthey went after the Japanese norjjthern force and sank four carriers and a destroyer besides damaging several other ships.
For the rest of the year, "Hunt" continued to serve as a screening unit for the carrier strikes against Formosa and Japanese-held areas in the Philippines. On
16 February 1945, her fast carrier task force hit hard at the Tokyo Bayarea in a furious 2-day attack. Then the flattops turned their attention to support the landings on Iwo Jima which began 19 February. That day her guns brought down an enemy plane as they repelled the first of the air raids against American ships off that bitterly-contested island. "Hunt" sailed from Iwo Jima 22 Februaryfor waters off Honshū, Japan and another swipe at Tokyo Bay, 25 February. On the way to Ulithithe carriers paused to strike Okinawa 1 March.
"Hunt" departed Ulithi
14 Marchfor rendezvous with carrier "FrankIin" (CV-13) off the Ryukyu Islands 18 March. The next day "Franklin" maneuvered closer to the Japanese mainland than had any other U.S. carrier up to that point in the war to launch a fighter sweep against Honshū and later a strike against shipping in Kobe Harbor. Suddenly a single enemy plane broke through the cloud cover and made a low level run to drop two semi-armor-piercing bombs on the gallant ship. The carrier burned furiously as the flames triggered ammunition, bombs, and rockets. "Hunt" closed the stricken ship to assist in picking up survivors blown overboard by the explosions. After rescuing 429 survivors, she joined three other destroyers in a clockwise patrol arjound the stricken ship which had gone dead in the water within 50 miles of the Japanese Coast. Cruiser "Pittsburgh" (CA-72) took the ship in tow and, after an epic struggle, managed to get her to Ulithi 24 March. "Hunt" put the survivors ashore and sped to the Ryukyus 5 Aprilto support troops who were struggling to take Okinawa.
"Hunt" took up
radar picketstation off Okinawa 8 April. On 14 Aprila kamikazeroared in toward "Hunt" and was riddled by her guns during the approach. It struck the destroyer at deck level shearing off the mainmast and slicing into the forward stack, where it left its starboard wing. The fuselage of the suicide plane splashed into the water about 25 yards from "Hunt" whose crew quickly doused the small fires which had broken out on board. A second kamikaze which approached "Hunt" that day was knocked down by her alert gunners before it could reach the ship.
"Hunt" continued to guard the carriers as they gave direct support to troops on Okinawa, taking time out on 4 separate days for radar picket duty in dangerous waters. When she departed Ryukyus
30 Mayfor tender overhaul in Leyte Gulf, her crew had been to general quarters 54 times.
"Hunt" sailed for the United States
19 June1945, arrived in San Francisco, Calif. for overhaul 6 July, and decommissioned 15 December1945 at San Diego, Calif.
1951 – 1963
"Hunt" recommissioned at San Diego
31 October 1951, Comdr. Lynn F. Barry in command. After refresher training in local areas, she departed 14 Februaryfor Newport, R.I. where she arrived 3 March 1952. She cruised from that port for the next 2½ years conducting antisubmarine and plane guard duty. She departed Newport 1 June 1954for Yokosuka, Japan where she arrived 7 Julyand was underway again 16 Julyfor task force maneuvers off the Philippine Islands. On 21 Octobershe cleared Sasebo, Japan, on the second leg of a world cruise which took her to Hong Kong, Singapore, the Suez Canal, and Napleswhich she reached 20 November1954. She passed through the Strait of Gibraltar 12 December1954 and arrived back in Newport 18 December.
The next 2 years were filled with intensive antisubmarine warfare and
convoyexercises. "Hunt" departed Newport 6 Novemberfor patrol in the Eastern Mediterraneanduring the Suez Crisisand the Hungarian Revolution. She returned to Newport 27 February 1957where more antisubmarine warfare and convoy exercises awaited. She embarked midshipmen at Annapolis for a training cruise which included the International Naval Reviewin Hampton Roadson 12 June, and a visit to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; future United States Senator and presidential candidate John McCainwas one of the midshipmen on this cruise. She departed Newport for Belfast, Northern Ireland 3 Septemberto participate in Operation "Seaspray", maneuvers with the combined forces of NATO. From 22 October 1957through 1 August 1958"Hunt" operated out of Newport. On the latter date while on a cruise to the Caribbeanshe sped from San Juan, Puerto Ricoto join attack carrier "Saratoga" (CVA-60) in the Mediterranean to augment the 6th Fleet during the Near Eastern crisis which had necessitated the landing of marines in Beirut, Lebanonto check aggression. She reached that port 28 Augustand 3 days later was underway for the Red Sea. She completed transit of the Suez Canal 11 Septemberfor Massawa, Ethiopia, and after calling at Aden, Arabia, set course 14 Octoberfor the Mediterranean and maneuvers with the 6th Fleet en route home to Newport, arriving 13 November.
"Hunt" operated out of Newport with occasional cruises in the Caribbean conducting exercises in antisubmarine warfare and battle practice. She won the
Battle Efficiency Awardfor the fiscal year 1957 to 1958 and repeated the feat for the 1958 to 1959 period. She decommissioned 30 December 1963and was berthed in the Atlantic Reserve Fleetat Philadelphia, Pa.
"Hunt" was stricken from the
Naval Vessel Register 1 December 1974. She was sold 14 August 1975and broken up for scrap.
* [http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd674txt.htm Hazegray Destroyer Database, DD-674]
* [http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/674.htm Destroyer Photo Index, USS "Hunt"]
* [http://usshunt.com Unofficial web site] , run by former officers.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.