USS Hamilton (DD-141/ DMS-18/ AG-111)

USS Hamilton (DD-141/ DMS-18/ AG-111) was a Wickes class destroyer that served with the Neutrality Patrol, took part in Operation Torch, and then carried out dangerous pre-invasion minesweeping operations during many of the key invasions of the Pacific War.

The Hamilton was named after the founding father Alexander Hamilton.

USS Hamilton (DD-141) at New York, 1939-40
USS Hamilton (DD-141) at New York, 1939-40

The Hamilton was launched on 15 January 1919 at Mare Island Navy Yard and commissioned on 7 November 1919.

Amongst her crew as she was being prepared from service was the future Admiral William M. Callaghan, who also served as her first engineering officer.

The Hamilton joined Destroyer Squadron 17 on the Pacific Coast and took part in battle practice and manoeuvres off the California coast, as well as a trip to Hawaii in the summer of 1920. She was decommissioned on 20 July 1922.

The Hamilton was recommissioned on 20 January 1930, and after a second shakedown period reached her new home port of Norfolk on 26 November, where she operated with the Scouting Force. She was based on the East Coast until the end of 1931, before in January 1932 she moved back to San Diego. She spent 1932 taking part in battle exercises and acting as a plane guard. She returned to the Scouting Force at Norfolk in January 1933, but this time she remained on the East Coast until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.

After the outbreak of war the Hamilton joined the Grand Banks Patrol, sometimes reaching as far as Iceland. She performed this duty until June 1941 when she was chosen for conversion into a fast mine sweeper. She became DMS-18 on 17 October 1941, and operated off the East Coast and in the North Atlantic.

1942

USS Hamilton (DD-141) with forward torpedo tubes
USS Hamilton (DD-141) with forward torpedo tubes

After the American entry into the war the Hamilton was used to escort coastal convoys in the suddenly dangerous waters off the US East Coast and into the Caribbean. She carried out several attacks on U-boats, but without success.

On 9 June 1942 the Hamilton rescued 40 survivors from the aircraft tender USS Gannet (AM-41), sunk by a submarine on 7 June when operating to the north of Bermuda,.

In the autumn of 1942 the Hamilton took part in Operation Torch, forming part of Admiral H.K. Hewitt's Task Force 34, part of the massive convoy that crossed the Atlantic with part of the invasion forces. She then patrolled off the Moroccan coast as the Allies landed in North Africa. She remained off North Africa, performing a mix of minesweeping and escort duties until mid December, when she departed to Brooklyn, arriving on 26 December. 

1943

The Hamilton spent most of 1943 performing coastal convoy escort duties between Iceland and the Caribbean. Late in the year she was chosen to move to the Pacific. She left Norfolk on 3 December, and reached San Diego on 16 December. She then sailed for Pearl Harbor, before joining the invasion forces heading for Kwajalein Island in the Marshalls.

1944

The Hamilton provided fire support and covered the troop transports during the invasion of Kwajalein on 31 January 1944. She then took part in the invasion of the Admiralty Islands, acting alongside three other converted destroyers (Hovey, Long and Palmer) to carry out pre-invasion mine-sweeping operations. On 2 March 1944 her unit began work in Seeadler Harbor on the Admiralty Islands. After the invasion she continued to operate in the same area until early April, performing general patrol and ASW duties. She then went on to carry out preliminary minesweeping operations at Aitape, before the invasion of 22 April. After that she spend a few weeks on more general minesweeping operations in the Solomon Islands.

In the summer of 1944 she took part in the invasion of the Mariana Islands. On 13 June she entered Saipan Harbor to begin minesweeping operations. This triggered the massive aerial battle of the Philippine Sea, in which the Japanese naval air power was broken.

After the conquest of Siapan, the Hamilton moved to Guam, where she took part in the long pre-invasion bombardment. Pre-invasion minesweeping operations began on 18 July and the invasion took place on 21 July.

In September she took part in the invasion of the Palaus. Her unit cleared 116 mines from the Kossol Passage in the build-up to the invasion. She then screened the transport ships off Peleleiu.

Once the Palaus had been conquered, the Hamilton helped escort convoys moving forward to the islands ready for the invasion of the Philippines. She entered Leyte Gulf on 17 October to clear the channels around Diriagat Island and Looc Bay. She was thus in the vicinity of the fighting during the battle of Leyte Gulf.

1945

The Hamilton's next mission was the invasion of Lingayen Gulf. She survived a massive wave of kamikaze attacks as she approached the gulf, and was able to support the landings at Lingayen Gulf on 9 January. She then joined the transport screen and remained off the gulf until 1 February.

Next was the invasion of Iwo Jima. She began mine sweeping operations on 16 February. On 18 February the Gamble (DD-113/ DM-15) was left without power after a bomb hit, and the Hamilton had to help fight fires as well as evacuating the wounded. The invasion took place on 16 February, and the Hamilton remained in service off the island until 27 February. She returned to Iwo Jima once more on 7 March, this time as a convoy escort. On 10 March she left Iwo Jima, ending her active career.

On 11 March she rescued 11 men from a B-29 that had come down into the sea. She was then sent back to the East Coast, reaching San Francisco on 8 April. She went into drydock for an overhaul and modernization, but this work wasn't completed. Instead, on 6 May she was classified as the miscellaneous auxiliary AG-111 and used for experimental mine sweeping work off the Californian coast. She was decommissioned on 16 October 1945 and sold for scrap on 21 November 1946.

The Hamilton earned nine battle stars during the Second World War, for North Africa, the Marshal Islands, the Bismarck Archipelago, Hollandia, the Marianas Islands, the Western Caroline Islands, Leyte, Luzon and Iwo Jima

Displacement (standard)

1,160t (design)

Displacement (loaded)

 

Top Speed

35kts (design)
35.34kts at 24,610shp at 1,149t on trial (Wickes)

Engine

2 shaft Parsons turbines
4 boilers
24,200shp (design)

Range

3,800nm at 15kts on trial (Wickes)
2,850nm at 20kts on trial (Wickes)

Armour - belt

 

 - deck

 

Length

314ft 4in

Width

30ft 11in

Armaments (as built)

Four 4in/50 guns
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple tubes
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement

114

Launched

15 January 1919

Commissioned

7 November 1919

Decommissioned

16 October 1945

Sold for scrap 21 November 1946
U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History, Norman Friedmann . The standard history of the development of American destroyers, from the earliest torpedo boat destroyers to the post-war fleet, and covering the massive classes of destroyers built for both World Wars. Gives the reader a good understanding of the debates that surrounded each class of destroyer and led to their individual features.
cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (9 November 2017), USS Hamilton (DD-141/ DMS-18/ AG-111) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Hamilton_DD141_DMS18.html

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