USS Hopkins (DD-249/ DMS-13)

USS Hopkins (DD-249/ DMS-13) was a Clemson class destroyer that took part in the invasion of Guadalcanal, the Solomon Islands campaign, the invasions of Saipan, Guam, the Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

The Hopkinswas named after Esek Hopkins, Commander-in-Fleet of the Continental Fleet during the American War of Independence (although his fleet was blockaded by the Royal Navy after a raid on Nassau early in the war).

The Hopkins was launched by the New York Shipbuilding Corps at Camden, New Jersey, on 26 June 1920 and commissioned on 21 March 1921. After her shakedown cruise she took part in exercises off the US East Coast in the summer of 1921 then joined Destroyer Squadron 15 in November, taking part in training with the Atlantic Fleet.

USS Hopkins (DD-249) at Sea
USS Hopkins (DD-249) at Sea

On 2 October 1922 the Hopkins left Hampton Roads heading for the Mediterranean. She arrived at Constantinople on 22 October 1922, and was used to protect US interests in the former Ottoman and Russian Empires and to support the Relief Mission in the Near East. Her tasks took her to Beirut, Jaffa and Smyrna, but she wasn’t in the area for as long as some destroyers, and departed for the US on 18 May 1923, reaching New York on 12 June.

The Hopkins was based with the Atlantic fleet for the next seven years. She took part in the regular pattern of fleet life, with summers spent along the US East Coast and winters in the Caribbean.

In the spring of 1930 the Hopkins took part in battle practice with aircraft.

In February 1932 she helped provide medical aid to victims of an earthquake at Santiago, Cuba. After this mercy mission she departed for her new base at San Diego, joining the Pacific Fleet.

In July 1936 she helped escort President Roosevelt on a cruise along the Canadian coast.

In February 1939 the Hopkins took part in the annual fleet problem (training exercise). Unusually some details of her actual performance survived in the Dictionary of American Fighting Ships account – she was given the task of guarding Culebra Harbour, but failed to notice two ‘hostile’ destroyers, the Drayton (DD-366) and Flusser (DD-368), which were able to get into the harbour and ‘sink’ two seaplane tenders.

In April 1939 the Hopkins returned to the east coast, and in September 1939 she joined the Neutrality Patrol, set up after the outbreak of war in Europe.

In May 1940 the Hopkins departed for San Diego, the moved on to Pearl Harbour, where she was converted into a high-speed minesweeper and redesignated as DMS-13.

After her conversion she became the flagship of Mine Squadron Two. On 5 December 1941 she put to sea with the minesweeper USS Long (DD-209/ DMS-12) and cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA-35), to take part in training exercises at Johnston Island. The flotilla arrived early on 7 December, and was still there when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. When news of the attack arrived, they quickly returned to Pearl Harbor.

1942

During the first half of 1942 the Hopkins was used to patrol the seas around Hawaii. Toward the end of the summer she joined the invasion fleet heading for Guadalcanal. As the invasion began in August she was used to sweep the transport area for mines, and then cover the landings on Tulagi. On 9 August she came under air attack and claimed two victories.

She was on the fringes of the battle of Savo Island (8-9 August 1942), a one sided Japanese victory in a night battle. On 8 August she was one of eight destroyers and destroyer-minesweepers used to provide a screen around the transport ships at Guadalcanal.

At 9am on 9 August she was asked to stand by the burning cruiser Astoria, and at 9.15 the CO of the Astoria asked her for a tow, and by 11.00 the tow was underway. However at that point there was a large explosion somewhere onboard, and the Hopkins was ordered to drop her tow and take the survivors she had taken onboard to safety. The Hopkins left the Astoria just before 12.00.

For the rest of the year the Hopkins was used to escort transport ships, sweep for mines and carry supplies to Guadalcanal.

1943

On 21 February the Hopkins was the flagship of Admiral R.K. ‘Kelly’ Turner during the invasion of the Russell Islands, where she claimed a third aircraft. She then remained in the south-west Pacific theatre, taking part in the invasion of Rice Anchorage, New Georgia on 4 July and the invasion of Bougainville on 1 November. She was also used on convoy escort, anti-submarine duties and for mine sweeping during the rest of the Solomon Islands campaign.

1944

The Hopkins took part in the invasion of the Marianas Islands. On 13 June 1943 she began to sweep the approaches to Saipan, and on 15 June she provided fire support for the amphibious landings. She also rescued 62 shipwrecked Japanese sailors. She then moved to Eniwetok for a brief break.

On 14 July she arrived off Guam to take part in the pre-invasion minesweeping and bombardment. She then provided fire support for the landings on 16 July.

The Hopkins then underwent a refit at Pearl Harbour, before moving to Leyte Gulf in late December to take part in the landings at Lingayen Gulf.

1945

On 2 January 1945 the minesweeping force departed for Lingayen Gulf, to clear the way for the main invasion force. During this mission the minesweepers came under heavy air attack, a mix of conventional and kamikaze attack. On 7 January the minesweeper USS Palmer was hit, sinking in 13 minutes. The Hopkins rescued 94 survivors. She was also damaged in the attack, but was able to remain in action. After a short but intense campaign the Hopkins departed from the Philippines on 15 January 1945.

In mid February the Hopkins began to sweep the approaches to Iwo Jima. She then supported the invasion itself, coming under heavy air attack for the rest of the month and into March. She left Iwo Jima on 6 March.

The Hopkins took part in the invasion of Okinawa, where she once again came under heavy air attack. On 4 May she was hit by a kamikaze that was already on fire, and bounced off into the sea. However on the same day some of the heavy fire from the Hopkins accidently hit the minesweeper YMS-327.

On 7 June the Hopkins departed for Leyte, where she underwent an overhaul. She was still there when the Japanese surrendered, and joined the Third Fleet as it headed for Tokyo Bay. The Hopkins was used to sweep the entrances to Tokyo Bay before she entered the bay itself on 30 August 1945. She remained in the area until 10 October 1945, a period that saw two typhoons hit Tokyo.

On 10 October 1945 the Hopkins left for the US, reaching Norfolk on 28 November. She was decommissioned on 21 December 1945 and sold for scrap on 8 November 1946.

Hopkins was awarded two Navy Unit Commendations for Guadalcanal and Lingayen Gulf. She also received 10 battle stars for service in World War II, for the Guadalcanal and Tulagi landings, defense of Guadalacanal, the consolidation of the southern Solomons, New Georgia (Rendova-Vanganu), Cap Torokina, the Marianas (Saipan and Guam), Luzon, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and minesweeping operations in Tokyo Bay.

In addition anyone who served on her between 2 September and 14 October qualified for the Navy Occupation Service Medal

Displacement (standard)

1,190t

Displacement (loaded)

1,308t

Top Speed

35kts
35.51kts at 24,890shp at 1,107t on trial (Preble)

Engine

2-shaft Westinghouse geared tubines
4 boilers
27,000shp (design)

Range

2,500nm at 20kts (design)

Length

314ft 4in

Width

30ft 10.5in

Armaments

Four 4in/ 50 guns
One 3in/23 AA gun
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple mountings
Two depth charge tracks
One Y-Gun depth charge projector

Crew complement

114

Launched

26 June 1920

Commissioned

21 March 1921

Sold for scrap

8 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 (5 November 2019), USS Hopkins (DD-249/ DMS-13) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Hopkins_DD249_DMS13.html

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