USS Woodworth (DD-460) was a Benson class destroyer that served on escort duties in the South-West Pacific, the fighting in the Solomon Islands, the battle of Kolombangara, supported carrier raids on Formosa, the invasions of Leyte and Okinawa, and the carrier raids on Japan, before serving in the Italian Navy until the early 1970s.
The Woodworth was named after Selim E. Woodworth, who served in the US Navy from 1838 to 1850, then again during the American Civil War,
The Woodworth was laid down at San Francisco by the Bethlehem Steel Company on 30 April 1941, launched on 29 November 1941 when she was sponsored by Woodworth’s niece and daughter-in-law Mrs Selim E. Woodworth, and commissioned on 30 April 1942.
The Woodworth spent four months fitting out and on her shakedown cruise. From September onwards she served on escort duty in the Southwest Pacific, operating between US bases, Australia and Guadalcanal.
On 7 November she reached Lunga Point, Guadalcanal, escorting the auxiliary Majaba (AG-43) which was carrying supplies to the island. The Woodworth then carried out an anti-submarine patrol, but failed to spot a Japanese submarine which fired at least two torpedoes. One passed under the Lansdowne (DD-486) but the other hit the Majaba, destroying her engine room and boilers, although she stayed afloat and was towed to shore near the Tenaru River on Guadalcanal. The Woodworth and Lansdowne attempted to find the submarine, but without success.
On 8 December she left Noumea as part of TF 64, built around the Washington (BB-56) and Indiana, heading towards a meeting with the North Carolina to the west of New Caledonia.
In January 1943 the Woodworth was part of Task Force 65 and carried out patrols and took part in exercises in the western entrance to Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides.
On 2 February the Woodworth joined Task Force 65, which was built around the New Mexico (BB-40), the flagship of Vice Admiral Leary. On 4 February TF 65 merged with TF 18, which was built around the Wichita (CA-45), the escort carriers Chenango and Suwannee, three light cruisers and four destroyers. Another destroyer and an oiler joined the force on 5 February. In the previous month TF 18 had been the target of a fierce Japanese air attack at the battle of Rennell Island, in which the cruiser Chicago had been sunk. Under cover of this action the Japanese had been able to evacuate the last troops from Guadalcanal, finishing on 7 February. February was thus rather less dramatic for the task force and it spent the month on escort and patrol duties between the Solomons and the New Hebrides.
On 1 March the Woodworth arrived at Fiji Island, escorting transports. She was back at Espiritu Santo on 13 March where she joined TF 15 (USS Enterprise (CV-6)). From 21 March she spent a period on tender availability at Espiritu Santo.
On 3 April she departed for the Solomons, arriving at Tulagi on 5 April, where she was used to patrol the entrance to the harbour. On 6 April she escorted the Tappahannock to Kukum (near Lunga Point on Guadalcanal), then returned to her patrol duties.
On 7 April the Tappahannock was pumping aviation fuel to onshore tanks off Lunga Point when a warning came in of an incoming Japanese air raid. This was followed at 11.45 by an order for all ships in the area to get underway. This raid was part of Operation I-Go, a series of large scale air attacks that was Admiral Yamamoto’s last major attack on the American position on Guadalcanal. At around 15.13 the Tappahannock, Woodworth and Farenholt (DD-491) were attacked by a formation of Vals. The Tappahannock suffered from four near misses, which temporarily caused a loss of power, but this was soon fixed and she suffered no casualties. The Woodworth claimed one victory during this battle.
The Woodworth spent the rest of April and early May on escort and patrol duties between the New Hebrides and new Caledonia, as well as taking part in tactical training.
From 8 May to 29 June she escorted troop transports carrying reinforcements to Guadalcanal, and also screened Task Force 10 (two carriers, three battleships and one cruiser) to Noumea. From Noumea she moved to Auckland, New Zealand, for a period of restricted availability. Once this was over she escorted the oiler Tallulah (AO-50) to Noumea, then transports moving from Espiritu Santo to Guadalcanal.
Her next task was to escort amphibious forces heading to Rendova Island. On 30 June, the day of the invasion of Rendova, she was attacked by twelve Japanese torpedo bombers. The Woodworth was able to avoid their torpedoes, and suffered one casualty and minor damage from machine gun fire.
The Woodworth then joined the forces supporting the invasion of New Georgia. On 2 July the Woodworth and Jenkins (DD-447) bombarded Japanese forces on Wickham Island, Vonguna, New Georgia, to assist ground forces on the island. On 3 July she departed for Tulagi, but was back at New Georgia on 5 July to support the first landings at Rice Anchorage. Later that day, she headed for Port Purvis. On 7 July the Woodworth and Owin (DD-433) rescued a group of 88 survivors from the cruiser Helena who had reached a small island seven miles from Rice Anchorage after their ship had been sunk during the battle of Kula Gulf (6 July).
On 11 July the Woodworth supported the fast transports Kilty (DD-137), Crosby (DD-164) and Schley (DD-103) during the second landings at Rice Anchorage. She then joined Task Group 36.1, and on 13 July took part in the battle of Kolombangara. During the battle she fired four torpedoes, and was rammed in the stern by the Buchanan (DD-484), suffering light damage and some flooding. The Buchanan suffered damage to her bows. The Woodworth was able to stay in action and screen the damaged cruiser St Louis (CL-49).
For the rest of July, all of August and September and the first week of October the Woodworth carried out patrol and escort missions between Espiritu Santo and Guadalcanal.
From 7 October to 14 November the Woodworth was part of Task Force 38 (Saratoga (CV-3) and Princeton (CV-23). She screened the carriers as they raided Buka in the Shortland Islands on 1-2 November and Rabaul on 5 November and 11 November.
From 16 November the Woodworth escorted the transport Pinckney (APH-2) to Guadalcanal. From then until late December she served with TG 36.1 and carried out patrols in the Solomon Islands.
On 26 December she left Espiritu Santo to carry a deck cargo of 1,500 rounds of 5in projectiles and 1,500 rounds of 5in powder charges to Port Purvis near Tulagi.
On the evening of 8 January 1944 the Woodworth bombarded the Shortland Islands. The Japanese returned fire but she wasn’t hit.
From then to 13 January she took part in escort and patrol operations between the northern Solomon Islands and the Bismarck Archipelago.
On 13 January she joined Destroyer Squadron 12 (Farenholt (DD-491), Lansdowne (DD-486) and Buchanan (DD-484), and bombarded Japanese shore installations and barge concentrations on the north-east coast of Bougainville and around Baniu Harbor and Ruri Bay in the Solomon Islands. There was no Japanese opposition.
For the rest of January and to 13 February she took part in a mix of escort and training missions at Torokini, hunted for Japanese barges off Bougainville, escort duty to Port Purvis and visited Sidney, Australia.
On 13 February the Woodworth was part of Task Force 38 as it covered the advance towards the Green Islands, which were invaded on 15 February. On 14 February the task force was attacked by six dive bombers, which hit the St Louis (CL-49) with the loss of 23 men. The Woodworth shot down one Japanese scout aircraft later on the day. On 14-15 February the Woodworth, Buchanan, Lansdowne, and Lardner (DD-487) were detached to carry out an anti-shipping sweep in the St George’s Channel north of Rabaul, but without success. On 17-18 February they bombarded Rabaul and shore batteries at Praed Point, a little further to the east. The Woodworth fired torpedoes at two ships leaving Simpson Harbour (the bay south of Rabaul) then at ships in Kervia Bay. She also fired at targets near Timber Point and Cape Gazelle.
On 24 February the Woodworth was carrying out an anti-shipping sweep on the shipping lanes between the Japanese bases at Truk and Kavieng when she made radar contact with a Japanese merchant ship and a large tanker about 60 miles to the north-west of Kavieng. She fired 38 5in shells at the merchant ship, which was then sunk by Des Div 24. The force then raided Kavieng, sinking two ships in the harbour, before moving south into Steffen Strait, where the Woodworth sand several barges. After this raid she returned to Port Purvis on Florida Island on 26 February.
From 1-21 March the Woodworth carried out a mix of training, escort missions, barge hunting operations, anti-submarine hunts and shore bombardments in the Solomons.
On 22 March the Woodworth and Buchananon left Port Purvis heading for Pearl Harbor. Off Guadalcanal they joined TG 35.6, which was escorting a convoy of five merchant ships, and together the force continued on to Hawaii. The Woodworth left Hawaii on 9 April heading for San Francisco, and on 15 April she went into the dry dock at Mare Island for an overhaul. During the overhaul she was given extra anti-aircraft guns behind the rear 5in guns and small depth charge racks alongside them, more anti-aircraft guns alongside the superstructure and behind the forward 5in guns.
After the overhaul was complete she spent some time training, often alongside the Bush (DD-529).
On 21 July she joined TG 12.1 (Baltimore (CA-68), Woodworth, Dunlap (DD-384), Cummings (DD-365) and Fanning (DD-385)). The Baltimore carried President Roosevelt to Pearl Harbor for a high level conference with Admiral Nimitz and General MacArthur, which helped set the US strategy in the Pacific.
After the conference the Woodworth was part of the escort of the Baltimore as she carried the President to Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. The President transferred to the Cummings at Kodiak on 8 August for the trip to Bremerton, Washington. The Baltimore and Woodworth moved on to San Francisco, arriving on 13-14 August. The Woodworth left on 15 August heading for Pearl Harbor, arriving on 20 August. She then spent the next month taking part in training exercises.
On 18 September the Woodworth and Uhlmann (DD-687) left Oahu with the South Dakota (BB-57), heading to the Admiralty Islands. On the way they were diverted to Ulithi, arriving on 30 September. At Ulithi the Woodworth was used on anti-submarine patrols.
On 7 October she joined the carrier group TG 38.1. On 10 October the task group carried out an air strike on Okinawa, then later on Aparri on northern Luzon. On 12 October she was a picket ship during the first strikes on Formosa. At 18.15 she was attacked by Japanese torpedo bombers and fired 160 rounds of 5in ammo, 100 rounds of 40mm and 320 rounds of 20mm without success. The Japanese also failed to hit her, but she did suffer some weather damage. On 13 October the Japanese attacked her formation, hitting the Canberra (CA-70) with one torpedo. During this attack the Woodworth shot down one attacker. On 14 October the Americans raided Formosa for the third day, this time provoking three Japanese counter-attacks. Only the third reached the fleet, but in this attack they torpedoed the Houston (CL-81). During the attack the Woodworth claimed three victories, all with Mark 32 5in shells.
The task group then moved to attack targets on Luzon, to support the invasion of Leyte. The first of these raids took place on 18 October and the continued to the end of the month.
The Woodworth was then detached from TG 38.1 and moved to Leyte Gulf to join TG 30.3, then moved on to Ulithi. During November she took part in screening exercises and anti-submarine patrols at Eniwetok, and escorted a convoy to the Palau Islands.
In December she patrolled off Peleliu and Anguar, carried out anti-submarine patrols, and escorted a convoy to Leyte Gulf.
At the start of 1945 the Woodworth and McCalla (DD-488) escorted a convoy to Ulithi, arriving on 2 January 1945. She then underwent a period of tender availability, which lasted to 11 January. On 12 January she helped rescue an LCI then took part in anti-submarine operations with the McCalla. On 15 January she carried out gunnery practice.
The Woodworth then moved to Palau. Throughout February and into March she was used by Captain W. P. Burford and his staff and was the station ship for gunnery practice off Kossol Roads, Palau. On 12 March Captain Burford became the commander of TU 94.6.21, and the Woodworth became the station ship for the UIithi Surface Patrol and Escort Group. The second part of March was spent on search and rescue operations.
April saw her undergo a period of tender availability, before on 25 April she began patrols off Mugai Channel at the entrance of Ulithi Harbor. From then until 5 May she also took part in escort and gunnery exercises with the Enterprise and Hubbard (DD-748).
The Woodworth then joined the fleet supporting the fighting on Okinawa. On 9 May she patrolled the transport anchorage to the south-west of Okinawa. On 10 May she escorted the Makin Island (CVE-93) to Kerama Retto, where she joined a task unit that contained six escort carriers and nine escorts. From 10-28 May she screened this force as it carried out daily air strikes on Okinawa. On 28 May the Woodworth and Henley (DD-553) escorted the Natoma Bay (CVE-62) to Kerama Retto. From then until 6 June she underwent repairs.
On 7 June she was at sea with a force carrying out air strikes on Miyako Retto off Sakishim Gunto, when two Japanese kamikaze aircraft attacked. One crashed into the carrier Natoma Bay. Only one man was killed and the damage wasn’t severe enough to stop her taking part in one final air attack. However she then needed to return to the States for repairs, and the war was over before they were completed.
From 8 June to 21 June the Woodworth supported the carriers as they attacked Okinawa, Kyushu in the Japanese Home Islands and other of the Ryukyu Islands. On 21 June she rescued a crashed pilot from the Steamer Bay (CVE-87). On 22-23 June she carried out radar picket duties off Okinawa, before on 24 June she departed for Leyte.
From 1-10 July she underwent another period of tender availability, before joining the screening forces for the Fast Carrier Force (Task Force 38). For the rest of July she supported the carriers while they attacked the Japanese home islands.
On 2 August she departed to escort the oiler Neshanic (AO-71) to Guam then Ulithi. On 12 August she joined in the rescue efforts for a crashed pilot, but without success. On 14 August she departed for Iwo Jimo to collect mail and passengers for the Fast Carrier Force, and she was with them by 18 August.
On 22 August she joined a task unit based on the Ticonderoga (CVA-14), under Rear Admiral Thomas L. Sprague, which was to provide air coverage for the first occupation forces to land in Japan. She anchored in Tokyo Bay on 10 September and remained there for the rest of the month.
On 1 October the Woodworth left Japan to head to Okinawa. On 6 October she left Okinawa for the US, carrying an extra 50 men and 8 officers as passengers. They reached Portland, Oregon on 19 October. In November she was transferred to the Atlantic Fleet to be decommissioned. She was decommissioned at Charleston on 11 April 1946.
Unlike many of her sisters, this didn’t end her active career. On 30 January 1947 she returned to active service to take part in Naval Reserve training. On 21 November 1950 she was placed in full commission, and assigned to the 3rd Naval District. However this was only in order to prepare her for transfer to Italy. She was decommissioned at the New York Naval Shipyard on 14 January 1951 and underwent an overhaul, before being transferred to Italy on 11 June 1951.
In Italian hands she was renamed the Artigilere (D-553), and served as a command ship for motor torpedo boat flotillas. She remained in service for two decades, before being struck off the Italian Naval Vessel Register in January 1971 and later scrapped.
Woodworth received seven battle stars for her service in World War II, for Guadalcanal, the consolidation of the Solomons, the Bismarck Archipelago, Treasury –Bougainville, Leyte, Okinawa and 3rd Fleet raids on Japan.
37.89kt at 51,390shp at 2,065t on trial (Mayo)
2-shaft Westinghouse turbines
6,500nm at 12kt design
Five 5in/38 guns
30 April 1941
29 November 1941
30 April 1942
11 June 1951
Decommissioned in Italy