USS Aaron Ward (DD-132)/ HMS Castleton

USS Aaron Ward (DD-132) was a Wickes class destroyer that took part in the Neutrality Patrol before being transferred to the Royal Navy, where she served as HMS Castleton.

The Aaron Ward was named after Aaron Ward, a US naval officer during the Spanish-American War.

The Aaron Ward was laid down at Bath, Maine, on 1 August 1918, launched on 10 April 1919 and commissioned on 21 April 1919, with Comdr Raymond A. Spruance in command.

USS Aaron Ward (DD-132) and USS Anthony (DD-172), early 1920s
USS Aaron Ward (DD-132)
USS Anthony (DD-172),
early 1920s

The Aaron Ward joined Division 13, Squadron 2 of the Atlantic Fleet. In May 1919 she took part in the operation to support the transatlantic flight of four Navy-Curtiss flying boats, acting as one of the plane guards during the flight (NC-4 completed the flight, becoming the first heavier than air aircraft to cross the Atlantic). The Aaron Ward remained with the Atlantic fleet until September 1919 when she joined the Pacific Fleet.

On her arrive in the Pacific she was assigned two a month long salvage operation to find a lost Army aircraft and its crew, in Angeles Bay, Mexico. She retrieved the bodies of Lts Cecil H. Connolly and Waterhouse Weiser, who had died in the crash while attempting to find another missing aircraft.

She then joined the Battle Fleet. In January-March 1921 she was used to search for the missing flying boat NC-6, which had crashed off the Panama Canal Zone. In February 1921 she was sent to pick up the survivors from the USS Woolsey (DD-77), which sank after a collision with the SS Steel Inventor on 26 February. The Aaron Ward then served with the Battle Fleet from March 1921 until she was decommissioned on 17 June 1922.

The Aaron Ward was recommissioned on 24 May 1930, and remained in service for two years, before joining the Rotating Reserve in the summer of 1932. She was fully recommissioned in December 1934, and remained on active service until she was decommissioned once again on 1 April 1937. During this period she spend some time with the Naval Research Laboratory, where she was painted with one of a series of possible camouflage schemes.

On 30 September 1939 the Aaron Ward was recommissioned to take part in the Neutrality Patrol, serving in the Gulf of Mexico and the West Indies. After almost a year of this duty she was chosen as one of the fifty destroyers to be given to Britain under the 'destroyers for bases' deal. On 9 September 1940 she was decommissioned at Halifax, and handed over the royal navy, where she became HMS Castleton.

As HMS Castleton

The Castleton was allocated to Western Approaches Command, base at Liverpool, entering service on 9 October 1940. Soon afterwards she rescued the survivors from the Daydawn and the Victoria after they were sunk while part of Convoy OB-244.

She then suffered minor damage in two collisions and was sent to Portsmouth for a refit. The Castleton was given a British open bridge on top of the original closed US bridge. A chart table was built into the front of the US bridge, and sponsons for Oerlikon guns on the sides. The armament was also modified, with the aft 4in gun removed. This was delayed by damage suffered in an air raid, but she was ready for service by 7 March 1941 and was allocated to the 1st Minelaying Squadron, based in the Kyle of Lochalsh. She was used to escort mine layers and sometimes to escort convoys. She was damaged in another collision on 27 March 1941 (colliding with the minelayer HMS Agamemnon) and needed repairs that took until 1 June. She was then used to escort convoys heading for Iceland. On 19 November 1941 one of her scuttling charges exploded while she was escorting one of these convoys. This time the repairs took until April 1942 and she then returned to the Minelaying Squadron.

On 28 August 1942 an American flying boat sank U-464 to the south-east of Iceland. The U-boat was caught on the surface, and 52 of her crew managed to escape to safety on an Icelandic trawler. HMS Castleton and HMS Newark soon arrived and took the survivors prisoner.

In September 1942 she escorted the diving tender HMS Tedworth, during salvage operations on the Barranca. After a refit that lasted from December 1942 to March 1943 she joined Rosyth Command, although her duties remained unchanged for the moment. She also rescued the survivors from U-489 on 4 August 1943.

Towards the end of 1943 she was briefly used as an air target ship, before joining the Rosyth Escort Force in January 1944, and was used to escort convoys on the east coast. Between October 1944 and 13 March 1945 she was used as an air target ship, but she was then paid off. She was sold for scrap on 4 March 1947.

Displacement (standard)

1,160t (design)

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

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


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


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

Armour - belt


 - deck



314ft 4in


30ft 11in

Armaments (as built)

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

Crew complement


Laid down

1 August 1918


10 April 1919


21 April 1919


9 September 1940

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 (26 September 2017), USS Aaron Ward (DD-132)/ HMS Castleton ,

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