USS Caldwell (DD-605)

USS Caldwell (DD-605) was a Benson class destroyer that served in the Aleutians, supported Pacific carrier raids, the invasion of the Gilberts, Marshalls, Philippines and Brunei.

The Caldwell was named after James R. Caldwell who served in the US Navy during the Quasi-War with France and the Barbary Wars, before being killed in action in Tripoli Harbour on 7 August 1804.

The Caldwell was built by the Bethlehem Steel Co. at San Francisco, Calif, launched on 15 January 1942 when she was sponsored by Miss A. Caldwell and commissioned on 10 June 1942.

On 11 September 1942 the Caldwell left San Francisco to help escort a convoy to the Aleutians, where she would spend the next year.

At the start of December the Caldwell was part of the small US naval striking force in the Aleutians, which consisted of the cruisers Detroit and Raleigh and the destroyers Caldwell, Coghlan, Bancroft and Bailey.


The Caldwell spent the first nine months of 1943 operating with TG 8.6 in the Aleutians.

Stern view of USS Caldwell, Mare Island, 1943 Stern view of USS Caldwell, Mare Island, 1943

On 18 February 1943 she took part in the first US Navy bombardment of the Japanese base on Attu.

The Caldwell wasn’t present at the battle of the Komandorski Islands on 27 March 1943, but was assigned to join the US task force on the day after the battle, to replace ships damaged in the fighting. She then escorted Richmond (CL-9), Bailey (DD-492) and Dale (DD-353) back to Adak, arriving on 28 March.

On 26 April she took part in the second bombardment of Attu. When troops from the 17th and 32nd Infantry Divisions invaded Attu on 11 May, the Caldwell was part of TG 16.6, which acted as a screen to the south of the invasion force.

On 16 August the Caldwell was part of the escort for a convoy carrying reinforcements to Kiska, which had been invaded without resistance on the previous day (the Japanese having evacuated without the Americans realising).

In September 1943 the Caldwell left the Aleutians and joined Task Force 15 in the central Pacific. She supported the force’s carriers during the 18 September raids on Tarawa.

She then joined the fast carriers of Task Force 14 and supported them as they raided Wake Island. The Caldwell was also used for a shore bombardment of Peale and Wake Islands.

The Caldwell then took part in the invasion of Makin in the Gilbert Islands, escorting LSTs that landed their troops on the island on 21 November. She then spent the next week on anti-submarine and air defence patrols around Makin.

After the fighting at Makin the Caldwell escorted a convoy back to San Francisco, where she underwent a brief overhaul.


The Caldwell was back in the Pacific in time to join Task Force 52 for the invasions of Kwajalein and Majuro in the Marshall Islands on 31 January 1944.

During a brief visit to Kwajalein on 7-11 February the Caldwell and White Plains (CVE-66) collided while the Caldwell was transferring ferry pilots back to the escort carrier using breeches buoys. The Caldwell stayed with the fleet for a week after the collision but then returned to Pearl Harbor for repairs.

The Caldwell then joined Task Force 58 and screened the carriers as they raided Palau, Yap, UIithi and Woleai (30 March-1 April), New Guinea (22-24 April) and Truk, Satawan and Ponape (29 April-1 May). From May to mid-August she patrolled the Marshall Islands, then she returned to Pearl Harbor for upkeep.

Once this was over she was used to screen convoys carrying supplies to support the invasion of the Philippines.

On 11 December the Caldwell was part of the escort for the second resupply convoy heading to Ormoc Bay. During the day she was attacked by a kamikaze which passed so close that the bridge was covered in gasoline and debris from the aircraft.

On 12 December, while escorting the empty landing craft back from Ormoc Bay, the Caldwell was hit on the bridge by a kamikaze and fragments from two bombs that both missed but straddled the ship. 33 men were killed and 40 wounded, including her commandeering officer. However the aft guns were able to continue firing on the Japanese aircraft, and damage control efforts saved the ship. The wounded were taken onboard the Edwards (DD-619). She then moved to San Pedro Bay for temporary repairs, before moving to San Francisco for full repairs.


In April 1945 the Caldwell escorted the invasion convoy heading for Tarakan on Borneo. She bombarded Tarakan on 11-12 May, then moved around the coast to support the landings in Brunei Bay. On 27 June she detonated an influence type mine but only suffered moderate damage. However the repairs, first in Victoria, Australia then at San Pedro Bay in the Philippines, were still underway when the Japanese surrendered.

In September to October she was used to escort landing craft convoys heading to Okinawa and Leyte. She paid a visit to Tokyo Bay, and then departed to the United States.

She was decommissioned and placed into the reserve at Charleston on 24 April 1946, struck off on 1 May 1965 and sold for scrap on 4 November 1966

Caldwell received eight battle stars for service in World War II, for the Aleutians, Pacific Raids of 1943, Gilberts, Marshalls, Asiatic-Pacific Raids of 1944, Hollandia, Leyte and Borneo.

Displacement (standard)

1,620 design
1,911t as built

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

37.89kt at 51,390shp at 2,065t on trial (Mayo)


2-shaft Westinghouse turbines
4 boilers
50,000shp design


6,500nm at 12kt design
5,520nm at 12kt at 2,400t wartime
3,880nm at 20kt at 2,400t wartime


348ft 1in


36ft 2in


Five 5in/38 guns
Five 21in torpedoes
Ten 0.5in AA guns
Two depth charge tracks
One Y-Gun depth charge projector

Crew complement


Laid Down



15 January 1942


10 June 1942

Struck off

1 May 1965

Sold for scrap

4 November 1966

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 (8 June 2023), USS Caldwell (DD-605) ,

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