USS Champlin (DD-601)

USS Champlin (DD-601) was a Benson class destroyer that served on convoy escort duty in the Atlantic, sinking U-130 and U-856, supported the invasion of Sicily, the fighting at Anzio, the invasion of the South of France, before ending the war in the Pacific.

USS Champlin (DD-601) leaving Boston Navy Yard, 1944 USS Champlin (DD-601) leaving Boston Navy Yard, 1944

The Champlin was named after Stephen Chamlin, who served in the US Navy during the War of 1812.

The Champlin was laid down by the Bethlehem Steel Co at Quincy, Mass, launched on 25 July 1942 when she was sponsored by Mrs. A. C. Brendel and commissioned on 12 September 1942.

After her shakedown cruise the Champlin was used to escort a convoy to Argentia, Newfoundland.

On 9 November she departed from Hampton Roads to escort a convoy that included the battleship Indiana (BB-58), which was heading to the Pacific. The Champlin escorted the convoy to the Panama Canal, but returned to the east coast after the battleship passed through the canal on 13 November.

On 11 December the Champlin left New York to escort a convoy to Casablanca. 


On 7 February 1943 the Champlin returned to New York at the end of the round trip to Casablanca.

On 4 March she left New York as part of the escort of another convoy heading to Casablanca. This time the convoy was shadowed for six days by U-boats, starting as they passed the Azores on 12 March. On that day the Champlin was sent to investigate a radar contact that had been made ahead of the convoy and found U-130 on the surface. The Champlin attempted to ram the U-boat, but it dived in time. However the Champlin was able to drop depth charges where the U-boat had submerged, sinking it. This was the only success for the convoy escorts, and the Germans were able to sink three merchant ships. The Champlin rescued the 127 man crew of SS Wyoming and two men from SS Molly Pitcher. The Champlin then escorted the return convoy, which reached Boston on 15 April without being attacked.

From 1-26 May the Champlin escorted a slow convoy from New York to Bermuda and then on to Oran. She was then used to escort a convoy from Gibraltar to Oran. That was followed by a mix of training and patrol duties in the western Mediterranean.

On 5 July the Champlin left Oran to escort one of the invasion convoys heading to Sicily. On 9 July her convoy reached the transport area to the south of Scoglitti. The Champlin then left the convoy to take part on the pre-invasion bombardment on 10 July. During the bombardment she helped fight off an Axis air attack. Later in the day she supported the landings and provided fire support for the troops on shore. She bombarded the village of Camerina, forcing the defenders to surrender.

After supporting the invasion the Champlin escorted a convoy to Oran and then on to New York, where she arrived on 4 August. She then returned to her convoy escort duties and escorted four convoys between New York and North Africa or Great Britain between 21 August 1943 and 11 March 1944.


On 7 April she was ordered out to sea to take part in a hunt for a U-boat that had been spotted by aircraft from USS Croatan (CVE-25). At 1632 she detected the U-boat, and dropped depth charges that forced U-856 to the surface. The Champlin opened fire, setting the U-boat’s conning tower on fire. She then rammed the U-boat, sinking it. During the battle the Champlin’s commanding officer, Commander John J. Shaffer III was wounded by shrapnel, and died on the following day. The destroyer escort USS Huse (DE-145) also took part in the battle. The Champlin needed minor repairs to her bows after the ramming.

On 21 April she left New York to escort a convoy heading to Oran.

On 15 May she reached Naples, where she was allocated to the forces supporting the fighting at Anzio. Over the next few weeks she was used to patrol off the beachhead, support the mine sweepers and provide fire support for the army.

On 13 August she left Palermo to take part in Operation Dragoon. The Champlin was part of Rear Admiral Morton L. Deyo’s Bombardment Group the operation, the invasion of the south of France. On 18 August she rescued an Army pilot who had crashed into the sea. On 19 August she was fired on by enemy shore batteries while operating off Cannes. On 20 August she returned to the area to attack the same batteries. On 21 August she blockaded the Gulf of Napoule, while E-boats in the gulf were being destroyed. On 24 August she destroyed a bridge across the River Var near Nice.

At the end of August she left the south of France to escort a convoy heading to Oran, and then continued on to New York as part of the escort for a force of battleships returning from the invasion. After her return she spent the rest of the year on a mix of training and plane guard duties.


On 6 January 1945 the Champlin departed to escort another trans-Atlantic convoy to Oran.

On 30 January she left Oran to join the fleet bringing President Roosevelt across the Atlantic to Malta on his way to the Yalta Conference in the Crimea.

On 18 February the Champlin was part of the force that escorted the President from Algiers into the eastern Atlantic. They passed Gibraltar on 19 February and the Champlin briefly returned to Oran, before moving to Gibraltar on 20 February to begin a period of patrol and convoy escort duties in the western Mediterranean.

On 22 April she left Oran to return to New York, ready to move to the Pacific. She passed through the Panama Canal on 4 June and reached Pearl Harbor on 10 July. On 24 July she sailed as part of the force that raided Wake Island on 1 August. She then moved to Okinawa, where she carried out a mix of local escort and patrol duties.

On 4 September she left Okinawa on the first of two trips to Japan to support the occupation of the Home Islands.

On 31 October she left Okinawa heading back to the United States, carrying a cargo of US servicemen returning home. She disembarked her passengers at San Diego on 21-24 November, then moved to Charleston, where she was placed into the reserve on 28 March 1946 and decommissioned on 31 January 1947. She remained in the reserve until she was sold for scrap on 2 May 1972.

Champlin received six battle stars for World II, for Sicily, Anzio, the invasion of the South of France, Convoy UGS-6 and the sinkings of U-856 and U-130.

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



25 July 1942


12 September 1942

Sold for scrap

8 May 1972

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 (24 May 2023), USS Champlin (DD-601) ,

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