USS Charles F Hughes (DD-428)

USS Charles F Hughes (DD-428) was a Benson class destroyer that served with the neutrality patrol, then on escort duties in the Atlantic, and fought in the invasion of North Africa, at Anzio and the invasion of the South of France, ending the war on escort duties in the Pacific.

The Charles F Hughes was named after Charles Frederick Hughes, who served in the US Navy during the Spanish-American War and during the First World War, rising to serve as Commander-in-Chief of the US Fleet and then Chief of Naval Operations.

The Charles F Hughes was launched on 16 May 1940 when she was sponsored by Mrs C.F. Hughes and commissioned on 6 September 1940.

The Charles F Hughes  formed part of Task Force 19, which was formed to escort a convoy carrying US Marines to Iceland to replace the British garrison.

This was a powerful fleet, built around the battleships Arkansas and New York and the cruisers Brooklyn (CL-40) and Nashville (CL-43) and protected by two destroyer divisions – Des Div 13 (Benson, Gleaves (DD-423), Mayo (DD-422) and Niblack (DD-424) and DesDiv 14 (Charles F. Hughes (DD-428), Hilary P Jones (DD-427) and Lansdale (DD-426) with DesDiv 60 as the outer screen (Bernadou (DD-153), Buck (DD-420), Ellis (DD-154), Lea (DD-118) and Upshur (DD-144)

The task force left Argentia on 1 July and reached Reykjavik on 7 July. During the voyage she rescued fourteen survivors, amongst them four American Red Cross nurses, who had been onboard a Norwegian freighter when it was torpedoed.

On 16 October she rescued seven survivors from a ship that had been torpedoed several days earlier.


After the US entry into the war the Charles F. Hughes escorted convoys along the US East Coast, to the Caribbean and from the US East Coast to the mid-ocean meeting point, where British escorts took over.

The Charles F. Hughes made her first complete Atlantic crossing between 30 April and 19 May 1942, escorting a convoy to Belfast. She then returned to duties in the western Atlantic.

On 1-2 June 1942 the Hilary P Jones, Charles F. Hughes (DD-428), Ingraham (DD-444) and Woolsey (DD-437) screened the Indiana (BB-58) during her speed trials.

On 5 June the Charles F. Hughes, Hilary P Jones, Madison and Plunkett (DD-431) escorted the South Dakota at the start of her shakedown cruise.

On 21 July the Charles F. Hughes left Newport to escort the Admiral Royal E. Ingersoll, the Commander-in-Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, as he moved to Boston on the former yacht USS Vixen (PG-53).

From August 1942 the Charles F Hughes concentrated on escort duties, normally heading to Northern Ireland.

On 6 August the Arkansas, Brooklyn (CL-40), Roe (DD-418), Ericsson (DD-440), Madison (DD-425), Eberle, Nicholson (DD-442), Kearny, Mayo, Niblack, Benson, Gleaves, Hilary P. Jones (DD-427) and Charles F. Hughes (DD-428) left Brooklyn to escort a convoy of fourteen US, British and Polish troop transports to Halifax, arriving on 8 August. The convoy then continued on across the Atlantic. On 17 August the American destroyers were released from escort duty in the Irish Sea and on 18 August they reached Londonderry.

She then moved to Greenock, from where she departed on 27 August as part of the escort for three troop ships returning to the US. On 3 September a fire broke out on one of those ships, the Wakefield (AP-21). The Madison took part in the rescue efforts, picking up the Captain, executive officer and some of the crew. She then remained with the Wakefield while tugs were sent out to try and save her. On 5 September the Wakefield’s captain and a salvage party moved to the Radford (DD-446) and the Madison continued on to New York

The Charles F Hughes was back in American waters by 21 September when she and the Madison moved from Gravesend Bay, New York, to New London, Connecticut.

The Charles F Hughes didn’t take part in the first wave of Operation Torch, the invasion of French North Africa, but she left New York on 2 November escorting the first reinforcement convoy. She reached Casablanca on 17 November and spent the next month on patrol duties from there before returning to the US.


On 30 January Task Force 99 (Destroyer Division 14 – Lansdale, Hilary P. Jones, Charles F. Hughes and Madison) departed from New York to escort a convoy to Northern Ireland, arriving on 7 February.

On 15 February DesDiv 14 and the 42nd Escort Group got underway to join Convoy UC-1 and Escort Group 44, which were coming from Liverpool. The combined force then headed across the Atlantic to Curacoa in the Dutch West Indies. On 23 February the convoy was attacked by Wolf Pack Rochen (U-43, U-66, U-87, U-202, U-218, U-504, U-521 and U-558) and U-382, U-522 and U-569. The submarines torpedoed the British Fortitude, Empire Norseman, Esso Baton Rouge, Athelprincess and Murena of which the Empire Norseman, Esso Baton Rouge and Athelprincess sank. The escorts carried out depth charge attacks but without success. However on the following day Hilary P Jones, Charles F. Hughes and Lansdale clashed with six surfaced U-boats, probably sinking one and damaging one. There were no more attacks on the convoy and it reached Curacoa on 6 March. 

For much of 1943 the Charles F Hughes continued to operate on convoy escort duties between the UK and the Dutch West Indies.

In November-December 1943 the Charles F Hughes escorted a convoy from New York to Casablanca and the return convoy to New York.


At the start of 1944 the Charles F Hughes was assigned to the Mediterranean, and on 4 January she left Norfolk to join the Mediterranean. Her first task was to escort convoys along the North African coast.

On 7 February she moved north to a new base at Naples, from where she spent the next month supporting the fighting at Anzio. She was used on patrols, to screen the ships off Anzio and on shore bombardment duties.

From 3 March-4 April she was used for convoy escort duties in North African waters and for patrol duties based at Gibraltar.

For the rest of April and most of May she returned to Anzio, supporting the fighting until just before the breakout from the beachhead.

On 26-27 May the Charles. F Hughes and Madison carried out exercises off Mers-el-Kebir. She then returned to anti-submarine patrols and escort duties, this time in the western Mediterranean.

On 30 July the Charles F Hughes returned to Naples to join the forces preparing for Operation Dragoon, the invasion of the south of France.

During the invasion she was used to help escort the eastern flank of the shipping area off the beachhead. On the night of 19-20 August she spotted three E-boats attempting to attack, and sank one with gunfire and forced the other two to beach themselves. Once the beachheads had been secured and most of the fighting moved inland she returned to patrol and escort duties, often working in the Gulf of Genoa.

From 7-16 December she provided fire support off Monaco, to support fighting in the mountains to the east of the Principality. On 9 December the Charles F. Hughes and Madison (DD-425) bombarded German coastal positions and troops on the Franco-Italian border.


The Charles F Hughes returned to the US for an overhaul, reaching Brooklyn on 12 January 1945. She then carried out one more trop to Oran, before being transferred to the Pacific theatre.

On 21 April 1945 the Charles F. Hughes, Madison, Trippe (DD-403), Wainright (DD-419), Satterlee (DD-626) and Herndon (DD-638) left New York at the start of their voyage to the Pacific. After reaching San Diego all but the Trippe met up with the Fort Knox (DD-742) and moved on to Pearl Harbor.

The Charles F Hughes reached Ulithi on 13 June and spent the rest of the war on escort duties between there and Okinawa.

On 28 August the Charles F. Hughes, Madison and Mayo joined the escort for the convoy carrying the first occupation forces to Tokyo Bay.

The Charles F. Hughes was present at Tokyo Bay when the Japanese signed the surrender agreement but not inside the bay at the time of the surrender. She started the day sweeping mines outside the bay, and didn’t anchor inside the bay until 12.21, several hours later.

In September and October the Charles F Hughes escorted convoys heading from the Philippines and Ulithi to ports in Japan.

On 4 November she left Tokyo heading back to the US. She reached Charleston on 7 December and was decommissioned on 18 March 1946. She remained in the reserve for twenty years, before being sunk as a target off Virginia on 26 March 1969.

Charles F. Hughes received three battle stars for World War II service, for Anzio, the Invasion of the South of France and Convoy UC-1.

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

Armour - belt


 - deck



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



16 May 1940


6 September 1940

Sunk as target

26 March 1969

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 (3 April 2023), USS Charles F Hughes (DD-428),

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