USS Howard (DD-179/ DMS-7)

USS Howard (DD-179/ DMS-7) was a Wickes class destroyer that served as a minesweeper during Operation Torch, on convoy escort duties in 1943 and in the campaigns in the Pacific in 1944-45.

The Howard was named after Charles W. Howard, a volunteer who was killed fighting in the US Navy during the American Civil War.

The Howard was launched at the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, on 26 April 1919 and commissioned on 29 January 1920. At the start of March she joined the Pacific Destroyer Force at San Diego, but in early May she was diverted to Topolobampo, Mexico, where she protected American interests during an ongoing civil war in Mexico. She was back with her flotilla by 17 May 1920, and spent the next two years taking part in normal peacetime operations around San Diego, as well as working with submarines. She was decommissioned on 27 May 1922.

USS Howard (DMS-7) refueling from USS Chenango (ACV-28), 1942
USS Howard (DMS-7)
refueling from
USS Chenango (ACV-28)

The Howard was recommissioned on 29 August 1940 as the US Navy expanded early in the Second World War. She was chosen for conversion to a minesweeper, and reclassified as DMS-7. The conversion work was completed by mid October when she departed from San Diego heading for the east coast. After a brief stay at Norfolk, in November she moved to the Caribbean where she was used on a mix of patrol duties and mine sweeping as part of the Neutrality Patrol. She remained in Caribbean until May 1941 when she moved back to Norfolk. She spent mosf of the rest of the year on exercises and escort duties. She was at sea performed her escort role when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

At the start of 1942 she was part of Mine Division Nineteen, Mine Squadron Seven. She spent much of 1942 operating on convoy escort duties in the Caribbean and western Atlantic, suddenly a war zone and very dangerous seas.

The Howard was chosen to take part in Operation Torch, the invasion of French North Africa. In October she joined the Western Naval Task Force (Admiral Hewitt), then forming at Norfolk. She set sail on 24 October, and acted as part of the screen for the flagship USS Augusta during the ocean crossing. On 8 November 1942 she performed a mix of minesweeping and screening duties, including a spell screening the Augusta as the cruiser bombarded shore batteries at Casablanca and fought against the French battleship Jean Bart. Over the next few days the Howard supported the troops fighting around Casablanca and Safi. She moored at Casablanca on 16 November 1942. Late November and early December was spent on anti-submarine patrol duties off North Africa, before she returned to Norfolk on 29 December 1942.

During 1943 the Howard returned to her earlier convoy escort duties, operating in the Atlantic and Caribbean, reaching as far east as Iceland and as far south as Panama.

Late in 1943 the Howard was transferred to the Pacific Theatre. She reached San Diego on 7 December where she underwent repairs and took part in training exercises. She left San Diego on 25 March 1944 escorting a convoy to Pearl Harbor and then on to Majuro, before returning to Pearl Harbor with another convoy. She then joined Admiral 'Kelly' Turner's fleet being assembled for the invasion of the Marianas. She reached Saipan on 13 August where she carried out minesweeping operations during daylight and a mix of patrol and harassing fire at night. After the landings on 15 June she was allocated to the forces screening the transports, and also made two shuttle voyages back to the US base at Eniwetok. She returned to Pearl Harbour on 10 August 1944.

The Howard was then allocated to the invasion of the Philippines. She reached Leyte Gulf on 17 October and remained there until 24 October, carrying out mine sweeping operations in Surigao Strait and Leyte Gulf. She then left for the US base at Manus.

The Howard spent two months training in the Admiralty Islands and then took part in the invasion of Luzon. She reached Leyte Gulf on 30 December 1944 and departed for Lingayen Gulf on 2 January 1945. She came under kamikaze attack on this voyage, claiming one shot down and helping drive off others. She reached Lingayen Gulf on 6 January where she carried out minesweeping operations before the invasion of 9 January. She was lucky to survive this endeavour, as three of her minesweeping sister ships were lost. The Howard returned to Leyte Gulf on 15 January 1945.

The Howard's last front line operation was the invasion of Iwo Jima. She departed from Tinian on 13 February and began minesweeping operations off Iwo Jima on 16 February, once again coming under heavy air attack. After the US landings on 19 February she was used as part of the screen. She had a break at Saipan in early March and a final spell of screening duties in late March, before returning to Pearl Harbor on 4 April 1945.

In May 1945 she was part of Mine Division Nineteen (ComMinDiv 19). On 5 June 1945 she was reclassified as AG-106 and she was used to escort submarines operating in Hawaiian waters and as a plane guard for carriers operating in the area.

The Howard left for the United States on 2 October, reached Philadelphia on 2 November and was decommissioned on 30 November 1945. She was sold for scrap during 1946.

The Howard earned six battle stars during the Second World War, for Operation Torch, the Marianas, Tinian, Leyte, Luzon and Iwo Jima.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35kts design
34.81kts at 27,350shp at 1,236t on trial (Kimberly)


2 shaft Parsons turbines
4 boilers
27,000shp design


2,500nm at 20kts (design)

Armour - belt


 - deck



314ft 4.5in


30ft 11.5in


Four 4in/ 50 guns
Twelve 21in torpedo tubes in four triple mountings
Two 1-pounder AA guns
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement



26 April 1919


29 January 1920


30 November 1945

Sold for scrap


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 (22 May 2018), USS Howard (DD-179/ DMS-7) ,

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