USS Hughes (DD-410)

USS Hughes (DD-410) was a Sims class destroyer that served with the Neutrality Patrol in 1949-41. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor she joined the Yorktown task force, and was with her during the early carrier raids and at Midway. She then took part in the invasion of Guadalcanal, the battle of Santa Cruz and the naval battle of Guadalcanal. In 1943 she operated in the Aleutians, taking part in the liberation of Kiska, then support the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. In 1944 she supported the invasion of the Marshalls, the fast carrier raids, the landings at Hollandia, and the invasion of the Philippines. She was hit by a kamikaze off Leyte on 10 December 1944, and didn't return to service until June 1945. She spent the rest of the war in the Aleutians and was decommissioned in August 1946.

The Hughes was named after Edward Merritt Hughes, who fought in the US Navy during the Spanish-American War, fighting at the battle of Manila Bay and then boarding and sinking five Spanish ships in Cavite Harbour.

USS Hughes (DD-410) at Mare Island, 1942 USS Hughes (DD-410) at Mare Island, 1942

The Hughes was laid down at the Bath Iron Works, Maine, on 15 September 1937, launched on 17 June 1939 when she was sponsored by Commander Hughes’s widow, and commissioned on 21 September 1939.

Her shakedown cruise took her to the Gulf of Mexico, with the Mustin (DD-413) and Sterett (DD-407)

The Hughes served with the Atlantic Fleet from July 1940 to December 1941. Her first duty was to patrol off Martinique to watch the Vichy controlled French warships at the island and make sure they remained neutral. She then took part in the neutrality patrol, and became the first American destroyer to escort a convoy all the way to Britain.

On 26 October she left Casco Bay as part of the powerful escort of a convoy heading for Britain, built around the New Mexico (BB-40), Yorktown, Savannah (CL-42), Philadelphia and seven destroyers. On 30 October the Anderson picked up a sonar contact when the convoy was 700 miles off Newfoundland. The Morris (DD-418) dropped depth charges, as did the Anderson. The Hughes also joined the hunt and picked up the target on sonar, but it escaped.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor the Hughes was needed in the Pacific. She left Norfolk on 18 December 1941 and formed part of the screen for the Yorktown (CV-5), reaching San Diego on 30 December.


The Hughes left San Diego on 12 January 1942 escorting a convoy moving reinforcements to Samoa. She then joined a carrier strike force built around the Yorktown and screened the carrier during raids on Jaluit, Makin, Mili and Canton Islands.

A plan to attack Rabaul was abandoned after the Japanese landed at Lae and Salamaua, on the north-eastern coast of New Guinea. Instead the carriers moved into the Gulf of Papua, south of the island, and sent their aircraft north across New Guinea on 10 March, doing significant damage to the Japanese naval forces at Law and Salamaua. While the carrier attack was underway, the Hughes was part of a corce of cruisers and destroyers that was sent to Rossel Island in the Louisiade islands to guard the eastern flank of the carrier force and cover the movement of US army force to Noumea.

At the end of March she was part of a force that was detached from TF 17 to take on supplies from the storeship Bridge (AF-1). The force arrived at Noumea on 1 April, and put back to sea on the following day.

The Hughes was detached to escort a tanker carrying fuel to Noumea, and thus missed the battle of the Coral Sea. However she returned to Pearl Harbor in time to join the forces being gathered to take part in the battle of Midway.

Stern view of USS Hughes (DD-410), 1942 Stern view of USS Hughes (DD-410), 1942

She left Pearl Harbor with Admiral Fletcher’s TF 17, built around the Yorktown. She was part of Destroyer Squadron 2 in TG 17.4 during the battle, part of the screen of the Yorktown. The Yorktown was hit and badly damaged by Japanese aircraft at about noon on 4 June, losing power.  She was back underway by 1340, but was hit again by by two torpedoes at about 1430, once again coming to a halt. During these air attacks the Hughes claimed two torpedo planes and assisted in shooting down two more. This time the decision was made to abandon ship. Most of her escorts then withdrew to the east to avoid further air attacks, but the Hughes was left behind to guard the Yorktown and prevent her being captured. During the night she rescued two men who had been left behind when the ship was evacuated, although one of them later died. On the following morning the Yorktown was still afloat, so a crew was put back onboard and repairs resumed. However on 6 June the Japanese submarine I-168 found the Yorktown group, and fired four torpedoes at her. Two hit the Yorktown and one the destroyer Hammann, which sank in four minutes. The Hughes and Monaghan spent two hours attempting to catch I-168, but without success. The Yorktown stayed afloat until the morning of 7 June when she finally sank. The Hughes helped rescued the survivors.

She was photographed off Mare Island on 28 July and 1 August 1942, painted in a two tone camouflage scheme. Some changes are shown on the July photograph, including four extra 20mm guns in a cross shaped arrangement on the superstructure deck behind the torpedo tubes and extra floats and liferafts.

On 17 August 1942 the Hughes left Pearl Harbor with TF 17, built around the carrier Hornet, heading for Guadalcanal. The Hughes was part of the Hornet’s screen until she was sunk at the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. At the end of August the Hughes joined TF 61 (Saratoga and Wasp). However on 30 August the Saratoga was torpedoed by I-26, and although she survived had to retreat to be repaired, leaving only two US carriers in the South Pacific (Wasp and Hornet). 
On 19 September the Hughes rescued the sole survivor from a B-17 that had crashed in the Coral Sea one week earlier. 

During the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands (26-27 October 1942) the Hughes shot down one Japanese aircraft, and assisted in the destruction of two more. However the Hornet was hit several times, set on fire, and sank on 27 October. The Hughes suffered some damage while operating alongside the burning carrier.

On 10 November she joined Task Force 16, built around the Enterprise (CV-6), South Dakota and Washington. The Enterprise was still undergoing repairs to earlier damage, but the task force was ordered to sail on 11 November to help fight off a major Japanese naval attack on Guadalcanal (Naval battle of Guadalcanal).

After the battle the Hughes continued to operate in the Solomons area until the end of February 1943.

On 21 November the Hughes left Noumea to escort the Alchiba to Guadalcanal. The Alchiba was carrying a cargo of aviation fuel, bombs and ammo, and reached Tulagi safely on 26 November. However on 28 November a Japanese submarine managed to get past the screen (including the Hughes) and torpedoed the Alchiba. Although she was hit by another torpedo a few days later the Alchiba was saved.


On 26 February the Hughes and Mustin rendezvoused with the Columbia and Nicholas. They were joined by the carrier Suwanee on 27 February and the group moved to Noumea, arriving on 28 February.

The Hughes was then selected for service in the Aleutians. She left Pearl Harbor on 18 April and reached the Aleutians on 24 April. 

Her main role was to take part in the upcoming invasion of Kiska. However the Japanese had already decided to evacuate the island, and began to withdraw on 26 May. The Hughes took part in bombardments of Kiska on 6 and 22 July.

On 26 July she was one of the ships involved in the ‘Battle of the Pips’, which saw a powerful American fleet built around the Idaho and Mississippi spend several hours bombarding a series of radar contacts, none of which turned out to be real. While this was going on the Japanese were evacuating their garrison from Kiska, completing the task on 28 July. The Americans carried out a full scale invasion of 15 August, only to find the island deserted. With Kiska now in American hands the Hughes was no longer needed, so on 25 August she departed for San Francisco.

On 26 October the Hughes, Hoel (DD-533), Morris (DD-417), Mustin (DD-413), Cotton (DD-669) and MacDonough (DD-351) left San Francisco heading for Pearl Harbor, arriving at midday on 31 October.

The Hughes was then allocated to the screen for the escort carriers that were supporting the invasion of Makin Atoll in the Gilbert Islands, sailing on 10 November. On 24 November the Liscombe Bay (CVE-56) was sunk, and the Hughes rescued 152 of her survivors.

Early on 26 November the Hughes and Hoel left the main fleet at Makin to escort the San Francisco (CA-38), New Orleans (CA-32), Minneapolis (CA-36) and Baltimore (CA-68) to meet with TG 50.1. After leaving three of the cruisers at the rendezvous point, the Baltimore and the two destroyers continued on to the tanker group to refuel.

On 27 November the two destroyers joined the Charles R. Greer (DE-23) and Harold C. Thomas (DE-21) to escort the transport President Monroe (AP-104) and freighters Cape Isabel, Cape Stevens and Robin Wentley to the Gilberts, arriving on the morning of 28 November. The two destroyers then rejoined TF 52, but on the following day the Hughes depated for Pearl Harbor, arriving on 7 December.


On 13 January 1944 the Hughes joined Task Force 53 for the invasion of the Marshall Islands, supporting the escort carriers. She took part in the pre-invasion operations from 3-11 February 1944 and supported the carriers throughout the invasion.

She then supported the carriers as they attacked the Palaus on 31 March.

The Hughes then moved south to take part in the invasion of Hollandia, New Guinea, on 23 April, screening the escort carriers as they supported the landings at Aitape and Tanahmerah Bay. Unlike most ships that had come from the central Pacific to support this operation, the Hughes remained with the Seventh Fleet for several months, operating as a convoy escort and providing fire support well into September. While she was with the Seventh Fleet she took part in the invasions of Biak, Noemfoor, Cape Sensapor and Morotai, and served as Rear Admiral William M. Fechteler’s flagship during the attack on Morotai.

On 25 September she left the Seventh Fleet to join the forces being gathered for the invasion of the Philippines. In October she became the flagship of Rear Admiral Arthur D. Struble, commander of the attack group of TG 78.4. This group’s task was to invade Dinagat and Homohon Islands, at the entrance to Leyte Gulf. Dinagat was captured on 17 October and Homohon on 18 October, and the main landings on Leyte followed on 20 October. After the islands had been captured, the Hughes was used to screen convoys heading from New Guinea to the Philippines.

On 6 December she became Admiral Struble’s flagship once again, and departed to take part in the landings at Ormoc Bay on Leyte.

On 10 December the Hughes was serving as a picket ship off the southern tip of Leyte when the Japanese carried out a kamikaze attack on shipping in Leyte Gulf. One of the kamikaze hit the Hughes, killing 23 of her crew. One engine room was destroyed and much of the surviving machinery damaged or destroyed. She had to be towed to Humbolt Bay, New Guinea for temporary repairs. By 19 December she was able to depart from Pearl Harbor under her own power.

Following this operation, Hughes was serving as a picket destroyer off the southern tip of Leyte when she was hit by a kamikaze 10 December 1044. Badly damaged with one engine room demolished and much of her other machinery destroyed, Hughes was towed to San Pedro Bay, Leyte, where, after temporary repairs, she departed for Humboldt Bay, New Guinea, 19 December en route to Pearl Harbor, where she arrived 23 January 1945.


She reached Pearl Harbor on 23 January 1945, where brief repairs were carried out. She then departed for San Francisco, arriving at the Hunter’s Point Naval Drydock on 2 February. She was there for three months, undergoing full repairs as well as an overhaul.

Once she was declared to be ready for combat the Hughes was allocated to the North Pacific Force, which was based in the Aleutians. She left San Francisco on 4 June and remained in the north for the rest of the war. By now the Americans were on the attack in the far north, and the Hughes was involved in a series of attacks on Japanese positions in the North Pacific, attacking shipping and Japanese bases.

On 23-25 June most of TG 92.2 attempted to find a Japanese convoy that was heading south from Paramushiro, while the Hughes, Anderson and Trenton (CL-11) patrolled east of the Kurils to prevent the convoy escaping east into the Pacific. However the convoy was destroyed by the main part of the group.

After the end of the war the Hughes served with the patrol force operating off Northern Honshu until 20 October. On 30 October she departed for the United States with Destroyer Squadron 2. She was decommissioned on 28 August 1946,

She was sunk as a target off Washington on 16 October 1948, and struck off the Navy list on 26 November 1948.

Hughes earned 14 battle stars for World War II service, for the Pacific Raids of 1942, Midway, defense of Guadalcanal, Buin-Faisi-Tonolai raid, battles of Santa Cruz and Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, Aleutians, Gilberts, Marshalls, Pacific Raids of 1944, Western New Guinea, Rennell Island, Leyte and the Kurile Islands.

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.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (6 December 2022), USS Hughes (DD-410) ,

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