USS Kalk (DD-611)

USS Kalk (DD-611) was a Benson class destroyer that served in the Aleutians, on Atlantic escort duties, during the campaign in New Guinea, the return to the Philippines and the invasion of Okinawa.

The Kalk was named after Stanton Frederick Kalk who served in the US Navy during the First World War and died after his ship, the Jacob Jones (DD-61) was sunk by U-53 on 16 December 1917.

The Kalk was laid down by the Bethlehem Steel Co at San Francisco on 30 June 1941, launched on 18 July 1942 when she was sponsored by Kalk’s mother Mrs Flore Stanton Kalk and commissioned on 17 October 1942.

After her shakedown cruise the Kalk left San Francisco on 28 December, heading for the Aleutians.


The Kalk reached Dutch Harbor on 9 January, and joined the forces preparing to occupy Amchitka.

She took part in the occupation of Amchitka on 12 January 1943, escorting the transport group carrying Army forces to the island.

USS Kalk (DD-611), Mare Island, 1942 USS Kalk (DD-611), Mare Island, 1942

During the occupation the destroyer Warden (DD-352) ran aground and had to be abandoned. Her survivors were taken onboard the transport SS Arthur Middleton, which also then ran aground (although was later raised and returned to service). On 16 January the Kalk took onboard 185 survivors from the two ships and transported them to Adak.

The Kalk spent the next month patrolling in the Aleutians, before departing for San Francisco on 26 February. She was at San Francisco for a month (4 March-7 April), before departed for New York.

After her arrival at New York she began a period of convoy escort duty in the Atlantic. She joined her first convoy, the 35 ship strong UGF-8, off New York on 29 April and reached Oran in Algeria on 12 May.

On 19 May she left Casablanca as part of the escort for a convoy heading to New York, arriving on 31 May.

On 13 June she departed for Norfolk, where she was based for the rest of the year. Between 27 June and 6 December she helped escort three convoys between the United States and North Africa.

This was followed by overhauls and New York and Boston, to prepare her for service in the Pacific.


On 2 January 1944 the Kalk left Norfolk heading for the Pacific. On 8 January she left Balboa at the Pacific end of the Panama Canal as part of Destroyer Division 38, which escorted the battleships New Jersey (BB-62) and Iowa (BB-61) to the war zone. The Kalk reached Funafuti in the Ellice Islands on 27 January. After searching for some fighter pilots who had come down in the sea, on 31 January she departed for New Guinea to join the Seventh Fleet.

The Kalk operated around New Guinea until 12 June.

She supported the invasion of the Admiralty Islands in February-March 1944, bombarding Manus, Pityilu, Los Negros, and Rambutye Islands.

On 16 March the Gillespie, Hobby (DD-610), Kalk (DD-611) and Reid (DD-369) left Seeadler Harbor to escort a group of LSTs back to Cape Sudest.

In mid-May she supported the landings on Wakde Island, New Guinea, once again carrying out shore bombardments.

At the end of May she supported the invasion of Biak Island, providing fire support on 27 May, the first day of the island. She was then used on escort and picket duties on the route between Biak and the US base at Humboldt Bay.

On 12 June she was operating off the south coast of Biak when she was hit by a bomb from a Japanese aircraft that had caught her by surprise. The aircraft was shot down, but its bomb hit near the forward funnel, causing the air flasks for the torpedoes to explode. The explosion destroyed several 20mm guns, damaged the superstructure, wounded 70 and caused several fires. However the torpedoes did not explode. The fires were soon put out, the warheads removed from the danger area and the ship saved.

The Kalk was immobilised by the attack, and so had to be towed to Humboldt Bay by the Stockton (DD-646). After emergency repairs were over she departed for the United States on 20 June and reached San Francisco on 31 July.

For the next two and a half months she underwent repairs and alterations at Mare Island, before departing for Pearl Harbor on 26 October. On 12 November she left Pearl heading for Ulithi in the Western Caroline Islands, arriving at that major US base on 26 November.

For the next eight months the Kalk normally operated from Ulithi, carrying out anti-submarine warfare patrols to support the supply train for the fleet during the invasion of the Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

From 16-23 December she patrolled to the north-east of Luzon to screen the 3rd Fleet while it was replenished.

On 29 December she left Ulithi to screen the supply units that supported Task Force 38 while it supported the landings at Lingayen Gulf in western Luzon.


This duty lasted until 27 January 1945 when she returned to Ulithi.

On 18 February she rendezvoused with TG 50.8 (as part of Destroyer Division 38) to screen TF 58 during the battle of Iwo Jima. This duty lasted for almost three weeks, before she returned to Ulithi on 6 March.

On 13 March she left Unlithi with TG 50.8 to screen the supply train of the 5th Fleet as it operated in the Ryukyu Islands, preparing for the invasion of Okinawa on 1 April.

On 13 April she left Ulithi with TG 50.8.8, which contained two cargo ships and four fleet oilers, heading for Okinawa.

The Kalk spent the rest of the war acting as an escort, plane guard and part of the anti-submarine screen for the main fleet as it operated off the Ryukyus. Her main role was to screen ships moving between Okinawa and Ulithi. On 5 June, while heading to Okinawa, she was caught in a typhoon but only suffered minor damage. She was on her way back to Ulithi when the Japanese surrendered on 15 August.

On 20 August the Kalk left Ulithi heading for Japan, She reached Tokyo Bay on 1 September, escorting the Detroit (CL-8) and was thus present for the official Japanese surrender on 2 September. On the following day she left to escort ships moving to Eniwetok. She was back at Tokyo on 16 September, before departing for the United States on 12 Octobber.

She reached San Diego on 17 November, then moved to the east coast, where she was decommissioned into the reserve on 3 May 1946. She was struck off in June 1968 and sunk as a target on March 1969.

Kalk received ten battle stars for World War II service, for the Bismarck Archipelago, Eastern New Guinea, Hollandia, Tinian, Western New Guinea, Western Caroline Islands, Luzon, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the 3rd Fleet Raids on Japan.

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

30 June 1941


18 July 1942


17 October 1942

Struck off

June 1968

Sunk as target

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 (20 July 2023), USS Kalk (DD-611) ,

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