USS Litchfield (DD-336)

USS Litchfield (DD-336) was a Clemson class destroyer that served in the Mediterranean and with the Pacific Fleet before the Second World War, and that carried out escort duties from Pearl Harbor after the American entry into the war.

USS Litchfield (DD-336), 1934, Panama Canal Zone USS Litchfield (DD-336), 1934, Panama Canal Zone

The Litchfield was named after John R. Litchfield, a Navy pharmacist who served with the Marine Corps on the Wrestern Front and was killed in action on 15 September 1918.

The Litchfield was laid down by the Mare Island Navy Yard on 15 January 1919, launched on 12 August 1919 when she was sponsored by Litchfield’s mother Mrs. Martha D. Litchfield and commissioned on 12 May 1920.

The Litchfield’s shakedown cruiser took her to Bremerton, Washington. However by the end of 1921 she had left the Pacific and moved to Charleston, South Carolina. She took part in the annual fleet maneuvers off the east coast, then moved to Newport, Rhode Island, to join Division 39. She and the division then departed for the eastern Mediterranean, reaching Constantinople on 28 June 1922. The division was under the direct command of Read Admiral M.L. Bristo, the US High Commissioner for Turkey, and arrived during the war between Greece and Turkey. The Litchfield was used for humanitatian duties, most famously during the fire at Smyrna, in September 1922, which came as the city fell to the Turks. The Litchfield helped rescue thousands of refugees, including numerous Armenian children, 450 orphaned boys and six British citizens left behind after the British military evacuated the city. The archives from the American consul in Smyrna was also placed onboard.

USS Litchfield (DD-336) in Alaska, 1930s USS Litchfield (DD-336) in Alaska, 1930s

The Litchfield remained in the Mediterranean for just over a year, returning to the United States in the autumn of 1923. She entered the New York Navy Yard on 30 October 1923 for an overhaul, then returned to the west coast, where she jouned Destroyer Squadron 12 at San Diego on 24 May 1924.

Jonas H Ingram on the Bridge of USS Litchfield (DD-336) Jonas H Ingram on the Bridge of USS Litchfield (DD-336)

On 11 August 1924 the Litchfield and the Farenholt collided during battle fleet maneuvers off Cape Flattery and had to return to port for repairs. The Litchfield suffered damage to her bows, and the Farenholt to her propeller. In October 1924 the Litchfield was awarded prize money for her performance in a short range firing competition.

In 1925 she took part in a training cruise to Australia and New Zealand.

In 1927 she visited the East Coast, and took part in a Presidential Review off Newport, Rhode Island, on 4 June 1927. She was soon back in the Pacific, and spent July operating off the coast of Nicaragua.

The Litchfield survived the major cutbacks at the end of the 1920s, and served with the Battle Fleet.

In April 1937 she took part in the battle fleet’s move west from San Diego to Pearl Harbor, and on 20 May 1937 she became flagship of Submarine Squadron 4, Submarine Force, Pearl Harbor. She spent the next few years operating with the submarines.

USS Litchfield (DD-336) in Dry Dock USS Litchfield (DD-336) in Dry Dock

In January 1938 the Litchfield, Reid and the carrier Langley were used to provide emergency cover as eighteen US Navy flying boats flew from the mainland to Hawaii, in what was then the largest mass oceanic flight in history.

Second World War

The Litchfield left Pearl Harbor on 6 December 1941, escorting the submarine USS Thresher (SS-200). She was thus away from port when the Japanese attacked, and returned on 9 December to the familiar scenes of destruction.

USS Litchfield (DD-336) at Smyrna USS Litchfield (DD-336) at Smyrna

From December 1941 to November 1943 the Litchfield was used to escort US submarines in and out of Pearl Harbor and to carry out anti-submarine patrols outside the entrance to the harbour. On several occasions she made depth charge attacks on possible targets, but no kills were recorded.

On 6 November 1943 the Litchfield departed for Bremerton, Washington, where she underwent an overhaul

She returned to Pearl Harbor on 14 January 1944 and was allocated to convoy escort duties. Most of these took her to Midway or Eniwetok. On two occasions she rescued the crews of patrol aircraft that had been forced down, and on 8 August she was able to salvage a damaged PBM. She also carried out submarine training in the waters around Midway and Eniwetok.

In the spring of 1945 she reached the furthest west she got during the war, escorting a convoy to Guam, where she arrived on 17 March. She spent some time at Guam, carrying out local escort duties and training with submarines. However on 31 March, while still at Guam, she was redesignated as miscellaneous auxiliary AG-95, marking the end of her time as a front line warship. She remained at Guam for some time after this, departing on 21 July.

The Litchfield reached San Diego on 9 August 1945, and in the following week the Board of Inspectors decided that she should be scrapped. She reached Philadelphia in October, was decommissioned on 5 November and struck off on 28 November 1945. She was scrapped at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and the work was completed by 29 March 1946.

Commanders
Lt Commander John B. Rhodes: - September 1922-

Displacement (standard)

1,190t

Displacement (loaded)

1,308t

Top Speed

35kts
35.51kts at 24,890shp at 1,107t on trial (Preble)

Engine

2-shaft Westinghouse geared tubines
4 boilers
27,000shp (design)

Range

2,500nm at 20kts (design)

Length

314ft 4in

Width

30ft 10.5in

Armaments

Four 4in/ 50 guns
One 3in/23 AA gun
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple mountings
Two depth charge tracks
One Y-Gun depth charge projector

Crew complement

114

Launched

12 August 1919

Commissioned

12 May 1920

Scrapped by

29 March 1946

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 (5 May 2021), USS Litchfield (DD-336) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Litchfield_DD336.html

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