USS Nields (DD-616)

USS Nields (DD-616) was a Benson class destroyer that served on Atlantic convoy duty, supported the invasions of Sicily and the south of France, sank the Italian submarine Gorgo and helped sink U-616 then reached the Pacific just in time to take part in the post-war occupation of former Japanese territory.

The Nields was named after Henry C Nields, who served in the US Navy during the American Civil War.

The Nields was laid down by the Bethlehem Steel Company at Fore River, Massachusetts on 15 June 1942, launched on 1 October 1942 when she was sponsored by Nields’ daughter Miss Ella S. Nields and commissioned on 15 January 1943.



After a shakedown cruise along the US East Coast the Neild’s first active duty was to escort two tanks to Aruba in the Dutch West Indies and Cristobel in the Panama Canal Zone. She returned to Norfolk on 11 April 1943.

USS Nields from the air,July 1945 USS Nields from the air,July 1945

She then moved to Boston, before joining DesRon 16 at New York to carry out trans-Atlantic convoy escort duties. She left New York on 28 April with her first convoy, USG-8, reaching Oran in Algeria on 19 May.

The Nields was then used to patrol the approaches to Oran. On 21 May she received a submarine contract report from a British aircraft and headed for its location. At 1716 she detected the submarine on sonar, and at 1718 dropped nine depth charges. Sonar contact was regained at 1723 and another nine depth charges dropped. She fired charges from her forward and port K Guns at 1731 and 1741, and after the last attack oil patches came to the surface. This final attack had sunk the Italian submarine Gorgo.

On 22 May she left Oran as part of the escort for convoy GUS-7A, which reached New York on 8 June.

She then made the return trip, reaching Oran on 26 June to join the forces gathering for the invasion of Sicily. From then until 5 July she carried out anti-submarine patrols off Algeria.

On 5 July she sortied as part of the ‘Cent’ attack force, screening US Convoy NCF-1 and British convoy KMF-18. When Allied troops landed on Sicily on 10 July she screened the ships in Transport Area Two. She remained on that duty until 13 July when she departed for Oran, arriving on 16 July.

Her next task was to escort Convoy GUF-9 west across the Atlantic, arriving at New York on 3 August. This was followed by a period of refresher training at Casco Bay, Maine.

She was then recorded as part of the escort of Convoy UGF-10, east-bound to Casablanca (21 August-2 September), Convoy GUF-10, from Oran to Hampton Roads (9 September-21 September) and UT-3, a US to UK troop convoy which reached the Clyde in October 1943.

On 27 October Convoy KMF-25-A left Liverpool heading for Naples. By 5 November the Nields had joined her escort. On that day the convoy was attacked by German aircraft off Cape Bougaroun, Algeria. The Germans sank one escort and two merchant ships, the Marnix and Santa Helena, although both stayed afloat for some time. The Nields was commended by Rear Admiral C.F. Bryant, the commander of Task Force 60 (the convoy escort) for her role in rescuing the survivors.

The Nields is later recorded as forming part of the escort of Convoy TU-3 which left the Clyde on 30 November 1943 and reached New York on 11 December 1943. 


Convoy escort duties continued into 1944 when she was record as forming part of the escort of Convoy TU-6, which left the Clyde on 13 January 1944 and reached New York on 24 January.

In March 1944 the Nields joined DesDiv 31 and DesDiv 32 in hunter-killer exercises based at Casco Bay.

The Nields then joined the Hunter-Killer groun Task Group 21.5. On 7 April two ships in the group, the Champlin (DD-601) and Huse (DE-145) sank U-856. Despite very heavy seas the Nields was able to rescue 11 survivors and take them back to New York.

On 21 April the Nields and her division departed from New York for the Mediterranean to join the 8th Fleet.

After arriving at Oran the Nields began coastal escort and patrol duties. On 14 May British aircraft spotted U-616 in the south-western Mediterranean. The Nields, then serving with Destroyer Division 21, took part in the resulting search. Soon afterwards the Ellyson (DD-454) dropped the first depth charges of what became a four day long hunt.

On the morning of 15 June oil slicks were seen but the sonar contact was lost. The submarine was then spotted by another aircraft, ten miles away heading north towards the safety of the South of France.

At 1900 on 16 June the Nields, Gleaves (DD-423) and Macomb (DD-458) were detached from the main formation to investigate a possible sound contact. At 2157 all three detected the submarine on the surface. The Macomb illuminated her with searchlights and opened fire. The U-boat returned fire then started to dive. The Macomb dropped depth charges at 2214 and 2231. Sonar contacts were made at 2335 and 2342 but the U-boat was able to break contact. At 2346 the Nields dropped eleven depth charges and at 2350 began a ‘creeping’ attack.

At 0043 on 17 June the Nields kept the target on sonar and directed the Gleaves, which dropped a box of eighteen depth charges set to explode deep. Contact was lost one minute later. By now the destroyers Hambleton (DD–455), Ellyson, Rodman (DD–456) and Emmons (DD–457) had joined the attackers. The Americans began a box patrol, with the Nields third from the right end of the line. At 0449 the Hambleton reported a snoar contact and at 0515 and 0525 dropped depth charges. At 0608 U-616 was forced to surface, and most of the surrounded destroyers opened fire. The Nields was unable to take part without risking hitting other destroyers. U-616 finally sank at 0612 and the Nields screened the destroyers that picked up 51 survivors.

On 24-26 July the Nields and Madison moved from Mers-el-Kebir to Malta to serve with Task Force 86. On 30-31 July the two destroyers screened the Philadelphia during exercises off Gozo.

From then until the build-up to Operation Dragoon the Nields carried out patrol and escort duties to support the fighting around Anzio and Civitaveccia along the Italian coast.

The Boyle was part of Rear Admiral Morton L. Deyo’s Bombardment Group for Operation Dragoon, the invasion of the south of France.

On 15 August she was used to patrol the entrance to St. Raphael, with the aim of preventing E-boats getting out of the port and into the transport area. She also took part in the preliminary bombardment of Red Beach. While patrolling between the islands of St. Honorat and St. Marguerite she came under heavy fire from German shore guns, but was able to return fire and retire without being hit, She continued to patrol along the French coast until 30 August when she departed for North Africa.

On 4 September she left North Africa to escort Battleship Division 5 back to the US, reaching Boston on 19 September.

In October the Nields escorted the new large cruiser USS Guam (CB-2) to Norfolk, arriving on 27 October.

In November she escorted the east-bound convoy UGS-59 which departed Hampton Roads on 1 November and reached Oran on 19 November.


At the start of 1945 she was part of the escort for Convoy UGG-19, which left the Hampton Roads on 6 January and passed Gibraltar on 16 January. On the same day the Nields rejoined the 8th Fleet.

On 30 January the Laub and Nields joined the forces escorting President Roosevelt across the Atlantic on his way to the Malta and Yalta conferences.

On 17 February Champlin and Nields joined the forces escorting President Roosevelt back west through the Mediterranean. They reached Algiers on 18 February then formed an anti-submarines screen as the convoy left Algiers later on the same day. She remained with the force until it had passed through the Straits of Gibraltar, then detached to return to Oran.

From then until 9 April the Nields carried out escort duties in the Mediterranean.

On 9 April she reported to the Senior Officer, Allied Destroyers, Flank Force, to take part in ten days of patrols in the Ligurian Sea (between the Italian Riviera and Corsica). On 11 April she supported a MTB attack on Vada and on 17 April she supported a bombardment of the Bordighera area. On 19 April she was replaced by the Kendrick (DD-612).

She returned to Oran then departed for New York, arriving on 1 May. She then underwent a period of yard availability and repairs on her high pressure turbines which lasted until 3 July, after the end of the war in Europe.

She was then allocated to the Pacific Fleet. After training at Guantanamo Bay she departed for Pearl Harbor on 20 July, arriving on 9 August. She was still at Hawaii when the Japanese surrendered, and on 21 August left for Eniwetok in the Marshalls to take part in the occupation of Japanese held territority. She picked up the escort carrier Lunga Point (CVE-94) at Saipan and escorted her to Okinawa, where she joined Destroyer Squadron 12.

The Nields escorted convoy OKG-7 to the Marianas then returned to Okinawa to join Task Force 53. She was used to support the forces occupying Tokara Gunto and Amami Gunto. On 6 October she inspected the Japanese destroyers Hibiki, Amami and Kunasiri, which proved to be transporting Japanese POWs back home. On 8 October she was anchored off Koniya Hakuchi when a storm blew LST-553 on shore and the Nields lost her anchor. On 10 October she returned to Okinawa, towing a Japanese midget submarine behind her.

On 31 October the Nields and DesRon 12 departed for the US, reaching San Diego on 21 November. She then moved to Charleston where she was decommissioned on 25 March 1946. She was struck off on 15 September 1970 and sold for scrap on 8 May 1971.

Nields earned three battle stars during World War II, for Sicily, the South of France and sinking U-616.

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

15 June 1942


1 October 1942


15 January 1943

Struck off

15 September 1970

Sold for scrap

8 May 1972

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 August 2023), USS Nields (DD-616) ,

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