USS Stoddard DD-566 History

March 10, 1943 thru July 22, 1997

The Stoddard Name

The USS Stoddard was named for James Stoddard who was born at Port Robinson, C.W. (Canada West), around 1838.  On 21 September 1863, he enlisted in the United States Navy at Detroit, Michigan.  While serving on the Marmora near Yazoo City, Mississippi, he was sent ashore, in the crew of a rifled howitzer mounted on a field carriage, to help repulse a confederate attack on the town.  He and his comrades defended their gun against superior forces, often engaging in hand-to-hand combat.  Stoddard was wounded in the neck during the action, but recovered to receive the award of a medal and a promotion to acting master’s mate, on 14 April 1864, for his courageous stand.


LOGO: A patched up steaming coffeepot surrounded by a ring life preserver (referred to as The Donut). She was called the Steamin Demon.

The name was appropriate as she was the fastest Tin Can in our group, recording 36 knots during speed runs.


Specifications:

  • Displacement:  2,050 Tons

  • Length OA:       376" 5":

  • Breadth:           39' 7"

  • Draft:                17" 9"              

  • Speed:            35.2 Knots

  • Complement:    329

History Summary:

  • Keel Laid - 10 March 1943 

  • Launched - 19 November 1943 

  • Commissioned - 15 April 1944 

  • Decommissioned (Mothballed), Charleston SC - 9 January 1947 

  • Recommissioned (De-Mothballed), Charleston SC - 9 March 1951 

  • Decommissioned Mare Island, CA -26 September 1969

  • Struck From Navel Vessel Registry - 1 June 1975

  • Target Ship And Tomahawk Project - 30 June 1976 - 1983 

  • Phalanx Development Project - November 1983 - March 1991 

  • Disposed of by Sinking off of Hawaii - 22 July 1997


World War II

Stoddard (DD-566) was laid down at Seattle, Wash., by the Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corp. on 10 March 1944, Launched on 19 November 1944, sponsored by Mrs. Mildred Gould Holcomb; and commissioned on 15 April 1945, Comdr. Horace Meyers in command.            

Following shakedown training out of San Diego and availability at Seattle, Stoddard screened a convoy to Pearl Harbor, departing the West Coast on 16 July and reaching Hawaii on the 29th. She entered another brief availability period at Pearl Harbor, then headed north. On 8 August, she arrived in Adak, Alaska, and joined Task Force (TF) 94, made up of Trenton (C-11), Concord. (C-10), Richmond (CL-9), and the destroyers of Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 57.

The mission of TF 94 was to harass Japanese outposts in the Kuril Islands, located to the northeast of Japan proper and west of the Aleutian Islands. On 14 August, Stoddard sailed with the task force to make her first offensive sweep of those forward enemy positions. Poor weather conditions forced the ships to abandon the mission. Task Force 94 was re-designated TF 92 between that first abortive mission and the second one, begun on 26 August. Foul weather again foiled the American attack, and the task force put into Attu. The storms were so bad and came so often that TF 92 did not pull off a raid until late November.   During the evening hours of 21 November, the cruisers and destroyers pounded the Japanese installations at Matsuwa, damaging the airfields and other installations heavily. Heavy winds and seas slowed TF 92's retirement to nine knots, but at the same time stopped enemy air pursuit. The warships returned safely to Attu on the 25th.

From Adak, DesDiv 113, including Stoddard, was routed to the submarine base at Dutch Harbor. After spending the first two weeks in December at Dutch Harbor, the destroyers put to sea on the 13th and rejoined TF 92. On 3 January 1945, the task force embarked upon another sweep of Japan's Kuril defenses. Two days later, under the cover of snow squalls but with calm seas, the task force bombarded the Surabachi Wan area of Paramushiro, severely damaging canning installations and airfields. TF 92 retired to Attu at high speed and returned to Dutch Harbor on the 13th for a ten-day recreation period.

On 16 January, Stoddard and Rowe (DD-564) headed south for operational training in the Hawaiian Islands. They arrived at Pearl Harbor on the 22d and departed on 7 February to return to Attu. They reached Massacre Bay on 13 February, just in time to join the group headed for the bombardment of Kuabu Zaki. The ships put to sea on 16 February and arrived off Paramushiro just after sunset on the 18th. They bombarded the island until midnight and then retired to Attu, where they arrived on the 20th. Three days later, they shifted to Adak for supplies and repairs. They returned to Attu on 8 March. On 15 March, they hit Matsuwa again. From 1 to 17 April, Stoddard joined the task force in exercises in the vicinity of Adak. On the 18th, she and the rest of DesDiv 13 bade farewell to the cold winds and waters of the Aleutians chain.                                                   

Stoddard entered Pearl Harbor for the third time on 24 April. For almost a month, her crew enjoyed recreation in the islands and conducted operational training in preparation for assignment to Okinawa and the Fast Carrier Task Force. Stoddard sailed from Pearl Harbor on 11 May, in the screen of Ticonderoga (CV 14), bound for Ulithi. Along the way, Ticonderoga's air group got in a little live ammunition practice on 17 May, when they struck the Japanese forces isolated on Taroa and the other islets of Maloelap Atoll. The task group reached the lagoon at Ulithi on 22 May. A week later, Stoddard departed the atoll to take up station off Okinawa.

On 2 June, she arrived off Okinawa and took up radar picket station. Though the Okinawa campaign was rapidly nearing its conclusion, the proximity of airfields in Japan and on Formosa allowed enemy air power to continue to make life unpleasant for the ships around the island. True, the deluge of kamikazes had abated, but the skies continued to shower significant numbers of suicide planes. Stoddard covered the withdrawal of several cargo ships on 4 June during a typhoon-evasion maneuver; then returned to her station. At sunset on 7 June, two planes attacked, but both were sent hurtling into the sea before they could reach the ships. During her tour of duty on the picket line, Stoddard claimed two Japanese planes for herself, two assists, and one probable kill.

She cleared Okinawa on 17 June in the screen of Mississippi (BB-41). Three days later, she passed through Surigao Strait into Leyte Gulf. For the remainder of the month, she underwent repairs and took on provisions at San Pedro Bay. She put to sea again on 1 July, this time in the screen of TF 38, the Fast Carrier Task Force. For the next 45 days, she guarded the carriers as their planes made repeated strikes on the Japanese home islands. Stoddard was detached once during that period of time, on 23 July to join DesDiv 113 in a bombardment of Chi Chi Jima in the Bonins. After the cessation of hostilities on 15 August, she continued to cruise the waters near Japan with TF 38 to cover the occupation forces she cleared Japanese waters from 21 September until 7 October while she underwent availability at Eniwetok, then returned for training exercises until November. 

On 18 November, she departed Japan for the United States. She transited the Panama Canal a month later and arrived at Philadelphia two days before Christmas, Stoddard went through a yard overhaul until late March, then ferried personnel to Charleston, S.C., in April. She began inactivation overhaul at Charleston on 8 July and was placed out of commission in January of 1947.

Korean War

Stoddard remained inactive berthed with the Charleston Group of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, until November 1950 when she was reactivated. She fitted out at Charleston and Newport, RI, and then conducted shakedown cruises at Newport and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  The Navy then sent Stoddard along with several other ships to Boston, during the fall of 1951 and winter of 1952 for overhaul and modernization to outfit the ship for battle in the jet age. One of its 5 inch mounts (No. 3) and all of the 20 and 40 mm mounts were removed along with the forward torpedo rack. Most of the steel structure in the 01 level amidships and aft was removed and replaced with aluminum to decrease top weight. The removed guns were replaced with radar controlled 3 inch 50's. Hedge Hogs were installed behind #2, 5 inch gun mount.  The Stoddard then steamed back to Guantanamo for shakedown and more training. Initial training was on the newly installed weapons.

By the end of March, the Stoddard returned to its home port at Newport, RJ where it released the reservists and took on provisions for a six month cruise to the Mediterranean Sea with the Sixth Fleet. The Stoddard operated in the Mediterranean Sea on two occasions in 1952 and 1953 between the months of April and September. This alternating semi-annual duty with another Task Force maintained a strong naval presence in the area and was a factor in limiting the expansion of communism by the Soviet Union, stifling the aggressiveness of the Red Brigade in Italy and supporting the non-alignment of Marshall Tito's communistic Yugoslavia with the Soviets. As a gesture of the established friendly relationship between the USA and Yugoslavia at that time, the Stoddard steaming with the Coral Sea and a small flotilla of ships docked at the port of Split after demonstrating air and surface power to this nation's leader. Marshall Tito and his advisors observed the History of the USS Stoddard DD-566 grand showing from an observation point on board the carrier. He was so impressed that the crew was entertained by hosts in the city.

Although the Stoddard did not see battle with the enemy during the Korean War, it was in the presence of peril. On the night of April 26, 1952, the Stoddard and Braine or Mullany were relieved by the Rodman and Hobson in the mid-Atlantic on plane guard detail for the aircraft carrier Wasp conducting night flight operations under blackout conditions. A shift in the wind caused the Wasp to make a necessary change of course, turning into the wind to bring her planes aboard. Somehow, without any apparent awareness of the turn, the Hobson, with 236 crew members aboard, steamed straight ahead. At 10:38 pm with both ships making speed of 25 knots, the Wasp cut the Hobson in half as it followed a course crossing the Wasp's bow. One hundred and seventy-five (175) crew members perished as the two halves of the Hobson sank within four (4) minutes of the collision.

Stoddard alternated deployments with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea with overhauls at Philadelphia and operations along the Atlantic seaboard of the United States until December of 1954.  Destroyer Squadron 21 transferred its home port from Newport, Rhode Island to San Diego, California so Stoddard transited the Panama Canal and joined the Pacific Fleet.

January 1955, she embarked upon her first deployment to the western Pacific since World War II.  Soon after her arrival, she participated in the evacuation of Chinese Nationalists from the Tachen Islands. Following that operation, she served on the Taiwan Strait patrol.

The 1956 cruise took Stoddard to Pearl Harbor, Okinawa, Kaohsiung, Formosa (now Taiwan), Subic Bay, Hong Kong, Robert Island (Parcel Islands) which was reported as being invaded by the Chinese.  The report from the French Legion located on an adjacent island.

The report caused a lot of excitement but nothing was found.  Sasebo and Yokosuka, Japan were also stops during the cruise. 

 

In 1957, the Stoddard steamed to Westpac stopping at Pearl Harbor then on to Pago Pago.  The Stoddard then crossed the equator heading for Australia with stops in Sidney, Perth and Darwin, then on to Subic Bay for much needed repairs.  There were stops in Kaohsiung, Hong Kong and Okinawa; then on to sea patrol where the Stoddard spent many long days at sea near Quemoy and Matsu, islands off the coast of China.  The Stoddard steamed to Yokosuka, Sasebo, Midway and Pearl Harbor on its way back to San Diego.

In 1958, the Stoddard Westpac Cruise included a stop in Australia.  During the cruise Stoddard participated in the evacuation of Quemoy and Matsu, islands off the Chinese claimed by both Communist China and Nationalist China.  The Stoddard earned the National Defense Ribbon for this action.

 

Cold War Years

In 1959, the Stoddard was part of task force designated as an Anti-Submarine (ASW) group.  This cruise included stops in Okinawa, Yokosuka, Japan Subic Bay, Hong Kong, and Kaohsiung. The US had an agreement with Nationalist China to defend against an invasion from Communist China and as part of the agreement the US navy maintained ships on patrol off the Chinese coast. 

In 1960, the Stoddard left Pearl Harbor enroute to West Pac and had to stop to rescue several young men adrift in a small outboard motor boat.  One of the young men rescued was the son of the mayor of Honolulu.  One more interesting event occurred as a freighter loaded with manganese ore was sinking off the northern tip of Luzon, Philippines, and the crew was taken aboard and taken to Manila Bay. 

In 1961, the Stoddard went to Long Beach Shipyard for overhaul and modifications. 

The 1961 Westpac Cruise brought her to the Southeast Asia area during the Laotian crisis, where she would soon concentrate all her efforts.

In 1962, the Stoddard headed back for West Pac no longer designed as Anti-Submarine (ASW) group.  The situation in Southeast Asia had changed as Vietnam was now becoming a hot spot.  During the cruise Stoddard and carrier Lexington steamed from coast of Vietnam to Gulf of Siam.  The purpose was to evacuate embassy employees and civilians from the US Embassy in Laos.  The evacuees were delivered to Manila on board the Lexington.  Stoddard was awarded the National Defense Ribbon for the action off a Laos. The Stoddard also escorted a convoy of Marines from Camp Pendleton to the Panama Canal for the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In 1963-1964, the Stoddard departed San Diego and performed extensive exercises in conjunction with the units of Flotilla Nine for its various missions in Wes Pac.  Stoddard made stops in Hawaii, Sasabo, Kaohsiung, before patrolling the Straits of Taiwan.  Stoddard steamed to Hong Kong then on to Yokosuka.

Vietnam War

On 4 June 1965, Stoddard departed from San Diego to begin her annual tour of duty in Asian waters; but this deployment was different. By mid-June, she was operating along the coast of Vietnam, principally in the Danang area, giving gunfire support to American and South Vietnamese troops operating ashore against the forces of the Viet Cong insurgents and their allies the North Vietnamese regulars. After upkeep in Japan and a rest and relaxation period in Hong Kong, the destroyer joined Independence (CVA-61) on Yankee Station to serve as plane guard for the pilots flying missions inland and as screening unit for the carrier herself. By early November, she was back in Japan, preparing to return to America. She departed Sasebo on the 5th and reached San Diego on the 24th.  Stoddard spent the next twelve months operating with the 1st Fleet in the waters off the western coast of the United States. Her primary mission was to maintain operational readiness through training, which ran the gamut from antisubmarine warfare exercises to bombardment drills.

On 5 November 1966, the destroyer stood out of San Diego for Pearl Harbor and the western Pacific. She spent two days, 10 and 11 November, in port at Pearl Harbor before continuing on to Japan. She reached Yokosuka on 20 November and remained there until the 26th, when she got underway for Subic Bay in the Philippines.  Like the previous one, this deployment was given over entirely to naval support for the American and South Vietnamese forces struggling against Viet Cong and North Vietnamese communists. Stoddard did three tours of duty off Vietnam during this deployment. The first lasted from 2 December 1966 to 4 January 1967 and consisted entirely of plane guard duty with Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) in the Gulf of Tonkin. After repairs and upkeep at Subic Bay, Stoddard returned to Yankee Station on 17 January. For almost a month, she cruised on Tet Holiday patrol and participated in Operation "Sea Dragon," the interdiction of enemy waterborne and coastal logistics operations. During that month, she sank 26 small waterborne logistics craft and dueled with shore batteries a number of times.  On 16 February, she returned to Subic Bay for upkeep and, after four days, got underway for a rest and relaxation period at Hong Kong. The destroyer returned to Yankee Station on 3 March for her third and final line period of this deployment. Following five days of plane-guard duty for Kitty Hawk, Stoddard resumed "Sea Dragon" operations. This line period brought about a change in the focus of Operation "Sea Dragon." Not only did it become more important to the war effort, but also a subtle shift in target emphasis required an ever-increasing amount of shore bombardment and counterbattery fire. Stoddard destroyed radar installations and ammunition dumps, pounded staging areas, and silenced shore batteries. The latter however, scored some minor success on 17 March, when Stoddard assisted in the rescue of a downed American near the mouth of the Song Giap River. She came under intense fire from a battery ashore and sustained one direct hit. She spent the last five days of this line period plane-guarding for Hancock (CVA-19).

After stopping at Sasebo and Yokosuka, Stoddard got underway on 20 April to return to the United States. Heading via Midway Island and Pearl Harbor she arrived at San Diego on 5 May. She spent the remainder of May and the month of June training Naval Academy midshipmen; then resumed local operations until 22 September, when she entered Long Beach Naval Shipyard for overhaul. She completed overhaul on 19 December and returned to local operations out of San Diego on the following day.

On 10 June 1968 Stoddard joined USS Richmond K. Turner (DLG 20) and USS Ingersoll (DD-652) for her last Westpac Cruise.  She arrived at Hawaii on 16 June.  After fuel stops at Midway and Guam Islands she arrived at Subic Bay in the Philippines on 3 July.

Stoddard plane guarded for the carrier USS America (CVA66) in the Gulf of Tonkin and provided gunfire support for troops ashore in the vicinity of Hue, RVN.  After stops in Kaosiung, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Sasebo, Japan, Stoddard returned home on 7 December 1968.

Stoddard served the Navy actively until September 1969.  She operated with the 1st Fleet along the West Coast during the remainder. In September 1969, she was decommissioned and placed in the Pacific Reserve Fleet at Mare Island, California.  Stoddard was struck from the Navel Vessel Registry on 1 June 1975.  Stoddard was the last Fletcher class destroyer to be struck from the Navel Vessel Register.

Stoddard earned three battle stars for World War II and three battle stars for the Vietnam War.

Weapons Test

On 30 June 1976, Ex USS Stoddard was transferred from the inactive ship facility, Mare Island, California to the Pacific Missile Test Center at Point Mugu.  The required equipment removals were accomplished, and the ship was modified to perform a new service.  During the next few years she served as a target in various weapons test programs, including the Tomahawk Project.  Having survived this first group of test assignments, Stoddard was given a new challenge.

Even though her flag may have been lowered for the last time and her boilers are silent, the Ex-Stoddard has continued to serve in the tradition of her proud heritage.

A new crew of test engineers, technicians, cameramen, and weapons experts has replaced the many Navy crews, which served the Stoddard.  At watch on the helm is a remote control system and outboard motors propel the ship at less than exhilarating speed, but the Ex Stoddard has continued to go in harms way, facing threats that were not even conceived of when she slipped down the waves for the first time.  She has weathered the onslaught of tactical missiles in a manner that surely makes the ghosts of her past crews proud.  No longer able to maneuver or speed to safe haven, she has stood and waited as a small white domed object has stood watch on her rear deck.  That object that General Dynamics lovingly calls R2D2, and the Navy calls Phalanx, has made many cruises on board the Ex Stoddard. 

In November of 1983, a block O Phalanx went aboard the Ex Stoddard for the first time to prove that it would in fact negate the threat of real tactical missile targets and not just lab-contrived test targets.  In November 1984, after a summer of facing a vast array of tactical targets, the Ex Stoddard proudly returned to Port Hueneme, intact to await her next trial.

In June of 1985, the Ex Stoddard again set sail, this time with a block I baseline O Phalanx to protect her.  After facing supersonic diving targets, she again returned to Port Hueneme, unscathed, in September of 1985.

Still ready to answer the call, Ex Stoddard again headed for the open sea in October of 1987, this time sporting a block I baseline Phalanx on her fantail.  Again the Stoddard Phalanx Team faced skimming and diving tactical targets and the supersonic vandal diving and sea-skimming target.  After six months of this war-like punishment, the team proudly returned to port with barely a scratch. 

Never willing to surrender, the Ex Stoddard again braved the elements and man in the winter of 1989-1990 to prove herself once more.  With a block I baseline 1 Phalanx on board, she again headed for the test range and unknown threats.  With a new special software program and a new kitchen and quarters aboard, this proud ship was again positioned in harms way.  After the smoke cleared and the last missile was expended, the Stoddard Phalanx Team again returned to port after a job well done.

During the testing outlined above, the Ex USS Stoddard was subjected to attack by no less than forty-three targets, from subsonic BQM drones to supersonic vandals.  She also faced the best and newest tactical targets in today’s missile arsenal.  The knowledge and experience gained from these tests would not have been possible without the help of this fine ship.

Final Fate

The Ex USS Stoddard was towed by the USS Salvor to an assigned position near the island of Kauai, Hawaii.  Seal Team One installed the charges, which sank her.  The general location is 64NM NNW of the island of Kauai, Hawaii in the Barking Sands Missile Range. 

  • Location of Sinking: 22° 47' 39.2"N,  160° 36" 41.0"W

  • Time and Date of Sinking: 17:17 Hawaii-Aleutian time =zone   22 July 97

  • Depth: 2.550 Fathoms

 

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