USS RHIND was the only BENHAM class destroyer to be
constructed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The new destroyer was named
for Rear Admiral Alexander Colden Rhind whose half-century of service
included daring exploits during the Civil War.
DD-404 was laid down on September 22, 1937 and
launched just ten months later. Commissioning ceremonies took place on
November 10, 1939. Following an extensive shakedown and subsequent
repair work, RHIND took up the role of escort for fast carrier and
battleship forces. She was pressed into service in screening President
Franklin D. Roosevelt's cruise aboard USS AUGUSTA (CA-31) to
Newfoundland for meetings with Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great
Britain. The conferences, which led to the Atlantic Charter, created the
agreement which defined America's role in the upcoming war and provided
guidelines for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. She also
protected Churchill's return, via Iceland, aboard HMS PRINCE OF WALES.
In the early months of the war USS RHIND was detailed
to convoy troops and cargo across the North Atlantic on the
"Iceland Run." U-boats already abounded, both on the ocean
routes and on the approaches to America's major cities. In her first
attempt to alleviate the U-boat menace, DD-404 depth charged a submarine
after the underwater raider shelled a Norwegian freighter. The
submarine, probably U-752, escaped unscathed, after devastating coastal
traffic just east of Perth Amboy, New Jersey. The active destroyer was
soon on the track of other submarines, this time operating with the
British Home Fleet in an effort to keep the convoy routes to North
Russia open. Like many of her sisters, she remained on convoy duty until
after the North African invasion in the winter of 1942.
Off the North African invasion beaches, RHIND screened
USS MASSACHUSETTS (BB- 59) and two cruisers as the heavy weights blasted
away at French naval forces on the coast of Morocco. Her accurate fire,
along with that of other destroyers, blocked a potentially disastrous
sortie by Vichy French naval forces which could well have wrecked Allied
plans on the "Dark Continent." The surrender of German and
French forces in the area signaled RHIND's return to the convoy escort
Early convoys to the Allied bridgeheads in North
Africa were no "milk runs" and DD- 404 battled her way across
the Atlantic with convoy UGS-6 in March. The convoy was heavily
defended, with no fewer than seven American destroyers to protect
forty-five heavily laden merchantmen. As the convoy neared the Azores,
it was spotted by U-boats using the area to refuel. A running ambush was
prepared for the unfortunate group, at least four submarines on station
around the embattled convoy at any given time. Five cargo ships were
lost, and DD-404 dodged at least one torpedo during the action, but the
convoy got through, thanks in no small part to the efforts of USS RHIND.
As Allied operations extended to Sicily and the
Italian boot, DD-404 shifted her base to Oran on the North African
coast. Coastal operations were no less hazardous, whether off the coast
of Africa or along the Italian seacoast. In July she was called upon to
aid the heavily damaged MAYRANT (DD-402) while herself evading a German
air raid off Palermo. By August, it was time for the veteran destroyer
to go hunting.
German E-Boats (actually, they were called S-boats by
the German Navy for "Schnellboote") were a major nuisance
along the Italian coast. From hidden bases along the coast, the swift
craft, armed with two torpedo tubes and a variety of automatic weapons,
could easily wreck a cargo vessel or a landing craft. Nightly raids on
the edges of the invasion fleet had to be stopped. USS RHIND and USS
GHERARDI (DD-637) were given the duty.
Nearly seventy-five miles east of the Palermo, the
destroyers encountered two S-Boats just after 2223, protecting a large
landing craft. The strategy of attack was carefully planned.
GHERARDI would sweep close to the coast, while RHIND
would patrol two thousand yards outboard, with the intention of coming
in astern of GHERARDI when targets were engaged. The plan worked
perfectly. GHERARDI wrecked the large landing craft while one of the
torpedo boats disappeared under RHIND's accurate barrage. The second
torpedo boat, after firing a torpedo which the destroyers deftly eluded,
succeeded in making her escape. By mid-1944, RHIND again resumed convoy
duty, both in the Mediterranean and on the Atlantic "run."
By the summer of 1945, the war in Europe was over and
units began shifting to the Pacific for the final thrust against Japan.
The veteran destroyer alternated between screening fast carrier forces
and conveying troop and cargo ships to the embattled islands on the way
to Japan. With the end of hostilities, RHIND was assigned to accept the
surrender of the Japanese garrison on Pagan Island.
Upon her return to the States, DD-404 was stripped in
preparation for her final service, as a target for the atomic bomb tests
at Bikini. She survived both bombs used in the month-long tests, but the
level of contamination was so great that the now-obsolete destroyer
could serve no more with the fleet. USS RHIND was sunk by American
surface units in deep water off Kwajalein on March 22, 1948.
USS RHIND earned four battle stars for her service in
World War II.