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 A Tin Can Sailors
Destroyer History

USS JOHN HOOD
(DD-655)

A survivor of shipwrecks and the Spanish-American and Russo-Japanese Wars, as well as  revolutions in Haiti and Central America, RADM John Hood commanded seven U.S. warships. Launched during World War II, the destroyer bearing his name had an equally distinguished career. The JOHN HOOD (DD‑655) was a FLETCHER-class destroyer. She was laid down on 12 October 1942 by the Gulf Shipbuilding Corp., Chickasaw, Alabama, and was launched 25 October 1943. The HOOD was commissioned 7 June 1944, with CDR Thomas J. Thornhill in command.

Following her shakedown in the Caribbean, the new destroyer headed for the Pacific on 21 August 1944, arriving at Mare Island on 6 September. She set out almost immediately for the Aleutian Islands and duty with the U.S. forces in the North Pacific and arrived at Adak, Alaska, on 18 September. The HOOD joined DesRon 57 operating with Rear Admiral J. L. McCrea=s Task Force 92.  She served out the rest of the war patrolling the stormy waters of the North Pacific. Her primary offensive mission was to harass and threaten enemy outposts in the Kurile Islands, more than 600 miles west of Attu, the most westerly of the Aleutian Islands. Operating well beyond the range of friendly air cover, the task force made nine sorties against the Kuriles and five offensive sweeps in the Sea of Okhotsk. Throughout, the ships were hampered by bad weather. Undaunted, the JOHN HOOD was the only ship of the task force that participated in every sortie until the war=s end. 

In November she engaged in the bombardment of the Japanese base on Matasuwa, causing considerable damage to the installation. She continued sorties and patrol operations in the Kuriles through the winter and spring of 1945. While patrolling in the Sea of Okhotsk on 25 June 1945, the HOOD came upon an enemy convoy carrying reinforcements to the badly battered Japanese garrisons. The destroyer assisted in sinking one cargo ship and is believed to have sunk another. On 11 August her task group conducted one of the final naval operations of the war by destroying another enemy convoy.

With the end hostilities, she steamed to Adak to prepare for occupation duties. The HOOD left Adak on 31 August with a large force headed for Northern Japan. The battle-tested destroyer remained in Northern Japanese waters with the occupation forces until 18 November when she got underway for home. She arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, on 22 December and remained there until she was decommissioned on 3 July 1946 to enter the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.

The HOOD was recommissioned on 3 August 1951, with CDR S. P. Gantz at the helm, and immediately underwent major modifications that prepared her for modern fleet operations. Her modernization complete, she left Norfolk on 29 June 1952 for an around‑the-world cruise that included peace‑keeping patrols with the Seventhth Fleet off the coast of Korea. She returned to Norfolk on 6 February 1954 for repairs and coastal training operations before sailing on 5 November 1955 for Mediterranean duty with the Sixth Fleet during which she weathered a storm. Upon returning to Norfolk 26 February 1956, the destroyer underwent a yard period for repairs  to her storm-damaged mast. She then got underway for a midshipmen training cruise that  summer. During the tense Suez crisis in the fall, she sailed to Lisbon with Task Force 26 to stand by for action if needed. By December she was steaming home through the Virginia Capes. 

The year 1957 saw the HOOD in training exercises along the Atlantic coast followed by another Sixth Fleet cruise to patrol the turbulent Middle Eastern waters. Early in 1958, she began  training cruises, then operated with the fleet sonar school and engaged in ASW exercises before being transferred to the reserve destroyer squadron at New York on 1 October 1959. She continued training reservists until 1 August 1961, when President Kennedy ordered a callup of reservists when the construction of the Berlin Wall caused a major Cold War crisis. The strong American, English, and French response to the communist challenge prevented a major conflict. As tensions eased, the HOOD resumed her duties as a reserve-training destroyer in New York in August 1962.

The warship was decommissioned in June 1964, remaining in reserve until stricken from the navy=s list on 1 December 1974. She was sold for scrap to Luria Bros. & Company of Cleveland, Ohio, on 12 April 1976 and removed from navy custody by the end of that month. The JOHN HOOD received one battle star for her World War II service.

 

From The Tin Can Sailor, July 2011


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