USS HOWARD DD-179 Ship History
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, February 2016
Howard (Destroyer No. 179) was launched by Union Iron Works, San Francisco, Calif., 26 April 1919; sponsored by Marion Filmer, and commissioned 29 January 1920 at Mare Island, Calif., Comdr. L. M. Stewart in command.
Howard departed San Francisco 1 March 1920 to join the Pacific Destroyer Force at San Diego. After initial tactical maneuvers and gunnery training, she departed San Diego 3 May for Topolobampo, Mexico, where she was vitally needed to protect American interests. She rejoined her destroyer flotilla 17 May to participate in intensive and prolonged operations in the San Diego area, including torpedo practice, patrol, battle practices and exercises with submarines. Howard decommissioned 27 May 1922.
Becommissioned 29 August 1940, Howard was converted to a minesweeper and reclassified DMS-7. She sailed from San Diego in mid October, arrived at Norfolk on the 29th and proceeded 19 November for duty in the Caribbean. She remained there until 17 May 1941 conducting mine-sweeping assignments and patrol duty enforcing the Neutrality Act. Howard returned to Norfolk 19 May and participated in exercises along the Chesapeake Bay until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941 plunged the United States into the war.
Howard was underway 8 December on escort duty, and in the months that followed, convoyed transports and tankers in the Caribbean and western Atlantic, keeping supply lanes open despite German U-boats. Plans called for an invasion of North Africa in 1942, a massive and hazardous amphibious operation projected across thousands of miles of ocean. In October, Howard joined Admiral Hewitt’s Western Naval Task Force at Norfolk. She sailed 24 October and screened flagship Augusta during the Atlantic crossing. As troops landed 8 Novembershe performed both minesweeping and screening duties. During the first phase of the Naval Battle of Casablanca that day Howard screened Augusta as the cruiser engaged shore batteries and dueled French battleship Jean Bart. The destroyer then remained off Casablanca and Safl while the American soldiers consolidated their beachheads and moored with victorious naval units at Casablanca 16 November 1942. After performing antisubmarine patrol duties she returned to Norfolk 29 December.
During most of 1943, Howard plied the convoy lanes of the Atlantic and Caribbean protecting Allied ships from submarine and air attack. She steamed to the West Indies, Panama, Newfoundland, and Iceland on this duty, a key part of which was protecting the oil tankers so vital to the conduct of the war.
As the tempo of operations against Japan increased, Howard was transferred to the western Pacific theater, sailing from Norfolk 21 November 1943, and arriving San Diego 7 December. After repairs and training, the ship sailed 25 March, escorting ships to Pearl Harbor and Majuro. She screened a returning convoy to Pearl Harbor, arriving 24 April, and there began preparations for the gigantic invasion of the Marianas. Joining Adm. “Kelly” Turner’s hard-fighting amphibious task force, Howard sortied 29 May and arrived off Saipan via Eniwetok 13 June. The ship swept minefields during the day and conducted patrol and harassing fire by night until the landings 15 June. Howard then was assigned to screen transports, and made two shuttle voyages to Eniwetok and back to the Marianas before returning to Pearl Harbor 10 August 1944. In capturing the Marianas, the Navy had taken a long stride toward Japan and, as a bonus, had wiped out enemy naval air strength while smashing the Japanese Navy’s attempt to defend the strategic island group.
Howard’s next operation was the long-awaited invasion of the Philippines, slated for October on the island of Leyte. Following training in the Hawaiian Islands she arrived Eniwetok 24 September, and steamed to Leyte Gulf 17 October. Once more she carried out dangerous minesweeping duties, clearing paths in Surigao Strait and Leyte Gulf, despite heavy weather. Her task completed, she departed 24 October for Manus with the invasion underway and during the first phase of the giant fleet battle for Leyte Gulf, which ended in a decisive victory for the U.S. Navy.
Training operations in the Admiralties occupied the ship for the next 2 months, but she sailed again from Manus 23 December to take part in the next phase of the Philippines operation, the invasion of Luzon. She rendezvoused at Leyte Gulf 30 December and departed in convoy for Lingayen Gulf, 2 January 1945. During this voyage through the Philippines, the Japanese made desperate suicide attacks, with Howard splashing one attacker and assisting in destroying many others. Unchecked, the invasion force drove on to the goal, arriving 6 January. The minesweepers began their work under almost constant air attack; and, by the time troops landed 9 January, three of Howard’s sister ships had been lost. But the assault could not be blocked and proved another of a long series of outstanding amphibious victories, success assured. The veteran minecraft departed to arrive Leyte Gulf 15 January 1945, and Ulithi 5 February.
As the American amphibious sweep surged ever closer to Japan, Howard sailed from Tinian 13 February with the invasion force for Iwo Jima. Assuming her customary role in advance of the landings, she commenced exploratory sweeps off the island 16 February, fighting off numerous air attacks. After the assault 19 February the ship acted as a screening ship, arriving Saipan 2 March. Following another period of screening duty off Iwo Jima later in March, Howard arrived Pearl Harbor via Guam 4 April 1945.
Newer ships now took the 25-year-old veteran’s duty on the front lines. Reclassified AG-106, 5 June 1945, she escorted submarines in Hawaiian waters and acted as plane guard for carrier operations before sailing for the United States 2 October. Transiting the Panama Canal, Howard arrived Philadelphia 2 November and decommissioned 30 November 1945. In 1946 Howard was sold to Northern Metals Co., Philadelphia, Pa., and scrapped.
Howard received six battle stars for World War II service.