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Hull Number: DD-228

Launch Date: 09/02/2020

Commissioned Date: 12/30/2020

Decommissioned Date: 11/02/1945

Other Designations: AG-119


Class: CLEMSON

CLEMSON Class


Namesake: JOHN DONALDSON FORD

JOHN DONALDSON FORD

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (Published 1968)

John Donaldson Ford, born 19 May 1840 in Baltimore, Md., entered the Navy as third assistant engineer 30 July 1862. Assigned to the West Gulf Blockading Squadron 1862-65, he participated in engagements on the Mississippi River and the Battle of Mobile Bay. He was attached to the sloop-of-war Sacramento when she was wrecked off the coast of India in June 1867. During the next three decades he held various sea and shore assignments and, while attached to the Maryland Agricultural and Mechanical College 1894-96, he started a course in mechanical engineering. As fleet engineer of the Pacific Station in 1898, he served in Baltimore (C-3) during the Battle of Manila Bay 1 May. For his “eminent and conspicuous conduct in battle” in operations at Cavite, Sangley Point, and Corregidor, he was advanced three numbers. Promoted to Rear Admiral upon retirement 19 May 1902, Ford remained on active duty as Inspector of Machinery and Ordnance at Sparrow’s Point, Baltimore, until December 1908. Rear Admiral Ford died in Baltimore 17 April 1918.


Disposition:

Stricken 11/16/1945. Sold 9/30/1947


A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History

USS JOHN D. FORD DD-228

The Tin Can Sailor, April 2001

Launched on 2 September and commissioned on 30 December 1920, the JOHN D. FORD (DD-228) joined the Asiatic Fleet in August 1922. Operating out of Manila, she cruised from southern China to northern Japan. In June 1924, she protected American lives and interests threatened by civil unrest in Shanghai, China, and in March 1927, covered the evacuation of American and foreign nationals from Nanking. The FORD remained in Chinese waters and following Japanese aggression in northern China in July 1937, she evacuated Americans from Peiping. After war broke out in Europe in September 1939, she began neutrality patrols in the Philippine and South China Seas.

On 10 December 1940, the FORD and POPE (DD-225) were patrolling in the Manila area when the Japanese made their devastating air raid on Manila Bay. The two destroyers sailed southward the same day to join DesRon 29 patrolling the Makassar Strait off Borneo. On 20 January 1942, the Japanese invaded Borneo at Balikpapan. The FORD was one of six destroyers that joined the light cruisers BOISE (CL-47) and MARBLEHEAD (CL-12) to form an ill-fated strike force to confront the enemy. Steaming into the Makassar Strait, the BOISE hit a dagger-sharp rock protrusion and had to turn back. With her went the MARBLEHEAD, which was having engineering problems, and two destroyers to serve as escorts. They left the veteran four-pipers POPE, PARROTT (DD-218), PAUL JONES (DD-230), and FORD to meet a dozen Japanese destroyers, a light cruiser, and several smaller armed vessels.

Around midnight on 24 January, the four destroyers sped toward Balikpapan with its harbor full of Japanese transports. Smoke from oil refineries blown up earlier in a Dutch air attack covered the approach of the destroyers who launched a sweeping torpedo raid against transports anchored off the entrance to Balikpapan Harbor. The destroyers’ first ten torpedoes missed their targets. The fault lay with the torpedoes, not the destroyermen who gamely circled for another run. Alerted to their presence, a squadron of Japanese destroyers steamed out of Balikpapan and into Makassar Strait mistakenly searching for a submarine they believed was attacking the transports. Meanwhile, as the four-stackers ran through the anchorage, their torpedoes finally found targets. Before retiring to Soerabaja from the first U.S. surface action in the Pacific war, they sank four enemy transports and one patrol boat. One of the ships was a victim of the FORD’s torpedoes. The only casualties were four wounded in the FORD.

On 3 February, the enemy began air raids on Soerabaja, and the FORD retired in convoy to Tjilatjap on the southern coast of Java. Two weeks later, the FORD and POPE, with the Dutch cruisers DE RUYTER and JAVA and the destroyer PIET HIEN of the American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) Strike Force steamed to Badoeng Strait to engage an enemy destroyer-transport force. At 2200 on the night of 19-20 February, the Dutch and American destroyers began their torpedo attack. Within minutes, the PIET HIEN was hit and sunk, and the FORD and POPE were engaged in a running torpedo and gun battle with the Japanese destroyers OSHIO and ASASHIO. In the smoke-filled melee, no one registered a hit, and at 2310 the Americans retired from the fray. During the battle, the FORD had jettisoned a motor whaleboat, which provided the means for thirty-three survivors of the PIET HIEN to reach safety.

On 21 February, the FORD and POPE picked up eighteen torpedoes from the BLACK HAWK (AD-9) and steamed to Soerabaja, arriving the 24th to join the dwindling ABDA Strike Force. Shortages of fuel, ammunition, and torpedoes and considerable battle damage had left the Allies in a critical situation. Only four U.S. destroyers remained fully operational.

Late on the 27th, the FORD, JOHN D. EDWARDS (DD-216), PAUL JONES, and ALDEN (DD-211) sortied with an Allied force of five cruisers and five other destroyers to search for the enemy in the Java Sea. At 1600 they were under air attack and as they ran northward in the Java Sea, they came upon a large invasion force of four cruisers and thirteen destroyers. At 1616 the Japanese fired the opening salvoes of a furious seven-hour running battle marked by intermittent gun and torpedo duels. The FORD emerged from the battle undamaged, but in the valiant attempt to prevent the invasion of Java, five Allied ships were sunk. Out of torpedoes and low on ammunition, the FORD and the three American destroyers left Soerabaja for Australia on 28 February. En route, they managed to outrun three enemy destroyers guarding the Bali Strait and reached Freemantle on 4 March.

Convoy escort duty and antisubmarine patrols in the Pacific and Atlantic took the FORD into 1944. While cruising west of the Azores on 16 January, the destroyer helped sink the German submarine U-554, and at Gibraltar on 29 March, she was damaged in a collision with a British tanker but was soon back on convoy duty. Reclassified as miscellaneous auxiliary ship AG-119 in July 1945, the JOHN D. FORD was decommissioned on 2 November 1945 and was sold for scrap in October 1947.

USS JOHN D. FORD DD-228 Ship History

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (Published 1968)

John D. Ford (DD-228) was laid down by William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Co., Philadelphia, Pa., 11 November 1919; launched 2 September 1920, sponsored by Miss F. Faith Ford, daughter of Rear Admiral Ford; and commissioned as Ford 30 December 1920, Lt. (j.g.) L. T. Forbes in temporary command.

After acceptance trials off New England, Ford received Lt. Comdr. C. A. Pownall as commanding officer 16 July 1921. On 17 November, while operating along the eastern seaboard, her name was changed to John D. Ford. After training in the Caribbean, she departed Newport, R.I., 20 June 1922 for permanent duty with the Asiatic Fleet. Sailing via the Mediterranean Sea, the Suez Canal, and the Indian Ocean, she arrived Cavite, Manila Bay, 21 August to begin almost two decades of service in the Far East.

Prior to the outbreak of World War II, John D. Ford operated out of Manila, cruising Asiatic waters from southern China to northern Japan. During April and May 1924, she helped establish temporary air bases on the Japanese Kurile and Hokaido Islands in support of the pioneer, global flight between 9 April and 28 September by the U.S. Air Service. On 6 June she deployed to Shanghai, China, to protect American lives and interests which were threatened by Chinese civil strife. After renewal of the Chinese Civil War in May 1926, she patrolled the Chinese coast to protect convoys from roving bands of bandits. On 24 March 1927 she supported the evacuation of American and foreign nationals, who were fleeing from mob violence at Nanking.

The ascendancy of the reformed Nationalist government under Chiang Kai-Shek in 1928 quieted civil strife. However, Sino-Japanese relations deteriorated, requiring John D. Ford to remain in China. Following Japanese aggression in northern China during July 1937, she evacuated Americans from Peiping as Japanese ships prepared to blockade the Chinese coast. Steaming to Manila 21 November, she operated between the Philippines and southern China on fleet maneuvers. And after war broke out in Europe in September 1939, she increased training off the Philippines and commenced neutrality patrols in the Philippine and South China Seas.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941, John D. Ford readied for action at Cavite as a unit of DesDiv 59. Undamaged by the destructive Japanese air raid on Manila Bay 10 December, she sailed southward the same day to patrol the Sulu Sea and Makassar Strait with Task force 6. She remained in Makassar Strait until 23 December, then she steamed from Balikpapan, Borneo, to Surabaya, Java, arriving the 24th.

As the Japanese pressed southward through the Philippines and into Indonesia, the Allies could hardly hope to contain the enemy’s offensive in the East Indies. With too few ships and practically no air support they strove to harass the enemy, to delay his advance, and to prevent the invasion of Australia. Anxious to strike back at the Japanese, John D. Ford departed Surabaya 11 January 1942 for Kupang, Timor, where she arrived the 18th to join a destroyer striking force. Two days later the force sailed for Balikpapan to conduct a surprise torpedo attack on Japanese shipping. Arriving off Balikpapan during mid watch 24 January, the four destroyers launched a sweeping raid through the Japanese transports while Japanese destroyers steamed about Makassar Strait in search of reported American submarines. For over an hour the four-stackers fired torpedoes and shells at the astonished enemy. Before retiring from the first surface action in the Pacific war, they sank four enemy ships, one a victim of John D. Ford’s torpedoes. The victorious striking force arrived Surabaya 25 January.

The Japanese pincer offensive through the Dutch East Indies continued despite Allied harassment. On 3 February the enemy began air raids on Surabaya, and John D. Ford retired in convoy to Tjilatjap on the southern coast of Java. During mid-February the Japanese tightened their control of islands east and west of Java, and on 18 February they landed troops on Bali, adjacent to the eastern end of the Java. In response John D. Ford, Pope (DD-225), and other American and Dutch ships steamed to Badoeng Strait in two waves to engage an enemy destroyer-transport force during the night of 19-20 February. A unit of the first wave, John D. Ford conducted a running engagement with two Japanese destroyers without results; while the Japanese retired northwards after the second wave, their landings on Bali were successful. Moreover, they sank the Dutch destroyer Piet Hein while suffering extensive damage to only one ship.

Returning to TjilatJap 21 February for fuel, John D. Ford and Pope immediately sailed to Christmas Island to pick up the last reserve of 17 to 18 torpedoes from Black Hawk (AD-9). Then they steamed to Surabaya, arriving the 24th to join the dwindling ABDC Striking Force. Hampered by shortages of fuel, ammunition, and torpedoes and reduced in strength by sinkings, battle damage, and repair needs, the Allies indeed faced a “critical situation.” Only four U.S. destroyers remained operational in the Striking Force.

Late on the 25th, John D. Ford sortied with the Striking Force from Surabaya in search of a large enemy amphibious force in the Java Sea. Returning to port the following day, the force was joined by five British ships; once more the Striking Force steamed to intercept the enemy. Following an unsuccessful strike by enemy planes the morning of the 27th, the Allied force steamed for Surabaya. While steaming through the minefield, the ships reversed course and deployed to meet the enemy off the northern coast of Java.

The Battle of Java Sea commenced at 1616 and continued for over 7 hours. The Allied ships, 5 cruisers and (9 destroyers, engaged the enemy force, 4 cruisers and 13 destroyers, in a furious running battle marked by intermittent gun and torpedo duels. John Ford emerged from the battle undamaged but in the valiant attempt to prevent the invasion of Java, five Allied ships were sunk.

Retiring to Surabaya. John D. Ford and three other destroyers of DesDiv 58 departed after dusk 18 February for Australia. Steaming undetected through the narrows of Bali Strait during midwatch 1 March, the gallant old four-pipers encountered three enemy destroyers guarding the southern end of the strait. Out of torpedoes and low on ammunition, the destroyers outdistanced the Japanese patrol and steamed for Freemantle. Lt. Comdr. J. E. Cooper, who had skippered John D. Ford since before the outbreak of the war, brought her safely to Australia 4 March.

After 2 months of convoy escort duty along the Australian coast, John D. Ford departed Brisbane on 9 May for Pearl Harbor. Arriving 2 June, she sailed in convoy 3 days later for San Francisco and arrived 12 June. She cleared San Francisco for Pearl Harbor 23 June, and during the next 11 months escorted nine convoys between San Francisco and Pearl. Returning to the West Coast 20 May 1943, she departed San Francisco 24 May for convoy and ASW patrols in the Atlantic.

Assigned to the 10th Fleet, John D. Ford transited the Canal 4 June and joined a Trinidad-bound convoy the 8th. For the next 6 months she ranged the North and South Atlantic from New York and Charleston, S.C., to Casablanca, French Morocco, and Recife, Brazil, protecting supply convoys from German U-boats. After ASW training late in December, she joined Guadalcanal (CVE-60) out of Norfolk 5 January 1944 for hunter-killer activities operations in the Atlantic. The versatile destroyer supported the destruction of German submarine U-554, surprised and depth charged while refueling west of the Azores 16 January.

After returning to the East Coast 16 February, John D. Ford cleared Norfolk 14 March for a convoy run to the Mediterranean. While at Gibraltar 29 March, she was damaged in a collision with a British tanker. Following repairs, she returned to Norfolk, arriving 1 May. Departing Norfolk 24 May for convoy duty to the Canal Zone, John D. Ford continued convoy patrols for almost a year from eastern seaboard ports to Recife, ReykJavik, and Casablanca.

From 24 May 1945 to 27 June she acted as escort and plane guard for Boxer (CV-21) during the carrier’s shakedown in the Caribbean, then she returned to Norfolk. She sailed 8 July for Boston Navy Yard where she arrived 9 July for conversion to miscellaneous auxiliary AG-119. After conversion, she returned to Norfolk 9 September and decommissioned 2 November. Subsequently, she was sold for scrap 5 October 1947 to Northern Metal Co., Philadelphia, Pa.

John D. Ford received four battle stars for World War II service.