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Hull Number: DD-409

Launch Date: 04/08/1939

Commissioned Date: 08/01/1939


Class: SIMS

SIMS Class

Data for USS Hughes (DD-410) as of 1945


Length Overall: 348' 4"

Beam: 36' 0

Draft: 13' 4"

Standard Displacement: 1,570 tons

Full Load Displacement: 2,465 tons

Fuel capacity: 2,929 barrels

Armament:

Four 5″/38 caliber guns
Two 40mm twin anti-aircraft mounts
Two 21″ quadruple torpedo tubes

Complement:

16 Officers
235 Enlisted

Propulsion:

3 Boilers
2 Westinghouse Turbines: 50,000 horsepower

Highest speed on trials: 38.7 knots

Namesake: WILLIAM S. SIMS

WILLIAM S. SIMS

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, September 2015

William S. Sims, born in 1858 in Ontario, Canada, was appointed to the Naval Academy in 1876 and graduated in 1880. Seventeen years of sea duty were followed by assignments as Naval Attache to Paris, St. Petersburg, and Madrid. Sims next served as Inspector of Target Practice; and, under his supervision, the naval gunnery system increased the rapidity of hits 100 percent and the general effectiveness of fire 500 percent. He also served as Naval Aide to President Theodore Roosevelt for two and one-half years.

On 11 February 1917, Sims became President of the Naval War College. In March 1917, he was designated by the Secretary of the Navy as Representative of the Navy Department in London. With the entry of the United States into World War I in April, he was ordered to assume command of all American destroyers, tenders, and auxiliaries operating from British bases. In May, he was designated as Commander of United States Destroyers Operating from British Bases, with the rank of Vice Admiral; and, in June, his title was changed to Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters. On 10 December 1917, he assumed additional duty as Naval Attache, London, England. The North Sea Mine Barrage was laid under his direction.

Admiral Sims again became President of the Naval War College in April 1919 and served in that capacity until his retirement on 15 October 1922. He died at Boston, Mass., on 25 September 1936.


Disposition:

Sunk 05/07/1942, by Japanese Dive Bombers in Battle of the Coral Sea at 15 deg 10 min S., 158 deg 05 min E.


A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History

USS SIMS DD-409

The Tin Can Sailor, April 2000

William S. Sims was an aide to President Theodore Roosevelt, president of the Naval War College, and overall commander of American destroyers and later all U.S. naval forces in European waters during World War I.

The first destroyer to bear his name was DD-409, launched on 8 April 1939 and commissioned on 1 August 1939. Her first duty was with Destroyer Squadron Two on Neutrality Patrol in the Caribbean and South Atlantic. November and December 1940 found her patrolling the waters off Martinique. By the following spring, however, she was operating out of Newport, Rhode Island, and then, in the summer, went on to Iceland with an American task force. She was at sea in the North Atlantic on two lengthy patrols that carried her through October 1941. In early November 1941, she and the MORRIS (DD-417), HUGHES (DD-410), MUSTIN (DD-413), HAMMANN (DD- 412), RUSSELL (DD-414), WALKE (DD-416), O=BRIEN (DD-415), and ANDERSON (DD-411) escorted Convoy WS-124, an all-American-ship convoy transporting British Commonwealth troops from Great Britain to Nova Scotia, the first leg of a major troop movement destined ultimately for Basra in the Near East.

Following Pearl Harbor, her mission changed. She and the HUGHES, RUSSELL, and WALKE of Destroyer Squadron Two joined the carrier YORKTOWN (CV-5) and Task Force 17 bound for San Diego. There, they picked up a convoy carrying marines to Samoa. Subsequently, Task Force 17 joined the ENTERPRISE Task Force 8 and its destroyer escort including the BALCH (DD-363), MAURY (DD-401), FANNING (DD-385), RALPH TALBOT (DD-390), GRIDLEY (DD-380), McCALL (DD-400), DUNLAP (DD-384), and BLUE (DD-387) and continued on to strike Japanese bases in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands. The YORKTOWN, with the SIMS in her screen, left Samoa on 25 January 1942. At 1114 on the 28th, the destroyer was under attack. The enemy’s four bombs fell harmlessly, however, straddling the destroyer’s wake 1,500 yards astern.

Task Force 17 was off the north coast of New Guinea in early March to halt Japanese incursions on that island with a carrier strike on 10 March. The SIMS remained near Rossel Island in the Louisiades with a force that included the cruisers ASTORIA, AUSTRALIA, CHESTER, CHICAGO, HOBART, MINNEAPOLIS, NEW ORLEANS, and PORTLAND and the destroyers MORRIS, ANDERSON, HAMMANN, RUSSELL, WALKE, PERKINS (DD-377), PHELPS (DD-360), DEWEY (DD-349), AYLWIN (DD-355), FARRAGUT (DD-348), MONAGHAN (DD-354), and WORDEN (DD-352) to protect the carriers YORKTOWN and LEXINGTON (CV-2) from enemy surface ships. She then moved on to operate in the New Caledonia-Tonga Islands area.

By early May 1942, the Coral Sea was the target of a major Japanese offensive consisting of one task force to cover troops landing on Tulagi and Port Moresby and a second task force, led by the carriers SHOKAKU and ZUIKAKU, to strike at Allied shipping in the area. In the Coral Sea for refueling were Task Force 17, made up of the YORKTOWN, SIMS, MORRIS, HAMMANN, ANDERSON, WALKE, and PERKINS; and Task Force 11, with the LEXINGTON, PHELPS, DEWEY, AYLWIN, FARRAGUT, and MONAGHAN. With confrontation imminent, the two task forces were combined and on 6 May, the SIMS was ordered to escort the oiler NEOSHO (AO-23) out of the area as the rest of the task force headed for Tulagi. The SIMS and the oiler continued to the next fueling point. On the morning of 7 May, a Japanese search plane mistakenly identified the two ships as a carrier and a cruiser and brought down an all-out attack on the American vessels.

Fifteen high level enemy bombers appeared in the skies over the two ships at 0930, but their bombs did no damage. A little over an hour later, ten more bombers attacked the SIMS, but her captain’s skillful maneuvering evaded the nine bombs that were dropped. Soon after came a third devastating attack by thirty-six dive bombers. The NEOSHO was soon a blazing wreck after seven direct hits and a plane that crashed into her.

Attacked from all directions, the SIMS’s gunners put up a good defense but could not prevent three 500-pound bombs from getting through. Two exploded in the engine room and within minutes, the ship buckled amidships and began to sink, stern first. As she slid beneath the waves, a tremendous explosion raised what was left of the ship almost fifteen feet out of the water. Chief R. J. Dicken, in a damaged whaleboat, picked up other survivors. They remained with the NEOSHO, and the smoking hulk eventually drew the destroyer HENLEY (DD-391) to her on 11 May. The HENLEY picked up fourteen men from the SIMS and 109 from the tanker.

USS SIMS DD-409 Ship History

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, September 2015

The first Sims (DD-409) was laid down on 15 July 1937 by Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, Maine; launched on 8 April 1939; sponsored by Mrs. William S. Sims; and commissioned on 1 August 1939, Lt. Comdr. W. A. Griswold in command.

After shakedown training in the Caribbean and post-shakedown availability in the Boston Navy Yard, Sims joined the Atlantic Squadron at Norfolk on 2 August 1940. The destroyer operated with the Neutrality Patrol in Caribbean and South Atlantic waters. In November and December 1940, Sims patrolled off Martinque. On 28 May 1941, the ship arrived at Newport, R.I., and began operating from there. She sailed for Iceland on 28 July with an American task force. In August, the destroyer patrolled the approaches to Iceland. In September and October, the ship made two lengthy North Atlantic patrols. Sims had been attached to Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 2 since she began making Neutrality Patrols.

With the outbreak of war on 7 December, DesRon 2 became part of a task force (Task Force 17) formed around Yorktown (CV-5). The task force sortied from Norfolk on 16 December 1941 for San Diego. From there, it sailed as part of a convoy taking Marines to Samoa, arriving on 23 January 1942.

At the time, it was believed that the Japanese would attack Samoa to sever Allied communications with Australia. To thwart such a move, a carrier raid against Japanese bases in the Marshall Islands was planned. The Yorktown task force was to strike the islands of Mili, Jaluit, and Makin, while another force centered around Enterprise (CV-6) was to hit Kwajalein, Wotje, and Maloelap.

Task Force 17 departed Samoa on 25 January with Sims in the screen. At 1105 on the 28th, she sighted an enemy bomber. At 1114, a stick of four bombs fell approximately 1,500 yards astern, straddling the wake of the destroyer. The next day, the two carrier forces and a bombardment group attacked the islands and withdrew.

Sims, with TF 17, sailed from Pearl Harbor on 16 February to attack Wake Island. Shortly after departing, their sailing orders were changed; and they proceeded to the Canton Island area. Canton is a small island on the Honolulu-New Caledonia air route, and it was thought to be endangered by the Japanese.

By early March, the Japanese had occupied Lae and Salamaua on the north coast of New Guinea. To check this drive, a carrier strike was launched on 10 March from Lexington (CV-2) and Yorktown. Sims remained near Rossel Island in the Louisiades with a force of cruisers and destroyers to protect the carriers from enemy surface ships. Sims next operated in the New Caledonia-Tonga Islands area.

In late April, a Japanese task force was assembled to win control of the Coral Sea area and thereby isolate Australia. This consisted of a covering group to protect landing forces on Tulagi and Port Moresby and a striking force to eliminate Allied shipping in the Coral Sea. The light carrier, Shoho, was attached to the covering force; and the big new carriers, Shokaku and Zuikaku, were the striking force under command of Admiral Takagi. The American ships were divided into task forces centered around Lexington and Yorktown. Sims was ordered to escort oiler, Neosho (AO-23). The task force refueled on 5 and 6 May and then detached Neosho and Sims to continue to the next fueling point.

On the morning of 7 May, a search plane from the Japanese striking force sighted the oiler and destroyer and reported them to Admiral Takagi as a carrier and a cruiser. Takagi ordered an all-out attack. At 0930, 15 high level bombers attacked the two ships but did no damage. At 1038, 10 attacked the destroyer, but skillful maneuvering evaded the nine bombs that were dropped. A third attack against the two ships by 36 dive bombers was devastating. Neosho was soon a blazing wreck as the result of seven direct hits and one plane that dived into her.

Sims was attacked from all directions. The destroyer defended herself as best she could. Three 500-pound bombs hit the destroyer. Two exploded in the engine room; and, within minutes, the ship buckled amidships and began to sink, stern first. As Sims slid beneath the waves, there was a tremendous explosion that raised what was left of the ship almost 15 feet out of the water. Chief R. J. Dicken, in a damaged whaleboat, picked up 15 other survivors. They remained with Neosho, still afloat despite severe damage, until they were rescued by Henley (DD-391) on 11 May. Sims was struck from the Navy list on 24 June 1942.

Sims received two battle stars for World War II service.