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Hull Number: DD-581

Launch Date: 06/03/1942

Commissioned Date: 05/18/1943

Decommissioned Date: 01/15/1947

Call Sign: NECL


Class: FLETCHER

FLETCHER Class

Data for USS Fletcher (DD-445) as of 1945


Length Overall: 376’ 5"

Beam: 39’ 7"

Draft: 13’ 9"

Standard Displacement: 2,050 tons

Full Load Displacement: 2,940 tons

Fuel capacity: 3,250 barrels

Armament:

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

Complement:

20 Officers
309 Enlisted

Propulsion:

4 Boilers
2 General Electric Turbines: 60,000 horsepower

Highest speed on trials: 35.2 knots

Namesake: GEORGE CHARRETTE

GEORGE CHARRETTE

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, March 2016

George Charrette, born in Lowell, Mass., 6 June 1867, enlisted in the Navy 24 September 1884. As a gunner’s mate third class, on 2 June 1898, he volunteered with seven others to sink Merrimac under heavy Spanish fire across the entrance to the harbor of Santiago, Cuba, thus bottling up the enemy fleet. Taken prisoner by the Spanish, Charrette was exchanged 6 July 1898. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism, commissioned lieutenant 3 August 1920, and retired from the Navy in 1925. He died 7 February 1938.


Disposition:

Transferred to Greece, as loan, on 06/16/1959 as VELOS (D-16). Decommissioned in 1991. Now museum ship at Navy base on Poros Island.


USS CHARRETTE DD-581 Ship History

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, March 2016

Charrette (DD-581) was launched 3 June 1942 by Boston Navy Yard; sponsored by Mrs. G. Charrette; and commissioned 18 May 1943, Commander E. S. Karpe in command.

Charrette cleared New York 20 September 1943 to escort Monterey (CVL-26) to Pacific service. Arriving at Pearl Harbor 9 October, Charrette took part in training exercises until 10 November, when she put to sea with TF 50, for air raids on Japanese bases in the Marshalls. These strikes neutralized enemy air opposition to the landings at Makin and Tarawa which followed. On 26 November, Charrette joined the screen of the task group assigned to air-cover operations over Makin and Tarawa themselves, providing protection to the assault shipping and support for the Marines ashore. Twelve days later, the destroyer screened battleships in a pounding bombardment on Nauru Island, then rejoined the carriers sailing on to Efate. From this base Charrette sailed on 21 December to screen the carriers as they launched strikes against Kavieng, New Ireland, during the 3 days preceding the assault on Cape Gloucester 26 December. Continuing north, the group arrived at Funafuti 21 January 1944 to prepare for the operations against the Marshall Islands.

From 23 January to 5 February 1944, Charrette screened the carriers in a series of strikes on Kwajalein and Eniwetok. On the night of 4-5 February, Charrette left her screening station to investigate a radar contact reported by one of the battleships. After tracking the contact to 3,200 yards, she opened fire on the target, a submarine which dived at once. Charrette pressed home a depth charge attack, then used her radar to coach Fair (DE-35) in for the sinking of I-21. Next day, Charrette moored in newly won Majuro Lagoon.

The destroyer sailed 12 February 1944 for the first of the series of massive raids through which the great Japanese base at Truk was eventually sealed off from effective contribution to the Pacific war. After screening the carriers into position for their strikes, Charrette joined TG 50.9 in a sweep around the island on 17 February to catch Japanese shipping fleeing the air attacks on their base. The cruiser Katori, destroyer Maikaze, and a submarine chaser were sent to the bottom by TG 50.9, which rejoined the carriers next day.

After screening an oiler group to Majuro, Charrette sailed on for a brief overhaul at Pearl Harbor until 15 March 1944, when she put out to rejoin the carriers for attacks on Japanese ships which had retreated from Truk to the Palaus, a necessary preliminary to the New Guinea operation. A mighty force was assembled at Majuro for this bold thrust deep into Japanese-held waters, which sailed on 22 March. Charrette joined in beating off a Japanese air attack on 28 March, and continued her protective screening through the strikes of 30 March and 1 April. The carriers returned to Majuro 6 April, and sailed 7 days later to strike at airfields and defenses on New Guinea itself and to provide direct support to the landings at Humboldt Bay 22 April. After replenishing at Manus, Charrette sailed on with the carriers to screen strikes against Truk 29 April, and to guard the force’s battleships as they pounded a bombardment at Ponape 1 May.

Charrette’s next contribution came in the lengthy Marianas operation, for which she sailed 6 June 1944. She supported the carriers in their strikes on Guam, Saipan, and Rota 11 through 14 June, then turned north for strikes against the aircraft massed on Iwo Jima for attacks against the American landings on Saipan. As the carriers came into position on 15 June, scouting aircraft spotted a 1,900-ton freighter, and Charrette, with Boyd (DD-544) sped to sink the Japanese ship, recovering 112 survivors. After successful strikes, Charrette’s group wheeled south to concentrate with TF 58 to meet the Japanese naval force known to be coming out. The great air Battle of the Philippine Sea broke on the morning of 19 June, and Charrette continued her screening, antiaircraft firing, and plane guard duties throughout the 2 days of action that broke the back of Japanese naval aviation. On the night of 20 June, she participated in the memorable night recovery of the last strikes, flashing beacon lights, and rescuing aviators forced to ditch by lack of gasoline. On 21 June the carrier force steamed back to cover the invasion forces in the Marianas, hurling strike after strike at Guam, Rota, and later the bases in the Pagan Islands and on Chichi Jima. Charrette fired in the bombardment of Chichi Jima 5 August, then returned to Eniwetok for training operations.

Charrette sailed from Eniwetok 29 August 1944 for the air strikes of early September against targets in the Palaus and the Philippines which paved the way for the invasion of Pelelui and marked the beginning of the return to the Philippines. In direct preparation for the invasion of Leyte, the carrier task force sailed again on 4 October for strikes designed to neutralize Japanese airfields on Okinawa, Northern Luzon, and Formosa during the assaults in the Philippines. On 12 October began the most important part of these strikes, against Formosa, which provoked return attacks by Japanese aircraft on the carrier forces. Charrette aided in splashing attackers and driving off the raids during which cruisers Canberra (CA-70) and Houston (CL-81) were hit. Charrette joined the screen which guarded the cripples during their slow retreat from enemy air range, then rejoined her carrier group for the dash north to intercept the approaching Japanese force. Thus she began her part in the epic Battle for Leyte Gulf, the decisive action which resulted in the end of the Japanese Navy as an effective fighting force. The carriers she guarded launched strikes at the Japanese northern force in the action termed the Battle off Cape Engano, sinking four Japanese carriers and a destroyer on 25 October.

Charrette replenished at Ulithi 29 October to 2 November 1944, then joined the screen of the fast carriers for strikes on Luzon airfields early in November, which sharply reduced enemy air opposition at the Leyte beachhead. Charrette returned to Manus 30 November to prepare for the Lingayen Gulf operation.

Sailing 2 January 1945, Charrette joined the screen of the group which protected and supported the landings at Lingayen from 4 to 18 January, then guarded the approach and withdrawal of reinforcement convoys into Lingayen Gulf. She left the Philippines 2 February, and on 25 February arrived at Puget Sound Navy Yard for overhaul. She returned to action waters in June, beginning a month of support for the Borneo operations, followed by patrol duty in the Netherlands East Indies. On 2 August, she and Conner (DD-582) made contact with a ship which they tracked through the night, finding in the morning that it was the hospital ship Tachibana Maru. A search party from Charrette boarding the ship found much ordnance and other contraband and able-bodied troops, who were made prisoners of war. Charrette and Conner brought their prize into Morotai 6August.

Charrette cleared Morotai 13 August 1945 to call at Subic Bay before reporting at Buckner Bay, Okinawa, September for duty escorting ships loaded with occupation troops, equipment, and supplies for Chinese ports. She sailed from Shanghai 12 December for San Francisco which she reached 30 December. Charrette was placed in commission in reserve at San Diego 4 March 1946, and out of commission in reserve 15 January 1947. On 16 June 1959 she was transferred to Greece, in whose Navy she serves as HHMS Velos.

Charrette received 13 battle stars for World War II service.

A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History

USS CHARRETTE DD-581

The Tin Can Sailor, January 2005

The USS CHARRETTE (DD‑581) was launched on 3 June 1942 by the Boston Navy Yard and commissioned on 18 May 1943. She cleared New York for the Pacific on 20 September 1943 and operated out of Pearl Harbor until 10 November. The new destroyer, then, put to sea with Task Force 50 for air raids on Japanese bases in the Marshalls. On 26 November 1943, the CHARRETTE joined operation “Galvanic” as one of 60 destroyers and destroyer escorts with the fast carrier task forces supporting the landings of the Marines on Makin and Tarawa. Twelve days later, the she screened battleships bombarding  Nauru Island, then rejoined the carriers headed for Efate and strikes against Kavieng, New Ireland, for three days preceding the assault on Cape Gloucester on 26 December.The new year found her north of the Gilberts, at Funafuti, where the carrier forces were  preparing for operation “Flintlock” against the Marshall Islands. From 23 January to 5 February 1944, the CHARRETTE was with Task Group 58.3, screening the carriers BUNKER HILL (CV-17), MONTEREY (CV-26), and COWPENS (CVL-25) in a series of strikes on Kwajalein and Eniwetok. Also with the task group were the HUNT (DD-674), IZARD (DD-589), CONNER (DD-582), BELL (DD-587), BURNS (DD-588), BRADFORD (DD-545), BROWN (DD-546), COWELL (DD-547), and WILSON (DD-408).

At 2203 on the night of 4 February, the CHARRETTE left her screening station to investigate a radar contact reported by the battleship NEW JERSEY. By 0003, she’d located her target and at 3,200 yards, launched depth charges. The submarine dove and the destroyer lost contact, but her captain reported his certainty that they had damaged the elusive boat. For the continued search, the destroyer escort FAIR (DE-35) joined the CHARRETTE, which used her radar to coach the DE into a position to launch a hedgehog attack. At 0040 the FAIR made her attack, achieving four detonations, which were followed by several thunderous explosions. The two U.S. ships had sunk the I‑21, one of the submarines in the attack on Pearl Harbor and the probable culprit in the sinking of the destroyer PORTER at Santa Cruz.

A week later, the CHARRETTE sailed with the carriers for the first of the series of massive air raids that ended the usefulness of the Japanese stronghold at Truk. She subsequently joined TG 50.9, which included the battleships NEW JERSEY (BB-62) and IOWA (BB-61), the cruisers MINNEAPOLIS (CA-36) and NEW ORLEANS (CL/CA-32), and the destroyers IZARD, BRADFORD, and BURNS. On 17 February, they made a sweep around the island of Truk to catch Japanese shipping fleeing the air attacks on their base. In addition to a freighter, they sent the cruiser KATORI, destroyer MAIKAZE, and the submarine chaser SC-24 to the bottom. Their work done, TG 50.9 rejoined the carriers the next day.

The CHARRETTE saw action again on 15 March as carrier planes attacked enemy ships at Palau, continuing into Japanese‑held waters. She and her task group fought off an enemy  air attack on the 28th, and kept up their vigil through the strikes of 30 March and 1 April. With the carrier force, she moved on to strike airfields and defenses on New Guinea, to support the landings at Humboldt Bay on 22 April, to hit Truk on 29 April, and guard the battleships as they bombarded Ponape 1 May.

The CHARRETTE’s next contribution came during the Marianas campaign, for which

she sailed 6 June 1944. She supported the carriers in their strikes on Guam, Saipan, and Rota from 11 through 14 June, then turned north for strikes against enemy aircraft massed on Iwo Jima for attacks against the American landings on Saipan. As the carriers came into position on 15 June, scouting aircraft spotted a 1,900‑ton freighter, the TAGAWA MARU. Around noon, the CHARRETTE and task-group flagship BOYD (DD‑544) shelled the enemy ship, sinking it in less than seven minutes. The CHARRETTE recovered 112 survivors.

From Saipan, her group turned south to meet a Japanese naval force racing toward the Marianas. During the ensuing Battle of the Philippine Sea, the CHARRETTE continued her screening, antiaircraft, and plane guard duties. On the night of 20 June, she participated in the recovery of aviators forced to ditch when their fuel ran out on their return from their last strikes. The next day, the carrier force covered the invasion forces in the Marianas, hurling strike after strike at Guam, Rota, the Pagan Islands, and Chichi Jima. The CHARRETTE shelled Chichi Jima on 6 August, and then returned to Eniwetok.

She was back with the carriers for the air strikes in early September against targets in the Palaus and the Philippines and, on 4 October, for strikes against Japanese airfields on Okinawa, Northern Luzon, and Formosa. On 12 October strikes against Formosa provoked return attacks on the carriers by Japanese aircraft. The CHARRETTE aided in splashing attackers and driving off the raids during which the cruisers CANBERRA (CA‑70) and HOUSTON (CL‑81) were hit. She helped escort the ships out of the area, then returned to her carrier group, racing to intercept an approaching enemy force. The confrontation resulted in the epic Battle for Leyte Gulf which put an end to the Japanese Navy as an effective fighting force.

On 26 October 1944, she screened the carriers as their aircraft struck the enemy’s northern force off Cape Engano, sinking four Japanese carriers and a destroyer. By early November, she was with the fast carriers during air strikes against Luzon airfields and from 4 to 18 January 1945, screened the group supporting the landings in the Lingayen Gulf. Following six months for an overhaul at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, the CHARRETTE  was back in action in June covering minesweepers and underwater demolition teams clearing the way through Brunei Bay for the invading Allied forces. She was flagship for the covering group that consisted of the CONNER, BELL, BURNS, KILLEN (DD-593), ALBERT W. GRANT (DD-649), and HMAS ARUNTA. The landings at Balikpapan were next on her schedule. For this operation, she went in with eight cruisers and the destroyers CONWAY (DD-507), EATON (DD-510), STEVENSON (DD-645), CONY (DD-508), ARUNTA, HART (DD-594), METCALF (DD-595), KILLEN, ALBERT W. GRANT, BELL, CONNER, and BURNS. They bombarded enemy installations, moving in close to silence their shore batteries and putting an end to the threat they had posed to ships and troops involved in the invasion.

Early on the morning of 2 August 1945, the CHARRETTE’s and CONNER’s radar picked up a ship, which they discovered was the hospital ship TACHIBANA MARU. A search party from CHARRETTE found ordnance and other contraband as well as able‑bodied troops, who they took prisoner. The destroyers escorted their prize to Morotai on 6 August and turned it over to the authorities.

The CHARRETTE cleared Morotai two days before Japan’s surrender and went on to Buckner Bay, Okinawa, to escort transports with occupation troops, equipment, and supplies bound for Chinese ports. She finally sailed from Shanghai for San Francisco on12 December and there, was placed out of commission in reserve on 15 January 1947. On 16 June 1959, she was transferred to Greece, becoming HHMS VELOS.