USS NIELDS DD-616 Ship History
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (Published 1981)
Nields (DD–616) was laid down on 15 June 1942 by the Bethlehem Steel Company, Fore River, Massachusetts; launched on 1 October 1942; sponsored by Miss Ella S. Nields, daughter of Lieutenant Commander Nields; and commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on 15 January 1943, Lieutenant Commander Albert R. Heckey in command.
Following shakedown and training off the east coast, Nields escorted two tankers to Aruba, Netherlands West Indies, and Cristobal, Panama Canal Zone, returning to Norfolk, Virginia, on 11 April 1943. Thence she proceeded to Boston before joining DesRon 16 at New York. Assigned to transatlantic convoy duty, the destroyer departed New York on 28 April on her first North African run, screening convoy USG–8. Arriving at Oran, Algeria, on 19 May, Nields refueled and commenced patrolling the approaches to that anchorage. On patrol on 21 May, awaiting the departure of the convoy on its return voyage, Nields received a submarine contact report from a British observation plane and immediately headed for the area. At 1716 Nields established sound contact. At 1718 she dropped a pattern of 9 depth charges. At 1723 sound contact was regained and another 9-charge pattern was fired. At 1731 and at 1741, further charges were fired from her “K” guns, forward and port. Within seconds of the last attack, oil patches were observed. Italian submarine Gorgo, one of two such submarines to be sunk by American forces, had gone to the bottom of the Mediterranean.
The convoy, GUS–7A, sortiied on 22 May, arriving New York on 8 June. By 22 June, Nields was back at Oran. Between that date and 5 July she conducted antisubmarine patrols off Algeria. On the 5th, she sortied with the “Cent” attack force, screening U.S. convoy NCF-1 and British convoy KMF-18. On the 10th, as Allied waves hit the beaches, the destroyer guarded Transport Area Two. There until the 13th, she guarded the transports from enemy aerial and underwater attack. On the 16th, she arrived back at Oran, whence she returned to New York, with convoy UGF-9, on 4 August. A period of refresher training out of Casco Bay, Maine, followed.
Mediterranean and UK occupied Nields for the remainder of 1943, and into 1944. In March 1944, she joined other units of DesDivs 31 and 32 in hunter-killer (HUK) exercises off the northeastern coast. On 7 April, two destroyers of her HUK group, Champlin (DD–601) and Huse (DE–145), sank U–856. Nields picked up 11 survivors and transported them to New York where they were turned over to representatives of the ONI. From New York, Nields’s division sailed for the Mediterranean 21 April to join the 8th Fleet.
Assigned to coastal escort and patrol duties on her arrival at Oran, on 2 May, Nields was soon drawn into a submarine chase lasting four days. On 14 May, U–616 was detected in the southwestern Mediterranean by British observation aircraft. Nields, temporarily with Destroyer Division 21, was one of the ships to answer the call. Soon afterward Ellyson (DD–454) dropped the first depth charge pattern. On the morning of the 15th, oil slicks were spotted, but sound contact was lost. Another search plane sighted the submarine, now surfaced, ten miles away and running north toward southern France. The destroyers followed. At 1900 on the 16th, Nields, in a scouting line with Gleaves (DD–423) and Macomb (DD–458), left the formation to investigate a negative sound contact. At 2157, all three destroyers made contact. Macomb illuminated the elusive quarry and opened fire. U–616 returned fire and started diving. At 2214, and again at 2231, Macomb attacked with depth charges. At 2335 and at 2342 sound contacts were regained, but lost at 800 yards. U–616 was deep and maneuvering radically. At 2346, Nields set off an 11- charge pattern; and at 2350 began “creeping attacks”. At 0043 on 17 May, Gleaves, with Nields directing, fired an 18-charge pattern, with deep settings, which surrounded the U-boat. Contact was lost at 0044. Soon after 0100, the three destroyers, having been joined by Hambleton (DD–455), Ellyson, Rodman (DD–456) and Emmons (DD–457), commenced a box patrol, with Nields taking position third from the right end of the scouting line. At 0449, Hambleton reported a sound contact, and, at 0515, commenced firing depth charges. At 0525, she made a second attack. Finally, at 0608, U–616 surfaced and was taken under fire by the surrounding destroyers. Nields, unable to fire without endangering others in the destroyer group, watched the hunted U-boat sink at 0612 and then screened the vessels detailed to pick up survivors (51).
Until operation “Dragoon” the amphibious assault on southern France, Nields was employed on North African-Italian escort missions in support of Allied ground forces pushing north from Salerno, conducting patrol and escort duty off Anzio and Civitaveccia, Italy. On 15 August, in Operation DRAGOON she was off St. Raphael blocking E-boat entry into the transport area and providing preliminary bombardment and neutralization fire of “Red Beach.” During that period, incident to her covering the passageways between the islands of St. Honorat and St. Marguerite, Nields came under heavy and rapid fire from German shore batteries. She returned fire and opened the range, emerging from the encounter unscathed. Through the 30th, she patrolled along the French coast, then turned back to North Africa whence she sailed for the U.S., in the screen of Battleship Division 5, on 4 September.
Arriving at Boston 19 September to commence an availability, Nields completed two more North African convoy assignments before rejoining the 8th Fleet in January 1945. She then resumed Mediterranean escort duties until 9 April when she reported to Senior Officer, Allied Destroyers, Flank Force, for patrol duty in the Ligurian Sea. Operating with that force for 10 days, she supported a motor torpedo boat attack at Vada on the 11th and assisted in a bombardment of the Bordighera area on the 17th. Relieved by Kendrick (DD–612) on the 19th, Nields proceeded to Oran, thence to the United States, arriving at New York 1 May.
Undergoing availability at the end of the war in Europe, Nields next trained at Guantanamo Bay for duty in the Pacific. On 20 July, she got underway for Pearl Harbor, arriving on the 10th5 days before Japan’s surrender. Assigned to occupation duty, Nields departed Hawaii, 21 for Okinawa where she joined DesRon 12 at Buckner Bay, 5 September. After a round trip to Guam, she took an active part in the occupation of the Ryukyus, disarming of Japanese positions on islands in Tokara Gunto and Amami Gunto without incident. Detached from the 5th Fleet, she sailed for the United States 31 October and arrived San Diego 21 November. Continuing on, she steamed to Charleston, S. C., where she decommissioned there 25 March 1946 and entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. Into 1970, Nields remains a unit of that fleet, berthed at Orange, Texas.
Nields earned three battle stars during World War II.