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Hull Number: DD-617

Launch Date: 11/09/1942

Commissioned Date: 02/13/1943



Data for USS Benson (DD-421) as of 1945

Length Overall: 347' 10"

Beam: 36' 1"

Draft: 13' 6"

Standard Displacement: 1,620 tons

Full Load Displacement: 2,525 tons

Fuel capacity: 2,912 barrels


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


16 Officers
260 Enlisted


4 Boilers
2 Bethlehem Turbines: 47,000 horsepower

Highest speed on trials: 36.7 knots



Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (Published 1980)

John Ordronaux, born 16 December 1778 at Nantes, Brittany, France, was one of the most successful privateersmen of the War of 1812. At the outbreak of the war, he commanded the French privateer Marengo and on 28 October 1813, he took command of the American privateer Prince Be Neufchatel, which was fitted out in France.

Captain Ordronaux made his first cruises in her in the English and Irish Channels capturing some 30 prizes.

His greatest accomplishment took place, in the fall of 1814, off Boston. Prince De Neufchatel, with a prize in tow, was sighted by the British frigate Endymion, which gave chase. Becalmed that night, the British commenced a boat attack. After several attempts, despite fierce defense, they succeeded in boarding the prize, and were driving back the Americans, when Captain Ordronaux seized a lighted match and threatened to blow tip the ship if his men retreated further. The Americans rallied and within 20 minutes the remaining British cried for quarter.

With only eight of his men uninjured, Captain Ordronaux returned to Boston, turned over his command and became part owner of Prince De Neufchatel.

Captain John Ordronaux died at Cartagena, Colombia in 1841.


Stricken 7/1/1971. Sold for scrap 3/1/1973.

A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History


The Tin Can Sailor, October 2000

Built by the Bethlehem Steel Company of Quincy, Massachusetts, the ORDRONAUX (DD-617) was launched on 9 November 1942 and commissioned 13 February 1943. She sailed with her first convoy from New York to Algeria in May 1943 and at 0400 during a German air raid on Bizerte on 6 July came under enemy fire for the first time.

Three days later, on 9 July 1943 the ORDRONAUX was part of an attack force on its way to land assault troops on the beaches near Gela, Sicily. Operating with a squadron of torpedo boats, she patrolled the harbor of Empedocle hoping to force German E-boats and Italian MAS boats out into the open for a fight.

At 0245 on 10 July as the first troops made their way ashore, she and her fellow destroyers NELSON (DD-623), MURPHY (DD-603), GLENNON (DD-620), JEFFERS (DD-621), MADDOX (DD-622), BUTLER (DD-636), GHERARDI (DD-637), HERNDON (DD-638), SHUBRICK (DD-639), and MCLANAHAN (DD-615) provided covering fire, extinguishing enemy searchlights and shore batteries. For the next eleven days the “Mighty O” continued her shore bombardment interspersed with periods of convoying ships in and out of the area, chasing submarines, or fighting off air attacks.

Following the invasion of Sicily, she cris-crossed the Atlantic and Mediterranean with convoys and patrolled the seas for German submarines. By 7 April 1944 she was 500 miles south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, hunting submarines with the destroyers CHAMPLIN (DD-601) and NIELDS (DD-616) and the destroyer escort HUSE (DE-145). They had received a report of the German submarine U-856 in the area, and at 1542 the CHAMPLIN made contact. She and the HUSE launched several depth charge attacks, which brought the U-856 to the surface an hour later. Both ships opened fire, and the CHAMPLIN rammed the sub. In the action, a 20-mm shell struck an open ready-box and exploded. The shrapnel delivered a fatal wound to the CHAMPLIN’s skipper, Commander J. J. Schaffer, and injured three men. Moments later, at 1714, the submarine sank and exploded on her way to the bottom. The ORDRONAUX and NIELDS moved in to pick up the twenty-eight survivors.

Back in the Mediterranean in May 1944, the ORDRONAUX and the MACKENZIE (DD-614) were assigned to screen the British cruiser HMS DIDO, firing in support of the U.S. Fifth Army at Terracina and Gaeta on the west coast of Italy. For the rest of the month, the ORDRONAUX helped screen the DIDO and the French cruiser EMILE BERTIN at Terracina and Anzio.

She moved on in August to cover the forces engaged in the invasion of Southern France. At 0645 on 15 August the task force opened fire. Under heavy fire from shore, the ORDRONAUX kept her guns blazing most of the day. Just after noon she received a message from a naval liaison officer on the beach to direct her fire at a casino that was holding up the advance against San Raphael. “Blow it down!” was the order and within four minutes that was what the Mighty O did. For an encore, she later destroyed an enemy pillbox.

Following the invasion of Southern France, she returned to convoy duty with time out to patrol the waters around Malta during the Big Three conference at Yalta. With V-E Day, the ORDRONAUX returned to the states and in May 1945 headed for the Pacific. She was on her way to the front on 24 July. On 1 August she joined in the attack on Wake Island, and steaming close to the beach, she braved enemy fire to shell gun emplacements ashore. Several times the shells from enemy guns straddled the ship, coming as close as fifty yards, but none hit.

Later the ORDRONAUX was patrolling off Ie Shima when the Japanese envoys flew over en route to peace talks with MacArthur at Manila. Her crew watched as the two Betties, painted white with green crosses on their wings and fuselages, and their escort of P-38s and B-25s passed about five hundred feet over the ship. After the surrender, the ORDRONAUX screened ships during the occupation of Wakayama and Nagoya. By the end of October 1945 she was headed for home. In January 1947 the ORDRONAUX was decommissioned and attached to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Charleston, South Carolina. She was struck from the navy’s list on 1 July 1971 and was sold for scrap in April 1973.

USS ORDRONAUX DD-617 Ship History

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (Published 1981)

Ordronaux (DD–617) was laid down 25 July 1942 by the Bethlehem Steel Co., Fore River, Mass.; launched 9 November 1942; sponsored by Mrs. J. Henry Judik; and commissioned 13 February 1943, Lt. Comdr. Robert Brodie, Jr. in command.

After shakedown, Ordronaux departed New York 1 May 1943 enroute to Mers-El-Kebir, Algeria, escorting a convoy. Her first encounter with the enemy came on 6 July, while at anchor at Bizerte Naval Base. Attacked by German planes, she helped down several.

In the invasion of Sicily 9 July, Ordronaux was assigned a squadron of torpedo boats to patrol the harbor of Port Empedocle and force out German E boats and Italian MAS boats, so they could be destroyed. She screened allied ships from Axis submarines and rendered fire support for the invasion until the 21st.

For nearly a year, following the invasion, Ordronaux sailed back and forth across the Atlantic and through the Mediterranean on convoy duty.

On 7 April 1944, while operating with a hunter-killer task unit comprised of DD’s and DE’s, Ordronaux spotted U–856 south of Nova Scotia. Champlin (DD–601) made first contact by sounding and with Huse (DE–145) made several depth charge attacks forcing the submarine to surface. Both ships opened fire, and Champlin rammed the sub. Nields (DD–616) and Ordronaux captured 28 survivors.

On 12 May, Ordronaux was back in the Mediterranean with Mackenzie (DD–614) screening HMS Dido while the British cruiser bombarded Terracina and Gaeta on the west coast of Italy in support of the U. S. 5th Army, which was advancing on Rome. For the rest of the month, Ordronaux operated with Dido and French cruiser Emile Bertin supporting the beachead at Anzio.

On 9 August Ordronaux was attached to a fire support force for the invasion of southern France. On the 15th, she operated within 3000 yards of the beach providing “call fire” for Navy liason officers and Army spotters. Many times she was straddled with 88 min projectiles from enemy shore batteries.

After the invasion of southern France, she returned to convoy duty. On 1 May 1945, after returning to New York for alterations, Ordronaux sailed for the Pacific, via the Panama Canal. On 24 July she arrived in Pearl Harbor and sailed immediately for Wake Island. There on 1 August, Ordronaux conducted close fire support, meeting accurate counter-fire.

Ordronaux arrived at Okinawa several days before Japan capitulated. After the surrender, she took part in two occupation landings—at Wakayama and at Nagoya. She made several cruises to ports in Honshu, including two to Tokyo Bay, before sailing for the United States 31 October.

Returning to the East Coast, she was assigned local operations off Charleston, S. C. until she was placed out of commission in reserve January 1947, and attached to the Charleston, S. C., group of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. Into 1970, she remains berthed at Orange, Texas.

Ordronaux earned three battle stars for service in World War II.