A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History
USS BALDWIN DD-624
The Tin Can Sailor, October 2006
The GLEAVES-class destroyer BALDWIN (DD-624) was launched on 14 June 1942 by the Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Company of Seattle, Washington. She was sponsored by Mrs. Ida E. Crawford, daughter of Acting Master’s Mate Baldwin, a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient and the ship’s namesake. She was commissioned on 30 April 1943 and reported to the Atlantic Fleet.
Between 13 August 1943 and 25 January 1944 the BALDWIN made three transatlantic convoy escort crossings to Casablanca, French Morocco. With DesRon 18, she also acted as a fire support, patrol, and escort vessel during the landings at Omaha Beach between 5 June and 15 July 1944. On 6 June, she was close inshore firing on Nazi positions when she was hit and slightly damaged by two small caliber shells from enemy guns on the bluffs.
As flagship of ComDesDiv 36, she had moved out to the “Dixie Line” screening the Western Area off Utah Beach on the night of 8–9 June. In her immediate vicinity were DesRon 18’s flagship, the FRANKFORD, and the HAMBLETON when at 0036, the FRANKFORD’s radar picked up three E-boats advancing toward Utah Beach and began firing. By 0052 one boat was believed sunk and the others fled under a smoke screen. In the meantime, the BALDWIN and HAMBLETON chased the two fleeing E-boats. The destroyers continued their search for the E-boats and, at 0110, the BALDWIN and FRANKFORD routed a pair of would-be attackers with their gunfire. Four miles north of the “Dixie Line” the BALDWIN and HAMBLETON found another target and at about 0200 sent it to the bottom. By 0240 the E-boat attack had ended.
From 13 August to 25 September, the BALDWIN was with the Allied forces as they moved from the beaches of Normandy to those of Southern France in Operation Anvil. At 0830 on 15 August, the assault on the naval base at Toulon began with the 5-inch and 40-mm guns of the BALDWIN, HAMBLETON, ELLYSON, RODMAN, EMMONS, HOBSON, MACOMB, FITCH, and FORREST firing in support. By 29 August, Toulon, the port of Marseilles, and the Riviera had been taken. The German defenses along the Riviera were on the verge of collapse and Nazi defeats on land and sea continued through the fall. Those at the highest levels of the Allied command were preparing for the end. Between 21 January and 27 February 1945, the BALDWIN escorted the QUINCY (CA-71), which was carrying President Roosevelt to the Yalta Conference to discuss the final phase of the war with Churchill and Stalin.
Upon her return to the states, the BALDWIN stood plane guard and carried out patrols along the East Coast until July 1945, when she left for the Pacific. Between August 1945 and January 1946 she was the flagship for the minesweeping operations off the coasts of Korea and China. She, then, returned to the East Coast where she was decommissioned in reserve at Charleston, South Carolina, on 20 June 1946.
The BALDWIN does not appear in naval records again until 1961 when she was being towed from Boston to Orange, Texas, by the tug USS KEYWADIN (ATA-213). They were off Montauk Point, Long Island, on 16 April 1961, when the cable broke. The BALDWIN drifted ashore where she grounded. It took six weeks of concerted effort by ships and men to free her after which she was struck from the navy’s list on 1 June. The KEYWADIN towed her out to sea where she was used for target practice and sunk on 5 June 1961.