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USS Herndon (DD-638)
Builder: Norfolk Naval Shipyard
Laid down: 26 August 1941
Launched: 2 February 1942
Commissioned: 20 December 1942
Decommissioned: 28 January 1946
Struck: 1 June 1971
Fate: Sunk as target off Florida,
24 May 1973
General characteristics
Class & type: Gleaves-class destroyer
Displacement: 1,630 tons
Length: 348 ft 3 in (106.15 m)
Beam:   36 ft 1 in (11.00 m)
Draft:   11 ft 10 in (3.61 m)
Propulsion: 50,000 shp (37 MW);
4 boilers;
2 propellers
Speed: 37.4 knots (69 km/h)
Range: 6,500 nautical miles at 12 kt
  (12,000 km at 22 km/h)
Complement: 16 officers, 260 enlisted
Armament: 4 × 5 in (127 mm)/38 caliber DP guns
  4 × 40 mm (2×2) and 4 × 20 mm (5×1) AA guns,
5× 21 in (53 cm) torpedo tubes (1x5; 5 Mark 15 torpedos)
6 × depth charge projectors,
2 × depth charge tracks

USS Herndon (DD-638), a Gleaves-class destroyer, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for Commander William Lewis Herndon.

Herndon was launched on 2 February 1942 by the Norfolk Navy Yard, sponsored by Miss Lucy Herndon Crockett, great-grandniece of Comdr. Herndon, and commissioned 20 December 1942, Comdr. Granville A. Moore in command.

World War II Atlantic Service

After shakedown off the Maine coast, Herndon escorted a convoy from New York City to Casablanca, returning to New York 14 May 1943 escorting a tanker. Sailing from Norfolk on 8 June, she reached Algiers on 24 June and prepared for a key role in the Sicilian campaign. As Allied amphibious forces under the overall command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower launched the initial strike at "the soft underbelly of Europe" 10 July 1943, Herndon performed antisubmarine patrol duty as well as fire support for Lieutenant General George S. Patton's U.S. 7th Army and General Bernard L. Montgomery's British 8th Army. Departing the Mediterranean on 3 August, Herndon on spent the next nine months escorting troopships across the Atlantic from New York to various British ports as the massive buildup for the invasion of France hit full strike. On D-Day, 6 June 1944, Herndon was off Omaha Beach, down front in "Bald-headed Row" ahead of the first assault waves. Despite heavy counter fire from enemy batteries, she effectively bombarded enemy targets ashore.

Herndon remained off the Normandy beaches providing fire support, screening troopships, and antisubmarine patrol until 19 June, when she served as a screen for Allied landings at Baie de la Seine. Further screening duties followed until 11 July, when she reported to Belfast for training as an escort in the Mediterranean. Operation Anvil was the Allies' next major blow in the struggle to liberate Festung Europa. Herndon was part of the Joint task force screening carriers 16 August when the invasion of southern France was begun.

The battle-trained destroyer remained in the Mediterranean until sailing for New York 3 September. After two weeks of experimental operations in Chesapeake Bay for the Naval Research Laboratory, Herndon headed back toward the Mediterranean as a convoy escort 14 October. Returning to the States 12 November, she conducted battle exercises in Casco Bay and escorted convoys along the Atlantic coast through February 1945. In that month. Herndon escorted President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the first leg of his voyage to the historic Yalta Conference.

Pacific Service

The veteran destroyer and her crew turned south 21 April 1945 and headed for the still-hot war in the Pacific, reaching Pearl Harbor via the Panama Canal and San Diego 15 May. After training exercises and duty as a carrier plane guard, Herndon sailed to Eniwetok 12 July and remained in the rear area escorting convoys between Eniwetok, Guam, and Saipan through the end of the long Pacific war.

Japanese capitulation came at last with the formal signing of the surrender in Tokyo Bay on 2 September, and Herndon proceeded to the China coast to enforce provisions of the peace. Reaching Dairen, Manchuria on 10 September, she continued to Tsingtao, China 16 September. On that day Vice Admiral Kanakodisambiguation needed, IJN, and his staff came aboard Herndon to sign and implement the unconditional surrender of all Japanese-controlled combatant and merchant vessels in the Tsingtao area.

Post World War II and fate

Herndon spent the fall and winter escorting Japanese prize vessels along the coast, patrolling the Korean and China coasts, and assisting the repatriation of Japanese soldiers and the movement of Chinese Nationalist troops. On 5 December 1945 she was detached from this duty to participate in Operation Magic Carpet, the transfer of veterans from the Pacific to the States, and reached San Diego via Shanghai, Eniwetok, Okinawa, and Pearl Harbor on 27 December. After disembarking some of the veterans, Herndon continued on to New York with the rest, arriving 15 January 1946. Herndon arrived Charleston on 28 January 1946 and decommissioned there 8 May and entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. She was moved to Philadelphia on January 1947 and in June 1965 was transferred to Orange, Texas. Stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 June 1971, Herndon was sunk as a target off Florida on 24 May 1973.

Herndon received three battle stars for World War II service.


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

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