+15 USS HALFORD History Page


USS HALFORD DD480 Photo provided by Frank Menagh.

  • ARMAMENT: Five 5-in .38 caliber dual purpose guns,
    Five 40mm Twins
    And a number of 20mm AA guns.
    Ten 21-in. torpedo tubes
  • LENGTH OVERALL: 375 ft. 0 in.
  • BEAM: 39 ft. 4in.
  • SPEED: 35 knots
  • COMPLEMENT: 300 men plus

Following submitted by: Frank Menagh
Office Of Naval Records and History
Ships' Histories Section
Navy Department


The destroyer USS HALFORD (DD 480) was built at the Puget Sound Navy Yard at Bremerton, Washington where her keel was laid on 3 June 1941. Launched on 29 October 1942, the ship was sponsored by Miss Eunice Halford, daughter of Lieutenant William Halford. The ship was named in honor of William Halford, Coxswain, who was the only survivor of a group of men who made a trip of over 1,500 miles in a small boat to bring help to the officers and men of the USS SAGINAW which was wrecked on a reef at Ocean Island in 1871.

USS HALFORD was commissioned on 10 April 1943, with Lieutenant Commander G.N. Johansen, USN, as her first commanding officer.

During her war service, HALFORD steamed a total of 181,885 nautical miles which started as she steamed under the Golden Gate Bridge on 5 July 1943 and set her course westward. During the initial three months of her career, the ship spent weary days and nights perfecting the battle organization of the new ship, and it was with confidence that she set out to meet the enemy.

Convoying heavy units from Noumea, New Caledonia to Pearl Harbor was their initial duty. September brought HALFORD into contact with the enemy. With a fast-moving task force of carriers and cruisers, she raided Marcus and Wake Island. This was enemy territory within easy bombing range of the Japanese homeland.

HALFORD was one of six destroyers constructed with a cruiser catapult and scout observation plane mounted on the deck house aft of number two stack. Because of the tactical changes, HALFORD returned to Mare Island, California in the fall of 1943 for alterations which replaced the catapult with a dual-purpose, five-inch 38 calibre gun mount, and a quadruple 40MM anti-aircraft gun.

By 6 December, HALFORD, with increased fighting power and a new profile, departed from San Francisco for the South Pacific. Subsequent convoy duties took the ship to Pearl Harbor; Funafuti; Espiritu Santo, Now Hebrides; and Tutuila, Samoa. HALFORD was also assigned the task at Christmas time of protecting the enormous troopship LURLINE, loaded with marine reinforcements destined for Guadalcanal.

While based at Purvis Bay, Florida Island, HALFORD supported the beachhead at Bougainville, screening supply echelons and participating in coastal bombardments. Anti-shipping sweeps followed along the coast of New Ireland, punctuated by counter-battery fire off the East Buka Passage. Along with HALFORD on this mission where the destroyers WALLER and WADSWORTH. During the month of January 1944, these three destroyers also destroyed starategic Japanese facilities on Choiscul Island.

As command ship on 14 February 1944, HALFORD supported the landing and occupation of Green Island. Ten days later, the ship in company with Destroyer Squadron 45, made an anti-shipping sweep through St. George Channel, Bismarck Archipelago. At this point the squadron was joined by another division of destroyers to continue up the west coast of New Ireland.

Dawn on the 24th of February revealed a small enemy merchant vessel at the entrance of Steffin Strait. HALFORD with the other ships sank the enemy ship and destroyed two beached patrol vessels. Following three days of anti-shipping sweeps south of the strong Jap naval base at Truk, HALFORD returned to Purvis Bay for logistics.

During spring of 1944, HALFORD was busied with escorting supply units to the northern Solomon Islands. Operations were interrupted only long enough for refueling, taking on provisions and mail. An eight day respite at Sydney, Australia, brought a Welcome respite for the crew.

HALFORD then commenced the longest cruise of her career early in June with the campaign for the Marianas. The initial phase of the operation was the bombardment of Tinian's west coast defenses, followed by night harassing fire and the screening of heavy shore bombardment units. On 19 June, HALFORD joined the famed Task Force-58 to participated in the First Battle of the Phillippine Sea -- the "Marianas Turkey Shoot." It was here that HALFORD saw the destruction of 350 Japanese planes and the routing of enemy units attempting to destroy our beachheads on Saipan.

While footholds were being secured on Guam, HALFORD covered beach demolition units giving close bombardment support to Ground forces and rescuing a number of friendly Chamaros who had escaped throuph the Jap lines. Operations for HALFORD in the Marianas and Western Carolines were completed with her support of the occupation of Anguar and Peleliu.

An interesting phase of HALFORD's war career began with the campaign for the recapture of the Philippines. On 18 October, she was with the SEVENTH Fleet, invading Leyte Gulf with the pro-bombardment group.

On the night of 24 October, after six days of shore bombardment and night harassing, HALFORD as a special attack group, met a Japanese force of battleships, cruisers and destroyers, launched their torpedoes just before the heavy ships opened fire on the invaders with their main batteries. The Japanese naval force suffered an overhelming defeat.

During the remainder of her stay in Leyte Gulf, HALFORD and the other ships of the force underwent daily enemy air attacks during the month of October 1944. After a few days of operations with the THIRD Fleet out of Ulithi, HALFORD returned to Leyte Gulf on 2 December to patrol the Island of Leyte. Four days later, she was assigned to protect a damaged merchant ship east of Dinagat Island. The crippled vessel was sunk that afternoon by a torpedo from a single light Jap bomber which managed to break through after three Jap planes had been driven off by gunfire.

From 12 to 19 December, HALFORD was assigned to escorting supply echelons to Ormoc Bay and troop ships to Mindoro. Two more enemy planes were added to HALFORD's score during these operations.

From 9 January 1945, after delivering troop transports landings at
Lingayen Gulf, HALFORD, as part of a covering force, patrolled the entrance to the gulf. When the ship departed for Saipan early in February, she had knocked down one enemy fighter, Participated in the Rosario shore bombardment, and took part in the San Fernando shipping strike when she destroyed three small cargo ships, a landing craft and several barges.

After Sixteen months of war in the Pacific, an operational casualty in Saipan necessitated HALFORD's return to the Navy Yard at Mare Island, California. (Franks comments here: "Actually we were under attack by Jap bombers and were ordered out of the anchorage while we all made smoke. The "operational casualty" occured when our radar failed to pick up a high octane fuel tanker that droped anchor right in the channel when we were all under attack. We fortunately rammed the ship in the crew's quarters, otherwise we both would have been blown sky high. I believe two crewman of the tanker lost their lives. Our bow rolled up like a rug against the forward 5 inch gun mount. We shored up in the mess hall to prevent sinking and backed up till the next day until we could weld on plates to hold the bow together." Two months later, on 26 May 1945, the ship was back in the Pacific, proceeding to the Marshall Islands via Pearl Harbor, to escort troop transports from Eniwetok Island to Ulithi, Caroline Islands.

In the early part of August, HALFORD received orders which took her, together with a number of other destroyers and escort carriers to Adak, Alaska as part of the North Pacific Fleet. While enrouto from Eniwetok to the Aleutian destination, the long-awaited news of V-J Day was announced.

On 31 August, HALFORD, with a task force composed of lighy carriers, cruisers, and destroyers, steamed from Ominato., Northern Honshu., Japan, Under the command of Admiral F.J. Fletcher, this force effected the initial occupation of the Ominato Naval Base and surrounding areas.

Upon completion of this assignment, HALFORD, in company with the remaining four destroyers of Destroyer Division 89, plus the flag ship PANAMINT, returned to Adak, Kodiak, and on to Juneau, Alaska by 27 October 1945.

Upon her return to the United States, HALFORD Was given a yard overhaul and then assigned to the San Diego Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet where she was inactivated and placed out of commission in reserve in January 1947.



Lieutenant Commander G.N. Johansen, USN 10 April 1943 to 1 March1944
Lieutenant Commander R.J. Hardy, USN March 1944 to 1 March 1945
Commander R.J. Oliver, USN 1 April 1945 to 1 April 1946
Lieutenant Commander M. Johnson, Jr., USN April 1946 to Inactivation

During World War II, USS HALFORD earned seven Battle Stars on the Asiatic-Pacific Area Service Medal for participating in the following operations:
1 Star/Consolidation of the Northern Solomon Islands - 1 February 1944
1 Star/Bismarck Archipelago Operation
Green Islands Landing'- 15 February to 19 February 1944
Antishipping sweeps and bombardments of Rabaul and New Ireland - 24 February to 1 March 1944
1 Star/Pacific Raids - 1943
Marcus Island Raid - 31 August 1943
Wake Island Raid - 5-6 October 1943

1 Star/Marianas Operation
Capture and Occupation of Saipan - 14 June to 16 July 1944
Capture and Occupation of Guam - 12 July to 9 August 1944
1 Star/Western Caroline Islands Operation
Capture and Occupation of Southern Palau Islands - 6 Septembe to 14 October 1944
1 Star/Leyte Operation
Leyte Landings - 10 October to 29 November 19

Battle of Surigao Strait - 24 October to 26 October 1944
Ormoc Bay Landings - 7 December to 13 December l944
Battle of Surigao Strait - 24 October to 26 October 1944
Ormoc Bay Landings - 7 December to 13 December l944
1 Star/Luzon Operation
Mindoro Landings - 12 December to 18 December 1944
Lingayen Gulf Landings 4 January to 18 January 1945
HALFORD has also earned the Navy Occupation Service Medal for the period 7 to 20 September 1945.


SPEED 35 knots
Written: June 1951 Office of Naval Records and History

This received from an Anthony crewmember and I thought some of you might be interested.
Subject Anthony:- Halford
Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2000 20:14:00 -0500
From:Bill Wenger<wwenger@attglobal.net>
To: "Bob Ross" <bobrsr@erols.com>

Dear Bob,

I have found a curious link with Desron 45 that I wasn't aware existed. In 1942, I transferred from a ship to Charleston S.C. for new construction. To the USS Stevens DD479. Stayed on her for a year about and then went on to the Anthony.

The interesting part is the connection between the Stevens and the Halford. Both ships had one thing in common. When they were designed and built, they were designed to carry a OS2U, Kingfisher float scout plane.

This came about in 1940, when a requirement came down from Buships, that 6 Fletcher Class Destroyers be fitted outwith an aircraft. This would provide gunfire spotting, during bombardment roles, and for general scouting duties, when operating without suport of heavier units that might normally provide air support.

The idea was met with considerable oppostion from old line "Battleship Mentality" Captains and Admirals, but somehow the idea prevailed. With the result that 6 Fletchers would be built, to acccomodate the above aircraft.

The price for this arrangement was the loss of #3 5" 38 cal. DP gun, and #2 set of torpedo tubes. Plus a dual purpose 40mm Bofor gun mount.

Of the 6 proposed, only 3 were built, The USS Pringle DD477, The USS Stevens DD479, and the USS Halford DD480.

The Stevens and the Pringle were built in the Charleston Navy yard, while the Halford was built in the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

After a few short months of operation, in the carrribean, North Atlantic, Atlantic and Pacific, operation with the air-craft did not prove feasible and in early 1943, were sent to Mare Island for conversion back to standard Fletchers, where they served admirably.
End of story.

It was an interesting experience to watch the cataputling of the aircraft and I have a couple stories on them that are interesting.

It was quite and idea, and I think just a bit ahead of their time. Todays cans carry helicopters of course and are deemed necessary.

Thought you might find it intresting.

Bill Wenger

Return to HALFORD Home Page