U.S.S. Charrette DD-581


Name: USS Charrette (DD-581) Namesake: George Charrette Builder: Boston Navy Yard Laid down: 20 February 1942 Launched: 3 June 1942 Sponsored by: Mrs. G. Charrette Commissioned: 18 May 1943 Decommissioned: 15 January 1947 Struck: 1 September 1975 Fate: Transferred to Hellenic Navy, 16 June 1959 Career (Greece) Name: Velos (D-16) Acquired: 16 June 1959 Decommissioned: 26 February 1991 Status: museum ship in Faliron General characteristics Class and type: Fletcher-class destroyer Displacement: 2,100 tons standard, 3,050 tons full load Length: 376 ft 6 in (114.7 m) Beam: 39 ft 8 in (12.1 m) Draft: 5.4 m (17 ft 9 in);
with full load (including ASW dome): 6.35 m (20 ft 10 in) Propulsion: 60,000 shp (45 MW);
2 sets of General Electric geared steam turbines, 1 set of 3 for each shaft (cruising, low pressure, high pressure);
4 Foster Wheeler boilers (two furnaces each), maximum steam pressure: 3,619.75 kPa (525 psi), maximum steam temperature: 440,6 °C (825 °F);
2 propellers Speed: 35 knots (65 km/h) Range: 6500 nm (12,000 km) @ 15 knots (28 km/h) Complement: United States Navy: 329
Hellenic Navy: 269 Armament: 5 × 5 in/38 cal guns (127 mm),
4 × 40 mm AA guns,
4 × 20 mm AA guns,
10 × 21 in torpedo tubes,
6 × depth charge projectors,
2 × depth charge tracks
(in HN service)
4 × 127 mm (5 in)/38 guns,
6 × 76 mm (3 in)/50 RF AA guns (3x2),
2× 12.7 mm (0.50 in) M2 Browning machine guns (2x1),
5 × 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes (1x5)(for Mk 14 torpedoes),
6 × 325 mm (12.75 in) Anti-Submarine Torpedo tubes (2x3) (for Mk 44-Mk 46 torpedoes),
2 × Hedgehog launchers (Mark 11, 24 bombs each),
1 × depth charge track for 12 Mk 9 depth charges,
12 (2×6) Super RBOC chaffs & flares launchers,
4 FIM-43 Redeye man-portable surface-to-air missiles (after 1976)

History of USS Charrette (DD-581)

The destroyer USS CHARRETTE (DD581) claims the fleet championship for capturing Japanese during World War II. Her officers and men captured a grand total of 1776 Japanese prisoners in addition to the ship's other war accomplishments.
A destroyer of the FLETCHER TYPE of 1940, USS CHARRETTE (DD581) was built in the Boston Naval Shipyard, Boston, Massachusetts, where her keel was laid on 20 February 1942. Three and a half month later, on 3 June 1942, the Jap catcher of the fleet was launched. The ship was sponsored by Mrs. Nadeja Pronita Charrette, widow of Lt. George Charrette USN, for whom the ship was named.

Lt. Charrette, a native of Lowell, Massachusetts, began his Navy career in Boston on 28 September, 1884 as an apprentice seaman. He was 16 years old. For more than a dozen years, he plied the seven seas on various ships, and a short time later when the Spanish-American War broke out, he was in the thick of the fighting.
On 2 June 1898, when Admiral Hobson and seven of his men volunteered to sink the MERRIMAC across the entrance to the harbor, in an attempt to bottle the enemy fleet in the Harbor of Santiago, Cuba, Lt. Charrette, then gunner's mate, third class, touched off the fuse which sank the vessel while under heavy fire of the Spanish guns. After taking their lives in their hands to blow up the ship, the only escape from the vessel for the volunteers was to drift on logs to Spanish territory, where they were made prisoners. Later through an exchange of prisoners, Lt. Charrette was returned to the United States on 6 July 1898, after having been held at the famous Morro Castle Prison for a month.

For his part in the sinking of the MERRIMAC, Lt. Charrette was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor accompanied by the following citation;
"...for extraordinary heroism in connection with the sinking of the U.S.S. MERRIMAC, at the entrance to the harbor of Santiago de Cuba, on the night 2 June 1898, under heavy fire from Spanish batteries."
After the war, Lt. Charrette remained in the Navy. At the opening of World War I he served on the battleship KANSAS convoying American troops to France and on 15 November 1917, was placed in charge of the Naval Ammunition Depot at Hingham, Massachusetts. He was commissioned a regular Lieutenant on 3 August 1920.
On 31 May 1925, Lt. Charrette was placed on the retired list after 40 years of service. He died on 7 February 1938 in Lowell, Massachusetts, and was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
CHARRETTE was commissioned on 18 May 1943, and Commander Eugene S. Karpe, USN, became the ship's first commanding officer.

Following shakedown cruises at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Portland, Maine and post-shakedown overhaul at the Boston Navy Yard, CHARRETTE accompanied the battleship NEW JERSEY on her shakedown cruise to Trinidad. On 20 September, after an overhaul period in the New York Navy Yard, DD581 reported for duty to Commander Destroyers, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
First action for the new recruit was the occupation of the Gilbert Islands in December 1943. With the capture of Tarawa, CHARRETTE attached to Task Group 50.8 bombarded Nauru Island. This action was followed by the holiday strikes against Kavieng, New Ireland during which CHARRETTE traded blows with a two-engine Jap bomber. The enemy plane came in low on the horizon and flew parallel to DD581 for approximately 10 minutes, firing two brilliant white flares and two dim-red markers before retiring. Neither plane nor ship suffered any damage.

In January 1944, CHARRETTE was attached to Task Force 58 when that force took part in the occupation of the Marshall Islands and the February strikes on Truk. On 3-4 February, CHARRETTE abandoned her screening station to investigate a radar contact reported by the battleship NEW JERSEY. At 2220, first contact was made, but evasive action by the submarine made continuous contact difficult. At 0003, a second contact was made, followed by a depth charge attack. At 0031, the destroyer escort FAIR joined CHARRETTE, and together they pressed home the attack. FAIR made an attack followed by two heavy underwater detonations. However, no positive results were observed until daybreak, at which time a fresh oil slick, 4 miles by 1.5 miles, was spotted. It was believed that the sub was one of the large "I-16" type since the radar contact was made at such a great distance (29,000 yards). For this action, CHARRETTE was given a Class "B" assessment.

On 16 February, Task Group 50.9 was formed to conduct a sweep around Truk and to prey on any shipping that might venture to escape through the South or West Pass. First contact with the enemy came in a nature of a surprise air attack. At 1318 one Jap plane, believed to be a "Val", jumped the formation. Immediately, CHARRETTE opened fire, but was forced to break off contact as the plane darted into the formation thereby using U.S. ships as shelter. At 1456, a small freighter of 1000 to 1,500 tons was sighted, apparently lying dead in the water. DD581 opened fire, but 15 minutes later two other vessels, tentatively identified as a KATORI Class light cruiser and an ASASHIO Class destroyer appeared on the scene. The small merchant vessel had been hit repeatedly by destroyer gunfire and was burning. As NEW JERSEY passed by, the freighter exploded, and a large column of flame and smoke erupted from the ship. It is believed that the vessel was loaded with either explosives or gasoline.

Our battleships and heavy cruisers opened up on the enemy CA and DD, which were also under fire of the three remaining screening destroyers. The Jap cruiser turned over and sank, and the destroyer, after having been hit repeatedly by nearly very vessel of the column, was left with decks awash and an immense column of thick black smoke pouring out of the after section. Following this action, engine trouble which had been recurring for many months developed, causing CHARRETTE to discontinue her operations with Task Group 50.9

After a brief respite in Pearl Harbor while the engineering plant was overhauled and repaired, CHARRETTE left the Hawaiian Islands on 15 March for the fast carrier strikes against Palau Islands. These were followed in rapid succession by other air strikes against Humbolt Bay, New Guinea and bombardments of Wakde Island, Sawar Airfield, Satawan and Ponape. Throughout these operations, DD581 acted with various groups of Task Force 58.

On 5 June 1944, Lt. Commander G.J. Joyce, USN, relieved Commander Karpe as commanding officer.
The next day, Task Group 58.1 left Majuro and proceeded to the vicinity of Guam in the Marianas Island, where air strikes were launched against Guam and Rota Island on the 11th, 12th, and 13th o June. During one of the strikes to the Bonins, CHARRETTE took the first step toward establishing her record of Japanese prisoners. About noon on 15 June, a Jap cargo vessel was sighted by a search plane of the task group. CHARRETTE and BOYD were sent out to investigate. The two destroyers streaked toward the enemy ship, and at 10,000 yards, fired several well directed salvoes. After the last salvo, the cargo vessel, TATSUTA KAWAMARU, rolled over to port, dove head first and sank. One hundred and twelve Japs were hauled out of the choppy sea by CHARRET's crew and were crammed aboard the not too spacious destroyer. It was a full day before the prisoners could be removed to a carrier, and during that time a tiring but unceasing vigilance was necessary to keep the Japs contained in the compartments.

This episode was followed by air strikes against Iwo Jima, further air support of Marianas Islands occupation, and the First Battle of the Philippine Sea. During the later fracas, CHARRETTE aided in the sea rescue of pilots returning from strikes against the Jap task force.

During these operations, near Guam, another addition was made to CHARRETTE's "Jap catching" total. Late in the afternoon of 23 June, a life raft was spotted. It contained on undernourished Jap who had been adrift for almost three weeks. Expert care and attention were not sufficient for his recovery, and soon after he was pulled aboard, he died.
On 4 July, CHARRETTE in company with Bombardment Group 2 of Task Group 58.2 conducted a shore bombardment of Iwo Jima. Air strikes against Pagan, Guam, Rota, and Tinian were continued, and further strikes pounded Palau, Yap and Woleai Islands. On 12 July, CHARRETTE and CONNOR bombarded the west coast of Guam.

Task Unit 58.1 was formed on 4 August 1944, and was ordered to carry out a combined surface sweep and shore bombardment of the Bonin Islands. As part of this force, CHARRETTE assisted in the destruction of a small freighter, one enemy destroyer, a sampan and a barge. Returning from the northern sweep, the force on the next day bombarded the town of Omura, Chichi Jima. For a while enemy fire was brisk as several salvos straddled the cruisers and landed in the wake of USS BURNS and USS MOBILE.

As part of Task Force 38, CHARRETTE took part in the September strikes against Palau, Mindanao, Morotai, and Luzon. The force then launched the October strikes against Nansei Shoto, Northern Luzon, and Formosa, On 13 October, while steaming off Formosa, Task Group 38.1 was attacked by seven torpedo planes. During the ensuing melee, the cruiser CANBERRA was torpedoed, and CHARRETTE SPLASHED TWO OF THE ATTACKERS. The following evening the Japs struck again. Once more CHARRETTE's guns scored hits, setting fire to one enemy plane making a suicide run at the ship. Out of control, it passed between the #1 and #2 stacks in a steep bank, parting the radio antenna. The Jap plane plunged in flames into the sea 20 yards off the starboard side and exploded. At the same time, the heavy cruiser HOUSTON took a torpedo and dropped out of formation. The next day, Task Group 30.3 was formed, and CHARRETTE as part of the screen, covered the retirement of the crippled cruisers from Formosa waters. By 24 October, the damaged ships had been safely conducted from the range of the enemy, and CHARRETTE joined Task Group 38.1 in time to take part in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Following a brief overhaul at Ulithi alongside a tender, CHARRETTE rejoined Task Group 38.1 and accompanied that group on air strikes against Luzon during the early part of November. On December 1, she was assigned to the Seventh Fleet.
From 2 January to 5 February, DD581 took part in the occupation of Luzon. While the carrier planes carried out strikes on the mainland and covered the returning convoys, CHARRETTE, stationed on the picket line, dodged numerous air and torpedo attacks. Finally on 8 February, the destroyer turned her bow eastward and steamed for Bremerton, Washington and a Navy Yard overhaul.

Post overhaul trials, personnel and material inspections, and further training exercises off San Diego and Pearl Harbor found CHARRETTE ready to resume her duties on 6 May 1944. DD581, in company with the destroyers BURNS, BELL and HARADAN, and KNAPP, departed Pearl Harbor for the forward area, where on 25 May, she reported to Commander SEVENTH Fleet and Task Force 74 for duty.

With Task Group 74.3, during the period 5 June to 19 June, CHARRETTE took part in supporting operations at Brunei Bay, Borneo. Close upon this followed similar operations at Balikpapan, Borneo. In both operations, CHARRETTE was called on repeatedly for close fire support from shore control parties. Her guns n all cases proved extremely effective, making enemy positions untenable and allowing rapid advancement of Australian landing forces.

CHARRETTE's next assignment turned out to be the spectacular achievement which insured the ship's indisputable claim as "Jap catcher of the Fleet". During the late evening of 2 August 1945, the destroyer and her sister ship CONNOR were conducting a radar search in the Banda Sea area, north of Timor, N.E.I. Not since the early days of 1942 had any Allied surface ship entered this inner sanctum of the Japanese domain. Probing deeper, the two destroyers moved forward into enemy waters. At 2035, CHARRETTE obtained an unidentified radar contact. A few minutes later, the contact was identified as a Japanese hospital ship. After stalking the brilliantly lighted "hospital" ship throughout the night, the destroyers closed in at dawn, and a search party from CHARRETTE boarded TACHIBANA MARU after she had hove to in response to a signalled order.

Contraband consisting of several cases of ammunition, rifles and grenades was uncovered. This was a violation of international law. The former inter-island passenger line was ostensibly carrying patients and medical supplies. Quickly the Marine detachment from both ships reinforced by sailors armed with tommy guns, rifles, pistols and grenades, was dispatched, and the prize crew commanded by Lt. Commander Ernest R. Peterson, USN, got the ship underway. For three sleepless days and nights, the hospital ship was escorted by the two destroyers out of reach of Jap aircraft to Morotai, arriving on 6 August.
Further investigation of the prize disclosed between 30 and 40 tons of ammunition and several hundred tons of rifles, machine guns, mortars and communication and field equipment. However, the most noteworthy feature of this unique operation was the presence on board of 1663 able bodied Japanese officers and men! This was the largest number of Japanese prisoners taken at any one time during the war. CHARRETTE's total score was now boosted to 1776!

With the war ended, CHARRETTE was ordered to duty in Task Group 70.3. During the months of September and October, she remained at Buckner Bay, Okinawa, and sortied out only for three typhoons. The month of November was spent in the Yellow Sea area on escort assignments. And on 12 December 1945, the veteran destroyer bid "adieu" to the forward area, and turned her bow toward San Diego with orders to report to the NINETEENTH Fleet.

By Directive dated January 1947, USS CHARRETTE was placed out of commission in reserve, attached to the U.S. Pacific Reserve Fleet.

BEAM 40 feet
SPEED 35 knots