USS Swanson (DD-443) was a Gleaves-class
destroyer of the United States Navy, named for Secretary of the Navy
Claude A. Swanson (1862–1939).
Swanson was laid down on 15 November 1939 by the Charleston Navy
Yard. She was launched on 2 November 1940; sponsored by Mrs. Claude
A. Swanson, widow of Secretary Swanson; and commissioned on 29 May
1941 with Lieutenant Commander M. P. Kingsley in command.
After her initial shakedown, Swanson began escort and convoy duties
between New England, Bermuda, and Iceland. She escorted the
battleships Washington and North Carolina, and aircraft carrier
Hornet, on their trial runs in late 1941. After the outbreak of war
on 7 December 1941, her convoy duties were extended to include three
runs to Scotland as well as single voyages to Nova Scotia and
In October 1942, after amphibious training in Chesapeake Bay,
Swanson joined the invasion fleet sailing for French North Africa.
In the early morning of 8 November 1942, she lay close inshore to
guide the landing craft to the beach at Fedhala. As she began to
move further offshore at daybreak, the French shore batteries opened
fire; and, for the next two hours, Swanson returned their fire in an
effort to silence them and protect the transports and troops.
Shortly after 08:00, seven French destroyers sortied from Casablanca
to attack the transports and opened fire on the nearest American
ships, destroyers Ludlow, Wilkes and Swanson. Ludlow was hit and
forced to withdraw; but Swanson and Wilkes retired to join cruisers
Augusta and Brooklyn, which were steaming up to engage the French.
The covering force, led by battleship Massachusetts, soon took over
the action from the Augusta group; but, at 10:00, Swanson was once
again in action, engaging three French destroyers which were edging
along shore towards the transports. She soon directed her fire once
again against the shore batteries and was then ordered seaward to
protect the convoy area, ending her participation in the engagement.
German U-boats had not been present during the landings; but, on 11
November 1942, U-130 and U-173 arrived and soon sank four transports
and damaged a destroyer and a tanker. On 16 November, the destroyer
Woolsey gained sonar contact; and, after making several attacks
which brought up oil and air bubbles, turned the contact over to
Swanson and Quick, which made additional attacks. The contact was
evaluated at that time as a sunken wreck. Subsequent information
revealed that it was U-173, which indeed had been sunk.
After the Casablanca landings, Swanson returned to Atlantic convoy
duty until July 1943, when she joined the Sicily invasion force. She
and Roe were assigned as fire support ships for the landings at
Licata, Sicily; but, on 10 July, the night before the landings, she
collided with Roe while investigating suspicious radar contacts and
went dead in the water with a flooded fire room; nevertheless, she
was able to control further flooding, beat off an enemy attack, and
retire to Malta for temporary repairs before proceeding home later
in July to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Her repairs complete, Swanson resumed escort duties in the Atlantic
until sailing on 7 January 1944 to join the 7th Fleet off New
Guinea. She provided gunfire support for landings in Seeadler Harbor
between 3 and 7 March. She then acted as command ship for the
Hollandia landings on 22 April, with both the Army and Navy
commanders on board. After providing gunfire support during the
Noemfoor assault on 2 July, she again acted as command ship for the
Sansapor landings on 30 July.
On 19 August 1944, the destroyer left New Guinea and joined Fast
Carrier Task Force (TF 38). She screened the carriers Franklin,
Enterprise, and San Jacinto, while they launched air strikes on the
Bonins, Ulithi, Yap, Palau, Okinawa, Taiwan, and while they provided
air support for the Philippine landings on 20 October. As the
Japanese launched a three-pronged naval attack on the United States
forces at Leyte, Swanson's task group first assisted in turning back
the Japanese central force in San Bernardino Strait during the day
of 24 October, sinking the battleship Musashi; and then raced north
to intercept the Japanese decoy force of carriers off Cape Engaño,
Luzon. When word arrived that the Japanese central force had once
again reversed course and was threatening the Leyte beachhead, part
of TF 38 turned south again. However, Swanson remained in the north
and helped to complete the destruction of the Japanese carriers.
Air-sea rescue duty
A day later, on 26 October, Swanson was detached from the fast
carrier forces and was assigned to the escort patrol group based at
Saipan. For the rest of 1944 and early 1945, she was engaged in
air-sea rescue of downed fliers, antisubmarine patrol, and radar
picket patrols between Iwo Jima and Saipan. She also served as the
headquarters for the commander of the group. She was detached in
April 1945 for overhaul at the Puget Sound Navy Yard. After
refresher training at San Diego, California, Swanson resumed her
patrol and escort duties in the vicinity of Iwo Jima.
On 9 September 1945, USS Swanson began the trip back to the United
States for inactivation. The destroyer was decommissioned on 10
December 1945 and placed in reserve at Charleston, South Carolina.
She was stricken from the Navy list on 1 March 1971 and scrapped in