USS Stoddard History

 

USS STODDARD (DD 566)


USS Stoddard (DD566) was one of 21 Fletcher Class Destroyers built in Seattle, Washington by the Seattle Tacoma Shipyards, a subsidiary of Todd Shipyards. The ship was laid down 10 March 1943, and commissioned on 15 April 1944, almost exactly 80 years after James Stoddard was awarded the Medal of Honor, and promoted to Acting Masters Mate for bravery during the Civil War.

For over 7 months in late 1944 and early 1945 the ship saw heavy action West of the Aleutian Islands, bombarding installations and airfields on Matsuwa and Paramushiro in the Japanese Kuril Islands. From April 1945 until the end of the War, Stoddard participated in the Okinawa Campaign, the bombardment of various Japanese held islands including Chi Chi Jima in the Bonins, and in supporting carrier strikes against the Japanese mainland. During the Okinawa campaign, the ship claimed sole credit for downing 2 Japanese planes, 2 assists, and 1 probable kill. Following World War II, Stoddard transited to the East Coast, and was placed out of commission at Charleston SC in July 1946.

The ship was reactivated in November 1950, and alternated deployments with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea and operations along the US Atlantic Coast. In late 1954 she transited the Panama Canal and joined the Pacific Fleet. During her first deployment to the Western Pacific, Stoddard participated in the evacuation of Chinese Nationalists from the Tachen Islands. The next ten years saw the ship frequently deployed to the Western Pacific, primarily concentrating on Southeast Asia. Operations during these deployments, consisted of patrols in the Taiwan Straits and intelligence gathering operations in the Gulf of Tonkin. In 1962, Stoddard stood by and ultimately rescued the crew of the SS Yanix, a Greek freighter which sank as a result of damage sustained during a severe storm in the Philippine Sea. Later in 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Stoddard was an escort in a convoy of over 50 ships carrying Marines from Camp Pendleton Ca. to the Panama Canal. The purpose of the escort was to protect the convoy from a potential Soviet submarine threat.

From 1965 until decommissioning in 1969, the ship deployed a number of times to the waters around Vietnam, and conducted shore bombardment, and carrier escort duties. She was also frequently called upon to participate in operation "Sea Dragon", the interdiction on enemy waterborne and coastal logistics operations. In 1968 while assisting in the rescue of a downed pilot near the mouth of the Song Giap River, Stoddard received a direct hit from an enemy shore battery, which was ultimately silenced by Stoddard's guns.

Stoddard was decommissioned in September 1969, and in 1975 was the last Fletcher Class Destroyer stricken from the Naval Vessel Registry. Throughout her career, Stoddard was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation, and ten campaign medals with nineteen battle stars.

In June 1976, ex-Stoddard began a second career as a test platform for missile defense systems at the Pacific Missile Range. During this nearly 20-year period, she participated in the development of various systems, including the Tomahawk missile, and Phalanx CIWS, and was subjected to attack by over 50 separate weapons, all of which she successfully defeated. Finally, in 1997 after 53 years of service to the Navy, this proud ship was laid to rest by a Navy SEAL Team Northwest of Kauai, Hawaii.


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