USS ''Ward''

  • World War II
  • 2 mins

By Crusader1307

A World War I Destroyer of The "Wilkes"-Class of The US Navy, The "Ward" was named for the first Naval Officer killed in The American Civil War (Lt. James Ward). A "4 Stacker", Steam and later Diesel Destroyer, "Ward" was renovated into a "Fast Transport" Ship in the 1930s. By 1941, she was assigned to The Pacific Fleet, based at Pearl Harbor. "Ward" was 315-feet long and 30-feet high (Beam). She displaced 1,300-tons and crewed 230 men. Her armament included (2) .50 Cal. Guns, (2) 3-inch Cannon, (2) 75 mm Anti-Aircraft Guns, (12) 21-inch Torpedoes and (15) Depth Charges Explosive Devices.

 

As a "Fast Transport", The "Ward" could make 4O-mph. Her main mission at Pearl Harbor was to monitor Ship entry into Port via The Anti-Submarine Netting Entrance of the Harbor. In this our story begins. Although American Leadership was sure Japan would not strike it's Pacific assets first, some of her Military Commanders had another more proactive view. The Aircraft Carriers assigned to The Fleet as well as other Surface and Submersible Craft, were "sent on Patrol". 

 

The "Ward" was monitoring the entry of The Minesweeper "Antare", through The Sub netting, when her Lookouts saw what appeared to be a Submarine Conning Tower on the wake of the vessel's wake. Assuming "General Quarters", Deck Gun crews fired two aimed shots into the Object (which immediately sank. The "Ward" radioed the encounter and that further, she was deploying her Depth Charges.

 

Seen as a case of "misidentification", Dispatchers did NOT prioritize the message. As a result, Chain of Command did not become aware of the incident until AFTER the initial Attack later in the morning. Thus for many years, two "sides" developed. The first, states that The "Ward" fired the "first shots" of World War II, others - she hit nothing at all.  "Ward" was vindicated in 2002. In an undersea archeological Expedition of the Area where "Ward" purportedly hit The Japanese Sub, was found the wreckage of a "Hyoteki" Midget Sub, with 2 cannon holes in her Conning Tower.

 

The "Ward" would continue to serve and fight on several Pacific Campaigns. However in 1944 (on December 7th), "Ward" was hit amidships by a Japanese Kamakazi Plane. Valiantly, the crew fought the fires and tried to keep her afloat. Unable to do so, survivors were taken off "Ward" and to the nearby Destroyer "O'Brien". Her Captain determined that she should be scuttled and sunk. Several cannon shots did the mission. Ironically, the Captain of "O'Brien" was none other that The "Ward's" Captain back in 1941!