- USS Ault (DD-698)
USS "Ault" (DD-698) was an sclass|Allen M. Sumner|destroyer in the
United States Navy. She was named for Commander William B. Ault, air group commander aboard USS|Lexington|CV-2|2. Commander Ault was declared missing in actionon 8 May 1942after leading an air attack in the Battle of the Coral Seaand was posthumously awarded the Navy Crossfor his action in the battle.
Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Kearny, New Jersey"Ault" was laid down 15 November 1943, launched 26 March 1944, sponsored by Mrs. Margaret Ault, Commander Ault's widow. "Ault" was commissioned 31 May 1944, Commander Joseph C. Wylie in command.
World War II
After fitting out, the destroyer departed New York on
10 July1944 for shakedown training in the Caribbean. She returned to New York for post-shakedown availability and to complete preparations for the long cruise to join the action in the Pacific. Acting as an escort for USS|Wilkes-Barre|CL-103|2, "Ault" sailed on 6 Septemberfor Trinidad. Detached from escort duty upon her arrival, she transited the Panama Canaland proceeded independently via San Diegoto Pearl Harborwhere she arrived on 29 September.
After three months of intensive training in
Hawaiian waters, the warship got underway on 18 Decemberand headed west to join Vice Admiral John S. McCain's Fast Carrier Task Force. After a refueling stop at Eniwetokon Christmas Day, "Ault" entered UlithiLagoon on 28 December1944 and, along with her sister ships of Destroyer Squadron 62(DesRon 62), reported to Rear Admiral Gerald F. Boganfor duty in the escort screen of Task Group 38.2 (TG 38.2).
When "Ault" reached the forward area, Leyte was in American hands; but the
Philippineswere still the focus of the aircraft carrier's operations, and they were directed to strike targets on Luzonand Formosa early in January 1945. "Ault" sortied on 30 December1944 with TG 38.2 screening that task group. After the strike on Formosa on 9 January, the destroyer in company with USS|Waldron|DD-699|2, USS|Charles S. Sperry|DD-697|2, and USS|John W. Weeks|DD-701|2, swept Bashi Channelahead of Task Force 38(TF 38), while proceeding into the South China Sea. Heavy weather as well as the proximity of the enemy created a tense atmosphere in which the carriers continued to mount strikes against the Camranh Bayarea, Hong Kong, Hainan, Swatow, and the Formosa Strait. Returning to the Pacific through the Balintang Channelon the night of 20 January, the task force launched final strikes against Formosa and Okinawabefore returning to Ulithi on 25 January.
Shortly before the assault on
Iwo Jima, TF 38 was reorganized as TF 58 under Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher. "Ault" was assigned to Rear Admiral Forrest Sherman's USS|Essex|CV-9|2 Task Group 58.3, which launched diversionary strikes against Formosa, Luzon, and the Japanese mainland on 16 and 17 February. The carriers provided air cover for the operations on Iwo Jima on 19 Februaryand raided the Tokyoarea on the 25th and Okinawa on 1 Marchbefore retiring to Ulithi on 4 March.
The destroyer returned to the action with TG 58.3 on
14 Marchfor operations to neutralize Japanese air power during the forthcoming Okinawa campaign. In response to strikes against Kyūshūand Honshū, the Japanese retaliated with air strikes against the task group; and, on 20 March, "Ault" splashed her first two enemy planes. On 23 and 24 March, the task group launched preinvasion strikes against Okinawa; and, on 27 March, "Ault" assisted the ships of DesRon 62 and four cruisers in shore bombardment of Minami Daito Shima. The warship's next two months were enlivened by days and nights of continuous general quarters. Kamikazeattacks on 6 and 7 Aprildamaged USS|Haynsworth|DD-700|2 and USS|Hancock|CV-19|2. On 11 April, a suicide plane that missed "Essex" came perilously close to "Ault"; but her gunners splashed the plane close aboard her starboard quarter. USS|Kidd|DD-661|2 was badly hit that day. "Ault" again participated in the bombardment of Minami Daito Shima on 10 May, then rejoined the task force to assist in repelling heavy enemy air attack. While screening USS|Bunker Hill|CV-17|2 on the morning of May 11, "Ault" splashed one kamikaze, but two others hit the carrier. After rescuing 29 men from the stricken ship, the destroyer escorted her to the replenishment group and rejoined the action on the 13th. During attacks on 13 and 14 May, she succeeded in splashing three more planes. On 1 June, "Ault" put into San Pedro Bay, Leyte, after 80 days at sea. Task Force 58was redesignated TF 38; and, on 1 July, "Ault" sortied for strikes against the Japanese home islands. On 18 and 19 July, the ship joined with Cruiser Division 18 and other destroyers in an antishipping sweep of Sagami Wanand a bombardment of Nojima Saki. The following day, she rejoined the task group and continued to support the carriers until Japan capitulated on 15 August.
"Ault" operated off the coast of Honshū on patrol until
2 Septemberwhen she entered Tokyo Bayand anchored near USS|Missouri|BB-63|2 during the formal surrender ceremony on board that battleship. The destroyer soon resumed patrol with the task group out of Tokyo and continued that duty until 30 October, when she steamed for Sasebo, Japan, to perform more carrier and escort duties. On 31 December 1945, the destroyer departed Japan, bound for the United States, and arrived at San Franciscoon 20 January 1946. After a short respite, she was underway again and headed via the Panama Canal for Boston. Following brief stops along the east coast, the vessel entered the Boston Navy Yardon 26 April1946 for a well-deserved overhaul.
1947 – 1950
The yard work was completed on
15 March 1947, and "Ault" steamed to Charleston, South Carolina, her base for local operations and training exercises until 12 July, when she sailed for New Orleansand two years there as a Naval Reservetraining ship. During her operations in the Gulf of Mexicoand the Caribbean, she visited such ports as Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; Kingston, Jamaica; Coco Solo, Canal Zone; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Veracruz, Mexico; and Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. During this period, she also performed planeguard duties for carriers operating out of Pensacola, Florida, and underwent an overhaul in Charleston from 24 Februaryto 11 May 1948.
21 August 1949, after a month of intensive training in Guantanamo Bay, "Ault" put into Norfolk to fit out for her first Mediterraneancruise. From 6 to 16 September, the warship steamed across the Atlanticto join 6th Fleet tactical exercises and maneuvers, including a simulated assault on Cyprus. Her ports of call included Aranci Bay, Sardinia; Cannes, France; Argostoliand Piraeus, Greece; and Famagusta, Cyprus. "Ault" departed Gibraltaron 16 November; headed for the British Isles; and put into Plymouth, England, on 19 November. Prior to leaving Europe, she called at Antwerp, Belgium; Rouen, France; the Isle of Portland, England; and Leith, Scotland. She moored in Norfolk on 26 January 1950and prepared for inactivation. She was placed out of commission, in reserve, on 31 Mayand was towed to the Charleston Naval Shipyardfor berthing in the Inactive Reserve Fleet.
1950 – 1953
However, her respite was brief. With the outbreak of the
Korean War, the Navy needed more active destroyers. On 15 November 1950, "Ault" was recommissioned at Charleston under the command of Comdr. Harry Marvin-Smith. She steamed to her home port, Norfolk, for the Christmas holidays and to Guantanamo Bay for refresher training in March. After a post-shakedown overhaul in Charleston, the ship returned to her home port, sortied with her sister ships of DesRon 22, and carried out antisubmarine warfareexercises in Cuban waters. She returned to Norfolk on 13 Augustfor upkeep.
"Ault" sailed for the Mediterranean on
3 Septemberfor another tour with the 6th Fleet and stopped for liberty calls in ports in Sicily, Italy, France, Greece, and Portugal. On 30 January1952, she departed Gibraltar in Destroyer Division 222 (DesDiv 222) and steamed via Bermudato Norfolk where she arrived on 10 February.
The warship's activities during the first few months of 1952 consisted of training exercises in the
Virginia Capes, Caribbean operations, and an upkeep period in Charleston. On 4 June, she embarked midshipmen for a training cruise that took them to Torbay, England; Le Havre, France; and Guantanamo Bay. Upon her arrival back at Norfolk on 4 August, "Ault" conducted local type training into the new year.
During February 1953, the ship participated in drills in the Caribbean while operating out of St. Thomas and St. Croix, Virgin Islands. On
11 March, she commenced an overhaul in the Charleston Naval Shipyard. Upon completion of the yard work, she steamed back via her home port to Guantanamo Bay where she arrived on 31 Julyfor refresher training. Following two months training and one month loading supplies, "Ault" departed Norfolk on 2 Novemberwith DesDiv 222 for an around-the-world cruise. After transiting the Panama Canal and stopping at San Diego, Pearl Harbor, and Midway, she arrived at Yokosuka, Japan, on 6 Decemberand reported for duty with the 7th Fleet.
20 December1953, "Ault" collided with USS|Haynsworth|DD-700|2 during antisubmarine warfare (ASW) exercises in the Sea of Japan. The former's bow was torn off at frame eight, and the damaged destroyer was towed to Yokosuka for repairs by USS|Grapple|ARS-7|2.
1954 – 1966
14 March 1954, "Ault" once again got underway for training and a subsequent voyage westward through the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, across the Atlantic Ocean, to arrive home at Norfolk on 4 June. She operated with various warships along the way and made port calls at Hong Kong, Singapore; Colombo, Ceylon; Port Said, Egypt; Athens; Naples; Villefranche-sur-Mer, France; Barcelona, Spain; and Gibraltar. For the remainder of 1954, she operated along the east coast.
For the first six months of 1955, the destroyer conducted Caribbean exercises and local operations, including planeguard duty off
Jacksonville, Florida, with carrier USS|Lake Champlain|CV-39|2. She entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyardon 1 Julyfor a three-month overhaul which was followed by one month of refresher training at Guantanamo Bay. The warship returned to her home port on 26 Novemberand commenced type training and local operations along the east coast.
1 May 1956, "Ault" sailed for the Mediterranean where she participated in Kiel Weekceremonies in Kiel, Germany; 6th Fleet exercises; and a month and one-half in the Red Seaand the Persian Gulf. The cruise ended with her arrival in Norfolk on 17 September.
28 January 1957, "Ault" got underway again with DesRon 22 for a five-month tour of duty overseas. The destroyer exercised with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean and called at ports in Italy, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, and Sicily before returning to Norfolk in June. After three months of local operations along the east coast, "Ault" sortied with USS|Essex|CV-9|2 on 3 Septemberto join other destroyers in North Atlantic and Arctic waters for Operation Strikeback. Upon completion of the exercise, she put into Cherbourg, France, on 30 Septemberfor a short leave period before heading home. She moored in Norfolk on 21 Octoberand resumed local operations. On 19 Novembershe entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. After a four-month overhaul, refresher training, and upkeep, the destroyer got underway on 17 June 1958for hunter-killer operations in the Atlantic with USS|Leyte|CV-32|2. On 2 September, she steamed in company with DesDiv 222 to the Mediterranean for another six-month deployment before resuming local operations out of Norfolk in March 1959.
In June, the ship entered the
Great Lakesfor Operation Inland Seas, [cite web
title= 1959: Operation Inland Seas
publisher= Torsk Volunteer Association, Inc.
accessdate= 2008-04-27 ] a celebration honoring the opening of the
St. Lawrence Seaway. Later in the year, she assisted the Fleet Sonar School in Key West, Florida, and participated in Atlantic coast exercises.cite web
first= | last=
date= | work=
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
Naval Historical Center
accessdate= 2008-04-27 ]
With the beginning of 1960, "Ault" was again deployed to the Mediterranean. On
9 March1960, the destroyer, in company with USS John W. Weeks(DD-701), transited the Bosporusand the two became the first U.S. warships to enter the Black Seasince 1945.
Her Black Sea entry was, in part, a secret radio probing mission, for which she was fitted with radio eavesdropping gear manned by civilian technicians.Fact|date=April 2008 As they entered the Black Sea, the "Ault" and the "John W. Weeks" were followed by a Russian trawler, but all three ships soon stopped when the "John W. Weeks" faked a breakdown by hosting a breakdown
flag. The ships sat for some time while the "Ault" was building superheatin her boilers; suddenly, the Ault got underway at maximum speed toward Russia, leaving the trawler far behind. The trip's mission was kept secret from the crew until she started moving, at which point the captain announced they were heading to Russia. He also indicated there were American fighters circling just outside the Black Sea, and if they got into trouble, the planes could go supersonic and assist in minutes.Fact|date=April 2008 The ship headed north, approaching Russia, and then turned around to rejoin the Weeks and depart the Black Sea.Fact|date=April 2008
She returned to Norfolk in September and commenced overhaul in December. "Ault" emerged from the shipyard in March 1961, sailed to Guantanamo Bay for refresher training, and then resumed normal operations. She returned to the Mediterranean in August to participate in
NATOExercises Checkmate I and Checkmate II, and Operation Greenstone. She also took part in Operation Royal Flush Vwith the British Navy prior to her steaming back to the United States.
In June 1962, "Ault" entered the
Boston Naval Shipyardfor a fleet rehabilitation and modernization(FRAM) overhaul. Designed to extend the life of the destroyer by eight years, the overhaul enabled her to meet the challenge of newer and faster enemy submarines. "Ault"'s 40-millimeter and 20-millimeter gunmounts were removed, and her 01-level afterdeck was converted to a helicopterflight deck to facilitate the use of drone antisubmarine helicopters (DASH), one of the Navy's newest weapon systems which enabled the destroyer to reach out farther in search of submarine targets.
After completion of the overhaul in February 1963, "Ault" devoted the rest of the year to improving her readiness and the skill of her crew through various exercises and training cruises. Following a midshipmen cruise during the summer, the ship proceeded to Norfolk to take on DASH and to continue training. "Ault" was the first destroyer to carry the drones to Europe, when she sortied for the Mediterranean in February 1964 with DesDiv 142. Following participation in NATO exercises and visits at the usual ports in the Mediterranean, the destroyer returned to the United States and a new home port, Mayport, Florida She spent the remainder of the year operating in the
Key Westarea. In January 1965, she participated in Operation Springboardin the Caribbean which was highlighted by several gunnery exercises and the firing of hundreds of rounds of ammunition in shore bombardment exercises at Culebra Island. The warship also trained in Hunter-Killer operations in March and was on station in the western Atlantic for the Gemini 3space shot.
17 March, "Ault" steered a familiar course toward the Mediterranean. Besides a full three-month schedule of drills, the ship made port calls in Marseille, Golfe Juan, Livorno, Naples, and Palmabefore returning to Norfolk to spend the last four months of 1965 in the local operating areas training, requalifying in gunfire support, and going to sea for hurricaneevasion. As a result of her intensive training, "Ault" won the DesRon 14 battle efficiency award, as well as battle efficiency awards for both the operations and weapons departments.
"Ault" participated in Operation "Springboard" in January and February 1966, conducting ASW operations, shore bombardment, a full power run, and various gunnery exercises. She returned to Mayport only to head out to sea again for planeguard duty with USS|Intrepid|CVA-11|2. Upon her return to her home port, the destroyer underwent a preoverhaul availability and then entered the Charleston Naval Shipyard on
12 Aprilfor major work which ended on 14 September.
She arrived back in Mayport on
7 October1966 and devoted the last quarter of the year to training at Guantanamo Bay in preparation for a lengthy deployment to Vietnam.
In company with DesDiv 161, "Ault" departed Mayport on
7 February 1967, transited the Panama Canal on 12 February, and stopped at Pearl Harbor, Midway, and Yokosuka before joining the 7th Fleet on 11 March. After a short period of ASW drills with USS|Spinax|SS-489|2 near Subic Bay, she steamed with USS|Ticonderoga|CVA-14|2 to station in the Gulf of Tonkinfor planeguard duties. On 16 April, the destroyer was assigned to Task Unit 77.1.1 for Operation Sea Dragon, offensive surface operations against waterborne logistic craft and coastal defense sites in North Vietnam. As part of this unit, she joined USS|Collett|DD-730|2, USS|Boston|CAG-1|2 (CAG-1), and HMAS|Hobart|D39|2 (D39) in conducting sweeps from Cap Laynorth to Thanh Hoa.
The warship was relieved on
30 Apriland returned to Subic Bay for upkeep. On 7 May, she got underway to the III and IV Corps areas of South Vietnamto provide gunfire support. For the next three weeks, "Ault" responded to requests for shore bombardment during the day, and for harassment, interdiction, and illumination fire during the night. As the only destroyer available in both Corps areas, she was responsible for the coast from the mouth of the Mekong in the IV Corps area to Vung Tauand Ham Tanin the III Corps area.
28 Mayto 2 June, "Ault" provided gunfire support in the I Corps area; then proceeded to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, for upkeep alongside USS|Delta|AR-9|2 and then a week of rest and relaxation in Sasebo. On 19 June, the ship returned to the I Corps area of South Vietnam and, in the next three weeks, fired over 6,000 rounds of 5-inch ammunition at targets in the Quang Ngaiand Chu Laiareas. After a six-day port visit to Hong Kong and five days of upkeep in Subic Bay, she once again operated in Operation Seadragon, came under heavy fire from coastal defense batteries north of Dong Hoi, but suffered no casualties or damage. On 1 August1967, "Ault" completed her Vietnam tour and began her voyage home. She stopped at Kaohsiung, Yokosuka, Midway, Pearl Harbor, San Francisco, and Acapulco, and even made a side trip south of the equator to convert " Pollywogs" into " Shellbacks". The destroyer transited the Panama Canal on 7 September, arrived in Mayport on 11 September, and devoted the remainder of 1967 and the first six weeks of 1968 to leave and upkeep.
1968 – 1974
From 12 to
23 February, "Ault" participated in Operation Springboard 1968in the San Juan operating area. On 4 March, she participated in another Caribbean exercise, Operation Rugby-Match, a major fleet exercise which simulated a realistic air, surface, and subsurface threat environment. On 27 April, "Ault" sailed with USS|Bigelow|DD-942|2 for the Mediterranean and four months of continuous 6th Fleet operations. She returned to Mayport on 27 September, underwent upkeep, and performed three weeks of planeguard duties in December for USS|Shangri-La|CV-38|2. As a reward for her high degree of readiness and training, "Ault" was again awarded the battle efficiency E.
For the first quarter of 1969, the destroyer spent most of her time in port at Mayport. She made cruises to the Caribbean in May, June, and July for training and returned to her home port to prepare for her last overseas deployment. "Ault" sailed for the
North Atlanticon 2 September1969 to participate in the NATO exercise, Operation Peacekeeper. However, her orders were modified on 24 September, and she steamed to the Mediterranean to relieve USS|Zellars|DD-777|2. She remained with the 6th Fleet for a three-month cruise highlighted by her participationin Operation Emery Cloth, a British ASW exercise in which "Ault" was the sole representative of the United States Navy. On 4 December, the warship returned home and prepared for Naval Reserve duty. She was designated a Naval Reserve training ship on 1 January 1970, and steamed to Galveston, Texas, on 12 January. There, she relieved USS|Haynsworth|DD-700|2 as training ship for Houston naval reservists.
"Ault" spent the next three years making training cruises in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Caribbean. On
1 May 1973, she departed Galveston for her last cruise, a voyage to Mayport for inactivation.US Navy Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. [http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/a14/ault.htm Ault] .] [USS "Ault" to sail from Isle on Last Trip Today. "Galveston Daily News". Galveston, Texas. Tuesday, May 1, 1973. Page 3] The destroyer was decommissioned on 16 July 1973, ending a career of 29 years service. Struck from the Navy List on 1 September 1973, "Ault" was sold to the Boston Metals Company, Baltimore, Maryland, and subsequently scrapped.
"Ault" earned five
battle stars for her service in World War IIand an additional two for her service off Vietnam.
* [http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/a14/ault.htm history.navy.mil: USS "Ault"]
* [http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/698.htm navsource.org: USS "Ault"]
* [http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd698txt.htm hazegray.org: USS "Ault"]
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