The destroyer surface warship was a critical part of the United States Navy's success in the War in the Pacific against the Empire of Japan during World War 2 (1939-1945). These ships were designed to be inherently agile and fast and could travel in blue water environments while being called to support the main fleet, escort convoys, deny airspace to enemy warplanes or hunt down submarines. The ship type was born in the early 20th Century (when they were known as "Torpedo Boat Destroyers") and designed specifically to counter the mighty Capital Ships of the day. Before long, their role and design had changed to face more modern threats.
One destroyer group adopted by the USN during World War 2 was the Gearing-class. These succeeded the Allen M. Sumner-class and were essentially slightly modified forms of these surface combatants with longer hulls and increased range. USS O'Hare was part of the class and some 152 ships were planned before the end of the war but only ninety-eight completed as the conflict drew to a close in 1945. The group went on to see extensive service and this under the flags of various navies including Greece, South Korea and Taiwan. Several shipbuilders were involved in what became a sizable destroyer program for the U.S. during, and after, the Second World War.
Origins of the Name
USS O'Hare was named after LtCom Edward "Butch" O'Hare, a World War 2 naval aviator killed on November 26th, 1943. He was decorated with the Medal of Honor, becoming the first USN participant of World War 2 to receive the award and he was also the service's first flying ace. O-Hare airport west of Chicago is named in his honor.
USS O'Hare was laid down by Consolidated Steel Corporation of Orange, Texas on January 27th, 1945 and was launched for trials on June 22nd of that year. She was formally commissioned for service on November 29th, 1945. However, by this time, the war had ended (August 1945) but she continued to forge a sailing career nonetheless - despite the massive post-war drawdown that was taking place.
As built, the vessel held a displacement of 2,465 tons (short) and an overall length of 390.5 feet, a beam of 41 feet and a draught of 18.5 feet. Power was from 4 x boiler units feeding General Electric geared steam turbines developing 60,000 horsepower to 2 x shafts under stern. The warship could make headway at up to 35 knots and range out to 4,500 nautical miles. Aboard there was a crew numbering about 267 personnel.
USS O'Hare Armament
The armament suite consisted of a mix of installations designed to tackle a variety of threats. Leading the charge were 6 x 5" /38 caliber turreted main guns assigned in three twin-gunned installations (two fore, one aft). Aerial threats were countered by 12 x 40mm Bofors Anti-Aircraft (AA) guns in two quadruple-gunned and two twin-gunned emplacements and 11 x 20mm Oerlikon AA guns in single-gunned emplacements. Surface threats were dealt with by way of 10 x 21" (533mm) torpedo tubes (in two quintuple launchers) while submarine threats were countered through 6 x depth charge projectors and 2 x depth charge racks.
The Vietnam War
Completed after the war, USS O'Hare was not officially readied until early-1946 and managed several global voyages in the immediate post-war period. In 1953, the warship was reclassified to DDR-889 as her role had changed to that of radar-carrying "picket ship" - a specially-modified vessel outfitted with advanced detection systems to amplify radar ranges for the main fighting force. It was not until the American involvement in the Vietnam War (1955-1975) escalated that USS O'Hare had her first taste of combat. She arrived on station on July 15th, 1966 and used her guns to shell enemy positions inland. The warship was also a protector to American carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin and participated in the search and rescue of downed airmen as needed. Her tour ended in December of that year.
After a return trip home, and several stops abroad, USS O'Hare was back in the Vietnam warzone on December 1st, 1972 where she remained in active support until March of the following year. the war officially ended on April 30th, 1975 with a North Vietnamese victory. Her decommissioning followed on October 31st, 1973 and her name was struck from the U.S. Naval Register on June 2nd, 1975.
Post-U.S. Service and End
In her post-U.S. service, the vessel was handed over to the Spanish Navy where she served out her final days under the name of Casto Mendez Nunez (D-63). She was acquired by the service on October 31st, 1973 and decommissioned for the final time on April 3rd, 1992. Her hulk was then stripped and sold off for scrapping - bringing about a rather unceremonious end to her sailing career.