The large Clemson-class destroyer group of the United States Navy (USN) was laid down during the fighting of World War 1 (1914-1918) beginning in 1918 and spanned into 1922 by which point some 156 of the planned 162 vessels were completed. These warships served into 1948, covering operations in World War 2 (1939-1945) and deployed under several national flags including that of the British Royal Navy, the Canadian Navy and the Soviet Navy. Twenty of the class were eventually lost while six were cancelled before they could be realized.
USS John D. Ford (DD-228) became one of the Clemson-class warships and saw its keel laid down by William Cramp & Sons on November 11th, 1919. By this time, World War 1 had ended by way of the Armistice of November 1918 but the Clemson-class ships were built nonetheless. Ford was launched on September 2nd, 1920 and was officially commissioned for service in the USN on December 30th of that year.
The Ford's profile was consistent with American destroyer ship designs of the late 1910s. She carried multiple (four) smoke funnels, in line, at midships with the bridge superstructure held well-forward. Her hull was sleek and slim and designed for blue water service. Two main masts made up the tallest components of her side profile. Primary armament was 12 x 21" (533mm) torpedo tubes backed by 4 x 4" (102mm) deck guns. A single 3" (76mm) gun was carried for air defense as were 2 x 0.30 caliber medium machine guns. With her heavy torpedo armament, Ford could lay down a "spread" against a surface target, reducing the chances that the target would be able to avoid all of the torpedoes sent its way.
Internally, Ford was powered by 4 x boiler units feeding 2 x geared steam turbines developing 27,600 horsepower to 2 x shafts. Performance specs included a maximum speed of 35.5 knots and a range out to 4,900 nautical miles. The crew complement was generally made up of eight officers, eight chief petty-level officers and up to 106 enlisted personnel.
Her trials were in New England waters and crew training followed in the Caribbean. From there she took her post with the Asiatic Fleet and journeyed to the Far East by way of the Mediterranean Sea and Suez Canal where she would operate mainly from Manila, Philippines. Some of the warship's first actions centered around support of Americans in China where internal unrest threatened civilization.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7th, 1941 triggered the American commitment to World War 2. Ford survived the initial Japanese aerial actions against Manila and made some of her wartime career in the Far East Theater. She took part in a destroyer-led torpedo raid on Japanese shipping at Balikpapan to which four enemies were sunk.
On February 27th, 1942, the Battle of Java Sea was had between a combined force of American, British, Australian and Dutch ships against the Empire of Japan. Ford survived this action but the battle marked a victory for the Japanese. Three Allied destroyers, along with a pair of light cruisers and a heavy cruiser were lost with 2,300 hands. The Japanese force was reduced by one destroyer and 36 men.
After arriving in Australian waters, Ford was part of a destroyer force charged with patrolling and convoy escort duties. After several months at this post, she undertook escort duties from the California coast to Pearl Harbor and she returned to California in May of 1943 to take part in Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) exercises.
From there, Ford was transferred to the Atlantic where she would forge the second half of her career. Her patrols took her across the Atlantic Ocean where the warship helped to sink the German U-Boat U-544 in January 1944 near the Azores. Her next tour placed her in Mediterranean waters where she served as a deterrent for marauding German U-boats. However, a collision with a British ship in March (near Gibraltar) forced her return to Norfolk, Virginia. Once repaired, she continued operations in the Atlantic.
In July of 1945 Ford was redesignated to "AG-119" and categorized as a miscellaneous auxiliary warship. In September, with the war over, the warship returned to Norfolk and was decommissioned on November 2nd, 1945. Once stripped of her war-making usefulness, her hulk was sold off in October of 1947. For her service in World War 2, the John D. Ford was awarded four Battle Stars. Her namesake was Rear Admiral John Donaldson Ford (1840-1918), an American Civil War and Spanish-American War veteran.
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(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Offshore bombardment / attack of surface targets / areas primarily through onboard ballistic weaponry.
Offshore strike of surface targets primarily through onboard missile / rocket weaponry.
Active patroling of vital waterways and maritime areas; can also serve as local deterrence against airborne and seaborne threats.
✓Airspace Denial / Deterrence
Neutralization or deterrence of airborne elements through onboard ballistic of missile weaponry.
Serving in support (either firepower or material) of the main surface fleet in Blue Water environments.
314.4 ft 95.83 m
30.1 ft 9.18 m
9.3 ft 2.83 m
4 x Boilers feeding 2 x Geared steam turbines developing 27,600 horsepower to 2 x Shafts.
35.5 kts (40.9 mph)
4,901 nm (5,640 mi | 9,077 km)
12 x 21" (533mm) torpedoes
4 x 102mm/50 caliber guns
1 x 76mm/25 caliber gun
2 x 0.30 caliber machine guns
(Not all weapon types may be represented in the showcase above)
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective naval campaigns / operations / periods.
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