The Fletcher-class group of fighting destroyers became one of the more important surface combatants for the United States Navy (USN) during the fighting of World War 2 (1939-1945), justified by the fact that some 175 of the design were completed involving eleven total American shipyards. The type went on to see service with foreign navies in the period thereafter - from Argentina and Brazil to post-war West Germany and Turkey. Subclasses also emerged, these seen in Japan, West Germany, Italy, Spain, and South Korea.
The 2,000 ton vessels were fast in the water during straight-line actions, managing speeds of 35 knots in ideal conditions, and held a useful armament suite led by 5" guns defended through a collection of 40mm and 20mm aircraft-deterring automatic cannons. To this was added a submarine-hunting capability with the ability to launch depth charges and enemy surface boats feared its ten torpedo tubes. In all, these were multi-mission warships through-and-through, built in such numbers that the enemy was forced to acknowledge their presence in any one fight.
USS Stoddard (DD-566) was constructed by the Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation along America's northwest coast. Her keel was laid down on March 10th, 1943 and the hull was launched on November 19th of that same year - such was the need for such warships by the USN. Formal commissioning took place on April 15th, 1944 and the vessel sailed off to war against the Empire of Japan.
Aboard were a group of specialists numbering 329 and power was through 4 x Oil-fired boiler units feeding twin geared steam turbines developing 60,000 horsepower to drive twin shafts under stern. Coupled with her relatively light weight of 2,050 tons, the destroyer could manage speeds well above the typical 30 knots. Range was out to 6,500 nautical miles when steaming at 15 knots.
Armament was led by 5 x 5" (130mm) turreted main guns set across five single-gunned turrets - two located forward in the design with the remaining three closer to the stern. 4 x 40mm Bofors Anti-Aircraft (AA) automatic cannons were paired with 4 x 20mm Oerlikon guns to provide air defense against attacking warplanes. 10 x 21" (533mm) torpedo tubes were carried as were 6 x Depth charge projectors, and 2 x Depth charge racks. Utilizing every tool in its toolbox, the warship could engage aerial targets, land targets, surface targets, and undersea targets with equal fervor.
Shakedown for the vessel took place in San Diego waters in July of 1945 before she headed out to war. Her first stationing was in Alaskan waters as part of TF94 (Task Force 94) of the North Pacific Campaign. She then participated in the critical Battle of Okinawa and served as a radar picket and screen for larger warships in the region. After the fall of the Japanese Empire in August-September 1945, she remained in Japanese waters until recalled stateside in November before joining the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. She was back in action in 1951 following recommissioning and called to the Western Pacific to evacuate Chinese Nationalists from the Chinese mainland.
Stoddard also participated in actions concerning the Vietnam War (1955-1975) and spent three years (1965-1968) supporting the war effort there. Her guns were used to good effect against Viet Cong land-based targets in support of ground troops operating inland. She saw three tours in the region for her part in the conflict.
Her active service ended in September of 1969 with the 1st Fleet (West Coast) before she saw decommissioning. The vessel was then places in reserve at Mare Island, California. USS Stoddard was the last of the Fletcher-class to be struck from the Naval Register, this occurring on June 1st, 1975. From then on, she was utilized as a target under various test programs and trialed the 20mm Phalanx Block 0 anti-aircraft defense system in November of 1983 into 1990.
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5 x 5" (130mm) turreted main guns in five single-gunned turrets (two fore, three aft).
4 x 40mm Bofors Anti-Aircraft (AA) guns.
4 x 20mm Oerlikon AA guns.
10 x 21" (533mm) torpedo tubes.
6 x Depth Charge Projectors.
2 x Depth Charge Racks.
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