USS Benson (DD-421)
|Name:||USS Benson (DD-421)|
|Namesake:||William S. Benson|
|Builder:||Fore River Shipyard|
|Laid down:||16 May 1938|
|Launched:||15 November 1939|
|Commissioned:||25 July 1940|
|Decommissioned:||18 March 1946|
|Fate:||transferred to Republic of China, 26 February 1954|
|Struck:||1 November 1974|
|Name:||ROCS Lo Yang (DD-14)|
|Acquired:||26 February 1954|
|Fate:||Broken up for scrap|
|Class and type:||Benson-class destroyer|
|Displacement:||1620 tons (2515 tons full load)|
|Beam:||36 ft 1 in (11.00 m)|
|Complement:||208 (276 war)|
Benson was laid down on 16 May 1938 at Quincy, Mass., by the Bethlehem Steel Co.; launched on 15 November 1939; sponsored by Mrs. William S. Benson, the widow of Adm. Benson; and commissioned on 25 July 1940, Commander Clifford A. Fines in command.
1940 – 1941
Following fitting out at the Boston Navy Yard, the destroyer made a short cruise to Portland, Maine, before departing Boston on 22 August and heading — via Newport, Rhode Island, and Yorktown, Virginia — for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and abbreviated shakedown training. She sailed for the Chesapeake Bay on 3 September and — after visits to Quantico, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. — departed Norfolk, on the 13th and proceeded via Guantanamo Bay to Cayenne, French Guiana, where she arrived on the 21st to check on the possibility of Axis activity in that French colony and its Dutch neighbor, Suriname. This effort seemed necessary to keep fascism out of the Americas and to protect a rich source of bauxite ore, the source of aluminum, for Allied war production. On the 27th, the colony’s governor embarked in the destroyer for a visit to Îles du Salut, some seven or eight miles off the coast. He returned to Cayenne later that day and disembarked before the ship sailed for Paramaribo, Suriname. Benson departed Cayenne for the third time on 6 October and proceeded via San Juan, Puerto Rico, to the New York Navy Yard where she underwent a post-shakedown overhaul that lasted through mid-November.
Benson stood out of New York harbor on 18 November to begin the neutrality patrols that constituted her main concern well into the following spring. A highlight of this period of her service came in March 1941 when she escorted USS Potomac (AG-25) while the yacht carried President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Bahamas for a holiday of fishing. Late in May, the destroyer helped to screen USS Texas (BB-35) as the battleship patrolled the North Atlantic. While they were at sea, German battleship Bismarck got underway on 21 May and headed for the Denmark Strait, hoping to prey on Allied convoys. When Prime Minister Winston Churchill learned of her foray, he asked President Roosevelt to have the American Navy look for the raider and to keep the Royal Navy informed of developments during the search. Once alerted, Texas and her consorts scoured the seas for Bismarck until the British sank the German warship on 27 May.
Soon thereafter, Benson returned to the Boston Navy Yard for a month's availability to prepare for a new mission. She got underway on 28 June to join Task Force 19 (TF 19) which was being formed to carry marines to Iceland to free the British troops who had been guarding that island for more active service. Task Force 19 departed Argentia, Newfoundland, on 1 July and, at the end of a passage through U-boat-infested waters, anchored in Reykjavík on the evening of 7 July. After returning to Boston, Benson quickly refueled and moved to Casco Bay for exercises off Portland, Maine. In September, she began almost seven months of duty shuttling between Boston and Iceland escorting convoys. Three months later, in December, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and Adolf Hitler's declaration of war allowed the United States to drop the last pretense of neutrality and prosecute the war against the Axis openly.
1942 – 1943
At the end of March 1942, Benson got underway to escort a convoy all the way eastward to Londonderry Port, Northern Ireland, and returned to Boston early in May. Convoy escort operations — which took her to the British Isles, Bermuda, and the Panama Canal Zone — continued to be her main duty into the autumn when she began readying herself for Operation Torch, the invasion of French North Africa. As a part of those preparations, she took part in shore-bombardment exercises with the new battleship Massachusetts (BB-59). En route to Casco Bay, Maine, for one of these rehearsals in the pre-dawn darkness of 19 October, she collided with Trippe (DD-403), killing four and wounding three of the latter’s crewmen when her bow pierced Trippe’s starboard quarter. The accident also caused enough damage to Benson to keep her in the New York Navy Yard undergoing repairs until after Allied troops had invaded North Africa.
When she was again ready for action, Benson resumed convoy-escort duty across the North Atlantic and in the Mediterranean. In July 1943, she turned her attention to supporting the invasion of Sicily. She sailed from Oran, Algeria, on the 6th with Task Group 80.2 (TG 80.2), the escort group of Vice Admiral H. Kent Hewitt's Western Naval Task Force, and escorted convoy NCS-1 to the assault area at Gela, Sicily. She arrived off the beaches there several hours before dawn on the night of 9–10 July and spent the next two days in the antiaircraft screen fighting off almost incessant raids by Luftwaffe warplanes. On the 11th, a bomb exploded close aboard the destroyer wounding 18 of her crewmen, but inflicting only superficial damage to the ship. The next day, she set out to escort attack cargo ship Betelgeuse (AKA-11) to Algiers where she arrived on the 18th.
More patrol and escort duty in the Mediterranean followed until 24 August, when Benson joined TF-81 in final preparations for landing on the mainland of Italy. At dawn on 9 September, the Allied troops went ashore on Salerno's beaches and met fierce opposition while the Luftwaffe struck continuously at the warships of the invaders. At mid-morning on 11 September, a Dornier Do 217 warplane released a radio-controlled glide bomb which struck the No. 3 turret of Savannah (CL-42) and pierced through the light cruiser until it exploded in her lower ammunition handling room, opening seams in the ship's hull and tearing a large hole in her bottom. Valiant and efficient damage control parties stemmed the stricken cruiser's flooding, corrected her list, extinguished her fires, and enabled her to resume moving under her own power. Benson then helped to escort Savannah to Malta for temporary repairs that enabled her to return to the United States for permanent patching.
Benson soon returned to Salerno, rejoined the antiaircraft screen, and — on the morning of 19 September — shot down an Fw 190 fighter-bomber. While supporting ground operations in Italy, she also conducted numerous shore bombardment missions and escorted other ships to various Mediterranean ports. On 2 October, she rescued the survivors from a downed Royal Air Force "Wellington" bomber.
1944 – 1945
At the end of January 1944, the destroyer departed Casablanca, Morocco, and escorted Convoy GUS-28 to New York where she entered the navy yard for an overhaul. Then, following training exercises along the east coast, she got underway with TG 27.4 on 20 April and proceeded to Oran where she arrived on 1 May. After upkeep, she headed for Gibraltar on the 9th with Convoy UGS-40. Two days later, she helped to fight off an attack by about 30 German planes, shooting down two Junkers Ju 88 bombers, probably destroying a third, and damaging two others. Best of all, no ship from the convoy was lost or damaged.
In the months that followed, Benson continued to escort convoys and individual ships between various Mediterranean ports. In mid-August 1944, she joined TG 80.6 to help screen other warships involved in the invasion of southern France. She also served as a traffic control vessel during that operation and, from time to time, took part in the bombardment of German positions ashore. While on patrol duty in a fire-support area near Toulon, the destroyer blockaded enemy merchant ships in San Remo harbor and fired on supply buildings in the vicinity. She also supported the French cruisers Montcalm and Jeanne d'Arc during their bombardment of San Remo. Early in January 1945, she sailed to Livorno, Italy, to shell German troops threatening to break through there. During this duty, she was attacked by enemy small combatants, either German E-boats or Italian MAS boats, but escaped injury and later escorted the French cruiser Georges Leygues in her bombardment of enemy-held shipyards in Pietra Ligure.
Detached from this duty late in January 1945, Benson returned to the United States for yard repairs and training during February. After a convoy-escort run to Plymouth, England, in April, the destroyer received orders to the Pacific. Accordingly, she transited the Panama Canal on 12 May and reached Pearl Harbor on the 29th. The destroyer spent a bit more than a month in Hawaiian waters and then got underway on 14 June to escort aircraft carriers USS Lexington (CV-16), USS Cowpens (CVL-25) and USS Hancock (CV-19) in their air strikes against Wake Island. Then, following upkeep at Leyte in the Philippines, she proceeded to Ulithi. Until VJ day on 15 August, the warship performed convoy and patrol duty between Ulithi and Okinawa. She served in the screen for the first occupation troops for Yokohama, who landed on 2 and 3 September 1945.
In the two months following the surrender of Japan, the destroyer escorted five different convoy groups between the Philippines and Tokyo Bay. Ordered back to the United States for inactivation, Benson got underway from Yokohama on 4 November 1945 and moored at the Charleston Navy Yard, on 6 December. She was decommissioned there on 18 March 1946, placed in reserve, and assigned to the Charleston Group of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.
On 26 February 1954, Benson was transferred to the government of the Republic of China, and she served the Republic of China Navy as Lo Yang (DD-14) into the mid-1970s. As the result of a survey made of her early in 1974, the Taiwanese replaced her with another American destroyer that the Navy loaned them in 1975, the former USS Taussig (DD-746), which then became Lo Yang (DD-14). Meanwhile, Benson’s name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 November 1974; and she was sold to Taiwan, presumably for cannibalization and scrapping.
As of 2008, no other ship in the United States Navy has been named Benson.
|task force 19||1–7 July 1941||occupation of Iceland prior to US declaration of war|
|ON 20||30 Sept-9 Oct 1941||from Iceland to Newfoundland prior to US declaration of war; 1 ship torpedoed|
|HX 156||24 Oct-1 Nov 1941||from Newfoundland to Iceland prior to US declaration of war; Reuben James sunk|
|ON 34||12-21 Nov 1941||44 ships escorted without loss from Iceland to Newfoundland prior to US declaration of war|
|HX 163||5-15 Dec 1941||43 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Iceland; war declared while escorting convoy|
|ON 47||22-23 Dec 1941||23 ships escorted without loss from Iceland to Newfoundland|
|HX 176||MOEF group A1||23 Feb-5 March 1942||24 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland|
|ON 75||MOEF group A1||11–19 March 1942||12 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland|
|HX 183||MOEF group A1||6–14 April 1942||23 ships escorted without loss from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland|
|ON 89||MOEF group A1||24 April-2 May 1942||49 ships escorted without loss from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland|
|AT 16||31 May-2 June 1942||5 troopships escorted without loss from New York City to Halifax Harbour|
|AT 18||6-17 Aug 1942||12 troopships escorted without loss from New York City to Firth of Clyde|
|GUF 2||29 November-11 December 1942||18 ships escorted without loss from Mediterranean Sea to Chesapeake Bay|
|UGS 4||13 January-2 February 1943||48 ships escorted without loss from Chesapeake Bay to Mediterranean Sea|
|GUS 4||23 February-12 March 1943||49 ships escorted without loss from Mediterranean Sea to Chesapeake Bay|
|UGF 8A||10–23 May 1943||14 ships escorted without loss from Chesapeake Bay to Mediterranean Sea|
|UGS 8A||2 June 1943||80 ships escorted without loss from Chesapeake Bay to Mediterranean Sea|
|GUS 28||26 January-15 February 1944||66 ships escorted without loss from Mediterranean Sea to Chesapeake Bay|
|GUF 19||24 January-5 February 1945||4 ships escorted without loss from Mediterranean Sea to Chesapeake Bay|
- Morison, Samuel Eliot (1975). The Battle of the Atlantic September 1939-May 1943. Little, Brown and Company. pp. 74–79.
- "ON convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 2011-06-19.
- "HX convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 2011-06-19.
- "AT convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 2011-06-20.
- "GUF convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 2011-06-20.
- "UGS convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 2011-06-20.
- "GUS convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 2011-06-20.
- "UGF convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 2011-06-20.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- Lenton, H. T., American Fleet and Escort Destroyers. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co, 1971.
- Willshaw, Fred. "DD-421 USS Benson". Destroyer Photo Archive. NavSource Online. Retrieved 2008-03-03.
- "Benson- and Gleaves-class Destroyers". Destroyer History Foundation. Retrieved 2008-03-03.