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HISTORY

(DD-596: dp. 2,050; l. 376'5"; b. 39'7", dr. 17'9"s. 35.2 k.; cpl. 329; a. 5 5", 10 40mm., 10 21" tt., cl. Fletcher)

     The keel of the destroyer, Shields, was laid on 10 August 1943 at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton Washington. Sponsored by First Lieutenant Margaret Shields Farr, WAC, the great-granddaughter of Purser Shields, the destroyer was launched on 25 September 1944 and commissioned on 8 February 1945, Commander George B. Madden, USN, in command.

     Shields' shakedown cruise, interrupted by a 9 day escort assignment with lowa (BB-61), lasted from 7 March to 18 April 1945. She departed Puget Sound on 6 May and after several days of operations in the vicinity of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, shoved off for Eniwetok Atoll with convoy PD-413-T. Her short period of combat service in World War II, 24 May-15 August 1945, consisted almost entirely of escort duty between and patrol duty around Eniwetok, Ulithi, Leyte, Okinawa, and Borneo. Shields saw actual combat only once during the war, she shelled Japanese shore installations at Miri, Borneo, in support of Australian ground forces, on 26 June 1945.

     Shields was at Buckner Bay, Okinawa, on 15 August 1945 when she received orders from CINCPACAREA to "cease all offensive activity against the Japanese." After a short cruise to Leyte, Subic Bay, and back to Okinawa she got underway to rendezvous with TG 78.1 and serve as escort to units of Transron 17, at that time ferrying occupation troops to Jinsen, Korea. The occupation commenced without opposition, and, on 12 September, she steamed out of Jinsen with TU 71.5.1 bound for the waters off northern China.

     For most of the remainder of 1945, Shields remained in the area of the Gulf of Po Hail Her primary assignment here was to participate in the naval demonstrations being conducted off the coast of northern China. Throughout this period, she also reconnoitered the unstable situation at the port of Chefoo. Her travels while operating off northern China took her to most of the major ports on the Gulf of Po Hai, including Chefoo, Chinwangto, Weihaiwei, Taku, Dairen, and Port Arthur.

     Shields rounded out her first Far Eastern tour with a mission to escort Antietam (CV-36) and Boxer (CV-21) to the end of the Seventh Fleet's area of responsibility and patrol duty with the Yangtze River Patrol Force based at Shanghai. She returned to San Pedro Bay, California, on 19 February 1946, having stopped along the way at Eniwetok and Pearl Harbor. She remained on the west coast until being decommissioned and placed in reserve on 14 June 1946.

     Though decommissioned, Shields continued in an in service status, participating in the reserve program. She was called back into active service at the outbreak of the Korean conflict and recommissioned on 15 July 1950. Shields arrived in the Far East in September 1951 for the first of three Korean War tours. During this cruise which lasted until February 1952, she patrolled the Korean coast in the area of the bombline and Kojo, providing fire support for the First ROK Corps and the First Marine Division. She participated in the assault on Kojo and provided harassing and interdiction fire. Her second Korean War tour, commencing on 1 November 1952, found her again cruising off the Korean coast near the bombline supporting the First ROK Corps and the Eighth Army. Later she took part in antisubmarine warfare exercises off the coasts of Japan and Okinawa and concluded the deployment training Chinese Nationalist naval forces at Taiwan. Stopping at Hong Kong and Japan, Shields returned to San Diego on 1 June 1953.

     After six months on the west coast, she departed for her third Far Eastern cruise. Arriving off Korea on 11 February, she operated there with TF 77 until being detached, on 21 February, to proceed to the Philippine Islands. Shields conducted operations out of Subic Bay during the months of March and April, patrolling the coast of Indochina with Carrier TG 70.2. On 7 May, she embarked for Yokosuka, Japan, stopping en route for a diplomatic representation at Hong Kong. After a week of tender upkeep at Yokosuka Shields put to sea with TF 77 to conduct battle exercises. She returned to San Diego on 18 July 1954.

     Between 18 July 1954 and 30 November 1963, Shields was deployed to WESTPAC seven times. When not assigned to the western Pacific, she engaged in normal destroyer activities out of her home port, San Diego. One of the highlights of this decade of Shields career was her participation in the commemoration of the triumphant return of Theodore Roosevelt's "Great White Fleet" to San Francisco. Another important occasion was the award of the Battle Efficiency "E'' for overall combat readiness in August 1960.

     On 30 November 1963, Shields ceased operations as an active fleet unit and was assigned as a Naval Reserve Training ship, part of Reserve Destroyer Squadron 27. With her full-time crew cut more than 50%,, she spent the next 8 years working with the Development and Training Command to maintain the combat efficiency of reservists. After a survey of Shields in March 1972, it was determined that the cost of her modernization would be prohibitive and that she was only of marginal value to the Navy without it. Consequently, Shields was decommissioned on 1 July 1972 and sold to the Brazilian Navy.

     Shields was awarded the Korean Presidential Unit Citation and three battle stars for service in the Korean Conflict.

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FLETCHER CLASS SPECIFICATIONS

     The Fletcher Class of destroyers in the US Navy were the most widely used in any navy during the World War II period. There were 175 of them built during a two and a half year period during the war.

     The Fletchers were a well liked "Tin Can" by officers and men alike. Some Commanders thought them to be the Perfect Fighting Destroyer. They were all considered Sister Ships, but no two were exactly alike. They were all flush deckers whereas earlier classes had a raised forecastle deck.

LENGTH OVERALL        376 Ft. 6 in.
BEAM
DRAFT
DISPLACEMENT 39 Ft. 8 in.
DISPLACEMENT 13 Ft. 5 in.
SHAFT HORSEPOWER 60,000
SPEED 35 knots (trials)
RANGE 4900 naut. miles (varied)

MAIN ARMAMENT:

     FIVE 5"-38 Dual Purpose enclosed guns. MK 30. These were disposed with two forward and three aft, mounted on the centerline.

     TEN 21" torpedo tubes disposed in two quintuple mounts on the centerline on the superstructure deck. Some ships of the class ended the war with only one quintuple torpedo mount. The forward mount being removed to allow installation of quad 40's on each side.

ANTIAIRCRAFT ARMAMENT (AA):

     The AA armament of the class varied widely, depending on when you looked at the individual ships. It usually increased any time a ship visited a Navy Yard. Most of the class ended the war with the following armament (including the CLAXTON): 40mm Bofors guns disposed with twin 40's each side forward of the bridge on superstructure deck, Twin 40's each side amidships on superstructure deck, one twin 40 elevated between 5" gun mounts 3 and 4. There were some in the class equipped with quad 40's at the amidships locations in lieu of the twins.

     20mm single Oerlikons Mk 4 located with 4 amidships, 2 each side, three were located on the fantail. The location and numbers of 20's varied widely in members of the class. There were a few of the "high bridge" ones that had 20's in the bridge area, one on top of the pilot house and two forward and below, but these usually fell victim to later modifications. Some of the class were fitted with twin 20's near the end of the war.

DEPTH CHARGE ARMAMENT:

     Two Mark 3 depth charge racks were located on the fantail and six "K gun" depth charge projectors were located abaft gun mount 4 on the main deck, three on each side.

RADAR EQUIPMENT:

     Model SG surface search radar.

     Model SC-3 (or SC-4) air search radar. The CLAXTON was one of the few in the class that was commissioned with a SA radar. It was replaced in 3 mos.

     Model FD fire control radar. Late in the war some of the class were fitted with fire control radars on the 40mm gun directors. The CLAXTON never was.

PROPULSION:

     Two-12' dia. three bladed propellers driven by geared turbines. Four Babcock & Wilcox, 565 PSI boilers with superheaters. The class had one rudder which was too small with earlier ships, but was modified larger to improve turning radius.

COMBAT INFORMATION CENTER (CIC):

     Early in the war the Fletchers were the first destroyer class to be equipped with CIC's, they were located just below the bridge at main deck level and varied in size and equipment layout. The CLAXTON did not receive her CIC until early in 1944 at Mare Island Navy Yard. She was equipped for controlling fighter aircraft and was used for that purpose in the Philippines and off Okinawa. There were others in the class so equipped.

COMPLEMENT:

     The ships complement for the class was originally 273 officers and men in 1942. The addition of more AA armament and other requirements gradually increased this and it varied from ship to ship.

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FOR MORE INFO, CHECK OUT THESE SITES...

U.S. Destroyers - Fletcher Class U.S. Destroyers   
Fletcher Class Destroyers in WWII The Fletchers Survive!  By Rear Admiral William H. Langenbert USNR (Ret.)

MEDALS, ETC.

U.S. Navy Service & Campaign Medals Armed Forces Expeditionary Service 1958-
Vietnam Service Medal National Defense Service Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal Navy Occupation Service Medal
U.S. Navy Battle Streamers The Korean Service Medal 1950-1954

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