(DD-428: dp. 1,620; 1. 348'3"; b. 36'1"; dr. 11'9"; s. 33k.; cpl. 191; a. 5 5", 2 21" tt.; cl. Benson)
Charles F. Hughes (DD-428) was launched 16 May 1940 by Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash. sponsored by Mrs. C. F. Hughes and commissioned 6 September 1940, Lieutenant Commander G. L. Menocal in command.
After training operations in the Caribbean, Charles F. Hughes reported at Newport 3 April 1941 to join in the U.S. Navy's support of Britain. In September 1941 Charles F. Hughes and other American destroyers took up the responsibility for providing convoy escort in the western Atlantic.
Twice during this period Charles F. Hughes rescued survivors from sunken merchantmen. The first rescue came as she steamed escorting the Marine forces bound for the occupation of Iceland in July 1941, when she saved fourteen survivors, including four American Red Cross nurses, from a torpedoed Norwegian freighter. On 16 October, she rescued seven men from a lifeboat, survivors of a ship sunk a few days previously.
When the United States entered the war, Charles F. Hughes guarded merchant shipping in coastal convoys Caribbean sailings, and from the midocean meeting points to Iceland and New York. Between 30 April and 19 May 1942, she made her first complete crossing of the Atlantic in a convoy to Belfast, Northern Ireland, returning to Boston to resume western Atlantic duty. From August 1942, transatlantic convoy duty was her service, with Northern Ireland her usual destination. On 2 November, she sailed from New York to escort the first reinforcement convoy for the north African landings to Casablanca, arriving 18 November. Here she remained on patrol for a month before returning to her usual escort duties.
In 1943 Charles F. Hughes joined in regular convoy voyages of tankers from the Bristol Channel to the Netherlands West Indies. The first of these, on which she sailed from Londonderry 15 February, was almost constantly under attack or shadowed by wolfpacks. Charles F. Hughes and the other escorts kept losses low by their aggressive attacks, and only one submarine attack, on the night of 23-24 February, was successful in penetrating the alert screen.
Charles F. Hughes escorted a convoy to Casablanca returning to New York, in November and December 1943, and on 4 January 1944, sailed from Norfolk, Va., to join the 8th Fleet in the Mediterranean. After convoy operations in North African waters supporting the buildup of forces on the bitterly contested Anzio beachhead, on 7 February she moved north to base at Naples.
Through early March, she returned to Anzio again and again, to provide shore bombardment, screening, and patrol services. For the American troops dug in under almost constant German counterattack, the whistle of shells over head from such ships as Charles F. Hughes was a most comforting sound. From 3 March to 4 April, the destroyer resumed convoy escort duties in North African waters and patrol at Gibraltar, then returned to operate off Anzio until just before the final breakout from the beachhead late in May.
Returning to antisubmarine patrol and escort duties in the western Mediterranean, Charles F. Hughes arrived at Naples 30 July 1944 to prepare for the invasion of southern France. While protecting the eastern flank of the shipping off the beachhead from attack on the night of 19-20 August, she spotted three German E-boats attempting to penetrate the screen, and forced two of them to beach while she sank the third by gunfire. With the beachhead secure, Charles F. Hughes resumed patrol and escort services throughout the western Mediterranean, particularly in the Gulf of Genoa. Between 7 and 16 December, she provided call fire support off Monaco, previously bypassed because of its neutrality, but now under attack because German forces had invested it.
Charles F. Hughes returned to Brooklyn for overhaul 12 January 1945, and after a final convoy escort voyage to Oran, got underway for duty in the Pacific. She arrived at Ulithi 13 June, and through the remainder of the war escorted convoys to Okinawa. Through September and October, she sailed with convoys from Ulithi and the Philippines to Japanese ports and on 4 November, was homeward bound from Tokyo. She arrived at Charleston, S.C., 7 December, and on 18 March 1946 was placed out of commission in reserve.Charles F. Hughes received four battle starts for World War II service.