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Benson-Gleaves Class Destroyer
348 x 36 x 13
4 x 5" guns
7 x 20mm
2 x dual 40mm
5 x 21 Torpedoes
2 Depth Charge Racks
USN August 17, 1942
Justin Taylan 2006
On September 15, 1942 was in the vicinity of USS Wasp (CV-7) when the carrier was sunk by Japanese submarine I-19. Attacked by Japanese B5N1 Kates and A6M2 Zeros at 0724, with three bombs exploding astern of the ship 100-300 yards away and was delayed an hour due to a Japanese raid.
On on October 17, 1942 Aaron Ward and USS Lardner shelled Kokumbona on Guadalcanal aboard were Marines and Coastwatcher Martin Clemens to spot targets. Three days later, assisted USS Chester CA-27 hit by a torpedo from I-76, and dropped depth charges on the sub, then escorted the ship to Espirito Santo.
On October 30, 1942 Aaron Ward returned to Guadalcanal to preformed another shore bombardment. On November 11-12, 1942 Aaron Ward guarded troops landing and claimed a plane shot down and damaged two others.
Naval Battle off Guadalcanal
Afterwards, towed by Bobolink ATO-131 to Tulagi arriving at 8:30am and temporarily repaired before departing for Pearl Harbor arriving on December 20, 1942. Repaired, she rejoined the fleet on February 6, 1943, and preformed escort duties again, including repelling an air attack on March 20, 1943.
Dogfights erupted in the sky and three planes attacked the Aaron Ward, which returned fire with her 20mm, 40mm and 5" guns. Three bombs struck near the ship: one near miss tore holes in the side, second hit the engine room, third hit near port side causing more holes, 20 were KIA, 7 MIA and 59 WIA. The crew struggled to control the damage, and the crew attempted to beach the damaged ship but instead sank at 9:35pm near Tinete Point on Nggela Pile (Small Gela) to the south of Florida Island (Nggela Sule, Big Gela) and Tulagi Island.
Because of the depth of this wreck, all dives are decompression dives which require the appropriate training and experience in extended range diving. For safety reasons, twin tanks with a separate regulator and gauge on each tank, and a dive computer are required for this dive, and extended range protocols are enforced. In order to stay within the maximum depth for air diving, it is recommended that divers not descend below the deck level.
A dive to the two forward 5 inch guns and the bow, reaches a depth of about 200 feet (60 m). You can then ascend to the bridge, examine the 20mm Oerlikons and the gun director (165 feet/50m). A slightly deeper dive involves heading aft past the torpedo tubes, rear funnel, searchlight, 40mm Bofors, aft 5 inch guns, to the severely damaged stern. The depth charge racks, rudder and one propeller can be seen without going below 215 feet (65 m). Aaron Ward is the only SCUBA diveable US warship aside from Bikini Atoll.
Ewan Stevenson adds:
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