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  USS Aaron Ward DD-483
USN
Benson-Gleaves Class Destroyer

1,839 Tons
348 x 36 x 13
4 x 5" guns
7 x 20mm
2 x dual 40mm
5 x 21 Torpedoes
2 Depth Charge Racks
Click For Enlargement
USN August 17, 1942

Click For Enlargement
Justin Taylan 2006

Ship History
Laid down February 11, 1941 at Federal Shipbuilding and Dry dock Company in Kearney, NJ. Launched on November 22, 1941 and commissioned on March 4, 1942 as USS Aaron Ward. This was the second Navy ship named in honor of Rear Admiral Aaron Ward. Her shakedown cruise was off Maine and outfitting completed at the New York Naval Yard.

Wartime History
On May 20, 1942, Aaron Ward departed for the Pacific via Panama Canal to San Diego, and briefly operated off the west coast. Departed June 30, 1942 for Hawaii then Tonga. During the voyage, the destroyer made two sound contacts and dropped depth charges.

Guadalcanal Campaign
Afterwards, assigned to screening duties for the resupply of Guadalcanal, Aaron Ward departed for the South Pacific.

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
On November 12-13, 1942 participated in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in Iron Bottom Sound. During the action, Aaron Ward led three destroyers in the rear of the column USS Barton (DD-599), USS Monssen (DD-436), and USS Fletcher (DD-445). During the battle, two torpedoes pass beneath USS Aaron Ward, and she engaged targets with gunfire. Hit by a shell in her direction finder and suffered eight direct hits, suffering 15 killed and 57 wounded. She lost steering control on November 13, 1942 at 2:25am and was dead in the water ten minutes later and called for a tug. When tug Bobolink ATO-131 arrived to take her under tow, Japanese battlecruiser Hiei spotted her and fired four salvos before distracted by U. S. planes.

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.

Sinking History
On April 7, 1943, the USS Aaron Ward escorted USS Ward plus three LSTs were moving from Russell Islands to Savo Island. Notified of an impending Japanese air raid (Operation I-Go), Aaron Ward was sent to cover LST 449 off Togoma Point on Guadalcanal arriving at 2:19pm.

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.

Shipwreck
During 1995, discovered by the join efforts of Ewan Stevenson (researcher) and Brian Bayley (first diver) plus the crew of Solomon Sea. The shipwreck sits upright on a sandy bottom at about 240 feet (70m) off Tinete Point, off Florida Island, near Tulagi. The two forward 5" 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).

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:
"I have heard that the Aaron Ward has been intensively stripped for souvenirs now with a band of divers from Sydney particularly thorough. I sincerely regret that I won't have a chance to view some of these artifacts on the wreck. A diver from Aussie phoned me on the weekend and said divers were using crow bars to break into areas on the wreck."

References
X Attack of I-Operation by Richard Dunn
Thanks to Ewan Stevenson and Neil Yates/ Dive Tulagi for additional information

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

SCUBA
240' / 70m

SCUBA
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