USS Spence (DD-512)

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USS Spence (DD-512)
USS Spence (DD-512)
Type destroyer
Keel laying May 18, 1942
Launch October 27, 1942
1. Period of service flag
period of service

January 8, 1943 -
December 18, 1944

Whereabouts sunk in the storm
Technical specifications

2,100 ts


114.7 meters


12.2 meters


5.4 meters


9 officers, 264 sailors


4 boilers, 2 steam turbines, 2 shafts, 60,000 hp


35 knots


6,500  nautical miles (11,700 km) at 15 knots

  • 5 × 5 inch / 38 caliber -Mk. 30 single towers
  • 4 × 1.1-inch AA guns (quad mount)
  • 6 × 20 mm AA guns (single mounts)
  • 10 × 21-inch torpedo tubes (2 groups of five)
  • 6 WaBo turrets , 2 WaBo drainage racks

The USS Spence (DD-512) was a destroyer of Fletcher class of United States Navy . It was named after Robert T. Spence, a naval officer who commanded a gunboat during the British-American War . The Spence was the only Fletcher-class ship that was lost in a storm during World War II .


For full details, see the Class Article: Fletcher Class

Hull and drive

The hull of the Spence was 114.7 meters long and 12.2 meters wide. The draft was 5.4 meters, the displacement was 2,100  ts . The ship was powered by two General Electric steam turbines, and the steam was generated in four Babcock & Wilcox boilers. The power was 60,000 shaft horsepower, the top speed was over 35  knots .

Armament and Electronics

The main armament of the Spence when it was commissioned was its five 5-inch / 127-mm-Mark 30 single turrets. In addition, there were various anti-aircraft guns , which were reinforced in the course of the war.

The Spence had been equipped with radar since it was commissioned . An SG and an SC radar antenna were mounted on the mast above the bridge, with which aircraft could be located at distances between 15 and 30 nautical miles and ships between 10 and 22 nautical miles.


Construction and commissioning

The Spence was laid down on May 18, 1942 at Bath Iron Works in Bath , Maine . After being christened by Ms. Eben Learned, she was launched on October 27, 1942, and after further refitting, the ship was put into service by the Navy on January 8, 1943. At the beginning of February the destroyer made its first voyages, they led to tests in Guantánamo Bay .


The first missions led the Spence as a convoy escort across the Atlantic to Casablanca . After returning to the east coast, she left for Pearl Harbor via San Francisco on July 25th . On August 25, she was assigned to Task Group 1.2 around the aircraft carriers Princeton and Belleau Wood , which supported the American landing on Baker Island on September 1. On September 13th, the Spence continued to Éfaté , where it arrived on the 18th. On September 22nd, she left for Tulagi with Destroyer Squadron 23 . In the following weeks, the association operated off Vella Lavella , where the destroyer was also involved in the sinking of several Japanese transport ships. On October 23, Arleigh Burke took command of the destroyer association, under which the Spence supported, among other things, the landing at Cape Torokina in the Empress Augusta Bay . In the night from November 1st to November 2nd, the association was involved in the naval battle near the Empress Augusta Bay . The Spence itself was badly hit, but was able to knock down the Japanese destroyer Hatsukaze , which sank shortly afterwards. A Japanese air strike the next morning failed to score.

On November 3, the Spence returned to Purvis Bay in the Florida Islands to repair the damage caused by the battle. Together with the cruiser Nashville , she then returned to Neworgia , where she mostly escorted transport ships in the following weeks. On November 24th, the unit attacked Japanese destroyers attempting to evacuate an airfield on Buka Island . Three of the five ships were sunk in the Battle of Cape St. George without American losses.


Spence in San Francisco Bay, October 1944

The patrol operations in the sea area of ​​the Solomon Islands lasted until the end of February 1944, during which time the Spence was involved in the sinking of several Japanese transporters and the bombing of various coastal positions. On March 1, she was assigned to Task Force 39, which supported the landing on Emirau in the Bismarck Archipelago . At the end of March, the Spence ran out with Task Force 58 , which launched attacks against Palau, Yap, Ulithi and Woleai in the Caroline Islands . After overhaul work on Majuro, the destroyer then took part in the Battle of the Mariana Islands and shelled Japanese positions on Rota , Guam and Saipan . He also sank several Japanese transport ships. On August 4, the Spence bunkered on Eniwetok fuel en route to the US west coast and arrived in San Francisco on August 18, where it went into dry dock for over a month. On October 5th, she lifted anchor and steamed over Pearl Harbor and Eniwetok back to the sea area of ​​the Palau Islands, where she arrived in early November. She was assigned to Task Group 38.1, which accompanied the aircraft carriers of Task Force 38. These should support the landing in the Philippines in mid-December.


On December 17, the Spence was about 380 nautical miles east of Manila , preparing to take fuel from the New Jersey by pumping the salt water from the ballast tanks. Because of the bad weather, which led to a near collision of the ships and the breakage of the fuel lines, the bunkering was canceled. Overnight, however, the storm grew to hurricane strength. A typhoon approached and the ship's formation fought its way through meter-high wave peaks. After the ship rolled 72 degrees to port, the electrical system failed and the pumps failed. At around eleven o'clock on the morning of December 18, the Spence capsized and sank up to the keel, only 24 crew members survived the sinking. The destroyers Hull and Monaghan also sank in the storm. In the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg , Texas , a plaque commemorates the victims of the sinking.

The Spence received a Presidential Unit Citation and eight Battle Stars for its use with Destroyer Squadron 23 .

Web links

Commons : USS Spence (DD-512)  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files