Ships of Pearl Harbor: USS Worden

June 12, 2018

Laid down at the Puget Sound Navy Yard in December of 1932, USS Worden (DD-352) was commissioned into the US Navy on January 15, 1935.

Worden spent most of her early years operating out of San Diego, until late in 1939, when, in response to the outbreak of war in Europe, the Navy ordered a contingent of warships to Pearl Harbor.

For the next two years, USS Worden remained in Hawaiian waters and participated in Fleet Problem XXI, a simulated defense of the Hawaiian Islands, after which the entire US Pacific Fleet was relocated to Pearl Harbor. On the morning of December 7th, 1941, Worden was moored alongside destroyer tender USS Dobbin (AD-3), undergoing routine maintenance.

USS Worden and Pearl Harbor

In the chaos of the surprise Japanese attack, it was difficult to get a bearing on the fighters and bombers swooping in on the harbor. That didn’t stop Quartermaster 3rd Class Raymond H. Brubaker, a gunner aboard USS Worden, from manning a .50-caliber Browning machine gun and taking down a Japanese bomber. The action that Worden saw that morning ended with the destroyer having suffered no damage.

As she was still seaworthy, USS Worden took part in the search for the Japanese fleet that launched the attack. Within two hours of the start of the attack, Worden and her crew were out at sea. Three hours after the attack ended, her radar picked up a Japanese submarine and she dropped depth chargers, though she didn’t score a confirmed kill. Although she searched all that day, Worden came up with nothing and eventually met up with USS Neosho (AO-23), a fleet oiler, to escort her to the rendezvous with the aircraft carrier USS Lexington's (CV-2) Task Force 11.

USS Worden and the War in the Pacific

Explosion on the USS Lexington (CV-2), 8 May 1942

Explosion on USS Lexington (CV-2), 8 May 1942

To have survived the attack on Pearl Harbor unscathed was a miracle, but that didn’t guarantee Worden's safety throughout the rest of the war.

USS Worden continued to sail with Lexington until the end of January, when she was assigned to escort the seaplane tender USS Curtiss (AV-4) and oiler USS Platte (AO-24). For the first five months of 1942, she remained safe from conflict, escorting vessels and rejoining Lexington. After Lexington was sunk during Battle of the Coral Sea before grouping up with USS Enterprise (CV-6) and USS Hornet (CV-8). As apart of Task Force 16, Worden took part in the Battle of Midway, the turning point of the war, as a screen for Enterprise and Hornet. From June 4th to June 6th, 1942, she remained with the carriers before returning to Pearl Harbor on the 13th.

Later in 1942, USS Worden served as a screen for the aircraft carriers during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. When the carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) was torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-26, Worden escorted her back to Pearl Harbor for repairs.

The USS Worden Meets Her End

USS Worden (DD-352) breaking up, 12 January 1943

USS Worden (DD-352) breaking up, 12 January 1943

Not long before the end of 1942, Worden was ordered to support the occupation of Amchitka Island, in the Aleutians. Constantine Harbor was rocky and dangerous to maneuver and on January 12, 1943, after a strong current swept against her, Worden was pushed onto a sharp outcropping that ripped through her hull. The engine room flooded, causing a loss of power, and though the destroyer USS Dewey (DD-349) attempted to tow her free, the sea continued to push and pull her in all directions. In the chaotic scene, Worden started to break up. Her commander, William G. Pogue, ordered the ship to be abandoned and, while directing the effort, he was swept overboard. Fourteen crewmen drowned in the frigid seas, but Pogue was pulled from the water alive. Worden, however, was a complete loss, and she was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on December 22nd, 1944.

For her service, USS Worden earned four battle stars.

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