The "Little Beaver" Destroyer Squadron 23 was activated 11 May 1943, when Captain M.J. Gilliam assumed command at the Boston Navy Yard. Of the original vessels of the squadron, only Foote (DD-511), Charles Ausburne (DD-570), and Spence (DD-512), were present. The remainder of the squadron, Aulick (DD-569), Claxton (DD-571), Dyson (DD-572), Converse (DD-509) and Thatcher (DD-514), were operating on detached duty as they had been since late December 1942 when most of them had completed their initial training.
In late May, COMDESRON 23 sailed for the Pacific to join other vessels of the squadron which had preceded him. On 2 June 1943, he reported for duty to Commander in Chief, Pacific at Balboa, and sailed for Noumea. Here on 29 June, Destroyer Squadron 23 became part of Admiral William F. HALSEY'S 'Hit hard, hit fast, hit often!' THIRD Fleet, which had been formed 15 March 1943. Less Aulick, temporarily out of action after running aground in poorly charted waters, Destroyer Squadron 23 assumed duty on patrol and escort in the Southwest Pacific, calling at Efate, Noumea, Guadalcanal, and Espiritu Santo. From August 1943, the squadron's operations were concentrated in the Guadalcanal area. As the Battle for Guadalcanal raged, the squadron escorted precious men and material to the island, and sortied up the infamous "Slot" in the efforts to break up Japanese attacks and efforts to reinforce the island.
Destroyer Squadron 23 won its great fame, and a Presidential Unit Citation, under its second commander, who broke his flag 23 October 1943. This was Captain Arleigh A. Burke. A firm believer in the "attack-attack-attack" school of destroyer tactics, Admiral Burke led his squadron into action in the Bougainville operations when on the night of 1 November 1943, the squadron bombarded the Buka-Bonis area and proceeded to cover the landings at Empress Augusta Bay. Here Japanese surface and air forces precipitated the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay, first of the actions for which Destroyer Squadron 23 was cited. In this battle, Foote and Thatcher were heavily damaged by the enemy, and put out of action for the remainder of the Solomons Islands Campaign.
Destroyer Squadron 23 continued to cover the movement of forces into the Empress Augusta Bay region, fighting off Japanese air attacks, attacking Japanese vessels, bombarding Buka and Bonis once again. On 24 November 1943, came the Battle of Cape St. George where the squadron took on six enemy destroyers. In what has been described by tacticians as the "near perfect surface actions, the 'Little Beavers' sank four enemy destroyers, and damaged two, one badly, without injury to themselves. In this action, Admiral Burke gave the squadron its name, and soon after, an appropriate squadron insignia was designed by Fred Harmon, creator of the "Red Ryder" comic strip.
The "Little Beavers" added even more glory to their name through the remainder of the Bougainville operations, at Green Island, Rabaul, Kavieng, and Truk. During the period 1 November 1943 to 23 February 1944, for which the Presidential Unit Citation was awarded, the Squadron participated in 22 separate engagements, and reduced the Japanese Navy by one cruiser, nine destroyers, one submarine, and several smaller ships sunk and destroyed approximately 30 aircraft. In addition, a number of other surface and aircraft were damaged, and great damage inflicted in shore bombardment actions.
On 27 March 1944, Admiral Burke was relieved by Commander R.W. Cavenagh, who had temporary command of the Squadron until 8 April 1944, when Captain T.B. Dugan assumed command.
Destroyer Squadron 23's operations in the Pacific continued through the Liberation of the Philippines, where Spence was lost in a typhoon 18 December 1944. Months of action off Okinawa saw the Squadron distinguish itself on patrol and radar-picket duties. Here, on 12 April 1945, Stanly was badly damaged by a piloted bomb. At Okinawa, Captain Dugan was relieved on 26 July 1945 by Captain H.H. McIlheny, who had temporary command until 13 August 1945, when Captain W.C. Ford reported as Commander Destroyer Squadron 23.
The veterans of Destroyer Squadron 23 returned to the United States in the fall of 1945 and on 19 October were met at the Washington Navy Yard by Admiral Burke and Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, who presented the Presidential Unit Citation to the Squadron. In February 1946, the Squadron was inactivated and the ships placed in mothballs at Charleston, South Carolina.
On April 4, 1956, the Squadron was reactivated under the command of Captain E.K. Wakefield, USN, with the following ships as Destroyer division 231: USS Picking (DD-685) Flagship, USS Potter (DD-538) USS Preston (DD-795), and the USS Irwin (DD-794). On 17 June 1958 DesDiv 232, formerly DesDiv 92, was redesignated and joined DesDiv 231 in Long Beach to complete the new Destroyer Squadron 23. DesDiv 232 consisted of USS Maddox (DD-731), Flagship USS Herbert J. Thomas (DDR-833), USS Brush (DD-745), and USS Samuel N. Moore (DD-747), commanded by H.W. Baker, CAPT, USN. In May 1956 the USS Irwin was replaced by the USS Fechteler (DDR-870).
Destroyer Division 231 was deployed to Western Pacific on 5 June 1956. This tour included operations under Seventh Fleet until November. While with Seventh Fleet DesDiv 231 participated in several Task Force Operations and was a part of the Taiwan Patrol. During this stay she visited ports in Japan, Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan. On 18 November 1956 she returned to her home port in Long Beach.
On 8 July 1956 Destroyer Division 232 completed their Underway Training and on 16 August 1956 DesDiv 232 departed for a tour of duty in WestPac. Some of the ports included during this tour were Pearl Harbor, Yokosuka, Kobe, Sasebo and Buckner Bay, Okinawa. Also included in this tour was three months on the Formosan Patrol.
DesDiv 232 arrived back in Long Beach on 17 February 1957. Commander Destroyer Division 232 during this period was Captain H.W. BAKER, USN, who was relieved by Captain C.B. CARROLL, USN, in March 1957.
The Squadron was rededicated as the "Little Beavers" on 12 December 1956 by Rear Admiral Chester WOOD, USN, Commander Cruiser Destroyer Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet in ceremonies at Long Beach, and on behalf of Admiral Burke the original oil painting of "The Little Beaver" was presented to the Squadron.
Captain H.D. Sturr, USN, relieved Captain Wakefield as Squadron Commander in April 1957. The Squadron remained in the United States for about eight months and departed for another Western Pacific tour in August 1957. Destroyer Division 231 enjoyed a good will tour of the South Pacific and New Zealand during this period. Destroyer Division 232's tour took them to Australia with the exception of the Moore which remained in Pearl Harbor for repairs, also included in the tour were operations in the Philippine Islands and in port at Subic Bay, Kobe, and Honshu. Hold-down Exercises were conducted during this period. Other operations during this tour included for DesDiv 232 Formosan Patrol and exercises conducted with the Chinese Nationalist Navy. DesDiv 231 returned to Long Beach on 24 January 1958 and DesDiv 232 returned on 1 March 1958. The Squadron then underwent shipyard overhaul and Refresher Training.
In April 1958 Captain Sturr was relieved as Commander Destroyer Squadron 23 by Captain J.E. Smith, USN and Captain S.L. Johnson, USN, relieved Captain Carroll as Commander Destroyer Division 232. In June 1958 the USS Potter was decommissioned without replacement and in October 1958 the Squadron departed for WestPac. DesDiv 232's tour included Operations off the coast of Japan and conducting of ASWEX with the Japanese self-defense Forces. Further operations were conducted off the coast of the Philippine Islands, Okinawa and Formosa. On 7 April 1959 DesDiv 232 departed for Long Beach via Pearl Harbor, and Midway conducting operations and type training enroute, arriving in Long Beach on 22 April 1959. DesDiv 231's tour included visits to Japan, the Philippines, Korea, and Hong Kong, returning to the United States on 27 March 1959. On it's arrival DesDiv 231 was joined by the USS Edson (DD-946), one of the latest type general purpose destroyer to join the fleet. The Squadron Flag was shifted to the Edson on 4 May 1959.
Captain T.H. Morton, USN relieved Captain Smith as Squadron Commander in May 1959. and Commander E.M. Glenn, USN relieved Captain Johnson as Commander Destroyer Division 232. During July 1959 DesDiv 232 participated in "WINGOVER" replenishment exercise and FLEET REVIEW San Francisco. On 1 August 1959 DesDiv 232 was designated a part of "Semi Permanent HUK Group ALFA". During August 1959 the Squadron participated in ADEX, SLAMEX Exercises and SEAFAIR Pagent in Seattle, Washington. For the remaining four months of 1959 the Squadron participated in local operations along the coast of California.
The Squadron departed Long Beach, California on 5 January for a tour of duty in WestPac. At Pearl Harbor the Squadron separated leaving DesDiv 232 in Pearl Harbor to conduct Anti-Submarine Exercises.
DesDiv 231 arrived at Guam where on 1 February 1960 Captain T.D. Cunningham, USN relieved Captain T.H. Morton as Commander Destroyer Squadron 23. The Division proceeded to the Formosa Straits for patrol. After completion of this duty and a week in Hong Kong, the Division then rendezvoused with other units of the Seventh Fleet for amphibious exercise, BLUE STAR. Following this operation the Division had availability in Yokosuka, Japan, and was then assigned duty with the USS Ranger (CVA-61). When the Division departed from the USS Ranger it set sail for CONUS. On 31 May 1960 the Division returned to Long Beach, California. On 13 July 1960 Captain J.L. Kelley, Jr., USN, relieved Captain T.D. Cunningham as Commander Destroyer Squadron 23. Following a long period of major overhaul in the Long Beach Naval Shipyard, which was completed late in October 1960, the Division began Refresher Training. This Training was completed on 20 January 1961.
Following the departure of the first Division, the second Division began operations in MIDPAC with the USS Yorktown (CVS-10). On 18 February 1960 Commander B.A. Lienhard, USN relieved Captain E.M. Glenn as Commander Destroyer Division 232. The Division departed from Pearl Harbor on 23 February with the Yorktown enroute to Yokosuka, Japan. During the month of March the Division conducted extensive exercises. In April the Division took part in operation "BLUE STAR" and on the 28th of April began participation in Operation SEALION. Operation "SEALION" came to a close on 11 May and the Division returned to Buckner Bay. The 15th of June the Brush and Preston put to sea to become a part of the unit forming a communication link for the President's flight from Korea to Hawaii On the 26th of June the Division, with Yorktown, went to sea. In July the Division returned to Yokosuka to make final preparations for departure from the WestPac area. They then returned to Long Beach on the 28th of July for a thirty day period of "rest and recreation" during the month of August. In September the Division, less the Maddox, undertook local operations and type training off the coast of California. In October the Division began overhaul period in Long Beach Naval Shipyard, for a three month period thru December.
Destroyer Division 231, upon completion of Refresher Training participated in local operations along the coast of California. Included in this Operating period were: operations "Greenlight" and "Tailwind". Beginning 7 June the Division spent four days visiting Portland, Oregon, for the Rose Festival. On 21 June 1961 Captain J. L. Kelley, Jr., USN, was relieved by Captain F. E. McEntire Jr., USN, as Commander of Destroyer Squadron 23. The Division departed Long Beach, California on 11 August 1961 for a tour of duty in the Western Pacific. Upon departure from Pearl Harbor, Destroyer Division 231 became part of the largest Task Force to sail in the Pacific since the Korean action. The task force consisted of: the USS Ranger (CVA-61), USS Yorktown (CVS-10), USS Helena (CA-75), USS Los Angeles (CA-135), USS Koontz (DLG-9), Destroyer Division 232, units of Destroyer Division 253, and later the USS Sculpin (SSN 590). Duty with the Seventh Fleet found DESDIV 231 operating with the USS Ranger (CVA-61) and the USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14). During the month of December 1961 the Division was split up; the USS Edson and the USS Picking were on the Taiwan Patrol; while the USS Fechteler and USS Herbert J. Thomas operated with the USS Ranger out of Japan. The ports visited thus far have been: Yokosuka, Sasebo and Iwakuni, Japan; Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines; Hong Kong, British Crown Colony; and Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
Destroyer Division 232, upon completion of overhaul and refresher training again Joined the Yorktown to form a Hunter-Killer Group. On February 18, 1961 Commander K. W. Simmons USN, relieved Captain B. A. Lienhard, USN, as Commander Destroyer Division 232. The Division conducted ASW operations as a unit of Task Group 14.7 off the coast of California until Deployment on 29 July 1961. The Division operated in MlDPAC until departure on 26 August 1961 as a unit of Task Force 15. Since the Division's arrival in WestPac it has operated as a unit of Task Group 70.4. Shortly after arrival in WestPac ships of the Division made goodwill visits to ports in Kokkaido. Maddox with Commander Destroyer Division 232 embarked visited Wakkanai; Brush and Moore visited Kushiro. The Division participated in exercise "Base Hit" in November, 1961.
COMDESRON TWO THREE serves as Immediate Superior in Command (ISIC) for seven ships: USS CURTS (FFG 38), USS JOHN PAUL JONES (DDG 53), USS PINCKNEY (DDG 91), USS SAMPSON (DDG 102), USS VANDEGRIFT (FFG 48), USS WILLIAM P LAWRENCE (DDG 110), and USS SPRUANCE (DDG 111). Our highest priority is our ships’ readiness for operations in forward areas. We provide oversight for maintenance, manning and the Unit Level Training cycle. We also plan and conduct at-sea exercises to develop integrated skills for our deploying ships.
COMDESRON TWO THREE maintains tactical and operational proficiency to serve as a staff in operations and exercises. We hone our planning and command and coordination skills, and maintain situational awareness of current conditions and operations in forward operating Numbered Fleets.
COMDESRON TWO THREE performs duties as Commander Pacific Partnership 2011, COMPACTFLT’s humanitarian and civil assistance mission to Tonga, Vanuatu, Micronesia, Timor-Leste and the Federated States of Micronesia. Pacific Partnership is aimed at strengthening regional relationships with Southeast Asian and Oceania nations that might be called upon in the future to respond to natural or humanitarian disasters in the region. We enhance these relationships though medical, dental and engineering projects, as well as subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs). Pacific Partnership provides relationship-building opportunities necessary to forge lasting partnerships that can successful conduct joint humanitarian missions.
Ships of Destroyer Squadron 23
(Click on crest to visit ship's web site)