USS Johnnie Hutchins (DE-360)
USS Johnnie Hutchins (DE-360) was a John C. Butler-class destroyer escort acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War II. The primary purpose of the destroyer escort was to escort and protect ships in convoy, in addition to other tasks as assigned, such as patrol or radar picket. She served her nation in the Pacific Ocean, and, post-war, she returned home proudly with a Navy Unit Commendation awarded to her for her battle with Japanese midget submarines 9 August 1945.
USS Johnnie Hutchins was named in honor of Johnnie David Hutchins who was awarded the nation’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor, for giving his own life in order to save his shipmates on 4 September 1943 aboard USS LST 473 during the assault on Lae, New Guinea. She was laid down 6 March 1944 by Consolidated Steel Corp., Ltd., Orange, Texas; launched 2 May 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Johnnie M. Hutchins, mother of Seaman First Class Hutchins; and commissioned 28 August 1944, Comdr. H. M. Godsey in command.
World War II North Atlantic operations
The new escort vessel sailed for shakedown training out of Bermuda 11 September 1944, and 5 days later encountered the survivors of destroyer USS Warrington (DD-383), sunk in a hurricane off the U.S. East Coast. Johnnie Hutchins rescued 34 officers and men and, after transporting them to Norfolk, Virginia, continued to Bermuda. The ship completed exhaustive shakedown exercises and arrived Boston, Massachusetts, 25 October 1944 for brief coastal convoy duties between that port and Norfolk.
Transfer to the Pacific Theater
Johnnie Hutchins got underway for the Pacific Ocean 30 November from Norfolk, steaming by way of the Panama Canal, Bora Bora, and Manus, and arriving Hollandia 21 January 1945. Five days later she steamed from Humboldt Bay to Leyte on her first Pacific escort assignment, arriving Leyte Gulf 31 January. During the months that followed the ship acted as an escort for resupply and reinforcement convoys from advance bases to Lingayen and Leyte, thus contributing to the imminent defeat of Japan.
Supporting Philippine area operations
The destroyer escort arrived Subic Bay, Philippines, 22 May 1945 to join a hunter-killer group. In June and July she trained with American and British submarines and carried out antisubmarine searches in preparation for the eventual invasion of Japan.
Attacked by Japanese midget submarines
While operating with a task group in the shipping lanes between Luzon and Okinawa 9 August 1945, Johnnie Hutchins encountered a surfaced midget submarine, and was taken under fire. As the ship's accurate gunnery succeeded in sinking the Japanese sub, another fired a torpedo at her. Captain Godsey skillfully avoided the "fish" and with a well-placed series of depth charges sank the second submarine. A third was probably damaged by depth charges the same day.
After the end of the war against Japan, Johnnie Hutchins spent 2 months escorting ships through swept channels and acting as air-sea rescue ship off Okinawa. She also steamed off Japan and Korea during the occupation. In early October the ship arrived Shanghai for duty with U.S. Marines attempting to stabilize the turbulent Chinese situation. She escorted vessels to and from various occupied ports until 22 November 1945 when she weighed anchor in the Yangtze River and headed eastward to Pearl Harbor. Johnnie Hutchins arrived San Pedro, California, 15 December 1945.
Following decommissioning at San Diego, California, 14 May 1946, Johnnie Hutchins made two month-long Naval Reserve training cruises to the Hawaiian Islands, one in the summer of 1948 and one in 1949. In early 1950 the ship steamed through the Panama Canal to Boston, where she was assigned permanent duty as Naval Reserve Training Ship for the 1st Naval District. Johnnie Hutchins was placed in commission "in reserve" 23 June 1950, and in commission 22 November 1950, Lt. Comdr. B. H. Patek in command. With a skeleton crew supplemented by Naval Reservists, the destroyer escort made regular training cruises during the next few years, visiting Montreal, Quebec, and many Caribbean ports. With a task group of other training ships she made a voyage to Europe in June-July 1955.
Johnnie Hutchins continued her vital task of keeping at a high level the skills and readiness of our reserve officers and men until decommissioning 25 February 1958 at Bayonne, New Jersey. She entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet and was berthed at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was struck from the Navy list on 1 July 1972, and, on 5 February 1974, she was sold for scrapping.
- USS Hutchins (DD-476) has a similar name.
- List of United States Navy ships
- World War II
- Destroyer escort
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
- NavSource Online: Destroyer Escort Photo Archive - USS Johnnie Hutchins (DE-360)