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USS Maddox (DD-622)
USS Maddox (DD-622)
Career US flag 48 stars.svg
Builder: Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company
Laid down: 7 May 1942
Launched: 15 September 1942
Commissioned: 31 October 1942
Fate: Sunk in action, 10 July 1943
Struck: 19 August 1943
General characteristics
Class & type: Gleaves-class destroyer
Displacement: 1,630 tons
Length: 348 ft 3 in (106.15 m)
Beam:   36 ft 1 in (11.00 m)
Draft:   11 ft 10 in (3.61 m)
Propulsion: 50,000 shp (37 MW);
4 boilers;
2 propellers
Speed: 37.4 knots (69 km/h)
Range: 6,500 nautical miles at 12 kt
  (12,000 km at 22 km/h)
Complement: 16 officers, 260 enlisted
Armament: 4 × 5 in (127 mm)/38 caliber DP guns
  6 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machineguns
  4 × 40 mm (2×2) and 5 × 20 mm (5×1) AA guns,
5× 21 in (53 cm) torpedo tubes (1x5; 5 Mark 15 torpedos)
  6 × depth charge projectors,
2 × depth charge tracks

USS Maddox (DD-622), a Gleaves-class destroyer, was the 2nd ship of the United States Navy to be named after United States Marine Corps Captain William A. T. Maddox, a hero in the Mexican-American War.

Maddox was laid down 7 May 1942 by the Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company, Kearny, New Jersey; launched 15 September 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Ellen-Venita Browning Wilhoit Gay, great granddaughter of Captain Maddox; and commissioned 31 October 1942, Lieutenant Commander Eugene S. Sarsfield in command.

After shakedown, Maddox departed New York 2 January 1943 for Norfolk, Virginia where she commenced escort duties. Following her first two convoy missions, safeguarding fleet oilers plying between Norfolk and the petroleum centers of Galveston, Texas and Aruba, Maddox began a series of trans-Atlantic voyages escorting convoys from New York and Norfolk to north Africa.

On 8 June 1943, Maddox departed Norfolk for Oran, Algeria, where she became a unit of Task Force 81 (TF81), the assault force for the Sicilian invasion. As the assault troops opened the Amphibious Battle of Gela on 10 July, Maddox was on antisubmarine patrol about 16 miles offshore. A 0458 hours, according to Lieutenant W. R. Laird, Jr (on the Maddox's bridge), the destroyer and the British submarine HMS Safari were attacked by Italian Stuka dive bombers that had cut their engines and dived keeping the sun behind them in order to achieve maximum surprise.[1][2][3][4]The Stuka from 121 Gruppo[5]that sank Maddox dropped four bombs, the first landed in the water, the second two hit the fantail and detonated the powder ammunition magazine and the last bomb hit in the water by the side of the ship. The Maddox sank in 90 seconds, 70 men survived, but 212 men went down with the ship including her captain. The USS Sentinel (a picket ship) was hit by Luftwaffe aircraft, and sank a short time later. Besides the Maddox and the Sentinel sunk of Gela, the American tank landing ship, LST 313 was sunk and another set on fire during the Anglo-American landings and the British hospital ship Talamba and American transport ship Robert Rowan sunk in follow up raids.[6] Lt. Comdr. Sarsfield was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for heroism displayed in supervising abandon ship. His action was responsible for saving the lives of 74 of the crew. In total, the Luftwaffe conducted 370 sorties on the first day of the landings and the Regia Aeronautica completed a further 141 missions.

Maddox was struck from the Navy list 19 August 1943. Maddox received two battle stars for World War II service.

NotesEdit

  1. "At 0458, just as daylight began to spread over the sea, she was attacked by a Stuka. A bomb exploded under her starboard propeller guard, completely demolishing the stern and probably exploding after the magazine. An officer in a distant ship observed: "a great blob of light bleached and reddened the sky, tearing the night into shreds. It was followed by a blast more sullen and deafening than any we have so far heard. Within two minutes Maddox rolled over and sank, taking down most of her crew. Beacon submarine Safari, on her way out, was straddled by two sticks of bombs in the same attack; unhurt she hastened to the spot where Maddox had disappeared, and, in conjunction with stray landing craft, searched for the survivors , but found none." History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Samuel Eliot Morison, pp. 100-101, University of Illinois Press, 2001
  2. "German pilots had learned to hunt stragglers by tracking the ships wakes, then gliding out of the sun with their engines cut. An officer on the Maddox's bridge realized he was under attack only when he heard the whistle of falling bombs. The first detonated twenty five yards astern; a second hit beneath the propeller guard, detonating depth charges aligned on the aft deck." The Day Of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy 1943-44, Rick Atkinson, Hachette, 2013
  3. "While her guns were firing on the shore and her radar was concentrated landward, a lone German Stuka divebomber swooped in on the stern of the unsuspecting destroyer." Blood on the Sea: American Destroyers Lost in World War II, Robert Sinclair Parkin, p. 145, Da Capo Press, 2007
  4. "Therefore, when Allied forces crosssed the narrows to launch Operation Husky on 10 July 1943, the dive-bomber response was entirely in the hands of the Italians ... The Regia Aeronautica had taken delivery of a bunch of Ju87Ds earlier in the year, but rather than re-equip their existing dive-bomber units, the 'Doras' had been used to form two new gruppi: 103° and 121° ... Still working up on Sardinia, the largely inexperienced crews were dispatched at once to southern Italy and Sicily to counter the invasion ... A bomb from an unseen aircraft struck the destroyer's stern, blowing it apart 'in a gust of flame, smoke and debris'. In less than two minutes she had disappeared beneath the waves ... The surviving Doras of 121 Gruppo were to retire back to Sardina before the Sicilian campaign had run its 38-day course." Junkers Ju 87 Stukageschwader of North Africa & the Mediterranean, John Weal, pp.81-82, Osprey Publishing, 1998
  5. "Therefore, when Allied forces crosssed the narrows to launch Operation Husky on 10 July 1943, the dive-bomber response was entirely in the hands of the Italians ... The Regia Aeronautica had taken delivery of a bunch of Ju87Ds earlier in the year, but rather than re-equip their existing dive-bomber units, the 'Doras' had been used to form two new gruppi: 103° and 121° ... Still working up on Sardinia, the largely inexperienced crews were dispatched at once to southern Italy and Sicily to counter the invasion ... A bomb from an unseen aircraft struck the destroyer's stern, blowing it apart 'in a gust of flame, smoke and debris'. In less than two minutes she had disappeared beneath the waves ... The surviving Doras of 121 Gruppo were to retire back to Sardina before the Sicilian campaign had run its 38-day course." Junkers Ju 87 Stukageschwader of North Africa & the Mediterranean, John Weal, pp.81-82, Osprey Publishing, 1998
  6. Circles of Hell: The War in Italy 1943-1945, Eric Morris, p. 73, Hutchinson, 1993

ReferencesEdit

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here. Keith Andrew Steele was one of the 74 survivors. The survivors not only survived the sinking, but survived strafing from the plane that sunk them. The survivors swam in shark infested waters for 17 hours before being rescued.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 36°52′N 13°56′E / 36.867°N 13.933°E / 36.867; 13.933


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