USS Waldron (DD-699) / ARC Santander
16 November 1943
26 March 1944
7 June 1944
30 October 1973
31 October 1973
Sold to Colombia 30 October 1973 renamed
ARC Santander (DD-03) stricken and scrapped in 1986
376 ft 6 in (114.8 m)
40 ft (12.2 m)
15 ft 8 in (4.8 m)
60,000 shp (45 MW);
34 knots (63 km/h)
6500 nmi. (12,000 km)
@ 15 kt
6 × 5 in./38 guns (12 cm),
12 × 40mm AA guns,
11 × 20mm AA guns,
10 × 21 in. torpedo tubes,
6 × depth charge projectors,
2 × depth charge tracks
USS Waldron (DD-699), an Allen MAOG-50. Sumner-class destroyer, was
named for John C. Waldron, was a U.S. Naval aviator who led a squadron of torpedo
bombers in World War II.
The Waldron was laid down on 16 November 1943 at Kearny, N.J., by the Federal Shipbuilding
& Drydock Co.; launched on 26 March 1944; sponsored by Miss Nancy Waldron; and
commissioned at the New York Navy Yard on 7 June 1944, Comdr. George E. Peckham
Waldron conducted shakedown in the vicinity of Bermuda during the early summer of
1944. She conducted post-shakedown availability at New York from 22 July until 6
August and then headed back to the Bermuda area for further training. The destroyer
returned to New York in mid-September but got underway again on the 26th. Steaming
via the Delaware capes, the warship arrived at the Panama Canal on 1 October. She
transited the canal that same day and reported for duty with the Pacific Fleet.
She departed Balboa on 4 October, stopped at San Pedro, Calif., from 12 to 14 October,
and arrived in Pearl Harbor on 20 October. She remained in the Hawaiian Islands
until 17 December, at which time she got underway for the western Pacific. She arrived
in Ulithi lagoon on 28 December and reported for duty in the screen of the Fast
Carrier Task Force (TF-38/58).
Waldron spent her entire World War II service with the fast carriers. She departed
Ulithi with TF 38 on 30 December and protected the carriers while they launched
their planes against enemy installations on 3 and 4 January 1945. On the 6th and
7th, her charges' aircraft pummeled targets on the island of Luzon. Both raids were
part of the preparations for the amphibious assault on Luzon carried out at Lingayen
Gulf on 9 January. While the troops stormed ashore there, however, Waldron and the
carriers had returned north to suppress enemy air power on Formosa during the actual
assault. That same day, she steamed through Bashi Channel into the South China Sea
with TF 38 to begin a series of raids on Japan's inner defenses. First on the agenda
came Camranh Bay in Indochina, where Admiral Halsey hoped to find battleships Ise
and Hyuga. Unknown to the American Fleet, however, was the fact that the two Japanese
warships had moved south to safer waters at Singapore. The raids went forward anyhow
on 12 January, and the naval aviators still managed to rack up a stupendous score:
44 ships sunk, 15 of which were Japanese combatants and the remainder being merchant
ships. After fueling on the 13th, TF 38, with Waldron still in the screen, carried
out air attacks on Hainan Island and on Hong Kong. The following day, the planes
of TF 38 returned to Formosa for antishipping sweeps and attacks on the Formosa
On 16 January, the carriers launched their planes against Hainan and Hong Kong once
more. Late on the 20th, Waldron the antimine and antisubmarine patrol—led
TF 38 out of the South China Sea through Balintang Channel and into the Philippine
Sea. The destroyer and her charges returned to their base at Ulithi on the 26th
after conducting strikes on Formosa and on Okinawa.
Waldron remained at Ulithi until 10 February at which time she got underway again
with TF 58, this time to support the assault on Iwo Jima scheduled for the 19th.
As a part of that support, the carriers planned to carry out the first carrier-based
air strikes on Japan since the Doolittle Raid of 1942. On 16 and 17 February, the
carriers of TF 58 sent their aircraft aloft for raids on the Tokyo area of Honshu.
The task force then began its retirement to Iwo Jima, there to provide air support
for the following day's invasion.
On the night of 17 and 18 February, Waldron's task group encountered several small
Japanese patrol craft. One of the craft attacked Dortch (DD-670) with her 3-inch
guns, killing three of the destroyer's crewmen. Due to darkness and the proximity
of Dortch and Charles S. Sperry (DD-697), Waldron could not bring her battery to
bear. Instead, she laid on a course for the enemy craft and charged her at 21 knots.
At about 0509 on the 18th, Waldron rammed the Japanese picket boat amidships and
cut her neatly in two. About four hours later, the destroyer received orders detaching
her from TF 58 to head for Saipan and repairs to her bow.
The warship arrived at Saipan on 20 February, completed repairs quickly, and departed
Saipan in the afternoon of the 23rd. Upon arrival off Iwo Jima on the 25th, Waldron
reported to TF 51 for temporary duty with the transport screen. During that assignment,
she also provided naval gunfire support for the troops operating ashore on the 26th
and 27th. On 27 February, the destroyer rejoined the screen of TG 58.3. After an
air strike on Okinawa on 1 March, she headed back to Ulithi with the carriers, arriving
there on 4 March.
Ten days later, Waldron exited the lagoon once again on her way back to the Japanese
home islands with the fast carriers. She arrived in Japanese home waters on 18 March,
and the carriers began launching strikes on Kyushu airfields that same day. Later
that day, the enemy counterattacked with kamikazes and succeeded in crashing Franklin
(CV-13). Waldron was one of the ships assigned to cover the severely damaged carrier
during the initial stage of her retirement from action. Antiaircraft action continued
throughout the three days Waldron provided escort for Franklin; and, on the night
of 20 and 21 March, the destroyer scored a kill of her own when her radar-directed
main battery brought down a Japanese "Judy." She took another intruder under fire
briefly that night, but technical problems prevented a second kill. On 22 March,
she rejoined the main carrier force and resumed her screening duties while the planes
struck at Okinawa and Kyushu in preparation for the invasion of Okinawa.
For the next three months, Waldron continued to screen the carriers during their
support missions for the Okinawa campaign. During that time, she was engaged in
a number of antiaircraft actions and participated in two shore bombardments of air
installations on Minami Daito Shima. The one antiaircraft action which resulted
in a definite kill for the destroyer occurred on 14 May, although she claimed four
sure assists in addition during that period. On 26 May, she cleared the Ryukyus
with her task group and, on 1 June, arrived at San Pedro Bay, Leyte, for a much-needed
availability. The destroyer remained at San Pedro Bay until 1 July at which time
she returned to sea with TF 38.
For the remainder of World War II, she steamed with the fast carriers during the
final strikes on the Japanese home islands. The 15 August cessation of hostilities
found her still off the Japanese coast in company with TF 38. She screened the carriers
while their aircraft covered the initial occupation of Japan. That duty lasted until
10 September, at which time she finally entered Tokyo Bay.
During the immediate postwar period, Waldron remained in the Far East in support
of American occupation forces. In addition to Japan, she visited Saipan, Eniwetok,
and Okinawa during the repatriation of Japanese—both military and civilian—back
to Japan. On 4 November, she departed Okinawa, bound for home. After stops at Eniwetok
and Pearl Harbor, the warship arrived at San Francisco on 20 January 1946. From
there, she moved to Portland, Oreg., whence she departed on 4 February. The destroyer
transited the Panama Canal on 14 February and arrived in Norfolk on the 19th.
Waldron operated along the east coast of the United States for about three months.
Early in May, she began an extended repair period at the Boston Naval Shipyard and
did not return to active service until the end of the year. During the first few
months of 1947, the destroyer operated out of Charleston, S.C.; but, by June, she
had been reassigned to New Orleans. For the next two years, she cruised the waters
of the Gulf of Mexico and the West Indies as a training platform for reservists
of the 8th Naval District. In August of 1949, she made a visit to Norfolk, Va.,
before getting underway for a deployment to European waters on 6 September. During
the first part of that deployment, Waldron cruised northern European waters visiting
British and western European ports. Midway through November, however, she transited
the Straits of Gibraltar and entered the Mediterranean Sea. She cruised the length
and breadth of the Mediterranean, making a number of port visits, until 28 January
1950 when she retransited the Straits of Gibraltar. She arrived back in Norfolk
on 7 February but remained only until the 16th on which day she made the brief voyage
to Charleston, S.C. Following pre-inactivation overhaul, Waldron was decommissioned
on 17 May 1950 and was berthed with the Charleston Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet.
Less than six weeks later, however, events in the Far East transpired which brought
her back into active service before the end of the year. On 25 June, the forces
of communist North Korea invaded the Republic of Korea to the south. The compelling
need to send most available active combat ships to the Far East to support the United
States and United Nations commitment to help the South Koreans meant that many others
in reserve had to be reactivated to take their places. Accordingly, the decision
to reactivate Waldron came on 17 August, just three months after her decommissioning.
On 20 November 1950, Waldron was recommissioned at Charleston, Comdr. James C. Shaw
in command. She conducted shakedown training out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from December
1950 to March 1951. After post-shakedown availability at Charleston, she moved to
her new home port, Norfolk, in August. In September, she departed Norfolk for a
10-week cruise to northern European waters before entering the Mediterranean for
duty with the 6th Fleet. Early in February 1952, the destroyer returned to Norfolk
and resumed 2nd Fleet operations from that base.
During the summer of 1952, Waldron voyaged to Europe once more with Naval Academy
midshipmen embarked for their summer training cruise. She completed that voyage
in September and returned to Atlantic Fleet duty out of Norfolk. In March 1953,
the warship began an overhaul at the Charleston Naval Shipyard. She completed repairs
in June and conducted refresher training in the Guantanamo Bay operating area before
resuming normal operations out of Norfolk at the end of the month.
On 2 November, the destroyer departed Norfolk for a tour of duty in the Far East.
She transited the Panama Canal on the 9th and continued her voyage west. She stopped
at Pearl Harbor along the way and arrived in Yokosuka, Japan, on 9 December. Her
duty in the Orient took her to Japanese and Korean ports, and she served as a unit
of the United Nations security forces on patrol in the wake of the cessation of
hostilities in Korea the previous summer. That assignment lasted until 7 April 1954,
at which time she departed Sasebo for home. Steaming via Hong Kong, Singapore, Ceylon,
the Suez Canal, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean, Waldron completed
a circumnavigation of the globe at Norfolk on 4 June.
In July, the ship resumed normal operations along the east coast and in the West
Indies. That duty continued until the spring of 1956. On 1 April, she stood out
of Chesapeake Bay on her way to the Mediterranean for her second tour of duty with
the 6th Fleet.
Over the next decade, Waldron alternated operations out of Norfolk with a series
of deployments to the 6th Fleet in the "middle sea." In June of 1962, the destroyer
began a fleet rehabilitation and modernization (FRAM) overhaul at the Norfolk Naval
Shipyard to update her antisubmarine capabilities. At the conclusion of those alterations,
the warship returned to normal operations and completed her decade of deployments
and duty in home waters.
The summer of 1967, however, brought a different, though by no means new, type of
assignment—duty in the Far East. On 5 July 1967, she stood out of Norfolk,
bound for the Panama Canal. The destroyer transited the canal on 10 July. After
stops at San Diego and Pearl Harbor, she arrived in Yokosuka on 10 August. She departed
Yokosuka on 13 August and, after stops at Okinawa and Subic Bay, arrived in Vietnamese
waters on the 24th. Patrolling near the 17th parallel, she provided gunfire support
for the III Marine Amphibious Force (MAF) during operations ashore against communist
forces. That first line period lasted until 17 September when she got underway for
a port visit to Kaohsiung, Taiwan. She stopped at Kaohsiung from 20 September to
1 October and then moved on to Hong Kong, which port she visited between 2 and 6
On the 9th, she resumed naval gunfire support duties in Vietnamese waters, this
time off the coast of the II Corps tactical zone. During her second tour on the
gunline, Waldron's main battery supported troops of the Army's 1st Air Cavalry Division
and of the South Vietnamese 40th Division. On 20 October, she concluded her assignments
on the gunline and headed for Yankee Station to join the fast carriers of TF 77.
Two days later, she rendezvoused with Task Group (TG) 77.8 for two weeks of planeguard
duty with the carriers. She departed the war zone again on 3 November and, after
a stop at Okinawa, arrived in Yokosuka on the 8th.
A week later, she headed back to Yankee Station with TG 77.8 but parted company
with the group on the 18th for a stop at Subic Bay. Waldron returned to Vietnamese
waters on 24 November and took up naval gunfire support duties once again off the
coast of the II Corps zone. That assignment endured until 10 December when she cleared
the war zone for the last time. She made a stop at Subic Bay and then arrived in
Yokosuka on 22 December.
Four days later, the destroyer set out for the United States. After stops at Midway
and Pearl Harbor, she arrived in San Francisco on 9 January 1968. From there, she
headed via San Diego to the Panama Canal which she transited on the 25th. Waldron
reentered Norfolk on 30 January.
Over the next two years, the destroyer resumed her schedule of Atlantic coast operations
alternated with two more deployments to the Mediterranean. On 1 April 1970, Waldron
was reassigned to Naval Reserve training under the control of the Commandant, 6th
Naval District. Her new home port was Mayport, Fla. She arrived there on 7 May 1970
and began cruises along the Florida coast and in the West Indies training reservists.
That duty lasted until the fall of 1973. On 30 October 1973, Waldron was decommissioned
at Mayport. She was simultaneously transferred, by sale, to the Colombian Navy,
in which she was commissioned as ARC Santander (DD-03). Her name was struck from
the US Navy list on 31 October 1973. As of the beginning of 1980, Santander was
still active with the Colombian Navy.
Waldron earned four battle stars during World War II and one battle star for service
during the Vietnam conflict