Modified at East Coast navy yards, they underwent refresher training and then transited the Panama Canal in ones and twos. In the Pacific, they trained for Operation “Iceberg,” the Okinawa Gunto invasion, at Hawaii in February and Ulithi in March. There on the 14th, while following Ellyson over a reef during calibrating operations, Fitch struck a coral head and badly damaged both screws. Under repair at Pearl Harbor from 10 April to 6 August, she missed “Iceberg” but afterward joined the Third Fleet off Japan.
Under Capt. Richard Larken, the remaining 11 ships were organized as Task Group 52.3 with light minelayers Gwin (MinRon 3 flagship, attached to MinDiv 58), Lindsey (attached to MinDiv 59) and Henry A. Wiley (attached to MinDiv 60). Sortieing from Ulithi on 19 March, they were the first Allied task group to arrive off Okinawa. From 24 to 30 March they conducted sweeping operations to clear the approaches for support and joint expeditionary forces. They then took station as escort, radar picket, anti-submarine and small craft screen, shore bombardment and fire support ships and remained on station until the island was secured on 21 June.
Woefully undergunned, with only three 5-inch/38s and two 40mm twins (about half the armament of the Fletcher- and Allen M. Sumner-class destroyers with which they shared radar picket duty), the 11 DMSs collectively shot down 46 enemy planes—15 alone by Emmons and Rodman on 6 April 1945—but sustained 16 suicide plane crashes plus bomb hits and near misses. Personnel casualties exceeded 300 officers and men, including over 100 killed. Individual ships losses and battle damage were as follows:
With the Okinawa operation complete, the survivors (rejoined by Fitch) continued on to Japan. There on 28 August, Ellyson and Hambleton swept ahead of the Task Group 31.2 (cruiser San Diego and screen on a mission to occupy the Yokosuka Naval Base) and thus became the first converted destroyers to enter Tokyo Bay at the end of the war. The next day, as the main ten-mile-long column of victorious Allied ships steamed into Tokyo Bay in preparation for the surrender four days later, Ellyson, Macomb and Jeffers led the way.
A second group of twelve 1,630-tonners was converted in 1945 and entered service as Mine Squadron 21.
Source: Report of Capture of Okinawa Gunto, Phases One and Two, 19 March–21 June 1945, W.R. Loud, Commander, Mine Squadron TWENTY; War diaries.