Howorth was laid down 26 November 1941 at Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington, with Killen. The two ships were not launched until 10 January 1943—the last two high-bridge ships of the 2,100-ton Fletcher class. Howorth commissioned 3 April 1944, the 161st ship of the class.
After shakedown in Puget Sound and off San Diego, Howorth proceeded to Pearl Harbor for training. Assigned to Destroyer Squadron 21 as a replacement ship, she sailed 25 August with ammunition ship Sangay (AE 10) to Tulagi and Purvis Bay, then escorted a floating dry dock to Hollandia, New Guinea. Attached initially to Destroyer Division 41 (Nicholas, O’Bannon, Jenkins and Hopewell) operating with the Seventh Fleet, Howorth supported landings at Wakde, Biak, Sansapor, Morotai, Peleliu, Leyte and Ormoc Bay. While at Leyte in December, she was reassigned to Destroyer Squadron 45.
Off Mindoro while escorting a convoy from Leyte, the “Mighty H” was attacked by three suicide planes. She shot down two; the third damaged her mast before splashing. Repaired at Ulithi, Howorth returned in time to support landings at Lingayen Gulf, then participated in the Iwo Jima and Okinawa operations.
On 6 April 1945, off Okinawa, Howorth, operating in the vicinity of cruiser St. Louis and destroyer Newcomb, was attacked by eight enemy planes. One plane crashed her gun director killing seven, including gunnery officer Lt. Henry K. “Pete” Hamner, for whom Gearing-class destroyer USS Hamner (DD 718) was named.
Howorth returned to Mare Island for repairs, which were completed between May and early July. After shakedown, the she sailed to Pearl Harbor and then Alaska. On 31 August, she departed Adak for Japan, where she screened flight operations and repatriated prisoners of war. She returned to San Francisco 28 November, then decommissioned 30 April 1946 at San Diego. There she remained in the Pacific Reserve Fleet until March 1962, when she was sunk in torpedo tests off San Diego.
Howorth received seven battle stars for World War II service.
COMDESPAC 252104, April 1945, quoted in McBride, Good Night Officially, 282