First ship in more missions than most other ships of the fleet was just one distinction of USS Farenholt, flagship of Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 12, the one squadron whose deployment encompassed the entire Solomon Islands campaign.
Solomon Islands theater

Farenholt, Benson- (Bristol-)class DD 491, was laid down with Bailey at Bethlehem Steel, Staten Island, New York, 11 December 1940. The second ship named for a seaman who retired as rear admiral, she was launched 19 November 1941 and commissioned 2 April 1942 at New York Navy Yard.

Two months of shakedown and training followed, during which Farenholt operated from Newport, Rhode Island and Portland, Maine. On 5 June, she joined the Wasp (CV 7) task force departing Hampton Roads for the South Pacific via San Diego with battleship North Carolina, cruisers Quincy and San Juan and Destroyer Division 15 (Lang, Stack, Sterett, and Wilson).

Farenholt was the first destroyer of her class in the South Pacific. Flagship of Capt. Robert G. Tobin, ComDesRon 12 from 4 August in the Coral Sea for the beginning of the Guadalcanal operation, she remained attached to Wasp’s screen as other ships of her squadron—Aaron Ward, Buchanan, Laffey, Duncan, Lansdowne, and Lardner—arrived and joined the formation.

DesDiv 15 detached 10 September. Five days later, Wasp (plus North Carolina and O’Brien escorting nearby Hornet) was torpedoed by submarine I-19. Cruisers Salt Lake City and Helena and the squadron (less Buchanan this day) succeeded in rescuing all but 173 of her crew—Farenholt‘s group of ten officers and 133 men included task force commander Adm. Leigh Noyes and Capt. Forrest Sherman.

After a mission in early October to occupy Funafuti Atoll, Ellice Islands, Farenholt was attached to RAdm. Norman Scott’s “Task Force Sugar” (cruisers San Francisco, Boise, Salt Lake City and Helena plus destroyers Duncan, Laffey, Buchanan and recently-arrived McCalla). At the Battle of Cape Esperance, she sustained four shell hits at the beginning of the action. Two of these holed her at the waterline portside (indicating they were American), cutting power forward and flooding her severely. In return she scored hits on a cruiser and a destroyer. At risk of sinking, with compartments sealed, bulkheads shored up and weight shifted to heel her to starboard, she retired with Aaron Ward to Espiritu Santo where Manley aided her in staying afloat until Curtis (AV 4) could make her seaworthy.

Under repair at Pearl Harbor 1 November–5 February 1943, Farenholt returned to the South Pacific in March. In anticipation of a major air raid, 7 April, she, Woodworth and Sterett escorted oiler Tappahannock plus five cargo ships east from Ironbottom Sound through Sealark Channel. When 14 dive bombers found and attacked the formation off Rua Sura, Farenholt shot down one plane while sustaining three near misses, which wounded one man.

New Georgia Group

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Farenholt continued operating with ships of her squadron from Espiritu Santo, Éfaté and Nouméa to Guadalcanal during preparations for the New Georgia operation. For the occupation of Rendova that launched the campaign, 30 June, she, Woodworth, Buchanan, McCalla and Gwin escorted transports into Blanche Channel and bombarded shore targets. When 24 torpedo planes attached the formation while it was retiring, Farenholt evaded two torpedoes and was hit on the port bow by a dud while shooting down three or four planes. She later took aboard task force commander Adm. Kelly Turner and his staff when his flagship McCawley was hit.

Over the next three months, the “Fighting F” continued operating from her previous bases, now on missions to Rendova and Munda. She bombarded Munda airfield 9 and 12 July, thereby missing the Battle of Kolombangara 12–13 July while Commodore Thomas Ryan was temporarily embarked. Capt. Arleigh Burke relieved Capt. Ryan as commodore in August, she participated in a mission up the “Slot” 12 September, escorted a convoy to Vella Lavella 18 September, and joined barge sweeps around Kolombangara 21–22 September. There followed an availability with tender Whitney at Espiritu Santo and a R&R visit to Sydney with cruiser Montpelier.

In early November, she and squadron ships present under Capt. Rodger Simpson—Grayson, Woodworth, Buchanan, Lansdowne and Lardner—plus Stack, Sterett, Wilson and Edwards, screened Task Force 38 (carriers Saratoga and Princeton, cruisers San Diego and San Juan) in supporting landings at Cape Torokina with strikes on the Buka-Bonis airfields and Rabaul. Through the end of the year she continued operating from Espiritu Santo and a forward base at Hathorn Sound, screening carrier and cruiser task forces and supply convoys to Cape Torokina, bombarding targets on Bougainville and in the Shortland Islands and conducting anti-shipping sweeps.

In 1944, she and her squadron—now Woodworth, Buchanan, Lansdowne and Lardner—supported landings on Green Island 14 February, penetrated St. George’s Channel to Rabaul, 17–18 February, and then raided Kavieng a week later. There, shore batteries hit both her and Buchanan, ending her 21-month Solomon Islands campaign; she returned to Mare Island Navy Yard for two months’ overhaul.

Farenholt’s second tour began with the assault on Guam, 21 July–10 August. In September, she screened carriers during air strikes on Palau and the Philippines and on 14 September led McCalla and Grayson in shelling a radar station at Cape San Augustin at the mouth of Mindinao’s Davao Gulf, the first ships to bombard a target in the Philippines. Farenholt next supported landings at both Morotai (Seventh Fleet) and Palau (Third Fleet) and further air strikes in the Philippines before retiring for boiler work at Manus at the end of the month.

In October, with other ships of DesRon 12, Farenholt screened damaged cruisers Canberra and Houston retiring from Formosa to Ulithi. There and at Kossol Passage, while ComDesRon 12 was assigned to command the Western Carolines and Marianas Patrol and Escort Group, Farenholt served six months as station ship, pausing in February 1945 for complete boiler repairs.

In May 1945, Farenholt steamed to Okinawa to participate in the last stages of the Ryukyus campaign and in the occupation following the surrender, 2 September. On 22 September, she sailed to accept the surrender of islands in the southern Ryukyus and in the Sakishima Gunto. Ordered home at the end of October, she took departure for Charleston via San Diego, arriving 8 December. Farenholt was placed out of commission in reserve at Charleston 26 April 1946 and remained on the Navy List until June 1971. She was sold for scrapping in November 1972.

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Farenholt earned 13 service stars during World War II. She was also named in wording for a Navy Unit Commendation for Task Force 38.

Sources: Farenholt historian John Miller, Morison, Naval History & Heritage Command Center Photographic Section and Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.