La Vallette bow down in Mariveles Harbor after a mine explosion, 14 February 1945.
(apparent typographical errors have been corrected)


After outfitting of the La Vallette was completed, the ship reported to COMDESLANT for duty on 7 September 1942. The balance of month was spent training in the CASCO BAY area. Following a brief stay in the New York Navy Yard, the ship reported to Norfolk, Virginia. Under orders issues by the USS ANTEUS she left on 10 Oct. for San Juan, P.R. as escort. Arriving there on 13 October she touched at St. Thomas V.I. and Trinidad, BWI and proceeded to Norfolk, Virginia on October 24 and arrived 28 October and on that date hoisted the pennant of COMDESDIV 42. On the following day the La Vallette left for New York as an escort.

On 13 November 1942, the La Vallette was underway to join its first task force and took station as escort of a forty-five ship convoy enroute to a West African port. CTF 37 in the USS Taylor sighted Task Force 38 on 30 November enroute to New York and joined this returning convoy in an exchange of escorts. CTF 38 in the USS Arkansas.

Arrived in New York 11 December. Underway 16 December in company with the USS Taylor and USS Chevalier for Norfolk, Va. Where a convoy was joined enroute for Panama. In company with Task Force 36 composed of an eight ship convoy and seven ship destroyer screen the convoy arrived Nouméa, New Caledonia on 15 Jan. 1943.

- 1943 -


Included in the organization of Task Force 18 of 13 January 1943, the ship departed Havannah Harbor 27 January 1943 in accordance with CTF OP-PLAN 1-43, with Task Group 18.3.

This vessel, while a unit of the screen in Task Force 18, was attacked by enemy aircraft 29 miles from Koluia Point, Guadalcanal, Solomon Island at evening twilight on 29 January 1943. At about 1900 she sighted a formation of heavy bombers 12 miles west of her position, the planes being in three sections, coming in close formation estimated to be between 11 and 13 in number. The planes were identified as “Bettys” carrying out strafing and torpedo attacks. Float lights were also used for illumination. Nine different targets were taken under fire during this action using full radar control. Fire ceased 66 minutes after first shots were fired. One torpedo was reported as passing astern of this vessel, and the U.S.S. Chicago received torpedo hits necessitating her being taken in tow. As a result of 5″/38 gunfire by this vessel it is considered certain that three planes were destroyed. One additional plane was hit by 20mm fire and probably destroyed. No casualties or damage was sustained on this vessel in this action.

The following day, while a unit of four DD’s and one APD [were] screening, the damaged Chicago, under tow, was attacked by enemy aircraft 34 miles south of Rennell Island. CTG 18-3 was in command of the unit. At 1629 hours a group of 11 Mitsubishi-One type aircraft began an attack at an altitude of 500 feet, coming in on the ship’s port beam. Speed was not increased as to have done so would have resulting in moving more rapidly away from the Chicago’s beam and was the most likely track of the planes.

Subsequent events support the conclusion that the starboard section of the planes took as its objective the La Vallette, which alone had the enemy under fire and which was very close to the attack course. Two planes were shot down forward of the port beam. The 20mm and 40mm guns had three planes approaching in the starboard section under fire, two of which passed over the ship in flames. Five others passed ahead from port [at] about 600 yards, two of these also being on fire. In all, five torpedoes were dropped before the attacking planes crossed the ship’s track. As the ship swung left, a torpedo hit the port side. The La Vallette was then towed to Espiritu Santo by the Navajo, arriving 3 February 1943. The USS Chicago sank as a result of further torpedo hits.

After the completion of drydocking, the ship ready for sea was directed to Havannah Harbor, thence to Tutuila and to Pearl Harbor in company with CTG 8. The ship departed Pearl Harbor with Task Group 52.1 arriving at Mare Island Navy Yard on 1 April 1943.


With Navy Yard repair and training exercises completed, the La Vallette proceeded to Pearl Harbor on the 6th of August in company with the USS Nashville and USS Trathen, as Task Group 52.7, to arrive 12 August. Further training exercises with destroyers and fleet units were conducted for coming operations. The ship joined a large carrier Task Force for the strike against Marcus Island on 31 August. When La Vallette returned to Pearl Harbor, the ship reported to COMDESPAC for duty.


On 15 September, the La Vallette headed again for the South Pacific in company with Task Group 12.1, USS Fletcher and USS Thatcher by way of Suva, Fiji Islands, arriving Havannah Harbor 24 September, thence to Port Purvis arriving the 30th and reporting to CTF-31.

On the night of 1 & 2 October the La Vallette proceeded “up the Slot” with CDS-21 to prevent Japanese landing craft operations between Kolombangara and Choiseul, Solomon Islands. After developing radar contacts, the ship was directed to illuminate the entire barge area. The group proved to be large enemy barges. The target was well illuminated and at least four of the craft sunk. Many enemy troops were seen in the water after the action. Bogies also appeared on the radar screen during the night and one stick of bombs landed close astern of USS Saufley causing light damage.

After fueling and replenishing ammunition at Port Purvis, the ship again went up the slot on the night of 3 & 4 October, this time in company with the USS Grayson and USS Selfridge as Task Group 31.2, and joined CDS-21 in Vella Gulf late that evening. No contact with enemy was made by our group.

On 4 & 5 October, a third trip was made up to the same area and again no enemy contact was made.

On 6 October the ship was underway APD’s of Task Group 31.5 to land troops at Vella Lavella. While enroute orders were received to join CDD-8 in USS Ralph Talbot and Taylor to rendezvous at 2300 hours with CTG-31.2 USS Selfridge, Chevalier and O’Bannon. Best possible speed was ordered. While 9 miles south of rendezvous, gunfire of a full scale night action could be seen ahead. We could not determine friendly from enemy but TBS told us two of Task Group 31.2 ships had been hit.

At the time our group reported for duty, the enemy had fled at high speed, Enemy planes dropped a bomb close astern with no damage to the ship. The La Vallette was ordered to stay behind, search for survivors and then to sink the Chevalier. No survivors were found and after a boarding party found negative results on the Chevalier, the ship stood off and fired one torpedo into her, causing a tremendous explosion. The Chevalier’s bow was then sunk by depth charges. At dawn the ship rejoined the damaged and slow task group, heading back to Port Purvis. Fighter direction frustrated a large group of bogies at this time. The La Vallette was then detached to again join Task Group 31.5 returning to Port Purvis 9 Oct.

DESDIV 42 conducted exercises off Florida Island 12 October. On the 17th, the ship screened unloading transports off Eukum Beach, Guadalcanal. Two days later she joined Task Group 32.4.3 as escort enroute Vila Harbor.

Upon completion of exercises and escort jobs between Havannah Harbor and Espiritu Santo the ship joined Task Group 53.2 composed of large warships on 31 October and headed for Tombak and Nandi, Fiji Islands, arriving 7 Nov. 43.


Upon leaving Nandi, 11 November, with fleet units, the ship joined Task Group 50.1 under Rear Admiral Pownall for the pre-invasion strike against the Gilbert Islands. After the invasion date, 20 November, the ship remained in the area as a covering force. All enemy aerial attempts against this group were frustrated by fighter cover before getting in range of the ships.

On 26 November our group, along with Task Group 50.2 was ordered to proceed north and east for attacks on the Marshall Islands. During the strikes, 4 December, enemy aircraft in water skimming torpedo attacks came in separate groups of 3 and 4 on each side of the formation. Those coming in on the port bow of the formation were immediately taken under fire by the screening vessels in this area. The nearest plane was fired on by this vessel as it veered to the right and passed parallel to us on opposite course. It was a Kate and still carrying its torpedo and didn’t crash until it was well abeam of the ship. It then disintegrated and went down in flames. La Vallette claimed credit for this plane. All other planes in both groups were shot down before launching successful torpedo attacks.

After sunset the same day, the formation was tailed and attacked by many aircraft. None were actually seen although their flares were dropped fairly close to the outer screen. Considerable ammunition was fired by the formation over a period of six hours.

With air strikes completed the group headed for Pearl Harbor arriving 10 December. During the above two strikes the ship was at sea for approximately one month without seeing land. Three air-sea rescue missions were accomplished without loss, including a crew of a torpedo bomber and two fighter pilots.


The La Vallette departed Pearl Harbor for San Francisco on 11 December with DESRON 21, less USS O’Bannon. This ship was to be ready for sea 27 December and reported to COM THIRD GRP, FIFTHPHIB on 29 December 1943.

- 1944 -


On the 1st of January 1944 the ship was underway with Task Group 53.8 to San Clemente Islands to carry out pre-invasion amphibious exercises. With the training period completed, La Vallette joined Task Unit 53.7.2 enroute Nawiliwili, T.H. On arrival at destination 17 January, she was detached and proceeded to Pearl Harbor returning to Nawiliwili two days later. The La Vallette joined Task Group 53.7 whose destination was the invasion of Roi Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands. The group was made up of LST’s, LCI’s SC’s and YMS’s. The La Vallette being the only major warship was designated COMSCREEN. Enroute numerous reports of stragglers, material casualties and medical cases were reported. The help given by the La Vallette in these cases was commended by the Task Group Commander.

The group arrived in the area according to plan on 31 January, invasion was set for D-plus-1-day, on which the ship entered the lagoon, lay to about two thousand yards off the landing beach, and delivered intense fire from all guns up until the time of landing. No return fire was encountered. COMGROUP THREE, AMPHIBIOUS FORCE commended this type of fire in his action report.

On 3 February, she departed Kwajalein Lagoon and joined Task Group 53.6, a CVE group patrolling off Roi Island. She departed Kwajalein vicinity on 16 February enroute to Majuro, Marshall Islands as escort for tankers returning the same evening. Up until the 22nd the ship was utilized as patrol and escort vessel in the Kwajalein Atoll area. On this date she reported to Task Unit 51.19.5 as escort for cargo vessels enroute Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands, arriving 24 February. Underway again 25 February, rendezvousing with Task Unit 55.1.1 proceeding to Pearl Harbor. The unit CVE’s arrived Pearl 3 March.


Underway 11 March with Task Group 12.4 (CVE’s) proceeding to Port Purvis, Florida Islands, arriving 10 days later and reporting to CTF-38. Cruiser-destroyer maneuvers were the only activity until 30 March when the ship joined Task Unit 34.9.4 escorting LST’s. Arrived destination Milne Bay, New Guinea on April 2, reporting to CTF 76 for temporary duty.


Proceeded to Cape Sudest, Oro Bay, New Guinea for conversion to Headquarters ship for coming operation on 4 April. Two weeks were spent in preparation as “Headquarters Ship” and training for the next operation. On 18 April the ship was underway with Task Group 77.3 (Aitape Landing Force) and with CTG 77.1 and staff aboard the La Vallette. Effected rendezvous with Task Group 77.3 and 77.2 (Hollandia Landing Force) two days later. Landings were made on 22 April subsequent to destroyer bombardment in which this vessel participated. The ship remained in the vicinity after expending its allotted ammunition allowance. To enable the Task Group Commander to direct landing operations, Army headquarters was also on board this ship. The Army General disembarked 24 April and the La Vallette took departure from Aitape, heading again for Cape Sudest. CTG 77.3 and staff disembarked and headquarters equipment was removed. The rest of the month was spent in preparing and escorting a supply echelon to Hollandia, arriving at the end of the month.

Enemy aircraft bombed Humbolt Bay on 2 May while the ship was patrolling the entrance but the ship did not fire on unseen targets. An echelon returning to Cape Cretin was escorted 4 May. Took departure from area 8 May with Task Force 76.12.91 bound for Russell Island, Solomon Island. CDS-21 was COM SCREEN. DESRON 21 ships departed from the main body off Russell Island four days later proceeding to Nouméa, New Caledonia. Conducted gunnery exercise enroute, arriving at destination 14 May. Next destination was Blanche Harbor, Treasury Islands, Solomon Islands, leaving Nouméa May 22nd and arriving on the 24th with destroyers of DESRON 21.


Underway from Blanche Harbor on 29 May with CDD 42 to join CTG 30.4 in Hoggatt Bay on a hunter-killer mission, effecting rendezvous 31 May. The group commenced operating in the area North East of New Ireland, DESDIV 42 relieving CORTDIV 39 as screen for escort carriers. The ship entered Seeadler Harbor, Admiralty Island on 3 June, departing for Humbolt Bay the following day, to report to CTF 74 and 75.


With Task Force 74 & 75 the ship headed to the North of Biak Island the night of 8-9 June, as it was believed the Japs might try to reinforce the island. DESDIV 42 was about 600 yards ahead of the cruisers when surface contact was made. Enemy planes were also in the area, as evidenced by a flare dropped as well as bombs close to one of the destroyers. Jap surface contacts apparently fired torpedoes then retreated at high speed. DESDIV 42, with La Vallette second in column gave chase. The chase lasted approximately two hours, and as the distance began to close, both divisions fired. Only the forward guns could be used and the ships were at flank speed. Return fire was reported as well as possible torpedoes. However, no ships were hit. An explosion occurred on one of the Jap destroyers but as the formation did not slacken speed the chase was abandoned. The formation returned to Humbolt Bay 11 June.

After a trip to Manus and back, the ship was underway on 16 June with a supply echelon to Biak, returning to Wade Island three days later. Patrolling and short distance convoys took up the rest of the month until 30 June when the Task Group 77.3 ships departed for the invasion of Noemfoor Island.

Prior to this landing on 2 July the La Vallette completed her bombardment mission and proceeded to her patrolling station. No return fire was encountered. Left the area in the evening with a returning echelon to Humbolt Bay. Two other echelons were taken to Noemfoor Island, each time the ship returned to base with unloaded landing craft.

The next jump was Cape Sansapor on the 27th of July, in company with Task Group 77.2. The landing was made without event. Bombardment was not necessary. As usual the trip returned with unloaded ships the next night. For the remainder of the month and all through the month of August, the ship was assigned a number of echelons to and from Sansapor, along with patrolling assignments at each destination.

Subsequent to training exercises for the next operation, the La Vallette got underway 11 September with Task Group 77.2 for the invasion of Morotai Island as escort and support unit. Pre-invasion bombardment was conducted 15 September. Departed patrolling area 16 September to escort returning vessels to Woendi Island. On 29 September the ship again returned to Woendi Island after its second escort assignment to Morotai.

It might be said here that while the New Guinea campaign was not an illustrious task for a Naval combatant ship due to lack of enemy contacts, the assignments as far as escort, patrol and bombardment vessel were many and tedious for personnel who had no possibilities for recreation throughout that time.

Departed Humbolt Bay 5 October for Manus Island via Finschhafen, New Guinea and Cape Gloucester, New Britain. Departed Manus Island for invasion of the Philippines 12 October.

The La Vallette, acting as a component of Task Force 78, arrived in the Leyte Gulf area on 20 October and participated in the initial assault operation. During this operation the ship fired on one enemy plane, no results being observed. The ship left Leyte Gulf area on 21 October, escorting a transport convoy to Hollandia.

Just before arriving in Hollandia, the ship was diverted to Kossol, where she arrived 28 October, joined a convoy, escorted them to Guam arriving 31 October. She departed Guam enroute to Noumea, with the same group of transports. The entire unit was diverted later to Manus, arriving there November 15. On 17 November she departed for Leyte Gulf, arriving there 23 November 1944.

During the night of 22 November, the Task Group was under attack twice and one torpedo was reported. The La Vallette fired both times with negative results and the planes retired. On the 24th, the ship again fired at enemy planes, which crashed at sea, shot down by pursuing fighter cover. Two others also [were] shot down in the immediate area the same day. The group departed for Humbolt Bay in the evening.

On the 28th of November the La Vallette returned and remained in the Philippine area.

From the 3rd to the 6th of December 1944, this ship was on patrol across the northern entrance to Surigao Straits. While on station, observed a number of aircraft attacking a friendly LSM convoy and immediately headed over to assist at high speed. Enroute the ship was singled out by one enemy plane, which dived at the ship, employing suicidal tactics. This plane was shot down by La Vallette 40mm and 20mm gunfire, and crashed close aboard.

On the night of 6-7 December the La Vallette in company with Nicholas, O’Bannon and Fletcher made a high speed sweep of Ormoc Bay - Camotes Sea area. Several enemy planes were fired on during this operation and bombardment of enemy shore positions were carried out.

On 9 December the La Vallette escorted a re-supply echelon to Ormoc Bay beach-head and back again to Leyte Gulf. While troops were disembarking at Ormoc, the La Vallette performed a fire support mission for Army shore fire control parties by bombarding the Camp Downes area. The La Vallette was not fired upon.

On 12 December, the La Vallette departed from Leyte Gulf as escort for Task Group 78.3 proceeding to Mindoro, P.I. where she arrived on the 15 of December. Enroute several enemy planes were taken under fire. After the bombardment was completed, approximately 8 enemy planes came in low over the hills, all of which were either shot down or crashed in suicide attempts. One aircraft was shot down while heading for this ship. Three other planes were fired upon at various times during the same day as they attempted their sneak attacks. The ship left the Mindoro area on the same date and returned as escort of Task Group 78.3 to Leyte Gulf arriving on the 18 of December.

On 20 December while anchored in San Pedro Bay, two planes were observed over the anchorage area. All ships opened fire, one plane crashing while the other was driven away by heavy anti-aircraft fire.

On 23 December the La Vallette departed from Leyte and returned to Hollandia, arriving 27 December, for repairs to Director Sight.

- 1945 -

The La Vallette returned to the Philippine Area, joining Task Group 78.1 bound for Lingayen Gulf, Luzon Island, 2 January 1945. Enroute many enemy planes were fired upon by the ships in company. La Vallette did not fire. On 9 January the attack force entered the Gulf. The ship opened fire on two occasions with other ships, each time the single attacking plane was driven off. Upon completion of bombardment the ship lay to in its assigned call fire area. Splashes from a shore battery were soon landing close aboard. The Jenkins reported being hit. Fire on the beach was checked after the ships returned fire. Later in the day splashes again landed close to the ship. Location of the battery was unknown but probable are was covered by our own fire. Shore fire was again checked. A Call Fire mission was then completed with reported good results. Enemy planes were fired upon at dusk with negative results. The ship left the area that evening for Leyte Gulf arriving 14 January.

Another convoy for Lingayen Gulf was escorted 22 January with Task Force 78.7.1. Joined CVE unit, Task Group 78.3 25 January operating west of Luzon. On 30 Jan. dispatched from group to conduct hunter-killer operation, this ship making three full pattern runs on an estimated probable submarine. No results were observed. Task Group 77.3 was rejoined when the ship was relieved the following day.

After patrolling off Mindoro Island, the ship headed for its Subic Bay anchorage 10 February. On 13 February, underway for Manila Bay with Task Group 77.2 to conduct bombardment mission on Bataan and Corregidor. No fire returned was encountered and the ship returned to base the same evening.

With the same group on 14 February the ship arrived in the same area to conduct similar operations. While carrying out the mission two ships of the division (Fletcher and Hopewell] were hit by shore batteries. The La Vallette and Radford were ordered to proceed independently to closely cover minesweepers operating in Mariveles Harbor. The La Vallette followed astern of the last minesweeper to lend fire support. About 8 mines were cut loose on this sweep, the ship exploded three and sank one. A second sweep was made later, followed by a third. This time the La Vallette was damaged by the explosion of a large mine, believed controlled. The USS Radford was also hit while attempting to assist the La Vallette.

Numerous acts of initiative and courage were taken in the saving of trapped men and in the measures taken by the damage control parties to keep the extremely low ship afloat.

The La Vallette was towed back to Subic Bay, P.I. the morning of 15 February and placed in drydock 1 April 1945.

On 3 May, temporary repairs having been completed, the ship steaming independently left Subic Bay enroute to the United States by way of Guam, Eniwetok, Majuro and Pearl Harbor arriving in San Francisco, Calif. on 28 May 1945. The ship underwent battle damage and complete overhaul at the U.S. Naval Drydocks, Hunters Point, San Francisco, Calif.

The U.S.S. La Vallette is now at San Diego Calif. being put in a state of ready reserve at the U.S. Naval Repair Base, San Diego, Calif. The ship will be officially de-commissioned 12 February 1946.



Our ship was sold to the Peruvian Navy in 1974. “The ship was cannibalized for spare parts for her sister ships in the Peruvian Navy and the hull was cut up and sold for scrap,” quote the Secretary of Defense.