Destroyer Squadron TWO THREE
A Destroyer Squadron Commander serves as the administrative commander or
Immediate Superior in Command (ISIC) of the ships assigned to the squadron.
Operationally, the DESRON conducts prompt and sustained combat or non-combat
operations through service as the Sea Combat Commander for assigned Battle
Group Commander; coordinating the employment of surface combatants,
submarines and SUW/USW aircraft assigned to the Battle Group.
Administratively, the DESRON supports the Type Commander and Commander Third
Fleet by providing trained and materially ready combatants for deployment to
warfighting Fleet Commanders, both permanently assigned ships and those
temporally assigned for training and exercises.
and units of the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Battle Group departed their home
ports and bases in early November 1998. The Carl Vinson Battle Group
included USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS Oldendorf (DD 972) from DESRON 23,
and USS McClusky (FFG 41) from Destroyer Squadron 1.
DD 966 Hewitt will de-commission in July 2001, and be replaced by DDG 85
McCampbell which comissions in August 2001.
The "Little Beaver" Destroyer Squadron 23 was activated 11 May 1943, when
Captain M.J. Gilliam assumed command at the Boston Navy Yard. Of the
original vessels of the squadron, only Foote (DD-511), Charles Ausburne
(DD-570), and Spence (DD-512), were present. The remainder of the squadron
Aulick (DD-569) Claxton (DD-571), Dyson (DD-572), Converse (DD-509) and
Thatcher (DD-514), were operating on detached duty, as they had been since
late December 1942 when most of them had completed their initial training.
Late in May, COMDESRON 23 sailed for the Pacific to join other vessels of
the squadron which had preceded him. On 2 June 1943, he reported for duty to
Commander in Chief, Pacific at Balboa, and sailed for Noumea. Here on 29
June, Destroyer Squadron 23 became part of Admiral William F. HALSEY'S 'Hit
hard, hit fast, hit often!' THIRD Fleet, which had been formed 15 March
1943. Less Aulick, temporarilly out of action after running aground in
poorly charted waters, Destroyer Squadron 23 assumed duty on patrol and
escort in the Southwest Pacific, calling at Efate, Noumea, Guadalcanal, and
Espiritu Santo. From August 1943, the squadron's operations were
concentrated in the Guadalcanal area. As the Battle for Guadalcanal raged,
the squadron escorted precious men and material to the island, and sortied
up the infamous "Slot" in the efforts to break up Japanese attacks and
efforts to reinforce the island.
Arleigh A. Burke
(31 Knot Burke)
Destroyer Squadron 23 won its great fame, and a Presidential Unit Citation,
under its second commander, who broke his flag 23 October 1943. This was
Captain Arleigh A. Burke. A firm believer in the "attack-attack-attack"
school of destroyer tactics, Admiral Burke led his squadron into action in
the Bougainville operations when on the night of 1 November 1943, the
squadron bombarded the Buka-Bonis area and proceeded to cover the landings
at Empress Augusta Bay. Here Japanese surface and air forces precipitated
the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay, first of the actions for which Destroyer
Squadron 23 was cited. In this battle, Foote and Thatcher were heavily
damaged by the enemy, and put out of action for the remainder of the
Solomons Islands Campaign.
Destroyer Squadron 23 continued to cover the movement of forces into the
Empress Augusta Bay region, fighting off Japanese air attacks, attacking
Japanese vessels, bombarding Buka and Bonis once again. On 24 November 1943,
came the Battle of Cape St. George where the squadron took on six enemy
destroyers. In what has been described by tacticians as the "near perfect
surface actions, the 'Little Beavers' sank four enemy destroyers, and
damaged two, one badly, without injury to themselves. In this action,
Admiral Burke gave the squadron its name, and soon after, an appropriate
squadron insignia was designed by Fred Harmon, creator of the "Red Ryder"
The "Little Beavers" added even more glory to their name through the
remainder of the Bougainville operations, at Green Island, Rabaul, Kavieng,
and Truk. During the period 1 November 1943 to 23 February 1944, for which
the Presidential Unit Citation was awarded, the Squadron participated in 22
separate engagements, and reduced the Japanese Navy by one cruiser, nine
destroyers, one submarine, and several smaller ships sunk and destroyed
approximately 30 aircraft. In addition, a number of other surface and
aircraft were damaged, and great damage inflicted in shore bombardment
On 27 March 1944, Admiral Burke was relieved by Commander R.W. Cavenagh, who
had temporary command of the Squadron until 8 April 1944, when Captain T.B.
Dugan assumed command. Destroyer Squadron 23's operations in the Pacific
continued through the Liberation of the Philippines, where Spence was lost
in a typhoon 18 December 1944. Months of action off Okinawa saw the Squadron
distinguish itself on patrol and radar-picket duties. Here, on 12 April
1945, Stanly was badly damaged by a piloted bomb. At Okinawa, Captain Dugan
was relieved on 26 July 1945 by Captain H.H. McIlheny, who had temporary
command until 13 August 1945, when Captain W.C. Ford reported as Commander
Destroyer Squadron 23.
The veterans of Destroyer Squadron 23 returned to the United States in the
fall of 1945 and on 19 October were met at the Washington Navy Yard by
Admiral Burke and Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, who presented the
Presidential Unit Citation to the Squadron. In February 1946, the Squadron
was inactivated and the ships placed in mothballs at Charleston, South
Since their inception during the dark days of World War II, the "Little
Beavers" of DESRON 23 have served our nation with Honor, Courage and
Commitment. Fame did not come easily to the warriors of the Little Beavers.
The squadron, under the command of Captain Arleigh A. Burke, joined Admiral
Halsey's forces in the Solomon Islands campaign in the southwest Pacific and
participated in twenty- two separate engagements for which it was awarded
the Presidential Unit Citation. It remains the only Destroyer Squadron in U.
S. Navy history so honored.
The original team of Charles Ausburne, Dyson, Stanly, Claxton, Foote,
Spence, Thatcher and Converse are now replaced by Fitzgerald, Thach,
Oldendorf, John Young, Decatur and Hewitt. While the names have changed, the
professionalism, camaraderie and intense pursuit of Surface Warfare
excellence remain constant. Captain Burke's battle plan was known as the
"Doctrine of Faith" for its unprecedented delegation of responsibility to
commanding officers. That doctrine will continue to be the cornerstone of
DESRON 23 operations.
Admiral Burke chose the Little Beaver as a symbol of the squadron because of
his tenacity in battle, loyalty, honesty and spirit. He had a keen
appreciation for the importance of the balance between material readiness
and operational excellence.