USS Hoel (DD-533)

Hoel in San Francisco before her shakedown cruise. US Navy photo in the collections of the US Navy History and Heritage Command.

Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down

This is the USS Hoel (DD-533), a Fletcher-class destroyer commissioned in July, 1943. Hoel conducted her shakedown cruise out of San Diego, before escorting a convoy to Hawaii in October, where she was assigned to support carriers during the invasion of Makin Atoll. After anti-submarine patrol off Tarawa in December, Hoel returned to Pearl Harbor, to prepare for the invasion of the Marshalls, which kicked off 31 January, 1944. Hoel conducted escort, radar picket, and bombardment duties until March. After repairs, Hoel spent a month on patrol duty before training with cruisers until the invasion of Palau in September. In October, she was assigned to the Philippine operation as part of the escort group Taffy 3. When the group was surprised by the Japanese Center Force on the morning of 25 October, Hoel laid down smoke to shield the escort carriers, until Admiral Sprague ordered the escorts to charge the enemy. Hoel pressed a torpedo run on the battleship Kongō, which forced her away from the carriers to avoid Hoel's torpedoes. Hoel was heavily damaged in this attack, but she still attacked what she thought were heavy cruisers, but were actually the battleships Yamato and Haruna. The torpedoes that Hoel launched at Yamato broke up the Japanese formation enough that Admiral Kurita was unable to effectively maintain control of his forces. Hoel continued acting as a fire magnet, suffering over forty hits before she was disabled by an 20cm (8") shell into her last working engine room. The Japanese continued shooting into Hoel as she sank, just before 9:00 am. 253 of her crew went down with their ship.

Bonus Information

Fun Fact: Hoel's captain, Commander Leon S. Kintberger, described his mens actions "Fully cognizant of the inevitable result of engaging such vastly superior forces, these men performed their assigned duties coolly and efficiently until their ship was shot from under them."