Built--at Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine: launched October 27. 1942; commissioned in January 8, 1943; sponsor was Mrs. Eben Leonard, great-granddaughter of Capt. Robert T. Spence, USN, (deceased) of Portsmouth, N.H.

Description--overall length of 376 feet, 6 inches; beam, 39 feet, 4 inches; and displacement, 2,050 tons.

War Record--As a member of Destroyer Squadron 23, known as the “Little Beaver Squadron,” the SPENCE participated in the raids against the Caroline Islands and in the Marianas Campaign. She was with the squadron when it became the first unit to bombard Kavieng in February, 1944.
   In October, 1943, the SPENCE helped support the landings on Treasury Island, was the target of at least one Jap bomber, together with the USS Foote, but came out of the engagement unscathed. That same month she participated in the bombardment of Buka, Shortlands, Bougainville Islands.
   While the operations for Empress Augusta Bay and Treasury Island were still under way, the SPENCE was assigned the job of capturing seven Jap flyers sighted in a rubber liferaft. As the ship closed the raft, each held the muzzle of a machine gun to his mouth as a Jap officer fired a round. In five minutes they were all dead, including the officer, who gave a farewell harang, then shot himself. Later that month--November 1943--the ships of the squadron were almost continually surrounded by enemy planes. The SPENCE shot down one Jap plane on November 11 with her 5"/38 guns.
   On the night of November 24-25, 1943, while operating with Destroyer Division 46 between Buka and Rabaul in anticipation of an expected Jap attempt to evacuate aviation personnel from Buka, the SPENCE helped to virtually annihilate a surprised and thoroughly confused enemy force of at least six [sic] Jap ships, with no damage to our forces. Destroyer Division 45, just ahead of Division 46, launched a torpedo attack against three [sic] Jap ships sighted about 52 miles off Cape St. George. One disappeared in a sheet of flame, the second exploded violently, while the third, although hit, remained under way. The SPENCE, with other ships of Division 46, closed the crippled Jap ship, believed to be a Yubari-type light cruiser, but found her a tough one to sink. Gunfire from the SPENCE helped sink her about an hour later. Four major explosions rocked the ship before she finally sank. Meanwhile, Division 45 had routed another Japanese force, sank one enemy ship, and damaged one or two others. By the time the SPENCE rejoined Division 45, the chase had been abandoned.
   In February 1944, the SPENCE conducted an anti-submarine search off Buka Island. It was also during this month [that] she participated in the first bombardment of Kavieng, New Ireland. During the second bombardment occurring on February 10, she faced heavy and accurate gunfire by enemy shore batteries but escaped undamaged along with other units of her Squadron. She also helped sink one Jap merchant ship on February 22 with 8 salvos from her guns, although ships of Division 45 actually completed the destruction.
   In late June, when it was discovered that the Japs were attempting to send shipping to Rota and Guam, the SPENCE and other members of the Task Unit [were] assigned to sweep the area and to destroy any enemy shipping [and] coastal defenses. She effectively bombarded shore installations on Rota Island; bombarded and helped sink several sampans in Port Opra, set fire to four fuel tanks at Sumay Point, exploded one camouflaged fuel tank at Piti Village, and joined other destroyers in bombarding Orota Airfield.

Lost--It was announced on January 10, 1945 that the SPENCE had been lost during a typhoon of severe intensity during combat operations in the Western Pacific.

Presidential Unit Citation--Awarded to the SPENCE and other ships of the “Little Beaver Squadron,” following their memorable war record in the Pacific.

Source: Naval History of the USS Spence, DD-512, compiled by R.A. Strand #9858878.