DD-558 General Specifications
Class: Fletcher class destroyer
Named for: Alexander Laws
Complement: 273 Officers and Enlisted
Displacement: 2050 tons
Length: 376 feet 6 inches
Beam: 39 feet 8 inches
Flank Speed: 35 knots
Range: 6500 Nautical Miles
Final Disposition:Sold for scrap 3 December 1973
USS LAWS (DD-558)
Laws (DD-558) was laid down 19 May 1842 by Seattle
Tacoma Shipbuilding Corp. Seattle. Wash.
launched 22 April
1943; sponsored by Mrs. Mary A. Farwell and commissioned
18 November 1943
Cmdr. L. O. Wood in command.
After shakedown Laws departed San Francisco 11 February
1944. joining the advance forces at Kwajalein 4 March.
Following 2 weeks of ASW operations
the destroyer sailed on
the 20th to screen a refueling group supporting the raids on
and Ulithi. Laws continued ASW screening for the
accompanying tankers as they replenished units
during the Hollandia operation.
After a brief respite at Pearl Harbor the destroyer arrived at
Roi Island 8 June
to join a carrier group en route to Saipan.
Reaching her destination on the 15th. Laws screened the carriers
as they unleashed heavy air strikes on the islands. Two day's
enemy planes made a vain attempt to penetrate the screen
and find the carriers. Laws 5-inch guns threw up a deadly
barrage of antiaircraft fire. splashing two enemy planes and
assisting in the downing of another. The destroyer remained in
the Saipan area on patrol and screening duty until mid-August.
Additional bases were needed as staging areas for ships and
aircraft during the planned Leyte invasion: and the Palau Island
group was selected sailing with the carrier group 29 August.
Laws stood by as the mighty force softened up the beaches for
the upcoming assault. On 8 September the force turned its
attention to the Philippines. launching airstrikes against
Mindanao. While en route to their target
friendly planes reported
a Japanese force of 40 small craft off Santo Point. and Laws with
three other destroyers and two cruisers were sent to intercept
The carrier aircraft had already started to attack when the
cruiser-destroyer force arrived on the scene. The enemy was
no match for the Americans
as Laws and her sister-ships
launched a coordinated attack. wiping out the convoy. Laws
continued screening carriers until arriving at Ulithi 1 October.
At sea again 6 October. she joined the carriers as they struck
at Formosa and Okinawa before arriving off Leyte 2 weeks later.
Laws remained offshore giving close support to the 20 October
invasion. Since American occupation of the Philippines would cut
squarely across enemy supply lines from the East Indies to the
home islands. the Japanese could be expected to strike back at
the invasion with their entire fleet.
Planes from TF 38 to which Laws was attached. contacted
the Japanese center force 24 October as the enemy steamed
toward San Bernadino. The Imperial Navy was no match for the
powerful American Fleet
losing their giant battleship Musashi in
the ensuing engagement
the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea. As
American bombers and torpedo planes punished other enemy
ships of the center force
Admiral Halsey's search planes
scoured the seas in quest of Japan's carriers. When they spotted
Admiral Ozawa's force toward mid afternoon. Laws raced north
with the carriers to intercept. They reached striking range during
the early hours next morning: and shortly after dawn
launched planes to begin a day - long pounding which sank four
carriers and a destroyer.
Meanwhile. the Japanese suffered other crippling defeats
at Surigao Strait and off Samar. When the last smoke from
these momentous engagements - collectively known as the Battle
of Leyte Gulf - had vanished Japan had all but lost its
Imperial Navy the Philippines
and all hope of winning the war.
As the Japanese Navy Minister Admiral Yonai. reflected after
". . . defeat at Leyte was tantamount to the loss of the
When you took the Philippines
that was the end of our
Laws continued to screen the carriers air attacks on Leyte
and Luzon for the rest of the year. Sailing with the carriers late
in December she supported the amphibious assault on Luzon 6
January 1945. Bringing destruction closer to Tokyo
group next concentrated raids on the China coast and Formosa
before replenishing at Ulithi.
Departing 10 February
Laws Joined a destroyer radar picket
unit set up to give the carrier forces early warning of enemy
attacks. On the 19th the destroyer screened the flattops as they
struck Iwo Jima
volcanic Island fortress needed for a B-29
airstrip. After supporting the campaign until success was
Laws retired to Ulithi 12 March.
Preparations for the invasion of Okinawa
the last remaining
barrier on the road to Japan
were now complete. Laws departed
Ulithi 21 March to take up patrol station in advance of the
planned 1 April invasion. Providing support for minesweeping
operations and underwater demolition teams. the veteran
destroyer proved her value. The Allies
sweeping down on the
enemy like a giant typhoon
planted a garrison in Japan's
backyard as Laws stood by on patrol and shore bombardment.
On 6 April she splashed a Zeke as it made its ways to the fleet.
The destroyer remained off Okinawa until the island was
declared secure. and continued operations in its vicinity for the
rest of the war.
With the war over
Laws departed Ulithi 7 September. and
15 September. Later that year she
steamed to San Diego
where she remained until
decommissioning 10 December 1946.
When the need arose for additional ships to support the
Korean conflict. Laws recommissioned 2 November 1951
W. Y. Howell in command. After a Year of modernization and
hunter-killer training operations. the destroyer departed San
Diego 13 November 1962 for service in the Far East. Arriving
Yokosuka 22 December
Laws Joined TF-77 4 days later and
steamed for the east coast of Korea. During January 1963 the
destroyer remained off the coast to screen carriers engaged in
raids on the embattled peninsula.
On 19 February Laws proceeded independently to Nando
where she bombarded the shore
supporting the 16th
ROK Division by silencing two enemy shore emplacements 6
March. She continued operations in support of the American
forces in Korea until late May when she sailed for patrol
operations off Formosa. Laws completed her Far East tour early
in July and arrived San Diego on the 20th.
Operating on a tactical training schedule for the next 7 months
the destroyer departed on her second WestPac cruise 3 March
1954. She Joined the mighty 7th Fleet in peacekeeping operations
and during the summer remained on alert to support the Chinese
Nationalist positions in the Tachen Islands. Laws returned to San
Diego 12 September and resumed training operations off the
west coast for the rest of the year.
From 1955 through 1957 Laws made annual cruises to the Far
East for operations with the 7th Fleet
including Taiwan patrol
and training exercises.
On 1 July 1958
Laws was assigned to Reserve Escort
Division 12 and commenced service as a training ship. She
continued reserve cruises along the coast from Mazatlan
to Canada until 2 February 1962 when she sailed on
another WestPac cruise. While in the Far East Laws performed
ASW exercises with the Korean and Nationalist Chinese
Navy and remained on the alert during the tense Laos crisis.
Returning San Francisco 17 July
the destroyer resumed
operations as a Naval Reserve training ship and continued in this
capacity until she decommissioned at Mare Island 30 March
1964. She remains in the Reserve Fleet at Mare Island.
Laws received nine battle stars for World War II service and
two stars for Korean service.
[Note: The above USS LAWS (DD-558) history may or may not contain text provided by crew members of the USS LAWS (DD-558) or by other non-crew members and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]