The Welles (DD-628) was launched 7 September 1942 and commissioned 16 August 1943. The Welles, a Livermore (DD-429)-class destroyer built by the Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation, was placed under the command of Lieutenant Commander Doyle M. Coffee.
After shakedown training, the Welles sailed from the West Coast with two British escort carriers on 15 November 1943. After separating from the two Royal Navy carriers, the Welles transited the Panama Canal on 28 November and sailed for New York.
Upon arriving in New York on 4 December 1943, she was assigned to Destroyer Division 38. She then sailed to Boston to begin escort duties. The Welles was part of the screen for the New Jersey (BB-62) and the Iowa (BB-61), en route to the western Pacific.