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U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History, Norman Friedmann .The standard history of the development of American destroyers, from the earliest torpedo boat destroyers to the post-war fleet, and covering the massive classes of destroyers built for both World Wars. Gives the reader a good understanding of the debates that surrounded each class of destroyer and led to their individual features.
Tag Archives: uss jarvis
USS Quincy under Attack off Savo Island
[Note: Updated 15 August 2020 in regard to the erroneous account of Rear Admiral Samuel Elliot Morrison regarding Australian Scout Planes which was repeated in every American history of the battle until it was refuted by the U.S. Navy’s Historical Branch in 2014.]
Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
Tonight I am going back to my World War II vault and reposting an older article about the Battle Of Savo Island off Guadalcanal. It was the most lopsided defeat in modern American Naval history. It happened a long time ago and in an age where the United States Navy has not lost a ship in combat, other to mines since August 6th 1945.
Since the latter part of the Cold War when the Soviets Red Navy under Admiral Sergey Gorshkov began to become true threat. In fact it became a threat to our plans to defend Western Europe through its submarine force, its growing surface force, and its integration with Soviet Naval Aviation Tu-16 Badger and Tu-22 Backfire bombers armed with conventional or nuclear air to ship cruise missiles, or Tu-16s equipped for EW, ASW, or Reconnaissance missions. One possible scenario was played out in Tom Clancy’s Cold War thriller, “Red Storm Rising.” In a successful attack by Badgers and Backfires the USS Nimitz was heavily damaged and knocked out of action by two missile hits, the French Carrier Foch was sunk by multiple hits, USS Saipan LHA-2 with over 2500 Marines and Sailors embarked was blown up and sank with only 200 survivors, in addition the USS Ticonderoga CG-47 heavily damaged and put out of action. The Soviets used deception and a saturation attack by anti-ship missiles that overwhelmed our defenses. I was an Army officer serving in Germany when the book was published and it was frightening, because even though the United States and our NATO allies prevailed, it was a great cost, and had it occurred my unit would have been likely chewed to pieces in the Battle for Germany.
However, since the end of the Cold War we got lazy, with the fall of the Soviet Union we reduced the size of our fleet by massive numbers and then got involved in a series of small wars which wore out ships, and aircraft faster than programmed, and resulted in the early decommissioning of 30 ships, and reduction of 30,000 sailors to fund the war in Iraq. These wars caused additional funding shortages, which were made much worse by the Republican shutdown of Congress which resulted in great sequester of spending that impacted every government agency.
This included a military that was still at war and a massive backlog of maintenance, and replacement of ships. This was compounded by the costly Zumwalt Class “destroyers” which became so that only three of twelve were built, and now the Navy is trying to figure out a mission for them. Likewise, the Littoral Combat Ship or LCS program was promoted as an inexpensive heavily armed and versatile “street fighter.” Unfortunately it came in massively over budget, under armed, incapable of operating with or protecting Carrier Strike Groups, or Expeditionary Strike Groups, and plagued by numerous and often embarrassing maintenance failures. Like the Zumwalt’s the Navy is trying to figure out what to due with them. The USS Gerald Ford Class carriers, the designed replacements for the Nimitz Class are so expensive and plagued with ongoing issues of their new and innovative systems are so bad that the Navy is openly questioning if enough can be built to replace the Nimitz Class Ships. The Ford, though commissioned in 2018, has not deployed and probably will not deploy until 2022.
It seems that weforgotten to remember that should a war break out with a near-peer competitor, like the Chinese Communists or the Russians in waterers where they can gain local superiority, or even regional powers such as Iran which could use asymmetric means of large numbers of small missile equipped ships and attack boats, costal submarines, and land based anti-ship missiles in “swarm attacks” to overwhelm technologically superior American ships in confined waters. We have come close to losing major ships, the cruiser USS Princeton and Helicopter Carrier USS Tripoli, to very primitive moored mines during the First Gulf War, the USS Ruben James to a mine during the tanker wars, and the USS Stark which was hit by Iraqi Exocet anti-ship missiles in 1987. Likewise we have come close to losing the Guided Missile destroyers USS Cole (Terrorist attack), USS John S. McCain and USS Fitzgerald (avoidable collisions with merchant ships), and finally, and perhaps the most disturbing, the fire aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard last month that was so catastrophic that it is quite likely the ship will ever be repaired to her former mission requirements, and her replacement costs will be more than we can afford.
I won’t go into the destruction of the relationships that the Trump administration has caused with the nation’s whose navies we depend on to help us sustain overseas operations in Europe and the Pacific, nor the dearth of shipbuilding, repair, and dry-docking facilities in the United States needed to produce and repair warships in peace, and even more importantly in war.
We have been lucky. We won’t be as lucky in a real live shootout today. Ships will be lost, damaged, and sailors will die. Compounding the problem for the United States is that years of focus on Iraq and Afghanistan, failed experiments with reducing crew size (smart-ship), reductions in numbers of ships and sailors to satisfy the budgets needs to the unnecessary invasion of Iraq, and the stress put on remaining ships and aircraft have worn us down. Readiness rates remain down, and we no longer have the shipbuilding and repair facilities to replace losses and repair damaged ships, especially in a war with China. There currently are no answers to this.
That is why instead of commenting on today’s news I write about the worst defeat suffered by the U.S. Navy in the modern era, which I label from World War II to the present, and hope, maybe beyond hope that it will not happen again, but my guess is that those chances are 50/50, but that there is only a ten percent chance of that.
After Savo Island the U.S. Navy continued to lose carriers, cruisers, and destroyers at an alarming rate, but the resources of the nation had been fully mobilized to replace the losses tenfold, and repair the damaged ships and return them to action. That could not happen today.
Sadly, I think that my introduction to this article may be longer than the article itself. But such are the dangers we face today.
On August 8th 1942 the U.S. Task Force supporting the invasion of Guadalcanal was tired. The crews of the ships had been in continuous combat operations conducting naval gunfire support missions, fending off numerous Japanese air attacks and guarding against submarine attacks for two days. The force commanded by Admiral Richmond K. Turner was still unloading materials, equipment and supplies needed by the men of the 1st Marine Division who they had put ashore on the morning of the seventh.
On the afternoon of the eighth Turner was informed by Admiral Frank “Jack” Fletcherthat he was pulling his carrier task force out of action. Fletcher alleged that he did not have enough fighter aircraft (79 remaining of an original 98) and as low on fuel. The carriers had only been in action 36 hours and Fletcher’s reasons for withdraw were flimsy. Fletcher pulled out and left Turner and his subordinate commanders the responsibility of remaining in the area without air support with the transports still unloaded, and full of badly needed supplies and equipment.
Admiral Gunichi Mikawa
As the American drama played out, the Japanese moved forces into position to strike the Americans. Admiral Gunichi Mikawacommander of the 8th Fleet and Outer South Seas Force based at Rabaul New Britain quickly assembled a force of 6 heavy cruisers, the 14,000 ton Atago Class Chokai, and the four smaller ships of the Kako Class, the Aoba, Kako, Kinugasa and Furutaka, the light cruisers Yubariand Tenryu and the destroyer Yunagi. Mikawa raised his flag aboard Chokai and the force sped down “the slot” which ran the length of the of the Solomon’s chain mid day on the seventh.
The Americans had warning of their coming. The first sighting was by B-17s before the Japanese forces had reached Rabaul. The second was the elderly U.S. Navy submarine S-38 at 2000 on the 7th when they were 550 miles away not far from Rabaul. This report was discounted because it would not be unusual to find a number of fleet units steaming near a major naval base and fleet headquarters. The last which should have alerted the allies was a sighting by a Royal Australian Air Force patrol aircraft on the morning of the 8th. The crew made numerous attempts to report this, but the common story, which first began with Samuel Elliott Morrison’s account of the battle in his 15 volume History of U.S. Navy Operations in World War Two falsely said that the Australian flight crew made no effort to report the information and flew back to their base, and had tea. American Naval historians writing about the battle have reported this as fact ever since, including me in previous iterations of this article, which I corrected in this article today (8/15/2020). The crew attempted to report it, and their report was even intercepted and reported by the Japanese. Not knowing if their report had been received they made an early return to base and made their report in person to the intelligence officer. This was first reported in 2013, and in 2014, the Chief of the U.S. Navy History Department collaborated the account sole survivor of that aircrew. Hopefully future historians of the battle will do the same. That being said no information was passed to Admiral Turner at Guadalcanal.
The fact is that the allied forces had warning and chose to minimize the threat. Their actions in the following hours displayed an extreme amount of complacency and and failures to take a more active role in preventing any possible Japanese. The American and Australian cruisers all had floatplanes which could have deployed despite a lack of experience in night operations, as the Japanese did so well.
USS Astoria on August 8th off Guadalcanal and USS Chicago (below)
During the early evening Turner recalled Crutchley to his flagship for consultations of what to do regarding Fletcher’s retreat. Crutchley came over in his flagship the Australia denuding the southern force of its commander as well as one of its three heavy cruisers. He left the commanding officer of Chicago Captain Howard D. Bode in tactical command but Bode did not have his ship take the lead position in the patrol assuming Crutchley would return bymidnight.
USS Vincennes (above) and USS Quincy (below)
Mikawa launched float planes to scout the locations of the American ships and to provide illumination once the battle began. Some of these aircraft were spotted but no alert measures were taken as many assumed the Japanese to be friendly aircraft. Many commanding officers were asleep or resting away from the bridge of their ships, lookouts were tired and not expecting the Japanese and Condition Two was set in order to provide some of the tired crews a chance to rest.
Light Cruiser Yubari illuminating American cruisers at Savo Island
Admiral Mikawa now new the Allied disposition and ordered his ships to battle stations at 0045. At 004 he sighted and passed astern of USS Blue the southern picket which also failed to detect the Japanese force. Mikawa assumed that the destroyer might have reported his presence, briefly turned north but turned back to his original course when a lookout allegedly spotted a destroyer to his northeast. He gave the order to attack at 0132 and promptly spotted the American destroyer USS Jarvis which had been heavily damaged and without radio communications was making her way toAustralia for repair and passed her after some ships fired torpedoes and raced toward the southern force at 26 knots. With the southern force just a few miles away Mikawa ordered his ships to commence firing at 0136 and at 0138 torpedoes had been launched.
Mikawa’s lookouts spotted the northern group at 0144 and changed course. The maneuver was badly executed and left the Japanese in two columns as they swiftly closed on the Americans. Mikawa’s flagship Chokai launched torpedoes at 0148 and Astoria the cruiser closest to the Japanese set general quarters at 0145 and at 0150 the Japanese illuminated her with searchlights and opened fire. Astoria under the direction of her gunnery officer returned fire at 0152 ½ just before her Captain came to the bridge unaware of the situation. He ordered a cease fire until he could ascertain who he was firing at assuming the Japanese to be friendly ships. He delayed 2 minutes and ordered fires commenced at 0154 but the delay was fatal. Astoria had opened fire on the Chokai which then had time to get the range on the American cruiser and hit her with an 8” salvo which caused fires which provided the other Japanese ships an aiming point.
Japanese artist depiction of attack on US Navy Cruisers at Savo Island
Astoria was left burning and heavily damaged barely maintaining headway but attempted to fight on scoring a hit on Chokai’s forward turret even as the Japanese opened up on the next cruiser in line the USS Quincy. Quincy caught between the two Japanese columns. Aoba illuminated her with her searchlight and Japanese forces opened fire. The gunnery officer order Quincy to return fire getting two salvos off before her skipper Captain Samuel Moore came to the bridge, briefly ordered a cease fire assuming that he was firing on Americans and turned on his running lights. Quincy was ripped by salvo after salvo which killed Captain Moore and nearly everyone in the pilothouse just as a torpedo ripped into her engineering spaces turning them into a sealed death trap forcing the engineer to shut down the engines. Burning like a Roman candle Quincy was doomed she was ordered abandoned and capsized and sank at 0235. However Quincy did not die in vain, at 0205 two of her 8” shells hit Chokai causing enough damage the Admiral’s chart room that Mikawa would order a withdraw at 0220 which spared the now defenseless American transports.
Vincennes, the lead ship and flagship was next in the line of death. Captain Reifkohl order General Quarters sounded not long after the Japanese illuminated the southern group. At 0150 Vincennes was lit up by the searchlights of three Japanese ships which opened fire on her. Vincennes returned fire at 0153 hitting Kinugasa before she was hit starting fires on her scout planes mounted on their catapults. The Japanese mauled Vincennes, three possibly four torpedoes ripped into her as shells put ever gun out of action. At 0215 she was left burning and sinking by the Japanese who soon withdrew from the action. Ordered abandoned she sank at 0250.
HMAS Canberra being evacuated by the Patterson and Blue
Canberra struggled against the odds but was abandoned and was sent to the bottom by an American torpedo at 0800. Astoria also struggled for life but the damage was too great and she was abandoned sinking at 1215. Mikawa withdrew up the sound but on his return the Heavy Cruiser Kako 70 miles from home was sunk by torpedoes from the American submarine S-44 sinking in 5 minutes.
The Americans and Australians lost 4 Heavy Cruisers sunk and one heavily damaged. Two destroyers were also damaged. Casualties were heavy Quincy lost 389 men killed, Vincennes, 342, Astoria, 235, Canberra, 85, Ralph Talbot, 14, Patterson, 10, and Chicago, 2.
It was an unmitigated disaster, an allied force destroyed in less than 30 minutes time. Boards of inquiry were held and Captain Bode hearing that he shouldered much blame killed himself in 1943.
Admiral Turner gave an honest assessment of the defeat:
“The Navy was still obsessed with a strong feeling of technical and mental superiority over the enemy. In spite of ample evidence as to enemy capabilities, most of our officers and men despised the enemy and felt themselves sure victors in all encounters under any circumstances. The net result of all this was a fatal lethargy of mind which induced a confidence without readiness, and a routine acceptance of outworn peacetime standards of conduct. I believe that this psychological factor, as a cause of our defeat, was even more important than the element of surprise”
Wrecks of the USS Quincy, Astoria, Vincennes, and HMAS Canberra
It was a rude awakening to a Navy which had believed that technical advances would give it victory and which in the words of Admiral Ernest Kingwas not yet “sufficiently battle minded.”It was the first of many equally bloody battles in the waters around Guadalcanal which in the coming campaign became known as Ironbottom Sound.
USS Jarvis (DD-38) with damaged bow - History
A Tin Can Sailors
DD-393 was the second vessel named for Midshipman James C. Jarvis. The midshipman, a mere thirteen years of age, was given command of the USS CONSTELLATION's maintop during her action with the French frigate LA VENGEANCE. When warned that the main mast might fall due to damage, Jarvis refused to leave his post. He was swept over the side, entangled in rigging, moments later.
USS JARVIS served with the Pacific fleet in the years before World War II, participating in fleet maneuvers both in the Pacific, off Panama, and in the Caribbean. During the Japanese attack on the Pacific fleet, JARVIS was among the first to raise steam and clear the harbor. Her gunners were to claim four aircraft.
DD-393 was transferred to the southwest Pacific just in time for the Guadalcanal landings. JARVIS provided gunfire support and patrolled off the beachhead. On August 8, 1942, the Japanese staged a massive air strike on the ships clustered around the island. The gallant destroyer positioned herself between the attacking torpedo bombers and USS VINCENNES (CA-44). As her deadly fire blasted the aircraft out of the sky, the Japanese pilot was able to launch his tin fish. JARVIS was hit in the fire room. She was dead in the water. Towed to shallow water by USS DEWEY (DD-349), JARVIS seemed likely to survive.
JARVIS's skipper, LCDR W.W. Graham, decided to steam to Sidney, Australia, where the services of the destroyer tender USS DOBBIN (AD-3) were available. The destroyer departed Guadalcanal that night. Unfortunately, the battle of Savo Island was developing in the area. On the following morning, American aircraft spotted JARVIS, trailing oil and down by the bow, moving slowly toward the West.
Japanese sources, located after the war, confirmed what happened next. Japanese aircraft mistook JARVIS as a damaged cruiser, attempting to escape "Iron Bottom Sound" after the disastrous battle of Savo Island. Thirty-one planes were dispatched from the base at Rabaul to attack the stricken destroyer. She was no match for their strength. JARVIS split in half and sank with all hands.
Ahoy - Mac's Web Log
A cousin was on the Jarvis (DD-393). It seems my family has been told several different stories about where he died. I have been doing research to get the story straight. I do know that he went down on the USS Jarvis.
The picture of the Jarvis in Payne's book means a great deal because it would have been the last picture ever taken, shortly before it was sunk.
I, as other before me would greatly appreciate a copy of that picture. As you seem to be the only person I currently know of that has access to the picture, would you please send me a copy. If a copy cannot be e-mailed, please advise and I will give you the address. My sincerest thanks to you.
I will be pleased to scan a copy of from Payne's book for you.
In the meantime here is a picture of the ship you may not have, plus a site where you may find some further ones of her.
Here is the scan of USS Jarvis, plus a para or so about her demise from my report on HMAS Canberra being sunk.
Savo island was cloaked in rain, mist hung in the air - there was no moon. A light N.E. wind moved the low-lying cloud, thunder rolled across the sky. I particularly remember the phosphorescence of the ship's wake and that of our 2 destroyer escorts. At 0100, CANBERRA and CHICAG0 (then at the transport end of our patrol) altered course 1800 to starboard to a course of 310deg.
At about this time we heard aircraft engines overhead, Lieutenant Commander Wight reported this fact to the Captain. (The Japanese had catapulted 2 seaplanes from 2 of their cruisers - their task to reconnoitre the anchorages and illuminate the transports at the appropriate time). RALPH TALBOT on the seaward side of Savo actually reported sighting an aircraft before 2400 she reported by T.B.S. (talk between ships), CANBERRA was not fitted with T.B.S. and thus did not receive this report.
Just prior to 0100. Mikawa in CHOKAI, leading the Japanese column of 7 cruisers and 1 destroyer were steaming on a course of 120deg at 26 knots. He was steering for the centre of the 7 mile gap that separated Savo Island from Guadalcanal. CHOKAI sighted BLUE on their starboard bow, distance about 5 miles. Mikawa reduced speed and held his fire - BLUE continued to close his force.
But after a few more minutes BLUE reversed course, Mikawa breathed again. The whole Japanese column passed very closely to BLUE but were undetected either visually, or picked up on BLUE's radar. The US destroyer JARVIS which had been damaged earlier during one of the air raids was all alone, limping along at 10 knots on her way to Australia for repairs. She was South of Savo Island at 0134, when she was sighted from CHOKAI 1.5 miles on her port bow.
Once again, the Japanese force held its' fire and sailed past. JARVIS didn't see a thing! JARVIS was sunk by a large group of Japanese aircraft the next afternoon (9 August) and was lost with all hands. For Mikawa, the gate was open and his fleet sailed through. At 0130 at a range of 6 miles, the Japanese sighted CANBERRA and CHICAGO. In CANBERRA we were approaching the Savo Island end of our patrol - I was very conscious of the fact that I had to call the Navigator at 0145. He wanted to fix our position prior to the scheduled course alteration at 0200.
I had just checked the chart table clock, It was 0143 (this time is still engraved in my memory) several incidents crowded in - an explosion almost due north, the Captain was called by the Principal Control Officer. The port lookout reported a ship ahead but neither the P.C.O. , the Yeoman of Signals nor myself could discern anything. PATTERSON on our port bow signalled to us by blinker tube. The action alarms were sounded and we assumed the first degree of readiness
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Previous Collisions Involving U.S. Navy Vessels
Ten Navy sailors were missing and five were injured on Monday after a United States destroyer collided with an oil tanker off the coast of Singapore.
Maritime collisions involving two ships are considered rare, but this was the second collision involving an American naval destroyer since June.
Here are a handful of other recent collisions involving United States Navy vessels at sea — several of which included fatalities.
June 17, 2017: Seven sailors were killed when the Fitzgerald, a destroyer, was broadsided by a Philippines-registered cargo ship, about 60 miles off the coast of Japan. A Navy report released in August found that within 90 seconds of the collision, seawater began rushing through a gaping hole in the starboard hull, filling berths in which sailors had been sleeping. In response to the report’s findings, which blamed the ship’s crew, the Navy relieved two senior officers.
May 9, 2017: A 60- to 70-foot South Korean fishing boat collided with the Lake Champlain, a guided-missile cruiser, on its port side while the cruiser was conducting routine operations in international waters. No one was injured. Fishing boat crew members later said the fishing vessel did not have a radio, so they did not hear the calls from the Navy, a Navy official said at the time.
Aug. 19, 2016: The Louisiana, a nuclear ballistic-missile submarine, and the Eagleview, a Military Sealift Command support vessel, collided while conducting routine operations in the Strait of Juan de Fuca off the coast of Washington State. There was damage to the hulls of both the Eagleview and the Louisiana. No one was injured.
Nov. 20, 2014: The Amelia Earhart and the Walter S. Diehl collided during an exchange of goods in the Gulf of Aden. Both ships resupply Navy warships for the United States Fifth Fleet, which is based in Manama, Bahrain. No one was injured. The accident happened during a tricky maneuver used by United States Navy and allied ships in which they come within 150 feet of each other to be resupplied with fuel and food without pulling into a port, according to the Navy’s website.
July 22, 2004: The John F. Kennedy, an aircraft carrier, and a dhow, a small traditional Arab sailing boat, collided in the Persian Gulf. The dhow sank immediately, and all those aboard are believed to have died. It is still unclear how many people were on it, but dhows — which are used mainly for transportation and fishing — can generally carry up to 15 people.
The Kennedy, which was engaged in night air operations at the time, had made a hard turn to avoid the tiny vessel. The carrier was unscathed from the impact on its starboard hull its crew and aircraft were all accounted for, but two jet fighters on the deck were damaged when the ship turned. The Navy relieved Stephen G. Squires, the commanding officer of the Kennedy, after the episode.
“There is every reason to believe the collision was an accident, but there are force protection implications because warships make every effort to stay away from unknown small boats, which could pose a terrorist threat,” a Navy spokesman said at the time.
The Kennedy was involved in an earlier deadly accident, in Nov. 22, 1975, when an American guided-missile cruiser, the Belknap, collided with the carrier in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Sicily, destroying the cruiser. A fire ensued just yards from the ship’s nuclear weapons magazine, where nuclear-tipped Terrier surface-to-air missiles were kept. Crews were able to eventually extinguish the blaze, though it did burn for around 20 hours. Seven sailors perished on the Belknap and one on the Kennedy. Dozens were injured.
The next year, on Sept. 14, the Bordelon, an American destroyer that was one of the ships that had come to the rescue in the Belknap collision, collided with the Kennedy while refueling alongside the cruiser. Parts of the Bordelon were damaged, including its port bow and main mast, which fell, injuring some onboard. The Bordelon was decommissioned as a result.
Feb. 9, 2001: The Greeneville, a Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine, collided with a Japanese fishing boat, the Ehime Maru, off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii. The submarine — which was performing a rapid surfacing maneuver when the crash occurred — had civilian guests on board, which became a central concern to investigators. Mechanical problems and human error were also considered factors in the crash.
Nine passengers on the Ehime Maru were killed, including four high school students.
The Navy opened a full-scale investigation in which the submarine’s captain, Commander Scott Waddle, faced the Naval Board of Inquiry. He ultimately was not court-martialed, but his career in the Navy ended as a result of the collision.
The Navy compensated the Ehime Prefecture government, the survivors and the families of the victims. And President George W. Bush apologized for the crash on national television.
July 13, 2000: The Denver, an amphibious transport dock, and the Yukon, a replenishment oiler, collided during a refueling exercise west of Hawaii. Both ships sustained significant damage. An investigation found that “human error caused this collision,” with the Denver at fault. No injuries were reported.
June 14, 1989: The Houston, an attack submarine, which appeared in the 1990 film “The Hunt for Red October,” snagged a tow cable of the commercial tugboat Barcona during filming off the coast of Southern California. The Barcona sank, and one crewman on the tugboat drowned.
USS Bolster (ARS 38)
The rescue and salvage ship BOLSTER was the first ship in the Navy to bear the name. The ship participated in the Korea and Vietnam Wars receiving seven battle stars for her Korean service and eight battle stars for Vietnam service. After more than 49 years of service, the BOLSTER was both decommissioned and stricken from the Navy list on September 24, 1994. Since then, she is laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, Suisun Bay, Benicia, Calif., awaiting final disposal.
|General Characteristics:||Awarded: December 7, 1943|
|Keel laid: July 20, 1944|
|Launched: December 23, 1944|
|Commissioned: May 1, 1945|
|Decommissioned: September 24, 1994|
|Builder: Basalt Rock Co., Napa, Calif.|
|Propulsion system: Diesel electric|
|Length: 213.6 feet (65.1 meters)|
|Beam: 43 feet (13.1 meters)|
|Draft: 13.1 feet (4 meters)|
|Displacement: approx. 1,900 tons|
|Speed: 16 knots|
|Armament: two Mk-68 20mm guns|
|Crew: 6 officers and 77 enlisted|
This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard USS BOLSTER. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.
About the Ship's Coat of Arms:
The seal illustrates a number of themes pertinent and unique to a salvage ship. The Navy Diver represents the divers themselves and the deep sea capabilities of the ship's equipment and systems. Flanking the diver are two, 8000 pound Ells anchors, symbolizing BOLSTER's primary mission - combat salvage - which utilizes the Ells anchors with sets of Beach Gear in various salvor methods. The ship in tow represents the sailors and their involvement in towing operations and their expertise with towing jewelry and extensive deck equipment. Finally, these three depictions are united under the trident.
USS BOLSTER was built by the Basalt Rock Company in early 1945 at Napa, California. She was taken to Vallejo (Mare Island) for outfitting and was commissioned on 1 May, 1945. BOLSTER was the first of six combat salvage ships. These steel-hulled ships were ''considered so valuable that operational doctrine developed during WWII called for stationing them outside the combat zone where they would not be exposed to unnecessary hazard but would be available for any major salvage situationsy'' writes Captain C.A. Bartholomew in his book "Mud, Muscle, and Miracles".
Crew size was about 120 men including the complement of divers, made complete with some unique features found onboard. Two fire monitors, capable of pumping out 4000 gallons of water per minute onto a flaming deck, aided in BOLSTER's rescue efforts. A full machine shop allowed patches to be cut and assembled, repairing damaged hulls long enough to return to port for any major repairs. The forward boom could lift up to 20 tons while the one aft, on the fantail, had a maximum lift of 8 tons. Also on the fantail was the Almon Johnson Towing machine which held 2100 feet of 2 inch wire rope capable of a maximum pull of 50 tons.
Further, in her salvage holds was an extensive inventory of portable salvage equipment- pumps, generators, and welding machines of various sizes that could be placed wherever needed. Plus, eight complete legs of beach gear, each capable of generating up to 60 tons of pulling power, were maintained onboard. BOLSTER could lift up to 150 tons off the bottom of the ocean with its main bow rollers and an additional 30 tons on its auxiliary bow rollers. A recompression chamber was available for treating diving related sicknesses and the MK-5 Surface Supplied Diving System was in use. Finally, the ship was outfitted with four 20mm anti-aircraft guns and one 40mm Bofors cannon.
BOLSTER'S expansive storage facilities allowed her to remain on station for over 40 days or travel over 9000 nautical mikes without replenishment.
The initial shakedown cruise was from Vallejo to San Diego. Determined fit for duty, BOLSTER picked up a floating drydock in Eureka, and headed for Hawaii. Performing several more towing jobs in the Hawaiian area, BOLSTER was in Pearl Harbor when the war ended. Then, leaving Hawaii, she sailed to Ulithi Atoll, where the fleet was assembled for the invasion of Japan. On to Okinawa and finally Yokosuka, Japan, BOSLTER began to raise scuttled Japanese ships from the bay, tow them to sea, and re-sink them.
Operating in Japanese watery for a year, followed by six months of repair and salvage duty in the Republic of the Philippines, BOLSTER transited east to her original homeport, Hawaii. For the majority of her service, BOLSTER was homeported in Pearl Harbor, rotating between overseas deployments which included Japan, the Philippines, Guam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Australia, Vietnam, Fiji, the Marshall Islands, Alaska, California, and Washington.
During the Korean Conflict, BOLSTER towed and repaired battle-damaged vessels and acted as a screen. She was involved in the Inchon Landing (15 September 1950) and the Hungnam Evacuation (9-25 December 1950). She was awarded seven battle stars for her Korean service.
After the Korean Conflict, BOLSTER continued duties throughout the Pacific Ocean. In May of 1955, she was involved in operation Wigwam, a single detonation, deep submerged nuclear test operation occurring approximately 500 miles southwest of San Diego. BOLSTER's station was six miles upwind of the detonation point. Three hours after detonation, BOLSTER began retrieving submarine salvage pontons which had been 5000 to 11,000 yards from the detonation. BOLSTER towed two pontons to San Diego.
Throughout her history, BOLSTER has conducted countless salvage operations. In 1964, BOLSTER replotted the Philippine ship RAJAH SOLIMAN, and salvaged the USS FRANK KNOX (DD 742). During the Vietnam War, BOLSTER performed multiple salvage missions off the coast of Da Nang. The salvage efforts on the SEA RAVEN and EXCELLENCY occurred in 1965 and 1966. In 1973, BOLSTER worked with Air Force Pararescue Teams as the secondary recovery ship for Skylab 4. BOLSTER recovered the merchant ship LINDENBERY in 1975, rescued the USNS UTE (T-ATF 76) off the coast of mainland China in 1977, and in 1978 took under tow the USS PREBLE (DDG 46), which was adrift northeast of Oahu and brought her safely back to port after an open ocean transit.
In 1982, BOLSTER was tasked with salvaging a US Marine Corps F-4S in 225 feet of water just outside of the harbor in Subic Bay. The Navy's MK-12 Mixed-Gas diving rig (where divers breathe a mixture of helium and oxygen, allowing their bodies to perform at increasing depths) commenced its first working dive from the decks of the BOLSTER.
In June 1983, BOLSTER was assigned to Long Beach, California, at which time she also became a member of the Naval Reserve Force. Her armament and equipment was updated and the 40mm cannon and two of the 20mm guns were replaced by two .50 caliber machine guns. The divers received the technologically advanced MK-21 Surface Supplied Diving System and were now capable of going to depths of 190 feet below the surface. Four Caterpillar engines powered generators which in turn powered electric motors providing the BOLSTER with 3060 shaft horsepower.
For the next ten years until decommissioning, BOLSTER's operations have included numerous open-ocean tows of decommissioned cruisers, destroyers, frigates, repair ships, barges, and floating drydocks. In addition, BOLSTER regularly called upon to tow a decommissioned nuclear submarine from Rodman, Panama, to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington, a distance of almost 5000 miles.
In September 1994, the BOLSTER was decommissioned at Long Beach, California. Since then, she is laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, Suisun Bay, Benicia, Calif., awaiting final disposal.
USS BOLSTER Image Gallery:
The photo below was taken by me and shows the BOLSTER laid up at Suisun Bay, Calif., on March 27, 2010, awaiting final disposal. The tug in front of BOLSTER is HOGA (YTM 146) - the last floating ship present during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Post by Andy H » 27 Dec 2002, 16:46
USS Jarvis (Destroyer) was sunk on August 9th&#821742 by elements of the Japanese 25th Air Flotilla, with no survivors. One of the reasons given for the lack of survivors is that when sunk the Jarvis was on her way to Sydney to undergo repairs after an aerial torpedo badly damaged near Lunga Roads, and to lighten her all rafts and boats had been removed to lighten the ship. Surely there were less vital elements that could have been disposed off rather than the crew&#8217s means of survival if the ship sank? Also we are only talking about a destroyer that if lost wouldn&#8217t cause that much difference to the balance of power in the area, yet the crew seem to be expendable!
Does anyone now if any enquiry was held into the circumstances surrounding the loss of the crew of the Jarvis?
Post by Jack Nisley » 15 Jan 2003, 20:46
Post by Takao » 17 Jan 2003, 16:53
I have not heard of a formal inquiry being conducted. Several reasons could be given for a lack of survivors.
It has been surmised that The Jarvis's radios were out of commission. Communications with the ship were conducted by signal lamp or by personnel relaying messages to the ship. The USS Jarvis either did not send a distress call or such a call was never recieved. During the famous Battle of Savo Island, the Japanese spotted the ship and engaged her for a few minutes, but the Jarvis never sent any radio traffic concerning this engagement or warning of the Japanese prescence.
Most removable topside weight went over the side torpedoes and lifesaving equipment included. The Japanese torpedo hit forward of the bridge and caused considerable damage, from keel to her upperdeck. At best the destroyer could make only 10-12 knots, and any journey would be long and perilous.
The USS Hovey, a destroyer-minesweeper had been ordered to escort the USS Jarvis. Messages to this effect were relayed personally to the Jarvis XO during a meeting with Admiral Turner. A confirmation message was also passed by blinker light, around 2000, to the USS Jarvis(however, weather conditons were deteriorating and no one is sure if the message was recieved). A effort was made to hand deliever the confirmation message to the Jarvis two hours later, but the ship could not be found. The USS Hovey had problems fueling and arrived at 2330 to escort the Jarvis, but also could not find the destroyer. The Hovey searched till sunrise but found no trace of the ship.
As an aside, Japanese air recon had mis-identified the USS Jarvis as a battleship. So, instead of attacking the vulnerable transports, the Japanese planes attack a "battleship". This mis-identification probably caused her to recieve more than her share of attention from the attacking aircraft.
USS Jarvis (DD-38) with damaged bow - History
When the 7th of December 1941 was over, it was clear that the Japanese had delivered a tremendous blow to the United States. Five battleships were sunk or sinking, three destroyers were wrecked, a minelayer and target ship had capsized, two cruisers were badly damaged and many other ships needed repairs. Hawaii-based Navy and Army aviation was also greatly diminished, feeding a sense of defenselessness and defeat that greatly exceeded the realities of the situation.
Fortunately, the Japanese Navy's limited objectives, and limited resources, had left Pearl Harbor's industrial and logistics capabilities essentially intact. Repair efforts began almost immediately, with major salvage projects following as quickly as resources allowed. For the moment, however, with fires out and sunken ships awaiting salvors, Navy photographers, who had done such a remarkable job of recording the events of 7 December, continued their efforts to capture images of the results of the "Day of Infamy" to meet immediate official requirements, and the needs of posterity.
This page features views of damaged ships at Pearl Harbor in the days following 7 December 1941, and provides links to other images of this subject.
|If you want higher resolution reproductions than the Online Library's digital images, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."|
Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.
Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941
View of "Battleship Row", probably taken on 8 December, the day after the Japanese raid, with USS Arizona (BB-39) still burning at right.
In the center is USS West Virginia (BB-48) sunk alongside USS Tennessee (BB-43). The capsized USS Oklahoma (BB-37) is at left, alongside USS Maryland (BB-46). A barge is outboard of Oklahoma , supporting efforts to cut free crewmen still trapped inside the battleship's hull.
In the far right distance is the hulk of the old minelayer Baltimore .
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.
Online Image: 84KB 740 x 610 pixels
Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.
Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941
Aerial view of "Battleship Row" moorings on the southern side of Ford Island, 10 December 1941, showing damage from the Japanese raid three days earlier.
In upper left is the sunken USS California (BB-44), with smaller vessels clustered around her.
Diagonally, from left center to lower right are:
USS Maryland (BB-46), lightly damaged, with the capsized USS Oklahoma (BB-37) outboard. A barge is alongside Oklahoma , supporting rescue efforts.
USS Tennessee (BB-43), lightly damaged, with the sunken USS West Virginia (BB-48) outboard.
USS Arizona (BB-39), sunk, with her hull shattered by the explosion of the magazines below the two forward turrets. Note dark oil streaks on the harbor surface, originating from the sunken battleships.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.
Online Image: 116KB 740 x 615 pixels
Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.
Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941
Vertical aerial view of "Battleship Row", beside Ford Island, on 10 December 1941, three days after the Japanese raid.
Ships seen are (from left to right): USS Arizona , burned out and sunk, with oil streaming from her bunkers USS Tennessee with USS West Virginia sunk alongside and USS Maryland with USS Oklahoma capsized alongside.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.
Online Image: 138KB 740 x 605 pixels
Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941
Vertical aerial view of the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard on 10 December 1941, showing damage from the Japanese raid three days earlier.
In upper center is the floating drydock YFD-2 , with the destroyer Shaw (DD-373), whose bow was blown off, floating at an angle at one end.
The torpedoed cruiser Helena (CL-50) is in Drydock Number Two, in center, for repairs. She was the first ship to use that newly constructed dock.
Drydock Number One is just below Drydock Number Two. It holds the relatively undamaged battleship Pennsylvania (BB-38) and the wrecked destroyers Cassin (DD-372), capsized, and Downes (DD-375).
Note dark oil streaks on the harbor surface.
The Worst Naval Loss in U.S. History That Never Was!
On the night of August 8-9, 1942 near the island of Guadalcanal, an Imperial Japanese Naval force of eight ships attacked a joint group of American and Australian cruisers and destroyers.
The Japanese force under Admiral Gunichi Mikawa would go on to defeat the Allied naval forces in what has been cited as the worst defeat of the U.S. Navy in a fair fight in history.
The Americans and Australians would receive a bloodied nose with over 1,000 sailors killed and several ships knocked out, and the Guadalcanal campaign’s early success or failure hung in the balance. Despite the losses, the damage could have been worse.
IJN Admiral Gunichi Mikawa
The Guadalcanal Campaign in the Solomon Islands was put in motion for several reasons leading to the Allied landings on August 7, 1942 in which U.S. Marines attacked Japanese troops in one of the earliest land engagements between the Marines and Japanese in World War II.
The U.S. needed the Solomon Islands to be free of Japanese bases in order to secure clear shipping lanes between the U.S. mainland and Australia, which would serve as the major stepping off point for Allied offensives going forward.
U.S. Marines debark from LCP(L)s onto Guadalcanal on 7 August 1942.
Additionally, the Allies needed a base of operations from which to begin to retake the whole of the island chain and eventually eliminate the large Japanese base at Rabaul.
Japanese air attacks on the Guadalcanal invasion force had proven to be ineffective and so a bold plan was launched using Imperial Japanese Navy surface vessels to destroy the transports and their escorts at the island.
The carrier USS Enterprise under aerial attack during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons
Mikawa’s Trip Down “The Slot”
Admiral Mikawa assembled a task force of all his available warships at Rabaul for the strike. This task force consisted of five heavy cruisers including his flagship Chokai, two light cruisers, and one destroyer.
The plan was to use their superior night fighting training to gain the upper hand against the Americans, and limit traveling by daylight to avoid being spotted and attacked by Allied aircraft.
The task force rendezvoused before dark on August 7, 1942 in the northern portion of the Solomons near Cape St. George. Mikawa took the task force east of the island of Bouganville and then rested for several hours the following morning at Kieta.
Chōkai at anchor at Truk, November 20, 1942. Battleship Yamato can be seen in the left background.
He wanted to reduce his chance of being spotted before making his final approach down the area between Santa Isabel Island and the New Georgia group of islands, which was known as “The Slot.”
Despite his efforts, Mikawa’s fleet was spotted three separate times by Allied forces – once on the 7th by a U.S. submarine and then twice by Australian reconnaissance aircraft on the 8th. He realized that he’d been spotted but stayed the course, waiting for the cover of darkness.
Mikawa launched his own search planes to scout out the positions of the Allied ships near Guadalcanal. What they reported presented a grand opportunity for the Japanese fleet – the Allied ships were divided into two separate groups.
Approach route of Mikawa’s force from Rabaul and Kavieng (upper left), pausing off the east coast of Bougainville (center) and then traveling down The Slot to attack Allied naval forces off Guadalcanal and Tulagi (lower right)
The southern group of Allied ships were anchored near Guadalcanal itself but the northern group was off the island of Tulagi. Savo Island was situated to the west in the approach path to the Allied ships.
This gave Mikawa the opportunity to engage each of the groups separately and destroy them in detail despite the Allies having numerical superiority.
However, the most worrisome incident for Mikawa occurred only a few hours before the attack, when the task force spotted the American destroyer Blue on patrol several miles out.
HMAS Canberra (center left) protects three Allied transport ships (background and center right) unloading troops and supplies at Tulagi.
Mikawa had his ships reduce their speed to keep their wake to a minimum, but with their guns aimed at the lonely destroyer should it give any indication that they had been spotted.
As Blue turned and sailed away on its sentry course, oblivious to its own near destruction, the task force increased its speed for its final approach at the Allied ships.
Chart of the disposition of ships the night of August 8.
A Perfect Storm of Errors
The Allied fleet assigned to protect the transports and Marines at Guadalcanal were certainly well equipped to deal with Mikawa’s threat. Unfortunately for the Allies, a series of poor decisions and communication led their defeat at Savo Island.
Vice Admiral Fletcher’s carrier group included three fleet carriers and their escort ships. Additionally, the transport escorts included six heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and 15 destroyers.
The invasion force also had substantial aerial reconnaissance resources and submarines in the Solomons to keep them abreast of any threats.
Rear Admiral Victor Crutchley in 1942
However, following the air attacks on the invasion force the previous day, Fletcher chose to pull his carrier force out of operational range of Guadalcanal, fearing exposure to Japanese carrier aircraft after losing over a dozen fighters.
The escort cruisers and destroyers were then divided into three groups: the aforementioned north and south groups, and an east group to guard the approach to the area opposite of where Mikawa’s task force was heading.
The majority of the destroyers were stationed close to the transport ships out of fear of Japanese submarine attacks and were therefore lost from patrol rosters for the three groups.
View from the Japanese cruiser Chokai during the battle as aerial flares illuminate the Allied southern force.
Search planes covering The Slot had been requested, but Admiral John McCain Sr. had chosen for undisclosed reasons not to execute daylight searches of The Slot on the 8th, and failed to inform the fleet commanders of this.
Many of the crew on the ships in the Allied fleet, including the officers, were exhausted from the two days on full alert and from the tropical temperatures, so many were on Condition II meaning that 50% of the crew members were asleep on the evening and night of the 8th.
The three reports of the Japanese task force from the 7th and 8th weren’t evaluated by the Allied fleet commanders until the evening of the 8th and were discounted because of the false identification of a seaplane tender in the group.
The U.S. Navy heavy cruiser USS Chicago (CA-29) off Guadalcanal the day after the Battle of Savo Island, showing crewmen cutting away damaged plating to enable the ship to get underway.
The commanders felt that the presence of the tender indicated that the task force was not offensive in nature and because they had received no further reports of activity in The Slot, they disregarded it.
Allied commanders were unaware that while they were certainly poorly trained in night operations, the Japanese were conversely exceptionally well-trained and possessed the best night vision equipment of the time.
Lastly, the radar systems that the Allied commanders were relying on to warn of approaching Japanese ships had several flaws when operating near land, unbeknownst to the captains and crews of the vessels utilizing the systems. This is likely why Blue didn’t spot Mikawa’s task force.
The U.S. Navy heavy cruiser USS Chicago (CA-29) in drydock at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, Sydney (Australia), showing her damaged bow after damage sustained when torpedoed in the course of the Battle of Savo.
All Ships Attack
At one o’clock in the morning on the 9th of August, Mikawa’s task force passed south of Savo Island, heading directly for the southern group of the Allied escort ships.
He had sent float planes out in advance to drop flares on the Allied ships in order to improve his fleet’s targeting of their prey. At 1:33 Mikawa gave the order, “All Ships Attack!”
Much to Mikawa’s amazement, his fleet had completely surprised the Allied forces. The first ship spotted by the fleet was the destroyer Jarvis that was already damaged from previous action and Mikawa sent his sole destroyer to engage and destroy her.
Japanese artwork from during the war depicts the destruction of three U.S. cruisers by Japanese warships at Savo Island
In the southern group of Allied ships, the cruiser Australia had sailed away from the area towards the transports, leaving it with only two cruisers when Mikawa sailed into range and opened fire.
Within minutes the cruisers Canberra and Chicago were taken out of the fight with only Chicago able to manage a response with her secondary guns. Their escort destroyers were ineffective against the Japanese ships despite significant effort from Patterson.
Then Mikawa’s force turned north to meet the second group and unloaded on the unsuspecting cruisers Astoria, Quincy, and Vincennes. All three were sunk as a result of the intense battle, but several hits were scored on Mikawa’s fleet.
U.S. destroyers Blue and Patterson evacuate the crew from the burning Canberra
Withdraw or Press Your Luck
Mikawa held a meeting with his officers to discuss the next course of action. There was a very well represented discussion on the task force’s options following the successful engagement with the north and south groups.
One argument was to press the attack and destroy as many transports as possible before retiring back up The Slot towards Rabaul. This would derail the Allied plans for Guadalcanal, cost them considerable tonnage in transport ships, and deal a final decisive blow to the escort group assigned to protect it.
Imperial Japanese Navy heavy cruiser Aoba
The problem with this course was that it would take time and each moment brought daylight closer and the exposure to the U.S. carrier planes. Mikawa was aware that Japan could ill afford to lose its cruisers as no more were planned for production.
Furthermore, all the torpedo tubes would need to be reloaded, which was a time consuming operation in daylight let alone at night after a battle. Also, they had already expended much of their ammunition and pressing their luck might have left them little to defend themselves.
The Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (D33) sinking following the Battle of Savo Island in the Solomons.
Ultimately, Mikawa erred on the side of caution, satisfied that his bold move would slow the Allied buildup in the area. He was not willing to press his luck when he had a chance to slip away.
It was a shocking blow to the invasion force at Guadalcanal, but thanks to the fortuitous decision by Mikawa to withdraw, the now helpless transports supplying the U.S. Marines on the island were left intact.
Allied forces would dig in and slowly assert their dominance in the Solomons, bringing them closer and closer to Japan’s eventual defeat.
USS Buck (DD 420)
USS Buck (DD 420) on 11 September 1943. Photo from Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum
Completed in May 1940. On 22 Aug 1942, USS Buck (DD 420) (LtCdr L.R. Miller, USN) was rammed by the British liner Awatea in dense fog while escorting the convoy AT-20 from Halifax to Scotland. The impact on starboard side aft broke her keel, damaged both screws and seven men were lost. The destroyer was taken in tow by USS Cherokee (AT 66) and after four days reached Boston, where she was repaired until November 1942. In 1943 the destroyer participated in the landings of Sicily and Salerno. On 3 August 1943, while escorting a convoy of six Liberty ships from Sicily to Algeria, USS Buck (DD 420) (LtCdr M.J. Klein, USN) attacked and sank the Italian submarine Argento off Pantellaria in 36°52N/12°08E and took 45 men of her crew as prisoners.
USS Buck (DD 420) received three battle stars for her WWII service.
At 00.36 hours on 9 October 1943, U-616 fired a Gnat acoustic torpedo from the stern torpedo tube at USS Buck (DD 420) (LtCdr M.J. Klein, USN) on patrol off the Salerno beachhead about 50 miles south of Capri, Italy. The destroyer had picked up a radar contact and approached it at 25 knots, preparing a full pattern of depth charges, when the torpedo struck the starboard bow after a running time of 4 minutes 15 seconds. The explosion apparently ignited the forward magazine as two detonations occurred almost simultaneously, blew off the bow and wrecked the navigating bridge, killing the commander and all other officers on watch except one who was blown overboard. The crew tried to set the depth charges on safe but the destroyer sank with the stern raising high out of the water within four minutes after being hit. The starboard charges could not be secured and exploded after the ship sank, killing or wounding many men swimming or clinging to debris and rafts. As no distress signal were sent the loss of USS Buck remained unnoticed until a C-47 aircraft spotted the survivors the next morning and dropped three rubber life rafts. However, the first rescue vessel only reached the position more than 17 hours after the sinking. USS Gleaves (DD 423) (LtCdr B.L. Gurnette, USN) picked up 64 survivors and four bodies, but four men died shortly after being rescued and four more in a hospital ashore during the following days. USS Plunkett (DD 431) (Cdr E.J. Burke, USN) picked up five bodies and 13 survivors of whom one died aboard. One survivor was picked up by HMS Delhi (D 74) (Capt A.T.G.C. Peachey, RN) and the remaining survivors were picked up by HMS LCT-170. Almost all survivors were injured and had to be hospitalized when they were landed in Palermo on 10 October.
Location of attack on USS Buck (DD 420).
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