Tuesday, May 6, 2008
USS Decatur (DD-341)
Figure 1: USS Decatur (DD-341) underway during the 1920s or 1930s. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Decatur in the Panama Canal during the 1920s or 1930s. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. Collection of Harriet A. Harris, USN(NC)-Retired. Donated by Mrs. J.B. Redfield, 1961. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Decatur underway during the Fleet Review, 4 June 1927. USS Paul Hamilton (DD-307) is partially visible in the left distance. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Decatur off the New York Navy Yard, 7 August 1943. Courtesy of A.D. Baker III. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the Collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: USS Decatur off the New York Navy Yard, 7 August 1943. Courtesy of A.D. Baker III. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the Collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: USS Yorktown (CV-5) with other ships at Pier 7, Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia, on 19 October 1937. The other ships present are (from left to right): USS Texas (BB-35); USS Decatur (DD-341); USS Jacob Jones (DD-130) and USS Kewaydin (AT-24). Note automobiles parked in the foreground. Photograph from Department of the Navy collections in the U.S. National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after the famous American Commodore Stephen Decatur, the 1,190-ton USS Decatur (DD-341) was a Clemson class destroyer built at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California. She was commissioned on 9 August 1922 and was the last of the more than 270 four-stack “flush-deck” destroyers built after World War I. The Decatur was approximately 314 feet long and 30 feet wide, had a top speed of 36 knots and carried a crew of 126 officers and men. The ship was armed with four 4-inch guns, two 3-inch guns, four 21-inch torpedo tubes and depth charges.
Soon after completing her sea trials off the coast of San Diego, California, the Decatur was placed out of commission on 17 January 1923. But she was re-commissioned on 26 September 1923 and was made the flagship of Destroyer Squadron 11 of the Battle Fleet. From 1923 to 1937, the Decatur patrolled the West Coast of the United States, while making occasional trips to Hawaii, the Caribbean and Atlantic coast ports. She also took part in the Battle Fleet’s cruise to Samoa, New Zealand and Australia in 1925, made an extensive survey of the Mexican coast in 1926, and participated in the Presidential Fleet Review in 1930.
By 1937 the Decatur was stationed at Norfolk, Virginia, as a training ship and she escorted the Presidential Yacht Potomac (AG-25) to New Orleans and Texas that same year. She was used to train Midshipmen and Naval Reservists, but also took part in Neutrality Patrols along the Eastern Seaboard until September 1941.
On 14 September 1941, the Decatur arrived at Argentia, Newfoundland, and assisted in escorting convoys to Iceland until 17 May 1942. From mid-1942 to January 1943, the Decatur escorted convoys from East Coast ports to the Caribbean and in February 1943 she began escorting convoys across the Atlantic and into the Mediterranean. On 24 November 1943, the Decatur was attached to an anti-submarine task group centered on the escort carrier USS Card (CVE-11). The task group returned to New York on 3 January 1944. From 26 January to 17 February the Decatur escorted a convoy to Panama and then escorted yet another convoy from Panama to Hampton Roads, Virginia. On 13 March 1944, the Decatur left Norfolk as flagship of Task Force 64, which escorted a large convoy to Bizerte, Tunisia. On 31 March, while steaming between Oran and Algiers, Task Force 64 successfully fought off an attack by German aircraft and submarines. The convoy reached its destination on 3 April. Eight days later, the Decatur steamed back to the United States, arriving at Boston on 2 May for an overhaul.
The Decatur was in Norfolk on 2 July 1944 and escorted convoys in the Caribbean until the end of June 1945, when she was sent to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for inactivation. She was decommissioned there on 28 July 1945 and sold for scrapping on 30 November of that same year.
The USS Decatur was literally the last of her kind, the final four-stack “flush-deck” destroyer built after the end of World War I. Too late to see any action in the First World War, the Decatur certainly proved her worth in the Second. The Decatur was assigned the vital (yet vastly underrated) job of convoy escort and she assisted hundreds of defenseless merchant ships in reaching their destinations. The US Navy had to make do with these old and outdated destroyers during the early days of World War II until more modern escorts could be built. Never given the recognition they deserved, none of these famous warships survive today as floating museums and that is a pity.
Posted by Remo at 8:50 AM