Tuesday, December 30, 2008

USS Crane (DD-109)

Figure 1: USS Crane (DD-109) circa 1939-1940, after she was re-commissioned for Neutrality Patrol service. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1973. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 2: USS Crane (Destroyer # 109) in the Pedro Miguel Lock, Panama Canal, 30 May 1919. The original photograph was printed on post card ("AZO") stock. Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2007. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 3: "Red Lead Row," San Diego Destroyer Base, California, photographed at the end of 1922, with at least 65 destroyers tied up there. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 4: William M. Crane, born in 1776 at Elizabethtown, N.J., was appointed midshipman in 1799 and captain in 1814. He won honors for his gallant fighting in the attacks on Tripoli in 1804 and Captain Crane was assigned command of the Mediterranean Squadron in 1827. He was on the Board of Navy Commissioners and was the first Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance and Hydrography from 1842 until his death on 18 March 1846. This is a photograph of a painting of William M. Crane while he was Commandant of the Boston Navy Yard, April 6, 1825 to June 13, 1827. Courtesy of the Boston National Historical Park Collection, NPS Cat. No. BOSTS-7072. Click on photograph for larger image.

Named after William M. Crane, a notable US naval officer during the early part of the nineteenth century, USS Crane (DD-109) was a 1,060-ton Little class destroyer built by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation at San Francisco, California, and was commissioned on 18 April 1919. The ship was approximately 314 feet long and 31 feet wide, had a top speed of 35 knots, and had a crew of 103 officers and men. Crane was armed with four 4-inch guns, two 1-pounder anti-aircraft gun, twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes, and depth charges.

Crane left San Francisco on 21 April 1919, transited the Panama Canal, and arrived at Newport, Rhode Island, on 13 May. She was sent to Europe on 5 June and visited ports in England and France. Crane assisted in escorting the ship that brought President Woodrow Wilson to the Versailles Conference and then returned to the United States. On 27 July 1919, Crane was ordered to return to the Pacific Fleet and arrived at San Francisco on 1 September. Once there, she participated in the Naval Review and was visited by the Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, on 4 September. After participating in naval exercises off the coast of Washington State, Crane was placed in reserve at San Diego on 26 January 1920, taking part in occasional maneuvers until she was formally decommissioned on 7 June 1922. Once decommissioned, Crane was placed in the famous “Red Lead Row” in San Diego, where numerous decommissioned destroyers were docked.

After World War II began in Europe, Crane was re-commissioned on 18 December 1939. She was assigned to the Neutrality Patrol in the Pacific and was given the task of training Naval Reservists and Naval Armed Guard Crews until the United States was attacked on 7 December 1941. Crane remained on the west coast on antisubmarine patrol, local escort duty, training exercises, and screening duty for amphibious exercises until 22 April 1944. She then was assigned to the West Coast Sound Training School for the remainder of the war as a training ship. Once the war ended, Crane left San Diego for the last time on 2 October 1945 and arrived at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 19 October. She was decommissioned on 14 November 1945 and sold for scrapping on 1 November 1946.

Training ships like Crane were an indispensable part of the war effort, even though few people know about them today. In the Crane’s case, she helped train sailors who were assigned to warships throughout the Pacific and those ships played an enormous role in defeating Japan.