Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Figure 1: USS Sicily (CVE-118) photographed while moored in Hampton Roads, Virginia, 6 June 1948. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1969. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Sicily (CVE-118) enters San Diego Bay on her return from her first deployment to the Korean War zone, 5 February 1951. Her crew spells out the ship's name on the flight deck. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Sicily (CVE-118) launches a US Marine Corps OY-2 "Sentinel" spotter plane during operations in the Yellow Sea off the west coast of Korea, 22 September 1950. Sicily was then supporting the campaign to recapture Seoul. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: US Marine Corps F4U-4B "Corsair" fighter-bomber receives final checks to its armament of bombs and 5-inch rockets, just prior to being catapulted from USS Sicily (CVE-118) for a strike on enemy forces in Korea. The original photograph is dated 16 November 1950, but was probably taken in August-October 1950. Note battered paint on this aircraft. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: USS Sicily (CVE-118) launches US Marine Corps HRS-1 helicopters during Operation "Marlex-5" off the west coast of Korea in the Inchon area. This was the first time that Marine Corps landing forces had moved from ship to shore by helicopter. Photo is dated 1 September 1952. Nearest HRS-1 is Bureau # 127798. It wears the markings of squadron HMR-161. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: USS Sicily (CVE-118) photographed at the Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, circa February 1954, with USS Yorktown (CVA-10) at right and eleven LCM landing craft in the foreground. Grumman AF "Guardian" anti-submarine aircraft are parked on Sicily's flight deck. Douglas AD "Skyraider" attack planes are parked aft on Yorktown's flight deck. The original caption, released by Commander Naval Forces Far East on 18 February 1954, reads: "Twins, Almost -- The Essex-class carrier USS Yorktown (CVA-10) and her smaller counterpart, the escort carrier USS Sicily (CVE-118), rest side by side during a recent in-port maintenance period at the Yokosuka, Japan, Naval Base." Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: USS Sicily (CVE-118) underway with F4U aircraft parked aft, April 1954. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: USS Perkins (DDR-877) escorting USS Sicily (CVE-118) off the coast of Korea, 26 August 1951. Perkins was photographed from Sicily. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
USS Sicily (CVE-118) was a 10,900-ton Commencement Bay class escort aircraft carrier that was built by Todd-Pacific Shipyards Inc. at Tacoma, Washington, and was commissioned on 27 February 1946. The ship was approximately 557 feet long and 75 feet wide, had a top speed of 19 knots, and had a crew of 1,170 officers and men. Sicily was armed with two 5-inch guns, 36 40-mm. guns, and 18 20-mm. guns, and could carry roughly 33 aircraft (depending on the size of the aircraft).
After fitting out in Portland, Oregon, and being loaded with supplies at Seattle, Washington, Sicily steamed to San Diego, California, for her shakedown training. On 15 May 1946, Sicily left for New York via the Panama Canal. The escort carrier reached the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York City on 6 June and stayed there until 30 September, when she was ordered to Argentia, Newfoundland, for cold weather naval exercises.
For the rest of 1946 and until 3 April 1950, Sicily was assigned to the US Navy’s Atlantic Fleet and was based at Norfolk, Virginia. She was then transferred back to the Pacific Fleet and was sent to her new base at San Diego, arriving there on 28 April. After North Korea invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950, Sicily was ordered to join the fight. She received orders on 2 July to steam to the Far East and left port two days later. This was the first of three deployments to Korea during the war there. Sicily initially was sent to provide anti-submarine protection for American ships off the coast of Korea, but this quickly changed as the situation deteriorated rapidly on shore. Marine Corps aircraft that were carried on board the ship soon provided air support for American ground forces defending the famous “Pusan Perimeter” and assisting in the amphibious attack on Inchon on 15 September 1950. During October and November, Sicily’s aircraft temporarily resumed their anti-submarine duties. But in December, her aircraft were once again needed for ground support after China entered the war and launched a major offensive against the United Nations’ forces. Marine Corps aircraft from Sicily also made valiant efforts to assist their fellow Marines during their horrific retreat from the Chosin Reservoir.
Sicily returned to San Diego on 5 February 1951. The ship’s second tour of duty off Korea lasted from 13 May to 12 October 1951. She patrolled off both the east and west coasts of Korea before returning once again to the United States for an overhaul. Sicily’s final tour of duty during the Korean War lasted from 8 May to 4 December 1952. During this deployment, the escort carrier was equipped with Marine Corps helicopters that conducted some of the first experiments in sea-based vertical assault techniques. During Operation "Marlex-5" off the west coast of Korea in the Inchon area, Marines were airlifted from Sicily to shore by helicopter. This was the first time a Marine Corps landing force was transported from ship to shore using helicopters.
After returning to the United States for another overhaul, Sicily was sent back to the Far East for the last time on 14 July 1953 and remained there until 25 February 1954. Sicily was decommissioned shortly after the end of this deployment and spent the rest of her career in the Pacific Reserve Fleet. The escort carrier was reclassified an aircraft transport (AKV-18) in May 1959, but in October 1960 USS Sicily was sold for scrapping. The ship received five battle stars for her service during the Korean War.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Figure 1: USS Macdonough (DD-351) off the Boston Navy Yard, 14 June 1935. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Macdonough (DD-351) steaming in another destroyer's wake during maneuvers staged for Movietone News off San Diego, California, by Destroyer Squadron Twenty (DesRon 20), 14 September 1936. Courtesy of Commander Robert L. Ghormley, Jr., USN, 1969. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Macdonough (DD-351) steaming in another destroyer's wake during an exhibition staged for Movietone News by Destroyer Squadron Twenty (DesRon 20) off San Diego, California, 14 September 1936. Courtesy of Commander Robert L. Ghormley, Jr., USN, 1969. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Macdonough (DD-351) at sea, circa 1935-1937. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: USS Macdonough (DD-351) underway at sea, circa 1935-1937. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: USS Macdonough (DD-351) approaching an anchorage in the lower end of Iliuliuk Bay, off Rocky Point, in the Aleutian Islands, 27 April 1937. Photographed from USS Dewey (DD-349). US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: USS Macdonough (DD-351) underway in a harbor, 11 April 1938. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: View of USS Macdonough’s (DD-351) starboard side, forward, while she was at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, on 29 May 1942. Note details of motor boat (lower left), pilothouse, and main battery gun director. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the US National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 9: USS Macdonough (DD-351) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 17 January 1943. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the US National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 10: USS Macdonough (DD-351) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 3 September 1943. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the US National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 11: USS Macdonough (DD-351) at sea in December 1943. Place unknown. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after Commodore Thomas Macdonough (1783-1825), a famous US naval hero from the War of 1812, USS Macdonough (DD-351) was a 1,395-ton Farragut class destroyer that was built by the Boston Navy Yard at Boston, Massachusetts, and was commissioned on 15 March 1935. The ship was approximately 341 feet long and 34 feet wide, had a top speed of 36 knots, and had a crew of 160 officers and men. Macdonough was armed initially with five 5-inch guns, four .30-caliber machine guns, eight 21-inch torpedo tubes, and depth charges, although this armament was modified during World War II.
After a shakedown cruise that took her to Europe and western South America, Macdonough was assigned to the US Pacific Fleet and was based at San Diego, California, until 12 October 1939. She was then moved to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and joined Destroyer Squadron 1. Macdonough was at Pearl Harbor during the attack on 7 December 1941 and managed to shoot down one of the attacking Japanese aircraft. Undamaged during the attack, Macdonough left Pearl Harbor and joined the few remaining US warships that went searching for the Japanese task force. Unable to locate the enemy, the American warships returned to their shattered naval base and for the next three months Macdonough was used to patrol the waters southwest of Oahu, Hawaii. Macdonough also escorted convoys between America’s west coast and Hawaii and she was assigned to patrol and escort duties in the south Pacific as well, primarily around New Guinea.
Macdonough participated in the invasion of Guadalcanal and Tulagi in the Solomon Islands on 7 August 1942. She also was part of the doomed American task force during the Battle of Savo Island, where several Allied cruisers were lost in a single night. Macdonough, though, escaped unharmed from this tragic encounter. At the end of September, Macdonough began escorting ships between New Guinea, Espiritu Santo (in the New Hebrides), and Pearl Harbor and continued these duties until the end of December 1942, when she was sent to Mare Island, California, for an overhaul.
Macdonough’s next mission was to participate in the invasion of Attu Island in the Aleutians. She arrived at Adak, Alaska, on 16 April 1943 and patrolled the waters northeast of Attu in preparation for the invasion, which was scheduled to begin on 11 May. But on 10 May, Macdonough was hit by the merchant ship Sicard while escorting the attack transports in bad weather. As a result of the collision, the destroyer was forced to return to port under tow. Macdonough returned to Mare Island for repairs and remained there until 23 September 1943.
After being repaired, Macdonough participated in the invasion of Makin Island in the Gilbert Islands on 20 November 1943, acting as a control ship for landing craft and bombarding Japanese targets on shore. On 23 November, the battle for Makin Island ended and Macdonough returned to Pearl Harbor. Macdonough continued escorting ships during the invasion of the Marshall Islands from January to February 1944 and on 15 February, while patrolling off Kwajalein Atoll, Macdonough assisted in sinking a Japanese submarine, RO-40.
Once the campaign in the Marshall Islands was over, Macdonough was assigned to the central Pacific and to amphibious assaults in New Guinea. On 30 April 1944, Macdonough assisted in the destruction of another Japanese submarine (RO-45) off the island of Truk. Macdonough participated in the invasion of the Marianas Islands from early June until early August 1944 and her major duties included bombarding enemy targets on shore, supporting underwater demolition teams, conducting anti-submarine patrols, and escorting carrier task forces. Later that year, Macdonough was part of the invasion of the Philippine Islands and escorted a number of transports during the Battle for Leyte Gulf on 24 and 25 October. Macdonough continued her escort duties until January 1945, when she went to the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Washington, for a badly needed three-month overhaul. Once the overhaul was completed, Macdonough served as a radar picket ship and escort in the central and western Pacific, mainly between Ulithi Atoll in the Caroline Islands and Okinawa, Japan.
Macdonough found herself at Guam when the war ended in the Pacific. She returned to the United States and arrived at San Diego on 3 September 1945. After stopping briefly at San Diego, Macdonough continued her voyage to the New York Navy Yard on America’s east coast. She was decommissioned there on 22 October 1945 and was sold for scrapping on 20 December 1946. USS Macdonough received a hefty 13 battle stars for her service during World War II.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Figure 1: USS Amphitrite (BM-2) at the Boston Navy Yard, Charlestown, Massachusetts, during the 1890s. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on the photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Amphitrite (BM-2) at anchor off the Boston Navy Yard, 27 August 1901. US Navy photograph and text, courtesy of Monitors of the U.S. Navy, 1861-1937, page 40, by Lt. Richard H. Webber, USNR. Library of Congress (LOC) Catalog Card No. 77-603596. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: Stern view of USS Amphitrite (BM-2). Date and place unknown. Digital ID # ggbain 24106v, LC-B2-4172-8. Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, from the George Grantham Bain Collection. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Amphitrite (BM-2) underway. Date and place unknown. Courtesy of Robert Hurst. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: USS Amphitrite (BM-2) drying signal flags in the Reserve Basin at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pennsylvania, while waiting to be decommissioned in May 1919. Image cropped from a panoramic view (Photo # NH 105512) by Frawley and Collins, Mount Holly, New Jersey. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after a character in Greek mythology, USS Amphitrite (BM-2) was a 3,990-ton, iron-hulled, double-turret, coastal defense monitor that was built by the Harland and Hollingsworth Yard at Wilmington, Delaware, and was laid down in 1874. But, because of the lack of funds for new shipbuilding programs after the Civil War, Amphitrite was not launched until 7 June 1883. Incredibly, she was finally commissioned on 23 April 1895, 20 years after the ship was laid down. Amphitrite was approximately 262 feet long and 55 feet wide, had a top speed of 10.5 knots, and had a crew of 171 officers and men. The large monitor was armed with four 10-inch guns (two guns per turret), two 4-inch guns, two 6-pounders, and two 3-pounders.
After being commissioned, Amphitrite was assigned to the North Atlantic Squadron and she visited a number of ports on America’s east coast during her shakedown cruise. However, numerous defects were detected in the monitor’s design, especially regarding the lack of adequate ventilation in the engine and fire rooms. The heat generated by the engines and boilers, along with the lack of proper ventilation, made it almost impossible for the crew to work, let alone live, below deck. The ship, therefore, was sent to the Norfolk Navy Yard at Norfolk, Virginia, and design alterations were made to fix these defects.
Once the alterations were completed, Amphitrite initially steamed to Annapolis, Maryland, on 20 November 1895, but then headed south, arriving at Key West, Florida, on 9 January 1896. She was used as a training ship for naval militia at Key West for six months and left Florida on 10 June. After that, the monitor returned north and was used as a training ship at various ports along America’s east coast until May 1897.
On 7 May 1897, Amphitrite was briefly placed in reserve and used as a training ship for gun captains at Norfolk. The ship was re-commissioned on 2 October 1897 and proceeded to visit ports in New York and Massachusetts before returning south and arriving at Lambert’s Point, Virginia, on 14 November. Amphitrite then divided her time between Port Royal, South Carolina, and Charleston, South Carolina, until January 1898.
As tensions between Spain and the United States escalated in 1898, especially after the sinking of the battleship USS Maine in Havana Harbor on 15 February, Amphitrite left Port Royal on 5 April and was sent south to Key West, arriving there on 8 April. After war with Spain was declared on 25 April 1898, Amphitrite was joined by her sister ship, USS Terror (BM-4), at Key West and they both left on 1 May to join Admiral William T. Sampson’s fleet, which was approaching San Juan, Puerto Rico. But the two monitors carried a modest amount of coal, so the ships had to be towed to extend their limited range. The battleship USS Iowa (under the command of then Captain Robley D. Evans, later an extremely famous Rear Admiral) had to tow Amphitrite. But the process proved to be an extremely slow one, given the size, weight, and lack of seaworthiness of the monitors. The two ships finally arrived at San Juan on 11 May.
Sampson’s fleet had already reached San Juan, so after Iowa and Amphitrite arrived, Sampson’s ships attacked the Spanish-held city on 12 May. Amphitrite fired 17 10-inch shells at Spanish positions in San Juan, as well as 30 4-inch shells, 30 3-pounder shells, and 22 6-pounder shells. Poor ventilation continued to plague the monitor, with one member of the crew actually dying in the ship’s after turret because of the heat. Once the bombardment of San Juan was over, Amphitrite returned to Key West and arrived there on 19 May. For the next two and a half months, Amphitrite was assigned to blockade duty while based at Key West. Her area of operations also included the waters off Cape Haitien, Haiti. Amphitrite continued patrolling the waters near Key West until the war ended on 12 August 1898.
After the war ended, Amphitrite was sent to various ports along America’s east coast and was used primarily as a training ship specializing in gunnery practice. It was an important assignment and because the ship was a very steady gun platform she was well suited for the job. In need of a general overhaul, Amphitrite was decommissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on 30 November 1901. The ship was re-commissioned on 1 December 1902 at Boston and reported for duty at the Naval Training Station at Newport, Rhode Island, on 10 January 1903. Amphitrite remained there until early 1904 and then was sent south to serve as the station ship at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The monitor stayed at Guantanamo Bay until 19 June 1907 and was decommissioned at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 3 August.
Amphitrite was re-commissioned but placed in reserve on 14 June 1910. The monitor was again used as a training ship until the United States entered World War I in April 1917. After war was declared, she was used to guard against German submarines at the entrance of New York Harbor. On 26 October 1917, Amphitrite went to the New York Navy Yard for an overhaul which lasted until 20 November. She then resumed her duties as a guard ship, but was rammed by the steamship British Isles during a heavy snow squall on 14 December. Amphitrite returned to the New York Navy Yard for repairs and then once again resumed her duties as a guard ship. The ship remained in New York until October 1918, when she was sent to Hampton Roads, Virginia, for training exercises and target practice. After completing these exercises, Amphitrite returned to New York and arrived there on 11 November 1918, the day the war ended. The monitor remained in New York for several months before going to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, arriving there on 1 May 1919. USS Amphitrite was decommissioned for the last time at Philadelphia on 31 May 1919 and was stricken from the Navy list on 24 July.
On 3 January 1920, Amphitrite was sold to A. L. D. Buckstenof of Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The ship was stripped of her turrets and superstructure and was towed to Beaufort, South Carolina, where she was converted into, of all things, a floating hotel. The ship was eventually towed to Florida, where it was rumored that gambling took place in the hotel. It was also rumored that the infamous gangster Al Capone was interested in purchasing the ex-warship. The hotel remained in Florida until World War II, when it was towed to Elizabeth City and used as housing for workers building a new naval air station there. After the war, the ship was tied to a dock in Georgetown, South Carolina, and then was towed to Baltimore, Maryland, in the spring of 1950. At that time, there was little demand for a floating restaurant and hotel, so the ship was sold again in the spring of 1951. At that point, plans were made to convert the hull into a platform that would support oil exploration in Venezuela, but these plans never materialized. The now old and battered hulk that once was USS Amphitrite was finally scrapped in 1952, ending the amazing career of an unusual warship.
Posted by Remo at 6:13 AM
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Figure 1: USS Guam (PG-43), launched in Shanghai on 28 May 1927, patrolling on the China Station in 1932. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: The Yangtze River gunboat USS Wake (PR-3), formerly USS Guam (PG-43). Date and place unknown. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
USS Guam (PG-43) was one of six American gunboats built by the Kiangnan Dockyard and Engineering Works in Shanghai, China. Commissioned on 28 December 1927, Guam was part of the US Asiatic Fleet and was built specifically for patrolling China’s Yangtze River. American ships that were assigned to the Yangtze were part of the famous “Yangtze Patrol,” which existed for almost 90 years. The 350-ton Guam was approximately 160 feet long, had a beam of 27 feet, but only had a draft of 5 feet, 3 inches, making her ideal for steaming in some of the shallower waters of the Yangtze. She was armed with two 3-inch guns and eight .30-caliber machine guns, and had a top speed of 14.5 knots. Guam also had a complement of 59 officers and men.
Guam left Shanghai on 19 January 1928 and went on her shakedown cruise up the Yangtze River. On board was Rear Admiral Yates Stirling, Jr., Commander, Yangtze Patrol (ComYangPat). The ship arrived at Hankow on 24 January and continued her journey up the Yangzte to Chungking. On 1 February, Guam was given her first assignment, which was to escort the Standard Oil Company ships Mei Lu and Mei Foo, while towing the barges Mei Yung and Mei Hung. The ships were moving through a part of the river that was plagued by bandits and soon the barge Mei Hung came under sniper fire from the riverbank. But before Guam’s gunners could respond, the sniper fire ceased, probably due to the presence of the formidably armed gunboat.
Guam successfully completed her mission and then went to I’Chang in mid-July. After that, Guam was joined by her sister ship, the gunboat USS Tutuila (PG-44), at I’Chang. The two ships escorted merchantmen up the river to Chungking, moving through areas that were controlled by bandits and warlords. On 15 June 1928, Guam was reclassified a river gunboat and given the designation PR-3.
On 5 October 1928, Guam was assigned to the South China Patrol and left for Hong Kong. She was delayed a few days because of bad weather, but arrived in Hong Kong on 14 October. Guam remained with the South China Patrol until the middle of 1929, but then returned to the Yangtze River Patrol. On 4 July 1930, Guam left Changsha and steamed to Chenglin and Yochow because there were reports that American nationals were being threatened by the communists who held those two cities. As Guam approached Yochow, she was fired on by Communist troops from the riverbank. The crew on board Guam manned their guns and returned fire, eventually silencing the enemy gunners. Unfortunately, one crewmember on board Guam was killed by sniper fire during the confrontation.
Throughout the 1930’s, Guam basically protected American lives and property all along the Yangtze River. But the always sensitive task of protecting American lives was further complicated by Japan’s invasion of China in the 1930’s. In September 1937, Guam and the gunboat USS Luzon (PR-7) evacuated the US Embassy staff from Nanking as Japanese forces approached to take that city. Guam also rescued American citizens from Nanking just before the city actually fell to the Japanese in December. The neutral American gunboat crews along the Yangtze could only look on in abject horror as Japanese troops massacred scores of Chinese civilians after the fall of Nanking, which later became known as the “Nanking Massacre” or “The Rape of Nanking.” Guam also rescued American civilians from Wuhu and Hankow in December 1937 and in 1938 she became the station ship in Hankow to protect American interests there while Chinese and Japanese forces fought each other outside of the city.
During the rest of the 1930’s, as more and more territory along the Yangtze was conquered by the Japanese, Guam gradually became surrounded by Japanese gunboats that were now a common sight on the river. Guam (which was still considered a neutral warship since America was not yet in the war) was “escorted” by a Japanese gunboat wherever she went. But Guam, as well as the other American gunboats on the Yangtze, was gradually becoming more and more isolated from the rest of the Asiatic Fleet, especially those ships from the South China Patrol.
On 23 January 1941, Guam was renamed USS Wake to free up her name for another, larger warship that was going to be built. But the ship retained her same designation, PR-3. Wake steamed downriver to Shanghai on 29 March 1941 and became the station ship there from 2 April to 5 May. On 6 July, Wake returned to Nanking and then went on to Hankow. Wake remained at Hankow until late fall and on 25 November, the ship permanently closed the US Navy’s warehouse at Hankow, giving approximately 80 tons of supplies to the Americans still living in that city. Once that mission was completed, Wake went to Shanghai.
Arriving at Shanghai towards the end of November 1941, Wake discovered that two other gunboats, Luzon and USS Oahu (PR-6), were preparing to leave China for good. With war rapidly approaching between Japan and the United States, Admiral Thomas C. Hart ordered the slightly larger gunboats Luzon and Oahu to be evacuated to Manila in the Philippines. The smaller gunboat Wake was unable to make the rough open-ocean voyage, so her supplies and most of her crew were divided up and placed on board the other two gunboats. The only people left on board the gunboat were a skeleton crew of 14 men, mostly made up of reservist radiomen who were to keep the lines of communications open with American marines who were still based in China. The man who was placed in command of Wake was Lieutenant Commander Columbus D. Smith, USNR, a former Yangtze River commercial pilot.
On 8 December 1941 in China, 7 December in Honolulu, Hawaii, a radioman on board Wake intercepted the news that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. Commander Smith, who was on shore at the time, was notified by telephone. He raced to the waterfront but, just as he got there, a large launch filled with Japanese troops came alongside Wake and jumped on board the ship. Wake was taken by the Japanese totally intact, the only fully operational American warship to be captured by enemy forces during World War II. A little farther downriver from Wake was the British gunboat Peterel. Unlike Wake, she put up a fight when the Japanese tried to take her. Japanese artillery on shore then began pounding the small British gunboat. Peterel quickly was blown to pieces by the Japanese. She caught fire and sank in the river, her white ensign still flying. Only six out of her crew of 14 survived the very brief battle.
The Japanese renamed the captured gunboat Tatara. Wake was officially struck from the list of US Navy ships on 25 March 1942. Incredibly, Tatara survived the war intact and was recovered by US forces in August 1945. She was then transferred to Chinese Nationalist forces in 1946 and renamed Tai Yuan. Then, in yet another twist of fate, the ship was captured by Communist Chinese forces in 1949. Her final fate is unknown.
Posted by Remo at 9:08 AM