Tuesday, October 4, 2011

USS Adams (DM-27, MMD-27)

Figure 1: USS Adams (DM-27) off San Francisco, California, 2 May 1945. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1971. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 2: USS Adams (DM-27) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, in late June 1945, following repair of kamikaze damage. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the US National Archives.

Named after Lieutenant Samuel Adams (1912-1942), a US Navy hero of the Battle of Midway, the 3,218-ton USS Adams was an Allen M. Sumner class destroyer that was originally laid down as DD-739 at the Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, but was re-designated a destroyer-minelayer, DM-27, on 20 July 1944. The ship was commissioned at Boston, Massachusetts, on 10 October 1944. Adams was approximately 376 feet long and 40 feet wide, had a top speed of 34 knots, and had a crew of 363 officers and men. The destroyer-minelayer was armed with six 5-inch guns, eight 40-mm guns, 12 20-mm guns, depth charges, plus 80 mines.

Adams completed her shakedown cruise on 29 November 1944 and the ship arrived at Norfolk, Virginia, on 3 December. On 11 December, Adams, along with her sister ship USS Shea (DM-30), left Norfolk and headed north to New York, where they rendezvoused with the carrier USS Bennington (CV-20). Together, all three ships left for the Panama Canal on 15 December. They transited the canal on 20 December and two days later headed for the coast of California. The three ships arrived at San Diego, California, on 29 December and stayed there for two days undergoing repairs. On 1 January 1945, the three ships left San Diego and arrived at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, six days later.

For almost two months, Adams remained based in Hawaii. While there, she acted as plane guard for the escort carrier USS Bataan (CVL-29) while the carrier conducted landing qualifications for pilots. Adams also conducted gunnery and shore bombardment exercises. Early in February, Adams laid mines and tested mine-detection equipment on them. Adams completed all of her exercises by the end of February 1945.

Adams left Pearl Harbor on 2 March 1945 and headed for the western Pacific. She arrived at Ulithi Atoll on 14 March and stayed there for five days. Adams then left Ulithi with the task force that was going to invade Okinawa, just off the Japanese mainland. On 23 March, the day before arriving off the coast of Okinawa, Japanese aircraft attacked the task force. As the guns on board Adams began shooting at the incoming aircraft, a shell fired from an aft 5-inch gun exploded prematurely, killing two crewmen and wounding 13 others. At dawn the next day, Adams began minesweeping operations off Okinawa, and also provided anti-aircraft gunfire support for the task force.

Over the next few days, the Japanese mounted heavy air attacks on the American warships off Okinawa. During that time, Adams was attacked by at least 12 different aircraft. Adams managed to shoot down six of the Japanese planes and claimed two more as “probable kills.” On 28 March, a Japanese aircraft was shot down and crashed roughly 25 feet from the port bow of the ship, showering Adams with debris and burning gasoline. Then on 1 April, while steaming not far from Okinawa, a badly damaged Japanese aircraft crashed close to the stern of the ship. Unfortunately, the plane was carrying two bombs and they both exploded under the fantail of the ship, causing severe damage and jamming the ship’s rudders at hard right. While Adams moved in a constant right-hand circle, two more Japanese kamikaze planes dove at the ship. Adams managed to shoot one down while the other was shot down by a nearby destroyer. Adams had to be towed to Kerama Retto, an island near Okinawa, for temporary repairs.

Adams left Kerama Retto on 7 April 1945 and was sent back to the United States for permanent repairs. After making stops at Guam and Pearl Harbor, Adams arrived at the Mare Island Navy Yard in California on 7 May. Repairs were completed and the ship left for Hawaii on 17 July, arriving at Pearl Harbor several days later. After that, Adams spent the next few days participating in gunnery exercises around Hawaii.

On 4 August 1945, Adams left Pearl Harbor with USS Koiner (DE-331) and again headed for the western Pacific. After a brief stop at Eniwetok Atoll, the two ships, along with the attack transport Sitka (APA-113), arrived at Guam on 15 August, the day hostilities ceased with Japan. The next day, Adams left for Okinawa and arrived there on 18 August. She stayed there until 31 August and the next day left for mainland Japan. Adams arrived off Kagoshima, Kyushu, Japan, on 3 September and began minesweeping a channel into the port. Adams completed that mission on 9 September and then the ship returned to Okinawa. Adams reached Okinawa on 11 September and remained there to avoid a typhoon that was moving through the area.

Adams left Okinawa on 24 September 1945 and returned to mainland Japan. She arrived at Ise Wan, Honshu, Japan, on 26 September and began minesweeping operations in preparations for the landing of US Army occupation troops at Nagoya. Adams remained at Ise Wan until the end of October. On 1 November, Adams steamed to Sasebo, Japan, and arrived there two days later. The ship stayed there through most of November and made preparations for returning back to the United States.

Unfortunately for the crew of Adams, the ship had to make a few stops before returning home. On 25 November, the ship left Sasebo and steamed to Taiwan, where she arrived three days later. Adams then joined Task Group (TG) 70.5 and starting on 4 December had to spend ten days minesweeping the Taiwan Strait. After that, Adams was sent to Shanghai, China, and entered the famous Yangtze River on 21 December. Adams stayed at Shanghai until 3 January 1946, but then headed back to Sasebo, Japan.

Adams continued to be assigned various minesweeping duties until early April 1946 and then was finally allowed to return to the United States. After arriving back home, the ship was assigned to the First Fleet and served in it until being decommissioned in December 1946. Adams was berthed with the San Diego Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet, and in February 1955, while still in reserve, USS Adams was re-designated a fast minelayer (MMD-27). Her name was struck from the Navy list on 1 December 1970 and she was sold for scrapping on 16 December 1971.