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Hull Number: DD-108

Launch Date: 07/04/2018

Commissioned Date: 03/01/2019

Decommissioned Date: 09/24/1940


Class: LITTLE

LITTLE Class

Data for USS Little (DD-79) as of 1921


Length Overall: 314’ 4 1/2"

Beam: 31' 8"

Draft: 9’ 2"

Standard Displacement: 1,191 tons

Full Load Displacement: 1,284 tons

Armament:

Four 4″/50 caliber guns
One 3″/23 caliber anti-aircraft gun
Four 21″ triple torpedo tubes

Complement:

8 Officers
8 Chief Petty Officers
106 Enlisted

Propulsion:

4 Boilers
2 Curtis Geared Turbines: 27,180 horsepower

Highest speed on trials: 34.7 knots

Namesake: JOHN FOSTER WILLIAMS

JOHN FOSTER WILLIAMS

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, February 2016

John Poster Williams, born on 12 October 1743 at Boston, Mass., was appointed a captain in the Navy of Massachusetts and received command of the brig Hazard late in 1777. In the following year, he took her to sea in a fruitless search for British West Indiamen; but he and his ship eventually achieved success in 1779. While cruising in the West Indies, Hazard fell in with the privateer brigantine Active on 16 March. At the end of a “smart action” of 35-minutes’ duration, “yard arm to yard arm,” Active struck her colors and became Hazard’s prize, after having suffered 13 killed and 20 wounded out of her 95-man crew. Hazard sent the captured brigantine back to Massachusetts under a prize crew and subsequently returned home in April, after taking several other prizes.

In May, Hazard returned to sea, this time in company with the brig Tyrannicide. At 0830 on 15 June, the two ships fell in with two British ships and, after a short, sharp engagement, forced both enemy vessels to strike their colors. Later that summer, Hazard, like the rest of the Massachusetts Navy, took part in the ill-fated Penobscot expedition, an operation which eventually cost the state’s navy all of its commissioned vessels.

Williams received command of the new 26-gun frigate Protector in the spring of 1780 and took her to sea in June. In accordance with instructions from the Board of War, the new warship cruised in the vicinity of the Newfoundland Banks, on the lookout for British merchantmen. Her vigilance was rewarded early in June.

At 0700 on 9 June 1780, Protector spotted a strange ship bearing down on her, flying British colors. At 1100, the Continental frigate, also flying English colors, hailed the stranger and found her to be the 32-gun letter-of-marque Admiral Duff, bound for London from St. Kitts. When the enemy’s identity had been ascertained, Protector hauled down British colors and ran up the Continental flag, opening fire almost simultaneously. The action ensued for the next hour and one-half, until Admiral Duff caught fire and exploded, leaving 55 survivors for Protector to rescue soon thereafter.

With the coming of peace, Williams returned to his native Boston and died there on 24 June 1814.


Disposition:

Transferred to England 09/24/1940 as ST. CLAIR (I-65). Stricken 1/8/1941.


USS WILLIAMS DD-108 Ship History

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, February 2016

The second Williams (Destroyer No. 108) was laid down on 25 March 1918 at San Francisco, Calif., by the Union Iron Works plant of the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp.; launched on 4 July 1918; sponsored by Mrs. H. G. Leopold, the wife of Comdr. H. G. Leopold; and commissioned on 1 March 1919 at the Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, Calif., Comdr. Matthias E. Manly in command.

Following shakedown, Williams and Belknap (Destroyer No. 251) departed Newport, R.I., on 5 June 1919, bound for the Azores. Arriving at Ponta Delgada on the llth, Williams proceeded to Gibraltar, where she picked up information pertaining to minefields still extant in the Adriatic, for delivery to the Commander, Naval Forces, Eastern Mediterranean. The destroyer’s brief tour of duty in this area of the world took her to Spalato, Yugoslavia; Gallipoli, in the Dardanelles; and Trieste, Italy, where she operated as part of the American naval forces keeping watch on the tense local situations there in the aftermath of the World War.

After returning to the United States, via Spalato and Gibraltar, and arriving at New York City on 1 August 1919, Williams was eventually assigned to the Pacific Fleet. Classified DD-108 on 17 July 1920, the destroyer operated out of San Diego until decommissioned there on 7 June 1922 and placed in reserve.

The German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 began hostilities in Europe, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt immediately declared America’s neutrality. To augment the fleet units already engaged in the Neutrality Patrol hurriedly placed off the eastern seaboard and gulf coast of the United States, the Navy recommissioned 77 destroyers and light minelayers.

Williams was accordingly placed in commission at San Diego on 6 November 1939, Lt. Comdr. Louis N. Miller in command. Following a refit at Mare Island, the destroyer operated in the San Diego area until sailing for Panama on 5 February. Transiting the Panama Canal on the 16th, she lay at Balboa for a brief time. During her stay there, the destroyer “manned the rail” in honor of President Roosevelt, who was then engaged in an informal inspection of the Canal Zone’s defenses. Underway soon thereafter, Williams arrived at the Naval Operating Base (NOB), Key West, Fla., on 27 February.

Over the ensuing months, Williams operated with the Atlantic Squadron of the fleet, conducting neutrality patrols as well as training cruises. While conducting her scheduled operations from Key West, the destroyer took part in short-range battle practices and ship-handling drills, while keeping a weather eye on shipping in her vicinity. In March, she conducted an astronomical survey in the Bahamas.

On 9 April, Williams transported a survey party to Palmetto Island in the British West Indies before shifting to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. After moving back to Key West for a time, Williams departed Florida’s waters on 2 June and arrived at New York on 4 June. She conducted two training cruises for embarked Naval Reserve contingents, which kept her busy into the late summer of 1940. After a final refit at the Boston Navy Yard, she departed Charlestown, Mass., on 18 September, bound for Canadian waters; and reached Halifax, Nova Scotia, two days later.

As one of the 50 flush-deck destroyers transferred to the British under lend-lease-in return for leases on important base sites in the Western Hemisphere, Williams was selected as one of the six units slated for the Royal Canadian Navy. Soon after her arrival at Halifax on 20 September 1940, she got underway for a brief familiarization cruise for the Canadian crewmen. Williams was decommissioned and turned over to the Canadian government on 24 September; her name was subsequently struck from the Navy list on 8 January 1941.

Renamed HMCS St. Clair (1.65), her name commemorating the river which forms the boundary between Michigan and Ontario, the destroyer was fitted out for convoy escort duties and sailed for the British Isles on 30 November, in company with HMCS St. Croix (ex-McCook, DD-152) and HMCS Niagara (ex-Thatcher, DD-162).

Operating with the Clyde Escort force, St. Clair escorted convoys in and out of the heavily travelled “western approaches” to the British Isles in the spring of 1941. Late in May, when the powerful German battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen slipped through the Denmark Straits, the “flush decker” became involved in the intensive and widespread effort to destroy the German dreadnought. Eventually, a British force located and sank Bismarck on 27 May, but not before the tragic loss of the battle cruiser HMS Hood on 24 May. The search for the elusive German battlewagon brought some of the British units dangerously close to exhaustion of their fuel supplies. Two Tribal-class destroyers, HMS Mashona and HMS Tartar, were located by German long-rang bombers soon after Bismarck had slipped beneath the waves and sunk in devastating attacks. St. Clair, near the battle area, became involved in the action when she, too, came under attack. The old destroyer doggedly put up a good defense, shooting down one, and possibly, a second, enemy plane.

St. Clair subsequently joined the Newfoundland Escort Force after this group’s establishment in June 1941 and operated on convoy escort missions between Newfoundland and Reykjavik, Iceland, through the end of 1941. St. Clair was assigned to the Western Local Escort Force following repairs at St. John, New Brunswick, in early 1942, and operated out of Halifax over the next two years, escorting coastwise convoys until withdrawn from this service in 1943 due to her deteriorating condition.

Operating as a submarine depot ship at Halifax until deemed unfit for further duty “in any capacity” in August 1944, St. Clair was used as a fire-fighting and damage control hulk until 1946. Handed over to the War Assets Corp. for disposal, on 6 October 1946, St. Clair was subsequently broken up for scrap.

__________

Williams (DE-290), a Rudderow-class destroyer escort, was slated to be built at Hingham, Mass., by the Bethlehem-Hirigham Shipyard; but the contract for her was cancelled on 12 March 1944.