SAVE THE DATE! The Tin Can Sailors 2024 National Reunion Will Be Held In Exciting, Historic New Orleans From Sept. 8th-12th. More Information Coming Soon, Check Our Facebook Page For Future Announcements.

Hull Number: DD-125

Launch Date: 09/05/1918

Commissioned Date: 01/26/1919

Decommissioned Date: 12/17/1945

Other Designations: APD-19


Class: TATTNALL

TATTNALL Class

Data for USS Lamberton (DD-119) as of 1921


Length Overall: 314' 4 1/2"

Beam: 31' 8"

Draft: 9' 4"

Standard Displacement: 1,213 tons

Full Load Displacement: 1,306 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 Parsons Geared Turbines: 25,425 horsepower

Highest speed on trials: 33.4 knots

Namesake: JOSIAH TATTNALL

JOSIAH TATTNALL

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, February 2016

Josiah Tattnall was born on 14 June 1794 at Bonaventura, near Savannah, Ga. He was appointed midshipman on 1 January 1812 and attended the Naval School at Washington, D.C., until 1 August when he was assigned to the frigate, Constellation. When his ship tried to slip out to sea, the strong British squadron operating in the Chesapeake Bay forced her to put into Norfolk, Va. Constellation remained bottled up in Hampton Roads for the duration of the War of 1812, but Tattnall and his comrades still managed to get into the fray. He was among the 100 or so Sailors and Marines assigned to the shore battery on Craney Island. On 22 June 1813, the British attempted to carry the island by storm in preparation for an attack on nearby Norfolk. Tattnal’s battery and a force of American boats gave the attackers a sound rebuff that deterred the British from further attempts to take the city.

In April 1814, Midshipman Tattnall was detached from Constellation and, by 24 August, was in command of a force of employees from the Washington Navy Yard. He led them into battle at Bladensburg in an unsuccessful effort to stop the British advance on the American capital. On 14 October, he was ordered to Savannah for duty in Epervier. In May 1815, that sloop sailed for the Mediterranean with Commodore Stephen Decatur’s squadron to chastise the Algerine pirates. On 17 June, she participated in the capture of the frigate Mashuda and, two days later, of the brig Estedio. In July, when Epervier was ordered back to the United States with dispatches, Tattnall remained in the Mediterranean in Constellation. In January 1817, he transferred to Ontario and returned in her to the United States.

Promoted to lieutenant on 1 April 1818, Tattnall was assigned to the frigate Macedonian on 30 June, and he sailed in her for the Pacific in November. He was detached from Macedonian on 30 August 1820 and returned to the United States. Ordered to Norfolk on 26 December 1822, he joined Commodore David Porter’s squadron in schooner Jackall. Lt. Tattnall served in the West Indies on an expedition to suppress piracy until he was detached on 4 May 1823. On 23 June 1824, Tattnall was ordered to Constitution for Mediterranean service. In March 1826, he transferred to Brandywine and returned home in her in May. On the 15th of that month, he was granted six months leave, which was later extended into 1828.

Tattnall served in Erie from October 1828 to August 1829 and then went on to survey the Tortugas until March 1830. Lt. Tattnall took command of schooner Grampus on 15 April 1831 and cruised the West Indies and the Gulf of Mexico. In August 1832, he captured the Mexican schooner, Montezuma, which had boarded and robbed an American ship on the high seas. He was detached from Grampus in September 1832 and went on leave awaiting orders for almost four years before being ordered in, July 1836, to recruit men for Capt. Thomas ap Catesby Jones’ survey and exploration expedition.

Tattnall was promoted to commander on 25 February 1836 and, in April, reported for a three-year tour of duty at the Boston Navy Yard. Following service with the Mediterranean and African sauadrons, Comdr. Tattnall joined the Mosquito Division in the Gulf of Mexico in 1846, commanding the steam gunboat, Spitfire. During the Mexican War, he took part in the attacks on Vera Cruz, San Juan d’Ulloa, and Tuxpan, and he suffered an arm wound. For his gallantry before Vera Cruz, the state of Georgia presented him with a sword.

In 1848 and 1849, he returned to shore duty at the Boston Navy Yard. On 5 February 1850, he was commissioned captain and, the following month, was given command of Saranac. Next, he commanded the Pensacola Navy Yard from July 1851 to June 1854. From August 1854 to November 1855, Capt. Tattnall was flag captain in Independence to Commodore Mervine on the Pacific Station. At Hong Kong on 29 January 1858, he relieved Commodore Armstrong taking command of the East India Squadron, breaking his flag in San Jacinto. During his two years in the Far East, Commodore Tattnall came to the assistance of a British squadron under fire from the Barrier Forts at the mouth of the Pei Ho River and, on his return voyage early in 1860, carried the first diplomatic embassy from Japan to the United States.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Capt. Tattnall held command of the Sackett’s Harbor Station. Though he opposed secession, Tattnall resigned his commission on 21 February 1861. A week later, Governor Joseph E. Brown commissioned Tattnall as the senior flag officer of the Navy of Georgia. On 26 March 1861, he received his commission as a captain in the Confederate Navy. Tattnall commanded Southern naval units during the defense of Port Royal until the harbor was captured by Union forces on 7 November 1861. From there, he moved to overall command of the defense of Virginia’s waters early in March 1862. Tattnall, by then a flag officer in the Confederate Navy as well as the Navy of Georgia, directed CSS Jamestown and other warships in captures of Federal merchantmen off Sewell’s Point in April 1862.

On 11 May 1862, in the face of advancing Federal forces, Flag Officer Tattnall ordered the destruction of his flagship, CSS Virginia (ex-Merrimack). He was later acquitted by a court martial of all charges stemming from that action. He resumed command of the naval defense of Georgia on 29 May 1862 and retained it until 31 March 1863, when he turned over command of forces afloat to Comdr. Richard Page and concentrated upon the shore defenses of Savannah. When Savannah fell to General Sherman’s troops, Tattnall became a prisoner of war. He was paroled on 9 May 1865 and, soon thereafter, took up residence once more in Savannah. Capt. Tattnall died there on 14 June 1871 and was buried in Bonaventura Cemetery.


Disposition:

Stricken 1/8/1946. Sold 11/13/1946.


A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History

USS TATTNALL DD-125

The Tin Can Sailor, January 2004

The USS TATTNALL (DD-125) arrived on the scene too late to participate actively in World War I. Her keel had been laid down in the yards of the New York Shipbuilding & Drydock Company in Camden, New Jersey on 1 December 1917. The launching took place on 5 September 1918, her sponsor was Miss Campbell Kellock (sic), cousin of the ship’s Namesake Captain Josiah Tattnall. Captain Tattnall had served in both the U.S. Navy and the Confederate States Navy. The ship became an active member of the Fleet upon being Commissioned on 26 June 1919.

The new four-stacker’s first assignment was to Destroyer Division Sixteen. She operated with this force until being decommissioned on 15 June 1922 at San Diego, California. On New Year’s Day 1930 she returned to active status and joined the Destroyer Scouting Force. Lieutenant Commander Lewis M. Markham, Jr., USN relieved Lieutenant Commander James Pahl, in 1940 as Captain, soon thereafter TATTNALL became a member of Destroyer Division 67, stationed in the Panama Canal Zone. The ships of the division consisted of USS BARRY (DD-248), USS BORIE (DD-215), USS GOFF (DD-247) and USS J. FRED TALBOT (DD-156). BARRY and GOFF had recently seen service in Squadron 40 “T”, under the Squadron Commander in USS OMAHA (CL-4) based in Lisbon, Portugal. The Squadron disbanded in 1940, shortly after the outbreak of war in Europe, in September 1939.

Cruising with the “Banana Fleet,” Panama

The division operated, for the most part, in the Bay of Panama with the Submarines of Squadron 3 from Coco Solo, during the week-days. They returned to Balboa on the weekends, this continued until hostilities began, on 7 December. However, this routine was temporarily interrupted on Monday 3 March 1941. Destroyer Division 67, with Lieutenant Commander William J. Marshall, USN Division Commander in USS GOFF (DD-247), transited the Canal. Going through the canal was a most interesting evolution and one that never ceased to be an extraordinary experience. Sometimes, with the heavy load of merchant traffic, the destroyers, having a low priority, would anchor in Gatun Lake and wait for the higher priority merchant traffic to proceed through. We would use this time for swimming call which was greatly appreciated by those crew members not going on watch. Another advantage of going through the canal was that the fresh water of Gaillard cut, as well as that of the Lake, killed much of the marine growth. By increasing speed to 25 knots the barnacles would be effectively cleaned from the bottom, at least temporarily. Upon transiting the canal the ships proceeded to San Joan, Puerto Rico for temporary duty under the Commandant 10th Naval district. The passage through the Caribbean was quite rough, as it usually is during the “winter” months, the Division arrived in San Juan on 7 March. The duties, of the ships, consisted of patrolling the seaward approaches to Fort de France. Martinique, generally with a stop over for fuel oil at Charlotte Amalie in the Virgin Islands.

Anchored in the harbor were several French Naval Vessels, among them, the

Aircraft Carrier BEARNE, the light Cruiser JEAN D’ARC, and several Destroyers. Our job, as I recall, was to make certain that these ships remained in port and to prevent their falling into the hands of the Germans, and using these ships against the British. It’s interesting to consider in retrospect, fifty years later, what we could have done, with our 4″/50’s and torpedoes, had any of the German Naval units made their appearance, to confiscate these vessels. Almost daily a seaplane with French markings would fly out, from Fort de France, circle our ship at a distance to look us over and to possibly check out our intentions. They would then make a 180-degree turn and return to the island.

From time to time the ships would proceed to the Island of Santa Lucia in the British West Indies. The anchorage at Gros Ilet had a picture postcard beach, and was ideal for some welcomed recreation. Santa Lucia is one of the island bases that the United States received in the “Bases for Destroyer Deal” with Great Britain, in 1940. The base was manned by a detachment of U.S. Marines it was one of many which formed a defense perimeter around the seaward approaches to the Panama Canal. On 25 April the Division was detached from this duty and returned to the Coco Solo Submarine Base in the Canal Zone, arriving there on Sunday 27 April resuming Operations under the commandment of the 15th Naval District. The torpedoes were off-loaded and sent to the Submarine Torpedo Shop for updating with the latest Ordalts and overhaul. The Division transited the Canal and laid alongside Pier 18 Balboa, for two weeks of upkeep and maintenance. After the torpedoes were overhauled they were transported across the Isthmus of Panama via the Panama Railroad. They were then returned to their normal storage place in the launcher tubes.

During the Summer of 1941 TATNALL, along with the other ships of Division 67, underwent refitting at the Mechanical Division Panama Canal, Ship Yard in Balboa, Canal Zone. The Main Mast was removed and the Fore Mast shortened. The portholes were plated over, and degaussing equipment had been installed. The Four stacks were shortened, with the fore stack tapered. This gave the ship a lower profile, and a much sleeker look. To offset this loss of weight topside several ton of pig lead were placed beneath the Boilers in the fireroom bilges to compensate for the weight reduction.

Operating independently during the summer and fall of 1941 the ships made several voyages to the Galapagos Islands, by way of Cocos Island. This island is reportedly the site of the hiding place for the treasure plundered by the infamous Pirate Henry Morgan, when he roamed the Caribbean. The Galapagos are a group of 13 volcanic islands in the Eastern Pacific Ocean about 600 miles west of the South American coast. They are a province of Ecuador, and are officially known as The Archipelago de Colon.

Charles Darwin the distinguished naturalist visited these islands in 1835 and made them famous in his writings and used his observations there to prove the theory of evolution. It was a unique experience to approach the animals and birds nesting places that were observed and not scare the creatures away. The Galapagos Islands served as a sanctuary for all wildlife and they showed little or no fear of human trespassers that they might encounter.

The temperature of the islands, although being situated on the Equator is generally cool and dry because of the effects of the Peru Current. The islands are renowned for their unique animal life, with a diversity of distinctive varieties of animals that have developed by adaptation, according to Darwin. The better known species are the land tortoises, the flightless cormorants, and the marine iguanas.

On Crossing The Equator

While I was serving in USS GOFF (DD247), in the summer of 1941, the ship made a cruise to these islands. The ship crossed the Equator at the 90th Meridian on 21 August 1941. Interestingly enough although the ship was approximately six hundred miles due west of the coast of Ecuador the 90th Meridian passes through the United States in the vicinity of the city of New Orleans.

King Neptune with his retinue arrived on board in all their outlandish splendor and the festivities began. All of we lowly Pollywogs were summoned to the Royal Court and initiated into the ancient order and mysteries of the deep, thus becoming Shellbacks. The initiation was, to say the least a memorable experience. The pollywogs, lowly wretches that were, were charged with the offense of having dared to enter, unbidden, the domain of Neptunus Rex and had to pay dearly for the transgression. We were treated to some of the most bizarre treatment that one could imagine. Upon weathering the storm of “abuse” heaped on us by our “saltier shipmates” we were proclaimed to be fellow Shellbacks and were entitled to all of the rights and privileges thereto appertaining.

America Enters World War II

Sunday 7 December 1941 found TATTNALL peacefully moored with her four sister ships, at Pier 18 in Balboa. Because of the time differential between Panama and Hawaii word of the surprise attack came through a little after 1330 plus five Time Zone. Other ships present were two light Cruisers of the Omaha class USS CONCORD (CL-10), USS TRENTON (CL-11) and the Gunboat USS ERIE (PG-50), to protect the canal. There were also some small District Craft. Converted luxury yachts classified as PG’s and PYC’s. The ships were a beehive of activity, as they prepared for the unanticipated. Ammunition was brought from the magazines and stowed in the ready service racks near the 4″/50 caliber guns, the war heads were brought up from below and attached to the torpedoes. Many hands turned to, lending assistance where there was a need. The Ordnance Equipment was aligned and made ready for action.

The storerooms were replenished and filled to capacity. The ships shifted berths to the fueling pier and the oil tanks were “topped off.” By nightfall the ships, of the division were ready for sea and stood out into Panama Bay for patrol, the Canal was completely blacked out. One could hear a steady stream of aircraft taking off from the Army Air Base at Albrook Field, as the P-39’s and P-40’s flew out on patrol. BORIE was the only ship, of the division, equipped with sonar gear. The ships patrolled an arc, keeping position so that visual contact could be maintained with each other. During the night TATTNALL collided with a buoy, damaging a propeller requiring a return to port for repairs.

Upon completion of the repairs TATTNALL transited the canal and commenced patrolling in the Caribbean off the northern approaches to the canal. In March of 1942 she received orders to proceed to Old Providence Island, where she spent two weeks acting as sea-plane tender relieving the USS CLEMSON (AVD-4). After two weeks of this duty she was relieved and returned to patrol duty in the Caribbean. Shortly after the New Year began TATTNALL had Sonar equipment installed, which, needless to say, helped considerably in attempting to track down the elusive submarines.

In April, with the U-Boat campaign enjoying a great deal of success, the ships of Destroyer Division 67 had their armament up-graded. It appeared, expedient to improve the Anti-Submarine capabilities of these destroyers. The six after torpedo tubes were removed to make room for six depth charge projectors, commonly referred to as “K” guns, because of their shape. The changes would enable the ships to lay down a more effective depth charge pattern. The After 36 inch searchlight tower was removed to make way for an elevated 20 MM AA gun platform with enough room for two mounts, as well as a ready service locker for the 20MM Magazines. Additional 20 MM mounts were installed on the main deck, just abaft the remaining torpedo tubes and forward of the newly placed “K” guns.

In June of 1942 Lieutenant Commander Leo G. May relieved Lieutenant Commander Markham. About this time the Escorted Convoy system was inaugurated by the Panama Sea Frontier Command and the destroyers of Division 67 began escorting convoys in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. When German Submarines were at the peak of their effectiveness. The convoy route extended from Cristobal, Canal Zone to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba through the hottest spot in the area, between Jamaica and Haiti into Windward Passage. Although she made several attacks on sonar contacts none of which resulted in any confirmed sinking.

Rescue At Sea

To illustrate the myriad chores performed by these “Tin Cans”. Early in 1943 while TATTNALL was moored to Pier 6 in Cristobal, awaiting the formation of a convoy, she received orders from ComFifteen to get underway as soon as possible. The four boilers were “lit off” in record time and the ship cleared the breakwater of Margarita Bay heading into the Caribbean, and was soon making turns for 30 Knots. That day a PBM Martin Mariner had departed the Naval Air Station, Upham, Canal Zone with cargo and a group of passengers. Among the passengers were a contingent of experienced submariners from the older “S” Boats of Squadron 3 bound for New London, Connecticut for new construction duty. The plane developed engine trouble in flight and made a landing at sea. Expecting the worst TATTNALL arrived on the scene of the “disaster” only to find the plane floating on the surface with both engines inoperative. The passengers were transferred to the ship by the motor whaleboat, lines were attached to the plane, and it was taken in tow and hauled back to Panama. The process took several hours and at about 0400 the PBM was back at the Naval Air Station from the point its journey had begun.

Collision At Sea

On the stormy night of 30 March 1943 TATTNALL was patrolling on station at the head of a convoy west bound from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to Panama, making certain that the seas, in the convoy’s path, were clear of any U-Boats. As the night wore on, the weather worsened becoming darker and stormier. About midnight as the Officer-of-the-Deck and the lookouts, swept the seascape with their binoculars, the ship had not been equipped with radar as yet. There appeared the bow of a smaller escort bearing down on them out of the inky blackness, heading straight for TATTNALL. The ODD ordered “hard left rudder” but the helm, sluggish as it was, failed to answer in time. The bow of the on-coming escort, on the crest of a wave, rammed into the starboard quarter of the After Deck House adjacent to the watertight door leading to the after crew’s berthing compartment. It cut through the starboard main deck passageway leading to the fantail, demolished the life raft nested in its rack, and opened a hole into the crew’s quarters.

The steering cables from the bridge to the steering engine room were severed eliminating the ability to control the rudder from the bridge. The sonar operator reported that the ship was closing the convoy. Skillfully using the main engines to steer, the ODD maneuvered TATTNALL between two columns of ships safely clearing the convoy. Steering with the engines was maintained until the after steering station, on the after deckhouse, could be manned. In this damaged state TATTNALL continued with the convoy to its destination. The repairs were effected at the Mount Hope Yard of the Mechanical Division, Panama Canal, near Cristobal, after which the ship returned to her assigned duties.

Conversion, From Destroyer To APD

In July 1943 she escorted her last northbound Caribbean Convoy, after fuel and provisions were loaded at Guantanamo Bay she continued north the Charleston, South Carolina to undergo conversion to a high speed transport. She arrived at the Navy Yard on 10 July 1943. Work began immediately. TATTNALL was, at this time, redesignated (APD-19). The Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Wiliams Stewart, USNR, a graduate of the Naval Academy, became the Commanding Officer.

The work consisted of the removal of Boilers Numbers one and two. The forward fireroom then underwent conversion into a double decked troop berthing space, to accommodate about one hundred and forty four men, with their equipment. The main battery 4″/50 caliber single purpose guns were replaced by 3″/50 caliber dual-purpose weapons. The magazines had to be altered to accommodate the ammunition containers for these newer type guns.

The maindeck area underwent a major change, along with the loss of the two forward smokestacks, the remaining six torpedo tubes were removed. They were replaced by four sets of Wellin Gravity Boat Davits to accommodate the LCPR landing craft, which would serve to ferry the troops from ship to shore during amphibious operations. The elevated AA gun platform had to be removed to accommodate the boat davits. The 20-MM guns that were mounted there were used to replace two .50 caliber port and starboard machine guns on the forward edge of the galley deckhouse. Thus changing the ships profile markedly. All work was completed on 6 September 1943, and upon the completion of sea trials the ship left Charleston, and headed for Norfolk, Virginia to report to ComPhiblant, (Commander of Amphibious Forces Atlantic Fleet).

TATTNALL’s next assignment was, with USS ROPER (APD-20), to a stint of amphibious training with various Army and Navy Units at Cove Pint, Maryland on Chesapeake Bay, off Little Creek, Virginia and at Fort Pierce, Florida from September 1943 until April 1944. Practicing all phases of landing operations, firing simulated shore bombardment, and performing logistical support of troops ashore. While operating out of Fort Pierce, TATTNALL visited Miami to replenish the fuel supply at the Submarine Chaser School Pier. On one of these excursions, while awaiting the harbor pilot, having nothing better to do some of the crew occupied themselves trolling for fish. This resulted in attracting and catching an eight or ten foot shark, which was hauled aboard using one of the depth charge hoisting davits, many of the crew members availed themselves of souvenirs in the form of shark’s teeth. The training experience gained by these ships resulted in two of the most efficient APD crews in the Atlantic Fleet.

Hatteras Hurricane

Shortly before the training began in earnest TATTNALL was called upon to escort a group of amphibious ships south. This convoy consisted of LST’S, LCI’s and other amphibious craft of various types. Soon after leaving port the convoy encountered a hurricane for which Cape Hatteras is quite well renowned, a reputation certainly not unjustified.

As the ships steamed steadily Southward the storm increased in intensity. It became so rough that the gripes on Number 4 Higgins Boat loosened and the resulting battering stove in the boat’s side causing extensive damage. Exemplary seamanship by John McInerney Chief Boatswain Mate and the deckforce secured the boat and kept the damage to that one boat. Meanwhile on the fantail havoc reigned, the ship was tossed about, with gigantic waves crashing over the stern, resulting in three depth charges breaking loose and rolling a bout the fantail, endangering everything in their path.

General Quarters sounded, soon after daybreak, sending the crew to their battle stations, with the exception of the forward 3″/50 caliber gun crew. As Gun Captain of that gun my orders were not to venture onto the fo’c’sle but to muster the crew on the Well Deck in the lee of the Bridge Deckhouse, and await further orders. They were not long in coming, Lieutenant Norman Whitehead the Gunnery Officer dispatched the Assistant Gunnery Officer, Lieutenant (jg) Williams Dabney, and under his leadership we went aft to see what could be done to ease the situation. An attempt was made to secure these 425 pound “ash cans” to the Depth Charge Release Rack. The futility of this soon became evident, with the waves crashing over the fantail, the way they did, that just maintaining one’s footing was a feat worthy of mention. We were, at times, waist deep in sea water and the next moment the screws could be heard flailing free of the ocean.

The bridge was notified of the plight of the gun crew, back came the word to set the depth charges on safe and jettison them over the side, when the ship healed over. To set the charges on safe was a real challenge, the way that they were rolling. In desperation I straddled a charge and lying on top of it I spread my legs to keep the “monster” still with the help of the rest of the party. I fitted the depth setting spanner wrench over the index, and finally managed to move the index to the safe position.

In carrying out these orders one man suffered a broken leg. The Officer in charge was nearly swept over the side by a wave, when the garbage rack uprights carried away. The Pharmacist Mate severely strained his back when he grabbed the struggling Officer and helped him regain his footing on the heaving deck. One charge was eventually lashed to the release rack, and two others were set on safe and rolled over the side as the ship leaned in a roll.

Arthur Davison, who was a Radioman 3/C at the time, recalls that the clinometer registered a reading of about 51 degrees or so. He remembers further the convoy being badly scattered along the east coast with many of the ships seeking shelter in whatever harbor they could enter. He goes on to state that to the best of his recollection the cause of the problem was a huge wave overtaking the ship, broke over the stern inundating the steering engine room, and dislodging the depth charges from the forward end of the release -racks. The crewmember attempting to man the “trick wheel” in the after steering station had great difficulty because of the flooded condition of the compartment. When the storm abated somewhat TATTNALL put into Port in New River, N.C. to transfer the injured crew members to the Naval Hospital located at the Marine Base. When this was completed, the ship returned to Norfolk to resume her training role.

Transport Division 13 Formed

Upon the completion of the training period Lieutenant Commander Frank H. Lennox, USNR assumed command, relieving Lieutenant Commander Stewart. TATTNALL became the flagship of Transport Division 13. Commander John Nelson Hughes, USN who in 1942, as Commanding Officer of USS PARROTT (DD-218), won a Navy Cross for action against the Japanese Fleet in the Battle of Makassar Straight near Borneo, became the Division Commander. This was the only APD Division operating with the Atlantic Fleet during the War. The Division consisted of, besides TATTNALL and ROPER, USS BARRY (APD-29), USS GREENE (APD-36), and USS OSMOND INGRAHAM (APD-35).

On 13 April 1944 the Division formed up with a convoy bound for North Africa from Hampton Roads, being convoyed rather than acting as escorts. A few days later the APD’s were passed into service as escorts, to assist the newer Destroyer Escorts. They left the confines of the convoy and took up stations on the perimeter where they put to use the Anti Submarine expertise they had gained in the early months of the war. With the convoy’s speed of advance only six or seven knots, the trip took a little over two weeks. It was during this trans-Atlantic voyage that TATTNALL had the nerve-wracking experience of fueling at sea from one of the Fleet Oilers which accompanied the convoy. After performing the feat a couple of times, the crew became quite proficient at this rather complex evolution.

On the evening of 29 April the Rock of Gibralter was abeam to Port and the convoy entered the Mediterranean Sea. The convoy received supplementary escort services from the Gibraltar Naval Base of an AA Cruiser and a couple of British corvettes. The next day the ships of the Division left the convoy and proceeded to the sanctuary of the breakwater at Mers-El-Kebir, Algeria, reporting to the Area Commander for duty. The remainder of the convoy continued on to Algiers, Bizerte, and points further east.

Increasing The Ship’s Firepower

Shortly after arriving in North Africa, one of the gunner’s Mates, a member of the Scouts and Raider Crew, was dispatched to the Ammunition supply depot in Oran to see if there were any machine guns that were available. He returned with six air cooled Browning .50 caliber models complete with field mounted tripods. The mounts were welded to the deck just adjacent to the water way, on the port and starboard waist by the ship’s Shipfitter’s under the leadership of “Abe” Hurwits Ship Fitter First class, USN. These weapons were to be manned by the Damage Control Party, provided they were not busily engaged in their primary duties of repairing any battle damage. This also gave the ship some much needed extra fire power.

I vividly recall that soon after the installation was complete and the next time we were underway Lieutenant Norman Whitehead the Gunner Officer decided that it might be a good idea to test fire the guns. One of the mounts had a recalcitrant pivot pin retaining device and failed to lock the gun to the cradle. When Chief Machinist Mate Marsh, who was manning the gun opened fire, the pivot pin escaped from its recess and recoil knocked him to the deck. In retrospect its an entertaining tale but at the time there was Chief Marsh with a bewildered look on his face, sitting on deck, with a Browning Machine Gun nestled in his lap. The incident could have had more serious consequences, but fortunately did not. Needless to say the Gunnery Department took steps to see that this problem would not recur.

Amphibious Operations in Earnest

The first Amphibious Operation TATTNALL and ROPER were to participate in was the capture of the islands of Elba and Pianosa. This operation code named “Brassard” was a part of Force “N” under the Command of Rear Admiral Thomas Troubridge, RN. To prepare for this operation they steamed to Ajaccio, Corsica, while the rest of the Division remained behind in North Africa for other duties. Upon arrival in Corsica they conducted a series of practice landings with members of the Battalion de Choc, under General Henry Martin of the Free French African, and Senegalese Troops who were chosen to liberate these two islands, located between the islands of Corsica and Italy, in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Operation “Spam” Dry Run On Rome

Before the invasion the two APD’s participated in the brief but significant operation code named “SPAM”, on the night of 30 May 1944. The Allied Forces were checked at Anzio, Italy, but were preparing for a push toward Rome. The success of this push was threatened by German troops who were reported to be coming down to engage them. On the night in question, this small force of transports sailed eastward from Porto Vecchio, Corsica without any troops aboard and headed out to sea as though an amphibious operation was eminent. Their course was aimed in the general direction of Civitavecchia, Italy, north of Rome. This mock invasion force, which turned back after being “discovered” by German “snooper” aircraft when they were about twenty miles from the Italian Coast apparently fooled the German High Command. The expected reinforcements failed to arrive to threaten Anzio. On the following day the German radio broadcasts, and “Berlin Sally” were heard proclaiming that an invading Allied Force had been repulsed the preceding night, in the area to the north of Rome.

Operation “Brassard” Elba and Pianosa

The invasion of Elba commenced on the night of 17 June 1944. As Samuel Elliot Morrison reported in his book, “The Two Ocean War,” this little island, about 30 miles long was defended by about 3,000 Germans that were so well provided with coastal and mobile batteries that the ships entering the Golfo di Campo were met by murderous fire. Several LCI’s were sunk and for a time it looked as though nobody would get out alive. Captain Errol Turner, RN, the landing officer, on the beach, directed the troop laden landing craft to put their men ashore on other beaches, by noon all the beaches were joined and that only one battery was still giving trouble. By 19 June the islands were in “French hands.”

The first employment of APD’s in the Mediterranean area was carried out by TATTNALL and ROPER during the early hours of 17 June 1944, in company with Chasseurs #51 and #52 of the French Navy. Prior to leaving Ajaccio, Robert Sweeney, Signal Man 2/C USN was temporarily transferred to #52 to serve as communication liaison, between the American and French Forces, during the landing operation. The operation against Pianosa was carried out in conjunction with the French naval assault, Groupe Naval D’Assaut, under the command of Capitaine Fregate R. Seriot, French Navy, embarked in #52.

TATTNALL’s four landing craft were to put ashore 140 Officers and men of the 9th Zuares, of the Free French Army under the command of Major F. Dupre, with an approximate like number of troops by the boats of ROPER. At about 2300 the boats were lowered into the water and the troops were loaded aboard. The boats, directed by Ensign W. B. Hultquist, USNR, in boat #1 and Lt. (jg) H. N. Moore, USNR, in #4, took up station on the quarter of the two chasseurs. Communication between ComTransDiv. 13, Commander Hughes, and Captain Seriot was accomplished through the use of under water sound transmission in order to maintain radio silence. Upon the completion of the landings Signalman Sweeney was returned to TATTNALL having completed his liaison duties, in an exemplary manner.

In speaking to Willard Hertlein, Motor Machinist Mate Second Class, USNR, at the reunion of the “Four Stack Destroyer APD” held in St. Paul, Minnesota 19 – 21 September 1991. He reported that his position, during this operation, was that of an engineer on one of the landing craft. He recalled very clearly that the German artillery was extremely intense and accurate. When the boats ran up on the beach, the men of the landing force were a little reluctant to leave the confines of the boat. The boat crews, wishing to clear the beach as quickly as possible, got behind the troops and more or less “persuaded” them to accelerate their departure from the boats. Thus enabling the coxswains to back off the shoreline and maneuver the landing craft out into open water and await further orders.

Following these landings the ships reverted to “Destroyer” type activities, escorting convoys around the Mediterranean. They visited such ports as: Arzew and Bizerte, in North Africa, Naples and Salerno, in Italy that afforded the crews some welcomed liberty and recreation.

Southern France Operation “Anvil”

The Division was together again to prepare for the next Amphibious Operation. They proceeded to an area of the Golfo di Salerno, just to the south of the town of Salerno. The rumors were that the location of the next landing, would be somewhere on the coast of Southern France. Soon rumors gave way to fact and word spread that the proposed target area was east of the mouth of the Rhone River, between the towns of Toulon and Nice.

Embarked on board were the men of the First Special Service Force, nicknamed “Frederick’s Freighters” after their Commanding Officer. This was a hand picked group of American and Canadian Troops formed at Helena, Montana in the summer of 1942. The summer of 1943 had found them storming the shores of the Aleutian Islands to unseat the Japanese from American Soil. They had spent 106 days of the winter months, of 1944, “slugging it out” with German Troops on the Anzio Beachhead. The APD’s appearance signaled that their rest period had terminated, and that they figured to take a prominent part in the next operation plans.

TATTNALL very nearly missed the Invasion of Southern France because of a freak accident. A week or so prior to the scheduled operation while anchored in the Harbor of Naples, one of the plates in the After Engine Room suddenly sprung a leak and began filling with sea water. Anthony “Tony” DeMarco Machinist Mate 1/c, USNR clearly recalls looking into the bilges and being able to see daylight where no such light should have been seen. Quickly manning a P500 “Handybilly” Pump, which supplemented the bilge pump, and placing a temporary plug in the hole, flooding was controlled. The ship was towed to the Dry-dock facility where emergency repairs were accomplished, by Italian shipfitters. A new plate was welded over the weakened damaged area in record time and after suitable tests at sea the TATTNALL took her place in the Invasion Force.

Aerial reconnaissance, of the landing area revealed strong German Garrisons on the three Islands of the Hyeres group, just to the east of Toulon. These pictures showed what appeared to be heavy coastal batteries commanding the approaches to the beaches for about twenty miles. A decision was made that these installations would be the target for the TATTNALL’s task group. The troops were to put ashore several hours before “H” hour, and the element of surprise was of the utmost importance. This, together with the island’s terrain warranted the use of rubber landing craft, towed in by the ship’s LCPR’S. On the morning of 14 August 1944 the invasion force left the anchorage in Corsica, and steamed toward the “Cote d’Azur” of Southern France.

About 0130 on the 15th, almost six hours before the main attack, set for 0700, these “Rangers” went to the rocky shores of the Ile de Levant, and Port Cros. We members of the Gunnery Department were detailed to stand near the debarkation nets. As the troopers of the First Special Service Force prepared to climb down the nets to enter the landing craft it was our job to issue each man going over the side two fragmentation hand grenades. The soldiers took a very dim view of carrying the extra weight. We assured them that it wasn’t our idea, but that of their Commanding Officer who ordered that they be issued these weapons. Thus being assured the men placed the hand grenades conveniently on their cartridge belts “hooking” them by the handles. As they clambered down the cargo nets we noticed that they extended their mid-section so that the hand grenades got caught on the net and became dislodged and fell into the water and sank to the bottom of the sea, thus “accidentally” relieving themselves of the required “ammunition”. I questioned the men still remaining on deck about the rationale of such behavior, their answer made a lot of sense to me. They said that the grenades got in the way while they were crawling up on the enemy. The ring on the “pin” could easily become entangled on a-bush or something become dislodged thereby allowing the grenade to detonate and be more hazardous to themselves than to the Germans.

The Rafts, for that is all they were, were towed in to about 1000 yards from the beach by the LCPR’S, and the troopers would paddle themselves the rest of the way. The enemy emplacements were neutralized as the “Raiders” overwhelmed them in the rapid silent manner that was their forte. The five destroyer transports, between them landed about 1600 soldiers on the two islands. Levant fell the second day after the landing, while Port Cros flew the white flag of surrender a day later.

The next two weeks found TATTNALL, and her sisters, faced with all manner of support activities. They brought supplies and reinforcements to the landing areas, cared for and evacuated the wounded, transported a large number of German POWs to their place of internment, in Cavalaire Bay. When Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestall, who had been observing the invasion activities from the deck of USS AUGUSTA (CA 31), decided that a closer look at the situation ashore was in order, his mode of transport was one of TATTNALL’s landing craft. Leaving her boats behind in the landing area TATTNALL carried four BMS’s to the Golfe de Fos, west of Marseilles. These BMS’s were converted LCVP’s that had been equipped to perform mine sweeping operations. TATTNALL even underwent the heart-wrenching task of removing the remains of the soldiers who had fallen in battle, to their final resting place. When there was nothing else to do they engaged in some off-shore antisubmarine patrolling on the off chance that any U-boats made their appearance known by torpedoing unwary defenseless ships.

TATTNALL’s age manifested itself once more. While engaged in this operation trouble developed in the evaporators. This problem greatly reduced their ability to convert seawater to potable drinking water. They were barely able to produce enough fresh water to keep the boilers supplied, as well as provide enough so that the cooks could prepare the food for the crew. There was not enough fresh water for the crew to enjoy the luxury of an occasional shower. Because of this every time the ship anchored, swimming call was sounded and the crewmembers not on watch enjoyed the opportunity of a dip in the Mediterranean to maintain cleanliness. The crew would dive over the side come up the “Jacobs Ladder” grab a piece of Saltwater soap “lather down” then quickly return over the side to rinse off. While this procedure leaves something to be desired it is effective in an emergency.

From the beginning of September until her duties in the Mediterranean were completed, TATTNALL’s time was taken up escorting convoys from port to port, and other utilitarian tasks. About 12 December the welcomed orders came to provision ship and sail for home with stops for fuel in the Azores and Bermuda. They arrived in Hampton Roads a couple of days before Christmas, 1944. After off-loading the ammunition the ship proceeded to the Norfolk Navy Yard, in Portsmouth for some much needed repairs. There were also alterations to be accomplished like the placement of two single Bofors 40 MM AA weapons, to replace the 3″/50 on the after deckhouse, before reporting to the Pacific Theater of Operations. During the Yard availability Lieutenant Commander Lennox was relieved by Lieutenant B. A. Habich, USNR as Captain, a veteran of the Pearl Harbor attack while serving in USS SCHLEY (DD-103).

Bound For the Pacific

On 31 January 1945, all work having been completed and with a fresh coat of “Pacific Camouflaging” TATTNALL cleared Chesapeake Bay. She headed south to the Panama Canal and the Pacific Ocean, by way of San Diego and Pearl Harbor on her last wartime assignment. The ship

Paused at Pearl Harbor for some refresher training in Amphibious Warfare and other underway evolutions, TATTNALL ultimately arrived off Okinawa on 19 April 1945.

Okinawa, Ordeal of the “Kamikaze”

The invasion of this Bastion, code named “Love Day” had taken place on Easter, 1 April 1945. After success in the initial stages, the Campaign turned into one of the toughest fights in the annals of American History. The logistic needs of an Operation of this magnitude required a large fleet of surface ships to support the troops ashore. Among these demands were the landing of reinforcements and supplies, large scale and constant shore bombardment, as well as prevention of Japanese counter landings. This left the Empire of Japan no alternative but to knockout, what came to be known as the “Fleet That Came to Stay,” and thus began the largest air-sea battle of the war.

The Japanese instrument of this all-out attack was the insidious “Divine Wind,” also known as the Kamikaze Corps. The ships on the picket lines protecting and screening the anchorage area received the brunt of the blow from these instruments of death. It was for this duty that TATTNALL reported.

She patrolled several of the screen stations prior to the night of 29 April, and had successfully fired on several enemy planes.

This night there had been three “red alerts” before 0200 with no targets of opportunity. At 0215 general quarters again summoned the crew to battle stations, almost immediately “bogies” began closing from the west.

One twin-engined plane crossed about 3000 yards astern, and the 40-mm gun on the After Deckhouse opened fire scoring several hits. The plane drew off to the starboard quarter with one engine ablaze. Tenaciously it wheeled around and headed for the ship, only to give the starboard batteries some target practice and they shot the aerial intruder from the sky.

A few moments later a single engine fighter decided to avenge the loss of his companion. Approaching from starboard he went into a fatal dive aiming for TATTNALL. With the old four-stacker’s ancient engines striving for full speed, Lieutenant Commander Habich coolly ordered “right full rudder.” The “kamikaze” crashed in the sea a scant few feet off the starboard bow, puncturing a small hole in the hull just above the water line, and dented the “paper thin” plates below the waterline.

The main deck was drenched with debris. Elden “Al” Mantey, GM I/C USNR, the gun captain of the forward 3″/50 recalls that the rail around the forward search light platform was carried away by either the force of the explosion, or a flying piece of shrapnel. He also remembers, that by sheer luck, the Electricians Mate manning this station had, moments before, been summoned below undoubtedly saving his life.

About ten minutes later a medium bomber crossed the bow approximately a hundred yards ahead. TATTNALL was unable to fire her batteries because of the gasoline still remaining on the decks, forward of the Galley Deckhouse. The muzzle flash of the guns could have ignited the heavy concentration of fumes.

The next day she sailed to Saipan on escort duty and returned to Okinawa with another convoy carrying oil for the smoke screen generators. She then resumed her duties on the picket station, where air raids continued almost without let-up.

On 25 May the crew were at their battle stations continuously for eighteen hours. During this day’s attack, two of her sister ships, BARRY and ROPER each were struck by Kamikaze planes. Because of extensive damage, BARRY had to be sunk while ROPER returned to the rear area.

About 3 June 1945 word came that a typhoon was approaching Okinawa and the resulting bad weather curtailed enemy air activity. The typhoon did not approach as close as anticipated and TATTNALL departed for Leyte Gulf by way of Saipan on 6 June, arriving at Leyte on 18 June after nearly a month in the forward area. She remained at Leyte for 8 days where repairs were effected, not to mention some much-needed good old-fashioned rest and relaxation that was enjoyed by all hands.

After the repairs were completed TATTNALL reported to the Commander Philippine Sea Frontier for duty on 26 June. The first assignment was to proceed to Subic Bay via Manila to escort a convoy back to Okinawa. The convoy was formed and departed Subic 4 July en route to the forward area once more.

The ships, of the convoy, celebrated Independence Day the good old-fashioned way by engaging in some antiaircraft firing exercises. This group of 21 LST’s with 4 escorts was one of the first convoys to swing around to the west side of Luzon and approach within 200 miles of Formosa before turning northeast toward Okinawa.

The trip was made without incident nor were any enemy aircraft encountered. Upon arriving at their destination on 8 July proceeded to the transport anchorage and moored there. After about 5 days of little or no activity, except for refueling and taking on provisions, TATTNALL bid a fond adieu to this beleaguered island and sailed for Leyte with the same ships that they had escorted North, arriving on 17 July.

TATTNALL’s final assignment while attached to the Philippine Sea Frontier, was to proceed to Hollandia, New Guinea to meet and escort several troop ships back to Leyte.

This would mean that the ship would cross the Equator, because the island of New Guinea is situated south of the Philippines. The last time TATTNALL had performed the initiation ceremony had been during the summer of 1941 when on a cruise to the Galapagos Islands, as previously reported in this article.

By this time most of those Shellbacks had long since gone to other assignments. This meant that there was a wealth of Pollywogs and a dearth of Shellbacks. Nevertheless tradition dictates that all vessels entering the domain of King Neptune are to initiate those members of the crew not previously inducted into the “Ancient Mysteries of the Deep” to appear before the “Royal Court” and be tried. The Shellbacks held a meeting and chose the members of the “Royal Party.”

Although badly outnumbered, by the Pollywogs, the initiation went along and all those wishing to be were inducted into this select group of “Salty Mariners.” TATTNALL crossed the Equator at 1317, 18 August 1945 with both Whistle and siren going full blast. This proved to be a welcomed relief from the rigors of the “Picket Lines” of the previous couple of months.

The ship arrived in Hollandia, New Guinea at 0700 the next morning and remained there for the next 12 days, where some much needed rest and recreation was enjoyed by the crew.

On the evening of 29August, TATTNALL departed Hollandia with a convoy of two troop carriers and cargo ships, for Leyte. The trip was uneventful until the night before arriving back in the Philippines, when a casualty occurred to the starboard high-pressure turbine, which left that engine useless.

Further inspection after arriving in Leyte proved that the engine was beyond repair. The decision was made to remove the starboard propeller and to return to the United States on one engine.

Homeward Bound

At 1945 local time 13 September 1945 TATTNALL set sail for home, with 102 passengers aboard, Two nights later the outer edge of a typhoon’s effects were felt, with rolls showing on the clinometer in excess of 47 degrees.

Pausing only at Eniwetok for fuel, the ship entered Pearl Harbor on 27 September. During the final leg of the journey the Pacific Ocean did not live up to its name, which resulted in a rather rough crossing. TATTNALL arrived in San Francisco 3 October where she was ordered to Seattle, Washington for final inspection and disposal.

The Board of Inspection and Survey looked her over and on 19 November all of the usable equipment was removed, and the 24-year-old “Fourstacker” was reduced to a sad looking hulk. At 1300, 17 December 1945, TATTNALL was placed officially out of commission, and stricken from the list. The remainder of the crew was transferred to the 13th Naval District for reassignment or separation, whichever was appropriate.

End Of The Trail

TATTNALL’s ultimate fate? Lyle Kelly, a Sonarman in 1942, recalled an article he had read in a Seattle newspaper while he was attending the University of Washington in 1946.

The paper reported that she was towed out to sea and sunk as part of a breakwater, then being constructed, somewhere off the coast of Washington State. Burial at sea seems to be a fitting tribute to a vessel that served far beyond her original life expectancy.

There she lies in peace some three thousand miles from the place of her origin on the 26th day of June 1919 at Camden, New Jersey, approximately twenty-seven years earlier.

The USS TATTNALL (DD-125/APD-19) earned three stars on her Area Campaign Ribbons for the following operations:

European-African-Middle Eastern Medal
1 Star/West Coast of Italy Operations
Elba and Pianosa Landing – 17 June 1944
1 Star/invasion of Southern France
14 August – 1 September 1944

Asiatic-Pacific Medal
1 Star/Okinawa Gunto Operation
Assault and Occupation of Okinawa Gunto
19 April — 11 June 1945

A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History

USS TATTNALL DD-125

The Tin Can Sailor, October 2015

As the lead ship of her class, the TATTNALL was a faster, heavier, more powerful adaptation of the Wickes-class, identified as high-speed destroyer transports. She was built at Camden, New Jersey, by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation and commissioned on 26 June 1919. Following trials off the New England coast, the TATTNALL sailed for the eastern Mediterranean. There, she operated out of Constantinople, Turkey, carrying passengers and mail to ports in Egypt, Greece, Russia, and Syria. On her return the states, the TATTNALL joined the Pacific Fleet and operated along the California coast until June 1922, when she was decommissioned in reserve at San Diego.

On 1 May 1930, the TATTNALL was recommissioned and after a year on the East Coast, joined the Pacific Fleet’s Scouting Force Training Squadron as a unit of Destroyer Division 7. For the next seven years she alternated between periods of inactive and active duty with the squadron. That ended in November 1938 when she and the USS J. Fred Talbott relieved the USS Dallas and USS Babbitt as units of the Special Service Squadron.

The TATTNALL was home-ported in Panama and operating in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea when the United States entered World War II. She remained in that area escorting convoys through the Windward Passage between Cuba and Hispaniola at the height of Germany’s U-boat blitz in the Caribbean. Though she made many sonar contacts and depth charge attacks, she had no confirmed kills.

In July 1943, the destroyer went into Charleston, South Carolina’s Navy Yard, for conversion to a high-speed transport and was redesignated APD-19 on 24 July. By April 1944, the TATTNALL was serving as flagship of the high-speed Transport Division 13. Soon thereafter, she was bound for Oran, Algeria, in company with the ROPER (DD-147), BARRY (DD-147), GREENE (DD-266), and OSMOND INGRAM (DD-255). There, they joined the Eighth Fleet off Corsica to take part in the capture of Elba and Pianosa Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea in mid June. Though the TATTNALL came under machine-gun fire during the battle, she suffered no serious damage.

Following those landings, the destroyer began convoy duty between Italian, Sicilian, and North African ports. On one crossing, she took aboard members of an American and Canadian special service force bound for amphibious operations against the heavily fortified Hyeres Islands just east of Toulon. The force’s assignment was to hold the islands during the invasion of southern France. On 15 August, the five ships of TransDiv 13 put ashore 1,600 troops who secured the islands in three days. For the next two weeks, the TATTNALL and her sister transports shuttled reinforcements and supplies into southern France and evacuated Allied wounded and German prisoners of war. For the remainder of the year, she escorted convoys between ports in the Mediterranean Sea.

The high-speed transport returned to Norfolk on 21 December 1944 and was bound for the Pacific and Okinawa in the Ryukus a month later. Off Okinawa, she screened the units of the fleet and, on several occasions trained her fire on enemy planes. The attackers presented little threat until the night of 29 and 30 April which appeared to be a similar case when three red alerts before 0200 failed to become enemy attacks. Then, at about 0215, bogies appeared on the ship’s radar closing in from the west. When a twin-engine plane crossed about 3,000 yards from the TATTNALL’s stern, the ship’s 40-mm gun crews were ready and opened fire. With one engine ablaze, the plane returned several times to renew its attack until, in a pass on her starboard quarter, the ship’s gunners finished the job they’d begun on its first pass and sent it crashing into the sea. Soon thereafter, another kamikaze dove on the TATNALL’s starboard side. With her engines at full speed, the destroyer turned hard to port evading the attacker which splashed just off her starboard bow. Debris rained down on ship and pierced her hull above the waterline, but she suffered neither casualties nor serious damage.

The following day, the TATTNALL left Okinawa for the Marianas and convoy escort duty which took her back to Okinawa on 20 May to resume picket duty. Her crew continued to stand long watches and, on 25 May, they were at general quarters for 18 hours straight during a kamikaze attack on the BARRY and ROPER. The BARRY later sank and the ROPER withdrew for repairs.

Early in June, the TATTNALL was sent to the Philippines and reached Leyte on the 17th where she remained through the end of the war, conducting patrols and escorting convoys to Ulithi and Hollandia. Finally, on 13 September 1945, the fast transport was homeward bound and arrived in San Francisco on 30 October. The USS TATTNALL was decommissioned at the Puget Sound Navy Yard on 17 December 1945, and her name struck from the navy list on 8 January 1946. She was sold to the Pacific Metal Salvage Company of Seattle, Washington, on 17 October 1946 and her hull was towed to Royston, British Columbia, to serve as a breakwater. Parts of her hull were still visible in 2009.

USS TATTNALL DD-125 Ship History

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, February 2016

The first Tattnall (Destroyer No. 125) was laid down at Camden, N.J., on 1 December 1917 by the New York Shipbuilding Corp.; launched on 5 September 1918; sponsored by Miss Sarah Campbell Kollock; and commissioned on 26 June 1919, Comdr. Gordon Wayne Haines in command.

Following trials off the New England coast, Tattnall sailed for the eastern Mediterranean. She arrived at Constantinople on 27 July and, for almost a year, operated in Turkish waters. During that time, she also visited ports in Egypt, Greece, Russia, and Syria transporting passengers and mail. In June 1920, the destroyer began her return voyage to the United States. During the voyage home, she was designated DD-125 on 17 July 1920 when the Navy adopted the alphanumeric system of hull designations. She stopped at ports in Italy and France before entering New York harbor on 22 July. Following overhaul, Tattnall put to sea to join the Pacific Fleet. After port calls along the southern coast of the United States and at ports in Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico, and the Canal Zone, she reached San Diego on 17 December. The warship operated along the California coast until 15 June 1922, when she was decommissioned and placed in reserve at San Diego.

On 1 May 1930, Tattnall was recommissioned, Comdr. A. M. R. Allen in command. The warship served with the Battle Force along the west coast until 1931. By 1 July of that year, she had been transferred to the east coast for duty with the Scouting Force Destroyers as a unit of Destroyer Division 7.

A year later, Tattnall’s activity was curtailed by her assignment to the rotating reserve. On 1 January 1934, the destroyer resumed a more active role with the Fleet when she began a year of duty with the Scouting Force Training Squadron. Following another period of relative inactivity in rotating reserve, she rejoined the Training Squadron late in 1935. During the latter part of 1937, the Training Detachment, United States Fleet, was established; and Tattnall and the other units of the Scouting Force Training Squadron joined the new organization. The destroyer continued her training duties until November 1938.

On the 17th, she and J. Fred Talbot (DD-1B6) relieved Dallas (DD-199) and Babbitt (DD-128) as units of the Special Service Squadron. Based in the Canal Zone, Tattnall helped to exert the steadying influence of American seapower in Latin America until the squadron was disbanded on 17 September 1940. The warship, however, continued to operate in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea out of her home port at Panama. After the United States entered World War II, Tattnall began escorting coastwise convoys in her area of operations, frequently through the Windward Passage between Cuba and Hispaniola, one of the most dangerous areas during the height of the Caribbean U-boat blitz. Though she made many sonar contacts and depth charge attacks, Tattnall registered no confirmed kills.

Early in July 1943, the destroyer escorted her last Caribbean convoy north from the Windward Passage to Charleston, S.C. She arrived on the 10th, began conversion to a high-speed transport at the navy yard, and was redesignated APD-19 on 24 July. On 6 September 1943, the day following the 25th anniversary of her launching, Tattnall completed conversion. She finished her shakedown cruise in mid-September. Following post-shakedown repairs and alterations in late September, the high-speed transport began amphibious training-first, at Cove Point, Md., and later, at Fort Pierce, Fla.

In April 1944, Tattnall was designated flagship of Transport Division (TransDiv) 13, the only high-speed transport division in the Atlantic theater. On 13 April, she departed the east coast for Oran, Algeria, in company with Roper (APD-20), Barry (APD-29), Greene (APD-36), and Osmond Ingram (APD-35). TransDiv 13 joined the 8th Fleet at the end of April, and Tattnall moved to Corsica to practice for her first assignment, the capture of Elba and Pianosa Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea. However, before the invasion and during her training period, Tattnall was called upon to feign a landing near Civitavecchia, Italy, north of Rome, to draw off German reinforcements headed south to turn back the American forces breaking through at Monte Cassino and heading for Rome. The ruse apparently worked. The reinforcements never reached Monte Cassino; and, on the following day, German radio announced an Allied invasion north of Rome.

On 17 June, the invasion troops went ashore on Elba and Pianosa. Tattnall’s boats came under machinegun fire, but suffered no serious damage. After the landings in the Tyrrhenian Sea, the high-speed transport began convoy duty between Italian, Sicilian, and North African ports. Following that duty, she resumed amphibious operations, this time with members of the American-Canadian 1st Special Service Force embarked. Their mission was to capture the heavily fortified Hyeres Islands, located just east of Toulon, and hold them during the main landings in the invasion of southern France. On 15 August, the five ships of TransDiv 13 rapidly put 1,600 troops ashore; and the islands were secured within three days. During the next two weeks, Tattnall and her sister transports shuttled reinforcements and supplies into southern France and evacuated Allied wounded and German prisoners of war. For the remainder of the year, the high-speed transport escorted convoys between ports in the Mediterranean Sea.

Tattnall returned to the United States at Norfolk on 21 December and began a month-long availability period before heading for the Pacific. She got underway from Hampton Roads on 31 January 1945. After transiting the Panama Canal early in February and making stops at San Diego, Pearl Harbor, Eniwetok, and Ulithi, the fast transport reached the Okinawa area on 19 April.

The high-speed transport remained in the Ryukyus through the end of the month. During that time, she stood guard on several of the screen stations which circled Okinawa to protect the units of the fleet from attack by kamikazes, Japan’s final suicidal attempt to stem the American tide in the Pacific. Tattnall fired at enemy planes several times in the days preceding the night of 29 and 30 April; however, it was not until that night that she drew Japanese blood.

Three red alerts before 0200 failed to materialize into enemy attacks; however, at about 0215, bogies began closing her from the west. A twin-engined plane crossed Tattnall astern about 3,000 yards distant, and her 40 millimeter gun crews took him under fire. The attacker retired to the fast transport’s starboard quarter with one engine ablaze, but only to renew his attack. Again, he dove at Tattnall. This time, her gunners finished the job they had begun on his first pass, and he plummeted into the sea. Soon thereafter, a kamikaze approached the warship from her starboard quarter and dove at her. Tattnall, her engines at full speed, turned hard to port to evade the attacker. He splashed into the sea close aboard Tattnall’s starboard bow. Debris rained down on the ship and pierced her hull above the waterline. Fortunately, she suffered neither casualties nor serious damage.

The following day, Tattnall departed Okinawa and headed for the Mariana Islands and convoy escort duty. She arrived at Saipan on 3 May and returned with a convoy to Okinawa on the 20th. The warship resumed picket duty but experienced no more action like that of the night of 29 and 30 April. To be sure, her crew stood long watches and, on 25 May, was at general quarters for 18 hours straight. On that day, two of her sister ships from TransDiv 13, Barry and Roper, were hit by kamikazes. Barry later sank, and Roper was sent to a rear area for repairs.

Early in June, Tattnall was ordered to report for duty with the Philippine Sea Frontier. She stopped at Saipan on 13 June and reached Leyte on the 17th. Through the end of the war and for almost a month thereafter, she conducted patrols in the Philippines and escorted convoys to Ulithi and Hollandia. On 13 September, Tattnall headed back to the United States. After stops at Eniwetok and Pearl Harbor, the fast transport arrived in San Francisco on 30 October.

From there, she was routed north to the Puget Sound Navy Yard and disposition by the Commandant, 13th Naval District. Tattnall was decommissioned at Puget Sound on 17 December 1945. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 8 January 1946. She was sold to the Pacific Metal & Salvage Co., of Seattle, Wash., on 17 October 1946 and subsequently was scrapped.

Tattnall received three battle stars for her World War II service.