A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History
USS OSMOND INGRAM DD-255
The Tin Can Sailor, September 1989
The OSMOND INGRAM was named for the first United States Navy enlisted man to die in World War I.
Osmond Kelly Ingram was born in Pratt City, Alabama, on August 4, 1887, and enlisted in the Navy in 1903. By 1917, Ingram, a Gunner’s Mate First Class, was assigned to USS CASSIN (DD-43), searching for German submarines off the coast of the British Isles. On October 16, 1917, CASSIN sighted the German submarine U-61 about twenty miles south of Mind Head, Ireland. While maneuvering to escape, the German fired a torpedo at CASSIN. Gunner’s Mate Ingram spotted the fish. Realizing that the torpedo would hit the stern of CASSIN in an explosives storage area, Ingram began jettisoning the munitions. Although his courageous actions saved his ship, the exploding torpedo blasted him overboard. His body was never found. The next day, CASSIN was towed to Queenstown; afloat, and soon to return to active duty because – of Ingram’s courage.
USS OSMOND INGRAM (DD-255) was one of the 273 “flush deckers” completed, beginning in 1917, to meet the needs of the Navy in the Atlantic. (In all, 279 were authorized, but hull numbers 200-205 were never built, and no names were assigned.) OSMOND INGRAM’s keel was laid at the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Company’s Fore River facility in Quincy, Massachusetts on October 15, 1918. DD-255 was launched on February 23, 1919 sponsored by Mrs. N. E. Ingram Osmond’s mother. The ship was commissioned in June of the same year, at the Boston Navy Yard.
STATISTICS (As Built)
Displacement: 1215 tons
Designed Speed: 35 Knots
Armament: Four 4-inch, one 3-inch, twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes.
OSMOND INGRAM was initially assigned to the Atlantic fleet, where she served in DesRon 8, DesDiv 28 for three years, decommissioning at Philadelphia in June 1922.
By 1940, the Navy was facing yet another war. Navy Department analysts saw the old “flush deckers” as obsolete for anti-submarine work, but the newly acquired PBY Catalina flying boats being assigned to fleet patrol duties needed tenders to serve as advance bases. Of the 169 “flush deckers” which still remained on the Navy’s lists, (many had been scrapped during the Twenties due to the “ravages of old age” and the limiting effects of the naval treaties that were in vogue at the time; seven were lost in the Pedernales Point, California, disaster on September 8, 1923) a total of nine were to be converted to serve a 12-plane squadron each. Thus, after eighteen years in “red lead row,” DD-255 was to become AVD-9. OSMOND INGRAM lost her two forward boiler rooms, replaced with tankage for 30,000 gallons of avgas, had her torpedo tubes landed, along with her waist guns and her 3″ anti-aircraft weapon, in exchange for a crane and aircraft-servicing launches. Her bridge was extended to provide extra electronics spaces and living and office space for squadron personnel. Old four-inch guns were replaced with 3″ 50’s. On November 22, 1940, OSMOND INGRAM began a new career at the Philadelphia Navy Yard as AVD-9.
OSMOND INGRAM spent 1941 in the Caribbean, tending PBY squadrons in San Juan, Port of Spain, British Guiana, St. Lucia and Antigua. She participated in the commissioning of the U.S. Naval Air Station in Trinidad, rescued the survivors of a crashed PBY off St. Eustatius, and assisted a PANAM clipper in trouble in San Juan.
In January, 1942, AVD-9 was transferred to the Pacific side of the Canal Zone, where she served as squadron tender pending the completion of more permanent facilities at Salinas, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. Changing conditions meant another “career move” for OSMOND INGRAM.
BARNEGAT class seaplane tenders were reaching fleet patrol wings in sufficient quantities to make the converted destroyers redundant, and the new AVP’s abilities to lift a PBY aboard for service was an added plus. At the same time, a change in tactics necessitated by increased Nazi activities in the Atlantic meant a new role for OSMOND INGRAM.
Once again, the 0I was in for a “face- lift.” Aircraft service launches and the crane were replaced by 20 mm mounts, K guns were installed and the old avgas tank was converted to hold diesel fuel to be used in conjunction with her regular bunker oil, extending the range of the vessel considerably. New sonar and radar equipment completed the refit. By the end of 1942, OSMOND INGRAM, once again DD-255, had served on individual and joint escort missions to Bermuda, Argentia, Trinidad, Recite and Belem. She had also trained with escort carriers in her “new” role as a sub hunter.
In May 1943, OSMOND INGRAM joined Task Group 21.12, a “hunter-killer” group formed around the escort carrier BOGUE (CVE-9). In addition to escorting convoys, the new task groups were to actively hunt the wolfpacks of the Kreigsmarine. TG 21.12 was composed of four other “flush deckers,” GREENE (AVD-13/ex DD-266), BELKNAP (AVD-8/ex DD-251), LEA (DD-118), and GEORGE E. BADGER (DD-196), along with BOGUE. The new tactic was a clear success, thanks to ships like the OSMOND INGRAM. TG 21.12/13 became one of the most successful hunter-killer teams in the Atlantic.
On a return sweep of the mid-Atlantic, BOGUE’s scouting aircraft sighted a sub operating on the surface. The U-boat immediately submerged, but one of the task group’s newer additions, CLEMSON (DD-186), made sonar contact, opening a nearly twenty-six hour engagement. During the remaining hours of daylight, and into the night, BADGER, DUPONT (DD-152), and OSMOND INGRAM “pinged” and rolled depth charges. By mid-day, a telltale oil slick alerted the destroyers and their supporting aircraft to the damage they had done. For three more hours OSMOND INGRAM and CLEMSON boiled the water with depth charge patterns, seemingly without effect. Just as the hunt was about to be called off, with both destroyers running short of depth charges, U-172 broke the surface. Several Nazis abandoned ship at the sight of the approaching tin cans and the circling Wildcats from BOGUE, but the battle wasn’t over. The remaining submariners manned the U-boat’s deck guns to trade shots with the OSMOND INGRAM. Within six minutes, U-172’s decks were awash; the remnants of her crew had surrendered. At a cost of one destroyerman killed and eight wounded in the OSMOND INGRAM, one of the largest and newest of Hitler’s U-boats had been destroyed. DD-255 received credit for the kill. During her service with the BOGUE task group, OSMOND INGRAM participated in the destruction of eight German submarines and helped to earn the ships of TG 21.12/13 three Presidential Unit Citations in the period from May through December, 1943. After a period of convoy escort service, first to Gibraltar early in 1944, then between New York and Trinidad, DD-255 faced another “conversion.” High-speed transports had proven very successful, both for landing underwater demolition teams and commando forces, as well as for disembarking and supplying Marine battalions in the Pacific. In June 1944, OSMOND INGRAM entered Charleston Navy Yard for conversion to a high-speed transport. She lost much of the bridge office spaces added in her AVD role, her mid-ship 20 mm weapons and clipping rooms were removed as well, along with her K-guns. Four landing craft, with their launching gear, took up the waist area, where her torpedo tubes had been in a previous life. Officially, she was capable of carrying an assault force of three officers and 144 men. 0I was now APD-35.
August of 1944 found OSMOND INGRAM in the Mediterranean assigned to TransDiv 14. She assisted in the pre-invasion assaults on southern France by landing elements of the First Special Service Force on islands off the French coast. She then served as convoy escort along the French and Italian coasts until her transfer to Norfolk in December.
By 1945, APD-35 was in the Pacific, alternately serving as an attack transport and a convoy escort. OSMOND INGRAM shepherded a convoy from New York, through the Panama Canal, then on to San Diego, Pearl Harbor, Eniwetok, and finally to Ulithi. She next served with the assault forces for Okinawa, sailing on April 2, 1945 with the lead elements. Until the island was secured, APD-35 alternated between patrolling Hagushi anchorage and escorting fast convoys to Guam and Saipan. Convoy and patrol activities took the 0I between the Philippines, Hollandia, and Borneo during July and August. With the Japanese surrender, OSMOND INGRAM was called upon to aid in the occupation of the “Home Islands,” visiting Wakayama, Kure and Nagoya before returning to the United States.
OSMOND INGRAM was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on January 8, 1946, slightly less then twenty-six years after her first commissioning. Within thirteen days, she had been stricken from the Navy list, and on June 17, 1946 she was sold to Hugo Neu of New York for scrapping.
During her extensive and varied service, OSMOND INGRAM received six battle stars, the Legion of Merit with Combat V, and Bronze with Combat V, along with being included in three Presidential Unit Citations, one of which was presented to her, alone, for the sinking of U-172.
Special Recognition: TCS acknowledges the assistance of Capt. Roger F. Miller USN (Ret.) and Robert H. Hale (CA) in the preparation of the article to dedicate this issue of the Tin Can Sailor to their beloved ship. Tin Can Sailors salutes all the men who served aboard her.