USS TREVER DD-339 Ship History
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, February 2016
Trever (Destroyer No. 339) was laid down on 12 August 1919 at Vallejo, Calif., by the Mare Island Navy Yard; launched on 15 September 1920; sponsored by Mrs. Bess McMillan Trever, widow of Lt. Comdr. George A. Trever; and commissioned on 3 August 1922, Lt. H. E. Snow in command.
After shakedown, Trever was placed in out-of-commission status, with Destroyer Division 44, at San Diego, Calif., on 17 January 1923. She reposed in “red lead row” until called to active duty on 2 June 1930. As part of Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 15 and later, DesDiv 10, she operated out of San Diego with the Battle Force until reclassified as a high-speed minesweeper and redesignated DMS-16 on 19 November 1940. Then, she worked out of Pearl Harbor through 1941, assigned to Mine Division (MineDiv) 4, Mine Squadron 2, as part of the Base Force, United States Fleet.
On 7 December 1941, Trever lay moored in West Loch, Pearl Harbor, with sister ships Zane (DMS-14), Wasmuth (DMS-15), and Perry (DMS-17), the entire complement of MineDiv 4, nested together off the Pearl City Yacht Club. Shortly before 0800 that Sunday morning, Japanese aircraft swept over the Pacific Fleet’s base in a daring stroke calculated to immobilize the Fleet at a single blow.
MineDiv 4’s ships commenced firing almost immediately. Trever’s .50-caliber Browning machine guns concentrated on one attacker strafing the Pearl City Yacht Club and caused the enemy plane to plunge into a hillside and explode. A second, bolder raider peeled off to strafe the nested minecraft, soon lost its wings in a hail of bullets, and tumbled across the flak-torn sky until it crashed and burned near Beckoning Point.
The forthcoming signal to sortie resulted in a frenzied scramble to reach the open ocean. Many ships, including Trever, left behind commanding officers who were unable to reach their departing ships. During the hasty exit, Trever embarked the captain and executive officer of Henley (DD-391). Later in the morning, these two officers returned to their own ship by an ingenious, if unorthodox, method. With the threat of a submarine attack, a direct-alongside high-line transfer was out of the question. Henley assumed a position ahead of Trever and reeled out a long manila line with a life raft attached. Henley’s two officers climbed down into the raft, and, after a wet and bumpy ride in choppy seas, reached their own ship and were taken on board.
Trever’s own commanding officer, Lt. Comdr. D. A. Agnew, who had gone to sea in Wasmuth, boarded his own ship in mid-afternoon as it swept the Pearl Harbor channel. For the next few months, Trever conducted more minesweeping operations, as well as local escort missions and antisubmarine patrols.
On 15 April, Trever and Hopkins (DMS-13), as Task Group (TG) 15.2, got underway to escort a six-ship convoy from Honolulu to the California coast, arriving at San Pedro on 25 April. Soon afterwards, Trever entered the Mare Island Navy Yard for an extensive overhaul, including the removal of her 4-inch mounts and the installation of 3-inch antiaircraft guns and 20-millimeter Oerlikon cannons.
Newly refitted, Trever joined TG 15.6 and escorted a west-bound convoy to Oahu, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 2 July. She remained in Hawaiian waters until the 12th, when, in company with Zane, Hopkins, Navajo (AT-64), and Aldebaran (AF-40), she steamed for Tutuila, Samoa; and Tongatabu in the Tonga Islands. Upon arrival, these ships joined Task Force (TF) 62, which was preparing for the first American amphibious assault of the war in the Pacific, the thrust into the Solomon Islands.
Arriving off Guadalcanal on 7 August, Trever helped to screen the transports until she was detached with Hovey (DMS-11) and Hopkins to bombard targets ashore.
While the American ships steamed in column some 3,000 yards away, Japanese shore batteries on Gavatu Island opened fire at 0807. One minute later, as the enemy’s shells straddled the American formation, Trever’s 3-inch guns, accompanied by the stentorian chatter of her 20-millimeter guns, barked out a telling reply. At 0830, her shells silenced the troublesome gun with a direct hit; and, five minutes later, the destroyer minesweepers ceased fire and withdrew.
Later, while she was conducting sweeping operations with MineRon 2, her antiaircraft fire helped to drive off enemy bombers which had attacked the transport areas. The following day, twin-engined “Betty” bombers swept over the American ships. Trever commenced firing at 1203. In the brief, four-minute, running fight, she helped to splash four bombers.
That evening, a Japanese cruiser force threaded its way down “the Slot” between Guadalcanal and Savo Island and surprised five Allied cruisers (four American and one Australian) and their attendant destroyers. In the brief, bitter night battle known as the Battle of Sayo Island, Vincennes (CA-44), Quincy (CA-39), Astoria (CA-34), and Australian Canberra were sunk. Providentially for the Americans, the Japanese commander inexplicably decided not to press further on down the strait, where he might have caught the anchored American transports, some still heavily laden with supplies for the Marines ashore. On 9 August, Traver helped to screen the transports as they retired to Noumea, New Caledonia.
After various escort assignments, Trever joined TP 65 on 14 September and departed Espiritu Santo for a run to Guadalcanal with reinforcements and supplies for the hard-pressed Marines. TP 65 arrived off the island on the 17th and hastily unloaded before retiring toward Noumea, where it arrived on the 22d.
On 10 October, Trever, as part of Mine Squadron 2, escorted McCawley (AP-10) and Zeilin (AP-9) from Espiritu Santo to the Solomons. Upon their arrival on 13 October, Trever and Hovey received orders to search for survivors of the Battle of Cape Esperance, fought on the night of 12 October.
During the day’s search, Trever took on board 34 enemy survivors, including three officers. One raft of eight refused to surrender but put up a fight, giving Trever no recourse but to destroy it and its occupants. Returning to the transport area, Trever transferred her prisoners to McCawley and headed back to Espiritu Santo with the returning transports.
Trever next headed back to the Solomons with Zane and arrived at Tulagi on 25 October 1942 with torpedoes, ammunition, and aviation fuel for Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3. After unloading, they remained there, expecting orders to bombard Japanese positions along Guadalcanal’s coast. The directive did not come, but something else did, a message intercepted at 1000, telling that three Japanese destroyers were standing down the strait, apparently to bombard the airstrip at Henderson Field.
Two choices were open to Lt. Comdr. Agnew of Trever, who was in command of the task unit. One was to head for the Maliala River to join Jamestown (PG-55) and the damaged McFarland (AVD-14) which were both well camouflaged. By following this plan, Zane and Trever, both uncamouflaged, might attract the Japanese into the area, thus assuring the destruction of all four highly vulnerable American ships. Not wishing to be thus caught like “rats in a trap,” Agnew decided on the second alternative, a dash for safety.
Shaping course for Sealark Channel, the two old minecraft got underway and bent on speed to clear the area. At 1014, three distinctive silhouettes came over the horizon into view, hull-down and “bones-in-teeth.”
The “black gangs” on the American ships were able to pound and cajole 29 knots from the old machinery. However, the Japanese, making 35 knots, gained rapidly and opened fire with their 5.5-inch guns while still out of range of the Americans’ 3-inchers. The first enemy shells whistled overhead and sent up fountains of water several hundred yards beyond the minecraft, and the next salvo fell some 300 yards astern.
Trever and Zane dodged nimbly and kept up a steady fire from their 3-inch guns as exploding shells drenched their decks with spray. The Japanese then drew blood by hitting Zane amidships and killing three men.
Agnew now decided that his ships could not make Sealark Channel and chose instead to attempt a high speed transit of shoal-studded Niella Channel. Just as the Americans were changing course, the Japanese broke off the action, perhaps remembering their primary mission.
Three days later, Trever and Zane once again conducted a resupply run to Tulagi, each carrying 175 drums of gasoline lashed to her deck. Continuing such runs through January 1943, Trever then steamed to Australia for overhaul, arriving at Sydney on 27 January. She returned to Espiritu Santo on 28 February before calling at Wellington, New Zealand, on 31 May.
Returning to escort duties, she accompanied LST-343 from Lunga Roads to the Russell Islands on 20 June 1943. After nightfall, a twin-float Japanese biplane, a “washing machine Charlie,” came over and dropped bombs on the two ships, sending them to general quarters and provoking an angry return fire from Trever’s 20-millimeter guns.
The old destroyer minesweeper next took part in operations in the New Georgia campaign. On the 29th, Rear Admiral George H. Fort hoisted his flag to Trever’s main as Commander, TG 31.3. That night, in company with Schley (APD-14), McKean (APD-5), and seven infantry landing craft (LCI’s), Trever departed Wernham Cove, Russell Islands. At daybreak the next morning, the APD’s launched their landing boats. The troops stormed ashore at Oliana Bay, taking the Japanese defenders by surprise. Later that day, with the objective secured, Rear Admiral Fort disembarked at Renard Sound.
On 5 July, American forces struck hard at Kula Gulf to occupy Rice Anchorage and thus to prevent Japanese reinforcements from reaching Munda from Vila. Trever embarked 216 men of the Army’s 3d Battalion, 148th Infantry Regiment, and joined bombardment and transport groups in the assault.
On 5 August, Trever joined Honolulu (CL-48), which had lost her bow to a “long-lance” torpedo during the Battle of Kolombangara, and escorted the damaged cruiser from Espiritu Santo to Pearl Harbor. On 19 August, Trever got underway to escort an east-bound convoy to San Francisco.
After a month’s overhaul at Mare Island, Trever steamed for Pearl Harbor on 8 October and touched there briefly before heading for Guadalcanal. On Armistice Day, she joined the screen for American Legion (AP-35) and escorted her to Empress Augusta Bay. Later that month, Trever took part in the landings at Cape Torokina, Bougainville.
Trever devoted the next year to escort missions and target towing duty in the South and Central Pacific. Perhaps the highlight of this service came in October 1944 when she joined the screen for torpedoed cruisers Houston (CL-81) and Canberra (CA-70) and escorted them safely to Ulithi.
On 18 December, as Trever was escorting a convoy toward the Western Carolines, the wind velocity began to increase steadily, with the seas rising and the barometer falling. By 1440, typhoon conditions prevailed. Visibility dropped to zero, and torrential rains deluged the ship while mountainous waves and 90-knot winds threatened to tear her apart. Heavy seas carried away the two motor whaleboats and bent and twisted their davits. At 1630, a man making emergency repairs topside was washed overboard; and Trever immediately began a search for the missing Sailor. Two hours later, she picked up her man: bruised, battered, and in shock, but alive.
The following day, Trever put into Guam and transferred her injured seaman to the naval hospital on shore. On 22 December, she reached Eniwetok. On 24 December, she and Army transport Santa Isabel got underway for Hawaii, arriving at Pearl Harbor on the last day of 1944. Continuing her homeward journey, Trever moored alongside the Mole Pier at the Naval Repair Base, San Diego, and began overhaul on 9 January 1945
Upon completion of her repairs, she headed for Oahu on 25 March 1945. For the remainder of the war, Trever operated out of Pearl Harbor, where she had entered the hostilities with Japan four years before. On 4 June 1945, she was reclassified as a miscellaneous auxiliary and designated as AG-110.
On 22 September 1945, she departed Pearl Harbor for the last time and steamed to San Diego. After repairs, she proceeded via the Canal Zone to Norfolk, Va., where she arrived on 21 October 1945. She was decommissioned on 23 November 1945, struck from the Navy list on 5 December 1945, and sold for scrapping on 12 November 1946.
Trever received five battle stars for her World War II service.