A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History
USS DRAYTON DD-366
The Tin Can Sailor, April 1997
The first of the Navy-designed single stackers, USS BAGLEY, was launched on September 3, 1936 at Norfolk Navy Yard and commissioned ten months later. Her first assignment was with the Atlantic Squadron.
BAGLEY was the third vessel to bear the name of Ensign Worth Bagley, who gave his life during an attack on the shore batteries of Cardenas, Cuba, during the Spanish-American War in 1898. The ensign had been serving aboard USS WINSLOW (TB-5), a vessel type considered the ancestor of the modern destroyer. Bagley was the first naval officer to die in action during the war. The ensign would have been very proud of his namesake.
USS BAGLEY, like most “new construction”, initially cruised the warm waters of the Caribbean as a member of DESDIV 7, Battle Force. Fleet maneuvers took her to the coast of Florida, the seas off Panama, and, ultimately, to the West Coast.
DD-386 was moored in East Loch, Pearl Harbor, when Japanese forces attacked the American naval anchorage on December 7, 1941. The valiant destroyer opened fire immediately and contributed to the downing of several raiders. Later in the morning, she broke free of the harbor and supported the meager forces available to defend the Hawaiian Islands against the invasion that everyone expected immediately. It didn’t happen.
For the next six months, BAGLEY served in various patrol and escort roles, interrupted with raids on Bouganville and Salamaua-Lae. She steamed into the maelstrom of Guadalcanal in August. Her accurate anti-aircraft fire splashed at least one Japanese engaged during the battle of Savo Island and she was credited with saving the lives of several hundred when USS ASTORIA (CA-34), USS VINCENNES (CA-44), and USS QUINCY (CA-39) suffered under the enemy attack.
As the fleet moved up the Solomon chain, forcing the Japanese back toward the Home Islands, BAGLEY screened major fleet units as well as reverting to her original role as convoy escort. With her duties around Bouganville at an end, she was assigned to Mare Island Navy Yard for a major refit.
DD-386 returned to the Pacific fleet in time for the major actions in the final thrust toward Japan. Her accurate gunfire contributed to the bombardments of Tinian and Saipan, soon to become major bases in the aerial bombardment of Japan. Within weeks, she was providing the same services at Yap, in the Bonin Islands, and during raids in the central Philippines. Her yeoman services during the battle Leyte Gulf, the invasion of Iwo Jima, and the Okinawa campaign earned her mention in campaign reports.
On August 31, 1945, USS BAGLEY carried RADM F.E.M. Whiting to Marcus Island to receive the surrender of the Japanese forces on the island. Her final assignment was on occupation duty in the Nagasaki area.
DD-386 returned to the United States in November 1945 and was decommissioned on June 14, 1946. She was sold for scrapping in 1947.