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Hull Number: DD-621

Launch Date: 08/26/1942

Commissioned Date: 11/05/1942

Decommissioned Date: 05/23/1955


Class: GLEAVES

GLEAVES Class

Data for USS Gleaves (DD-423) as of 1945


Length Overall: 348’ 4"

Beam: 36’ 1"

Draft: 13’ 6"

Standard Displacement: 1,630 tons

Full Load Displacement: 2,525 tons

Fuel capacity: 2,928 barrels

Armament:

Four 5″/38 caliber guns
Two 40mm twin anti-aircraft mounts
Two 21″ quintuple torpedo tub

Complement:

16 Officers
260 Enlisted

Propulsion:

4 Boilers
2 Westinghouse Turbines: 50,000 horsepower

Highest speed on trials: 37.4 knots

Namesake: WILLIAM NICHOLON JEFFERS

WILLIAM NICHOLON JEFFERS

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (Published 1980)

William Nicholon Jeffers, born in Gloucester County, N.J., 6 October 1824, was appointed Midshipman 23 September 1840. His early service was in frigates Congress and United States, and during the Mexican War he took part in the attack on Alvarado, the capture of Tobasco, and the bombardment of Vera Cruz. In the 1850’s he was engaged in numerous expeditions to Central America, and was responsible for a preliminary survey of the isthmus of Honduras. During the early months of the Civil War, Jeffers commanded Philadelphia in the Potomac and served in frigate Roanoke off Charleston and Hatteras Inlet. In December 1861 he took command of Underwriter and soon afterward took part in the capture of Roanoke Island and the destruction of the Confederate squadron at Elizabeth City. After the wounding of Captain Worden of Monitor during her historic engagement with Virginia, Jeffers commanded her, taking part mainly in shore bombardment in the James River. For the remainder of the war he was on ordnance duty in Philadelphia and Washington. Jeffers commanded Swatara in the Mediterranean and in African waters, and in 1873 was made Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance. Commodore Jeffers served in this capacity for 8 years and contributed much to the science and literature of naval ordnance. He died at Washington 23 July 1883.


Disposition:

Stricken 7/1/1971. Sold 5/25/1973


A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History

USS JEFFERS DD-621

The Tin Can Sailor, July 2000

Ordnance expert, Commodore William N. Jeffers served during the Mexican and Civil Wars. His namesake ship was launched as DD-621 on 26 August and commissioned 5 November 1942. In February 1943, the JEFFERS crossed the Atlantic for the first time with a Casablanca-bound convoy. That summer, she returned to the Mediterranean to join Task Force 65 for the invasion of Sicily.

Her first action came early on 6 July during a German raid on Bizerte when her guns claimed an enemy bomber. During the attack, however, several small caliber shells exploded on the main deck damaging the ship and injuring the executive officer and several men. Two days later, the “J” got underway for Gela, Sicily, arriving late on 9 July. As the Allied forces stormed the beaches at Gela the next day, the ship’s gun crews concentrated on disabling enemy searchlights and shore batteries and fending off air attacks. Over the following days, she rescued the crew of an army transport that crash landed near the ship, provided fire support for troops ashore, and patrolled for enemy submarines. While in Oran in early August, she tied up to another ship, which accidentally got underway dragging the “J” with her. Both ships crashed head-on into a concrete wall, badly damaging the JEFFERS’ bow. A week later, she was underway for New York and a new bow.

Over the winter of 1943-44, the “J” escorted convoys between the United States and Ireland, Scotland, and Gibraltar. In October 1943, when the MURPHY (DD-603) was cut in two by a tanker, the JEFFERS picked up survivors and helped salvage the destroyer’s stern section. By May 1944, she was en route to Northern Ireland and the invasion of Normandy.

Serving as flagship of Destroyer Squadron 17, the JEFFERS sailed with the Allied invasion fleet to patrol off Utah Beach and cover the troops fighting their way ashore. Under fire from coastal batteries, the “J” was hit by shell fragments from a near miss that injured four of her crew and punctured the hull and stacks. Undeterred, she was on hand on the morning of 9 June when the MEREDITH (DD-726) struck a mine. She moved in help fight the fires and rescue survivors. Salvage attempts could not save the MEREDITH, which sank a few days later. Screening for enemy submarines, aircraft, and E-boats occupied the JEFFERS until new orders sent her south for the August invasion of Southern France. Part of the antisubmarine and antiaircraft screen for Allied escort carriers, her crew saw no sign of the enemy, but did rescue a downed U.S. Army fighter pilot before heading for home.

That fall in New York, the JEFFERS was converted to a high-speed destroyer minesweeper and redesignated DMS 27. By January 1945, she was underway for San Diego and from there, she steamed west for the invasion of Okinawa. At dawn on 24 March, she and other mine craft began sweeping the approaches to Okinawa, but once the invasion began, the “J” joined the antisubmarine and antiaircraft screen. On 6 April, her guns brought down an enemy bomber and then, for the next five days were seldom called to action. All that changed on the 12th as the “J” and two small craft were patrolling seventy miles northeast of Okinawa. Suddenly, at 1353, her radar reported enemy planes approaching the ship. At about fifteen miles, the group divided, half heading north, half toward the ship. As planes came within range the main battery fired and the planes withdrew.

In the meantime, the other group had circled to the west and one of them was on a direct course for the ship. “Diving, weaving, slipping, and rolling,” the plane kept on until the ship’s guns brought it down so close that the exploding plane ricocheted into the ship’s side. Two men went overboard, but were later picked up uninjured by one of the accompanying “small boys.” A second plane followed the first, but was shot down by the main battery before it came within range of the smaller guns. At 1453, while the JEFFERS was on the way to aid the MANNERT T. ABELE (DD-733), which had been hit by a kamikaze, a third attacker dove on the ship. The main battery opened up and the bomber banked sharply to starboard, emitting a puff of smoke and an unidentifiable metal object, which turned out to be a deadly human-piloted Baka bomb. All guns opened fire and succeeded in splashing the bomb fifty yards from the ship. Even so, the torpedo-like fuselage bounced across the fantail, landing harmlessly in the sea beyond.

When the JEFFERS reached the ABELE’s position, she found that the ship had sunk. The most she could do was rescue survivors, sixty-five of whom were wounded, and rush them to Kerama Retto. She spent the following months undergoing repairs and in minesweeping operations north of Okinawa. With the end of hostilities, the “J” continued her minesweeping in Japan’s Tsushima Straits and the Yellow Sea off Korea until her return home at year’s end.

Over the next decade, she operated out of Charleston, with maneuvers and exercises in the Caribbean and along the East Coast. She sailed on the first of four Mediterranean cruises in September 1949, a time of unrest in Greece and Israel. She was reclassified as DD-621 on 15 January 1955, decommissioned on 23 May 1955, and joined the reserve fleet at Philadelphia. The JEFFERS was struck from the navy’s list on 1 July 1971 and sold 23 May 1973.

USS JEFFERS DD-621 Ship History

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (Published 1968)

Jeffers (DD-621) was laid down by Federal Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Kearny, N.J., 25 March 1942; launched 26 August 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Lucie Jeffers Lyons great-granddaughter of Commodore Jeffers; and commissioned 5 November 1942, Lt. Comdr. W. G. McGarry in command.

After shakedown and training in Casco Bay, Maine Jeffers operated briefly on the East Coast until departing Norfolk 18 February 1943 on her first transatlantic voyage escorting a convoy to Casablanca and returning 14 April. The ship patrolled off Argentia, Newfoundland, for a week before steaming to Norfolk to prepare for the coming invasion of Sicily.

Jeffers sailed from Norfolk 8 June with Task Force 65 and arrived Oran, Algeria, 22 June. While preparing for the giant assault, she patrolled off other African ports shooting down a German bomber during 6 July Luftwaffe raid on Bizerte. Jeffers sailed 2 days later with Rear Admiral Hall’s force for Gela; and, upon arrival 9 June she guarded the transports. Early next day the great assault began, with Jeffers assigned the task of shooting out shore searchlights and providing fire support. As the landing proceeded with great success in the following days the ship fired support missions and served on antisubmarine patrol. She sailed to Bizerte 18 July, but was back at Palermo 31 July with cargo ships. Jeffers sailed to Oran the next day, and from that port continued to New York, arriving 22 August.

After repairs at New York, the destroyer was assigned to convoy duty between East Coast ports and Scotland. As the Allies began the great buildup of men and materiel in Britain for the landings in northern France, Jeffers made five voyages between 5 September 1943 and 22 April 1944. On her second convoy crossing to Scotland, 21 October the ship picked up survivors from Murphy, after that destroyer had been cut in two by a tanker. She also took part in salvage operations which saved the stern of the stricken vessel.

After training operations, Jeffers sailed from New York 5 May 1944 for the United Kingdom, where she prepared for the invasion of Normandy in June. She departed Belfast 3 June for Utah Beach, where she patrolled and provided fire support as troops stormed ashore on D-day. The veteran destroyer remained off the beach until 29 June, driving off several enemy planes and assisting damaged ships. For the next two weeks she convoyed transports from Belfast to Utah Beach as more troops and supplies were poured in to the beachhead, finally departing for the Mediterranean 16 July.

Next on the Allied timetable for the defeat of Germany was another invasion of France, this one in the south. Assigned to screen escort carriers covering the operation, Jeffers departed Malta 12 August to join her task group. Three days later, as troops landed between Cannes and Toulon, the ship remained with supporting carriers, continuing to cruise off shore until 28 September. She then sailed for New York, arriving 7 October to prepare for duty in the far Pacific.

Jeffers was converted to a destroyer-minesweeper at New York, and was reclassified DMS-27 on 15 November, She sailed 3 January 1945 for the Panama Canal and California, arriving San Diego for training 17 January. In February she moved on to Pearl Harbor and from there to the great advance base at Ulithi to prepare for the Okinawa invasion, last and largest amphibious operation of the war against Japan. As part of the preliminary minesweeping group, Jeffers arrived Okinawa 24 March, 1 week before the landings, and began clearing mines and marking boat lanes. During the assault 1 April the ship moved to antisubmarine screening and air defense. During the great Japanese air attack of 6 April she downed a twin-engine bomber. Six days later, while on radar picket station, she again was under heavy air attack. She downed at least one of the attackers and was nearly hit by one of the deadly Baka bombs as the attack was repulsed. Jeffers then assisted survivors of sunken Mannert T. Abele.

The veteran ship steamed into Kerama Retto to repair battle damage later that afternoon, emerging 16 April to join a carrier group operating off Okinawa in support of ground forces. She then sailed to Guam 3 May for further repairs. Departing again 26 June, Jeffers sailed via Saipan and Ulithi to Kerama Retto, and spent the next 6 weeks on minesweeping operations north of Okinawa. She was at anchor off Okinawa when the news of the Japanese acceptance of terms was received 15 August 1945.

Jeffers steamed into Tokyo Bay 29 August with occupation forces, and was present for the surrender ceremonies 2 September. She then joined a minesweeping group for vital sweeping operations around Japan, including hazardous operations in Tsushima Strait. Operating out of Sasebo, she continued to sweep in the Yellow Sea during November, getting underway 5 December for the United States.

Jeffers arrived San Diego 23 December and steamed via the Panama Canal to Norfolk, where she arrived 9 January 1946. The ship then began her peacetime duty, arriving Charleston 12 June. She remained there for the rest of 1946 except for a short training cruise to Casco Bay. 1947 was spent on maneuvers in the Caribbean during April and May, followed by exercises on the East Coast of the United States; and 1948 was spent entirely at various East Coast ports on training duty.

After making a short cruise to the Caribbean in early 1949, Jeffers sailed 6 September from Charleston for her first Mediterranean cruise. This was the period of unrest in Greece and Israel, and the ship took part in maneuvers around Malta until October, as America showed her might in the cause of peace and stability. She returned to Charleston 13 October.

The next year was spent at Charleston, except for a training cruise to Guantanamo Bay in March. She got underway again, however, 9 January 1951 for another cruise to the troubled Mediterranean. She visited Oran, Palermo, Athens, and Naples during this deployment, again taking part in 6th Fleet’s important peacekeeping operations. Arriving Charleston 17 May 1951, Jeffers engaged in minesweeping and antisubmarine exercises until her next scheduled Mediterranean cruise, 5 June 1952. She operated with 6th Fleet carriers and destroyers until returning to her home port 13 October.

Jeffers spent the first half of 1953 in training off the Virginia Capes, departing Norfolk 16 September for operations with carrier Bennington and units of the Royal Canadian Navy in the Mediterranean. She returned to Charleston 3 February 1954. Operations from New York to Key West and Havana occupied the veteran destroyer minesweeper until she decommissioned at Charleston 23 May 1955. She entered the Charleston Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet as DD-621, having been reclassified 15 January 1955. Jeffers is at present berthed at Orange, Tex.

Jeffers received seven battle stars for World War II service.