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Hull Number: DD-738

Launch Date: 07/09/1944

Commissioned Date: 09/22/1944

Decommissioned Date: 03/12/1956

Call Sign: NUDJ (DM-26)


Other Designations: DM-26 MMD-26





Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, July 2015

Harry Frederick Bauer was born 17 July 1904 at Camp Thomas Lytle, Ga., and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1927. During the early part of his career he served at shore stations, including a tour as instructor at the Naval Academy, and in, Twiggs, Cuyama, and Tracy. Bauer was commissioned Lieutenant Commander 1 July 1941 and took command of fast transport Gregory 1 January 1942. While acting as combat transports for Marines off Guadalcanal during the night of 4-5 September 1942, Gregory and Little were surprised by three Japanese destroyers covering a small troop landing. Though vastly outgunned, the two transports fought valiantly before being sunk. Lt. Comdr. Bauer was badly wounded, and while being pulled clear by two of his crew ordered them to rescue another man crying out for assistance. Lt. Comdr. Bauer was lost, receiving the Silver Star posthumously for his gallantry.


Stricken 8/15/1971. Sold 6/12/1974

A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History


The Tin Can Sailor, April 1999

Launched on 9 July 1944, the DD-738 was named for Lt. Commander Harry F. Bauer, captain of the fast transport GREGORY (APD-3). She and a second destroyer, the LITTLE (APD-4), were off Guadalcanal when they were surprised by a Japanese surface force. Both American ships were lost. Commander Bauer, who was badly wounded, gave the order to abandon ship and sent members of his crew to help others. He was never seen again.

Subsequently, the new destroyer was converted to minelayer DM-26 and was commissioned 22 September 1944 as a unit of Division 7, Mine Squadron 3. By the following November, she began her trek west. She steamed out of Pearl Harbor, bound for the invasion of Iwo Jima, on 27 January 1945. As the marines stormed ashore on 19 February, the BAUER was on radar picket duty. As the landing continued, she also provided gunfire support for the troops, destroying several gun emplacements, tanks, and supply dumps.

Okinawa was the BAUER’s next destination. She arrived at Kerama Retto on 25 March, one of the first ships to enter Kerama Straits. Immediately, she was under intense air attack as she covered minesweepers clearing the invasion area. Her gunners shot down three Japanese planes on the night of 28-29 March and were credited with a possible fourth, according to Richard Hansen, historian for the Naval Minewarfare Association. On 1 April 1945, the day of the invasion, she cleared the invasion area to join the ships patrolling offshore on antisubmarine and antiaircraft radar picket duty.

The BAUER was under attack almost continuously for the next two months. On 5 April, just after her arrival on station, a single plane flew over the ship. At the same time, reported Richard Hansen, the crew felt a thud, as if the ship had hit some debris. During their preliminary investigation, the damage control team “discovered that the paint locker just forward of the chief’s quarters was flooded. At dawn, inspection revealed a torpedo was lodged just below the water line, its warhead on one side of the ship and the propeller and motor on the other.” The ship returned to Kerama Retto to have the torpedo removed and the holes patched. In tribute to her husband and the ship that bore his name, the crew shipped the torpedo’s tail fins to Harry F. Bauer’s widow.

Back on picket station on 29 April, the BAUER’s gunners brought down three aircraft. One of the attackers came in straight for the boat deck. “At the last minute, the pilot turned his plane on its side with the wings straight up and down and went between the stacks, taking out the radio antennae and crashing into the sea to port,” wrote Richard Hansen. Just before the plane reached the ship, RM 2c Ed Brookes, stuck his head out of the emergency radio shack door. One look and he slammed and dogged the door shut. Certain that he awaited his doom, he crouched against the bulkhead. Moments later, cheers lured him out to see with relief that the plane had crashed into the water not the ship.

A similar incident occurred on 10 May 1945. A Japanese plane dove on the ship, “strafing as she came.” She came in over the 20-mm gun tubs, just aft of the stack. While the rest of the gun crew ducked inside the splinter shield, the gun captain continued to fire on the approaching plane. Then, realizing that the plane might hit the upraised gun barrel, he lowered it and ducked for cover. “The plane hit a K-gun and knocked a depth charge over the side, cut the life-line on the boat deck, and crashed into the sea. A moment later, the depth charge and bomb the plane was carrying both exploded beyond the fantail doing no damage to the ship.” The BAUER’s only casualty occurred when a radioman caught a bullet from the diving plane’s guns.

On 28 May, the ship responded to a different threat when her ping jockeys made a sound contact. Somewhere below, a submarine lurked. Her crew sewed a deadly pattern of depth charges, which were followed by a series of explosions. One enemy submarine out of the war.

By this time, the crew was calling their ship “Old Lucky” because of the growing number of close calls she’d had. It looked like her luck had run out, however, on 6 June 1945. She was in company with her sister ship, the DITTER (DM-31), when eight enemy raiders swooped down on them. The two DMs brought down three planes apiece, but not without a cost. Both were hit. One of the attackers crashed close aboard the BAUER’s sonar shack. The twin-engine bomber skidded into the side of the ship creating holes that flooded the forward emergency diesel room and the fuel tank below it. The DITTER suffered the most damage, and although damaged herself, the BAUER escorted her crippled sister to Kerama Retto. There, inspectors assured the officers and crew that the holes in Old Lucky’s fuel tank were made by parts of the plane. If it were a bomb, they said, it most certainly would have exploded.

Seventeen days later, the BAUER steamed into Leyte for repairs. After plates were welded over the holes in the ship’s side, repair crews drained the fuel tanks and made an unnerving discovery. Resting against the forward engine room bulkhead was a 555-pound bomb. Old Lucky was still true to her nickname. Authorities quickly ordered the BAUER moved to an anchorage away from other ships, and a bomb disposal expert went to work defusing the bomb. The crew then removed it from the fuel tank, cleaned it, and laid it out on the wardroom table. That was when they saw stenciled on the side of the bomb, “Made in Bayonne, New Jersey.” Later, when Japanese and Americans compared notes on the war, the mystery was solved. In the 1930s, the U.S. sold Pearl Harbor’s outdated coastal defense guns to the Japanese who also took the guns’ shells, added fins, and turned them into bombs.

After repairs at Leyte, the BAUER returned to Okinawa on 15 August, the day of the Japanese surrender.

By the end of hostilities, she had twelve enemy aircraft to her credit, with assists on three others. Five days later, she was headed for the East China Sea and minesweeping operations until 28 October 1945. She left the Far East in December and was home in Norfolk in January 1946. For the next ten years, she operated in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Mediterranean before her decommissioning 12 March 1956. The BAUER entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet and on 15 August 1971, was struck from the navy’s lists. She was finally sold for scrap on 11 June 1974.

USS HARRY F. BAUER DD-738 Ship History

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, July 2015

Harry F. Bauer (DM-26) was launched as DD-738 by Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, Maine, 9 July 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Harry F. Bauer, wife of Lt. Comdr. Bauer; converted to minelayer DM-26 and commissioned 22 September 1944, Comdr. R. C. Williams, Jr., in command.

Following shakedown training out of Bermuda and minelayer training off Norfolk, Harry F. Bauer sailed 28 November 1944 via the Panama Canal arriving San Diego 12 December. After additional training both there and at Pearl Harbor she departed Hawaii 27 January 1945 as a unit of Transport Group Baker for the invasion of Iwo Jima, next stop in the island campaign toward Japan. As Vice Admiral Turner’s invasion troops stormed ashore 19 February, Harry F. Bauer acted as a picket vessel and carried out antisubmarine patrol to protect the transports. As the campaign developed, the ship also conducted shore bombardment, destroying several gun emplacements, tanks, and supply dumps. She proceeded to Ulithi 8 March to prepare for the last and largest of the Pacific island operations, Okinawa.

Harry F. Bauer arrived Kerama Retto 25 March and helped screen minecraft during preliminary sweeps of the invasion area. Under intensive air attack during this period, she shot down several Japanese planes, three on the night of 28-29 March alone. On the day of the assault, 1 April 1945, she joined the picket ships offshore, and for over two months of antisubmarine and anti-aircraft duty was under almost continuous attack. A torpedo crashed through her ballast tank 6 April, but failed to explode, and she again shot down three aircraft on the night of 29 April 1945. While in company with J. William Ditter 6 June, she was attacked by eight enemy aircraft Each ship accounted for three; one crashed close aboard Harry F. Bauer, flooding two compartments. Although damaged herself, the ship escorted the crippled J. William Ditter to Kerama Retto. Survey of her damage during repairs revealed an unexploded bomb in one of her flooded compartments.

After repairs at Leyte, Harry F. Bauer arrived Okinawa 15 August, the day of the Japanese surrender. With the prospect of massive minesweeping in Japanese waters incident to the occupation, she sailed 20 August for the East China Sea, where she engaged in minesweeping operations until arriving Sasebo 28 October. Sailing for the United States 1 December she arrived San Diego 22 December.

Sailing to Norfolk 8 January 1946, Harry F. Bauer began operations with the Atlantic Fleet. These consisted of antisubmarine cruises in the Atlantic and Caribbean, tactical training and fleet maneuvers. During October-November 1948 she took part in 2d Fleet exercises in the Atlantic, and in June-July 1949 participated in a Naval Academy training cruise with giant battleship Missouri.

In 1950 Harry F. Bauer made her first cruise to the troubled Mediterranean, departing 9 September and returning to Charleston 1 February 1951. During the years that followed she continued with tactical operations, that took her to the Caribbean and Northern Europe. She ended active steaming in September 1955 and decommissioned 12 March 1956 at Charleston before entering the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Philadelphia. Deemed surplus to the needs of the Navy and struck from the Navy list on 15 August 1971, the hulk was sold for scrap to Northern Metal Co. of Philadelphia on 12 June 1974.

Harry F. Bauer received a Presidential Unit Citation for the series of courageous actions off Okinawa during that bitter campaign, where “the fleet had come to stay” and four battle stars for World War II service.