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Hull Number: DD-740

Launch Date: 08/13/1944

Commissioned Date: 10/27/1944

Decommissioned Date: 01/29/1947


Other Designations: DM-28 MMD-28





Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, June 2022

Charles E. Tolman, born on 25 June 1903 in Concord, Mass., entered the United States Naval Academy in the summer of 1921 and graduated on 4 June 1925. After serving in battleship Utah (BB-31), he was transferred to Worden (DD-288) in 1926. Tolman then completed training courses at the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, R.I., and at the Submarine Base, New London, Conn. He served in submarines O-4 (SS-65) in 1928 and S-22 (SS-127) from 1929 to 1932 when he returned to the Naval Academy for two years. Tolman served in submarine S-46 (SS-157) in 1934 and commanded S-30 (SS-135) from April 1935 to May 1937. He was attached to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations for 17 months before assuming command of Spearfish (SS-190) on 7 October 1939. In January 1941, Tolman joined the staff of Commander, Submarines, Atlantic Fleet.

Cmdr. Tolman became the commanding officer of the new destroyer De Haven (DD-469) upon her commissioning on 21 September 1942. The destroyer steamed to the South Pacific in November 1942 and supported operations in the Solomons. On the afternoon of 1 February 1943, while escorting landing craft, De Haven was attacked by six Japanese dive bombers. Fighting off the attackers, the destroyer splashed three enemy planes before a bomb struck her navigating bridge, stopped her, and killed Cmdr. Tolman. Two more hits and a near miss doomed De Haven, which sank within two minutes. Tolman was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his valiant leadership.


Sold for scrap 12/16/1971.

A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History


The Tin Can Sailor, April 1999

Commander Charles E. Tolman was commanding officer of the De HAVEN (DD-469) during operations in the Solomons in February 1943. Under attack by eight dive bombers, the ship’s gunners splashed three before a bomb struck the destroyer’s navigating bridge. It brought the ship to a stop and killed Commander Tolman. Two more hits sent Tolman’s ship to the bottom within two minutes.

Laid down as DD-740, the TOLMAN was reclassified as destroyer minelayer DM-28 on 19 July 1944. She was launched on 13 August and commissioned 27 October 1944 as a unit of Division 8, Mine Squadron 3. She headed for the Pacific on 13 January 1945, stopping at San Diego, before escorting the BIRMINGHAM (CL-62) to Pearl Harbor. It was then on to Eniwetok and Ulithi. On 19 March, she left Ulithi to cover the minesweepers clearing the approaches to the beaches of Okinawa.

Just after midnight on 28 March, the TOLMAN took on eight Japanese torpedo boats that closed rapidly to a distance of 4,000 yards. Her gun crews opened up with 5-inch and 40-mm gunfire. As torpedoes sped in the TOLMAN’s direction, her captain called for an increase in speed to 34 knots. The Black Gang delivered, and the ship successfully evaded the threat. The TOLMAN sank two of the boats and the rest laid down a smoke screen for cover. Using radar-control fire and star shells to track the remaining torpedo boats, the TOLMAN’s 5-inch gun crews opened up on them. Observers saw the last boat slow, apparently in trouble, and then with five-inch shells exploding all around, it sank without a trace. The DM had made a clean sweep of the torpedo boats.

Continuing on to her assigned duty, the TOLMAN joined minesweeping operations off Okinawa, warning other vessels away from dangerous waters and toward the freshly swept paths. At 1013 on the 28th, the TOLMAN was 500 yards from the SKYLARK (AM-63) when she hit a mine. Two patrol craft sped in to pick up the survivors, and the TOLMAN maneuvered in to pass a tow line to the stricken ship. She was just thirty yards away when the SKYLARK hit a second mine. The blast threw many more men into the sea, and the minesweeper began to settle in the water. The TOLMAN backed down to avoid the mine field and put her boats over to help the survivors. A raging fire on board and a diesel oil surface fire added to the mine hazard in making rescue a dangerous business. Working with the PC-1228 and PC-1179, the TOLMAN’s crew rescued 105 of the SKYLARK’s crew. The DM’s efficient rescue work helped keep SKYLARK’s losses to only the seven crewmen killed by the explosions and thirty-five wounded.

The next day, the TOLMAN was in the thick of heavy air attacks. She made radar contact with three Bettys. When they had closed to 8,000 yards, the gun crews on the TOLMAN’s 5-inch batteries began firing in radar control. One Betty lost altitude, winged over, and crashed into the sea. Five-inch shells chased the remaining two and one of them exploded in mid-air. The third disappeared.

More trouble arrived at 0610 when three Vals were taken under fire by the BARTON (DD-722) and the WILEY (DM-29) who brought down two of three raiders. The third began its suicide dive, coming in on the TOLMAN’s port bow from 11,000 yards. The three destroyers opened up with 5-inch and 40-mm fire. Apparently in trouble, the plane turned away at 3,000 yards, but a 40-mm shell caught its gas tank causing the plane to plummet trailing a stream of flames. With the skies clear for the moment, the WILEY was left to cover the sweep units and the TOLMAN retired to Kerama Retto to transfer the survivors of the SKYLARK to other ships. By nightfall, the TOLMAN and the HALL (DD-583) were shelling the Yonton and Kadena airfields on Okinawa.

On 2 April, the TOLMAN joined the screen for Transport Division 7. At 1835, twenty-five minutes after taking up her station with the convoy, three Bettys attacked. One fell to the barrage of the screening ships, but another crashed into the bridge of the GOODHUE (APA-127), and the third crashed close aboard another transport. More enemy planes followed and they, too, were taken under fire. At least two fired on by the TOLMAN’s guns were splashed, but in the melee, it was impossible to tell who could claim the hits.

The TOLMAN was headed for the Hagushi beaches to provide fire support at 0343 on 19 April when she shuddered to a halt, aground on Nagunna Reef. Efforts to back down were fruitless. Attempts to lighten the ship by unloading ammo and letting go the anchors also failed. First her third platform decks were flooded, followed by the ice machine room and the bilge of the engine and fire rooms. With rising seas, the surf was breaking over her fantail causing fears that the ship would break up. Finally on the 25th, a pair of tugs pulled her free of the reef and the salvage ship CLAMP (ARS-33) towed her to Kerama Retto for repairs.

By 28 June, she was at sea again, screening a convoy bound for Saipan, Pearl Harbor, and home. Stateside on 20 July, she underwent extensive repairs, remaining in San Pedro until 8 November 1945. On that day, she steamed out of San Pedro headed west, arriving in the Far East in early December. From December 1945 to February 1946, she operated out of Sasebo and then moved on to Pusan, Korea to continue the postwar clean-up of mines. She returned to San Francisco on 27 May. The TOLMAN remained in San Francisco until 20 January 1947 when she steamed to San Diego to be placed out of commission in reserve as part of the San Diego Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet on 29 January 1947. Redesignated MMD-28 in January 1969, she was finally stricken from the navy’s list on 1 December 1970.

In September 1984, Tim Rizzuto, Curator of the KIDD (DD-661) discovered the TOLMAN at the Pacific Missile Test Center at Point Mugu, California, “the last port for many fine Tin Cans.” With little time to spare before the destroyer minelayer was moved to the inactive ships facility at Mare Island, Rizzuto arranged to salvage some of her original gear for the restoration of the KIDD. Ultimately, he and his crew had just two days to cut, pry, and manhandle the equipment off the ship. Their list included four “K” guns; four roller loader dollies and release gear for depth charge racks; thirty 5-inch/38 caliber powder cans; forty Blue-Grey Kapok life jackets; a RAK-RAL radio receiver combination; a 5-inch mount open ring sight; ring sights from the MK 51 directors; MK 14 gun sights; the drive chain for the lathe; spare circuit breakers; life raft racks; 36-inch carbon-arc searchlight; a MK12/12 fire control radar antenna; and a one-foot section of the mine rails that made the DMs unique.

Given the time and hands available, Rizzuto took as much as he could and, in a sense, the TOLMAN lives on in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, not as the memorial she could have been, but as a part of the restored KIDD. She spent her remaining years at Mare Island, then on 25 January 1997 was loaded with a high-powered explosive test charge and towed sixty-one miles off shore. At 1520, the charge was detonated and the ship’s stern plunged underwater. Eight minutes later, she slipped beneath the surface to her final resting place 12,000 feet below.

USS TOLMAN DD-740 Ship History

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, June 2022

Tolman (DD-740) was laid down on 10 April 1944 at Bath, Maine, by the Bath Iron Works; reclassified as a light minelayer and redesignated as DM-28 on 19 July 1944; launched on 13 August 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Helen Tolman; and commissioned on 27 October 1944, Cmdr. Clifford A. Johnson in command.

The minelayer held her shakedown training off Bermuda during November and December 1944 and returned, via Norfolk, Va., to Boston. On 13 January 1945, Tolman departed Boston to escort the heavy cruiser Pittsburgh (CA-72) to the west coast. She called at San Diego, Calif., on the 27th and then escorted the light cruiser Birmingham. (CL-62) to the Hawaiian Islands. She participated in exercises out of Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, until 23 February before heading for Eniwetok and Ulithi. On 19 March, Tollman sortied from Ulithi with Task Group 52.4 to provide fire support and antisubmarine screening for the minesweepers clearing channels prior to the amphibious assault on the Ryukyus. On 22 March, she began clearing the approaches to the beaches of Okinawa.

Shortly after midnight on 28 March 1945, she encountered eight Japanese motor torpedo boats. The enemy closed to 4,000 yards when Tolman opened fire with her 5-inch and 40-millimeter batteries. The ship increased her speed to 34 knots and maneuvered radically to avoid torpedoes. Two of the enemy boats exploded and sank as the remainder laid a smoke screen. The minelayer briefly lost contact, but used radar-controlled fire against the remaining boats and fired star shells to ferret them out. The last boat was seen to slow, apparently in trouble, just before it was blown up. The ship evidently made a clean sweep of the torpedo boats as a search revealed nothing, and no boats had been seen leaving the area.

Later that morning, Tolman was approximately 500 yards from the minesweeperSkylark (AM-63) when Skylark struck and detonated a mine against her hull. As Tolman moved in to pass a tow line to the stricken ship, Skylark hit a second mine and began settling rapidly. Tolman backed full to clear the mined area, but her boats, together with the submarine chasers PC-1228 and PC-1179, rescued 105 survivors.

On 29 March 1945, during several enemy air attacks, Tolman reported splashing one plane of three in the first raid; one of two in the second attack; and, with the aid of destrioyer Barton (DD-722) and Henry A. Wiley (DM-29), two of three in the third. Later, she shot down a kamikaze that was approaching her in a suicide dive. The minelayer then proceeded to Kerama Retto to transfer Skylark’s survivors to other ships.

On the morning of 30 March 1945, Tolman contacted three enemy torpedo boats at a range of 3,000 yards. She went ahead at flank speed ana made a hard turn to port. One torpedo passed astern and another was reported off her starboard bow. A third exploded astern, causing considerable vibration. On 3 April, she screened Transport Division 17 to a waiting area approximately 150 miles southeast of Okinawa and remained there for 10 days before returning to the Hagushi beaches.

Tolman grounded off Nagunna Reef on the morning of 19 April 1945 and remained aground. Two tugs then pulled her free on the 25th, and salvage vessel Clamp (ARS-33) towed her to Kerama Retto for repairs. She entered dry dock on 15 May and was not ready for sea until late in June. On 28 June, the ship got underway for the U.S.. After arriving at San Pedro, Calif., on 21 July, she began permanent repairs that were completed on 8 November.

The minelayer stood out for the Far East early in December 1945 and arrived at Sasebo, Japan, on the day after Christmas. She operated out of Sasebo until February 1946 and then shifted her base of operations to Pusan, Korea, for three months. The ship began the return voyage to California on 4 May and arrived at San Francisco, Calif., on 27 May 1946. Proceeding down the coast to San Diego in January 1947, she was decommissioned on the 29th.

Tolman was reclassified a fast minelayer, MMD-28, in January 1969. She was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 December 1970.

Tolman received one battle star for her World War II service.