USS Tucker (DD-374)
||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (August 2009)|
|Builder:||Norfolk Navy Yard|
|Laid down:||15 August 1934|
|Launched:||26 February 1936|
|Commissioned:||23 July 1936|
|Struck:||2 December 1944|
|Fate:||Struck mine off Espiritu Santo, 4 August 1942. Three dead, three missing, none recovered to date.|
|Class and type:||Mahan class destroyer|
|Displacement:||1,500 long tons (1,524 t) (standard)
1,725 long tons (1,753 t) (deep load)
|Length:||341 ft 3 in (104 m)|
|Beam:||35 ft 6 in(10.8 m)|
|Draft:||10 feet 7 inches (3.2 m)|
|Installed power:||46,000 shp (34,000 kW)
4 Babcock and Wilcox or Foster Wheeler boilers
|Propulsion:||2 General Electric steam turbines|
|Speed:||37 knots (69 km/h)|
|Range:||6,940 nmi (12,850 km; 7,990 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)|
|Complement:||158 officers and enlisted men|
1 x Gun Director above bridge
5 x 5"(127mm)/38cal DP (5x1),
12 x 21" (533 mm) T Tubes (3x4),
4 x .50cal(12.7mm) MG AA (4x1),
2 x Depth Charge stern racks,
1 x Gun Director above bridge,
4 × 5" (127mm)/38cal DP (4x1),
12 × 21" (533 mm) T Tubes (3x4),
6 x Oerlikon 20 mm AA (6x1),
2 x Depth Charge roll-off stern racks,
4 x K-gun depth charge projectors
Tucker was one of the 18 ships constructed in the Mahan-class design. She was built at the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia, and the second vessel to be named for Samuel Tucker. Her keel was laid down in Portsmouth on 15 August 1934; she was launched on 26 February 1936 and christened by Mrs. Leonard Thorner (relationship unknown). 'The ship was commissioned on 23 July 1936, with Lieutenant Commander George T. Howard in command. 
'Tucker displaced 1,500 long tons (1,524 t) at standard load and 1,725 long tons (1,753 t) at deep load. The ship's overall length was 341 feet 3 inches (104.0 m), the beam was 35 feet 6 inches (10.8 m) and her draft was 10 feet 7 inches (3.2 m). She was powered by two General Electric geared steam turbines that developed a total of 46,000 shaft horsepower (34,000 kW) for a maximum speed of 37 knots (69 km/h; 43 mph). Her four Babcock and Wilcox or Foster Wheeler water-tube boilers generated the superheated steam needed for the turbines. Tucker carried a maximum of 523 long tons (531 t) of fuel oil, with a range of 6,940 nautical miles (12,850 km; 7,990 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph). Her peacetime complement was 158 officers and enlisted men.
Tucker had a tripod foremast and a pole mainmast. To improve the anti-aircraft field of fire, the tripod foremast was constructed without nautical rigging. In silhouette, the ship was similar to the larger Porter class that immediately preceded her. She was fitted with the first emergency diesel generators, replacing the storage batteries of earlier destroyers. Gun crew shelters were built fore and aft for the superimposed weapons. A third quadruple set of torpedo tubes was added, with one mount on the centerline and two in the side positions. This required relocating one 5"/38 caliber gun to the aft deckhouse. Tucker incorporated a new generation of land-based propulsion machinery that was simpler and more efficient to operate.
The main battery of Mahan consisted of five 5"/38 caliber guns, equipped with the MK 33 gun fire control system. Each gun was dual-purpose, configured for surface and aircraft targets. Her anti-aircraft battery had four water-cooled .50 caliber machine guns. The ship was fitted with three quadruple torpedo-tube mounts for twelve 21-inch torpedoes, guided by the MK 27 torpedo fire-control system. Depth charge roll-off racks were rigged on the stern of the ship.
Following shakedown training, Tucker joined the destroyer forces attached to the United States Battle Fleet and was based at San Diego, California. As part of Destroyer Squadron 3, Destroyer Division 6, she operated with the Battle Force along the west coast and in the Hawaiian Islands. In February 1939, she took part in Fleet Problem XX, the naval exercise in the Caribbean personally observed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt from Houston (CA-30).
As the international situation in the Pacific worsened, President Roosevelt ordered the Fleet to remain in Hawaiian waters after the conclusion of exercises in the spring of 1940. Tucker then operated between the west coast and Hawaii through the end of the year. On 14 February 1941, she arrived at Pearl Harbor, from San Diego, and then proceeded to New Zealand, arriving at Auckland on 17 March to "show the flag" in that area of the world.
Returning to Pearl Harbor from the South Pacific, she took part in routine exercises at sea before returning to her home port of San Diego, on 19 September. Getting underway again after a short stay, Tucker steamed to Hawaii as part of Task Force 19 and began operations anew in the Hawaiian Islands in November. After one month of maneuvers in the Hawaiian operating area, she returned to Pearl Harbor for a tender overhaul.
World War II
On 7 December 1941, Tucker lay moored at berth X-8, East Loch, Pearl Harbor, in the center of a nest of five destroyers and tender Whitney (AD-4); to port of Tucker lay Selfridge (DD-357) and Case (DD-370); to her starboard were Reid (DD-365) and Conyngham (DD-371), with Whitney outboard of Conyngham.
On board Tucker, GM2c W. E. Bowe observed the attack and manned a machine gun on the ship's after superstructure, commencing fire even before the general quarters alarm sounded. Within two minutes, the after 5 inch guns joined. Two Japanese aircraft were hit and crashed.
In the following days, Tucker patrolled off Pearl Harbor before spending the succeeding five months escorting convoys between the west coast and Hawaii. Tucker then received new orders sending her to the South Pacific.
With the reinforcement of United States island bases in the Pacific, Tucker escorted Wright (AV-1) to Tutuila, American Samoa, as part of the drive to fortify these outposts. The destroyer then escorted her charge to Suva, in the Fiji Islands, and thence to Noumea, New Caledonia. Steaming then for Australia, she arrived at Sydney on 27 April. After taking on fuel the following day, she visited Melbourne, Perth, and Fremantle before heading back to Sydney.
In company with Wright, Tucker returned to Suva, arriving there on 3 June 1942, the day before the commencement of the Battle of Midway. For the remainder of June and into the first week of July, Tucker operated out of Suva; then relieved Boise (CL-47) on 10 July on convoy escort duties. On 30 July, the destroyer arrived at Auckland and, the following day, steamed for the Fiji Islands.
At Suva, she received orders to escort the SS Nira Luckenbach to Espiritu Santo; and, on 1 August, the two ships departed by way of a route north of Efate Island and west of the Malekula Islands. Threading their way through the Bruat channel, both ships then set courses to enter the Segond Channel for the final leg of their voyage to Espiritu Santo. At 21:45, Tucker struck a mine which exploded and broke the destroyer's back. She slowed to a halt, mortally stricken, and began folding up like a jackknife.
The explosion instantly killed three men. Nira Luckenbach quickly sent boats to aid in rescuing the destroyermen as they abandoned their sinking ship.
By the next morning, YP-346 had arrived on the scene and attempted to tow the stricken destroyer into shallower water to facilitate salvage operations. Breese (DM-18) also arrived and stood by as YP-346 struggled to beach the foundering Tucker. However, the efforts soon failed; and Tucker jack-knifed and sank in 10 fathoms at 0445 on 4 August 1942.
The minefield into which she had steamed had been laid by United States forces only the day before, on 2 August, and its existence had not yet been radioed to Tucker and Nira Luckenbach. Thus, Tucker's commanding officer and her crew had no idea of the dangerous waters into which they had steamed. The destroyer's only casualties were three men killed in the initial explosion and three more listed as "missing."
Her name was struck from the Navy list on 2 December 1944.
- Conway's Maritime Editors (author). Conway's All The Worlds Fighting Ships 1922-1946. Annapolis, MD. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-913-8.
- Friedman, Norman (1982). U.S. Destroyers. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-733-X.
- Hodges, Peter & Friedman, Norman (1979). Destroyer Weapons of World War 2. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-929-4.
- Reilly, John (1983). United States Navy Destroyers of World War II. Poole, Dorset, England: Blandford Press. ISBN 0-7137-1026-8
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
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