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|
|Class & type:||Mahan class destroyer|
|Length:||341 ft 4 in (104 m)|
|Beam:||35 ft (10.7 m)|
|Draft:||9 ft 10 in (2,8 m)|
|Speed:||37 knots (69 km/h)|
|Complement:||158 officers and crew|
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 laid down at Portsmouth, Virginia, on 15 August 1934 by the Norfolk Navy Yard; launched on 26 February 1936; sponsored by Mrs. Leonard Thorner; and commissioned on 23 July 1936, Lieutenant Commander George T. Howard in command.
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.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
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