USS Stringham (DD-83/ APD-6)

USS Stringham (DD-83/ APD-6) was a Wickes class destroyer that saw limited service towards the end of the First World War, before serving throughout most of the Pacific Campaign of the Second World War as a fast transport.

Stringham was awarded nine battle stars for World War II service, for the Capture and Defense of Guadalcanal, Consolidation of the Solomon Islands, Vella Lavella Occupation, Treasury-Bougainville Operation, Bismarck Archipelago Operation, Saidor Occupation, Marianas Operation, Capture and Occupation of Southern Palau and Okinawa.

The Stringham was named after Silas Horton Stringham, a US Naval Officer during the War of 1812, the war against the Barbary pirates, the Mexican War and the American Civil War.

The Stringham was built by the Fore River Shipbuilding Company of Quincy, Massachussets. She was laid down on 19 September 1917, launched on 30 March 1918 and commissioned on 2 July 1918 with Commander N.E. Nichols in command.

On 10 August 1918 she rushed to the aid of the Brazilian steamer Ubfrala, which had been attacked by U-140 in the waters between the US East Coast and Bermuda. The Stringham sighted the U-boat at 35deg 51' N, 73deg 21'W and dropped fifteen depth charges, but without success. After the war the crew of the Brazilian ship SS Uberaba delivered a silk American flag and silver loving cup that was donated to the officers and men of the Stringham as a reward for their assistance.

The Stringham formed part of the US Naval Forces in France. She arrived at her new base at Brest, France on 3 October and was ready for action by 15 October, with Nichols still in command. She was used for anti-submarine and convoy escort duties for the last month of the war.

Anyone who served on her between 8 July and 11 November 1918 qualified for the First World War Victory Medal.

Upon her return to the United States in 1919, she was assigned to Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 6 of the Atlantic Fleet Destroyer Force. Except for a six-month period from December 1919 to June 1920 when she was in reduced commission, Stringham remained fully active with the Atlantic Fleet until the middle of 1922. During that time, alpha-numeric hull numbers were adopted by the Navy; and Stringham was redesignated DD-83 effective 17 July 1920. On 2 June 1922, she was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Second World War

In 1940 the Stringham was chosen for conversion into a high speed transport. She was redesignated as APD-6 on 2 August 1940, and recommissioned in her new role on 11 December 1940. She was then based at Norfolk, Virginia, where she was used to escort convoys along the US East Coast and into the Caribbean. She was also selected as part of a force assembled for a possible occupation of Martinique in the spring of 1941, although most of that force was then diverted to the occupation of Iceland.

After the US entry into the Second World War this became a more dangerous task. On 8 March 1942 the tanker Esso Bolivar was badly damage by U-126. The Stringham was then taking on fuel at Quantanamo Bay, but she was ordered to leave port and joined the coastal minesweeper Endurance in the rescue efforts, providing medical staff and then taking the survivors back to Guantanamo. On 18 April 1942 the Stringham carried out an attack on a German U-boat. Oil came to the surface, but the U-boat survived. This attack came towards the end of her period of escort duty. Between then and the start of July she took part in amphibious landing exercises in Chesapeake Bay, before on 6 July she left Virginia at the start of a voyage to the Pacific.

The Stringham left Norfolk on 6 July, escorting a convoy to the Panama Canal. She passed through the canal on 13 July and then headed towards the war zone, reaching Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides on 14 August 1942. She was allocated to the force of fast transports that were used to get badly needed supplies onto Guadalcanal, where the Marines were fighting a desperate battle.

On 16 August 1942 the Stringham and USS Manley (APD-1) left Espiritu Santo at the start of her first run to Gualalcanal. After dropping off their cargo they picked up wounded marines, and returned to Espiritu Santo on 19 August.

A few days later the Stringham began a second run to Guadalcanal. On 23 August a submarine launched torpedo passed just behind her. She dropped 11 depth charges on the submarine, which was briefly forced to the surface before disappearing. At the time this was credited as a sinking, but Japanese records don't show any losses that would match. Later on the same day the Stringham was ordered to help a group of ships towing the torpedoed USS Blue (DD-387) towards Tulagi, but a buildup of Japanese naval forces in the area (soon to trigger the battle of the Eastern Solomons) made the area too dangerous, and the rescue forces had to leave. The Blue was abandoned, and sank late on 23 August.

The Stringham continued to run supplies onto Guadalcanal throughout September, before on 5 October she departed for a refit at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California.

1943

This refit lasted for six weeks. She then returned to the South Pacific, but she then suffered damage in bad weather at Pepasala Bay in the Russell Islands (26 February 1943). First she was forced onto a reef. While attempting to get off the reef she came close to a collision with the USS Humphreys (DD-236), and had to back off, causing damage to her starboard propeller. After emergency repairs she returned to Mare Island for further repairs, arriving on 16 April.

After this set of repairs the Stringham returned to the Solomon Islands. She took part in the landings on Vella Lavella in August 1943. On 27 October she was one of seven fast transports that landed a force of New Zealanders on Mono and Stirling Islands in the Treasury Islands. In November she took part in the landings at Empress Augusta Bay on the coast of Bougainville.  On 26 December 1943 she took part in the landings at Cape Gloucester, at the western end of New Britain (part of Operation Dexterity). This invasion allowed the Allies to operate west of New Britain (along the long northern coast of New Guinea) and east along New Britain to threaten the Japanese base at Rabaul.

1944

On 2 January 1944 the Stringham took part in the landings at Saidor, on the north coast of the Huon Peninsula (west of New Britain). In February she landed a force of New Zealanders on the Green Islands (15-20 February 1944), in the area between New Britain and Bougainville. In March she took part in the invasion of Emirau in the Admiralty Islands, a key position to the west of the Japanese bases at Kavieng and Rabau.

After these invasions the Stringham took a force of marines back to Hawaii to practice for the invasion of Saipan in the Mariana Islands. The Stringham landed her troops on 16 June, the second day of the invasion. This invasion triggered a massive response by the Japanese Navy, but the resulting battle of the Philippine Sea (19-20 June 1944) ended as a disasterous defeat for the Japanese, who lost most of their remaining naval aviators. The Stringham patrolled off Saipan during the battle.

On 22 June Underwater Demolition Team 7 transferred from the Brooks (APD-10) to the Stringham, ready to take part in the invasion of Tinian. She was then used to bombard Tinian in the period before the invasion of that island.

On 24 June the Stringham and USS Tisdale (DE-33) fired star shells in the gull between Tinian and Saipan, to stop the Japanese using the cover of darkness to move reinforcements to Saipan.

On 10 July UDT-7 went ashore to investigate the two possible landing sites on Tinian. On 24 July, the day of the invasion, they were used for a daylight feint towards Tinian Town, in the hope that this would distract the Japanese.

On 28 July the Stringham departed for Espiritu Santo, leaving UDT-7 behind. However the divers rejoined her on 5 September, ready for the invasion of the Palau Islands. On 12 September UDT-7 was used to clear mines off Peleliu. On the same day the Stringham towed USS Afoa (DD-343) to the Kossol Passage. She then returned to Peleliu, where she continued to work with UDT-7 until 27 September.

After leaving the Palaus, the Stringham moved to Manus. On the night of 3 October she was damaged by a fire that spread from USS Clemson (APD-31), setting UDT-7's boats and explosives on fire. Once again she had to return to the United States for repairs.

1945

The Stringham returned to the Pacific threatre on 17 March 1945. She joined the Southern Defense Group for the invasion of Okinawa, and arrived off that island on 2 April, the day after the first invasions. Between then and 7 April she was used to protect the transport aireas. On 3 April she opened fire on a kamikaze that still managed to hit LST-599, but she had more success on 6 April, forcing a second kamikaze down into the sea.

In mid April she escorted a convoy from Guam to Okinawa, arriving on 22 April. She then departed for Guam on 27 April, and on the way back helped the hospital ship Comfort (AH-6), after she was hit by a kamikaze.

On 1 May she was the flagship of ComTransDiv 102 (Transport Division One Hundred Two), commanded by Commander J.N. Hughes (the Stringham herself was then commanded by Lt. J.B. Schlel). However she was once again the victim of bad luck. At Guam she was rammed by USS La Vallette (DD-448), then undergoing repairs after hitting a mine during the invasion of the Philippies. The Stringham suffered heavy damage to her bridge, foreward crew compartment and electrical equipment. Once again she had to return to the US for repairs, arriving at San Diego on 19 June.

The decision was now made to convert the Stringham back into a destroyer. On 25 June she was redesignated as DD-83, but work on the conversion ended after the Japanese surrendered. In late August it was decided to decommission her. In September she moved to Philadelphia, where she was decommissioned on 9 November 1945. She was struck off on 5 December 1945 and was scrapped in March 1946.

Displacement (standard)

 

Displacement (loaded)

1,284t (full)

Top Speed

35kts design
34.81kts at 27,350shp at 1,236t on trial (Kimberly)

Engine

2 shaft Parsons turbines
4 boilers
27,000shp design

Range

2,500nm at 20kts (design)

Armour - belt

 

 - deck

 

Length

314ft 4.5in

Width

30ft 11.5in

Armaments

Four 4in/ 50 guns
Twelve 21in torpedo tubes in four triple mountings
Two 1-pounder AA guns
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement

100

Launched

30 March 1918

Commissioned

2 July 1918

Struck off

5 December 1945

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (27 February 2017), USS Stringham (DD-83/ APD-6) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Stringham_DD83_APD6.html

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