Warship Wednesday June 18, The Opening shot of the old subkiller

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday June 18, The Opening shot of the old subkiller

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click to bigup

Here we see the old Wickes-class destroyer, USS Ward (DD-139/APD-16), with her No.3 4-inch MK9 gun dropping it like its hot on an unidentified submarine contact trailing the 11450-ton auxiliary USS Antares (AG-10/AKS-3) into Pearl Harbor on the early morning of December 7, 1941.

Ward had an eventful life to say the least.

Built as one of the 111-ship Wickes-class, she was one of the iconic ‘Four Piper” destroyers that were designed in 1915-16 with input from no less an authority as Captain (later Admiral) WS Sims. Beamy ships with a flush-deck, a quartet of boilers (with a smokestack for each) were coupled to a pair of Parsons geared turbines to provide a blistering 35.3-knots designed speed, which is still considered fast today, nearly 100 years later. The teeth of these 314-foot, 1250-ton greyhounds were four 4-inch/50 cal MK9 naval rifles and a full dozen 21-inch torpedo tubes.

ward note torpedo tubes

They had short legs and were very wet, which made long-range operations a problem, but they gave a good account of themselves. Originally a class of 50 was authorized in 1916, but once the U.S entered WWI in April 1917, this was soon increased and increased again to some 111 ships built by 1920.

109 day plate from wardWard was a warbaby. Laid down at Mare Island Navy Yard in San Fransisco on 15 May 1918, she was commissioned just 109 days later on 24 July.

Her service in World War One was brief, the war basically ending just weeks after she was transferred to the Atlantic. She did, however, help escort the four NC flying boats that crossed the Atlantic the following year.

ward 1920

Like most of the Wickes-class boats, she was soon laid up due to the shortage of real live shooting wars in the 1920s. By July 1921 Ward was on read-lead row.

During this time, the 111-ship class was reduced with several ships being lost in accidents, scrapped, or sunk as targets. In 1940, 27 of the class were transferred to Britain and Canada as part of the famous “Bases for Destroyers” deal. Then in 1941, with the new war coming, Uncle Sam started knocking the rust off his old four-pipers and bringing them back into service.

With that, Ward was recommissioned 15 January 1941. Since the Navy was short on man-power, the ship was crewed in large part by citizen sailors of the St Paul Division of the Minnesota Naval Militia.

As part of the increasing naval presence in Hawaii, the 23-year old, low mileage destroyer with her now active-reserve crew was sent to Pearl Harbor to patrol the coastline for unauthorized intruders. Her skipper was Lt.Cmdr. William Woodward Outerbridge (USNA 1927), on his first command.

It was then at 03:57 on Sunday Morning, 7 December 1941, that the Ward, on patrol outside of the peaceful harbor at Pearl, was alerted to a periscope sighting from the 85-foot long Coast Guard manned converted wooden-hulled purse seiner USS Condor. After going to battle stations and alerting Pearl, Ward spotted a periscope of unknown origin trying to sneak in past the harbor nets at about 0630. Her No.3 gun crew opened fire on the intruder, which later turned out to be Type A Ko-hyoteki-class submarine No.20 of the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Several of the 4-inch shells from the gun penetrated the conning tower of the midget sub, while depth charges lifted the tiny craft out of the water before she plummeted to a depth of 1200-feet where she lay on the seafloor and was found 3-miles from Pearl Harbor by a University of Hawaii research submersible on 28 August 2002.

Pearlminisub

For more than 50-years, it was claimed by many naysayers that Ward sank nothing on Dec 7th, then when the University of Hawaii found Midget Submarine No.20 with Ward‘s shell holes through her in 2002, they could naysay-nolonger.

The Ward had fired the first U.S. shots of World War Two and tragically, although they were an hour and a half before waves of Japanese carrier planes came in low over Battleship Row, the fleet was not properly alerted.

 “A Shot for Posterity — The USS Ward’s number three gun and its crew-cited for firing the first shot the day of Japan’s raid on Hawaii. Operating as part of the inshore patrol early in the morning of December 7, 1941, this destroyer group spotted a submarine outside Pearl Harbor, opened fire and sank her. Crew members are R.H. Knapp - BM2c - Gun Captain, C.W. Fenton - Sea1c - Pointer, R.B. Nolde - Sea1c - Trainer, A.A. De Demagall - Sea1c - No. 1 Loader, D.W. Gruening - Sea1c - No. 2 Loader, J.A. Paick - Sea1c - No. 3 Loader, H.P. Flanagan - Sea1c - No. 4 Loader, E.J. Bakret - GM3c - Gunners Mate, K.C.J. Lasch - Cox - Sightsetter.”


“A Shot for Posterity — The USS Ward’s number three gun and its crew-cited for firing the first shot the day of Japan’s raid on Hawaii. Operating as part of the inshore patrol early in the morning of December 7, 1941, this destroyer group spotted a submarine outside Pearl Harbor, opened fire and sank her. Crew members are R.H. Knapp – BM2c – Gun Captain, C.W. Fenton – Sea1c – Pointer, R.B. Nolde – Sea1c – Trainer, A.A. De Demagall – Sea1c – No. 1 Loader, D.W. Gruening – Sea1c – No. 2 Loader, J.A. Paick – Sea1c – No. 3 Loader, H.P. Flanagan – Sea1c – No. 4 Loader, E.J. Bakret – GM3c – Gunners Mate, K.C.J. Lasch – Cox – Sightsetter.”

Shell hole in conning tower of Japanese Type A Ko-Hyoteki two-man submarine, raised after the sub had been shelled and sunk during the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor.

With the changing pace of the new naval war, the Ward, as was most of her class, was converted to other uses, being too small for fleet work. She lost her 4-inch guns, which went on to equip armed merchant ships, as well as her torpedo tubes. Also leaving were half of her boilers, which dropped her speed down to 25-knots. She was given a trio of newer high-angle 3-inch/50 guns, one 40 mm AA gun, and five 20 mm AA guns, and the capability to carry up to 300 marines or soldiers for a brief period of time. In this new role, she was re-designated as a high-speed amphibious transport (APD-16). Where her torpedo tubes once were, she now carried four 36foot LCP landing craft on davits.

100401605

Note just two funnels now, and with huge LCP’s amidships. The 3-inch gun forward looks tiny compared to the old 4-inch MK9s.

These conversions had a hard war. They transported troops to beachheads, served as escorts for transports and supply vessels, conducted anti-submarine patrols and survey duties, operated with Underwater Demolition Teams and commando units, performed messenger and transport duties, conveyed passengers and mail to and from forward units, and were involved in mine sweeping operations. Ward landed troops at Saidor, Nissan Island, Emirau, Aitape, Biak, Cape Sansapor, Morotai,  Dinagat Island, Ormac Bay, and others.

"Sansapor, Dutch New Guinea, falls to the Allied Forces, July 30, 1944. One might almost say - Sansapor falls to the boys from St. Paul, Minn. - as all but two of these men come from that city and the entire group has shipped together since Pearl Harbor, with the actions and results shown on their banner. As a matter of fact, they are believed to have fired the first offensive shot of the war in the Pacific, while on patrol against Japanese subs." Note the more than a dozen landings credited on the scoreboard on the left side as well as two subs and several planes. They are L/R: (bottom row) J.L. Spratt, MM2/c; A.J. Fink, CM2/c; O.S. Ethier, MM1/c; C.W. Fenton, BM1/c; D.R. Pepin, SM1/c; J.G. LeClair; SOM2/c; F.V. Huges, SOM2/c. (Top Row) R.B. Nolde, SF1c; W.G. Grip, BM2c; H.F. Germarin, S1c; H.J. Harris, MM1c; H.K. Paynter, CMoMM; J.K. Lovsted, CMMM; W.H. Duval, CCS, (of San Diego); I.E. Holley, CSK (of Los Angeles); W.S. Lehner, SC1c; F.J. Bukrey, CM1c; and F.L. Fratta, MM1c."

“Sansapor, Dutch New Guinea, falls to the Allied Forces, July 30, 1944. One might almost say – Sansapor falls to the boys from St. Paul, Minn. – as all but two of these men come from that city and the entire group has shipped together since Pearl Harbor, with the actions and results shown on their banner. As a matter of fact, they are believed to have fired the first offensive shot of the war in the Pacific, while on patrol against Japanese subs.” Note the more than a dozen landings credited on the scoreboard on the left side as well as two subs and several planes. They are L/R: (bottom row) J.L. Spratt, MM2/c; A.J. Fink, CM2/c; O.S. Ethier, MM1/c; C.W. Fenton, BM1/c; D.R. Pepin, SM1/c; J.G. LeClair; SOM2/c; F.V. Huges, SOM2/c. (Top Row) R.B. Nolde, SF1c; W.G. Grip, BM2c; H.F. Germarin, S1c; H.J. Harris, MM1c; H.K. Paynter, CMoMM; J.K. Lovsted, CMMM; W.H. Duval, CCS, (of San Diego); I.E. Holley, CSK (of Los Angeles); W.S. Lehner, SC1c; F.J. Bukrey, CM1c; and F.L. Fratta, MM1c.”

It was off of Ormac in the Philippines that the Ward, with only her naval crew aboard, was attacked by a kamikaze.

Ward (APD-16, ex-DD-139) on fire after she was hit by a “Kamikaze” in Ormoc Bay, Leyte, 7 December 1944

Ward (APD-16, ex-DD-139) on fire after she was hit by a “Kamikaze” in Ormoc Bay, Leyte, 7 December 1944

On December 7th, 1944. Three years exactly from Pearl Harbor day.

A 314-foot ship is not designed to withstand a direct impact from a loaded fighter-bomber, and soon she was fully involved. Her crew abandoned ship and the newly built Allen Sumner-class destroyer USS O’Brien (DD-725), recently transferred to the Pacific after dropping it while it was hot on the Germans on Normandy on D-Day, administered the coup de grace.

ward
Another amazing coincidence, O’Brien‘s skipper on that day was now-Commander William Woodward Outerbridge, who helmed Ward three years before.

In another turn, O’Brien herself would later be sunk as a target by U.S ships off California on 13 July 1972 at the end of her service life. Outerbrigde retired from the Navy in 1957 as a Rear Admiral after thirty years of service, taking his last breath on September 20, 1986.

Today no Wickes-class tin can survives. The last one afloat, USS Maddox (DD–168), was scrapped in 1952 after serving in the US, then RN, then Canadian, then Soviet navies.

One of the class, the USS Walker (DD-163), has been given new life in the excellent alternate history series Destroyermen written by Taylor Anderson.

However, it should be noted that Ward‘s famous gun No.3 still exists, saved from going down with the ship by virtue of it being replaced during the war with more modern ordnance.

4inch from ward

Preserved in the Twin Cities area, it was presented to the state in 1958 by the Navy in honor of her Minnesota reservist guncrew on Dec.7, 1941.  It is located on the grounds of the Veterans Service Building in St. Paul.

Specs:

uss-dd-139-ward-1941-destroyer
(As built)
Displacement: 1,247 long tons (1,267 t)
Length:     314 ft 4 in (95.81 m)
Beam:     30 ft 11 in (9.42 m)
Draft:     9 ft 10 in (3.00 m)
Propulsion:     2 × geared steam turbines, 2 × shafts
Speed:     35 kn (65 km/h; 40 mph)
Complement:     231 officers and enlisted
Armament:     4 × 4 in (100 mm)/50 cal guns
2 × 3 in (76 mm)/50 cal anti-aircraft guns
12 × 21 in (530 mm) torpedo tubes (4×3)

(1942)
Displacement: 1,247 long tons (1,267 t)
Length:     314 ft 4 in (95.81 m)
Beam:     30 ft 11 in (9.42 m)
Draft:     9 ft 10 in (3.00 m)
Propulsion:     2 × geared steam turbines, 2 × shafts
Speed:     25kn
Complement: 180 officers and enlisted, upto 300 troops for short periods
Armament:     3x3inch/50
One 40mm bofors
Five 20mm OK

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

7 responses to “Warship Wednesday June 18, The Opening shot of the old subkiller”

  1. stuckinred says :

    The APD’s carried LCP (R) landing boats. My dad was aboard the USS Crosby for the entire war and was on many op’s with the Ward. The Crosby took on some of the crew at Ormoc Bay and several became permanent crew when the Ward was sunk.

  2. Jim says :

    My Father is 91 and he served aboard the USS Ward from Feb 1943 until she was sunk in Ormoc Bay.

  3. my3kidz says :

    Hello. I found that silver piece “USS Ward 1918” among my grandfather’s stuff. He passed away last year. I was wondering if you could tell me what it was. He was 99 & served in the military. I was curious if it was something they gave our service men. Thanks so much!

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