Tuesday, May 27, 2008
USS Palmer (DD-161)
Figure 1: USS Palmer (DD-161) underway at high speed, probably during her trials, circa late 1918. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Palmer underway, 26 February 1919. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Palmer in a harbor, circa 1919. Courtesy of Jim Kazalis, 1981. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Palmer photographed from the air while underway, circa 1919-1921. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: Destroyers laid up in reserve at San Diego, California, probably in 1922 or shortly thereafter. Ships nearest the camera are: USS Palmer (DD-161), in left center; USS Crane (DD-109), in right center; and USS Stansbury (DD-180), at right. Courtesy of ESKC Joseph L. Aguillard, USNR, 1969. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after Rear Admiral James Shedden Palmer who died in 1867, the USS Palmer (DD-161) was a 1,060-ton Little class destroyer built by the Fore River Shipbuilding Company at Quincy, Massachusetts. The ship was commissioned shortly after the end of World War I on 22 November 1918 and was approximately 314 feet long and 31 feet wide. Palmer was armed with four 4-inch guns, two 3-inch guns, 12 21-inch torpedoes and depth charges. She had a top speed of 35 knots and a crew of 122 officers and men.
Palmer was assigned to the Pacific Fleet and was based on the West Coast until she was decommissioned at San Diego on 31 May 1922. She remained in reserve until being re-commissioned on 7 August 1940. Palmer was converted into a fast minesweeper and re-designated DMS-5 on 19 November. She was sent to the Atlantic and was given minesweeping and escort assignments that would constitute the bulk of her duties for the next three years. Palmer participated in the invasion of Morocco, but was sent back to the Pacific to take part in the invasion of the Marshall Islands in January and February 1944. Palmer also escorted shipping between Hawaii and the central Pacific and went on to take part in the invasions of Saipan and Guam in June and July 1944. On 17 October 1944, Palmer assisted in sweeping the main channels near Leyte Gulf prior to the American invasion of the Philippines. She also escorted transports through the swept channels during the actual invasion.
On 7 January 1945, Palmer was part of the American invasion force that was about to attack the island of Luzon in the Philippines. While on a minesweeping mission in Lingayen Gulf, Palmer struck a mine. A large explosion followed, but Palmer remained afloat and the crew tried valiantly to save its ship. Progress was made in repairing the damage caused by the explosion, but three hours after the blast a Japanese twin-engine bomber flew in low over the ship and dropped two bombs, both of which hit the port side of the ship. The bomb blasts started an enormous fire that engulfed most of the ship and caused substantial damage below the waterline. Palmer started to go down while men frantically jumped into the sea to get away from the stricken warship. Palmer sank in just six minutes. Twenty-eight crewmembers were killed and 38 were wounded.
Ironically, Palmer was a ship that was built for one war but was sunk in another. She also spent 18 years in reserve before having an outstanding five-year career in World War II. Palmer proved that a ship could be kept in reserve for a number of years and still be a valuable wartime asset. Palmer received five battle stars for her service in World War II.
Posted by Remo at 8:58 AM