USS Chew (DD-106)

USS Chew (DD-106) was a Wickes class destroyer that was present during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and operated from Hawaii during the rest of the Second World War, although her career was blighted by repeated engine problems.

The Chew was named after Samuel Chew, an officer in the Continental Navy who was killed in battle in 1778.

The Chew was laid down on 2 January 1918 at the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, launched on 26 May 1918 and commissioned on 12 December 1918, with Commander Jacob H. Klein Jr in command.

The Chew didn't have a terribly lucky start. While she was being commissioned three of her crew were on trial for robbery, and on 13 December the Twelfth Naval District, San Francisco, asked OpNav to allow her departure to be delayed to allow the court proceedings to take place. This message didn't arrive in time, and the Chew set sail on the same day. However her starboard engine then broke down, and she had to stop at the Mare Island Navy Yard for repairs.

She set off for a second time on 21 December 1918. On 28 December she stopped to take on fuel at Salina Cruz, Mexico, and while she was in port one of the crew, Baylis B. Royster, drowned at the end of a swim call. The crew spent 28-29 December attempting to find him, but without success. On 2 December 1919 she passed through the Panama Canal, and on 10 December, another crewman, Gordon Higdon, went missing and was never found. She reached Newport, Rhode Island, later on the same day, where the officer in charge of the Coaling Depot claimed that she had run aground. The ship's crew disputed this, and there was no damage. The starboard engine was still causing problems and she spent the period to 24 February undergoing repairs at New York.

On 25 February she was finally ready to join the fleet, and set sail for Guantanomo Bay, arriving on 1 March. She then joined the 10th Destroyer Division (along with the Ludlow (DD-112), Mugford (DD-105) and Champlin (DD-104). During exercises on 18 March the Mugford rammed the Chew in the stern, damaging the steering engines. The damage wasn't too serious, and was repaired at Guantanamo Bay. The Chew was able to rejoin the fleet on 31 March.

On 28 April 1919 the Chew, Breckinridge (DD-148), Barney (DD-149), Hazelwood (DD-107) and Elliot (DD-146) left New York to take part in the first trans-Atlantic flight, which was to be carried out by three Curtiss flying boats (of which NC-4 completed the flight). In the end the Chew wasn't used to support the flight, but she did cross the Atlantic, and entered the Mediterranean on 9 May (while the Curtiss NC-4 was still crossing the Atlantic). Chew, Hazelwood and Barney visited Valletta, Malta, on 13 May 1919. Chew and Barney then continued on to Constantinople, arriving on 17 May. She then returned to Malta, Gibraltar and the Azores, before heading to Newport, Rhode Island. She was then ordered to go to New York instead, where she underwent an overhaul. This was completed by 29 July, when she left port for sea trials, but once again her bad luck hit. First a bearing burned out, then some pipes in the burner leaked. She was finally able to complete her acceptance trials in August 1919!

After being accepted the Chew returned to West Coast. She took part in manoeuvres on 10 and 17 November, before on 19 November she was placed into the reserve. She formed part of Division 10 (Chew, Mugford, Champlin, Hazelwood, Schley and Williams). In August 1920 she visited San Francisco for a brief refit, and was then used for a short reserve training cruise. The Chew was briefly active once again in August-October 1921, again visiting San Francisco. She was decommissioned on 31 May 1922.

The Chew was recommissioned on 14 October 1940, as the US Navy began to expand in response to the dramatic events in Europe during 1940. She joined the Defense Force, 14th Naval District (Hawaii), and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 17 December 1940. She operated alongside the destroyers Allen (DD-66), Schley (DD-103) and Ward (DD-139), and patrolled the area around Pearl Harbor as part of Cmdr John B. Wooley's Inshore Patrol command.

Recommissioned on 14 October 1940 at San Diego, Chew was assigned to the local defense forces of the Fourteenth Naval District, and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 17 December 1940. Chew conducted patrols and training duty from her home port until the outbreak of hostilities, alternating her patrols with her sister ships from the World War I emergency program, Ward (DD-139) and Schley (DD-103), and Allen (DD-66), the oldest destroyer in the Navy that had performed active service during the First World War. 

On 7 December 1941 the Chew was moored alongside the Baltimore and USS Allen at berth X-Ray 5, near Battleship Row, taking on provisions. She opened fire with one 3"/23 gun at 0803 hours, and two 50 caliber machine guns at 0811, and fired continuously until 0934 hours, when the third wave of Japanese aircraft left. According to her own post-action report, she destroyed one aircraft with a direct hit from the 3" gun and damaged two others, again with the 3" gun.

After the end of the air attack, the Chew got underway, and carried out an anti-submarine patrol to the south-west of the harbour entrance buoy. During the patrol she dropped 28 depth charges on 8 different contacts. One sign of the confusion caused by the attack was the presence of two ensigns from the Farragut (DD-348) onboard when she went to sea. Once she was at sea she was joined by the captain and several officers from the Aylwin (DD-355), who had tried to join their own ship at sea, but had been unable to get onboard after the commander of Destroyer Squadron One refused to allow the Aylwin to slow down to pick them up. They remained on the Chew until the following day.

She lost two crewmen during the attack. Clarence A. Wise was reported as missing, assumed to be a casualty, while Mathew J. Agola was killed in an explosion while fighting fires on the Cassin (DD-372) and Downes (DD-375) (the original wartime report said during rescue work on the USS Pennsylvania).

The Chew remained in commission at Pearl Harbor for the rest of the Second World War. She was used for a mix of local patrols, submarine training duties, to escort ships between the Hawaiian Islands, and to escort convoys to San Francisco or Seattle.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack the Chew was used for local patrols. Inter-island escort missions began on 23 May 1942. From 8-13 August she escorted a convoy to Midway Island. On 31 October-10 November she escorted a convoy to San Francisco, and on 23 November-7 December she escorted a convoy back to Hawaii.

On 30 April 1943 the Chew left Pearl Harbor to escort the battleship West Virginia (BB-48) to Puget Sound Navy Yard, Washington. The West Virginia had been sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor, but she had been refloated and what repairs could be done at Pearl Harbor completed. The small convoy reached Puget Sound on 7 May, where the West Virginia underwent full repairs, eventually returning to action. The Chew returned to Pearl Harbor escorting the troop transport Republic (AP-33) in late May.

During the first half of 1944 the Chew spent most of her time undergoing a variety of repairs. She returned to action in mid-August, but was damaged in a collision with the submarine USS Scamp on 22 September, and needed yet more repairs. This time she was back in action by the start of November.

In early 1945 she suffered yet another breakdown while operating with the carrier Bataan (CVL-29) and the destroyer Allen, and needed yet more repairs, before returning to service in April. The engine problems continued, and it hardly surprising that she was sent to the East Coast to be decommissioned almost as soon as the war ended. Even now her luck didn’t change, and she was damaged in a collision with the cruiser USS Phoenix (CL-46) while leaving Pearl Harbor! She finally reached Philadelphia on 13 September, and she was decommissioned on 15 October 1945. The Chew was sold for scrap on 24 September 1946.

During the war the Chew underwent a number of changes. Her fourth smokestack was removed. She kept her amidship torpedo tubes, but the rear tubes were replaced with K-Gun depth charge throwers. She retained all four of her original 4/50 guns. She didn't get many extra anti-aircraft guns, presumably because she was operating away from Japanese aircraft.

The Chew received one battle star for her Second World War service, for Pearl Harbor.

Displacement (standard)

 

Displacement (loaded)

 

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

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (31 May 2017), USS Chew (DD-106) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Chew_DD106.html

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