USS Kilty (DD-137/ APD-15)

USS Kilty (DD-137/ APD-15) was a Wickes class destroyer that served as a fast transport in the Pacific in 1943-45, serving in the Solomons, along New Guinea and in the Philippines.

The Kilty was named after Rear Admiral Augustus H. Kilty, a US naval officer who lost his left arm during the Civil War.

USS Kilty (DD-137) being launched, 1918
USS Kilty (DD-137)
being launched, 1918

The Kilty was launched on 25 April 1918 at Mare Island, Navy Yard and commissioned on 17 December 1918. Her early duties took her away from the Pacific - her shakedown cruiser took her to the Caribbean and her first active duty was a cruise to European waters in 1919. After that she returned to San Diego, and operated from that port until she was decommissioned on 5 June 1922.

The Kilty was recommissioned on 18 December 1939, after the outbreak of war in Europe. She joined the Neutrality Patrol in April 1940, still based at San Diego. In the summer of 1940 she carried out reserve training cruises and then returned to patrol duties in September. This pattern continued until the attack on Pearl Harbor brought the US into the war.

During 1942 the Kilty performed a mix of anti-submarine warfare patrols, escorting coastal convoys and training the armed guard crews intended to go onto merchant ships. 

USS Kilty (DD-137), Empress Augusta Bay, 1943
USS Kilty (DD-137), Empress Augusta Bay, 1943

On 2-4 August she escorted the newly commissioned submarine USS Whale (SS-239) from San Francisco to San Diego,


On 2 January 1943 the Kilty was reclassified as the fast transport APD-15. She left for the South Pacific on 2 March, and reached Noumea on 8 April, bringing a Marine Raider battalion. On 28 April she departed to Guadalcanal, forming part of the ASW screen for a convoy. She repeated this task several times between then and June, when she moved to the Solomon Islands for patrol and escort duties. She also carried out her transport duties, landing troops from the 37th Division on New Georgia on 30 June and 4 July. In July she carried reinforcements up the 'slot' three times during July. On 15 August she landed troops on Vella Lavella Island.

The Kilty then took part in the Treasury Islands Campaign, landing New Zealand troops on Stirling Island on 27 October. She then landed Marines on Bougainville on 5 October, and performed three more supply runs (including landing men and supplies at Empress Augusta Bay on 6 November 43), before departing for Brisbane on 21 November.

She returned to Milne Bay in mid-December, ready to take part in the invasion of New Britain. On 26 December she landed troops from the 7th Marine Regiment at Cape Gloucester, as part of the first wave of attacks. She landed two more batches of troops at Cape Gloucester.


On 2 January 1944 she landed troops at Saidor, to capture an airstrip which would be used to support the fighting at Cape Gloucester. She then landed troops on Green Island on 15 February and 20 February. On 20 March she took part in an unopposed assault on Emirau Island. She then took part in the Hollandia campaign, landing troops at Aitape on 22 April and evacuating the wounded. On 1 7 May she landed troops at Wakde, and on 27 May at Biak. She then put into Humboldt Bay on 28 May.

On 5-7 June 1944 she escorted the tanker Victoria (AO-46) from Humboldt Bay to Seeadler Harbor where she began fuelling the fleet.

On 30 July she landed troop at at Cape Sansapor. She then returned to Sydney for a brief break, before landing troops on Morotai on 15 September, her last operation on New Guinea.

The Kilty then took part in the massive invasion of Leyte. She formed part of the advance guard, and landed US rangers on Dinagat in the entrance to Leyte Gulf on 17 October. She was on her way back to Hollandia during the battle of Leyte Gulf, and so missed that key fight.

In mid-November she shot down two 'Vals' attempting to crash into LSTs off Leyte. On 15 December she landed troops on Mindoro.


On 11 January 1945 the Kilty landed troops on Luzon. She then landed troops at Nasugbu on 31 January and on Corregidor in mid-February, before she returned to Ulithi for another overhaul.

In April the Kilty provided part of the escort for four escort carriers ferrying aircraft to Okinawa. In May she escorted another force to Okinawa, and on 4 May, rescued the survivors from USS Luce (DD-522), which had been sunk by a kamikaze attack.

This mission ended her active career. On 17 May she left Guam heading for the US, and she arrived at San Diego on 18 June. She was in the middle of another overhaul when the war ended, and the need for her disappeared. She was decommissioned on 2 November 1945 and sold for scrap on 26 August 1946.

The Kilty earned ten battle stars during the Second World War, for New Georgia, Treasury-Bougainville, the Bismarck Archipelago, Eastern New Guinea, Hollandia, Western New Guinea, Leyte, Luzon, Okinawa and Manila Bay-Bicol.

Displacement (standard)

1,160t (design)

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35kts (design)
35.34kts at 24,610shp at 1,149t on trial (Wickes)


2 shaft Parsons turbines
4 boilers
24,200shp (design)


3,800nm at 15kts on trial (Wickes)
2,850nm at 20kts on trial (Wickes)

Armour - belt


 - deck



314ft 4in


30ft 11in

Armaments (as built)

Four 4in/50 guns
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple tubes
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement



25 April 1918


17 December 1918

Sold for Scrap

26 August 1946

U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History, Norman Friedmann . The standard history of the development of American destroyers, from the earliest torpedo boat destroyers to the post-war fleet, and covering the massive classes of destroyers built for both World Wars. Gives the reader a good understanding of the debates that surrounded each class of destroyer and led to their individual features.
cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (24 October 2017), USS Kilty (DD-137/ APD-15) ,

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