USS Overton (DD-239/ APD-23)

USS Overton (DD-239/ APD-23) was a Clemson class destroyer that served on escort duties in the Atlantic in 1942 and on the route to North Africa early in 1943 before being converted into a fast transport and taking part in the invasion of the Marshal Islands, Saipan, Taipan, the Philippines and Okinawa.

The Overton was named after Macon C. Overton, a US Marine who was mortally wounded during fighting at St. George in France on 1 November 1918.

Mrs Margaret Overton sponsors USS Overton (DD-239)
Mrs Margaret Overton
sponsors
USS Overton (DD-239)

The Overton was laid down on 30 October 1918, launched on 10 July 1919 and commissioned on 30 June 1920.

After her shakedown cruise the Overton joined the 3rd Destroyer Squadron on the east coast, then moved to the 5th Destroyer Squadron. She was part of the 5th DS when she helped rescue the submarine S-5 in September 1920. The submarine sank after a accident, but her crew managed to avoid disaster and were soon rescued. The damaged submarine sank soon after the rescue, but with no loss of life.

Soon after this the Overton was allocated to the 2nd Destroyer Squadron, and departed for European Waters on 14 September. She joined the Black Sea Detachment at Constantinople on 5 October, and spent the next year and a half on a mix of diplomatic and humanitarian roles, visiting ports around the Black Sea and in the eastern Mediterranean.

In November 1920 the Overton was the only US ship at Sevastopol when Baron Peter Wrangel’s White Army was defeated by the Bolsheviks and forced to retreat into the port. She was used on relief efforts, but was soon overwhelmed, and four more destroyers were rushed to the port, followed by further reinforcements.

At the end of June Destroyer Division 39 arrived in the eastern Mediterranean, allowing the McFarland, Childs, Fox, Overton, Reuben James, Sands, Sturtevant and Williamson to return to the United States. However this would be a short visit, as tensions rose in the eastern Mediterranean, as Allies prepared to return control of Constantinople to the Turks.

The Overton was part of a large force of destroyers that left Hampton Roads on 2 October 1922, heading for the eastern Mediterranean. She was part of Destroyer Division 41, with the Barry (DD-248), Goff (DD-247), King (DD-242), McFarland and Sturtevant (DD-240). The destroyers arrived at Constantinople on 22 October.

The Overton left the Eastern Mediterranean in May 1923 to return to the US, arriving at New York on 12 June 1923. She spent the next eight years operating along the east coast, apart from two visits to the Pacific, to take part in Fleet Problem V in 1925 and Fleet Problem VI in 1926.

On 3 February 1931 the Overton was placed out of commission in the reserve. She entered the rotating reserve in 1932, and retained that status until 20 November 1937 when she was decommissioned again,

Anyone from the Overton who landed in Nicaragua between 30 August-13 September 1932 qualified for the Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal.

Second World War

The Overton was recommissioned on 26 September 1939 after the outbreak of the Second World War. She joined the Neutrality Patrol.

On 14-19 June 1941 the Overton and Bainbridge escorted the Army transport Alexander from Argentia to New York.

In August 1941 the Overton escorted a convoy to Iceland, which had recently been taken over by the United States after briefly being occupied by the British to prevent the island falling into German hands (this now seems a fairly outlandish idea, but at the time there was only open sea between the Germans in Norway and Iceland, and its loss would have been a bitter blow in the battle of the Atlantic). The Overton departed from Iceland on 13 August to escort two Icelandic merchant ships to the United States.

Anyone who served on her between 1-18 August 1941 or 8 September-15 November 1941 qualified for the American Defense Service Medal.

The Overton was at Boston when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. She continued to operate in the Atlantic theatre, escorting convoys and carrying out anti-submarine work between the East Coast and Iceland. She later added the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean to her area of operations.

Late in 1941 she operated with the carrier Wasp (CV-7), and was photographed when four newsmen were transferred to her using a bosun’s chair. By this point she had been modified for escort duties, and was armed with 3”/50 guns alongside the second funnel, splinter shields for her main guns and with her portholes welded over.

At the start of 1942 the Overton was one of three destroyers in Destroyer Division 62, part of Destroyer Squadron Thirty-One of the Atlantic Fleet.

In early January the 1942 Overton, Niblack (DD-424) and Tarbell (DD-142) left Argentia to join up with Convoy HX-170. They joined the convoy on 14 January and escorted it to the Mid Ocean Meeting Point, arriving on 22 January. The Tarbell and Overton were forced to leave when they ran short of fuel.

On 15 March 1942 the Coast Guard cutter Acacia was sunk by gunfire from U-161 150 miles to the south of Port-au-Prince on Haiti. Her crew were able to abandon ship, and they were later picked up by the Overton.

From May-December 1942 she was commanded by Lynne Cline Quiggle, who rose to the rank of rear admiral after the Second World War.

1943

USS Overton (APD-23) at Norfolk, 1943 USS Overton (APD-23) at Norfolk, 1943

The Overton’s role changed early in 1943. From 7 February to 26 May 1943 she was used to escort convoys heading between New York and Casablanca, carrying supplies and reinforcements to the Tunisian theatre. 

The Overton then joined TG 21.11, based around the Santee (CVE-29). The group sailed from the US on 13 June and reached Casablanca on 3 July. The group left Casablanca on 7 July, escorting a home-bound convoy. On 12 July the group was detached from the convoy to search for U-boats south of the Azores. This time the group had more success, sinking U-160 on 14 July and U-43 on 30 July.

On 6 August the Overton returned to Norfolk, Virginia, where she was converted into a high speed transport. She was redesignated as APD-23 on 21 August and departed for the Pacific on 22 October. She reached Pearl Harbor on 12 November, where she underwent further training.

1944

At the start of 1944 she joined the Advance Southern Transport Group, part of Task Force 52, which was allocated to the invasion of Kwajalein in the Marshal Islands. She departed for the battle zone on 22 January 1944.

On 30 January the Overton and the Manley were detached, with orders to land troops on Carter (Gea) and Cecil (Ninni) islands, at the south-western end of Kwajalein Atoll. In the dark the troops landed on Chauncey Island (Gehh), the next one to the north-west of Cecil Island, where they found six Japanese troops. They then moved to Cecil Island, allowing US Minesweepers to clear the Cecil Pass (Gea Pass), allowing the main landing force into the inside of the atoll. The Overton was then used to provide fire support and carry out reconnaissance.

On 4-5 February the Overton and Manley landed troops on Bennett Island (Bigej), on the eastern side of the atoll. On 8 February she departed for Pearl Harbor, from where she returned to the US West Coast.

In May the Overton returned to the Pacific, carrying marines to Saipan. After landing her troops she screen the transport area and patrolled off Tinian, before departing on 24 June heading to Eniwetok. She was then used to escort convoys back to Saipan. In July she carried out patrol and bombardment duties off Tinian, then with the Robinson escorted eleven LCTs to Guam (20-21 July), before escorting a group of LSTs back to Pearl Harbor.

On 15 September the Overton left Pearl Harbor heading for Manus. In mid October she supported the landings on Leyte, operating with an Underwater Demolition Team. She was then used to escort supply convoys, before she was allocated to the fleet that was to take part in the landings at Lingayen Gulf on Luzon.

1945

The Overton entered Lingayen Gulf on 6 January 1945, and on 7 January operated with her UDT personnel. For the next few days she helped screen the heavy warships and transports, before leaving for Leyte on 12 January.

From then until early March she was used to screen the replenishment groups at the Underway Replenishment areas. In early March she was used to patrol off Iwo Jima, before resuming escort duties. She carried out one run to Leyte then escorted a convoy heading to Okinawa, arriving on 11 April. She formed part of the radar picket off the island on 15 April, before departing for Saipan.

This ended her active career. From Saipan she left for the United States, arriving on 15 May. She then moved to Philadelphia, where she was decommissioned on 30 July 1945, struck off on 13 August and sold for scrap on 30 November.

Overton earned 8 battle stars during World War II, for Western New Guinea, Saipan, Leyte, Lingayen Gulf, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and service with Task Group 21.11 (13 June-6 August 1943)

Displacement (standard)

1,190t

Displacement (loaded)

1,308t

Top Speed

35kts
35.51kts at 24,890shp at 1,107t on trial (Preble)

Engine

2-shaft Westinghouse geared tubines
4 boilers
27,000shp (design)

Range

2,500nm at 20kts (design)

Length

314ft 4in

Width

30ft 10.5in

Armaments

Four 4in/ 50 guns
One 3in/23 AA gun
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple mountings
Two depth charge tracks
One Y-Gun depth charge projector

Crew complement

114

Launched

10 July 1919

Commissioned

30 June 1920

Sold for scrap

30 November 1945

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (5 September 2019), USS Overton (DD-239/ APD-23) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Overton_DD239_APD23.html

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