USS Tracy (DD-214/ DM-19)

USS Tracy (DD-214/ DM-19) was a Clemson class destroyer that served with the Asiatic Fleet in the 1920s and 1930s. She was in the middle of a refit when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, then took part in the invasion of Guadalcanal, before spending most of the rest of the war on escort duties, as well as taking part in the invasion of Okinawa.

The Tracy was named after Benjamin Franklin Tracy, a US Army Officer during the Civil War and Secretary of the Navy from 1889.

The Tracy was laid down at Cramp’s of Philadelphia on 3 April 1919, launched on 13 August 1919 and commissioned on 9 March 1920.

In the spring of 1920 the Tracy departed for the Near East with Destroyer Devision 39, reaching Constantinople in June 1920. She was used to uphold US interests around the Black Sea, and on the European coast of Turkey, Palestine and Egypt. She was also used to evacuate refugees from southern Russia as the Communists won the the Russian Civil War. She was used to move refugees from Sevastopol to Constantinople.

In June 1921 the Tracy and her division moved to the Far East, travelling via the Suez Canal. They reached Manila in August 1921. The Tracy was assigned to the South China Patrol, and operated in those waters until the spring of 1923. She then played a goodwill visit to Japan, before joining the main destroyer force at Chefoo (China) for the summer maneuvers of 1923.

In September 1923 she was at Dairen in Manchuria when a devastating earthquake hit Yokohama and Tokyo. She was immediately sent to Japan as part of the US aid effort, which earned a great deal of good will. She took part in the early relief efforts at Yokohama and moved refugees from there to Tokyo. She spent two weeks in the Yokohama area, sending work parties ashore to help repair the damage.

After the relief work ended, the Tracy was sent to Shanghai, where her landing part was used to guard the American-owned Shanghai Light and Power Company. She remained there until she was replaced by the armoured cruiser USS Huron on 12 October 1923. She then returned to the Philippines. For the rest of her time in the Far East she took part in the normal life of the destroyer forces in the Asiatic Fleet, a mix of winters in the Philippines and summers in China. She departed for the United States on 8 May 1925.

After her arrival in San Diego on 17 June 1925 the Tracy was given new fire control instruments. She then moved to the East Coast, where she joined the Scouting Fleet. She joined the Special Service Squadron operating off Nicaragua after the outbreak of civil war in November-December 1926 and returned again in March 1927.

This was followed by a visit to European waters as part of Destroyer Division 38. She departed from Newport on 1 June 1927, and visited Queenstown (by then known as Cobh), North Ireland, Scotland, England, Belgium, France, Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Tunisia and Italy. At the start of 1928 she moved to Gibralter, and in February she operated in the Atlantic. Her division then the Battle Fleet, and was based at San Diego on the west coast from 1 April 1928 to the spring of 1929. In June-July 1929 she was used as the plane guard for the Lexington (CV-2) and Saratoga (CV-3) as they prepared to move to the Far East.

Destroyer Division 38 was then allocated to the Asiatic Fleet. The Tracy took part in a goodwill visit to Japan, returning to Yokohama on 26 August 1929. She then spent the winter in the Philippines. The summer of 1930 was spent in Chinese waters, along with a visit to the Dutch East Indies. In the autumn of 1930 the Tracy was fited out to serve as the station ship at Chefoo, China, a key summer base for the Asiatic Fleet’s destroyers.

In September 1931 Japan invaded Manchuria, and in February 1932 the Japanese and Chinese clashed around Shanghai. The Tracy took part in operations to protect US interests during these battles.  On 10 March 1932 she rescued the 29 strong crew of the Japanese merchant ship Kaku Maru, which had caught fire in the Philippines. Late in 1932 she was allocated to the Battle Force, and returned to the US East Coast.

Over the next few years she took part in the standard maneuvers and exercises off the west coast. In 1937 she was converted into a destroyer minelayer, and on 30 June 1937 she was redesignated as DM-19. She was then assigned to Mine Division 1, and was based at Pearl Harbor with the Battle Force,

1941

Towards the end of 1941 Mine Division 1 was given an overhaul. By 7 December the Tracy was in berth 15 of the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, with her machinery, boilers and guns dismantled and her complement living on shore. When the Japanese attacked some of her crew helped man the guns on the Cummings (DD-376) and Pennsylvania (BB-38) while others came onboard and managed to get three .30in Lewis guns and two .50in Browning guns into action. After the attack a party of ten men helped fight the fires on the California (BB-44)

1942

The Tracy remained in the Navy Yard for the first few months of 1942 while her overhaul was completed. She was ready to return to sea by the end of March, and on 31 March she helped lay a mine field near French Frigate Shoals in the north-western part of the Hawaiin chain. She operated around Pearl Harbor for a few weeks, before departing for Suva in Fiji on 23 July. She was allocated to the forces that were to take part in the invasion of Guadalcanal, along with the Breese (DM-18) and Gamble (DM-15). She formed part of Task Force 62, and reached Guadalcanal with the first attack forces on 7 August. After the original attack she was used as an escort ship and on anti-submarine patrols around Guadalacanal.

On 29 August she came under air attack while returning to Guadalcanal as part of a sizable force of DMs and APDs, and the transport USS William Ward Burrows. Later in the same day the William Ward Burrows ran aground on Sylvia Reef at Tulagi, and on the following day the Tracy made an unsuccessful attempt to tow her off the reef. Eventually she was rescued on 2 September.

The Tracy operated between Espiritu Santo and Guadancanal and the Solomons for the rest of 1942, returning to Pearl Harbor for a refit in December 1942. On 18 December she escorted a convoy to New Caledonia, arriving at Noumea on 2 January 1943.

1943

At the start of 1943 the Tracy was allocated to Task Force 66, and was based at Noumea and Nandi. She was used to lay protective minefields around Allied bases, and to ferry aviation fuel to Henderson Field on Guadalcanal.

At the end of January the Japanese began to evacuate Guadalcanal, having given up on their attempts to expel the Americans. On 1 February the Tracy led the Montgomery (DM-17) and Preble (DM-20) as they laided 300 mines between Doma Reef and Cape Esperance in an attempt to stop this effort. Their mines caught the destroyer Makigumo on the night of 1-2 February, and she had to be scuttled, but most of the Japenese garrison was evacuated safely.

This was followed by another period of escort duty, before she departed for Hawaii on 19 April at the start of a trip back to Mare Island, San Francisco, for a refit. This was completed by 22 May, when she began a period escorting safe convoys between Hawaii and the US West Coast. This period ended on 10 August when she left Pearl Harbor heading west to the South Pacific.

In late November 1943 the Tracy led a division of minelayers that placed an offensive minefield near Bougainville, to help prepare for the invasion of that island. She was then based at Noumea, visiting Funafuti, Espiritu Santo and Guadalcanal in December.

1944

From 1-5 January 1944 the Tracy helped escort the auxiliaries President Jackson (AP-37), President Hayes (AP-39), President Adams (AP-38), Titania (AK-55), and Alhena (AK-26) to Fiji. From 6-10 January she escorted a convoy from Fiji to Guadalcanal. Late in January she escorted the President Hayes from Efate in the New Hebrides for New Caledonia. She then visited New Zealand, before spending the first half of 1944 on escort duties.

On 3 June she returned to San Francisco for an overhaul. She then spent August training along the US west coast, before departing for the war zone on 31 August. She reached Pearl Harbor on 9 September, where she was based from 12-24 September. From 29 September to 8 October she escorted a convoy from Pearl Harbor to Eniwetok in the Marshalls. She was then used to escort convoys from Eniewetok to Pearl Harbor then Pearl Harbor to San Francisco, arriving on the west coast on 6 November. She ended the year escorting a convoy from the west coast to Hawaii.

1945

The start of 1945 saw a major chance of pace for the Tracy, when she was assigned to the massive fleet that supported the invasion of Okinawa. She arrived off Okinawa on 1 April, and served as a buoy laying and mine disposal vessel for the next two weeks. She also took part in anti-submarine and anti-small boat patrols, aimed at stopping the suicide boats that were plaguing the fleet. During this period she helped rescue the survivors from LCI(G)-82, which had been hit by one of the suicide boats. The Tracy left Okinawa on 16 April, heading for Ulithi.

On 1 May 1945 she was part of Mine Division One, itself part of Mine Squadron One, Minecraft, Pacific Fleet.

The Tracy returned to service on 1 May. She was used on convoy escort duties. At the start of July she escorted a convoy of LSTs from Okinawa to Leyte. She was then used as a tender from 5-17 July, before entering the floating dry dock ARD-2 for hull repairs in late July. She was based at San Pedro Bay into the middle of August. On 10 August she picked up an unofficial Japanese broadcast announcing their surrender. On 15 August she joined the screen on TU 72.5.38, heading for Okinawa. While at sea the orders to end all offensive activities was received, officially ending the war at sea. The convoy reached Okinawa on 20 August.

After the end of the fighting, the Tracy took part in the massive minesweeping operation that was required to clear Japanese home waters. She entered Nagasaki Wan on 11 September, and served as a buoy laying and mine disposal vessel for the sealanes outside Nagasaki until late October.

On 25 October 1945 the Tracy departed Japanese waters, heading for the US. She reached New York in December 1945 and was decommissioned on 19 January 1946. Later in the same year she was sold for scrap. 

Tracy received seven battle stars for her World War II service, for Pearl Harbor, the Guadalcanal landings (7-9 August 1942), capture and defence of Guadalcanal (31 January-2 February 1942), supporting air actions at Bougainville (7-8 November 1943), Iwo Jima (16 February-7 March 1945), Okinawa (25 March-28 June 1945) and minesweeping operations off Honshu and Kyushu after the end of the fighting.

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)

Armour - belt

 

 - deck

 

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

 

Commissioned

 

Fate

Sold for scrap 1946

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (4 December 2018), USS Tracy (DD-214/ DM-19) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Tracy_DD214_DM19.html

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