USS Gilmer (DD-233/ APD-11)

USS Gilmer (DD-233/ APD-11) was a Clemson class destroyer that served as a fast transport, taking part in the New Guinea campaign, the invasions of Saipan and Taipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

The Gilmer was named after Thomas Walker Gilmer, appointed Secretary of the Navy on 15 February 1944 but killed by the explosion of a bow gun on USS Princeton on 28 February.

The Gilmer was launched on 24 May 1919 and commissioned by 30 April 1920.

The Gilmer was one of five Clemson class destroyers that were armed with 5”/51 calibre guns in place of the 4in guns used on the rest of the class.

USS Gilmer (DD-233) in Port USS Gilmer (DD-233) in Port

She was one of the first destroyers allocated to the Detachment Protecting Americans and American Interests in Turkish Waters in 1920, leaving Hampton Roads on 2 October 1920 and arriving at Constantinople o 22 October 1920. Later on she visited Pola, Italy, on 10 February 1921, probably to Zelinika, Yugoslavia on 21 January 1921. She departed for US waters in July 1923, after the area had calmed down although before Constantinople was handed over to the Turks.

After her return to the United States the Gilmer took part in the normal routine of the US fleet, taking part in exercises in the Pacific, Atlantic and Caribbean.

From December 1926 to October 1929 she was commanded by Robert Todd Young, while serving with Division 40, Squadron 12, Destroyer Squadrons, Scouting Fleet.

In 1926 the Gilmer took part in one of the American interventions in Nicaragua, to protect US interests during a civil war.

In 1928 the Gilmer was part of the escort for President Coolidge as he visited Havana on the USS Texas. Later in the same year she took part in disaster relief in the Caribbean.

From October 1929 to the spring of 1931 she was commanded by John Reginald Beardall, the Superintendent of the US Naval Academy from January 1942 until August 1945.

On 1 July 1934 the Gilmer was used to transport President Roosevelt from the shore to USS Houston at the start of a cruise to Haiti, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, St. Croix and Columbia. The Gilmer remained with the Presidential Party until 11 July when the Houston passed through the Panama Canal, while the Gilmer remained in the Caribbean.

The Gilmer was decommissioned at Philadelphia on 31 August 1938.

The Gilmer was recommissioned on 25 September 1939 after the outbreak of the Second World War. She joined the Atlantic Fleet Destroyer Division and served as a flagship. She carried out patrols and took part in exercises in the Atlantic and Caribbean for the next year, before being transferred to the Pacific.

She reached her new base at San Diego on 4 November 1940, where she carried out similar duties until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.


USS Gilmer (APD-11) at Mare Island, 27 November 1944 USS Gilmer (APD-11) at Mare Island, 27 November 1944

From October 1941 to June 1942 she was the flagship of Destroyer Division 82, commanded by Captain Jerome Lee Allen.

The Gilmer was at sea off Puget Sound on 7 December 1941, and spent the next year on a mix of anti-submarine patrols and escort duties. She was then chosen to be converted into a fast transport, and entered drydock on 13 November 1942.


The Gilmer was redesignated as APD-11 on 22 January 1943. She left Seattle on 28 January, and reached Pearl Harbor on 13 February. However it would be some time before she took part in her first amphibious assault. Her first role was to escort merchant ships to Espiritu Santo, where she arrived on 9 March. She then underwent a period of training with the 4th Marine Raider Battalion, but on 5 April she left Tulagi as the flagship of Transport Division 16 to carry out anti-submarine patrols. She visited Noumea on 22 April and Townsville Australia on 8 May. She then made two round trips between Townsville and Brisbane acting as an escort between 13 May and 22 June. July and August were spent on escort duties between Australia and New Guinea.

She finally took part in her first amphibious landing on 4 September 1943, when she landed troops near Lae, on the Huon Peninsula of New Guinea. She also bombarded Buna Island during this operation. For the next few weeks she was used to support Allied troops on New Guinea and on more escort journeys to Australia. Her second amphibious landing came on 26 December 1943 when she landed troops from the 1st Marine Division at Cape Gloucester, New Britain. She also supported the landings at Finschhafen on 29 December.


On 2 January 1944 the Gilmer landed part of the 126th Infantry at Saidor, New Guinea. She was then used to patrol off Buna and nearby Cape Sudest. On 22 April 1944 she bombarded Humboldt Bay during the US landings there.

On 1 May the Gilmer left Hollandia to sail to Pearl Harbor, where she picked up some Underwater Demolition Teams. On 14 June 1944 she landed these forces early in the invasion of Saipan.

On 16 June the Gilmer found four Japanese coastal transports (the Yusen Maru 1, Yusen Maru 2, Tao Maru and Tatsutaku Maru) and sank all four of them, in what was sometimes called the ‘battle of Marpi Point’, She also took 24 prisoners.

On 23 June the Gilmer bombarded Tinian Town. She also operated with her UDTs off Tinian.

The Gilmer was then paired with USS William C. Miller to form a small anti-submarine killer group. The pair sank I-55 on 14 July. The US Navy originally believed that they had sunk I-6, but that submarine was lost after a collision with a Japanese merchant ship.

On 12 August the Gilmer departed for Pearl Harbor, where she spent time on UDT and reconnaissance training around Hawaii.

Late in 1944 she appears to have returned to the US for a refit or overhaul , as she was photographed at the Mare Island Navy Yard on 27 November 1944.


On 10 January the Gilmer left Pearl Harbor to take part in rehearsals for the invasion of Iwo Jima. carried out off Ulithi. On 16 February she approached Iwo Jima to take part in the initial attack. UDT teams were landed on the eastern and western beaches, and the Gilmer then screened the battleship Tennessee as she bombarded the shore. The Gilmer spent a few more days involved in patrolling and screening, before leaving for Leyte on 24 February.

Japanese POWs from Marpi Point on USS Gilmer (APD-11) Japanese POWs from Marpi Point on USS Gilmer (APD-11)

USS Gilmer (APD-11) and USS Zellars (DD-777) at Okinawa, 30 March 1945 USS Gilmer (APD-11) and USS Zellars (DD-777) at Okinawa, 30 March 1945

The Gilmer then took part in the invasion of Okinawa, operating as the flagship for the UDTs. She approached the island on 25 March, and on the following day had a lucky escape with a kamikaze aircraft hit her galley deckhouse while just missing the hull, killing one and wounding three. On 30 March she took part in the pre-invasion bombardment of Okinawa. The Gilmer remained off Okinawa until 9 April. She then returned to Pearl Harbor for repairs, before returning to Okinawa on 4 July.

This was followed by a period spend as part of the anti-submarine screen for convoys heading from the Philippines to Okinawa. After the Japanese surrender she arrived at Nagasaki on 13 September, and was used to carry liberated POWs back to Okinawa.

On 15 October she left Okinawa heading for Hong Kong, where she arrived on 22 October. On 24 October she left to escort troopships carrying the Chinese 13th Army to Chinwangao (Qinhuangdao). She then spent the next two months on patrol and escort duties along the coast of China, before departing for the United States on 26 November. She reached Philadelphia on 11 January 1946, and was decommissioned on 5 February. She was sold for scrap on 3 December 1946.

The Gilmer received seven battle stars for World War II service, for operations in Eastern New Guinea (Lae, Finschaffen and Saidor), Bismarck Archipelago (Cape Gloucester and the Admiralty Islands), Saipan, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Tinian and Hollandia.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

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


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


2,500nm at 20kts (design)


314ft 4in


30ft 10.5in


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



24 May 1919


30 April 1920

Sold for scrap

3 December 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 (23 July 2019), USS Gilmer (DD-233/ APD-11) ,

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