USS Schley (DD-103/ APD-14) was a Wickes class destroyer that entered service in the last weeks of the First World War, but saw most service as a fast transport during the Second World War, earning 11 battle stars in the Pacific.
The Schley was named after Winfield Scott Schley, a US naval officer who served during the Civil War and the Spanish-American War, retiring with the rank of Rear Admiral.
The Schley was laid down by the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, on 29 October 1917, launched on 28 March 1918 and commissioned on 20 September 1918, with Commander R. C. Giffin in command. She left San Diego on 10 October 1918.
Anyone who served on her between 20 October and 9 November 1918 qualified for the First World War Victory Medal, with the start date presumably marking the point she reached the Atlantic war zone on her trip from Californian to the East Coast.
On 12 November the Schley left New York as part of the escort of a trans-Atlantic convoy. She reached Gibraltar by December 1918, and was then posted to the US naval forces in the Adriatic.
On 24 January 1919 at Taranto she picked up Rear Admiral Mark L. Bristol, the new Senior American Naval Officer for Turkey, and transported him to Constantinople. She didn't remain in that area, and instead returned to the Adriatic, where she became the station ship at Pola, Italy, between 17 February and 15 April 1919. She then visited a number of Italian and Yugoslavian ports (including Fiume, Venice and Spalato), before departed for the United States on 2 July 1919.
The Schley joined up with USS Hazelwood (DD-107) and USS Badger (DD-126) for the voyage from the east to west coasts. The small flotilla passed through the Panama Canal on 28 August 1919 and reached San Diego on 8 September 1919. Once there they joined Destroyer Squadron 4, Destroyer Division 16, Pacific Fleet. The Schley was based at San Diego for the next three years, making occasion visits to San Francisco. She was decommissioned and placed in the reserve on 1 June 1922.
Second World War
On 3 October 1940, with the Second World War now raging, the Schley was recommissioned. She moved from San Diego to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 17 December 1940.
During 1941 the Schley was part of the Inshore Patrol command (Commander John B. Wooley), alongside the equally aged destroyers USS Chew (DD-106), USS Ward and USS Allen, three Coast Guard cutters and some coastal minesweepers. Her main role was to carry out anti-submarine patrols around the Hawaiian islands.
In December 1941 the Schley was undergoing an overhaul at Pearl Harbor, and had her guns removed. When the Japanese attacked on 7 December 1941 her crew's only response was small arms fire. In the aftermath of the attack the overhaul was completed at high speed, and on 20 December she was able to return to patrol duty off Pearl Harbor. The Schley performed this role for the next year, before she was chosen for conversion into a fast transport. On 13 December she left Hawaii and moved to the Puget Sound Navy Yard to be converted. She was reclassified as APD-14 on 6 February 1943. She would go on to have a much more active career in her new role than she had ever had as a destroyer.
The Schley left Puget Sound in mid-February, and returned to Pearl Harbor on 22 February. She was then sent to the New Hebrides, and reached Espiritu Santo on 24 March. She spent the next few months training with the Marine raiders, operating as a transport vessel between the Solomons, New Hebrides, American Samoa and New Zealand, and on patrol and escort missions.
Her first combat landing operation came at Wickham Anchorage, during the New Georgia campaign, on 30 June 1943. She operated as part of a flotilla that included two other APDs. On 5 July she returned to New Georgia and landed troops at Rice Anchorage. This time the Japanese attempted to intervene, and sank the destroyer USS Strong with a torpedo. Later in July the Schley carried out a supply run to Rice Anchorage.
On 1 August the Schley left Espiritu Santo to head for an overhaul at Mare Island. This was completed by 7 October, when she set off for Pearl Harbor, but she then suffered from engine problems which kept her out of action for the rest of 1943. Once she had been repaired, she returned to the West Coast, reaching San Diego on 30 December to join the forces preparing for the invasion of the Marshall Islands.
The Marshall Islands invasion force left the US on 13 January 1944 and reached Kwajalein on 31 January. The Schley landed her troops on the same day. She was then used on anti-submarine duties, before reembarking her troops on 7 February, after the end of the battle.
On 17 February the Schley landed her troops on Bogon Island at Eniwetok, where they were used to prevent the Japanese escaping from Engebi Island. On 18 February she landed troops on five islands to the west of the main island. She remained at Eniwetok until 24 February, when she transported her troops to other transports before departing for Kwajalein.
Her next role was to escort two transports from Kwajalein to New Guinea, arriving on 12 March. She performed convoy escort duties for the next month, before on 22 April she took part in the landings at Aitape, at the start of Operation Reckless. On 23 April her boats were used to land troops from a transport ship, while the Schley provided fire support for the landings on Tumleo Islands.
On 19 May she landed a party of troops on Niromoar, where they set up a radar unit. On 20 May she rescued the crew of a sunken gasoline barge at Wakde Islands, sank two Japanese barges and attacked a Japanese gun battery.
On 27 May the Schley landed troops at Biak, at the start of the hard fought invasion of that island.
On 30 June she landed troops at Cape Sansapor, at the western end of New Guinea, a rather different unopposed landing. After this operation she moved to Australia for repairs.
The repairs were over by late August, and the Schley departed from Australia along with the Ward, Herbert, Crosby and Kilty. Early in the voyage she had to slow to 5 knots to allow an emergency appendectomy to be carried out. She reached Milne Bay on 27 August, and from their continued on her way to the Philippines.
On 9 September the Schley landed troops on Morotai, one of the preliminary operations for the invasion of the Philippines.
On 17 October the Schley was part of a force of transports that landed troops on the islands at the mouth of Leyte Gulf, operating alongside HMS Ariadne, a minesweeper/ transport and USS Ward, and with fire support provided by USS Lang (DD-339) and USS Bisbee (PF-46). The small force was approached by two Japanese aircraft while landing the troops, although only one attempted to attack. The landings themselves were made more difficult by the direction of the wind, and the Schley's boats had to tow the Ward's boats off the beach after they became stranded. The main landings in Leyte Gulf took place three days later.
The Schley spent November on convoy escort duties, before on 7 December she took part in the landings at Ormoc Bay. During this invasion the Ward was sunk by a kamikaze attack, but once again the Schley escaped intact.
On 15 December the Schley took part in the landings at Mindoro. During the landings a kamikaze was shot down only 1,000 yards from the ship.
On 9 January 1945 the Schley took part in the landings at Lingayen. Once again she was the target of a kamikaze, but this time the Japanese pilot turned off to attack a different target, without success. The Schley remained off Lingayen until 18 January.
On 15 February the Schley landed troops at Mariveles Harbour, at the tip of the Bataan peninsula, from where they advanced north to try and cut the Japanese lines of retreat from Manila Bay. On 17 February she took part in the assault on Corregidor, landing troops under Japanese fire for the last time.
Her final front line service was as a convoy escort in the western Pacific, including forming part of the escort of Convoy UOK 2, which left Ulithi on 20 April heading to Okinawa. On 25 April the convoy had to change course to avoid a possible Japanese submarine (probably RO-109, which was sunk by USS Horace A. Bass (APD-124) during the day). The Schley was at Okinawa from 26-28 April. At this point she was part of Transport Division One Hundred (ComTransDiv 100).
By now the Schley was increasingly worn out. She returned to San Diego for repairs on 29 May, and on 5 July she reverted to her original designation of DD-103. She was no longer needed as a fast transport, and instead began an overhaul to convert her into a rear-area escort and training vessel. This wasn't an urgent task, and the overhaul was still incomplete at the end of the war. Enough work was done to make her seaworthy, and she then sailed to Philadelphia, where she was decommissioned on 9 November 1945. She was struck off the Navy List on 5 December 1945, and scrapped at the Philadelphia Navy Yard over the winter and spring of 1945-46.
The Schley received 11 battle stars for her service during the Second World War (Pearl Harbor-Midway, Solomon Islands, New Georgia, Marshall Islands, Bismarck Archipelago, Hollandia, Western New Guinea, Leyte, Luzon, Okinawa and Manila Bay-Bicol)
2 shaft Parsons turbines
2,500nm at 20kts (design)
Armour - belt
Four 4in/ 50 guns