USS Tarbell (DD-142)

USS Tarbell (DD-142) was a Wickes class destroyer that served with the Neutrality Patrol and then on convoy escort duties in the Atlantic for most of the Second World War.

The Tarbell was named after Joseph Tarbell, a US naval officer during the war with Tripoli and the War of 1812.

Laundry day on USS Tarbell (DD-142), 1919-1922
Laundry day on
USS Tarbell (DD-142),

The Tarbell was laid down on 31 December 1917 at Cramp's of Philadelphia, launched on 28 May 1918 and commissioned on 27 November 1918, just two weeks after the end of the First World War. She operated off the East Coast until September 1919 when she took part in the mass fleet move to the Pacific. She joined Destroyer Division 15, Destroyer Flotilla 5, Destroyer Squadron 4 until January 1920 when she moved to DesDiv 13 in the same flotilla.

In February 1920 the Tarbell was moved to Cavite in the Philippines and in March she joined the Asiatic Fleet. She served on that station until the summer of 1921 when she returned to the Pacific Fleet, with a new base at Puget Sound. She was decommissioned on 8 June 1922.

The Tarbell was recommissioned on 29 May 1930 and joined DesDiv 11, DesRon 10, Destroyer Squadrons, Battle Fleet. She was based at San Diego until January 1931, when she moved to Charleston. She moved to DesDiv 3 of the Scouting Force in March 1931. By October 1934 she had been moved back to San Diego, but still as part of the Scouting Force. Late in 1936 she returned to the East Coast where she was decommissioned for a second time.

The Tarbell was recommissioned for the second time on 4 October 1939 to take part in the Atlantic Neutrality Patrol. She performed that role for the next two years, before the US entry into the war put the Navy on a full war footing.

Anyone who served on her between 9 July-1 August, 7 September-10 October, 21 October-21 November or 5-7 December 1941 qualified for the American Defense Service Medal.

On 8 December 1941 the Tarbell, Niblack (DD-424) and Benson (DD-421), part of Task Unit 4.1.3, attacked a contact that they believed to be a U-boat, although it was later considered not to have been.

USS Tarbell (DD-142) at New York, 24 July 1943
USS Tarbell (DD-142) at New York, 24 July 1943

After the US entry into the war the Tarbell performed convoy escort duties and anti-submarine warfare in the North Atlantic. In January 1942 she escorted convoy HX-170 east to the Mid Ocean Meeting Point. On 25 March 1942 she rescued 22 survivors from the oil tanker Dixie Arrow after she was sunk by U-71. In May 1942 she began a new duty, watching Vichy French warships that were trapped in various Caribbean ports. Her task was to watch the training cruiser Jeanne D'Arc at Guadeloupe. On 16 May she rescued 23 survivors from the freighter Lammont Du Pont, sunk by U-125. On 26 May she put to sea to try and catch U-156, after that submarine torpedoed the USS Blakeley (DD-150). The search lasted until 27 May, but the submarine escaped. On 2 June she rescued 19 survivors from the SS Alegrete and on 4 June another 30 survivors from the tanker M.F. Elliot, sunk by U-502.

In mid-May 1943 the Tarbell began to escort transatlantic convoys, starting with UGS-9, which reached Casablanca on 15 June. She escorted a second Casablanca convoy in August, then resumed local escort duties, before joining the Croatan (CVE-25), Lea (DD-118) and Upshur (DD-144) to escort another convoy from 22 October-3 November. She then escorted the return convoy, which reached New York on 21 November.

On 26 December 1943 she left Norfolk as part of the escort for convoy UGS-28, heading for North Africa. The voyage was interrupted after the USS Lea was rammed by one of the merchant ships. The Tarbell had to tow her part of the way to Bermuda, before she was relieved by a fleet tug. The Tarbell rejoined the convoy. After reaching North Africa she joined a hunter-killer anti-submarine group operating around the Azores, but this was a short assignment and she was back at Norfolk on 7 February 1944.

The Tarbell was then allocated to the Air Force, Atlantic Fleet, to act as a target ship for aircrew training. She carried out this duty in April, before joining the screen of the carriers USS Ranger (CV-4) and Kasaan Bay (CVE-69). She then alternated between the two roles - carrier escort and target ship duty until July 1945. She was decommissioned on 20 July 1945, and sold for scrap on 30 November 1945.

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



28 May 1918


27 November 1918


20 July 1945

Sold for scrap 30 November 1945
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 (9 November 2017), USS Tarbell (DD-142) ,

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