USS Trever (DD-339/ DMS-16)

USS Trever (DD-339) was a Clemson class destroyer that was present at Pearl Harbor and took part in the invasion of Guadalcanal, New Georgia and Bougainville before ending the war on escort duties.

The Trever was named after Lt Commander George A. Trever, a submarine commander during the First World War who died of injuries suffered in an explosion on the newly constructed submarine O-5 on 14 October 1918.

USS Trever (DD-339) following USS Zane (DD-337) and USS Borie (DD-215), Alaska 1937 USS Trever (DD-339) following USS Zane (DD-337) and USS Borie (DD-215), Alaska 1937

The Trever was laid down by the Mare Island Navy Yard on 12 August 1919, launched on 15 September 1920 when she was sponsored by Lt. Comdr. George A. Trever’s widow Mrs. Bess McMillan Trever and commissioned on 3 August 1922.

The Trever’s first tour of duty was rather short. She was decommissioned at San Diego on 17 January 1923 after less than a year in service. However by the end of the 1920s the boilers on her Yarrow powered sisters were wearing out, so they were decommissioned and on 2 June 1930 the Trever was recommissioned.

She joined the Battle Force at San Diego, serving with Destroyer Division 15 and Destroyer Division 10. She accompanied the Battle Force when it moved to Pearl Harbor in the summer of 1940. She was then selected for conversion into a mine sweeper. She was redesignated as DMS-16 on 19 November 1940.  She then joined Mine Division 4, Mine Squadron 2, part of the Base Force, United States Fleet.

On 7 December 1941 the Trever was moored alongside her sister ships Zane (DMS-14), Wasmuth (DMS-15), and Perry (DMS-17) off Pearl City. When the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor began she was soon able to get her anti-aircraft machine guns into action, and claimed one success. A second aircraft was shot down by the combined guns of Division 4. She was at the outside of her nest, and was thus able to begin moving by 9.30. Her commanding officer was unable to reach her in time, but she did end up carrying the captain and executive officer of the Henley (DD-391), who couldn’t reach their own ship. The captain of the Trever, Lt Commander D. A. Agnew, had reached the Wasmuth, and transferred back to his own ship later in the day as they were sweeping the entrance channel for any Japanese mines.

1942

For the next few months the Trever carried out a mix of minesweeping, local escort and anti-submarine patrol duties. On 15 April she departed as part of the escort of a convoy heading for California, arriving on 25 April. While on the West Coast the Trever underwent an extensive overhaul. Her 4in guns were removed, and replaced by a mix of 3in anti-aircraft guns and 20mm Oerlikon cannons. The Trever then formed part of a convoy heading back for Hawaii, arriving on 2 July.

On 12 July the Trever left Hawaii with the Zane, Hopkins, Navajo (AT-64) and Aldebaran (AF-40), heading for the south Pacific to join the forces being gathered for the invasion of Guadalcanal and Tulagi, After arriving in Tonga these ships joined Task Force 62.

On 7 August the Trever was used to land the transports supporting the invasion of Guadalcanal. She was then detached with the Hovey (DMS-11) and Hopkins to carry out shore bombardment. At about 0808 she came under fire from Japanese guns on Gavatu Island, but by 0830 she had knocked out the Japanese guns. Later on the same day her new AA guns helped protect the transport area against Japanese bombers. This was repeated on 8 August when she helped shoot down four incoming ‘Betty’ bombers. That night the Japanese sank four cruisers in the battle of Savo Island. On the following morning the Trever helped escort the remaining American transport ships as they withdrew to Noumea on New Caledonia, leaving the Marines to fight with what was already on shore.

The Trever carried out a number of escort missions, before joining TF 65 on 14 September for a supply run from Espiritu Santo to Guadalcanal, carrying much needed reinforcements and supplies. The supplies were landed on 17 September, and the Trever and the rest of the force were back at Noumea by 22 September.

On 10-13 October Trever was part of the escort for the McCawley (AP-10) and Zeilin (AP-9) as they moved from Espiritu Santo to the Solomons. After their arrival on 13 October the Trever and Hovey searched for survivors from the Battle of Cape Esperance. They rescued 34 Japanese survivors, but one raft of eight attempted to attack the destroyer instead, so had to be sunk. She then returned to Espiritu Santo.

The Trever and the Zane returned to Tulagi on 25 October 1942, carrying torpedoes, ammo and aviation fuel for Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3. The plan was for them to stay in the area to carry out shore bombardment. Instead they were informed that three modern Japanese destroyers were heading for the beachhead. Lt Commander Agnew of the Trever realised that his two elderly destroyers would be no match for the Japanese and decided to retreat. However at 10.14 the Japanese destroyers were spotted, and they soon began to catch up with the slower American boats. The Japanese were also more heavily armed, with 5.5in guns, and were able to open fire while well out of range of the American 3in guns. The Zane was hit, with the loss of three men. The Americans changed course in an attempt to escape through shallower waters, but the Japanese then broke off the pursuit and instead attacked and sank the fleet tug Seminole (AT-65) and a small patrol craft, before withdrawing from the area under air attack.

After this close call the Trever and Zane returned to Tulagi three days later, this carrying 175 drums of gasoline on their decks.

1943

On 27 January the Trever arrived at Sydney for an overhaul. She returned to Espiritu Santo on 28 February, but the next few months were quiet. She visited Wellington, New Zealand on 31 May.

On 20 June 1943 she escorted LST-343 from Lunga Roads to the Russell Islands. That night the two ships were attacked by a twin-float Japanese biplane, which dropped bombs on the two ships and escaped unscathed.

On 29 June she became the flagship of Rear Admiral George H. Fort, commander of TG 31.3 (also including Schley (APD-14), McKean (APD-5) and seven LCIs). On the following morning the task group landed its troops at Oliana Bay, on the coast of Vangunu Island, at the start of Operation Toenails, the invasion of New Georgia. Once the island was captured Admiral Fort disembarked.

On 5 July the Trever carried 216 men from the 3rd Battalion, 148th Infantry Regiment during the landings at Kula Gulf, on the north-western shore of New Georgia itself. This was carried out to give the Americans a position from where they could spot the Japanese moving reinforcements from nearby Vila to Munda.

The Trever then left the war zone. On 5 August she joined the escort of USS Honolulu (CL-48), which had lost her bow during the battle of Kolombangara and escorted her back to Pearl Harbor. On 19 August she left Pearl to escort a convoy to San Francisco. She then moved to Mare Island for a month long overhaul, before departing for Pearl Harbor on 8 October.

The next American target was Bougainville (Operation Cherryblossom). The initial landings were carried out at Empress Augusta Bay, on the southern coast of the island, on 1 November 1943. The Trever didn’t take part in the initial attack, but on 11 November she joined the escort forces protecting the American Legion (AP-35) and escorted her to Empress Augusta Bay where the battle was still raging. Later in the month the Trever took part in landings at Cape Torokina, where the Americans were building an airfield.  

1944

This was the Trever’s last front line service. She spent 1944 on escort and target towing duty in the South and Central Pacific. In October 1944 she was part of the screen that escorted the damaged cruisers Houston (CL-81) and Canberra (CA-70) as they withdrew to safety after being damaged during a raid on Formosa. The Trever helped escort them to Ulithi, where they arrived on 27 October 1944.

On 18 December one of her crew had a very lucky escape. At 1630 he was swept overboard in storm conditions. The Trever began to search for him, and remarkably he was rescued alive two hours later! This came during one of her last missions – on 24 December she departed for Hawaii, arriving on 31 December.

1945

The Trever continued east to San Diego, where she began an overhaul on 9 January 1945. She returned to Hawaii on 25 March and spent the rest of the war operationf from Pearl Harbor. She was reclassified as a miscellaneous auxiliary (AG-110) on 4 June 1945. On 22 September 1945 she left Pearl Harbor to head for San Diego. She then passed through the Panama Canal and reached Norfolk on 21 October, where she was decommissioned on 23 November 1945. She was struck off on 5 December 1945 and sold for scrap on 12 November 1946.

The Trever was awarded five battles stars during the Second World War.

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 (as built)
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

15 September 1920

Commissioned

3 August 1922

Sold for scrap

12 November 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 (2 June 2021), USS Trever (DD-339/ DMS-16), http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Trever_DD339.html

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