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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
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Moosehead

 

The first Moosehead (Id.No. 2047) retained the name she carried when acquired; the second (IX-98) was named for the Moosehead Lake region of Maine.


II


(IX-98: displacement 1,868; length 314'4"; beam 31'8"; draft 11'2"; speed 22 knots; complement 197; armament (February 1945) 2 3", 4 20 millimeter, 4 depth charge projectors, 2 Mk.20 rocket launchers)


The unnamed Destroyer No. 259 was laid down on 19 December 1918 at Quincy, Mass., by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp.; named Turner (q.v.) on 15 May 1919; launched on 17 May 1919; sponsored by Mrs. Leigh C. Palmer, wife of the then-current Chief of the Bureau of Navigation; delivered to the Navy at the Boston Navy Yard on 23 September 1919, and commissioned there on 24 September 1919, Lt. Comdr. Mark L. Hersey, Jr., in command.


After duty along the east and west coasts, Turner, given the alphanumeric hull number DD-259 on 17 July 1920, was later placed in rotating reserve as part of Destroyer Division 29, Squadron 4, Flotilla 2, Destroyer Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Ultimately decommissioned at San Diego, Calif., on 7 June 1922, Turner was placed in reserve. Her name was stricken from the Navy list on 5 August 1936.

On 28 September 1936, however, the ship was authorized for conversion to a non self-propelled water barge (YW), with a capacity of 80,000 gallons. Her conversion completed at San Diego on 23 October 1936, she was reclassified as the unnamed district craft YW-56 and began operations in the San Diego area. She was assigned to the 11th Naval District on 17 October 1940, and in May 1942, her mobility restored, was given additional duty as a ferry between San Diego and San Clemente Island.


YW-56 was named Moosehead and redesignated as a miscellaneous vessel, IX-98, on 13 February 1943. Following the installation of sonar and radar equipment, and earmarked "for additional training at sea for students of [the] radar operator's school," she was commissioned at the Destroyer Base, San Diego, on 5 April 1943, Lt. David J. Spahr in command. She reported for duty with the Operational Training Command, Pacific Fleet, on 11 April, and on 23 April became the flagship for Rear Adm. Frank A. Braisted, COTCPac. "Since that date," one observer intimate with the ship's operations later wrote, "her duties have been many and varied and she has gallantly done whatever she was called upon to perform."


Moosehead (IX-98), in an undated World War II view. Note that at this point in her career, she has been fitted with a 4"/50 caliber gun forward, the type originally mounted when she served as Turner (DD-259). Also note unusual placement of radar antenna amidships. (Naval Historical Center Photograph NH 84197 courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1976)


Between May 1943 and December 1944, assigned to Service Squadron 2 and operating out the familiar waters off San Diego, Moosehead made an average of 11 round trips a month to San Clemente Island carrying passengers, mail, and cargo for the 11th Naval District. With the arrival of the escort vessel PCE-873 in January 1944, Moosehead was assigned temporarily to the U.S. Pacific Fleet. From August 1944 until early in 1945, the auxililiary vessel towed targets for battleships, cruisers, and destroyers, and served as a torpedo target for destroyers and torpedo planes. In addition, she screened battleships and carriers during their shakedown training.


Moosehead performed her most important service, however, as a platform for training officers and men of Combat Information Center (CIC) crews. Equipped with the latest radar and sonar equipment in her former no.1 fireroom, as well as a CIC classroom and berthing facilities for the trainees, in July 1943 she began training CIC crews of escort carriers. During the next two and a half years, she trained these people for that work on board escort carriers of the Casablanca (CVE-55) and Commencement Bay (CVE-105) classes. Early in 1944, she broadened the scope of her instructional work to providing practical instruction for CIC teams from attack transports (APA), attack cargo ships (AKA), destroyer escorts (DE), destroyer tenders (AD), large (AV) and small (AVP) seaplane tenders, and escort vessels (PCE). Additionally, she served as a test and evaluation ship for experimental rockets, radar equipment, and radio jamming devices, as well as "gun covers, seasick medicine, [and] motion pictures..."


Although Moosehead operated along the coast of southern California during her entire career under that name, she steamed more than 100,000 miles, transported 16,360 passengers, and trained 1,466 officers and 2,813 enlisted men. Following the end of World War II in the Pacific, she continued training duty as flagship for Commander, Training Command, West Coast, who, on 30 October 1945 asked that Moosehead be assigned two weeks availability beginning on 5 November, noting that the ship was at that time in category "C" (stop all work pending further instructions), and that with the vessel in use as a CIC training ship for an indefinite period of time, she could not continue those evolutions without the requested repairs. With the cessation of hostilities, however, there was apparently little need for a vessel of Moosehead's vintage, and ComServPac replied "negative" on 2 November. Ordered on 4 December 1945 to report to Commandant, 11th Naval District, for disposal, she reported as ordered on Christmas Day, 1945.


Decommissioned at San Diego 19 March 1946, Moosehead was stricken from the Navy list on 17 April 1946. Released to the Maritime Commission on 20 February 1947, the ship was sold the same day to Hugo Neu for scrapping, which was accomplished by 31 December 1948.

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History Rewritten and Name Source Corrected, Robert J. Cressman, 9 July 2007