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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Stevens

 

Born in Charleston, S.C., on 22 February 1795, Thomas Holdup was orphaned at an early age and was adopted by General Daniel Stevens. On 8 February 1809, he was appointed midshipman on board Hornet. From then until 1812, he served successively in Constitution, President, and John Adams. Late in 1812, he was assigned to duty with Commodore Chauncey and distinguished himself in the attack on Black Rock on November 28th. Commodore Chauncey appointed him acting lieutenant in January 1813 and his permanent commission in that rank, to date from 24 July, was confirmed by the Senate on 3 August. On 10 September, he again distinguished himself as captain of the sloop, Trippe, during the Battle of Lake Erie. In 1815, an Act of the Legislature of South Carolina enabled him to add General Stevens' surname to his own. Following the War of 1812, Thomas Holdup Stevens held many posts, both ashore and afloat, including tours of duty at the Norfolk and Washington Navy yards. He was promoted to master commandant on 3 March 1825 and, in 1829, he embarked on a two-year tour as commanding officer of Ontario, serving in the Mediterranean Sea. In 1832, he was assigned to the Navy Yard at Pensacola and in 1836 he was appointed captain, to date from 27 January 1836. After waiting two years for orders, he was appointed to command of the Washington Navy Yard on 29 February 1840. He served in that capacity until his death there early on the morning of 21 January 1841.

 

Thomas Holdup Stevens, Jr., the son of Thomas Holdup Stevens (above) was born in Middletown, Conn., on 27 May 1819. He was appointed acting midshipman on 14 December 1836 and, after two years at sea in Independence, was warranted midshipman. After three months leave, from April to June 1840, he served at the Depot of Charts and Instruments. Following a tour at the Washington Navy Yard and coast survey duty at New York, he attended the Naval School at Philadelphia, stood his examination on 2 June 1842, and was warranted a passed midshipman on 2 July. Between 1842 and 1855, Stevens served at various posts ashore, among which were two tours on coast survey duty, one tour as acting master of Michigan during her construction and 30 months as storekeeper in Honolulu, Hawaii. In September 1855, Lt. Stevens was dropped from the Navy under an Act of 28 February 1855.

 

On 29 January 1858, he was recommissioned a lieutenant. From then until the outbreak of the Civil War, Lt. Stevens served with the Home Squadron, principally in Roanoke, Colorado, and Michigan. On 4 September 1861, he assumed command of Ottawa. In November, he fought at Port Royal and helped capture Forts Beauregard and Walker. Between New Year's Day and 4 March 1862, he blockaded the coast of Florida and helped to capture Fort Clinch, and the towns of Fernandina and St. Mary's. He also commanded the first expedition up the St. John's River in March and April.

 

Late in April, he transferred to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, and to the command of Maratanza. He commanded her in operations supporting McClellan's advance during the Peninsula Campaign in May 1862. On 15 July, he was promoted to commander and, from 9 May to 6 September, commanded Monitor. He was ordered to the command of Sonoma on 12 September and led her on to capture five Confederate ships and, in a 34-hour chase, privateer Florida.

 

On 18 June 1863, Comdr. Stevens was detached from Sonoma at New York and, on 3 August, he was directed to report to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Rear Admiral Dahlgren, the squadron commander, placed Stevens in command of the iron clad Patapsco and, between 21 August and 4 November, he led attacks on the defenses of Charleston harbor. By 1 July 1864, Comdr. Stevens commanded Oneida, operating with the West Gulf Blockading Squadron. There, he took part in operations before Mobile, Ala., until 3 August. Admiral Farragut then ordered him to command the double-turreted monitor Winnebago which he led in attacks on Fort Powell and in the Battle of Mobile Bay on the 5th. He resumed command of Oneida on 18 August and retained it through the end of the war and until August 1865.

 

In 1866, Comdr. Stevens was appointed lighthouse inspector for the llth Treasury District. During that assignment, he was promoted to captain. He was detached from duty as lighthouse inspector on 14 September and, on 26 July 1870, was ordered to command Guerriere in the European Squadron. Stevens was promoted to commodore on 19 February 1873, to date from 20 November 1872, and was assigned to the Norfolk Navy Yard—first as commanding officer, then on a special assignment related to Norfolk harbor.

 

In 1879, he was promoted to rear admiral to date from 19 January 1880. On 19 August 1880, Rear Admiral Stevens was ordered to the command of the Pacific Station. He relinquished that command on 16 May 1881, pending his retirement on 27 May. Rear Admiral Stevens died at Rockville, Md., on 13 May 1896 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

 

The first Stevens (Destroyer No. 86) was named for the first Thomas Holdup Stevens and the second Stevens (DD-479) honored both him and his son, Rear Admiral Thomas Holdup Stevens, Jr.

 

II

 

(DD-479: dp. 2,050; l. 376'5"; b. 39'7"; dr. 17'9"; s. 35.2 k. (tl.) ; cpl. 276; a. 4 5", 10 40mm., 10 21' tt.; cl. Fletcher)

 

The second Stevens (DD-479) was laid down on 30 December 1941 at Charleston, S.C., by the Charleston Navy Yard; launched on 24 June 1942; co-sponsored by Mrs. Roland Curtin and Mrs. Frederick Stevens Hicks; and commissioned on 1 February 1943 at Charleston, Comdr. Frank H. Ball in command.

 

Stevens completed shakedown in the Atlantic during the spring of 1943, then escorted coastal convoys before heading for the Panama Canal in July. On the 26th, she transited the canal and moored at Balboa the following day. She departed on the 28th, headed west to Hawaii, and entered Pearl Harbor on 9 August. By that time, American industrial prowess was beginning to produce and put into action the powerful naval force which, within two years, brought the Japanese Empire to its knees. Stevens, one of a new class of fast, well-armed destroyers, joined three new Essex-class aircraft carriers and fast battleships Alabama and Soutli Dakota in augmenting the Pacific Fleet. In late August, she accompanied the Task Force (TF) 15 carriers to warm-up raids on the Gilbert Islands. Their planes hit Marcus Island on the 31st and Tarawa on 18 September, but Stevens parted company with them and sailed for the west coast before their 5 and 6 October raids on Wake. By the time of her departure from the west coast on the 6th, Makin and Tarawa had been assaulted, and the atolls were all but secure.

 

Though she had missed out on the first hop of the leapfrog across the Central Pacific, Stevens rejoined the 5th Fleet in time to be part of the second jump. Attached to Task Group (TG) 52.8, the fire support group, the destroyer participated in Operation "Flintlock," the Kwajalein phase of the conquest of the Marshall Islands, in late January and early February of 1944. She bombarded the islands before the landings and afterward delivered interdiction fire until it was no longer necessary.

 

However, Stevens' tour of duty with the 5th Fleet in the Central Pacific soon ended, for she cleared Kwajalein on 4 February for the southern Pacific area. She stopped at Funafuti, in the Ellice Islands, from 8 to 13 February; then joined Lang (DD-399), Hogan (DD-178), Hamilton (DD-141), and Stansbury (DD-180) to screen Transport Divisions 24 and 26. The convoy divided on the 15th, and the Guadalcanal detachment—Stevens and Lang screening DuPagc (APA-41), Aquarius (AKA-16), and Almaack (AK-27))—arrived off Koli Point three days later. On the 19th, Stevens departed Guadalcanal to accompany Almaack to New Caledonia. They reached Noumea on 22 February. After four days at the French port, the destroyer got underway in company with SS Japara back to the Solomons. On 4 March, she screened the merchantman into Tulagi harbor; fueled at Port Purvis; then took station ahead of SS Mormacwren for a voyage to Efate. The warship put into Havannah Harbor on 5 March after parting company with the merchantman which continued on independently to Auckland, New Zealand.

 

Following 10 days in the Efate area, Stevens sortied with TF 37 to bombard the Kavieng area of northwestern New Ireland. Until mid-March, an assault upon this area had been deemed necessary to complete the circle around the enemy base at Rabaul and to provide a base for operations north to the Philippines. However, the decision to move on the Admiralty Islands obviated Kavieng as a base; and the planners felt that the air campaign against Rabaul was proceeding so well that it was neutralizing that great enemy base without the occupation of Kavieng. Consequently, the naval bombardment, during which Stevens concentrated on the islands of Nusa and Nusalik, was the only phase of the operation carried out, but it was nevertheless highly effective. Samuel Eliot Morison quotes Japanese sources which attest to the “demoralizing” effect of the bombardment, in which Stevens, two escort carriers, and 14 other destroyers joined battleships New Mexico (DD-40), Mississippi (BB-41), Tennessee (BB-43), and Idaho (BB-42).

 

The destroyer returned to Efate on the 25th and remained there almost two weeks. On 5 April, she got underway with Destroyer Squadron 25 to sail up the eastern coast of New Guinea. After stopovers at Milne Bay and Cape Sudest, the destroyers rendezvoused with TG 77.4 off Cape Cretin on 19 April and steamed on to the Hollandia invasion area. TG 77.4, the second echelon of the Hollandia invasion force, divided on the 22d, and Stevens screened the western reinforcement group while its troops landed at Tanamerah Bay. She departed Hollandia on 30 April and retraced her steps down the east coast of New Guinea-then headed east to the Solomons, entering Purvis Bay on the 10th.

 

For almost a month, she remained in the Solomons, escorting convoys, conducting combat training, and spending time in port. Then, on 4 June, she shaped a course for the Marshall Islands, reached Kwajalein on the 8th, patrolled there until the 12th, and sailed for Eniwetok. She entered the lagoon on 28 June and stayed until 17 July when she departed in the screen of TG 53.3, transporting troops to the Guam assault. The task group arrived off Guam early on the morning of the day of the landings, 21 July 1944; and Stevens fired on enemy positions as the troops disembarked from the transports and landed on the island. The destroyer continued her fire support role—delivering harassing, interdiction, and call fire in support of the Americans ashore—until her departure on 26 July.

 

She returned to Eniwetok on the 30th and sailed for Guadalcanal the following day. Stevens reached Guadalcanal on 5 August, but continued on to Espiritu Santo, which she reached the next day. She departed Espiritu Santo on 14 August and moored in Purvis Bay two days later. On the 17th, the destroyer headed for New Guinea. Stevens arrived in Humboldt Bay on the 21st and made a trip to Maffin Bay and back; then, on 7 September, she stood out of Humboldt Bay for Aitape. She joined TF 77 at Aitape and, on 10 September, sortied with that task force for Morotai. Five days later, the assault troops stormed ashore at Morotai. Stevens patrolled while the transports unloaded men and equipment. Late that afternoon, she sailed back toward Humboldt Bay escorting HMAS Manoora and HMAS Kanimbla. The little convoy reached its destination on 18 September; and, the following day, Stevens joined McKee (DD-575) in the screen of another echelon bound for Morotai. Upon her arrival back at Morotai, Stevens began patrolling as radar and antisubmarine picket off Kaoe Bay and serving on night patrol south of Morotai.

 

Stevens remained in the vicinity of Morotai from 23 September until 3 October. During that time, she continued her various patrols; fought off air attacks; and, after 25 September, served as headquarters for the landing craft control officer. On 3 October, she cleared Morotai in company with Lang (DD-399). The two warships put into Humboldt Bay two days later. On the 16th, Stevens got underway in the screen of TG 78.6, Leyte Reinforcement Group One. After a six-day voyage, the convoy arrived in Leyte Gulf; and Stevens fueled before escorting TG 78.10 back to New Guinea. Between 28 October and 9 December, the destroyer accompanied three more convoys from the New Guinea area to Leyte Gulf.

 

From 9 December 1944 until 7 June 1945, Stevens operated primarily in the Philippines, the only break being a voyage from Lingayen to Manus; she then proceeded via Hollandia to Leyte, where she remained from 13 February to 4 March. From 20 to 23 December, she escorted Ruticulus (AK-113) to Guiuan on Samar and back to Leyte. Between 27 December and 1 January, while screening a resupply echelon (TU 78.3.15) to Mindoro and back, the destroyer splashed three enemy planes during frequent air attacks. On 9 January, she got underway to escort a supply echelon to Lingayen Gulf. On the day before the convoy's arrival, it was attacked by six Japanese planes—four were downed by the screen's antiaircraft fire, and the other two fled.

 

Stevens' convoy reached Lingayen on 13 January, and the destroyer patrolled on radar picket station until the 18th and stood by to deliver fire support if necessary. On the 23d, she returned to Leyte. On 2 February, she rendezvoused with TU 78.12.9 and escorted it into San Pedro Bay on the 5th; then departed again to rendezvous with TU 78.7.2 off Dulag. Stevens guarded that convoy to Lingayen, arriving on the 9th and remaining until the 13th.

 

After returning to the Philippines from Manus and Hollandia, she put into Manila Bay on 6 March and, on the 9th, headed for Lingayen. En route, she stopped over at Mindoro on the night of 10 and 11 March; then made Lingayen on the 12th. From 13 to 15 March, she joined Frazier (DD-607) in a search for downed American flyers. Frazier picked up six men of a B-24 crew, and Stevens was released to overtake and join TG 72.4 on the 16th. She fueled at Mangarin Bay, Mindoro, that day and got underway with Cleveland (CL-55), Conway (DD-507), and Eaton (DD-510) to support the landings at Iloilo on Panay from 18 to 20 March. She cleared Panay on the 20th, arrived at Mindoro on the 21st, and immediately joined the screen of TG 74.2.

 

For the next month, she operated out of Subic Bay. Then, on 14 April, she got underway with TG 74.2 to participate in the landings in the Parang-Malabang-Cotabato area of Mindanao. The destroyer arrived off Polloc Harbor on the 17th and patrolled the landing area, screening Denver (CL-58) and delivering fire support, until the 19th. She returned to Subic Bay on the 21st and remained for a week and a day. On 29 April, Stevens headed back to Mindanao and, after a stop at Police Harbor, reached Davao Gulf on 1 May. On the 3d, she supported the minesweeping units in the Santa Cruz area and again screened Denver, while the cruiser delivered fire support. Stevens headed back to Subic Bay that same day and arrived on 6 May. She spent the following month in the Manila Bay-Subic Bay area, engaged in exercises, upkeep, and repairs.

 

On 7 June, Stevens cleared the Philippines with TG 74.2 to support the invasion of Borneo. From 9 to 11 June, she patrolled off Brunei Bay in the support force for the attack group. On the 11th, she sailed for Tawi Tawi with most of the task force. After stopping at Tawi Tawi over the night of the 12th and 13th, she made Balikpapan on the 15th and supported the Balik-papan operation until 2 July. From 15 to 17 June, she supported the minesweepers. On the 17th, she bombarded the beaches at Klandasan and fought off an air attack that evening during night retirement. She conducted another shore bombardment on 19 June and engaged shore batteries on 21 and 23 June, silencing two of them on the 23d. The troops landed on 1 July, and Stevens helped cover them with counter battery and harassing fire throughout the day and into the night. The following day, she cleared Balikpapan for Leyte Gulf.

 

The destroyer entered San Pedro Bay on 5 July and remained there for a week. On the 12th, she stood out of the bay and reached Subic Bay three days later. Stevens conducted tactical and antisubmarine warfare exercises in the Manila Bay-Subic Bay area for the duration of hostilities.

 

On 28 August, almost two weeks after the cessation of hostilities, the destroyer departed Subic Bay with TG 71.1 and headed for the Yellow Sea and western Korea. On the 30th, Stevens, Bell (DD-587), and Burns (DD-588) were diverted to Buckner Bay, Okinawa, where they reported to Carrier Division 5 for duty.

 

She exited the bay two days later in the screen of the carriers of TF 72 and made for Jinsen, Korea. On 10 September, she put into Jinsen for repairs and, from 19 to 20 September, screened New Orleans (CA-32) to Tsingtao, China. There, she assisted in the internment of Japanese ships until the 29th; then shifted to Taku Bar where she supported amphibious landings until 6 October. On 7 October, Stevens arrived at Chefoo Harbor, joined TU 71.1.5, and sailed for Jinsen. Following a five-day stay, she departed Jinsen on the 13th with passengers bound for the United States. The destroyer stopped at Guam on the 19th and spent two days at Pearl Harbor, before reaching San Diego, Calif., on 7 November.

 

On 8 November, after debarking her passengers, she shifted to San Pedro, Calif., and reported for duty to the 19th (Reserve) Fleet for inactivation overhaul. Stevens decommissioned on 2 July 1946 and remained with the Pacific Reserve Fleet until 1 December 1972 when her name was struck from the Navy list. On 27 November 1973, her hull was sold to Zidell Explorations, Inc., of Portland, Oreg.

 

Stevens was awarded nine battle stars for service in World War II.

 

 

USS Stevens (DD-479), 1943. A catapult for launching an observation plane is mounted aft of the stacks in place of the fifth 5-inch gun mount normally installed in this class.