James Cochrane Dobbin born in 1814 in Fayetteville, N.C., graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1832; was admitted to the bar in 1835; served as a Member of Congress from 1845 to 1847 and in the North Carolina legislature from 1848 to 1852. From 1853 to 1857 he was Secretary of the Navy. A firm believer in a strong Navy as insurance for peace, Secretary Dobbin instituted reforms throughout the Navy, and during his service 18 of the finest ships of their class in the world were built. Under his auspices the Perry expedition to Japan was carried to a successful termination and the treaty with that country signed. He died 4 August 1857 in Fayetteville.
Dobbin (AD-3) was launched 5 May 1921 by Philadelphia Navy Yard; sponsored by Mrs. H. H. James, granddaughter of Secretary Dobbin; and commissioned 23 July 1924, Commander D. C. Bingham in command.
On 3 January 1925 Dobbin sailed for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by way of Newport, R.I., and Hampton Roads, Va., where she loaded equipment and supplies for her mission as tender to Destroyer Squadron 14, Scouting Fleet. She joined that squadron at Guantanamo Bay, and took part in gunnery practice with the destroyers. From this base, on 13 February 1925, Dobbin steamed to the Panama Canal and crossed to the Pacific Ocean. After maneuvers at sea with the Scouting Fleet, she arrived at San Diego 9 March 1925 for 4 months of tender service along the west coast and at Pearl Harbor.
Dobbin returned to the east coast in July 1925 and operated in the Atlantic for the next 7 years. During this time she participated in radio experiments and continued her services to the destroyers of the Scouting Fleet. In 1932, Dobbin returned to San Diego, arriving 1 September, and operated out of that port until 5 October 1939. At that time she was transferred to Hawaii and based on Pearl Harbor.
Dobbin was moored northeast of Ford Island with five destroyers alongside, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941. Dive bombers singled out this nest, and fragments from near misses killed three men and wounded several others on board the tender. Concentrated antiaircraft fire from Dobbin and the destroyers broke up a second attack before any additional damage was done. Throughout the attack, Dobbin's boats plied the waters of the harbor, rescuing survivors from burning and sinking ships.
Dobbin served in the Hawaiian area until May 1942 when she was sent to Sydney, Australia, and after 25 June 1943 at Brisbane. She served successively at Mackay, Townsville, and Cleveland Bay, Australia, before arriving at Milne Bay, New Guinea, 30 September 1943. During June and July 1944, Dobbin remained in the New Guinea area until 14 February 1945.
Dobbin served in Subic Bay, Luzon, from 24 February to 3 November 1945. She returned to San Diego 7 December 1945, was decommissioned 27 September 1946, and transferred to the Maritime Commission for disposal 24 December 1946.
Dobbin received one battle star for World War II service.