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Abner Read (DD-526)

1943-1944 

(DD-526: displacement 3,050 (full load); length 376'6"; beam 39'4"; draft 17'9"; speed 35.5 knots; complement 321; armament 5 5-inch, 4 40 millimeter, 5 20 millimeter, 10 21-inch torpedo tubes, 2 depth charge tracks, 6 depth charge projectors; class Fletcher)

Abner Read (DD-526) was laid down on 30 October 1941 at San Francisco, Calif., by the Bethlehem Steel Co.; launched on 18 August 1942; and sponsored by Mrs. John W. [Marie] Gates, the wife of Capt. John W. Gates, USN (Ret.), Public Relations Officer for the Twelfth Naval District.

Abner Read was commissioned at her building yard on 5 February 1943, Cmdr. Thomas Burrowes in command.

Moved to Pier 31, San Francisco, for deperming on 15 February 1943, Abner Read then proceeded out into the bay during the 16-20 watch, dropping anchor at 1643. Underway the following morning [16 February], the new destroyer calibrated her degaussing equipment (0816-1040), then moored alongside Pier 54 at 1627. She remained there until steaming out into the bay the next morning to calibrate her FD, SG, and SC-2 radars beginning at 1000. She then calibrated her radio direction finder (1245-1435), then returned to Pier 54 later that afternoon.

Underway one hour into the afternoon watch on 22 February 1943, Abner Read entered dry dock at Hunters Point at 1410. There, as required by Navy Regulations, the ship’s engineer officer inspected the propellers and “found them in good condition,” as well as checked the outboard portion of the sea valves, finding them in good condition as well. The destroyer’s first lieutenant, also as required by the service’s protocols, found the rudder and underwater fittings in the same satisfactory state.

Assisted out of dry dock by two tugs an hour into the afternoon watch on 25 February 1943, Abner Read moored alongside the tank landing ship LST-453 at 1325, then got underway late in the 12-16 watch and stood out into San Francisco Bay, anchoring at 1656.

The following morning [26 February 1943], the warship got underway very early in the forenoon watch, then conducted structural firing tests (1027-1355), her crew at general quarters. Proceeding out into San Francisco Bay upon the conclusion of that gunnery evolution, Abner Read moored alongside the high speed transport (ex-destroyer) Crosby (APD-17) alongside Pier 54.

Underway early the following afternoon [27 February 1943], Abner Read stood out to sea at 1336. Steering various courses and speeds to clear the harbor, she set course for San Diego, California. She reached her destination during the 12-16 watch, mooring starboard side to Pier 3, Destroyer Base, San Diego, at 1345 on the 28th. There, at 1925 on 2 March, S1c Robert L. Exum, the gangway messenger, accidentally discharged the weapon of S2c Ardya M. Fossholm, V-6, USNR, the after sentry, wounding one man in the leg and a second, S2C Herman “C” Gayhart, V-6, USNR, in the head. Lt. (j.g.) Joseph Rogers (MC), the ship’s medical officer, immediately treated both injured men for what proved to be minor injuries. In the wake of the mishap, Cmdr. Burrowes made both the sentry and the messenger prisoners-at-large and restricted them to the ship. An investigation evidently cleared Fossholm and Exum, for both remained in the ship’s company.

Abner Read cleared Pier 3 and stood out to sea early in the forenoon watch on 3 March 1943, then carried out short-range firing runs on a towed target. She then joined Task Group (TG) 2.3 at sea, assuming station in the antisubmarine screen at 1838.

The destroyer held shakedown along the California coast into April and then got underway with Task Group (TG) 51.2, bound for the Aleutian Islands. She assumed patrol duties on 4 May and, on the 11th, shelled targets on Attu Island supporting soldiers of the Army's 7th Division who landed and were assaulting that island. The destroyer again bombarded Attu on the 16th before returning to San Diego, which she reached on the last day of May.

After two weeks in dry dock at San Francisco, Abner Read got underway on 14 June for Adak, Alaska. Upon her arrival there, she joined Task Force (TF) 16 and, soon thereafter, began patrolling the waters around Kiska Island. On 22 July, as part of TG 16.22, she took part in a heavy bombardment of Kiska. Between 12 and 15 August, the destroyer again shelled Kiska in support of landing operations on that island. On 17 August, American forces discovered that Japan had removed its forces from the island.

One hour into the afternoon watch [1300] on 17 August 1943, with Abner Read not needed to provide fire support, Commander Destroyer Division 2, in Farragut (DD-348) assigned the ship to the anti-submarine patrol line K-7. To Cmdr. Burrowes, the assignment seemed unusual in that the [line] “ran directly towards and away from the beach and was but 6,400 yards in length,” that the shoreward end was equidistant and only 2,000 yards from three landmarks: Blue Jay Rock, Sparrow Rocks, and “possible mine fields” in Bluff Cove and “directly in line with the axis [of the patrol].” More ominously, as concerned the mines, “an appreciable current of unknown nature set across the axis of Line K-7.” Those conditions, Burrowes wrote later, “called for constant vigilance…to remain both on the line and out of trouble.” An hour and a half into the mid watch [0130] on 18 August, satisfied that her SG [Sugar George] radar would enable Abner Read to patrol her assigned waters, Cmdr. Burrowes turned-in in his emergency cabin.

With visibility at about 2,000 yards, the sea calm, wind from the south at force 2, those on watch topside could see the moon through broken clouds and intermittent patches of fog and mist. Abner Read carried out her patrol into the mid watch. Having obtained a fix on the nearest land, the destroyer set course 140° at 0143, and the quartermaster at the wheel began steering right maximum rudder. At 0150, the ship struck a Japanese mine as she was slowly swinging to starboard.

Abner Read’s general alarm sounded at 0151 calling all hands to battle stations. When word reached the bridge of men in the water, the word was passed: “Do not abandon ship.”

Abner Read broadcast over the TDS (low-frequency voice radio), using her call sign, Leaflet. The following exchange ensued:

0150 This is Leaflet. We have been hit by underwater explosion.

0153 Hello Leaflet. This is Cavalier [Commander Task Unit 16.9.2, in Farragut). Do you need assistance? Over.

            This is Leaflet. Affirmative. There are men in the water. Over.

            Leaflet, this is Paul [Bancroft]. Are you where you were all the time? I think I am near you. I will come right over. Out.

0155 This is Paul. Am on my way.

Bancroft (Lt. Cmdr. Ray M. Pitts, commanding) immediately went to general quarters, and having been operating, like Abner Read, at 5 knots, increased speed to 10 knots to go to her sistership’s assistance. Inside four minutes, with all stations reporting “ready,” Bancroft received the grid coordinates for the stricken destroyer’s position at 0200, again increased speed, to 15 knots. At 0210, the task unit commander, in Farragut, inquired of Bancroft over the TBS: “Do you have Leaflet in sight? Over.”

“This is Paul,” responded Bancroft, “Yes, I do. I am right close aboard him. Over.”

At 0152, moments after the explosion, volunteers manned Abner Read’s number 2 motor whaleboat and lowered it to look for their shipmates who may have survived the blast. Providentially, one of the ship’s own life floats, in its cradle near the stern, floated free as that part of the ship sank into the depths.

Preparing to anchor if necessary, Abner Read began picking up her own people: their shipmates pulled two men from the chill waters amidships: MM2c Leland L. Fudge, who had suffered a lacerated left heel, and RM3c Boyd A. Anderson, V-6, suffering from CS smoke inhalation.

Bancroft sighted Abner Read’s whaleboat at 0213, then began circling Abner Read, looking for survivors. At 0224, Abner Read began taking on board 20 of her men from the whaleboat that had rescued them from the slick that extended from her like blood on the dark waters, and from the life net to which the men who found it owed their lives, having drifted free on its own accord when the fantail disappeared beneath the waves.

Bancroft, having made all preparations to tow her sister by 0225, maneuvered on the latter’s port bow to put the tow cable over – an evolution that consumed 20 minutes, during which time Abner Read, damaged and helpless, logged 51 fathoms beneath her keel. Soon after the cable had been made fast, at 0300 Bancroft set course 242°T, with Abner Read in tow, logging the depths at 31 fathoms.

Abner Read radioed Bancroft at 0343: “As far as we can tell, it is all right and you can turn us over, can you verify that?” to which the latter replied: “Yes, it looks clear, especially with the wind. Over.” Abner Read then radioed: “We are ready to shift when you are…” Two minutes later, Abner Read added: “We will heave in and slow down as you prepare to slip. Over.”

Four minutes later, Abner Read thanked Bancroft “very much for your very efficient services,” eliciting the latter’s “That was tough luck for you, boy. One good turn deserves another.”

Abner Read logged the depth of the water beneath her keel at 48 fathoms (0335), while Bancroft stood by and maintained the tow to keep her helpless sister off the rocks. Twenty minutes later (0355), the ocean-going tug Ute (AT-76) came alongside to starboard while Bancroft cast off, then Abner Read hoisted in her boat, and bent Ute’s tow wire to her starboard anchor chain. While the tug began the process of extricating the destroyer from those dangerous waters, Abner Read began taking stock, initially hoisting the sound gear but finding it out of order. Bancroft, meanwhile, secured from general quarters at 0400 and set course to resume patrolling her assigned area.

At 0420, careful additional inspection yielded that Abner Read possessed watertight integrity forward of frame 157. Under the main condenser in the after engine room (frames 134-135), however, those who investigated the damage found buckling apparent in the vertical keel and one strength longitudinal on either side thereof, as well as wrinkled hull plating on both port and starboard sides up to the nine-foot waterline.  Ute, using a 2-inch main tow wire and Abner Read 75 fathoms of chain, moved forward with the light minelayer (ex-destroyer) Sicard (DM-21) as escort.

Abner Read pumped fuel from aft to improve her trim at 0538, shortly before morning twilight began. By 0600, she was proceeding at eight knots in tow of Ute beneath an overcast sky, with the sea from the southeast with slight swells. Less than three quarters of an hour later (0644), Abner Read stood down from general quarters, and soon thereafter, the ships passed through Point “Crow” and set course 090°T for Adak. By 0715, the destroyer’s damage control parties had completed shoring the bulkhead at frame 157 in compartments C-201L (crew’s quarters) and C-202E (workshop).

Three-quarters of an hour after the work of shoring up the bulkhead at frame 157, Cmdr. Burrows mustered his crew, which revealed 70 missing, and one known dead, artificial respiration not successful in reviving RM3c Layton W. Deane, who had been declared dead by drowning. Forty-seven men had suffered wounds ranging from multiple injuries to burns and fractures, and 20 of the 47 suffered FS chemical smoke inhalation.

Adak came into view the next morning, bearing 150°, 20 miles distant, at 0845 [19 August 1943]. Entering Kulak Bay a little over a half an hour into the afternoon watch [1235], the little flotilla passed the submarine nets. At 1333, Ute let go the tow line, then came alongside at 1345. A quarter of an hour later (1400), the ocean-going tug (ex-minesweeper) Oriole (AT-136) passed a tow line to Abner Read’s bow, after which time Lt. Cmdr. Ole Svehaug, D-M, USNR, who had emigrated to the Pacific Northwest from Norway at 15 and who had followed the sea most of his adult life, came on board (1420) to pilot the warship into Sweeper’s Cove. Passing more submarine nets soon thereafter, Oriole assisted the destroyer to berth alongside the destroyer tender Markab (AD-21). Lt. Cmdr. Svehaug, who had once brought a 9,000-ton steamer into port with only a jury rudder (!), departed Abner Read at 1510, his task accomplished. Ute, having been with the destroyer all the way from Kiska, cast off at 1645.

In the meantime, Abner Read transferred her 34 wounded – 24 stretcher cases and 10 ambulatory – to the U.S. Naval Dispensary, Naval Operating Base (NOB), Adak, at 1500 on 19 August 1943. After the men had been taken, or had been helped, ashore, the destroyer transferred, under guard, the remains of RM3c Deane, who had enlisted in the U.S. Navy on 7 September 1939, soon after the outbreak of hostilities in Europe, and was an Abner Read plankowner.

The next morning [20 August 1943], Lt. Cmdr. Svehaug returned (0830) to pilot Abner Read on the next stage of her voyage, the destroyer taking a bow line from the harbor tug YT-323 (ex-Active) 15 minutes later. Oriole began the process (0838) of towing the warship from alongside Markab out of Sweeper’s Cove, joined by YT-362 and YT-323. Ultimately, Abner Read took a line from the 5,700-ton timber floating dry dock YFD-22 at 1005, and her bow crossed the sill of the dock at 1010. At 1818, she was resting on the keel blocks, and evaluating what had befallen Abner Read entered a new phase.

The following day [21 August 1943], Abner Read transferred Lt. Cmdr. Brown, her executive officer, and Lt. (j.g.) Wilbur T. Doyel, the navigator, and six additional men, to the dispensary “for treatment and disposition.” Later that day, the destroyer shifted 5-inch/38 caliber projectiles and detonators from her magazines for delivery to the ammunition ship Shasta (AE-6).

At 1330 on Sunday, 22 August 1943, Abner Read half-masted her colors for an hour-long memorial service for those who had lost their lives in the mining on the 18th.  Lt. (j.g.) Doyel was the first member of the complement, officer or enlisted, to report back to the ship following treatment at the NOB dispensary for injuries suffered in the mining, when he came on board at 1320 on 23 August. On the 24th, at 0915 the task of transferring the destroyer’s ten torpedoes to Shasta began, and during the afternoon watch, 16 sailors reported back to the ship from the medical facility ashore. Eventually, at 1730, the destroyer off-loaded the last of her torpedoes to the ammunition ship.

During the morning watch on 25 August 1943, Abner Read began transferring ammunition to Markab, and a little less than two hours later, Lt. Cmdr. Brown returned to the ship, followed during the afternoon watch by six more crewmen. By the end of that period, Markab had completed taking delivery of cartridges and projectiles. On the 29th, a stalwart F2c Robert N. Brewer reported back on board for duty following his course of treatment for multiple injuries at the Adak dispensary.

Undocked from YFD-22, Abner Read, at the end of a tow line to the ocean-going tug Tatnuck (AT-27), began the next part of her voyage, setting course for Atka, the two ships screened by the light minelayer Ramsay (DM-16). The little convoy stood in to Nazan Bay, Atka, arriving there on 1 September and anchoring, Tatnuck at 0759 and Ramsay at 0805, the latter remaining anchored until about an hour into the second dog watch [1859], when she got underway “to take station as an anti submarine patrol.” Darkening ship at 2028, Abner Read cast off the tow line at 2050, and Tatnuck moored along her port side.

Ramsay stood in to Nazan Bay late in the forenoon watch on 2 September 1943, anchoring soon thereafter. Later, between 1115 and 1250, Abner Read provided 9,770 gallons of fuel to the tug. Ramsay patrolled off the harbor on the 3rd and into the 4th, until Tatnuck once more took the damaged destroyer in tow and stood out, setting course for Dutch Harbor, which the trio reached without incident on 6 September. After an hour at general quarters (0520-0620), Abner Read lighted ship, at which point Tatnuck cast off (0706) and came alongside her to port (0712), joined by the harbor tug Osamekin (YT-191) at 0743, bringing out Lt. Cmdr. Ellis, the harbor pilot, after which time the U.S. Army tug ST-164 came up ahead and passed a towline to the destroyer’s forecastle. Passing through the submarine nets, and standing into Iliuliuk Harbor, off Amaknak Island, Abner Read moored to the submarine pier at 0915, with Lt. Cmdr. Ellis  departing a quarter of an hour later.

The Navy harbor pilot returned to Abner Read six hours later, and ST-164 came alongside her port side, then took the destroyer to the floating drydock ARD-6, which passed a bow line to the warship soon thereafter. Pumping began at 1628, and soon thereafter, at 1641, Abner Read came to rest on the keel blocks arranged beneath her.  

While Abner Read lay on keel blocks in ARD-6 on 7 September 1943, at 0900, her engineer officer inspected all outboard valves and fittings as required by Navy Regulations, finding conditions satisfactory, save “the propellers and outboard shafting missing as previously reported.” Soon thereafter, the first lieutenant inspected the warship’s “underwater body and all underwater appurtenances,” finding conditions also satisfactory.

Abner Read remained drydocked in ARD-6 until 14 September 1943, when the latter began the flooding process at 0800, Lt. Cmdr. Ellis coming on board soon thereafter. Waterborne at 0843, the stern of the destroyer passed over the sill of the dry dock at 0857 and the bow cleared it two minutes later. Guided by tugs during the forenoon watch on the 14th, into Captain’s Bay and Unalaska Bay, Abner Read moored alongside the Fuel Docks at NOB Dutch Harbor, where she replenished her fuel bunkers (1315-1525). During that time, Oriole moored alongside Abner Read at 1500, and the minesweeper Annoy (AM-84) came alongside Oriole at 1530.

Later that same afternoon [14 September 1943], Annoy got underway first, at 1615, after which Oriole and a small yard tug began moving, steaming various courses and speeds, conforming to the channel, and standing out of Dutch Harbor. The small tug cast off at 1704, then the little convoy, Abner Read riding to a tow line astern of Oriole, passed through the antisubmarine nets and set course for Kodiak, with Annoy escorting.

During the first watch on 14 September 1943, however, NOB Dutch Harbor informed the convoy of an impending storm, and ordered the ships to come about and return. Consequently, the ships set course for Dutch Harbor. Osamekin came alongside Abner Read at 2309 to assist her entering Iliuliuk Bay, and Boatswain William T. McLaughlin, the pilot, came on board soon thereafter. Abner Read passed through the antisubmarine nets at 2335 and secured at Condition Two 20 minutes later, and rounded Spit Head to starboard, entering Dutch Harbor eight minutes into the mid watch on 15 September. She was moored to the South Mooring Buoy at 0018, Oriole’s men letting go the tow line a minute later, with Osamekin casting off. At 0030, Oriole moored alongside the destroyer’s port side.

Underway once more during the first dog watch on 16 September 1943, Oriole moored to Abner Read’s port side, then cleared South Buoy, Dutch Harbor, for Kodiak, the tug moving out of the harbor, with Annoy screening the evolution. Shifting to tow from ahead, Oriole and her charge passed through the nets into Unalaska Bay shortly after the end of the second dog watch [2005].  The convoy encountered surface vessels twice the next morning [17 September], one during the mid watch and the other during the forenoon watch, both identified as friendly, then anchored briefly off Fox Island (2320 on 17 September to 0030 on the 18th) before they resumed the passage toward Kodiak.

Abner Read transferred official mail to Annoy between 1755 and 1802 on 19 September 1943, the minesweeper leaving the screen the following morning [20 September] to proceed in to Kodiak in accordance with orders from Commander Task Unit (TU) 16.15.9. Annoy rejoined the task unit during the mid watch on 21 September and resumed her screening station. On the 24th, Abner Read test fired her 20- and 40-millimeter machine guns.

Late on the afternoon of 25 September 1943, a pilot boat came out from Jamestown Bay, Sitka, and took position ahead of Oriole, and led the procession into port, with Annoy coming alongside and making fast to the destroyer’s port quarter at 2145. At 2225, Abner Read dropped anchor in 22 fathoms of water with 90 fathoms of chain to her starboard anchor. She cast off the tow line to Oriole at 2226 and secured from the special sea detail.

On the 26th, Oriole moored alongside Abner Read after Annoy had pulled away, and the ships remained so anchored into 29 September 1943. Underway from the anchorage at Jamestown Bay in accordance with a dispatch from Commander Northern Pacific Force, Oriole cast off and moved ahead of Abner Read, towing from that position, while Annoy screened the operation. The task unit took departure from Jamestown Bay at 1017 on 29 September.

Sighting a Canadian corvette at 1410 on 1 October 1943, the little company entered Canadian waters at 1931. Passing the mouth of the Canoola Rover abeam at 1648 on 2 October, the ships neared Swanson Bay, British Columbia. Annoy came alongside Abner Read to starboard, while Oriole slowed to 2/3 speed, then to 1/3, then anchored at 1735.

Ultimately entering U.S. waters shortly after mid-day on 5 October 1943, Abner Read began making preparations to moor at the Puget Sound Navy Yard shortly before the end of the mid watch on 6 October. Embarking Capt. R. Kennan, a pilot, at 0500, and taking a harbor tug alongside at that time, the destroyer slipped the tow wire from Oriole at 0520 and took another harbor tug alongside her starboard bow.  Soon Abner Read lay snugly moored alongside Pier 6 at 0542, her Alaskan odyssey over at last.

Transferring her remaining ammunition to a lighter (0830-1650) that same day [6 October 1943], Abner Read entered Dry Dock No. 1 assisted by the harbor tug Hiawatha (YT-265) and the motor tug YMT-11. By 1051, the destroyer came to rest on the keel blocks arranged to receive her. She remained there, undergoing repairs, through the third week of November.

Toward the end of that period, on 20 November 1943, Abner Read’s first lieutenant inspected the ship’s underwater body and sea valves at 1250, preparatory to the dry dock’s being partially flooded. Soon afterward, at 1300, the dock began to fill with water, the process ceasing at 1345 when the water reached a height of eight feet. The yard workmen completed pumping out the dock at 1700. On the 22nd, the first lieutenant inspected the ship’s underwater body “and fixtures connected thereto,” in accordance with Navy Regulations, prior to undocking. Workmen began flooding the dock at 1002 and at 1145 Abner Read disconnected all fresh water, electricity, and steam…and “made all preparations for leaving dry dock.” A pilot embarked at 1150, while harbor tugs stood by to take the ship out. At noon, with the tugs in their places controlling her exit, Abner Read left the dry dock, once more whole. The tugs moored her at Pier 6-C at 1250, and a quarter of an hour later, the ship again began receiving services from pierside.

The process of rejoining the fleet began in earnest. Clearing Pier 6-C at 0845 on 2 December 1943, Abner Read conducted her post-repair trials in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. She then returned to Pier 6 at 1410 having carried out those evolutions satisfactorily. Underway at 0826 on 7 December, Abner Read anchored in berth “Fox,” Sinclair Inlet, at 0832, where she soon began loading ammunition. Underway the following morning [8 December], the destroyer moored at deperming berth “Able” at 0859 and “depermed ship.” Clearing the deperming berth at 1450, Abner Read moored at the torpedo dock at Keyport, Wash., and loaded her complement of ten torpedoes. Steaming to Pier 41, Seattle (1310-1515) on 9 December, Abner Read set out from that port at 0910 the following morning [10 December], and set course for Point Jefferson, then carried out degaussing runs, after which she proceeded to the waters off Vashon Island, where she conducted measured mile runs (1255-1423). She then returned to Pier 41.

Underway for Point No Point a little less than an hour into the afternoon watch on 12 December 1943, Abner Read arrived at her destination a little less than two hours later. She “swung ship” in those waters, calibrating her radio direction finder (RDF), upon completion of which she returned to Pier 41. Shifting then to Indian Island, the destroyer loaded depth charges there on the afternoon of 14 December, and on the 15th, left the waters of the Pacific Northwest in her wake, and set course for San Francisco. She test-fired her main and secondary batteries the next day.

Sighting the Farallon Light at 0900 on 17 December 1943, Abner Read proceeded to the naval anchorage in San Francisco Bay, anchoring in Berth 13 shortly after mid-day. She then reported for duty to Commander Operational Training Command, Pacific (COTCPac). Underway at the mid-point of the forenoon watch the next day [18 December], Abner Read compensated her magnetic compasses, then proceeded to Pier 54 and moored. On the 20th, the destroyer embarked two officers and 80 men for training, and put to sea at 1230 on the 21st. After operating at sea, she returned to port on the 23rd, anchoring in Berth B-4 after which she transferred her trainees to Treasure Island.

Pursuant to the orders of COTCPac, San Francisco, two officers and 67 enlisted men reported to Abner Read the day after Christmas [26 December 1943]. That same day, ten enlisted men reported on board from the Receiving Ship, San Francisco, in response to orders from the Officer-in-Charge, Destroyer Personnel, for training. The next day [27 December], Abner Read embarked 11 men for transportation to San Clemente Island, in addition to four officers who reported on board for temporary duty. Shortly before noon that day, the destroyer sailed for San Clemente.

Arriving at her destination the next morning, Abner Read proceeded to Wilson Cove, where she transferred two of the officers to the Combat Information Center (CIC) School there, as well as 11 enlisted men. She then embarked two officers for transportation to San Francisco, then cleared San Clemente for Monterey Bay, Calif., at 1339.

Abner Read arrived at Monterey Bay at 1100 the next morning, then carried out exercises (1100-1140) with torpedo planes. Setting course then for San Francisco, she anchored in the naval anchorage at 1640. She then transferred three officers and 10 men to COTCPac, San Francisco, and put ashore her two officer passengers, their transportation completed. She transferred one officer and 67 men to Treasure Island the next day. On the last day of 1943, she shifted to Pier 54, San Francisco.

Abner Read started the year 1944 attached to Commander Northwestern Sea Frontier, “operating as [a] training ship under COTCPac,” moored at Pier 54. She received four officers and 79 men on board the next day for “temporary duty under instruction” on 2 January, a number of trainees swelled the next morning by two officers and 15 men reporting on board for transportation to San Clemente Island, and another officer embarked for instruction.  Underway shortly before the start of the afternoon watch [1156] on 4 January, Abner Read sighted San Clemente at 1010 on the 5th, then stood in to Wilson Cove. Dropping anchor at 1150, she disembarked the two officers and 15 men slated to attend the CIC school there, then embarked two officers for passage back to San Francisco. The destroyer sailed for Monterey Bay shortly before one hour had elapsed in the afternoon watch [1256], but received orders while en route to cancel the morning’s exercise and return to San Francisco instead.

On 6 January 1944, Abner Read transferred 79 men and detached six officers to COTCPac, then she embarked 24 sailors from the Receiving Barracks at Shoemaker, Calif. The ship got underway the next afternoon [1232 on 7 January] and steamed to South Bay, San Francisco, where she calibrated her FD radar, after which she returned to the naval anchorage.

Underway early in the forenoon watch (0809) on 8 January 1944, Abner Read set course for area “How-4” (H-4) on orders from COTCPac. In those waters she fired an antiaircraft practice at a towed sleeve, then remained in that area, underway overnight. Returning to the familiar environs of Pier 54 on 9 January, she transferred 30 men ashore to COTCPac, Treasure Island, their temporary duty completed, then embarked 17, then transferred 41 men to COTCPac, San Francisco, and 23 to the Receiving Ship, San Francisco. One officer and 68 men reported on board for duty.

COTCPac orders resulted in three officers and 19 men coming on board on 10 January 1944, then Abner Read transferred 13 men ashore to COTCPac San Francisco for temporary duty.  Underway shortly before the commencement of the afternoon watch [1158], the ship set course once more for San Clemente Island, arriving there late in the forenoon watch (1119) on the 11th. Standing in to Wilson Cove, Abner Read transferred three officers and 19 sailors to the CIC School. Two officers and 15 men reported on board for temporary duty. A little over one hour into the afternoon watch (1305), the warship sailed for Monterey Bay. Sighting Port Pinos at 1030 the next morning [12 January], Abner Read steamed to Point X-Ray, Monterey Bay, for a torpedo plane exercise, upon completion of which returned to San Francisco, and dropped anchor in the naval anchorage. Their temporary duty completed, the 2 officers and 15 men, embarked the previous day, departed the ship.

Transfers of men to and from Abner Read temporarily ceased for a few days and the ship steamed to South Bay, San Francisco, to calibrate her RDF on 14 January 1944, after which she returned to the naval anchorage for the night. The next day [15 January], the destroyer shifted to Pier 54 and fueled, reaching her destination one half hour into the afternoon watch [1230]. Transfers resumed on 16 January, with Ens. E. Ross being detached from temporary duty, and in accordance with orders from the Officer-in-Charge, Destroyer Personnel, Receiving Ship, San Francisco, she transferred 26 men ashore to Treasure Island, their temporary stint completed. Before the day was out, however, she embarked her largest group of trainees yet, 99 men in accordance with COTCPac orders.

Abner Read singled up her lines and stood out at noon on 17 January 1944, in accordance to Commander TG 14.6 Operation Order A4-3 under routing from Commander Northwest Sea Frontier. San Clemente Island came into view at 1100 on the 18th, and she proceeded to Wilson Cove and anchored. Orders from COTCPac resulted in three officers, their transportation completed, being detached while ten men went ashore for training at the CIC School. COTCPac directives placed three officers and 24 men on board for transportation to San Francisco. The movements to and fro having been accomplished, Abner Read stood out of Wilson Cove for Monterey Bay.

Sighting Los Pinos at 1000 the following morning [19 January 1944], Abner Read steamed to Point X-Ray, Monterey Bay, for torpedo plane exercises, upon completion of which, shortly before noon, she proceeded toward the naval anchorage in San Francisco Bay. The destroyer then transferred five officers and 21 men ashore to COTCPac San Francisco. From COTCPac, Abner Read received a total of 28 men on board for temporary duty on 20 January, then transferred 29 ashore to COTCPac. S2c John W. Paschall of the ship’s company was transferred to COTCPac for duty.

At mid-day on 21 January 1944, Abner Read left the naval anchorage in her wake and calibrated her RDF in South San Francisco Bay before returning to the waters whence she had come. The next afternoon [22 January], she made the brief trip to return to Pier 54. More transfers occurred over the next two days, with the Officer-in-Charge, Destroyer Personnel, Receiving Ship, sending six men to Treasure Island, COTCPac received one officer and 65 men from the ship, then four officers and 92 men embarked for temporary duty. A trio of officers came on board the next morning [24 January]. Soon embarking 19 sailors for temporary duty from Destroyer Personnel, Receiving Station, San Francisco, Abner Read sailed for San Clemente Island a little less than a quarter of an hour into the afternoon watch [1213].

Sighting San Clemente at 1144 on 25 January 1944, Abner Read steamed to Wilson Cove, and anchored, and soon thereafter transferred the three officers and 19 men to the CIC School. COTCPac orders put 10 men on board for temporary duty, in addition to two officers and five enlisted men for transportation to San Francisco. The destroyer got underway at 1345 for Monterey Bay.

The next morning, however [26 January 1944], Abner Read’s gyro compass failed at 0710 “due to…bearing burning out.” Steering by magnetic compass, the warship sighted Point Pinos one hour into the forenoon watch, then proceeded to Point X-Ray in Monterey Bay. She conducted torpedo plane exercises and then proceeded direct to the naval anchorage in San Francisco Bay – all in a day’s work.

Following a brief (0836-0852) trip back to Pier 54, San Francisco on 27 January 1944, Abner Read embarked one officer and 17 men for temporary duty. Soon, COTCPac orders detached three officers, their temporary duty completed, then, pursuant to orders from the Officer-in-Charge, Destroyer Personnel, Receiving Ship, San Francisco, the ship transferred 99 men to Treasure Island, the sailors having completed their temporary duty. COTCPac, however, resulted in Ens. W. C. Baumann reporting on board before the day was over with 64 men for duty. Underway for Vallejo, Calif., the following morning [0830, 30 January], Abner Read moored alongside Pier 20, Mare Island Navy Yard, at 1040. Commander Submarines, Pacific Fleet, soon enabled the destroyer to welcome 79 sailors on board for transportation to Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii. The next morning, at 1000, Abner Read got underway for the two-hour passage to berth Charlie [C] 2, San Francisco Bay.

Underway at 1630 on 1 February 1944, Abner Read set course for the Territory of Hawaii in company with Taylor (DD-468) and Tingey (DD-539). Operational training continued during the voyage, with radar calibration runs (2 February); simulated surprise submarine runs (3 February); and firing automatic weapons at 5-inch antiaircraft shell bursts (3-4 February). Abner Read carried out a simulated torpedo attack on Tingey on 5 February.

Sighting the island of Maui at 0730 on 6 February 1944, Abner Read proceeded to Pearl Harbor and moored at berth X-Ray 4 (X-4). In accordance with Commander, Submarine Force, Pacific, orders, the destroyer transferred the 80 men transported from Mare Island to the Receiving Station at Pearl. The following day [7 February], Abner Read reported for duty to Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet (CinCPac).

Abner Read carried out two days of training from Pearl Harbor (8-9 February 1944). Underway at 0700 on the 8th, the ship stood out and proceeded to Area Sugar One (S-1), where she conducted a torpedo exercise in those waters (0925-1143), then steamed to Area Charlie Ten (C-10), where she carried out gunnery exercises (1358-1610), returning to moor at X-4. Underway at 0732 on the 9th, Abner Read proceeded to Area Victor Three (V-3) for sound exercises, concluding them at 1400 then returning to Area C-10 for further gunnery practice. Completing those at 1630, she returned to Pearl and buoy X-4.

Shortly before mid-day on 10 February 1944, Abner Read cleared X-4 and stood out to sea, setting course for the Marshall Islands as Commander TU 16.11.6. Over the ensuing days, the ship exercised at general quarters daily. During the passage, she picked up several ships on her SG radar on the 11th (identifying them as friendly); sighted two Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boats on the 12th; picked up Johnston Island on her SC-2 radar, 25 miles distant, on the 14th. She crossed the International Date Line on the 15th, thus losing the 16th of the month. During the passage [16 February], Commander Seventh Fleet assigned Abner Read and Bush (DD-529) to operate with Task Force 76 [Rear Adm. Daniel E. Barbey].

Reaching Kwajalein Atoll on 20 February 1944, Abner Read entered Gea Pass and dropped anchor in berth KD-2. Underway to fuel from the fleet oiler Schuylkill (AO-76), she then moored in berth KT-11. The destroyer got underway the following day [21 February] and sailed for the Solomon Islands.

Exercising at general quarters daily while en route to her destination, Abner Read stood in to Purvis Bay, off Florida Island, Guadalcanal, at 1034 on 25 February 1944. Upon arrival, she fueled and provisioned ship. The next morning [26 February], the destroyer sailed for New Guinea.  Again exercising at general quarters en route, Abner Read sighted Strafford Island shortly before the start of the forenoon watch, then stood in to Milne Bay, and fueled. Upon arrival, she reported to Commander Task Force (CTF) 76, for duty. Embarking Mr. T. S. Talbot, a pilot, Abner Read then got underway for Cape Sudest.

The destroyer’s watchstanders identified the Buna 4 Mile Buoy, then the ship proceeded into the channel, Cmdr. Hutchins stationing CBM(AA) Luther Bishop, Abner Read’s chief boatswain’s mate, in the chains with the lead line. With the pitometer log and sound gear secured, Abner Read passed the Buna 4 Mile Buoy 200 yards to starboard, then, at 1202, passed a black can buoy to port. The ship passed two more black can buoys to port, the first at 1706, the second at 1710. Five minutes later, with a red lighted buoy to starboard, the warship changed course to 180°T; at 1722, with the Cape Endaiadere Beacon bearing 133°T, Abner Read changed course to 134°T. At 1730, the sounding on the fathometer read “zero,” but the leadsmen called out “two fathoms.”

At that moment, Abner Read “grounded lightly on [a] submerged coral reef.” Backing all engines, the destroyer then stopped her port engine at 1730, the starboard engine five minutes later, with the port then backed 2/3. Stopping all engines at 1735, the port engine was put back 2/3. At 1739, orders from the bridge stopped all engines again. Soon after the pilot left the ship, at 1745, Abner Read stood out of the Buna Channel, but excessive vibrations at high speeds limited the starboard engine to only five knots. Making 15 knots on the port engine, the destroyer proceeded to the naval anchorage at Cape Sudest, and anchored at 1914 in berth 22, with 12 fathoms beneath her keel and with 75 fathoms to her port anchor. Diving operations (2030-2200) yielded the information that “the tips of all blades of both screws [were] bent aft from 6 inches to 18 inches radially over about 1/5 of the periphery. No tears apparent.” In addition, the grounding had wiped off the lower section of her sound dome, with the remaining section having been “slightly caved in.”

Consequently, on 29 February 1944, Commander Task Force 76 dispatched Abner Read back to Milne Bay, and the destroyer arrived there the next morning [1 March]. She proceeded to moor alongside Dobbin (AD-3). “Diving operations,” Abner Read’s war diarist noted, “began immediately.”  Dobbin hoisted Abner Read’s starboard screw on board, after which the destroyer got underway on her port engine (1340) and limped to berth F-6 and dropped anchor. A little over three hours later [1645], she got underway and proceeded to ARD-9, where she docked. Abner Read remained on keel blocks in ARD-9 from 5 to 10 March, repairs being accomplished to her starboard screw and her sonar dome. At 0730 on the 11th, flooding the dock commenced, and two hours later Abner Read got underway and stood out of Milne Bay for post-repair trials, after which time she returned to Gili Anchorage. The trials had revealed “considerable vibration on the starboard engine at speeds above 10 knots, and on the port engine at speeds above 20 knots, particularly during acceleration.” At speeds above 13 knots, the water noise, attributed to the new sonar dome, proved “excessive.”

Underway to fuel from Villalobos (IX-145) later on the 11th, Abner Read returned to her anchorage. She remained there for almost a fortnight (12-25 March 1944), “waiting for word on further repairs.” Detached from TF 76 and assigned to TF 75 on 27 March, Abner Read proceeded inside the submarine nets at Milne Bay and moored starboard side to Bush in berth F-5. On 1 March, Cmdr. John B. McLean (USNA 1926), Commander Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 48, inspected the ship.

Underway on 3 April 1944, Abner Read conducted shore bombardment and tactical exercises before returning to anchor in berth F-6, Milne Bay. The following day, 4 April, the destroyer docked in ARD-9, where workmen replaced both propellers, after which time the first lieutenant and engineering officer “made routine inspection of underwater body, fittings, and propellers,” and found all satisfactory.

Undocked from ARD-9 on 8 April 1944, Abner Read got underway at 1015 and “commenced trials at various speeds,” until rain limited visibility to 2,000 yards. The congestion of shipping in those waters and the reduced visibility resulted in the trials being stopped, and the ship returned to her anchorage, having attained speeds as high as 27 knots. That same day, Cmdr. “Mac” McLean shifted his broad pennant to Abner Read and she became the flagship of DesDiv 48.

The ship was then attached to TF 75 and participated in the bombardment of Hollandia on 22 April. She provided fire support for the initial landing at Humboldt Bay by the central attack group in Operation Reckless. Her next targets were on the Wakde Islands off the coast of Dutch New Guinea. She sought to neutralize Japanese airstrips located there by concentrated bombardment, which she conducted on 30 April. Abner Read then moved on to Wewak and, on 12 May, bombarded Japanese batteries which had been hindering the efforts of American motor torpedo boats to destroy enemy barge traffic.

The destroyer rendered fire support for the landings at Arara, New Guinea, and bombarded the Wakde-Toem area on 17 May. As part of TG 77.3, she pounded Japanese targets on Biak in the Schouten Islands. From 8 to 9 June, she was involved in an engagement with a Japanese task force off the north coast of Biak. Abner Read took part in a night bombardment of Wewak on 18 and 19 June. Her next target was Noemfoor Island, which she hit on 2 July to cover the landing operations on the island. Following this extended period of action, she retired to Seeadler Harbor for tender availability.

Getting underway on 8 August, Abner Read made a trip to Sydney, Australia, before returning to warlike activities in the Pacific. The destroyer supported the seizure on 15 September of Morotai Island in the Halmahera group. Her next action was a shore bombardment on Ponam Island in the Admiralties on 7 October. On 17 October, she then began steaming toward Leyte Gulf, and she entered San Pedro Bay on the 20th, D day for Leyte, and patrolled off the beachheads in ensuing days.

In the hope of turning back the American invasion, the Japanese struck back fiercely with sea and air power. On 1 November, the Japanese launched kamikaze attacks on members of TG 77.1, which was patrolling lower Leyte Gulf to protect a beachhead. At approximately 1341, a "Val" burst into flames and crashed toward Abner Read. A bomb from the raider dropped down one of the destroyer's stacks and exploded in her after engine room. The plane, in the meantime, came down diagonally across the main deck, setting fire to the entire after section. The ship lost water pressure and this made firefighting efforts impossible. At 1352, a tremendous internal explosion occurred, causing her to list about 10 degrees to starboard and to sink by the stern. At 1415, Abner Read rolled over on her starboard side and sank stern first. Destroyers quickly came to the aid of survivors and rescued all but 22 members of Abner Read's crew.

At 1330 on 1 November 1944, the fleet tug Chickasaw (ATF-83) sounded general quarters, then secured about a quarter of an hour later. At 1401, however, she sounded general quarters again, then sighted a destroyer – which proved to be Abner Read – in extremis, burning, at 1403. Changing course to close, Chickasaw observed the destroyer’s sinking at 1430, then approached the scene ten minutes later. At 1442, the tug began rescuing survivors, retrieving 76 men from the sea, only four of whom were ambulatory. Chickasaw joined the destroyers after getting underway, and later transferred Abner Read’s people to Pinkney.

Abner Read was stricken from the Navy Register on 27 December 1944.

Abner Read received four battle stars for her World War II service that included the Occupation of Attu (11-22 May 1943); the Hollandia (Aitape, Humboldt Bay, Tanahmerah Bay) Operation (22-23 April 1944); Western New Guinea Operations (Toem-Wakde-Sarmi Area, 17 May 1944; the Biak Island Operation, 27 May 1944, 4 June 1944, 5 June 1944, 8-9 June 1944; the Noemfoor Island Occupation, 2 July 1944; Cape Sansapor Operation, 30 July 1944; and Morotai Landings, 15 September 1944); and the Leyte Landings (20-24 October 1944).

Commanding Officers                                  Date Assumed Command

Cmdr. Thomas Burrowes                                5 February 1943

Cmdr. Thomas B. Hutchins, III                      14 October 1943

Cmdr. Arthur F. Purdy                                   1 October 1944

Robert J. Cressman

18 August 2018

 

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A second destroyer, DD-769, was assigned the name Abner Read but her construction was cancelled on 12 September 1946.

Published: Mon Apr 19 17:02:24 EDT 2021