(Destroyer No. 66; displacement 1,071; length 315'3", beam 29'11", draft 9'2½", speed 30.29 knots; 4 4-inch, 1-1 pounder, 12 21-inch torpedo tubes, class Sampson)
Destroyer No. 66 was laid down on 10 May 1915 at Bath, Maine, by Bath Iron Works; named Allen on 9 September 1915; launched on 5 December 1915; sponsored by Miss Dorothea Dix Allen and Miss Harriet Allen Butler, great grand-nieces of Lieutenant Henry Allen; delivered to the Navy at the Boston [Mass.] Navy Yard on 23 January 1917, and commissioned on 24 January 1917, Lt. Cmdr. Samuel W. Bryant in command.
Allen fitted out at the Boston Navy Yard, and on 1 February 1917 was assigned to the Ninth Division, Third Flotilla, Destroyer Squadron, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. On 11 February, she cleared the Boston Navy Yard for the Naval Torpedo Station at Newport, R.I., where she took on board torpedoes and ordnance supplies. One week later, she left for Cuba to join the fleet for winter exercises. There she operated until 23 March when she sailed for Hampton Roads, Va., arriving on 27 March. She left Hampton Roads to escort Maine (Battleship No. 10) to New York City on 29 March, returning the following day. On 3 April, Allen steamed past anti-submarine nets into the York River, where she awaited hostilities with the bulk of the Destroyer Force and the Atlantic Fleet.
Following the U.S. declaration of war on 6 April 1917, Allen operated in Chesapeake Bay on various missions until 21 April. She steamed from the York River on 22 April with a cruiser and four other destroyers to meet French cruisers Lorraine and Admiral Aube carrying French military and civilian officials to the U.S. to discuss naval cooperation with American officials. After arriving at Hampton Roads at 0755 on 24 April, she got underway again at 2110 to escort the converted yacht Mayflower to Washington D.C.
Allen began patrolling the mouth of the York River on 25 April 1917 and maintained that routine until 30 April, when she met Connecticut (Battleship No. 18) at Hampton Roads to escort her to the Philadelphia [Pa.] Navy Yard. Before arriving at her destination, however, Allen collided with Duncan (Destroyer No. 46). Both destroyers were running at 0110 on 1 May without lights in to foil submarine attacks when Allen, escorting Connecticut, investigated Duncan as a potential intruder. After illuminating Duncan with her search light, the officer of the deck on board Allen realized collision was imminent and although he immediately ordered evasive maneuvers, Duncan struck Allen on her starboard quarter, crushing Allen’s stern and bending it to port. Duncan was herself disabled and Allen towed her to Philadelphia. Both destroyers entered Dry Dock No. 2 at Philadelphia and workmen began repairs on 4 May. Further damage resulted after Allen slipped off her keel blocks on the port side and struck Duncan. Two crewmembers on Allen were injured while a sailor on Duncan died in the mishap.
Allen left Philadelphia on 21 May 1917 for the New York Navy Yard and arrived the following day, loading ammunition and mines. As she was steaming up the East River on 26 May, however, her steering gear jammed as she passed beneath Hell’s Gate Bridge and she grounded on the Long Island shore. After two tugs freed Allen, the destroyer entered dry dock and remained there for three days, workmen fixing leaks caused by the grounding. On 2 June, she departed for the Boston Navy Yard, arriving on 3 June. She returned to New York soon thereafter to prepare for distant service.
On 14 June 1917, Allen rendezvoused with the troop transports and escorts of the first troop convoy to France and got underway at 1536. On 19 June, during the passage, lookouts and the officer of the deck mistook the towing spar of the steamship San Jacinto to be a periscope and opened fire, the destroyer firing three shots before the officer realized his mistake and ordered cease fire. On 28 June, the convoy stood in to St. Nazaire, France, and came under to the command of U.S. Naval Forces Operating in European Waters.
Departing St. Nazaire on 2 July 1917, Allen steamed to Queenstown [Cobh], Ireland, arriving on 5 July. After fitting out for anti-submarine work, Allen got underway for her first patrol on 10 July. After the British steamship Beacon Grange was chased and shelled by the German submarine U-95 (Kapitänleutnant Athalwin Prinz, commanding) on 31 July, Allen intercepted the merchantman at 1230. Although the steamer had outrun her attacker, she had suffered one killed and two men badly wounded in the engagement. Allen sent her surgeon on board the merchantman and brought the two wounded sailors on board Allen for treatment, disembarking them at Queenstown for hospitalization.
Allen soon began her first stint of escort work in August 1917, and she was shepherding a convoy of 11 ships when, on 9 August, the lookout in the crow’s nest spotted a submarine three points on the starboard bow. When Allen opened fire, the first shell burst over the destroyer’s bow, causing minor damage but, providentially, no injuries. The submarine dove and Allen circled near the spot of the sighting to keep the enemy down while the convoy passed. Her misfortunes continued, however, when she received further damage on 12 September when she fouled an underwater object, bending a blade on her starboard propeller, for which she entered dry dock at Queenstown on 18 September for repairs. She returned to convoy duty on 20 September, and after a largely uneventful October, again entered dry dock at Birkenhead, England, on 2 November where she remained until 8 November. She proceeded to Hawbowline where she collided with the docks, damaging one of her propellers. After yet another period of repairs, the destroyer put to sea for her designated patrol area on 10 November. Two days before Christmas of 1917 [23 December], Cmdr. Henry D. Cooke relieved Cmdr. Bryant of command of Allen.
On 2 February 1918, Allen was guarding a convoy when a lookout sighted a periscope 200 yards off her starboard bow heading toward a merchant vessel at 0900. The submarine quickly dived, but the destroyer crossed her path and dropped a depth charge just ahead. She dropped a second charge 200 yards later and fired a gun to warn the convoy. Seeing an oil slick spreading at the site of the first attack, Allen dropped a third charge in the center of the slick. Vice Adm. William S. Sims, Commander U.S. Naval Forces Operating in European Waters congratulated Cmdr. Cooke, stating “Your quick action undoubtedly saved the convoy and it is believed that the enemy submarine was severely damaged or even sunk.” A subsequent search of admiralty records, however, concluded that it was unlikely that Allen’s attack significantly damaged or destroyed a submarine.
After a two-day stay in dry dock for repairs (21-22 February 1918), Allen resumed convoy duty. On 26 February she was escorting convoy HE-6 when U-55 (Kapitänleutnant Wilhelm Werner, commanding) torpedoed the steamship Eumaeus. Allen circled Eumaeus and dropped four depth charges and fired at a believed sighting of the unterseeboote. As the Americans hunted the submarine the British sloop HMS Crocus brought the survivors on board and took the crippled vessel in tow, while Fanning (Destroyer No. 37) rode shotgun. While U-55 did not make any further attacks on the convoy, the tow line parted and Crocus scuttled Eumaeus with gunfire.
While on patrol in the Irish Sea on 11 March 1918, lookouts on board Allen sighted a periscope at 0513. The destroyer attempted to ram, and after closing on the spot, dropped four depth charges without result. Less than a week later, she was patrolling on 16 March when she came upon a convoy, HE-7, consisting of five ships shepherded by two U.S. and two British escorts. At 1201, lookouts sighted a periscope 500 yards distant two points on the forward beam. Allen closed on the sighting and after the submarine submerged, the destroyer dropped a depth charge and a marker buoy on the spot. After dropping several additional depth charges, the convoy changed course and continued to their destination while Allen stayed behind and continued to hunt for the submarine. The following day, the destroyer intercepted an S.O.S from the British steamer Lady Charlotte which was being chased by a submarine. After locating the steamer and collecting information about her adversary, Allen hunted for the U-boat as Lady Charlotte continued on. Allen searched without success until 1230 in 17 March when she sailed for Queenstown, arriving at 1900. Subsequently [26 March], Admiral Lewis Bayly, Commander-in-Chief, Coast of Ireland, later sent a signal praising Allen’s “great promptitude in sighting and chasing [the] submarine away from [the] convoy.” Admiral Sims also sent a commendation: “Good work[.] Keep it up.”
After further repairs at Queenstown (2-5 April 1918) the destroyer continued escort duty throughout April. On 23 April, lookouts sighted a U-boat on the surface and gun crews fired two shots from Allen’s No. 1 four-inch mount. The shots splashed close to their target but did not strike her before she submerged. Allen laid a barrage of 19 depth charges as the convoy changed course to avoid the submarine.
On 15 May 1918, Cmdr. Louis C. Farley relieved Cmdr. Cooke and took Allen out the next day, clearing Queenstown as the senior ship of seven U.S. destroyers. They patrolled the Irish Sea with Allen and two other destroyers employing newly installed listening devices. At 1109 that day, O’Brien (Destroyer No. 51) sighted a submarine periscope and dropped depth charges. Allen closed and dropped 13 charges on the U-boat’s estimated course. Neither barrage produced visible results.
Three days later, on 19 May 1918, Patterson (Destroyer No. 36) reported a large oil slick over a mile in length. Allen proceeded through the slick dropping depth charges at 10-second intervals. After reaching the perceived source of the oil she dropped five more charges. That final barrage brought a large amount of oil to the surface but Admiralty records revealed that the submarine operating in the area, U-101 (Kapitänleutnant Carl-Siegfried Ritter von Georg, commanding), survived the attack, whose ferocity, however, convinced the Germans to take their hunt for Allied shipping elsewhere. Allen later fired one shot at a periscope sighted on 5 June, but proved unable to close on the spot until the object of her attention submerged. She again rushed to the spot of a sighted periscope on 29 June and dropped 15 depth charges after the boat went deep, again, frustratingly, without result.
On 20 July 1918, while returning to Queenstown with Kanawha (Fuel Ship No. 13) after escorting a convoy, Allen sighted a submarine cruising on the surface at 2140. The destroyer closed, and, along with Kanawha, opened fire. The submarine, however, fired recognition signals that identified her as L-2 (Submarine No. 41) and she suffered no damage in the case of mistaken identity.
Allen laid a barrage of thirteen depth charges on a suspected submarine on 30 July 1918 without result, but while on patrol on 13 August, with two U.S. destroyers and HMS Flying Fox, the kite balloon towed by the latter crashed into the ocean in heavy weather. Allen dispatched her whaleboat, and after rescuing the crew, assisted Flying Fox in recovering the balloon.
In more heavy weather on 12 September 1918, U-82 (Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Middendorff, commanding) torpedoed the British Steamship Galway Castle, a vessel packed with over 900 civilians, crew, and wounded South African soldiers beginning a voyage to their homeland. The torpedo broke the vessel’s back, and her captain ordered the passengers and crew to abandon ship. As their overcrowded lifeboats were swamped or destroyed, 143 souls perished in the rough sea. Allen and two other U.S. destroyers proceeded to the scene of the torpedoing off Fastnet Light, and by the time Allen arrived at 1915 the British vessel was reportedly empty and dusk was approaching. With British destroyers searching the waters around Galway Castle, Cmdr. Farley decided that any lifeboats that had yet to be recovered were likely being driven by the wind toward the French shore, so Allen and Kimberly (Destroyer No. 80) searched to leeward during the night with the intention of turning and searching to windward at first light.
When the sun illuminated the North Atlantic on 13 September 1918, the destroyers sighted a small dark object on the eastern horizon at 0745. Closing at high speed, however, at a distance of 10,000-12,000 meters lookouts recognized the object as a submarine. The destroyers closed as the target submerged, and Allen hunted until 1500 employing her listening devices, then dropped five depth charges until ordered to return to Galway Castle. She escorted that vessel and the tugs dispatched to take her to Queenstown. She escorted the crippled ship for two days through thick weather. After the tow lines parted, Allen sent crew members on board to reattach them, risky business as Galway Castle continued to buckle amidships. Allen sailors reattached a line, returned to the destroyer, and towing continued until dawn on 15 September. Realizing that the liner was about to sink, the tugs cut the lines and at 0614 Galway Castle broke in half and sank. Allen continued on to Berehaven. In December 1918, the Admiralty and Vice Adm. Sims praised Allen and her crew for their efforts to save Galway Castle and those on board.
After a drydocking at the Cammell-Laird Co. yard in Birkenhead, England (25 September-10 October 1918), Allen resumed submarine hunting. Allen took damage from heavy seas on 30 October while escorting the armed British steamship Mauretania – sistership of the ill-fated Lusitania – and while the massive liner cut through the heavy swells without difficulty, Allen and the other escorts were buffeted by the weather. The escorts fell back due to damage sustained from the sea that including buckled plates, concluding that continued attempts to escort the fast moving vessel would only result in further damage. Allen arrived at Queenstown on 31 October for repairs. She lay at Queenstown on 11 November when the Armistice went into effect at 1100.
Throughout November 1918, Allen continued escort operations to several ports throughout the British Isles. She departed Queenstown on 5 December for Brest, France, and helped escort the convoy carrying President Woodrow Wilson to that port. She left Brest to meet the convoy on 12 December and met it the following day, Allen and the U.S. fleet then passing in review before the troop transport George Washington (Id. No. 3018), with President Wilson embarked. With her sailors lining the rail, the destroyer crossed George Washington’s bow at 1415. At 1445, Allen sailed for Ireland and stood into the harbor of Cork on 14 December. She then sailed for the U.S. with nine other ships the day after Christmas [26 December], touching at Ponta Delgada, Azores, on 30 December. Arriving at New York City on 7 January 1919, she soon put in to the New York Navy Yard for voyage repairs.
On 6 March 1919, Lt. Walter W. Webb relieved Cmdr. Farley as commanding officer of the destroyer and a little over fortnight later, on 23 March, she was attached to Division Four, Destroyer Flotilla Division, Atlantic Fleet, and Lt. Albert G. Berry reported on board as temporary commanding officer. Lt. Berry then became executive officer when Cmdr. Charles C. Soule, Jr., reported on board as commanding officer on 17 April but was reinstated as commanding officer with Cmdr. Soule’s detachment on 1 July.
Allen entered Dry Dock No. 2 on 21 April 1919 and remained there until 28 May. Berry was detached on 10 September 1919 and executive officer, Lt. Ross P. Whitemarsh assumed command. On 23 September, tugs towed Allen to Pier E at the New York Navy Yard when the overhang from a Navy dredge damaged Allen’s No. 3 4-inch gun and a torpedo tube. She departed for Philadelphia Navy Yard later that day and arrived on 26 September 1919 after which she was placed in reserve.
On 1 December 1920, Allen was attached to Fourth Division, Fifteenth Squadron, Atlantic Fleet, and departed Philadelphia for Charleston, S.C., arriving on 3 December. She remained in Charleston until 10 May 1921 when she set course for New York City, arriving in the North River later that same day. On 28 May, the destroyer cruised up the Hudson River and visited West Point, N.Y., returning to New York City the same day. She cruised to Newport on 31 May, then to Block Island, R.I., to conduct battle practice on 15 August, returning to Newport two days later. She continued battle practice on 24 August and steamed thence to Provincetown, Mass., on 30 August 1921. She maneuvered with the submarine force off Provincetown until 3 September before returning to Newport. She steamed thence to Charleston, S.C., on 10 October and was attached to the Fourth Division, Squadron 2, Atlantic Fleet.
Allen departed Charleston on 24 March 1922 with Squadron 2, and after offloading ammunition and torpedoes at Hampton Roads on 25 March, proceeded to Philadelphia, arriving on 29 March. She remained alongside Pier No. 1 until 22 June 1922 when she was decommissioned.
Allen was recommissioned on 23 July 1925 and ordered to duty training Naval Reservists from Washington D.C. and Baltimore, Md., the reservists embarking in Allen for a period of time each summer for training cruises of two weeks’ duration. Service on board Allen proved popular among reservists – so much so that the Navy was forced to take action to exclude “deadwood” reservists – defined in a 1926 Washington Post article as those who entered the reserve merely to take part in the training cruise. Upon completion of that assignment, Allen was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 23 March 1928.
Allen remained inactive at Philadelphia until recommissioned at Philadelphia on 23 August 1940, Lt. Cmdr. Frederick P. Williams in command. The oldest destroyer in the U.S. Navy, she was assigned to Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 80. She transited the Panama Canal and, after a brief stop at Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, Calif., for emergency repairs, proceeded on to the Fourteenth Naval District, arriving at Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, on 17 December 1940.
For the next year, DesDiv 80 formed part of the local defense force for the Fourteenth Naval District. Allen, along with three veterans of the World War I-Emergency [Destroyer] Program – Schley (DD-103), Chew (DD-106) and Ward (DD-139) – carried out antisubmarine patrols between Honolulu and Pearl Harbor, and investigated small craft found in restricted waters. During one of the periods where it was not her turn to patrol, on 20 November 1941, Lt. Daniel B. Miller relieved Lt. Cmdr. Williams as commanding officer.
On the morning of 7 December 1941, Allen lay moored in berth X-5/X-5S between destroyer Chew on her port side, and hulk of the decommissioned ex-Baltimore (CM-1) on her starboard in East Loch, northeast of Ford Island. From that vantage point, Allen’s BM2c (T) Elliot R. Milliken, F4C, Fleet Reserve, sighted approximately 25 planes circling at an altitude of 5,000 feet at 0730. The sailors on board Allen initially assumed the aircraft were American, taking part in routine drills, and thought nothing of it.
Soon thereafter, however, SM3c Leonard W. Roberts watched a plane dive from the east and drop a bomb, the explosion of which prompted Lt. (j. g.) John S. Tritle, Jr., D-V(G), USNR, the officer-of-the-deck (and the only officer on board at that time) to sound general quarters at 0758. Allen’s sailors hurried to man guns no. 5 and no. 6 of her 3-inch/50 caliber main battery and 50-caliber machine guns. CTM (PA) Otto G. Krambuhl turned-to to help Lt. (j. g.) Tritle – the gunnery officer – to break out 3-inch ammunition from the magazines and rush it topside. Allen’s guns barked within 10 to 15 minutes after the initial alarm.
Although “unfamiliar with rapid fire, particularly while under attack,” Allen’s gunners made their presence felt in the chaos of the attack. BM2c Milliken, captaining gun no. 6 when a shell jammed in the barrel and the fused projectile separated from the casing. Risking injury or death, Milliken rammed the live projectile out of the barrel and put the weapon back in service. Gun no. 6 later downed one Japanese plane over the Aiea hills and assisted in downing another. Milliken was later awarded a commendation with “V” device for valor. The starboard waist .50-caliber machine gun added to Allen’s total by splashing another attacker west of Ford Island. The gunners on board Allen expended 57 rounds of 3- inch and 600 rounds of .50-caliber ammunition. The destroyer did not suffer any casualties or material damage.
Allen patrolled off the Hawaiian Islands throughout December 1941, during which time she rescued 12 sailors from the sunken U.S. freighter Manini on 27 December. The unarmed vessel, en route from San Francisco, Calif., to Auckland, New Zealand, had been torpedoed and sunk 10 days before by the Japanese submarine I-175 (Lt. Cmdr. Inoue Noriki, commanding). Patterson (DD-392) rescued the second group of survivors from Manini the following day. Allen disembarked Manini’s sailors to Coast Guard Cutter No. 403 on the 27th.
During 1942 Allen operated out of Pearl Harbor screening sorties of various ships and convoys, patrolling off Oahu, and conducting scheduled gunnery and anti-submarine exercises. She escorted the submarine tender Fulton (AS-11) to a point between Oahu and Midway where U.S. warships from the Battle of Midway transferred survivors from Yorktown (CV-5) that had sunk during the battle. Allen embarked 4 officers and 90 men, and returned them to Pearl Harbor. After a brief time at San Francisco, she returned to Pearl on 31 August.
On 25 September 1942, Lt. Cmdr. Miller was relieved by Lt. Cmdr. Parke E. Brady. A little less than a month later, on 31 October 1942, she searched unsuccessfully for the survivors of the district patrol vessel [converted tuna boat] YP-345 that was lost to unknown causes on a voyage from Pearl Harbor to Midway.
Lt. Cmdr. Homer H. Nielsen relieved Lt. Cmdr. Brady on 27 May 1943. For the remainder of the war, Allen continued operations in the waters of the Hawaiian Sea Frontier and carried out training with Pearl-based submarines to indoctrinate them to avoid anti-submarine vessels. In July and August 1944 she towed to Pearl Harbor Navy Martin PBM Mariner flying boats forced down at sea.
Soon after Japan announced its surrender, Allen’s long history of avoiding the scrapper’s torch came to an end. She departed Pearl Harbor on 20 August 1945 for the voyage to Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Proceeding via the Panama Canal, she reached her destination on 13 September.
After inspection, Allen was decommissioned for the third and final time on 15 October 1945. Deemed not essential to the defense of the United States, Allen was stricken from the Navy Register on 1 November 1945. The veteran of service in two World Wars was sold to the Boston Metals Co., Baltimore, Md., on 26 September 1946, to be broken up.
Allen earned one battle star for her service during the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.
Commanding Officers Date Assumed Command
Lt. Cmdr. Samuel W. Bryant 24 January 1917
Cmdr. Henry D. Cooke, Jr. 15 October 1917
Cmdr. Louis C. Farley 19 April 1918
Lt. John E. Ostrander, Jr. 10 January 1919
Lt. Walter W. Webb 6 March 1919
Lt. Cmdr. Charles C. Soule, Jr. 10 April 1920
Lt. (j.g.) Robert B. Crichton 9 October 1920
Lt. (j.g.) Percy A. Decker 23 November 1920
Lt. Cmdr. Frederick P. Williams 23 August 1940
Lt. Daniel B. Miller 21 November 1941
Lt. Cmdr. Parke H. Brady 28 September 1942
Lt. Cmdr. Homer H. Nielson 28 May 1943
Lt. William J. Riley, Jr. 31 March 1944
Lt. James A. Rowe 19 August 1944
Lt. Joseph C. Tyler, Jr. 9 July 1945
Sidney M. Cheser
11 December 2016