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Babbitt (Destroyer No. 128)


Fitz Henry Babbitt, born on 10 October 1790, probably in Brookfield, Massachusetts, was appointed a midshipman in the Navy on 2 April 1804. He accepted his warrant on 28 May 1804 and entered into service on board the 32-gun frigate, Essex, that same day. He served in Essex and in the bomb ketch Spitfire in the Mediterranean Sea between 1804 and 1806. Returning home to the United States in Spitfire in August 1806, Midshipman Babbitt took up duty in the frigate Chesapeake in 1807 and had charge of her quarterdeck guns on the occasion of the outrage that HMS Leopard committed against the American flag on 22 June 1807. He was appointed an acting lieutenant and ordered to the brig Argus on 1 February 1810. The aspiring officer cruised the waters along the east coast of the United States in Argus until late in October, at which time he was furloughed. Babbitt received his lieutenant's commission on 4 March 1811, with seniority to date from 5 June 1810.

On 19 February 1812, he received orders to Nautilus and served in her until 17 July 1812 when a British squadron, built around the 64-gun ship-of-the-line HMS Africa and the frigates HMS Shannon and HMS Aeolus, captured Nautilus off the northern New Jersey coast. Lt. Babbitt spent several weeks as a prisoner of war in Halifax, Nova Scotia, before being exchanged. Following his return in the fall of 1812, he was assigned to the frigate Adams on 30 November 1812 and helped in the futile effort to get that ship ready for sea after her modification into a sloop of war. Though the work was completed by the end of 1812, the British had Adams blockaded in Chesapeake Bay by then, and she remained so until early in 1814. Babbitt’s assignment to Adams, however, lasted only until the spring of 1813. On 6 April 1813, he received orders to the frigate United States; but those orders were apparently changed later in the month, and he went to Sackett’s Harbor along with the officers and men of the blockaded Adams. In September 1813, Lt. Babbitt again received orders to United States to serve as that ship’s first lieutenant. United States, however, languished at New London, along with her recent prize, Macedonian, by then also in American service, and the sloop of war Hornet, under a blockade imposed by a powerful British squadron.

In the spring of 1814, the frigate’s commanding officer, Captain Stephen Decatur, Jr., received a posting to command the 44-gun frigate President, and took the crew of United States with him to man his new command. Thus, Lt. Babbitt came to be President’s first lieutenant. Once again, Babbitt found himself assigned to a warship unable to get to sea because of a strong blockade. The frigate remained hemmed in at New York for the rest of 1814. Not until January 1815 did conditions ripen for President to attempt her escape to sea. Though the peace treaty had been signed in Ghent, Belgium, in December 1814, word had not reached the Americas, and hostilities continued in the western hemisphere for some weeks. Thus, when President made her move for the open sea, British warships stood ready to engage her. In her breakout attempt on 14 January 1815, President ran afoul of another squadron of British ships comprising HMS Endymion, HMS Majestic, HMS Pomone, and HMS Tenedos.

During the ensuing fight, President managed to inflict sufficient damage on HMS Endymion to force her out of the struggle, but the unequal contest exacted a greater toll from the American ship. Unable to outrun her other adversaries because of hull damage sustained during a grounding soon after sailing, President finally succumbed to the combined attention of the three remaining British ships after a six-hour exchange in which she lost 24 of her crewmen and three of her lieutenants. Lt. Babbitt was among the latter.

(Destroyer No. 128: displacement 1,211 (normal); length 314' 4¼"; beam 30' 11¼"; draft 10' 0½" (full load) (aft); speed 35 knots; complement 133; armament 4 4-inch, 2 3-inch, 12 21-inch torpedo tubes; class Wickes)

Babbitt (Destroyer No. 128) was laid down on 19 February 1918 at Camden, New Jersey, by the New York Shipbuilding Company; launched on 30 September 1918; sponsored by Miss Lucille Burlin, niece of the chief engineer of the building yard; and commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 24 October 1919, Cmdr. William E. Eberle in command.

Babbitt spent the rest of 1919 on the east coast outfitting and shaking down; but, in January 1920, she voyaged to the west coast where she was assigned to Division 16, Flotilla 5, Destroyer Squadron 4, Pacific Fleet. She served actively for another 29 months, carrying out normal Pacific Fleet training missions in waters off the Pacific coast. Babbitt was designated DD-128 on 17 July 1920 when the Navy adopted the alphanumeric system of hull classification and identification. Postwar economy, combined with a general mood of pacifism and antinavalism, led to the inactivation of much of the fleet built for the war. Thus, Babbitt was decommissioned at San Diego, Calif., on 15 June 1922.

In 1929, the Navy discovered that nearly 60% of its active destroyers, those equipped with Yarrow boilers, had become worn out beyond economical repair in just a decade. With a plentiful supply of non-Yarrow-equipped flushdeckers available in the reserve fleet but with no funds to prepare them to return to active service, the Destroyer Force itself embarked on the most massive application of the concept of ship’s force repairs. The worn-out vessels pulled into port at the locations of the reserve fleets, either at Philadelphia or at San Diego, where the best preserved inactive flushdeckers were selected, towed out and tied up alongside piers opposite the destroyers they were to replace. Then, the decommissioning destroyers’ crewmen, with some help from navy yard workers and destroyer tender crews, carried out the necessary refurbishment and repairs, transferring whatever they needed from the old ships to the new ones. Babbitt was selected to replace Thompson (DD-305), and the sprucing-up process and equipment transfer took place during the winter of 1929 and 1930. On 4 April 1930, Thompson was decommissioned at San Diego. Immediately thereafter, her crew moved across the pier, and Babbitt was recommissioned, Lt. Cmdr. Ernest W. Broadbent in command.

Babbitt resumed active duty as a unit of Division 14, Squadron 6, and served with the Battle Fleet along the west coast until 1931. In February 1931, she sailed to the Central American coast with the Battle Fleet to participate in the annual fleet concentration and battle problem which, in 1931, was carried out off the Pacific coast of Panama. At the conclusion of Fleet Problem XII late in March 1931, the Battle Fleet returned to the California coast. However, Babbitt and nine other destroyers joined Scouting Fleet, soon redesignated Scouting Force, and transited the Panama Canal to begin a period of service with naval forces based on the Atlantic coast. Assigned to Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 7, Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 3, she operated from the base at Charleston South Carolina. Among her early missions in what became an extended tour of duty in the Atlantic was a period of service at the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, Rhode Island, in 1932. In February 1933, she joined Indianapolis (CA-35) when the new heavy cruiser made her shakedown cruise. On 25 May 1933, Babbitt was placed in Rotating Reserve Destroyer Squadron 19, Scouting Force. The rotating reserve was devised to maintain as many destroyers as possible in optimal operating condition by having a single crew divide its time between two warships.

Babbitt left the Rotating Reserve on 20 October 1933 and went into reduced commission as a unit of Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 28, Training Squadron, Scouting Force. The warship reentered Rotating Reserve Destroyer Squadron 19 at Norfolk on 5 January 1935, but her period of relative inactivity lasted fewer than six months because the rotating reserve was abolished in May, and Babbitt resumed active service with Scouting Force on the 15th. In July, however, the destroyer returned to the Scouting Force Training Squadron as a unit of DesDiv 30, in which she served for almost 18 months and during which time she was on permanent duty at the Naval Academy engaged in training midshipmen.

Relieved at Annapolis by Claxton (DD-140) in the fall of 1936, Babbitt began a regular overhaul at Norfolk in November; and, at its conclusion in January 1937, she set out for a new assignment. On 23 January 1937, the destroyer put to sea bound for the West Indies and duty with the Special Service Squadron, a roving naval presence dispatched to underscore United States’ diplomatic efforts to calm a region plagued by chronic political instability. Babbitt arrived in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on the 26th. She continued service with the Special Service Squadron until 1939. The early spring of 1939 found her in the Southern Drill Grounds; later, she moved north to Boston for some sort of aviation-related duty. In June, the warship steamed south to Chesapeake Bay to participate in the 1939 midshipman summer cruise with Decatur (DD-341), Claxton, Fairfax (DD-93), Roper (DD-147), and Simpson (DD-221). That employment lasted until mid-August, after which she operated briefly out of Providence, R.I.

Babbitt left Providence on 2 September 1939 bound for the Southern Drill Grounds. Just after departure, she received word of the outbreak of hostilities in Europe followed by a change in orders. The destroyer tied up at Norfolk for the period, 5 to 13 September, and then set out for Key West and duty in conjunction with what became the Neutrality Patrol. She pursued that assignment until December at which time she returned north. After escorting a submarine from New London, Conn., to Annapolis, Md., Babbitt entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard for an overhaul that lasted until February 1940. At that point, the destroyer resumed Neutrality Patrol duty, this time in the north Atlantic. In June, she returned to Annapolis to embark Naval Academy midshipmen for their summer training cruise. After carrying the midshipmen down to the Southern Drill Grounds to train, she returned them to Annapolis and, in September, moved north to New York City where she embarked local naval reservists for several weeks of training as well. In October, Babbitt resumed duty with the Neutrality Patrol off the northeastern coast of the United States.

At the beginning of 1941, the destroyer moved south, in company with Leary (DD-158) and Schenck (DD-159), to Key West, Fla., whence she began patrolling the Yucatán Channel at the western end of Cuba. Later, she added the Nicholas Channel, at the opposite end of the island, to her itinerary. In March, the naval station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, became her base of operations. Not long thereafter, however, at the end of the month, Babbitt headed north to Norfolk where she rendezvoused with Leary, Schenck, and Badger (DD-126) before continuing on to the Massachusetts coast and training duty off Nantucket with the Commander, Cruiser Division (ComCruDiv) 7. After a trip to Shelburne, Nova Scotia, with Leary at the end of April, Babbitt proceeded to New York where she joined the CruDiv 7 flagship, Tuscaloosa (CA-37), and escorted her to Newport News, Virginia. Late in May, the destroyer screened the new battleship Washington (BB-56) as she ran her trials.

Following a short layover at Newport News, Babbitt returned south to the West Indies and resumed neutrality patrol duty between Guantanamo Bay and San Juan, Puerto Rico. That assignment lasted through the summer; but, in September 1941, the warship returned north to the New York Navy Yard, where her main battery of four 4-inch, 50-caliber, single-purpose guns was replaced by six 3-inch, 50-caliber, dual-purpose guns. She then made a short trip to Norfolk before proceeding to Casco Bay on the Maine coast to train with her new armament.

Babbitt completed her training early in October 1941 and left Casco Bay in company with Leary, headed by way of Argentia, Newfoundland, to Iceland. Iceland had been occupied by Great Britain in May of 1940 at the invitation of the local government, and occupation by the United States had superseded that of the British in July 1941 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s adoption of “measures short of war.” A logical extension of those came in September 1941 with the American takeover of responsibility for convoy escort duty along the leg of the northern Atlantic route between Newfoundland and the vicinity of Iceland. It was to this duty that Babbitt and Leary reported when they reached Reykjavik on 18 October. She embarked on her first escort mission not long thereafter by heading west in a task unit comprising Badger (DD-126), Broome (DD-210), Mayo (DD-422), and Leary and Schenck, to shepherd a convoy of merchantmen from the “mid-ocean meeting point” (MOMP) back to Reykjavik.

After that mission, the warship received orders to the Boston Navy Yard, where she spent the period between 4 and 12 November 1941 receiving installation of her first radar. Steaming back to Iceland by way of Newfoundland, Babbitt stopped at Argentia at mid-month to pick up another convoy and then saw it safely into Reykjavik on 27 November. Her stay at her bases proved a brief one, however, because the destroyer put to sea again less than a week later on 1 December to meet another convoy. She completed that mission with her return to Reykjavik on the 10th, three days after Japan opened hostilities with the United States by attacking Pearl Harbor and the day preceding the one on which Germany and Italy joined their Far Eastern ally in war on the United States. Babbitt received orders to return to Boston for additional work. She and Leary made another stop at Argentia on the way and arrived in the Boston Navy Yard on 16 December.

The overhaul only lasted eight days, and the destroyer pulled out of port on Christmas Eve bound for Iceland. She picked up another convoy at Argentia and reached Reykjavik at the beginning of 1942. With that voyage, Babbitt embarked on a nine-month tour of duty during which her only liberty port was bleak, cold and inhospitable Reykjavik. Throughout that time, she visited no United States’ port. Instead, she battled enemy and elements, each as cruel an adversary as the other, while shuttling convoys between the MOMP and her base in Iceland. Finally, in mid-August, her crew welcomed the news of a respite from her grueling routine. Babbitt had received orders to return to the United States for alterations and repairs at Boston. Before heading home, the warship first sailed south for a two-week sojourn at Lissahally, Northern Ireland, after which she set out across the Atlantic for North America.

She made the usual stop at Argentia on the way and then pulled into Boston on 10 September 1942. There, Babbitt commenced what was to have been a five-week availability at the navy yard. Problems with her starboard reduction gear, however, nearly doubled her time in Boston, extending her stay to the second week in November. During that time, her number 4 boiler was replaced by additional fuel bunkers in a effort to increase her cruising radius, and she exchanged her .50-caliber Browning machine guns for 20-millimeter Oerlikons. On 8 November, Babbitt stood out of Boston to rejoin the war.

After the normal pause at Argentia, the warship continued on her way back to Iceland, this time escorting the repair ship Vulcan (AR-5). The pair reached Hvalfjördur, near Reykjavik, on 18 November 1942. Babbitt thus resumed her former duty meeting the Iceland-bound echelons of transatlantic convoys and seeing them safely into port at Reykjavik and Hvalfjördur. On occasion, however, she was called upon to provide mid-ocean reinforcement for the convoys' own, often-beleaguered, regular screening forces. The two most celebrated instances of her lending such support came in March of 1943, near the end of Babbitt's tour of duty in Iceland. Early in the month, she departed Reykjavik to rendezvous with the Iceland-bound portion of the slow convoy SC-121. That 59-ship convoy had left New York late in February 1943, and Task Unit 24.1.3 (Escort Group A3), made up of Greer (DD-145), Coast Guard Cutter Spencer, and three Commonwealth corvettes, HMS Dianthus, HMCS Rosthern, and HMCS Trillium, joined SC-121 off Newfoundland on 3 March.

On the 5th, very severe weather enabled convoy and escort to pass unnoticed beyond the main line of 24 U-boats that Admiral Karl Dönitz had placed in ambush across their path, however, they ran afoul of U-405, one of the seven boats of the much weaker second line on the morning of the 6th. Before Spencer located and drove off U-405, the submarine alerted her colleagues, and they began to congregate near SC-121. Despite worsening weather, U-230 and U-566 reestablished contact that night, and U-230 drew first blood by sinking the British steamer Egyptian (Ellerman & Papayanni Lines, :Ltd.) That event opened four days of intermittent attacks on the convoy that resulted in the loss of six ships sunk and one damaged. Babbitt reached the convoy on the 9th and joined in its defense. She and the other escorts, TU 24.1.3 further augmented by Coast Guard cutters Bibb and Ingham, combined.

After a brief respite at Reykjavik, Babbitt returned to sea early on the evening of 16 March 1943 in company with Coast Guard cutter Ingham to meet convoy SC-122 and escort the Iceland-bound portion back to the base. After a day and two nights of struggling through stormy seas toward SC-122, Babbitt received orders on the 18th diverting her to the defense of Convoy HX-229 which found itself under fierce attacks from at least three separate wolf packs, attacks that ultimately cost the convoy 11 ships. On the morning of the 19th as Babbitt approached the convoy from a north northwesterly direction to within about 10 miles, she picked up a radar contact at a range of just over 2,000 yards ahead. Though this radar contact soon disappeared, the almost simultaneous appearance of a sonar contact provided unmistakable proof of a U-boat's presence. She made three successive depth-charge attacks, after which she lost sonar contact, but renewed radar contact indicated the submarine probably had surfaced. Babbitt then fired a star shell in an effort to illuminate the target to give her main battery gunners a chance at it. Not only did a target fail to come into sight, but the star shell also interfered with the maintenance of radar contact.

Though she did not make good her escape at that point, the U-boat eluded detection for about 10 minutes before Babbitt reestablished sonar attack and opened up another long series of depth-charge attacks. In all, the destroyer subjected the submarine to 11 depth-charge attacks during which she dropped a total of 53 depth charges. During these later attacks, the destroyer's crew noticed air bubbles occasionally and detected the scent of fuel oil. In fact, a large diesel-oil slick with pieces of cork floating in it appeared near the end of the encounter. The warship collected some samples from the slick but could find no conclusive evidence of success. In all probability, the U-boat had released the oil and debris purposely as a ploy to escape and had succeeded in doing so.

In any event, Babbitt gave up the hunt because of her dwindling supply of depth charges and the urgent need for her presence with Convoy HX-229. Just before the forenoon watch ended, she stood off at 20 knots to join the convoy, which she did later that afternoon. By this time, the arrival of surface reinforcements such as Babbitt and air cover from bases in Northern Ireland had made it all but impossible for the wolf packs to continue their onslaught, and the convoy completed the remainder of its crossing in relative peace. Babbitt had been ordered to remain with the convoy for the duration of the voyage and arrived in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, on 22 March 1943. Soon thereafter, she shifted from there to Moville and thence to Lissahally. The warship then put to sea with several tankers bound for Curaçao, a Dutch island located off the Caribbean coast of South America, where she arrived early in April. From there, Babbitt shaped a course north to Boston where she underwent a brief repair period.

When she left the yard later that month, Babbitt did not return to Iceland. Instead, she began escorting tankers on a resupply circuits that ran between New York, the Netherlands West Indies, and North Africa. The first convoy set the pattern. It sailed from New York to Curaçao where the tankers replaced water ballast with petroleum. From there, Babbitt then escorted the loaded tankers across the Atlantic to a point near Dakar in the Senegal where the Dakar-bound portion of the convoy parted company while the remainder turned north toward Casablanca. After a week in Casablanca, she and her charges headed back to Curaçao. Once again, the tankers pumped ballast and loaded petroleum. This time, however, the convoy took departure for New York, arriving there early in June.

Following repairs at the New York Navy Yard, Babbitt stood out of New York on 3 July 1943 with another convoy of tankers, this time bound for Aruba. Along the way two additional tankers joined the group, the first off Delaware Bay and the second near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. The convoy reached its destination on 10 July, and the tankers spent the next three days pumping ballast and loading cargo. From Aruba, the destroyer and her charges set sail for North Africa once more. Leary and Schenck joined her in the convoy screen. After parting company with the Dakar-bound section, the convoy sailed for the Strait of Gibraltar, entered the Mediterranean Sea on 22 July, and concluded the voyage at Algiers on the 24th. Babbitt departed Algiers on 27 July in company with another group of tankers bound for Aruba. As soon as the convoy reached the Dutch West Indian island, it loaded more New York-bound petroleum and almost immediately set out for that destination, arriving late in August.

In September, the destroyer left New York on her way to Aruba with another convoy of tankers. As in the past, her charges took on petroleum at the Caribbean island before setting out for the Mediterranean coast of North Africa, this time to Bizerte, Tunisia. The convoy made the return voyage by way of Curaçao and ultimately arrived back in New York in mid-October 1943. After 10 days of repairs, Babbitt returned to sea late in October with an ASW hunter/killer group built around escort carrier Card (CVE-11). About a week into the patrol, however, she developed engine trouble and, after refueling in the Azores, shaped a course back to repairs in New York.

She spent most of December 1943 undergoing repairs at the New York Navy Yard. On 29 December, she departed New York for Newport, R.I., where she refueled before joining the escort of a cargo ship bound for the Azores. Not long into that voyage, the destroyer again suffered main propulsion plant problems, limping along with that convoy until Biddle (DD-151) could relieve her. Babbitt returned to the navy yard at New York on 3 January 1944 where she underwent more repairs that occupied her for nearly two weeks. She stood out of New York once more on 15 January and arrived in Casco Bay, Maine, the following day. There, she conducted drills until late in the first week in February. The warship sailed to Boston, rendezvoused with Nevada (BB-36) which  she escorted to New York. After parting company with Nevada, she proceeded independently to Norfolk, Va., where she arrived on 9 February.

Three days after arriving in Norfolk, the destroyer embarked on her last transatlantic convoy escort mission. On 12 February 1944, she formed up with an unusually large convoy of 83 merchantmen screened by a 12-warship escort and set out across the ocean for Africa. Eighteen days later, she and her colleagues shepherded their charges through the Strait of Gibraltar. Detached there, Babbitt and the other escorts received orders to Casablanca where the arrived on 3 March. On the 4th, she put to sea again with seven other warships on a rather peculiar assignment purportedly to intimidate some Spanish fishermen whose village was suspected of aiding German U-boats. Returning to Casablanca afterward, Babbitt set out to recross the Atlantic on 7 March. She reached Boston on 24 March and began a 10-day period of voyage repairs at the navy yard.

She completed repairs at the end of the first week in April 1944 and arrived at Tompkinsville, Staten Island, in New York, on the 11th. Babbitt paused there only briefly, however, for she embarked that same day on the first voyage of her new assignment. The warship escorted a tanker to Galveston, Texas, arriving there on the 17th. The tanker loaded petroleum at Baytown, Texas, while Babbitt waited at Galveston. The two ships then headed back to New York on the 19th, arriving back at Staten Island on the 24th. On 30 April, the destroyer put to sea on her way to Norfolk, where she spent the first week in May. She left Norfolk on 8 May in company with another Texas-bound tanker. The pair reached their destination on the 13th and, this time, made a fast turnaround, departing Galveston again the very next day. Though headed ultimately for Norfolk, the duo made a side trip to Port Royal, Bermuda, before arriving at Hampton Roads again on 25 May. Between 29 May and 10 June, Babbitt made another round-trip, express run from Norfolk to Galveston and back to Staten Island. She departed Staten Island once more on 15 June, seemingly en route to Galveston again, when she received new orders which sent her into Norfolk for an availability. That repair period lasted from 17 June to 3 July. After escorting a repair ship to Boston, Babbitt returned to Staten Island late in the first week in July.

On 10 July 1944, the warship stood out of New York in company with the storeship Saturn (AF-40), bound for Bermuda. The pair made a brief stop at Bermuda and then on to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they arrived on the 15th. Three days later, she steamed to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where her crew enjoyed a nine-day port call. Babbitt and Saturn made the run from Puerto Rico to New York between the 27th and the 31st. During August of 1944, the destroyer made another West Indian circuit, visiting Guantanamo Bay and Port of Spain, Trinidad, returning as usual to Staten Island at its conclusion.

On 5 September 1944, Babbitt put to sea in company with Yukon (AF-9) to deliver supplies to an Army base located at Ikateg Fjord, Greenland. The two ships traveled via Argentia in Newfoundland. The destroyer waited at Angmagssalik on the eastern coast of Greenland, while the stores ship attempted to transit Angmagssalik, lkerrasak, and Ikateg fjords to reach the Army airstrip. Yukon made one false start and then, on her second attempt, successfully navigated the restricted waterways. She unloaded her cargo quickly to avoid being trapped by the gathering pack ice and rendezvoused with Babbitt back at Angmagssalik. The two ships returned to open water and continued their voyage, bound for Reykjavik, Iceland.

On the afternoon of 22 September 1944, Babbitt and her charge steamed into the swept channel approaching Reykjavik. At about 1551, Yukon recorded an underwater shock of undetermined origin, reported it to Babbitt, and the destroyer immediately began searching the area. Just then, Yukon registered another, less intense, underwater shock and went to general quarters. Two minutes later at 1552, lookouts on board the stores ship observed a torpedo, fired from German submarine U-979, pass astern and explode about 1,500 yards to her port side. Yukon began making emergency turns to evade the torpedoes; but, at 1557, one struck her on the starboard side about 50 feet from the stem.

The ship made an emergency turn to starboard and rang up full speed, just in case circumstances forced her to beach. Down by the bow, Yukon transferred fuel oil aft and pumped about 60,000 gallons more overboard to correct the problem. Far more serious, her entire bow was blown open from the stem aft to some 60 feet, the outer shell of her double bottom was ruptured to port and starboard, and a dangerous crack appeared across the vessel amidships. Such was her condition when she began limping back to Reykjavik that many on board doubted her ability to make it the short distance into port. At 1808, after about two hours steaming at barely three knots, Yukon met two tugs sent out from Reykjavik in response to her SOS. She took on board the pilot she had requested and, with the aid of the tugs, moved into the port. Circumstances, however, forced her to ground on the soft mud inshore until the following day when the ship moved into her designated berth.

While Yukon remained at Reykjavik completing temporary repairs until late November 1944, Babbitt headed back to the United States on 1 October. The destroyer steamed by way of Argentia, where she made an overnight refueling stop on the 6th and 7th, and returned to New York on 10 October. After voyage repairs at Staten Island, the warship steamed north on the 27th to New London, Conn., whence she carried out five weeks of duty supporting carrier qualifications. At the beginning of December, she entered the Boston Navy Yard for overhaul and to have some experimental sound gear installed in preparation for her next assignment. The destroyer completed repairs and modifications late in January 1945 and reported for duty with the Navy Underwater Sound Laboratory, New London, Conn. on 2 February.

On 10 June 1945, Babbitt was reclassified a miscellaneous auxiliary and was redesignated AG-102. The former destroyer continued performing experimental sonar duty until December of 1945 when she entered the New York Naval Shipyard to prepare for inactivation. Babbitt was decommissioned at New York on 25 January 1946, and her name was stricken from the Navy Register on 25 February 1946. She was sold to the Northern Metals Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 5 June 1946 and was subsequently scrapped.

Babbitt received one battle star during World War II for her contributions to the defense of Convoy SC-121.

Raymond A. Mann

Updated, Robert J. Cressman

2 November 2021

Published: Tue Nov 02 08:31:23 EDT 2021