Chew (Destroyer No. 106)
Samuel Chew -- born in Virginia circa 1743, the youngest son of Thomas and Martha Taylor Chew -- was a sea captain based in New Haven, Conn., in the late 1760s and early 1770s. In the summer of 1776, the Continental Marine Committee was to offer Chew command of the schooner Hawke, to be renamed Hopkins, at New London, Conn., but that ship evidently sailed from New London before the Committee’s instructions could be executed.
Chew finally received his naval commission on 17 June 1777, appointed by the Marine Committee to command the brigantine Resistance. The Committee’s local agent, Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., purchased the ship without the authorization of the Committee specifically for Chew to command, for Shaw “was Determin’d that so Good a Man as Capt Chew should not Remain Un Employ’d….” Nevertheless, the Marine Committee accepted the vessel and ordered Chew to report to New London to help Shaw fit out and man the ship. At the end of August, Chew reported to Shaw that Resistance, outfitted with 74 crew and “Fourteen Four Pounder Cannon, Twelve Swivells [sic], Sixteen Blunder Busses [sic], Fifty Small Arms &c with Sufficient Amunition [sic] Stores, Sails, Rigging & Every Necessary for a Four Months Cruise,” was ready to sail.
Resistance captured the ship Mermaid east of Barbados on 16 November 1777. Sending his prize to Boston with nine members of his crew, Chew then took Resistance to Demerara. After cleaning and replenishment, the brigantine subsequently captured a schooner out of Barbados. Reporting on Chew’s activities to the Continental Marine Committee on 2 February 1778, Nathaniel Shaw stated, “it gives me Pleasure to hear of his Success, as the fitting of him out was a Plan of my own, & I hope he will answer your Expectations.”
On 4 March 1778, Resistance engaged the 20-gun British Letter-of-Marque Grenville. In the battle that ensued, Resistance suffered numerous casualties, among them Captain Chew. Badly damaged and with her three senior officers dead or wounded, Resistance retreated to Martinique, as John Bradford informed the Marine Committee, “in a shatter’d Condition.”
News of Captain Chew’s fate reached Boston on 7 April in a letter penned by Resistance’s First Lieutenant, William Leeds, who reported that Chew was the first of the crew to fall and was killed instantly. Writing to pass on the unfortunate news to Nathaniel Shaw in New London, Josiah Waters related the account of the fateful battle as told by a Captain Smith, who had sailed from Martinique carrying Leeds’ letter. As Waters reported, “the Resistance bore down upon the Ship, with design I suppose to board her, when Capt Chew sitting upon the Quarter deck tying a Handcherchief [sic] and demanding an imediate [sic] Surrender (for it seems the Vessells [sic] were so nigh as to talk with each other) receivd [sic] a Shot from her Tops which immediately put an end to his Existance [sic].”
Chew married Lucy Miller on 18 September 1770. They had three sons— Coleby, born 1772; Samuel, born 1773; and Thomas John, born 1777—all of whom pursued a life at sea for their profession as their father had. Coleby and Samuel became ship captains, while Thomas John Chew served as an officer in the U.S. Navy. Thomas’s naval assignments included serving as purser in Constitution during her battle with HMS Guerriere on 19 August 1812 and in Chesapeake during her defeat to HMS Shannon on 1 June 1813. Thomas John Chew is said to have been holding Chesapeake’s mortally-wounded commander, Captain James Lawrence, when he spoke the words that became the famous battle cry “Don’t give up the ship!”
(Destroyer No. 106: displacement 1,191 tons; length 314'4"; beam 31'; draft 9'2"; speed 35 knots; complement 140; armament 4 4-inch, 2 3-inch, 12 21-inch torpedo tubes; class Wickes)
Chew (Destroyer No. 106) was laid down on 2 January 1918 at San Francisco, Calif., by Union Iron Works; launched on 26 May 1918; sponsored by Mrs. Estelle I. Gygax, wife of Cmdr. Felix X. Gygax, USN; and commissioned at the Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, Calif., on 12 December 1918, Cmdr. Jacob H. Klein, Jr., in command.
On the day after Chew’s commissioning, a letter from the Twelfth Naval District, San Francisco, to OpNav requested a delay in the ship’s departure until the conclusion of a criminal proceeding in which three of Chew’s sailors would be on trial for robbery and several additional crewmembers would be required as witnesses. That same day, Chew got underway and immediately encountered difficulty with her starboard engine. The destroyer moored at Mare Island Navy Yard while these issues were resolved.
Chew finally sailed for the East Coast on 21 December 1918, stopping to fuel at San Diego, Calif., on the 22nd and Salina Cruz, Mexico, on the 28th. Tragically, at the latter port E2c Baylis B. Royster drowned while swimming back to the ship on a swim call. The crew spent several hours that afternoon and the next morning searching the harbor, but they were not able to recover their shipmate’s remains. The destroyer held a memorial service for Royster on 29 December and continued on with the voyage later in the day.
On New Year’s Day 1919, Chew arrived at Balboa, Panama Canal Zone. The destroyer transited the canal the next day and called at Colon on the Atlantic side before continuing on to Norfolk, Va., for refueling. While at sea on 10 January at 0427, Seaman Gordon Higdon was reported absent from his station on lifebuoy watch. Higdon, who had last been seen at 0355, was not found after a search of the entire ship.
Chew continued on to Newport, R.I., arriving at the Naval Coaling Depot later that same day [10 January 1919]. At Newport, the ship proved the subject of some controversy as the officer in charge of the Coaling Depot reported to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OpNav) that Chew had run aground near the pier. On 11 January, Cmdr. Klein submitted a report to the Commandant of the Second Naval District at Newport that was forwarded to the Chief of Naval Operations to explain the situation.
Chew’s commanding officer stated that the ship moored in her original location next to a schooner to load torpedoes. After some initial difficulty mooring the ship, the destroyer was secure in this location, but because of some booms projecting from the schooner as well as an ongoing gale, Cmdr. Klein requested tug assistance to move Chew clear of the schooner and out to anchorage at midstream. He asserted that soundings taken by Chew’s crew showed depths greater than the destroyer’s 9-10 foot draft, the ship did not leak, and no one on board felt any bump. The ship’s log supports Klein’s contention that Chew did not run aground.
Chew left Newport on 12 January 1919 and entered the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, N.Y., the following day. During the transit to the East Coast, troubles with the starboard engine continued to plague the ship, and she remained at Brooklyn through 24 February to make repairs. During this time, Chew held the second memorial service of her short career on 15 January in remembrance of Seaman Higdon, who had been lost at sea on the 10th.
After briefly returning to Newport, Chew steamed south en route to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on 25 February 1919 for training with her destroyer division. After her arrival on 1 March, Chew and the 10th Division, which included Ludlow (Destroyer No. 112), Mugford (Destroyer No. 105), and Champlin (Destroyer No. 104), engaged in drills and tactical exercises with the 5th and 14th Divisions. In the early morning hours of 18 March, Chew steamed in formation with the 10th Division, with Champlin 100 yards ahead and Mugford approaching “from astern at standard speed close aboard.” At 0651, both Chew and Mugford maneuvered to avoid each other, but Mugford rammed Chew “in stern penetrating a distance of five frames, (105 inches) about 2 feet to left of fore and aft center line,” affecting the steering engine compartment. After making temporary repairs, Chew slowly made her way to the repair dock at Guantanamo Bay. After repairs to her stern, Chew resumed battle practice with her division off Cuba on 31 March. At the conclusion of those evolutions, Chew sailed for New York City as part of Task Flotilla One, arriving with Destroyer Division 10 on the 14th.
On 28 April 1919, Chew departed New York in company with Breckinridge (Destroyer No. 148), Barney (Destroyer No. 149), Hazelwood (Destroyer No. 107), and Elliot (Destroyer No. 146). This detachment comprised part of a much larger group of destroyers slated to be stationed at intervals across the Atlantic to provide navigational assistance to three Navy Curtiss NC flying boats that would attempt to fly from the U.S. to Europe in May 1919, but these ships instead completed various assignments unrelated to the transatlantic flight, which ultimately ended with the arrival of NC-4 at Plymouth, England, on 31 May. The convoy steamed across the ocean in column formation, stopped at the Azores, and entered the Mediterranean on 9 May.
After stopping at Gibraltar, Chew, Hazelwood, and Barney called at Valletta, Malta, on 13 May 1919 and continued en route to Constantinople [Istanbul], Turkey, on the 15th. Hazelwood was detached from the group the next day, but Chew and Barney reached Constantinople on the 17th. Chew departed independently on 19 May but returned to port on orders the same day and steamed instead for Malta on the 20th. The destroyer spent two days at Valletta again and then headed for Lisbon, Portugal, on the 23rd. The ship stopped at Gibraltar on the 25th, but was then sent back to the Azores, arriving at Ponta Delgada in company with Breckinridge and Elliot on the 28th. Chew and Elliot stopped at Horta on the island of Fayal the next day for oiling, and then on 30 May, Chew departed the Azores independently, bound for Newport.
While crossing the Atlantic on 3 June 1919, the ship received orders to proceed instead to New York, and she arrived at the New York Navy Yard on the 5th to commence overhaul that included a drydocking (23 June-7 July). After completing repairs and a successful dock trial on 28 July, Chew got underway the next day for post-repair tests but burned out a bearing during those runs and returned to Brooklyn for further maintenance. The destroyer undertook another post-repair sea trial on 8 August, but during a full-power run, the new set of pipes in the burner leaked, limiting the ship’s speed to 30 knots. Chew returned to the yard for the burners to be overhauled yet again, which was completed on the 12th. The ship successfully completed runs on the 13th with “all machinery apparently [in] excellent condition.” On 19 August, Chew steamed for Newport to complete inspection and conduct final acceptance trials. Her overhaul and trials finally completed, Chew returned to New York on 27 August and prepared to return to the West Coast.
Chew departed New York on 17 September 1919, bound for San Francisco in company with Edwards (Destroyer No. 265), Bailey (Destroyer No. 269), and Dorsey (Destroyer No. 117). On the 20th, Chew suffered a fracture in her starboard main condenser which caused her to stop to make temporary repairs and then anchor at Guantanamo Bay. Two days later, the convoy was underway again, stopping at Cristobal, Panama Canal Zone, on the 24th, anchoring overnight in Gatun Lake on the 25th, and completing the Panama Canal transit and mooring at Balboa on the 26th. On 1 October, the four destroyers continued on to Salina Cruz, arriving on the 4th without Bailey, which had been diverted on alternate orders the previous day. Sailing only with Dorsey, Chew departed Salina Cruz on 7 October and again experienced trouble with her condenser, forcing her to stop at sea for four hours. Chew arrived at San Diego on 11 October and remained there for the rest of the month.
November saw only two underway days for Chew, on the 10th and the 17th for maneuvers with the 4th Squadron, Division 11, and in mid-month a wedding took place, when, on the evening of the 15th, Y1c Milton A. Peterson married Miss Marion Hansen of San Diego on board the ship. On the 23rd, a crewman was diagnosed with measles, prompting the fumigation of the forward crew compartment. The medical officer from Melville (Destroyer Tender No. 2) came on board the next day to inspect the ship and the crew for measles but found no further evidence of infection.
Effective 19 November 1919, Chew assumed reserve status and operated only infrequently with Division 10, which also included Mugford, Champlin, Hazelwood, Schley (Destroyer No. 103), and Williams (Destroyer No. 108). On 16 August 1920, Chew departed San Diego with Burns (Destroyer No. 171), stopped briefly at San Pedro, Calif., and arrived at San Francisco on 18 August. The ship was in dry dock at the Mare Island Navy Yard from 19-26 August and then moved to Sausalito, Calif., to embark a group of reserve officers for training and transportation. After stopping at San Pedro, Chew returned to San Diego on 2 September.
Chew’s limited operations continued through the rest of 1920 and into 1921. On 30 August 1921, Destroyer Division 10 departed San Diego and arrived at Man of War Row, San Francisco, the following day. On 1 September, Chew moved to Mare Island for repairs and completed drydock from 27 September through 3 October. On the 17th, the ship took on ammunition and anchored in San Pablo Bay with the 16th Division, which included all of the ships of the 10th Division except Mugford. The division left the Bay Area on the 19th, stopped at San Pedro Harbor the next day, and returned to San Diego on 21 October 1921. Chew engaged in no further significant activity in this period. Decommissioned on 31 May 1922, Chew remained in reserve at San Diego.
Recommissioned on 14 October 1940 at San Diego, Chew was assigned to the local defense forces of the Fourteenth Naval District, and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 17 December 1940. Chew conducted patrols and training duty from her home port until the outbreak of hostilities, alternating her patrols with her sister ships from the World War I emergency program, Ward (DD-139) and Schley (DD-103), and Allen (DD-66), the oldest destroyer in the Navy that had performed active service during the first World War.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Chew lay moored in port near Battleship Row, receiving provisions. The destroyer opened fire at the enemy planes, “disintegrating [one] in mid-air” and hitting two more with her 3-inch fire. When the attack ended, Chew got underway for patrol immediately, sweeping the area to the southwest of the harbor’s entrance buoy and making depth charge attacks on eight different contacts. Sadly, two of Chew’s sailors died during the attack, Sea2c Mathew J. Agola in an explosion while fighting fires ravaging the destroyers Cassin (DD-372) and Downes (DD-375) in Dry Dock No. 1, while Chew’s “report of changes” to her muster roll of 31 December 1941 lists Sea2c Clarence A. Wise as missing and “assumed to be a casualty.”
Chew remained stationed at Pearl Harbor throughout the war on patrol, local escort, and submarine training duty in the vicinity of Oahu. On 23 May 1942, Chew commenced inter-island escort duty in the Hawaiian Islands. From 19 June through the month of July, Chew remained in port, including four days in dry dock, for repairs. The destroyer was underway again on 2 August for post-repair trials and then immediately resumed patrol duty. From 8-13 August, Chew served as convoy escort to Midway, returning to Pearl Harbor on the 17th. The destroyer escorted a convoy to San Francisco from 31 October through 10 November and returned to Hawaii with another convoy group from 23 November through 7 December.
After resuming local patrol and escort duty following her trip to the West Coast, Chew underwent a repair period beginning on 24 January 1943. Inspection of the hull during dry dock revealed a cracked blade and other damage to the port propeller. Following repairs, the destroyer took on ammunition on 10 February and resumed submarine training and patrols on the 14th. While escorting Salt Lake City (CA-25) on 25 February, Chew conducted search and rescue for a man overboard from the heavy cruiser, but neither ship was able to locate the missing sailor. On 20 March, with a Commander Price of the Royal Navy embarked, the destroyer conducted training exercises with aircraft from a Royal Navy ship acting as target.
On 30 April 1943, Chew departed Pearl Harbor, beginning a special assignment to escort West Virginia (BB-48) to the West Coast. The battleship had sunk at her berth during the Pearl Harbor attack, prompt counter-flooding ensuring that she sunk in an upright position, and had been subsequently refloated, pumped out, and repaired. She was headed to Puget Sound Navy Yard in Bremerton, Wash., to be rebuilt and returned to service. Investigating a report of a periscope on West Virginia’s port beam on 4 May, Chew reported a sound contact and dropped 11 depth charges. However, the sound contact could not be reestablished and the destroyer resumed her escort station ahead of West Virginia. The action report submitted two days later concluded that the sound target had been a whale. The ships arrived in Puget Sound on 7 May, and with her escort duties complete, Chew proceeded independently to Pier 41 at Seattle, Wash., where she spent three nights. The destroyer began the two-day passage to San Francisco on the 10th and spent ten days in port there before departing on the return voyage to Hawaii escorting the troop transport Republic (AP-33) on 23 May. The following day, Chew and Republic rendezvoused with Doherty (DE-14) escorting the transport Henderson (AP-1), and the ships convoyed to Pearl Harbor, arriving on the 31st.
Chew once again resumed local operations out of Pearl Harbor. On 6 July 1943, an unmanned crane swung around and hit the ship’s SC radar antenna. The destroyer spent most of the rest of July in repairs, getting underway again on the 30th. On 6 August, Chew responded to the scene of a crashed plane. The ship recovered debris and located the body of one of the plane’s occupants, recovered by the venerable tug (ex-minesweeper) Kingfisher (AT-135), to Pearl Harbor. The destroyer responded to another downed plane on 24 August while escorting Barnes (CVE-20), which was launching planes when a Grumman TBF Avenger splashed during takeoff. Chew sent her motor whaleboat to the scene and rescued the plane’s three crewmen, who sustained only minor injuries in the crash.
The ship continued normal operations into December 1943 when she had a month-long repair and upkeep period including nine days in dry dock. Chew resumed operations on 5 January 1944, but on 18 March, the destroyer was back in dry dock. Inspection of the shaft tubes, propellers, and other outboard equipment revealed two eight-inch cracks, a two-inch crack, pitted strut bearings, leaks in the underwater shell on both sides of the ship, smashed forward edge of the sound dome, and a 20-inch break in the welding between the dome and the sea chest. After completing repairs, Chew departed Pearl Harbor on patrol on 31 March.
However, just three weeks later, Chew suffered a significant casualty to her port engine reduction gear, rendering the engine inoperable. The destroyer returned to Pearl Harbor on 23 April 1944 and began a lengthy repair availability which kept her in port into August. On 9 August, the ship conducted post-repair trials with numerous observers on board, but the starboard engine lost vacuum while underway and compelled the ship to return to port. She got underway again for more engineering tests on the 12th but the next day went into dry dock, where investigation revealed a seven-inch crack in a blade on the port screw. Following additional repairs, Chew got underway on 17 August to conduct gunnery exercises with several ships, only to suffer yet another engineering casualty. The engineering gang could not make all necessary repairs while at sea, so the destroyer returned to Pearl Harbor. Chew finally resumed normal local operations on 21 August. Two days later, the destroyer was hit near her depth charges by an errant .50 caliber bullet from a Consolidated B-24 Liberator shooting at a towed sleeve about 9,000 yards astern, but fortunately the ship sustained neither damage nor casualties from this incident.
The repair yard, however, had not yet seen the last of Chew in 1944. On the morning of 22 September, Chew rendezvoused with Scamp (SS-277) to serve as the submarine’s escort while she exercised independently. Scamp had just made a practice torpedo attack on Griswold (DE-7), when at 1225, Scamp surfaced 100 yards off of Chew’s starboard bow, and the ships soon collided roughly midway between Chew’s bridge and bow. Chew sustained damage below the waterline that flooded or partially flooded nine compartments, and four of her sailors were injured.
Scamp reported that her “entire bow superstructure for a distance of nineteen (19) feet from bow and from upper deck down to and including bow buoyancy tank deck, and bow buoyancy vent valve operating rod require renewal,” although her torpedo tubes, torpedo tube shutters, and pressure hull were not damaged and none of her crew were injured. After assessing the damage, both ships were able to steam under their own power, and Chew slowly escorted Scamp back to Pearl Harbor. Chew entered dry dock on the 23rd, and inspection of the hull revealed “Starboard shell stove in from frame no .5 to frame no. 27. Break extending up from one foot above the keel to 15 feet above the keel at widest points. Compartments damaged: A101, A104, A105, A106, A202, A203, A204.” Chew left dry dock on 12 October, conducted post-repair trials on 2 November, and resumed local operations.
Damage to Chew's starboard bow, 23 September 1944, following her collision with Scamp (SS-277) the previous day. Scamp is lost while on a war patrol less than two months later. (National Archives and Records Administration)
Chew’s string of mishaps unfortunately continued into the new year. On 26 January 1945, Chew was operating on assignment with the small aircraft carrier Bataan (CVL-29) and Allen, (her division mate from DesDiv 80) as Task Group 19.5. At 0600, Chew suffered an engineering casualty diagnosed as a wiped bearing to the port IP turbine. The ship left formation and stopped the port engine to inspect the damage and effect repairs. The next evening, the ship stopped all engines for repairs, and on the 29th, Chew detached from the task group and returned to Pearl Harbor. The destroyer remained in port for repairs through late March. On 2 March, a board of inquiry convened to investigate the engineering casualty. The group met three more times before completing its investigation on 14 March, but its conclusions were not reported in the ship’s log.
Resuming her normal duties once again on 27 March 1945, Chew departed Pearl Harbor on 5 April to escort the attack transport Cortland (APA-75). The ships arrived at Midway on the 8th and two days later departed together for the return voyage to Pearl Harbor. Arriving on the morning of 14 April, at 1200 Chew participated in memorial services for the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had died at Warm Springs, Ga., two days prior.
Engine troubles continued to hamper Chew’s operational ability. The destroyer spent the last few days of April in port for engine repairs, and on 23 May 1945 she returned from duty and remained in port with her engineering plant secured until 12 June. On that day, the destroyer was once again underway with Allen for an anti-aircraft firing practice assignment when a casualty to the lubricating oil pump caused Chew’s engineers to shut down the port engine. Repairs ensued as the ship took part in the exercises, and the crew was able to put the engine back into commission that afternoon, although they took it down again later that day. On 30 June, Chew detached from a submarine exercise group because of a leak in the boiler feed water system, but the engineers were able to temporarily fix the issue and Chew rejoined the group for exercises. The destroyer’s engines continued to cause trouble through the month of July.
With the war in the Pacific coming to a conclusion in August 1945, Chew returned to port from submarine exercises and patrol for the last time on 11 August and prepared to return to the East Coast for decommissioning. Departing Pearl Harbor on 20 August, the destroyer rendezvoused with Phoenix (CL-46), Allen, and Drayton (DD-366) and steamed for San Pedro, Calif. On 23 August, Chew brushed Phoenix while maneuvering into position to refuel from the light cruiser, sustaining damage to her hull and bridge on the port side and injuring one sailor. The convoy arrived at San Pedro on the 26th and the following day, Chew moved to a berth at the California Shipbuilding Company for repairs to her damaged hull. After taking on fuel and provisions on the 28th, Chew left San Pedro to rejoin the convoy, now en route to the Panama Canal Zone.
After stopping at Acapulco, Mexico, to refuel overnight on 1 September 1945, the convoy continued on to Balboa, Panama Canal Zone, arriving on the 6th. The three destroyers transited the Panama Canal the next day, rejoining Phoenix in Cristobal Harbor. Chew then set course for Guantanamo Bay in company with Allen. The destroyers took on fuel and water in Cuba and steamed together for Philadelphia on 10 September. The next morning, Chew altered course, heading towards Jacksonville, Fla., to avoid a tropical storm, but resumed her northerly track that evening as the storm began to break up well to her east. Chew and Allen arrived at Philadelphia Navy Yard on 13 September, and the destroyers prepared for decommissioning.
Chew was decommissioned at Philadelphia Navy Yard on 15 October 1945 and was stricken from the Navy Register on 1 November. She was sold for scrap for $13,094.25 to Boston Metals Company of Baltimore, Md., on 24 September 1946.
Chew received one battle star for World War II service for her actions during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.
|Commanding Officer||Period of Command|
|Cmdr. Jacob H. Klein, Jr.||12 December 1918-16 September 1919|
|Lt. Cmdr. Edward H. Connor||16 September 1919-11 March 1920|
|Lt. (T) Harold F. Fultz||11 March 1920-7 September 1920|
|Mach. William J. O’Brien||7 September 1920-17 September 1920|
|Lt. Frank Schlapp||17 September 1920-21 September 1920|
|Mach. William J. O’Brien||21 September 1920-29 September 1920|
|Lt. Harold F. Fultz||29 September 1920-2 November 1920|
|Cmdr. Edwin B. Woodworth||2 November 1920-4 November 1920|
|Lt. Harold F. Fultz||4 November 1920-19 February 1921|
|Lt. James Roberts||19 February 1921-1 January 1922|
|Ens. Albert S. Arkush||1 January 1922-21 February 1922|
|Lt. (j.g.) Jesse G. McFarland||21 February 1922- 31 May 1922|
|Decommissioned||31 May 1922-14 October 1940|
|Lt. Cmdr. Edward L. Beck||14 October 1940-12 December 1941|
|Lt. Cmdr. Harry R. Hummer, Jr.||12 December 1941-11 October 1942|
|Lt. Cmdr. Peter H. Horn||11 October 1942-2 February 1943|
|Lt. Cmdr. Winston S. Brown USNR||2 February 1943-10 January 1944|
|Lt. Cmdr. Allen G. Grant USNR||10 January 1944-15 April 1945|
|Lt. Cmdr. Joseph J. Mannion USNR (D)||15 April 1945-15 October 1945|
14 December 2016