(DD-653: dp. 2,050; l. 376'6" ; b. 39'7" ; dr. 17'9" ; s. 37 k.; cpl. 319; a. 5 5", 10 21" tt., 6 dcp., 2 dct.; cl. Fletcher)
Harry Shepard Knapp, born 27 June 1856 in New Britain, Conn., graduated from the Naval Academy 20 June 1878. After serving in Pensacola as cadet midshipman and in Minnesota, and Jamestown as a midshipman, he was commissioned Ensign 8 July 1882. Following assignments to a number of ships and stations ashore, he was ordered to Dorothea as executive officer at the outbreak of the Spanish American War. Outstanding service in a variety of important billets afloat and ashore was rewarded on 3 August 1908 when Knapp assumed command of Charleston (C-22). Promoted to Captain 1909, Knapp was assigned to the General Board 8 January 1910. At about this time he served intermittently on the Joint Army and Navy Board for Defense of the Panama Canal. He was in charge of Florida (BB-30) while she was fitted out and commanded the battleship when she first commissioned 15 September 1911. He took command of Cruiser Force, Atlantic Fleet 8 November 1915.
Knapp was promoted to Rear Admiral 17 March 1917 and a week before the United States entered World War I was appointed Military Governor of Santo Domingo and Military Representative of the United States in Haiti. "Meritorious service" in this post, labouring to protect Allied shipping from German U-boats and to make the Caribbean secure from enemy aggression, won Rear Admiral Knapp the Navy Cross. Soon after the armistice, he was Naval Attache in London with staff duties and on 4 February 1920 assumed command of U.S. Naval Forces operating in European waters with rank of Vice Admiral. Even after Vice Admiral Knapp was placed on the retired list effective 27 June 1920, the Navy utilized his singular abilities. This won him temporary active duty as a consultant and as quasi-diplomat. He died at Hartford, Conn., 6 April 1928.
Knapp (DD-653) was laid down 8 March 1943 by Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine; launched 10 July 1943; sponsored by Misses Margaret L. and Mary C. Knapp; and commissioned 16 September 1943, Comdr. Frank Virden in command.
After shakedown out of Bermuda, Knapp departed Boston 26 November for the Pacific arriving Pearl Harbor 21 December. She departed Pearl Harbor 16 January with the mighty carriers of Admiral Mitscher's Task Force 58 for the Marshall Islands invasion. At sea on this duty from 16 January until 12 February when she put in to Majuro, Knapp also bombarded Kwajalein Island. She continued her screening as carriers launched raids on Truk 16-17 February and on bases in the Marianas from 21 to 22 February, then sailed from Majuro to Espiritu Santo to screen carriers providing air cover for the seizure of Emirau Island from 20 to 25 March and raiding the Palaus, Yap, and Woleai from 30 March to 1 April.
The destroyer returned to Majuro 6 April 1944 and a week later she sortied with heavy ships for the Hollandia landings of 21 to 24 April, and air raids on Truk, Satawan, and Ponape at the close of the month.
Following replenishment at Majuro in May Knapp joined and screened carriers during operations against Saipan. On 19 June Knapp guarded her force during the momentous air Battle of the Philippine Sea in which Japan's air power was annihilated. From 25 July to 5 August she continued her screening in the raids on Palau, Ulithi, Yap, Iwo Jima, and Chichi Jima during the last of which she joined in the surface gunfire which sank several ships of a Japanese convoy earlier badly mauled by carrier aircraft. Knapp refitted at Eniwetok 11 to 30 August.
Knapp steamed out of Eniwetok for the invasion of the Palaus 30 August screening five battleships and later rendezvous with carriers Langley, Lexington, Essex, and Princeton before their deadly strikes at targets in the Palaus during the bloody struggle to take Peleliu. During September Knapp screened heavy ships making strikes at the Philippines and 6 October she sailed from Ulithi for the air strikes on Okinawa and Formosa in preparation for the Leyte landings, and fired protective antiaircraft cover for her force during the Formosa air battle of 12-14 October. After guarding the retirement toward safety of the stricken Canberra which had been struck by an aerial torpedo 13 October, she rejoined her force for air strikes on Luzon, and screened them during the Battle of Surigao Strait, one phase of the decisive Battle of Leyte Gulf. She returned to Ulithi 30 October, 2 days later headed back to the Philippines. After Reno was damaged 3 November by a submarine torpedo, Knapp guarded her withdrawal to safety. From 25 November through the middle of January 1945 Knapp screened air strikes on Luzon, French Indo China, and cities on the China Coast neutralizing Japanese bases in preparation for the Lingayen invasion. Escorting Ticonderoga which was hit during an air attack on 21 January, Knapp arrived in Ulithi 24 January 1945 with the crippled carrier. Accomplishing her mission, the veteran destroyer sailed 30 January for the West Coast, arriving 20 February for overhaul.
Knapp sailed for the Western Pacific 23 April arriving off Okinawa 27 May 1945. She served on dangerous and demanding duty as radar picket ship until 26 June. Three days later she joined carrier Task Force 39 for the final series of raids against the Japanese home island. Following the end of fighting 15 August, Knapp arrived in Sagami Wan, Honshu, Empire of Japan, 27 August and sailed into Tokyo Bay 1 September for the surrender ceremonies aboard the Missouri (BB-63) 2 September. During the early days of the occupation she helped demilitarize Japanese midget submarine and suicide boat bases.
She sailed for the United States 5 December and arrived at San Diego 21 December 1945. Shortly thereafter Knapp sailed via the Panama Canal for Boston arriving 17 January 1946. She sailed for Charleston, S.C., 2 April and decommissioned 5 July 1946.
Knapp recommissioned 3 May 1951 when the outbreak of the Korean conflict necessitated more naval vessels. She served in the Atlantic Fleet working out of Newport, R.I. 'She cruised in the Caribbean from 20 July to 13 September when she pulled into Charleston, where she was refitted with modern equipment then sailed 4 February 1952 with a task force to England, Norway, and Germany. She made a voyage to the Mediterranean 22 November visiting ports in Italy, Turkey, and Spain. Knapp transitted the Straits of Gibraltar 26 January 1953 and overhauled at Boston until 10 August 1953 when she deployed with Destroyer Division 182 for a world cruise. Her cruise was delayed when she arrived in the Far East. She patrolled the Korean coast with Task Force 77 until 14 January 1954 when she resumed her cruise via Hong Kong; Singapore; Colombo; Aden; Saudi Arabia; Suez Canal; visited Port Said, Naples, Barcelona, Lisbon, Bermuda, and arrived Fall River, Mass., 10 March 1954.
Knapp sailed from Newport for San Diego arriving 15 December. She got underway 4 January 1955 for the Western Pacific and patrolled the Bast China Sea and the Formosa Straits until the first part of June when she returned to San Diego 19 June 1955. After operations along the California coast she returned to the Far East 27 January 1956, visited ports of Kobe, Subic Bay, Buckners Bay and patrolled the Formosa Straits showing off to the Communists our interests in that part of the world before returning San Diego 31 May 1956. She operated along the California coast, entering Long Beach Naval Shipyard 4 September for overhaul. Knapp was decommissioned 4 March 1957 and assigned to the Long Beach Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet. At present she is berthed at Bremerton, Wash.
Knapp received eight battle stars for World War II service.