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Schenck (Destroyer No. 159)

(DD-159: dp. 1,211; l. 314'5"; b. 31'0"; dr. 9'4";- s. 35 k.; cpl. 122; a. 4 4", 1 3", 12 21" tt.; cl. Wickes)

James F. Schenck, born in 1807 in Franklin, Ohio, was appointed Midshipman in the United States Navy in 1825. During service in the Mexican War, he served under Commodore Stockton at Santa Barbara, San Pedro, Los Angeles, Guaymas, and Mazatlan. At Santa Barbara, in 1846, he raised with his own hands the first American flag to fly in California. He was highly commended for his service. Taking command of Saginaw in 1859, Schenck served on the China Station for two years, silencing a fort at Quinhon Bay, Cochin China, on 30 June 1861. Since Saginaw became unseaworthy early in the Civil War, Schenck decommissioned his ship on 3 January 1862, proceeded home without waiting for orders, and was at once given command of St. Lawrence in the West Gulf Blockading Squadron. Schenck commanded Powhatan and the 3d Division of Admiral Porter's fleet in operations against Fort Fisher, and he was mentioned for gallantry in Admiral Porter's action report. He was promoted to Rear Admiral on 21 September 1868 and retired on 11 June 1869. Rear Admiral Schenck died at Dayton, Ohio, on 21 December 1882.

Schenck (Destroyer No. 159) was laid down on 26 March 1918 by New York Shipbuilding Co., Camden, N.J.; launched on 23 April 1919; sponsored by Miss Mary Janet Earle; and commissioned on 30 October 1919, Comdr. N. H. Goss in command.

Schenck was attached to the Atlantic Fleet and, after shakedown, operated between New York and Chesapeake Bay. Between July and September 1920, she patrolled off the east coast of Mexico; and, in early 1921, she participated in fleet exercises in the Caribbean. Her crew was reduced to 50% of her authorized complement at Charleston, S.C., on 7 November 1921; and she was decommissioned at Philadelphia on 9 June 1922.

Schenck was recommissioned on 1 May 1930 and trained reservists during the summer. In January 1931, she joined the fleet in the Caribbean for Fleet Problem XII and, the following year, also participated in Fleet Problem XIII off Hawaii. Due to the increased tension in the Far East resulting from Japanese military action in Manchuria and at Shanghai, China, she remained in the Pacific with the Scouting Fleet until June 1932. Schenck again returned to the Pacific in February 1933 for Fleet Problem XIV and remained there until April 1934, when she reentered the Caribbean for more fleet exercises. Then, with intervening periods of overhaul and rotating reserve at Norfolk, Schenck trained naval reservists and Naval Academy midshipmen in cruises along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from May 1935 until the outbreak of war in Europe.

On 9 September 1939, Schenck commenced Neutrality Patrol duty off the east coast; and, after overhaul, moved to Key West for further patrols. During the summer of 1940, she made two midshipman cruises from Annapolis. She then carried out more patrols in the Caribbean, between 22 August and 8 December 1940, between 15 January and 18 March 1941, and between 27 June and 14 July 1941. Training and repairs filled intervals between her patrols.

On 15 September 1941, Schenck arrived at Argentia, Newfoundland, for duty escorting convoys carrying vital war materiel to England. She left Argentia with her first convoy on 29 September; and when the United States entered World War II, the destroyer had escorted two convoys to a guarded rendezvous with British escorts off Iceland and escorted a ship back to Argentia. She remained on the convoy route between Argentia and Iceland until April 1943, fighting heavy weather and German submarines. During two long periods, 19 February to 9 May 1942 and 18 August 1942 to 23 March 1943, she was based in Iceland escorting convoys in and out of Icelandic ports. Twice her convoy was attacked; on 15 August 1942, and from 6 to 8 February 1943. The weather also took its toll, frequently causing minor structural damage to the old ship; and, on 13 March 1943, a gale caused her to drag anchor and collide with SS Exterminator in an Icelandic port. Schenck was then sent to Boston for repairs.

Reassigned to more southerly routes, Schenck resumed convoy escort duties on 28 April 1943; and, during the summer, escorted convoys between east coast ports, the Caribbean, and North Africa. She returned to Chesapeake Bay with a convoy on 26 October 1943; and, after overhaul and training, joined a hunter-killer group built around escort carrier, Card (CVE-11). The group conducted patrols against enemy submarines near the Azores between 24 November 1943 and 2 January 1944. The high point of Schenck's war service came on Christmas Eve, 1943, when the group located a concentration of U-boats. After stalking radar and sound contacts for most of the night and making six attacks, Schenck heard an underwater explosion and saw an oil slick which marked the end of U-645. Almost immediately, another submarine sank Schenck's squadronmate, Leary (DD-158). Schenck continued her ASW operations and was later commended by the task group commander for her role in preventing a concentrated wolf pack attack on Card; for her continued aggressive action after the sinking of Leary, despite having only fourteen depth charges left; and for her skillful rescue of Leary's survivors.

In February and March 1944, Schenck made one more round-trip convoy voyage from the east coast to Casablanca; and, between 17 April and 10 June, she escorted Antaeus (AG-67) on troop-carrying voyages along the east coast. Between 10 July and 29 August, she provided training services for submarines at Bermuda and then entered the Brooklyn Navy Yard where she was stripped of her armament. Subsequently, she was assigned for duty under Commander, Air Force, Atlantic Fleet, as a torpedo target ship for aircraft. Reclassified AG-82 effective 25 September 1944, she provided target services for student pilots off Quonset Point, R.I., until the end of the war. This service is not without its dangers. The ship was twice holed by exercise torpedoes which failed to run at set depth and once struck by a low-flying aircraft. Schenck arrived at the Boston Navy Yard in January 1946 for inactivation; was decommissioned on 17 May; struck from the Navy list on 5 June; and sold on 25 November 1946 for scrapping to Boston Metals Co., Baltimore, Md.

Schenck received one battle star for her World War II service.

Published: Mon Feb 29 08:05:49 EST 2016