Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Somers IV (Destroyer No. 301)

(DD-301: dp. 1,215; l. 314'4- "; b. 30'11- "; dr. 9'4"; s. 34 k.; cpl. 122; a. 4 4", 1 3", 12 21" tt.; cl. Clemson)

Richard Somers, born in 1778 or 1779 at Great Egg Harbor, N.J., was appointed midshipman on 25 April 1797 and served in the West Indies during the Quasi War with Prance in frigate United States commanded by Capt. John Barry. Promoted to lieutenant on 21 May 1799, Somers was detached from United States on 13 June 1801 and ordered to Boston on 30 July 1801. He served in the latter frigate in the Mediterranean.

After Boston returned to Washington, Somers was furloughed on 11 November 1802 to await orders.

On 5 May 1803, Somers was ordered to Baltimore to man; fit out; and command Nautilus; and, when that schooner was ready for sea, to sail her to the Mediterranean. Nautilus got underway on 30 June; reached Gibraltar on 27 July; and sailed four days later to deliver dispatches to Capt. John Rodgers at Malaga, Spain. He then returned to Gibraltar to meet Commodore Edward Preble, in Constitution, who was bringing a new squadron for action against the Barbary pirates.

Nautilus sailed with Preble on 6 October to Tangier where the display of American naval strength induced the Europeans of Morocco to renew the treaty of 1786. Thereafter, Tripoli became the focus of Preble's attention.

Somers' service as commanding officer of Nautilus during operations against Tripoli won him promotion to master commandant on 18 May 1804. In the summer, he commanded a division of gunboats during five attacks on Tripoli.

On 4 September 1804, Somers assumed command of bomb ketch Intrepid which had been fitted out as a "floating volcano" to be sailed into Tripoli harbor and blown up in the midst of the corsair fleet close under the walls of the city. That night, she got underway into the harbor, but she exploded prematurely, killing Somers and his entire crew of volunteers.


The fourth Somers (Destroyer No. 301) was laid down on 4 July 1918 by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., San Francisco, Calif.; launched on 28 December 1918; sponsored by Miss Anna Maxwell Jayne; and commissioned on 23 June 1920, Comdr. H. G. Gearing, Jr., in command.

Somers arrived at San Diego on 20 July 1920; and, five days later, sailed for the Puget Sound area and summer exercises with the Battle Fleet. She returned to San Diego on 4 August for war maneuvers off Coronado and, on 3 October, was attached to the Reserve Divisions at San Diego.

Resuming active status in March 1922, Somers underwent overhaul at Puget Sound and returned to San Diego on 8 July for tactical, torpedo, and gunnery exercises. Departing San Diego on 6 February 1923, she operated off Panama with the fleet between 26 February and 11 April, conducting exercises and participating in Fleet Problem I. She then proceeded to Puget Sound for her annual overhaul between 22 April and 28 June.

Somers remained in the north for summer exercises with the Battle Fleet and, on 25 and 26 July, carried staff officers of President Harding from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C., during the President's Alaskan trip.

On 27 August, she departed Puget Sound with her squadron for San Francisco and San Diego; but, in a fog on 8 September, seven ships of the squadron ran aground at Point Honda, Calif. Somers escaped disaster by conducting an emergency turn and, although she grazed a rock, suffered only moderate damage to her bow. When the fog lifted the next morning, Somers discovered Fuller (DD-297) and Woodbury (DD-309) aground on an offshore rock. Together with a passing fishing vessel, Bueno Amor de Roma, the destroyer rescued survivors. She arrived at San Diego on 10 September and received repairs at Mare Island from 31 October to 5 December.

On 2 January 1924, Somers departed San Diego with the Battle Fleet for the annual fleet concentration, transited the Panama Canal on 18 January, and participated in winter exercises and Fleet Problems II and III in the Caribbean until 31 March. Returning to San Diego in early April, she conducted summer exercises in the Puget Sound area from 2 July to 1 September; and, after a month at San Diego, returned to Puget Sound for overhaul from 25 November 1924 to 17 February 1925. Departing San Diego on 3 April 1925, Somers headed for Hawaii. She participated in Joint Army and Navy Problem 3 en route and arrived at Pearl Harbor with the fleet on 27 April. On 1 July, the Battle Fleet, including Somers, departed Pearl Harbor for a goodwill cruise to the Southwest Pacific and visited Melbourne, Australia; Dunedin and Wellington, New Zealand; and American Samoa, before returning to San Diego on 26 September.

Somers sailed on 1 February 1926 from San Diego for the annual fleet concentration off the Canal Zone which lasted until 20 March. On 14 June, she departed San Diego for summer exercises in the Puget Sound area, returning on 1 September. Annual overhaul at Puget Sound lasted from 7 December 1926 to 19 January 1927; and, on 17 February, she was again underway with the Battle Fleet for the fleet concentration. After completing exercises in the Caribbean on 22 April, the fleet made a visit to New York, conducted a joint Army and Navy exercise in Narragansett Bay, and then arrived at Hampton Roads on 29 May for the Presidential Naval Review there. Departing Hampton Roads on 4 June, the Battle Fleet, including Somers, called at San Diego from 25 June to 1 July and arrived in the Puget Sound area on 16 July for summer exercises.

Somers and her squadron left Puget Sound on 20 August and sailed to Hawaii, searching for planes lost on a flight from the United States to Honolulu. She returned to San Diego on 5 September and underwent overhaul at Puget Sound from 25 December 1927 to 29 February 1928. After a month at San Diego, she sailed on 9 April 1928 with the fleet for Hawaii to conduct Fleet Problem VIII. She returned to San Diego on 23 June and got underway six days later for summer exercises in Puget Sound including a reserve training cruise to Alaska from 7 to 21 July. Returning to San Diego on 4 September, she received repairs at Bremerton from 31 December 1928 to 8 February 1929; and, after spending the spring at San Diego, operated with the fleet off Puget Sound from 18 June to 28 August. On 25 September 1929 at San Diego, she towed Buchanan (DD-131) from the reserve fleet to her buoy; and, on 10 April 1930, Somers was decommissioned and Buchanan commissioned in her place. Somers was struck from the Navy list on 18 November 1930, scrapped at Mare Island in 1930 and 1931, and her materials were sold on 19 March 1931.

Published: Mon Feb 29 08:58:26 EST 2016