Thomas Tingey was born in London on 11 September 1750. As a youth, he served in the British Navy commanding a blockhouse at Chateaux Bay on the Labrador coast. He later commanded merchant vessels in the West Indies before coming to the colonies and investing in the East India trade. According to unverified tradition, Tingey served in the Continental Navy during the War for Independence.
In September 1798, Tingey was commissioned a captain in the United States Navy and distinguished himself in the undeclared war with France as commander of the man-of-war Ganges. During that time, Tingey commanded a squadron which cruised the waters of the Windward Passage between Hispaniola and Cuba to protect American shipping from French privateers. Tingey commanded Ganges as she took four prizes and is known for his bloodless encounter with the British frigate Surprise.
In January 1800, Tingey was appointed to supervise construction of the new navy yard at Washington, D.C., and became its first commandant on 23 November 1804. In the summer of 1814, as the British advanced on Washington, the Secretary of the Navy ordered Tingey to set fire to the yard. Tingey returned after the withdrawal of the British forces and commanded the yard until his death on 23 February 1829. Commodore Tingey was buried with military honors in what is now known as Congressional Cemetery, Washington, D.C.
The third Tingey (DD-539) was laid down on 22 October 1942 by the Bethlehem Steel Co., San Francisco, Calif.; launched on 28 May 1943; sponsored by Mrs.Garry Owen; and commissioned on 25 November 1943, Comdr. John Odgers Miner in command.
Following shakedown off the west coast, Tingey departed San Francisco for the Pacific theater on 2 February 1944. The destroyer participated in exercises out of Pearl Harbor in February and March before screening a convoy en route to the Marshalls early in April. On 13 April, she sortied Majuro to join Rear Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's fast carrier attack force. Later that month, while supporting carrier strikes on Eton and Dublon in the Truk Islands, Tingey suffered casualties during an engagement with Japanese aircraft.
Tingey continued on her mission acting as a member of the destroyer screen for Battleship Division 7. On 1 May, Tingey participated in the bombardment of Tumu Point to eliminate the site as a Japanese submarine and air base. On 29 April, Tingey continued screening duties for the task force while one of its cruiser units bombarded Satawan Island.
On 15 May, Tingey sortied Majuro in company with Rear Admiral Alfred E. Montgomery's carrier task group and set course for Marcus and Wake Islands. Early in June, she steamed as a member of Task Force (TF) 58 for the Philippine Sea. During the following week, she operated in the vicinity of Saipan and Tinian participating in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The carriers of the group launched strike after strike against Guam and Rota and decimated the massed attacks of enemy aircraft flung at them by Japanese Admiral Ozawa in the 19 June battle, later known as "the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot." Also in June, Tingey accompanied the group as it conducted air strikes on Pagan Island.
On the last day of June, Tingey sortied from Eniwetok with Rear Admiral Ralph E. Davison's carrier task group for air strikes in the Bonins. She then rejoined the 5th Fleet off Saipan to support invasion forces in the Marianas. On 21 July, the carriers launched 10 strikes in support of the assault on Guam. After replenishment at Saipan, Tingey set course for the northern Palaus where she supported carrier air sweeps and strikes. She then assumed screening duties for Rear Admiral Gerald F. Bogan's carrier task group as it conducted strikes on enemy concentrations on Guam.
After mooring at Eniwetok for upkeep and inspection, Tingey resumed her duties late in August. During the first two weeks of September, she supported carrier strikes on Leyte, Bulan, and Samar, before proceeding to Luzon. There, the destroyer encountered night enemy attacks while supporting carrier strikes on the Philippines. After replenishment at Tanapag Harbor, Tingey got underway for Ulithi where she conducted antisubmarine patrols.
In October, Tingey continued operations with Mitscher's fast carrier force. On 17 and 18 October, she supported strikes on Visayan Island; and, on the 24th, the carriers launched strikes in the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea. Steaming off San Bernardino Strait on the night of 25 and 26 October, Tingey joined with the battleships and cruisers of the task group to sink the Nowaki. This ill-fated Japanese destroyer was a straggler from Admiral Kurita's Center Force retiring from the Battle off Samar. Following this engagement, Tingey steamed northward for strikes on Manila Bay; then returned in the first week of November for additional strikes on Luzon and Bicol.
Departing Ulithi on 14 November, Tingey steamed for the Philippines. En route, she weathered a typhoon which swallowed up three destroyers on 18 December. After a fruitless search for survivors, the carrier group aborted planned strikes on Luzon because of bad weather and rough seas and returned to Ulithi.
On 30 December 1944, the task group conducted strikes on Formosa and Luzon. In January 1945, Tingey proceeded to the South China Sea for strikes on French Indochina and Hong Kong before returning to Ulithi. In February, she participated in Operation "Jamboree" strikes on Tokyo Bay and experienced enemy air attacks as she performed screening duties in support of the Iwo Jima landings. She accompanied carriers making strikes on Kyushu and Okinawa in March. When enemy aircraft bombed carrier Franklin (CV-13) on the 19th, causing fire and extensive damage, Tingey rescued survivors and escorted the battered vessel to Ulithi.
During April and May, enemy air activity was frequent as Tingey screened carriers providing direct air support for ground troops on Okinawa. Tingey made three assists, splashed a Japanese raider, and rescued downed fliers from Essex (CV-9) and Bunker Hill (CV-17). Under constant enemy air attacks, Tingey continued her duties off Okinawa in May, making one quick run north to Kyushu on 13 May for air strikes. Tingey spent most of June undergoing upkeep in the Philippines before getting underway for San Francisco. On 9 July, she arrived at Mare Island where she remained until the end of the war. Tingey was decommissioned in March 1946.
The outbreak of the Korean War led to Tingey's recommissioning on 27 January 1951. After two months of operations out of San Diego, she was soon taking part in American efforts in the Korean conflict. Following a brief period at Pearl Harbor in May, Tingey steamed via Sasebo and Yokosuka for Korea. From August to December 1951, she operated off Wonsan on the east coast of Korea supplying gunfire support for United Nations ground troops, conducting anti-mining and shore bombardment patrols off Hungnam, and destroying many enemy targets. In December, Tingey provided support for Republic of Korea (ROK) commando raids before getting underway for Yokosuka on 4 December.
Tingey spent the first six months of 1952 in San Diego; then steamed on 11 July, via Midway and Pearl Harbor, toward Korea. On 13 August, Tingey was again off the east coast of Korea providing gunfire support for ROK forces ashore. She also engaged in antisubmarine searches and conducted night patrols between Nan Do Island and the Korean peninsula. During this six-month tour off Korea, Tingey completed successful fire missions on enemy troops, railroads, and gun and mortar positions. She departed Korea on 26 January 1953 and arrived at San Diego on 16 February.
In mid-August, she got underway again for WestPac, arriving off Korea on 10 November 1953. During this tour, Tingey operated out of Sasebo, Japan conducted missions off the east and west coasts of Korea; and visited Taiwan and the Philippines before she returned to San Diego in April 1954.
Tingey again departed San Diego on 16 November 1954 for operations in the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan. During this tour, she plied the waters of Taiwan Strait to protect Taiwan against invasion and also conducted surveillance of shipping. Tingey trained Chinese Nationalist personnel and visited Bangkok and Manila before setting course for Hong Kong on 27 January. Between January and April, she operated off Taiwan, Korea, and Okinawa; then steamed in May for San Diego. In the following three years, Tingey served additional tours in the Far East. Returning from WestPac in 1957, she operated out of San Diego as a naval reserve training ship until 1962 when SEATO exercises sent Tingey to the Far East once more. After completing these exercises, she returned to San Diego to resume reserve training cruises.
On 1 August 1963, Tingey was involved in a collision with Vammen (DE-644) off southern California. Tingey sustained no casualties and was able to return to San Diego under her own power despite severe flooding and damage. She was decommissioned on 30 November 1963, and her name was struck from the Navy list.
Tingey received eight battle stars for World War II service and five battle stars for the Korean War.