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Worden II (Destroyer No. 288)


Worden (DD-288) underway at Santa Cruz del Sur, Cuba
Caption: Worden (DD-288) underway at Santa Cruz del Sur, Cuba, as seen from the seaplane tender Wright (AV-1) on 13 February 1927. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-CF-21525.2, Still Pictures Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md.)

(Destroyer No. 288: displacement 1,215 (normal) ; length 314'4 - "; beam 30'11 - "; draft 9'9 - " (aft) (full load); s. 34.47 knots (trial); complement 120; armament. 4 4-inch, 1 3-inch, 12 21-inch torpedo tubes; cl. Clemson)

John Lorimer Worden, born on 12 March 1818 in Westchester County, N.Y., was appointed midshipman in the Navy on 10 January 1834. He served his first three years in the sloop-of-war Erie on the Brazilian Station. Following that, he was briefly assigned to the sloop Cyane before reporting to the Naval School at Philadelphia for seven months of instruction. He returned to sea in July 1840 for two years with the Pacific Squadron. Between 1844 and 1846, Worden was stationed at the Naval Observatory in Washington, Southampton, but in other ships as well. In 1850, he returned to the Naval Observatory for another two-year tour of duty. The ensuing nine years were filled with sea duty which took Worden on several cruises in the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas.


photograph of Comdr. John L. Worden
Caption: Comdr. John L. Worden, circa 1862. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 50463)

Brought to Washington early in 1861, he received orders in April to carry secret dispatches, regarding the reinforcement of Fort Pickens, south to the warships at Pensacola. During the return journey north, Worden was arrested near Montgomery, Ala., and was held prisoner until exchanged about seven months later. Though still ill as a result of his imprisonment, Comdr. Worden accepted orders to command the new ironclad Monitor on 16 January 1862. He reported to her building site at Greenpoint on Long Island and supervised her completion. He placed the new warship in commission at the New York Navy Yard on 25 February and two days later sailed for Hampton Roads. However, steering failure forced the ironclad back to New York for repairs. On 6 March, she headed south again, this time under tow by Seth Low. On the afternoon of 8 March, Worden's command approached Cane Henry, Va., while inside Hampton Roads, the Confederacy's own ironclad, CSS Virginia, wreaked havoc with the Union Navy's wooden blockading fleet. During that engagement, the Southern warship sank the sloop and severely damaged Congress and Minnesota before retiring behind Sewell's Point. Arriving on the scene too late to participate in the engagement, Worden and his command set about assisting the grounded Minnesota.

At daybreak on the 9th, Virginia emerged once more from behind Sewell's Point to complete her reduction of the Federal fleet at Hampton Roads. As the Confederate ironclad approached Minnesota, Worden maneuvered Monitor put from the grounded ship's shadow to engage Virginia in the battle that revolutionized naval warfare. For four hours, the two iron-plated ships slugged it out as they maneuvered in the narrow channel of Hampton Roads, pouring shot and shell at one another to almost no visible effect. Three hours into the slug fest, Worden received facial wounds when a Confederate shell exploded just outside the pilot house. He relinquished command to his first officer, Samuel D. Green. About an hour later, Monitor withdrew from the battle temporarily and, upon her return to the scene, found that Virginia, too, had withdrawn. The first battle between steam-driven, armored ships had ended in a draw.

After the battle, Worden moved ashore to convalesce from his wounds. During that recuperative period, he received the accolade of a grateful nation and the official thanks of Congress. Late in 1862, he took command of the ironclad monitor Montauk and placed her in commission at New York on 14 December 1862. Later in the month, Worden took his new ship south to join the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron off Port Royal, S.C. On 27 January 1863, he led his ship in the bombardment of Fort McAlister. A month later, newly promoted Capt. Worden took his ship into the Ogeechee River, found the Confederate privateer Rattlesnake (formerly CSS Nashville), and destroyed her with five well-placed shots. His last action came of 7 April 1863, when Montauk participated in an attack on Charleston, S.C.

Not long after the Charleston attack, Capt. Worden received orders to shore duty in conjunction with the construction of ironclads at New York. That assignment lasted until the late 1860's. In 1869, he began a five-year tour as Superintendent of the Naval Academy during which he was promoted to rear admiral. During the late 1870's, he commanded the European Squadron, visiting ports in northern Europe and patrolling the eastern Mediterranean during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. He returned ashore and concluded his naval career as a member of the Examining Board and as President of the Retiring Board. When he retired on 23 December 1886, Congress voted him full sea pay in his grade for life. Rear Admiral Worden resided in Washington, D.C., until his death from pneumonia on 19 October 1897. After funeral services at Washington's St. John's Episcopal Church, he was buried at Pawling, N.Y.

II

The second Worden (Destroyer No. 288) was laid down on 30 June 1919 at Squantum, Mass., by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp.; launched on 24 October 1919; sponsored by Mrs. Emilie Neilson Worden; and commissioned on 24 February 1920 at the Boston Navy Yard, Lt. Comdr. David H. Stuart in command.

The destroyer spent the first four years of her decade of active service in operations along the Atlantic coast of the United States. After fitting out, she departed Boston, loaded torpedoes and spare parts at Newport, and embarked upon her shakedown cruise to Key West and Cuban waters. She completed that voyage at New York on 1 May 1920 and joined Destroyer Division 42, 3d Squadron, Atlantic Fleet. From May to July, she conducted operations along the length of the Atlantic seaboard, from Key West to Newport. On 17 July, the ship was redesignated as DD-288. On 21 July, she arrived in Charleston and remained there until the following summer. On 25 June 1921, she departed Charleston for a 4th of July visit to New York and gunnery practice off Block Island. In August, she made a voyage to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with Naval Academy midshipmen embarked, returning them to Annapolis, Md., on the 22d.

Worden stopped briefly at Hampton Roads, then headed via New York to Boston for repairs at the navy yard which she completed early in November 1921. On the 16th, she loaded torpedoes at Newport and headed south to Charleston, where she arrived on the 18th. She remained there until the spring of 1922. On 29 May of that year, she got underway for a voyage which took her up the coast to Philadelphia; thence to Yorktown, a temporary base for battle practice and gunnery drills. Late in July, Worden made a brief cruise to New York and then returned to the southern drill grounds located off the Virginia capes.

During August, September, and October 1922, she conducted battle practice off the capes, departing the area periodically for visits to New York; Beaufort, N.C.; and Newport. On 21 November, the destroyer entered port at Boston for a repair period which lasted until the end of 1922. Shen then left Boston and loaded torpedoes at Newport on New Year's Day 1923. On 5 January, she arrived at Lynnhaven Roads, Va., but, soon thereafter, continued south to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where she resumed gun and torpedo drills through the end of the month. On 12 February, she transited the Panama Canal with the Scouting Fleet for Fleet Problem I, the first set of combined maneuvers with Battle Fleet, conducted in the Gulf of Panama. She retransited the canal on 27 March and resumed training in the Guantanamo Bay area until late April.

After visits to several gulf coast ports (Galveston, Tex.; New Orleans, La.; Tampa, Fla.; and Key West, Fla.) she returned to Newport on 15 May 1923. Early in June, she visited Washington, D.C., and, by mid-month, had entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard for repairs. Worden left Philadelphia on 12 October and resumed gunnery drills and battle practice at the southern drill grounds off the Virginia capes. Those drills, punctuated by visits to Fall River, Mass., and to Baltimore, Md., occupied her time until mid-November, at which time she entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard for repairs to a ruptured boiler.

On 3 January 1924, Worden departed Philadelphia and, after a brief stop at Lynnhaven Roads, Va., rendezvoused with Scouting Fleet as a unit of its screen. Conducting drills and exercises along the way, the Scouting Fleet headed for Colon, Panama, where the warships refueled before continuing on to Culebra Island with the combined United States Fleet (Scouting Fleet and Battle Fleet). Worden participated in the annual spring exercises in the West Indies until late spring. On 4 May, she arrived back in Philadelphia to prepare for her first and only deployment outside the western hemisphere. After a brief repair period at Boston and a visit to Newport, she headed across the Atlantic in mid-June. On the 27th, she passed through the Strait of Gibraltar to begin a year of duty with the United States Naval Forces in Europe. During the early portion of that tour, Worden called at Palermo, Sicily, and then headed for the Adriatic Sea.

Her tour in the Adriatic was prompted no doubt by the murder of two Americans in the newly established state of Albania and the internal strife which followed and which resulted in the brief ouster of Prime Minister Ahmed Zogu and his temporary replacement by a provisional government under Bishop Fan Stylian Noli. During her stay in the Adriatic, Worden visited Pola and Venice in Italy and Spalato in Yugoslavia as well as Durazzo in troubled Albania.

Later in the year, the destroyer left the Mediterranean for visits to Gravesend, England; Cherbourg, France; Leith, Scotland; and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. At the conclusion of that circuit, she returned.

She returned to New York on 16 July 1925 and resumed her former schedule of operations with the Scouting Fleet. On 13 September, she entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard for repairs. The destroyer did not leave the yard until December. On the 7th, she headed south to join in the annual winter maneuvers held in the West Indies and in Panama Bay on the Pacific side of the isthmus. Scouting Fleet transited the canal on 4 and 5 February 1926 to join Battle Fleet for Fleet Problem VI in Panama Bay. In March, Worden returned to the Caribbean with Scouting Fleet and resumed battle practice, gunnery drills, and torpedo exercises in the West Indies. She completed that phase of her 1926 training schedule late in the spring and arrived back in Philadelphia on 5 May. During the early part of the summer, the warship continued her training schedule, this time off the New England coast near Narragansett Bay. On 2 July, she entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard for a three-month repair period.

On 11 October 1926, Worden stood out of Philadelphia on her way south once more. After a brief stop at Hampton Roads, the destroyer continued on her way and arrived in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on the 16th. For the next month, she conducted engineering trials and battle practice near Haiti in the Gulf of Gonaives. Returning north in mid-November, she visited the Naval Academy for a time before heading back to Philadelphia where she arrived on 15 December. The warship bade farewell to Philadelphia once again on 5 January 1927 and pointed her bow southward for a stop at Yorktown followed by the 1927 edition of the annual winter maneuvers. She reached Guantanamo Bay on 12 January and commenced gunnery and battle practice with Scouting Fleet in preparation for the annual Fleet problem.

In contrast to the previous fleet problems in which she had participated, Fleet Problem VII brought Battle Fleet to the Caribbean instead of taking Scouting Fleet to the Pacific. The exercise was staged in March 1927; and, by late April, Worden had returned north, this time to New York City. During the summer of 1927, she conducted normal training exercises off the Atlantic coast and participated in the Fleet Review conducted off Cape Henry, Va., in June for President Calvin Coolidge. On 11 September, she entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard and remained there for the rest of the year.

On 7 January 1928, Worden started south from Philadelphia. This time, however, she participated only in the preliminary drills and exercises for the annual fleet problem. She headed back to Philadelphia in April and arrived there on the 14th. Meanwhile, Scouting Fleet and Battle Fleet joined and executed Fleet Problem VIII in the broad expanse of the Pacific between San Francisco, Calif., and the Hawaiian Islands. A month later, Worden returned to sea for her usual round of operations along the Atlantic seaboard. That duty lasted until late in October at which time her base of operations changed to Charleston, S.C. Local operations out of that port occupied her time until early December when she returned north to Philadelphia for a month.

In January 1929, Worden moved to Norfolk for repairs to her turbines, and, after post-repair trials in the Chesapeake Bay in February, headed south for winter maneuvers. The destroyer arrived at Guantanamo Bay on 28 February. She concluded her part in those exercises later in the spring and returned north, arriving in New York on 2 May. During the summer, she conducted normal operations along the northeastern coast. On 21 September, Worden arrived in Philadelphia. The warship remained there until she was decommissioned on 1 May 1930. Her name was stricken from the Navy Register on 22 October 1930, and she was sold, along with 18 of her sisterships, on 17 January 1931 to the Boston Iron and Metal Co., Baltimore, Maryland.

Acquired by the Standard Fruit and Steamship Company of New Orleans, La., after she had been reduced to a hulk, the ship was reconfigured by the Todd Engineering, Dry Dock and Repair Company into a banana carrier. Powered by diesel engines, her hull divided into four cargo holds with a capacity of 20,000 stems of bananas, and renamed Tabasco, the former warship served in the fruit-carrying trade until lost on 18 May 1933 when she was stranded on Alacran Reef, in the Gulf of Mexico. Of the 19 souls on board, there were no fatalities in the loss.


Raymond A. Mann, John C. Reilly, Jr., and Robert J. Cressman

Published: Mon Feb 29 13:43:01 EST 2016