USS STEVENS DD-479 HISTORY
 
 
 

The second STEVENS (DD-479) was laid down on 30 December 1941 at Charleston, S.C., by the Charleston Navy Yard, launched and christened in honor of the late Commodore Thomas Holdup Stevens and his son Rear Admiral Stevens on 24 June 1942.  She was co-sponsored by Mrs. Roland Curtin, grandneice of the late Rear Admiral Thomas Holdup Stevens II, USN and Mrs. Frederick Stevens Hicks, wife of the great-grandson of Rear Admiral Stevens.

This is the second vessel to bear this name.  A previous ship, a torpedo-destroyer boat was named the USS STEVENS in honor of Commodore Stevens.  This vessel was scrapped and sold in 1936. 

Commodore Stevens was born at Charleston, S.C. in February 1795 and died in Washington, D.C. on 22 January, 1841.  He was appointed a midshipman in 1809.  During the war of 1812 he commanded the TRIPPE in the battle of Lake Erie.  Throughout the period 1823-24 he commanded vessels in the West Indies in suppression of piracy.

Rear Admiral Stevens, his son, was born on 27 May 1819 in the state of Connecticut and died in Rockville, MD on 15 May 1896.  He was appointed a midshipman in 1836.  In the period of the Civil War he served with great distinction, commanding on various occassions six different vessels.  One of these was the now famous MONITOR.

The STEVENS was commissioned on 1 February 1943 at Charleston, Commander Frank H. Ball USN in command.

The STEVENS was one of several Fletcher Class destroyers to carry an OS2U Kingfisher float plane and air powered catapult in place of one set of torpedo tubes and one 5" gun mount at the time of commissioning. STEVENS was the only one to carry the float plane into the Pacific and operations against Japan.

STEVENS completed shakedown in the Atlantic off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba during the early spring of 1943, then trained out of Argentia, Newfoundland.   STEVENS was one of several destroyers deployed on the great circle route from London to Washington as plane guard for Winston Churchill as he flew to Washington to meet Franklin Roosevelt.  She then escorted coastal convoys before heading for the Panama Canal in July in company with several new Essex class fast carriers. On the 26th, she transited the canal and moored at Balboa the following day.

STEVENS departed on the 28th, headed west to Hawaii, and entered Pearl Harbor on 9 August. By that time, American industrial prowess was beginning to produce and put into action the powerful naval force which, within two years, brought the Japanese Empire to its knees. STEVENS, one of a new class of fast, well-armed destroyers, joined three new Essex class aircraft carriers and fast battleships Alabama and South Dakota in augmenting the Pacific Fleet. In late August, she accompanied the Task Force (TF) 15 carriers to warm-up raids. Their planes hit Marcus Island off the coast of Japan on the 31st and Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands on 18 September, but STEVENS now under command of Lieut. Commander William M. Rakow parted company with them and sailed for the west coast before their 5 and 6 October raids on Wake Isl. While at Mare Island Navy Yard, STEVENS had the float plane and associated equipment removed and the second set of torpedo tubes and fifth 5" gun mount restored as well as increased anti aircraft firepower. By the time of her departure from the west coast on the 6th of January, 1944, Makin and Tarawa had been assaulted, and the atolls were all but secure.

Though she had missed out on the first hop of the leapfrog across the Central Pacific, STEVENS rejoined the 5th Fleet in time to be part of the second jump. Attached to Task Group (TG) 52.8, the fire support group, the destroyer participated in Operation "Flintlock," the Kwajalein phase of the conquest of the Marshall Islands, in late January and early February of 1944. She bombarded the islands before the landings and afterward delivered interdiction fire until it was no longer necessary.


However STEVENS' tour of duty with the 5th Fleet in the Central Pacific soon ended, for she cleared Kwajalein on 4 February for the southern Pacific area. She stopped at Funafuti, in the Ellice Islands from 8 to 13 February; then joined LANG (DD-399), HOGAN (DD-178), HAMILTON (DD-141), and STANSBURY (DD-180) to screen Transport Divisions 24 and 26. The convoy divided on the 15th, and the Guadalcanal detachment, STEVENS and LANG screening DuPage (APA-41), Aquarius (AKA-16), and Almaack (AK-27) arrived off Koli Point three days later. On the 19th, STEVENS departed Guadalcanal to accompany Almaack to New Caledonia. They reached Noumea on 22 February. After four days at the French port, the destroyer got underway in company with SS Japara back to the Solomons. On 4 March, she screened the merchantman into Tulagi Harbor; fueled at Port Purvis then took station ahead of SS Mormacwren for a voyage to Efate. The warship put into Havannah Harbor on 5 March after parting company with the merchantman which continued on independently to Auckland, New Zealand.

Following 10 days in the Efate area, STEVENS sortied with TF 37 to bombard the Kavieng area of northwestern New Ireland Until mid-March, an assault upon this area had been deemed necessary to complete the circle around the enemy base at Rabaul and to provide a base for operations north to the Philippines. However, the decision to move on the Admiralty Islands obviated Kavieng as a base; and the planners felt that the air campaign against Rabaul was proceeding so well that it was neutralizing that great enemy base without the occupation of Kavieng. Consequently, the naval bombardment, during which STEVENS concentrated on the islands of Nusa and Nusalik, was the only phase of the operation carried out but it was nevertheless highly effective. Samuel Elliot Morison quotes Japanese sources which attest to the "demoralizing" effect of the bombardment, in which STEVENS, two escort carriers, and 14 other destroyers joined battleships NEW MEXICO (BB-40), MISSISSIPPI (BB-41), TENNESEE (BB-43),and IDAHO (BB-42).

The destroyer returned to Efate on the 25th and remained there almost two weeks. On 5 April, she got underway with Destroyer Squadron 25 to sail up the eastern coast of New Guinea. After stopovers at Milne Bay and Cape Sudest the destroyers rendezvoused with TG 77.4 off Cape Cretin on 19 April and steamed on to the Hollandia invasion area. TG 77.4, the second echelon of the Hollandia invasion force, divided on the 22d, and STEVENS screened the western reinforcement group while its troops landed at Tanamerah and Humboldt Bays in Dutch New Guinea. She departed Hollandia on 30 April and retraced her steps down the east coast of New Guinea then headed east to the Solomons, entering Purvis Bay on the 10th.

For almost a month, she remained in the Solomons, escorting convoys, conducting combat training, and spending time in port. Then, on 4 June, she shaped a course for the Marshall Islands, reached Kwajalein on the 8th, patrolled there until the 12th, and sailed for Guam in the screen of TF 53.  expected arrival on the 18th.  Unexpected delays in securing Saipan by TF 52 caused a postponement of the Guam invasion.  On the 25th TF 53 was ordered to Eniwetok to refresh the troops after 16 days at sea. She entered the lagoon on 28 June and stayed until 17 July when she departed in the screen of TG 53.3, transporting troops to the Guam assault. The task group arrived off Guam early on the morning of the day of the landings, 21 July 1944, and STEVENS fired on enemy positions as the troops disembarked from the transports and landed on the island. The destroyer continued her fire support role delivering harassing, interdiction, and call fire in support of the Americans ashore until her departure on 26 July.  As a result of her expert marksmanship on 25 July, several supply dumps, ammunition dumps and anti-tank guns in the enemy's rear area had been destroyed.  For this accurate fire support, the Commanding General of the Third Marine Division presented her with a commendation.

She returned to Eniwetok on the 30th and sailed for Guadalcanal the following day. STEVENS reached Guadalcanal on 5 August, but continued on to Espiritu Santo, which she reached the next day. She departed Espiritu Santo on 14 August and moored in Purvis Bay two days later. On the 17th, the destroyer headed for New Guinea. STEVENS arrived in Humboldt Bay on the 21st and made a trip to Maffin Bay and back; then, on 7 September, she stood out of Humboldt Bay for Aitape. She joined TF 77 at Aitape and, on 10 September, sortied with that task force for Morotai. Five days later, the assault troops stormed ashore at Morotai. STEVENS patrolled while the transports unloaded men and equipment. Late that afternoon, she sailed back toward Humboldt Bay escorting HMAS Manoora and HMAS Kanimiola. The little convoy reached its destination on 18 September, and, the following day, STEVENS joined McKEE (DD-575) in the screen of another echelon bound for Morotai. Upon her arrival back at Morotai, STEVENS began patrolling as radar and antisubmarine picket off Kaoe Bay and serving on night patrol south of Morotai.  On 27 September the force which was operating off Morotai was attacked by enemy aircraft and in the ensuing battle the STEVENS guns accounted for one Judy.

STEVENS remained in the vicinity of Morotai from 23 September until 3 October. During that time, she continued her various patrols; fought off air attacks; and, after 25 September served as headquarters for the landing craft control officer. On 3 October, she cleared Morotai in company with Lang (DD-399). The two warships put into Humboldt Bay two days later.

On the 16th, STEVENS got underway in the screen of TG 78.6, Leyte Reinforcement Group One. After a six-day voyage, the convoy arrived in Leyte Gulf; and STEVENS fueled before escorting TG 78.10 back to New Guinea. Between 28 October and 9 December, the destroyer accompanied three more convoys from the New Guinea area to Leyte Gulf.

From 9 December 1944 until 7 June 1945, Stevens operated primarily in the Philippines.  On December 12 the STEVENS was underway with Task Group 78.3 (Mindoro Assault Force), and the next day the force was attacked by enemy planes.  No apparent damage to the enemy aircraft was observed as a result of the ship's gunfire.  Attacks were again pressed against the task force after it had arrived in the objective area on 15 December.   One Hamp was shot down during this attack.

When the troops had disembarked and landed safely on thebeaches, the task group departedfor Leyte.  Numerous alerts sent the crews to general quarters on the sixteenth, but an attack did not materialize.  However, the following day the convoy was twice under fire by aircraft that swarmed about the convoy.  The STEVENS' gunners brought the approaching aircraft into its gunsights and with guns blazing, succeeeded in splashing a twin engined bomber.

On 20-23 December STEVENS escorted Ruticulus (AK-113) to Guiuan on Samar and back to Leyte.

Joining the Mindoro re-supply echelon on 27 December, the STEVENS got underway for Mindoro.  Heavy air attacks were pressed against the convoy the next day.  The STEVENS once again displayed her markmanship by shooting down another twin-engined bomber, which was followed by a Tojo and Judy on the twenty-ninth.

Arriving in the objective area on December 30 under enemy air attack, the task group unloaded its cargo, reformed and cleared the area bound for Leyte.   Enroute the STEVENS shot down another Judy out of the skies which had tried to attack the task group, bringing her score to date up to five planes destroyed.

While screening a convoy bound for Lingayen Gulf, Luzon the '479' brought her guns to bear on six enemy planes that were attacking the formation.  The combined gunfire of all ships resulted in the destruction of four of the six planes.  Arriving off Luzon on 13 January, 1945 the STEVENS took up station in the picket line.  From 18 January to 12 February she was assigned to convoy duty operating in the Philippine area. 

On 2 February STEVENS rendezvous with TU 78.12.9 and escorted it into San Pedro Bay on the 5th, then departed again to rendezvous with TU78.7.2 off Dulag.  STEVENS guarded that convoy to Lingayen, arriving on the 9th and remaining until the 13th. 

On 13 February, Commander George W. Pressey, USN relieved Commander William M. Rakow, USN, as commanding officer.

The only break from the Philippine area being a voyage from Lingayen to Manus Island.  On 28 February, having been to Manus Island, the STEVENS got underway with a special convoy bound for Manila, arriving there on 6 March.  The same day she reported to the SEVENTH Fleet cruiser task force for duty.
Steaming in company with cruisers and destroyers on the 9th, headed for Lingayen. En route, she stopped over at Mindoro on the night of 10 and 11 March then made Lingayen on the 12th. From 13 to 15 March, she joined FRAZIER (DD 607) in a search for downed American flyers off the northwest coast of Luzon. Frazier picked up six men of a B-24 which had crashed and STEVENS was released to overtake and join TG 72.4 on the 16th. She fueled at Mangarin Bay, Mindoro, that day and got underway with CLEVELAND (CL 55), CONWAY (DD-507), and EATON (DD- 510).   Screening the USS CLEVELAND south of the landing beaches at Tinbanin, Panay, the STEVENS was part of the Attack Group that struck at Iloilo, Panay on 18-20 March. 

Following this operation she steamed to Subic Bay, Luzon.
For the next month, she operated out of Subic Bay. Then, on 14 April, she got underway with TG 74.2 to participate in the landings in the Parang-Malabang Cotabato area of Mindanao. The STEVENS, in company with the USS EATON and DENVER bombarded Parang town and Lalayang Point on 17 April.  That night the STEVENS conducted harassing fire on Cotabato Town, Cotabato Hill and Tamontaco.  The task force stood by for two days to deliver fire support but none was needed so they left for Subic bay, Luzon on the night of the nineteenth.  After supporting minesweeping units in the Santa Cruz area, Philippine Islands on 3 May, the STEVENS proceeded in company with the task unit to Talomoc Bay screening the USS DENVER while she conducted call fire support.  Upon completion of this mission, the unit returned to Subic bay. 

Following extensive tactical. and gunnery training exercises, the STEVENS got underway with the cruiser group enroute to Brunei Bay, North Borneo, where she operated with support forces for the attack group which was in the area on 9-10 June, 1945.   On 11 June Lieutenant Commander Robert A. Schelling, USN relieved Commander George W. Pressey, USN as commanding officer of the STEVENS.

On the 11th, she sailed for Tawi Tawi with most of the task force. After stopping at Tawi Tawi over the night of the 12th and 13th, she made Balikpapan on the 15th and supported the Balikpapan operation until 2nd July. From 15 to 17 June, she supported the minesweepers as air navigation ship. On the 17th she bombarded the beaches at Klandasan and fought off an air attack that evening during night retirement. She conducted another shore bombardment on the 19 June and engaged shore batteries on 21 and 23 June, silencing two of them on the 23d. The troops landed on 1 July, and STEVENS helped cover them working with Australian Shore Fire parties and Liason officers with counter battery and harassing fire, throughout the day and into the night The following day she cleared Balikpapan for Leyte Gulf.

The destroyer entered San Pedro Bay on 5 July and remained there for a week. On the 12th, she stood out of the bay and reached Subic Bay three days later. STEVENS conducted tactical and antisubmarine warfare exercises in Manila Bay - Subic Bay area for the duration of hostilities 15 August.

On 28 August, almost two weeks after cessation of hostilities, the destroyer departed Subic Bay with TG 71.1 and headed for the Yellow Sea and western Korea. On the 30th, STEVENS, BELL (DD-587), and BURNS (DD-588) were diverted to Buckner Bay, Okinawa, where they reported to Carrier Division 5 for duty .
She exited the bay two days later in the screen of the carriers of TF 72 and made for Jinsen, Korea. On 10 September, she put into Jinsen for repairs and, from 19 to 20 September, she screened NEW ORLEANS (CA-32) to Tsingtao, China. There she assisted in the internment of Japanese ships until the 29th; then shifted to Taku Bar where she supported amphibious landings until 6 October. On 7 October, STEVENS arrived at Chefoo Harbor, joined TU 71.1.5 and sailed for Jinsen. Following a five day stay, she departed Jinsen, Korea on the 13th with passengers bound for the United States. The destroyer stopped at Guam on the 19th and spent two days at Pearl Harbor, before reaching San Diego, Calif., on 7 November.

On 8 November, after debarking her passengers, she shifted to San Pedro, Calif., and reported for duty to the 19th (Reserve) Fleet for inactivation overhaul. STEVENS was decommissioned on 2 July 1946 and remained with the Pacific Reserve Fleet until 1 December 1972 when her name was struck from the Navy list. On 27 November 1973, her hull was sold to Zindell Explorations, Inc., of Portland Oregon.

War Record of the USS STEVENS DD479

STEVENS was awarded nine battle stars for service in World War II

1 Star/Pacific raids 1943

Marcus Island raid -- August 1943

Tarawa Island raid -- 18 Sepember 1943

Wake island raid -- 5-6 October 1943

1 Star/Marshall Islands operation

Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls -- 31 January to 4 February 1944

1 Star/Hollandia operation

(Aitape,Humboldt-Tanahmerah Bay) -- 26 April to 2 May 1944

1 Star/Marianas operation

Capture and occupation of Guam -- 21-26 July 1944

1 Star/Western New Guinea operation

Morotai landings -- 15 September 1944

1 Star/Leyte operations

Leyte landings -- 16-29, 31 October to 9 November and 13-21 November 1944

1 Star/Luzon  operation

Mindoro landings -- 12-18 December 1944

1 Star/Borneo operation

Tarakan Island operations -- 7-17 June 1945

Brunei Bay operation -- 15 June to 7 July 1945

1 Star/Consolidation of the Southern Philippines

Mindanao Island landings (including Zamboanga, Malabang-Parang-Cotabato Davao, Gulf Digos, Santa Cruz-Taloma, Bay-Luayon Cape, San Augustin, Macajalar Bay, Sarangani, BayBalut Island) -- 9-111 March; 17-23 April; 2-3 May 1945


16 Naval Operations in the Pacific Theater

14 Japanese planes destroyed

3 Commendations