The USS Pruitt DD-347 was constructed by Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, and laid down on June 25th, 1919 as a Clemson-class destroyer. It was named for John H. Pruitt (1896-1918), recipient of the Medal of Honor. Its sponsor was Mrs. Belle Pruitt and it was launched on August 2nd, 1920. Put into commission on September 2nd, 1920, its captain was Lieutenant M. R. Derx.
Action in World War II
Between the two World Wars, the Pruitt had duties in the Far East in the waters of the western Pacific, protecting U.S. interests there. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on the 7th of December 1941, it was being repaired. At almost 8am, as the Japanese planes, most of the Pruitt’s crew defended the harbor using ammo and fire control.
The Pruitt was done with its overhaul at the end of 1942; it traveled to Hawaii to join the Sea Frontier there to lay mines and patrol the shores. It was there until June 19th, when it made its way to Bremerton. From there it laid more mines in the Aleutians. After that it acted as an escort near Kodiak. It stayed in the Aleutians into the fall, occasionally going for duty off Hawaii. It was then called to the coast of California for continued escort duties.
When 1943 began, the Pruitt was sent to southern California to join the 4th Marine Raider Battalion for training exercises. It was used primarily as an escort until April 24th, when it was sent back to the Aleutians. It made its way to Cold Bay with Task Force 51. From there they sailed to Attu. Once arriving on May 11th, it acted as an escort for vessels entering Massacre Bay. The Pruitt was put on anti-aircraft patrol and anti-submarine detail after the first wave of attacks ended in Massacre Bay. After this, until the end of April, it was moved to Holtz Bay and was again used as an escort and Patrol around Adak and Amchitka.
The USS Pruitt was called back to San Francisco on June 6th for more escort work. It cruised along the coast from Southern California to Alaska throughout the summer. It was then sent to the Solomons. After arriving at Purvis Bay, Florida Island near the end of October, it was sent on to Bougainville.
The Pruitt made its way through a minefield near Acre, New Hebrides. Next, on November 2nd, 8th and 24th, on the southern coast of Bougainville, it laid mines to support operations on Cape Torokina. After it was done there, it was put on escort duty in and around New Caledonia, New Hebrides, the Societies, and the Solomons.
On the 18th of July 1944, the Pruitt was called back to San Francisco for repairs. It then was sent for submarine training exercises in Pearl Harbor in October. At the end of November it was sent to Midway. It was put on patrol there from the 29th of November 1944 until January 15th, 1945. It again took part in training operations on January 22nd with the Training Command Submarine Force. It finished out the war southwest of Oahu training submarines. Its hull number was changed to AG-101 on the 5th of June 1945.
After the War
It was designated inactive, and on September 21st made its way to Philadelphia. It got there in October, and was put out of commission on November 16th, 1945. Stricken from the list on December 5th, 1945, it was later sold for scrap. It was awarded 3 battle stars for its service during the war.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, especially during World War II, naval destroyers also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.