The USS Tattnall (DD-125), a Wickes-class destroyer, was built by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, of Camden, New Jersey. She was launched September 5, 1918, commissioned June 26, 1919. Her commanding officer was Commander Gordon Wayne Haines.
Completing shakedown off New England, the Tattnall was deployed to the Mediterranean. Arriving off Constantinople on July 27, she remained for nearly a year operating as a mail and passenger transport, then returned stateside. Her designation changed to DD-125 on July 17, 1920. After overhaul and assigned to the Pacific Fleet, she patrolled the California coast until decommissioned June 15, 1922.
Recommissioned on May 1, 1930, her commanding officer was Comdr. A. M. R. Allen. The Tattnall was assigned to the Battle Force until July of 1931, and then reassigned to the Scouting Force Destroyers, Destroyer Division 7. On January 1, 1934, she was assigned to the Scouting Force Training Squadron. The Training Detachment of the U.S. Fleet was established in 1937, and Tattnall and her sister ships joined.
Action in World War II
The Tattnall and the USS J. Fred Talbot sailed to the Canal Zone to relieve the USS Babbitt and USS Dallas, remaining until the squadron disbanded. The Tattnall patrolled off the Gulf of Mexico until U.S. entry into World War II, and then served as convoy escort in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Completing escort duty in the Caribbean in July 1943, the Tattnall sailed to Charleston, South Carolina, undergoing conversion to high-speed transport. She was redesignated APD-19 and her conversion completed September 6. She then started amphibious training off Maryland, then Florida.
In April 1944, while serving as flagship for TransDiv 13, she departed for Oran, Algeria. Later that month, TransDiv 13 was attached to the 8th Fleet, moving to Corsica and training for operations in the Tyrrhenian Sea. From June through December, the Tattnall continued duty in the Mediterranean, serving convoy and amphibious operations. Returning stateside in December for overhaul, she departed for Okinawa on January 31, 1945.
Arriving April 19, she served primarily as a screener for the fleet, although on the night of April 29-30 she was attacked by kamikazes, but successfully repelled the attack with no serious damage. She suffered no other major attacks and continued convoy duty in the Orient. In June, reporting to the Philippine Sea, she served as convoy and patrol ship until returning to the U.S., arriving at San Francisco on October 30.
After the War
The USS Tattnall was decommissioned at Puget Sound on December 17, 1945, and struck from the Navy Register on January 8, 1946. Later that year, she was sold for scrap to the Pacific Metal & Salvage Company. For service in World War II, she was awarded three battle stars.
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.