The USS Tucker DD-374 was commissioned on July 23, 1936. The Tucker joined the destroyer forces based at San Diego, California, after shakedown training. She operated along the west coast and throughout the Hawaiian Islands, as part of Destroyer Squadron 3, Destroyer Division 6.
The Tucker made way to her home port of San Diego on September 19, 1941. After a short stay, she headed to Hawaii and in November began operations. She returned to Pearl Harbor for an overhaul in December.
Action in World War II
On December 7, 1941, the Tucker lay moored at Pearl Harbor, in the center of five destroyers, the Selfridge (DD-375), the Case (DD-370), the Reid (DD-365), the Conyngham (DD-371) and the Whitney (AD-4) when Japanese planes attacked.
On board the Tucker, GM2c W. E. Bowe promptly manned a machine gun, firing before the alarm was sounded. The 5-inch guns, joined in from the nest of ships, striking two enemy aircraft, both of which crashed and exploded.
As the damaged fleet made repairs, the Tucker patrolled off Pearl Harbor, then spent five months escorting convoys between Hawaii and the mainland before receiving orders to head to the South Pacific. In the Pacific, the Tucker escorted the Wright (AV-1) to American Samoa, then to the Fiji Islands, New Caledonia, and finally Australia.
The Wright and the Tucker arrived at Suva on June 3, 1942, the day before Battle of Midway. For the remainder of June and into July, the Tucker operated out of Suva. She relieved Boise (CL-47) from escort duties on July 10th. On July 30th, she arrived at Auckland and, the following day, steamed for the Fiji Islands.
She received orders to escort the SS Nira Luckenbach to Espiritu Santo; on August 1st, the ships departed, setting courses to enter the Segond Channel. At 21:45, Tucker struck a mine; the explosion killed three men. US forces laid the minefield on August 2nd; the Tucker and the Nira Luckenbach, had not been notified. The Nira Luckenbach quickly sent boats to rescue the survivors.
The next morning, YP-346 arrived and struggled to beach the destroyer. On August 4, 1942 at 04:45, the Tucker jack-knifed and sank in 10 fathoms.
For her service in World War II, the Tucker received one battle star.
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.