Wednesday, September 23, 2015

America's New Deal Navy: Destroyers USS Tucker and USS Downes

Above: The PWA provided funds for the construction of the U.S.S. Tucker (DD-374). Tucker survived Pearl Harbor (and even helped knock down two enemy airplanes) and earned a battle star. However, on August 1942 she hit an American-laid mine and sunk. According to the Naval History and Heritage Command, "The minefield into which she had steamed had been laid by United States forces only the day before, on 2 August, and its existence had not yet been radioed to Tucker... Thus, Tucker's commanding officer and her crew had no idea of the dangerous waters into which they had steamed... The destroyer's only casualties were three men killed in the initial explosion and three more listed as 'missing.'" In the video above, made by DivePlanIt in 2015, we see the wreck of the Tucker at Espiritu Santo, Vanuato (South Pacific Ocean). YouTube link to video:

Above: The PWA also provided funds for the construction of the U.S.S. Downes (DD-375), shown here at the Norfolk Navy Yard in 1937. Downes was heavily damaged during the Pearl Harbor attack, but was rebuilt and earned four battle stars during the war. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical Center and      

The Tucker and Downes could travel at about 40 knots, had twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes, five 5-inch guns, and anti-aircraft weapons.  

Sources of information: (1) Federal Works Agency, Millions for Defense, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940. (2) "Executive Order 6174 on Public Works Administration, June 16, 1933," American Presidency Project, University of California - Santa Barbara. (3) Naval History and Heritage Command ( (4) "Brooklyn Navy Yard History: The New Deal Yard, 1933-1937, Part 2," Columbia University. This article lists all 32 PWA-funded ships, citing: "'Ships Under NIRA,' in Letter, Inspector of Naval Material (H.I. Thompson), to Commandants (of navy yards), (and others), 20 September 1933; RG181; National Archives - New York."

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