Historical Sketch of
Text from Principal Investigator
Named for William Collins Whitney (1841- 1904), who served as secretary of
the Navy during the Cleveland administration, 1885-89, where he did much to
improve the navy. The
(AD-4) was commissioned on 2 September
1924. Together with her sister ship
(AD-3), the destroyer
tender was designed to provide service, supplies and repairs for three
divisions of destroyers for a two-month period under wartime conditions. As
such, her facilities included storage capacity for fuel and lubricating
oil, fresh water, provisions, spare parts, and repair facilities such as
optical and machine shops.
was engaged in routine actions on the weekend of 6 and 7
December 1941 as two carrier task forces were at sea. All the battleships,
however, were in port as well as a number of other ships engaging in
routine upkeep and repairs or rest and recreation. Among the ships in
upkeep status were the destroyers
(DD-357) that were moored alongside
at berths X-8 and X-OS.
The destroyer tender was providing steam, electricity, as well as flushing
and fresh water to the five destroyers alongside. Most of the tender's
officers and some 90 percent of her enlisted men were on board when,
shortly before 0800, the attack began.
sailors witnessed the attack's beginning; and, at 0800, the
ship went to general quarters. A minute later, the first Japanese plane
passed over the
nest, strafing as it came. Within five
minutes of the general alarm, Whitney had unlimbered her .50-caliber
machine guns. At 0809, she began to make preparations to get underway, and
began issuing supplies to the ships alongside: most in "cold iron" status
with dead machinery plants due to their upkeep status. A minute later
heavier antiaircraft guns began firing, her 3-inch guns
barking at passing Japanese aircraft, hurling out the first of the 88
rounds she would send up at the Japanese attackers.
began issuing ammunition and ordnance stores to the
destroyers alongside at 0830, securing steam devices to those ships at
about the same time. At 1000, shortly after the attack ended,
got underway, followed much later by
. Although all Japanese planes had
cleared the area shortly after 0945, jittery gunners (uncertain of the
nationality of any planes appearing overhead) fired accidentally at
American aircraft throughout the day,
logging firings at
1105 and 2110.
After the Japanese had left, there was plenty to do in the wake of the
devastating attack. At 1130,
received orders to remain at
anchor, which she did. At 1335, the tender sent over five lengths of hose
and two submersible pumps to
(CL-7), then fighting for
survival where she had been torpedoed alongside Ford Island early in the
attack. With no wounded on board,
doctors assisted in
handling casualties on board
(AH-5), moored nearby.
Comdr. N. M. Pigman,
commanding officer, subsequently
wrote in his after action report that his men had been "calm and unexcited
throughout" the attack, manning their battle stations efficiently and
carrying out their orders "promptly and without confusion." He gave them
the highest praise for their conduct during the engagement that had
catapulted the United States into global war.
Over the next few months,
performed her vital tender
services at Pearl Harbor, before she took on a cargo of ammunition,
torpedoes, fuel, and supplies and departed Hawaiian waters on the 18 April
1942 for Operation "Watchtower," the invasion of the Solomons.
arrived in Noumea, New Caledonia, on the 20th. From late
October 1943 through the end of the war,
serviced many types
of ships and craft in the Southwest Pacific and the Philippines where she
remained until VJ Day.
After returning to San Diego,
was decommissioned on 22
October 1946. She was sold for scrap on 18 March 1948.
received one battle star for her World War II service.
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
vols., (Navy Department, Office of Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History
Division, Washington, DC, 1963), Volume VIII, pp. 283-285.
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