USS Denebola (AD-12)
A History (1919-1946)
By Stephen Sherman, April, 2010. Updated February 16, 2012.
The USS Denebola (AD-12) was a destroyer tender in the US Navy and served in World War Two, sailing across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Here is a chronological summary of her career.
She was built as a merchant cargo ship in Seattle, Washington by the Skinner and Eddy Corporation and was christened the S.S. Edgemont.
On November 4, 1921 She was transferred to the Navy. She was renamed the U.S.S. Denebola AD12 and fitted out as a destroyer tender at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. She was placed into commission on November 28, 1921, Commander J. F. Daniels. USN Commanding.
She operated in the Atlantic until November 21, 1921 when she departed from Philadelphia for duty in the U.S. Naval Detachment operating in Turkish waters. On November 18, 1923 she departed from Constantinople enroute to the U.S. She made port calls at Bizerte, Tunis and the Azores and arrived in New York on December 23, 1923.
She participated in maneuvers in the Caribbean during the early months of 1924. She was placed out of commission on August 9. 1924 and made a part of the Philadelphia Reserve Fleet.
She served as the barracks ship for crews of battleships that were being modernized, at the Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia.
During 1934 she returned to the Philadelphia Reserve Fleet.
She was towed from the Philadelphia Reserve Fleet to Baltimore, Maryland for overhaul and refitting. She was placed in commission in the Ordinary on January 16, 1940 with a skeleton crew under the temporary command of Commander Elbert C. Rogers, USN, the first Executive Officer of the ship.
She was placed in full commission on April 6, 1940 at Baltimore, Maryland, Commander Robert A. Dyer, USN, Commanding.
After commissioning, she sailed to the Norfolk, Virginia area for a shakedown cruise in the Chesapeake Bay. She then returned to Baltimore and had large flag quarters and flag working spaces installed in her superstructure. On August 14, 1940 she reported to Commander Destroyers, Atlantic Squadron, U.S. Fleet and became flagship.
She made a voyage to the Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts. departed, and on September 1, 1940 she joined company with Destroyer Division 65, destination Halifax, Nova Scotia. The group arrived in Halifax 5 days later. The Denebola had been assigned the important mission of preparing four-pipe World war I U.S. Destroyers for transfer to the British Government under the terms of the Lend Lease Act of 1940. The Governor-General, the Earl of Athlone, made an official call on the Commanding Officer on September 8, 1940.
The Denebola returned to Norfolk on November 3, l940. She made two more trips to Halifax during the next six weeks to transfer our four-pipe destroyers to the British.
World War Two
Rear Admiral F. L. Reichmuth, USN, wearing his new hat as Commander Destroyers, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, broke his flag in the Denebola on February 13, 1941.
In February 1941 the Denebola made a cruise to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She returned to the Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia where she carried out out operations as the ComDesLantF1t Flagship and those of a regular destroyer tender. She also operated a repair training school on board.
On March 20, 1941, Commander Robert C. Starky. USN. relieved Commander Robert A. Dyer, USN, as the Commanding Officer.
The Denebola departed NOB, Norfolk during May 1941 enroute to Hamilton, Bermuda where she served as the ComDesLantFlt Flagship and tend destroyers. This was a very interesting period because many international ships were being serviced in Bermuda. Also, the weather was excellent and the harbor was very colorful.
On August 2, 1941, the Denebola departed for New River, North Carolina to participate in Navy and Marine Corps war games. On August ll, 1941 she departed for NOB, Norfolk, Virginia and almost immediately departed for Hamilton, Bermuda arriving on August 16.
The Denebola departed Hamilton, Bermuda for the last time on September 2, 1941, enroute to Casco Bay, Portland, Maine where she would become the long-serving flagship of ComDesLantFlt. She arrived in Casco Bay on September 12, 1941. She relieved the U.S.S. Melville AD2 as the harbor destroyer tender. She became A the tender for all types of small ships and craft.
Commander Destroyers, U.S. Atlantic Fleet operating in the U.S.S. Denebola AD12, from October 1941 to May 1945, played a major role in the Country's Atlantic Fleet operations. Before Pearl Harbor was attacked, he provided the escort ships for the Neutrality Patrol along the Atlantic Seaboard, and for convoys to Newfoundland and Iceland. At the same time he was also playing a key role in the training of our new destroyers being readied for duty in the Pacific Theater of Operations. ComDesLantF1t also was instrumental in the buildup of navy facilities in Casco Bay and in the City of Portland. The Flag Allowance and the Crew of the Denebola became part of the City. No city has ever provided more enthusiastic support to our Navy than the City of Portland provided. Every demand was met if possible.
Also, particularly noteworthy, was the important role played in the public relations effort by the ComDesLantFlt Band and Orchestra. The band became famous and thousands of shipmates enjoyed the big band music in the City's Chamber of Commerce Building almost every night in the week. The band and orchestra were also in demand for many state and city functions and they responded happily because every musician knew the importance of their assignments. No division in the Denebola worked harder. The band and orchestra is well remembered almost 50 years later.
Also, to be remembered, are the many navy ships that operated out Casco Bay between 1941 and 1945, including the following, just to name a few: U.S.S. Mississippi, U.S.S. Idaho, U.S.S. Texas, U.S.S. Wichita, U.S.S. North Carolina, U.S.S. Washington, U.S.S. Juneau, U.S.S. Atlanta, U.S.S. Truxton. U.S.S. Jacob Jones, U.S.S. Kearny, U.S.S. Wasp, U.S.S. Yorktown, etc. Some were lost before Pearl Harbor in the Battle of the Atlantic, some in Europe, and many in the Pacific. Also to be remembered is that a large percentage of the Denebola men served in the combat ships of the fleet and that many lost their lives in service to their Country.
Also noteworthy is the fact that many Portland maidens married our Denebola shipmates. A large number of these shipmates settled in Portland after World War II and became good citizens of the city. Many settled elsewhere in the country. During the October 1987 First ComDesLant/USS Denebola AD12 Reunion many of these wives had the chance to meet for the first time in almost 50 years. It was a wonderful event.
On December 22, 1941, Rear Admiral A. S. Carpender, USN, relieved Rear Admiral F. L. Reichmuth, USN, as Commander Destroyers, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
On June 3, 1942, Rear Admiral Oscar C. Badger, USN, relieved Rear Admiral A. S. Carpender, USN, as Commander Destroyers, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
On Dec 15, 1942, Rear Admiral Morton L. Deyo, USN. relieved Rear Admiral Oscar C. Badger. USN, as Commander Destroyers, U.S. . Atlantic Fleet.
On January 1, 1944, Rear Admiral J. Cary Jones, USN, relieved Rear Admiral Morton L. Deyo, USN, as Commander Destroyers, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. RADM Jones shifted his flag from the Denebola on July 9, 1944. The Denebola then proceeded to the Boston Navy Yard for navy yard alterations and repairs.
The Denebola departed for Hampton Roads, Virginia on July 20, 1944. and upon arrival joined Convoy GUS 49, whose destination was the Mediterranean Sea area. Her first port of call was Mers-el-Kebir, Algeria on August 10, 1944. Upon departure, she became part of a convoy under the command of Commander Task Group 80.7. The Denebola left the convoy under the escort of HMS Cleveland and HMS Catterick, and anchored in the harbor of Cagliari, Sardinia on August 14, 1944. The Denebola departed Cagliari for Ajaccio, Corsica, and then proceeded on to the assault beach at St. Tropez- Ste. Maxime, France.
On September 25, 1944, the Denebola was escorted to Naples, Italy by the French Sloop Commandant Borie and the U.S.S. SC 534. She anchored and on September 30, 1944, she moored to Pier Avanporto- Regina Elina. She became the tender and repair ship for LCI's and other amphibious small craft of the Eighth Fleet.
On October 27, 1944, the Denebola departed from Naples enroute to the United States. She made a port call in Oran, Algeria with Convoy A GUS 57 and then proceeded on with the convoy arriving in Casco Bay, Portland, Maine on December 1, 1944. Rear Admiral O.M. Read, USN was now the C0mDesLantF1t. He shifted his flag to the Denebola on the day she arrived. She served as his flagship until May 1, 1945 when she departed for duty in the Pacific Theater of Operations.
On May 1, 1945, the Denebola departed for Boston, she then proceeded on to New York, and then on to the Panama Canal. After she transited the Panama Canal, she proceeded on to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, arriving on June 12, 1945.
The Denebola departed for Eniwetok on June 19, 1945 and arrived in Eniwetok on June 30, 1945. She became part of Service Squadron 10. She operated as a tender and repair ship until November 6, 1945.
On November 6, 1945, the Denebola departed for San Diego, California. She arrived in San Diego on November 26, 1945. She was assigned to operations involving the preparation of navy ships for decommission- ing until February 14, 1946.
On February 14, 1946, the Denebola departed for San Francisco. This was her last voyage.
The U.S.S. Denebola AD12 was decommissioned in San Francisco on April 10, 1946. On July 1, 1946 she was transferred to the Maritime Commission for disposal. Her very distinguished career came to an end. She had served her country well as the Flagship of Commander Destroyers, U.S. Atlantic Fleet in Casco Bay, Portland, Maine during World War-II. She is well remembered by the citizens of Portland, by the State of Maine, and by the shipmates who served in her. She wasn't built for comfort, but she was a very special ship.
DENEBOLA IS A FIRST MAGNITUDE STAR IN THE NORTHERN CONSTELLATION LEO
"Tender Topics," the reunion newsletter of the Denebola crew, circa 1993. My father, Milton W. Sherman (1919-2010), served in the U.S. Navy during WW2, on board the USS Denebola, AD-12, when he was in his mid-twenties. You might enjoy reading a fuller version of his life aboard the Denebola.