USS Longshaw
DD 559


Division of Naval History
Ships' Histories Section
Navy Department

 

A veteran of the Island-hopping war of the Pacific, USS LONGSHAW compiled an enviable
record before misfortune caught up with her and sent her to her doom. She had already caused
the Japanese more havoc than she cost by firing Jap villages, slaughtering luggers, and
engaging Jap suicide boats. She also weathered one of the worst typhoons in the history of the
Pacific ocean. Yet, when she met her doom she was lying helplessly on a reef off Okinawa
within easy range of large caliber Jap shore batteries.

USS LONGSHAW's career began on 16 June 1942 when her keel was laid at the yards of the
Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Company, Seattle, Washington. She was launched on 4 June 1943 with
Mrs. Ella Mae Richards, of Hulett, Wyoming, serving as sponsor. Mrs. Richards was the mother
of five sons, all in the Armed Services, four in the Navy and one in the Marine Corps.

USS LONGSHAW was commissioned on 4 December 1943 by Captain J. H. Stubbs, USN,
representative of the Commandant, THIRTEENTH Naval District. LONGSHAW's first commanding
officer was Commander D. T. Birtwell Jr., USN.

USS LONGSHAW was named in memory of William Longshaw, Jr., Assistant Surgeon, USN. He
entered the naval service on 25 June 1862 and served on board the USS YANKEE, PASSAIC, PENOBSCOT,
LEHIGH, AND MINNESOTA.

While serving as an assistant surgeon in the Navy in the USS LEHIGH he showed outstanding
courage and devotion to duty in an engagement with Confederate batteries on Sullivan's Island
on 16 November 1863. Under the fire of nine batteries in which the LEHIGH was struck 22 times,
it was necessary to pass a hawser to the USS NAHANT which had grounded. The lines from the
first two hawsers were carried by Dr. Longshaw in a boat manned by gunner's mate George W.
Leland and coxswain Thomas Irving. Twice the howser was shot away. The LEHIGH was eventually
floated and saved. His gallantry on this occasion received official recognition.

He was killed in the assault on Fort Fisher on 15 June 1865. The report by the officer
commanding the landing party from the MINNESOTA states: "Assistant Surgeon William Longshaw,
Jr., after adding to the reputation for bravery which he gained under fire of the batteries at
Charleston while serving on board the iron clad LEHIGH, was shot by the enemy as he was binding
the wounds of a dying men. Their dead bodies were found lying side by side the next morning."

On 8 September 1943, Commander D. T. Birtwell was detached and ordered to the Naval
Hospital, Seattle, Washington. Lieutenant Neal Almgren, USN, assumed command temporarily. On
13 December, Commander R. H. Speck, USN, assumed command of the new destroyer.

On 15 December, USS LONGSHAW stood out for tests and training drills. These tests and
drills continued until 23 December when LONGSHAW sailed for San Diego, arriving on the 26th.
There she commenced a four-week shakedown cruise in which every man and department aboard the
sleek new destroyer was taught their respective jobs and the importance of team work.

With her shakedown cruise behind her, USS LONGSHAW sailed for Bremerton, Washington on 26
January 1944, for her post shakedown availability. All repairs were completed by 14 February
and DD 559 stood out enroute to San Francisco, arriving there on 16 February. On 17 February
LONGSHAW received 90 passengers for transportation to Pearl Harbor. She sailed the following
day, held vigorous training exercises day and night until her arrival on 23 February 1944.

LONGSHAW stood out in company with Task Group 15.19 enroute to Kwajalein on 26 February.
She arrived on 4 March 1944, and immediately reported to Task Group 50.15 for duty. This task
group consisted of the heavy cruiser USS CHESTER and the destroyers CALLAGHAN, LAWS, MC DERMUT,
and LONGSHAW. On 15 March, LONGSHAW stood out enroute to Majuro Atoll, arriving there on the
following day.

From 18 to 21 March DD 559 conducted a partol off Wotje and Maloelap Atolls, until ordered
back to Majuro. On 22 March the entire task group stood out enroute to a strike area off
Palau, Yap, Ulithi, and Woleai. On 30 March and 1 April air strikes were launched from escort
carriers of the Task Group while LONGSHAW and the other destroyers screened the carriers from
submarine attack. The group returned to Majuro on 6 April.

On 12 April LONGSHAW stood out with the same group, this time enroute to Manus Island.
She arrived there on 20 April and stood out again on 22 April, enroute to Hollandia. From
there the group attacked the Hollandia area including Aitape, Humboldt Bay-Tanahmerah Bay
areas. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 9 May and went alongside USS PIEDMONT for minor
repairs.

Brief training exercises were held in the Hawaiian area until 30 May when LONGSHAW again
stood out with Task Group 52.14, enroute to Saipan. On 9 June the group put into Eniwetok for
a brief fueling stop and stood out again on 11 June. After getting underway, the carriers
began flight operations. One plane crashed and sank immediately but LONGSHAW rescued the
pilot.

Later that day, LONGSHAW was assigned to the Northern Attack Force for the occupation of
Saipan. On 13 June the destroyer rescued another pilot from USS KALININ BAY and returned him
to his ship. At 0530 on 15 June the carriers began launching aircraft strikes to hit landing
beaches at Saipan. Strikes continued to go in all day and late in the afternoon enemy planes
closed the formation but the attack was dispersed by the combat air patrol (CAP) before they
could do any damage. On 16 June a pilot from USS WHITE PLAINS crashed and was rescued by
LONGSHAW. June 17 turned into a busy day as LONGSHAW's radarmen tracked three groups of enemy
aircraft into within 15 miles of the force. She aided in vectoring the friendly CAP out to
attack the enemy. Our damage was thus held to only one bomb hit on USS FANSHAW BAY.

On 28 June LONGSHAW was witness to one of the oddities of war when a carrier pigeon, with
Jap markings on his leg landed on her bridge. The bird was caught and transferred by breeches
buoy to USS WHITE PLAINS for intelligence purposes.

Enemy air raids continued to be the order of the day but luckily the CAP was vectored out
to meet them in the majority of cases. However, a few of the enemy did succeed in penetrating
the screen though no serious damage resulted. LONGSHAW remained in the area until 13 July at
which time she sailed for Eniwetock. No planes closed her near enough for her to open fire
during the Saipan operation though her combat information crew succeeded several times in
vectoring out the CAP to intercept enemy raids.

LONGSHAW arrived at Eniwetok on 16 July. While shifting berths later in the day, a
scraping sound was heard. After backing down and anchoring an inspection revealed her port
propellor was bent. She then went inside USS ARD 13 for drydocking. A new propellor was
installed and on 18 July the destroyer stood out with the carrier group, Task Unit 53.19.5
enroute to Guam. She arrived on 22 July and later that day departed for Saipan where she
joined Task Unit 52.14.1 to commence air operations for the assault and occupation of Tinian.
She remained in that area supporting the carriers while their aircraft were away on strikes
until returning to Saipan on 31 July 1944. Upon dropping anchor at Saipan, LONGSHAW had
compiled the astounding record of steaming 55,314 miles in a little less than 7 months. During
July alone she steamed 10,330 nautical miles in 691 hours. She was at anchor only 53 hours
during the entire month.

On 1 August LONGSHAW stood out to sea and operated to the east of Saipan during the night.
The following day she took a partol station off Tinian Island. On 5 August she closed white
beach on Tinian Island to send her ship's doctor in to the USS CLAMP (ARS 33) which had
reported an epidemic of undiagnosed sickness. The doctor returned at 1250 and reported ten
cases of Catarrhal fever.

LONGSHAW returned to Saipan on 9 August to fuel. However, later in the day she escorted
USS INDIANAPOLIS enroute to Guam again, arriving at 1035 on 10 August. On 22 August DD 559
returned to Eniwetok having been underway for 63 days. During the Marianas operation she had
steamed 23,937 nautical miles. She then went alongside USS CASCADE for a tender availability.

On 28 Auguat LONGSHAW shifted berths and anchored, ready to get underway at any time. The
following day she joined Admiral Mitscher's famous Task Force 38, under Real Admiral Sherman's
Task Group 38.3. The force sortied the same day and set course for the strike area off Palau
Island again. At 1240 the carriers launched their first strikes, recovering them at 1525.

On 9 September USS LONGSHAW in company with SANTA FE, BIRMINGHAM, LAWS, MORRISON, and
PRITCHETT were ordered to Mindanao Island, Philippine Islands to destroy a convoy of small
ships discovered and attacked by carrier aircraft north of Sanco Point, Mindanao. The group
arrived off Sanco Point about 1200 and USS LONGSHAW opened fire on five coastal vessels in a
group off Mawes Island in Bislig Bay. In an hour an forty minutes of firing she observed hits
on all five vessels, with two burning and 3 wrecked and aground. LONGSHAW departed the area
about 1400 and proceeded with the group to rejoin Task Group 38.3 at 1725.

Additional strikes were launched on the Visayas groups, Philippine Islands on 12, 13 and
14 September. On the 14th, after recovering all strikes, the task group began retiring to the
eastward.

On 21 September after fueling at sea, Luzon Island was sighted and on the following day
air strikes were launched on Luzon. The next day found LONGSHAW retiring to the fueling area
and returning again to Luzon on 24 September. Carrier aircraft struck the Visayas group again
on 24 September after which the entire task group began retiring to the eastward, arriving at
Palau Island on 27 September.

On 2 October LONGSHAW proceeded to Ulithi, arriving the same day. On 6 October she stood
out of the area enroute to Okinawa Jima to launch air strikes. After the strikes on 10 October
the force retired toward the fueling rendezvous before proceeding toward Formosa to conduct air
attacks. On 12 October the group arrived off the eastern coast ready to launch air strikes.
The first strike was launched at 0530. Enemy aircraft were detected approaching the formation
at 0526 and from that time until about 0200 on 15 October the entire task force was under
intermittent air attack.

At 2210 on 12 October the task force commander advised all units that the enemy had been
ordered to attack in one hour. At 2338, he again advised that all enemy planes in the area
were going to illuminate for a big attack. Shortly thereafter, several flares were dropped to
the westward of LONGSHAW. By 0125, the task force commander advised that the "Jap target
coordinator has lost his torpedo strike. They are opening as far as Tokyo."

Bogeys were reported about sunset and at 1842 LONGSHAW commenced firing on an enemy plane
closing from ahead. The plane closed at 2000 yards then retired on a reverse course. The
brunt of the enemy air attacks were believed to have been borne by adjacent groups. About
1842, the USS CANBERRA was reported torpedoed. All enemy aircraft were clear by 2000.

The air strikes on Formosa were extended to this date to cover the retirement of USS
CANBERRA and her escort. Enemy aircraft were kept at a distance by the CAP until about 1500
when bogeys were reported closing on the formation.

At 1711, an unannounced low-flying, torpedo bomber, a Kate, came over the formation from
the south, passed over the center of the formation. He dropped his torpedo in the vacinity of
the battleships and carriers then headed out to the eastward, flying low between the ships.
Numerous vessels fired as safely bearing permitted.

LONGSHAW commenced firing on her port quarter and continued as safety bearings permitted.
The plane commenced smoking, then burst into flame. He tried to gain altitude but fell off and
crashed into the water about two thousand yards on the port beam of LONGSHAW.

On 15 October the task force rendezvoused with the fueling group, after which the ships
set course northwest in anticipation of meeting enemy forces. None were met however, and on 19
October, the carriers of Task Force 38 began launching strikes against the Luzon and Manila
areas. They were maintained daily until 21 October when retirement was begun to fuel the
destroyers.

On 23 October a plane crashed during the strikes on Manila and LONGSHAW succeeded in
delivering the pilot back to his ship. At 0858 on 24 October, LONGSHAW opened fire on an enemy
plane diving on the ship and scored several hits. The plane continued up the port side close
aboard and smoking badly. LONGSHAW ceased firing as a friendly fighter came swooping in to
knock the Jap plane down. USS PRINCETON was sunk the same day after other ships had removed
her crew.

Late that night the force turned to the northward to strike enemy forces retreating from
the Battle of Leyte Gulf. At 0700 on 25 October, the first strike was launched. At 1708
LONGSHAW rescued a crewman from a LANGLEY torpedo bomber and then turned toward her fueling
rendezvous. After fueling on the 26th, the force turned toward the Philippine Islands again
and the following day found the carrier planes of the task force pounding enemy positions in
that area. On 28 October the task group began retiring to Ulithi where they arrived on 30
October.

On 1 November, LONGSHAW again stood out with Task Group 38.3 enroute to the Philippine area
again. On 3 November the cruiser USS RENO reported that she had hit a mine or was torpedoed.
Nevertheless, the strikes against Luzon went off on schedule on 5 November. At 1341 an enemy
plane crashed on the flight deck of USS LEXINGTON near her bridge. At 1621 LONGSHAW rescued one
of LEXINGTON's pilots who had crashed ahead. After completing the air strikes on Luzon, the
task group retired to ulithi on 17 November 1944. On 20 November, USS MISSISSENEWA, anchored
inside Ulithi harbor, was torpedoed by a Jap midget submarine and sank immediatley.

On 22 November, after making repairs to her sound dome at Ulithi, LONGSHAW steamed out to
overtake Task Group 38.3 which had sortied earlier in the morning. On 24 November she joined
the task group and fueled prior to setting course for an area north of Pollilo Island off the
east coast of Luzon. From there strikes were made against Manila Bay shipping and Luzon
airfields.

At 1225 on 25 November, an enemy air raid approached the formation, sneding all ships to
their battle stations. The raid lasted about 1 hour and immediately after it was over reports
of damage was interecpted. USS ESSEX had been damaged by a Jap suicide plane with minor damage
to several of the other carriers.

The remainder of November was spent at sea undergoing various training drills with
anti-aircraft exercises taking precedence over others. On 2 December the task group put into
Ulithi harbor to replenish ammunition and fuel, standing out again on 10 December.

By 14 December the task group was in position off Luzon to make their air strikes. At 0705
the carriers began launching the first strikes with the destroyers carefully screening them from
submarine attack. Strikes continued all that day and the following day. On the 16yh, the group
turned away from the area to rendezvous with the fueling group later in the evening. How ever,
a storm broke off fueling operations as high winds and seas swept up on the ships. By 18
December the barometer had dropped off to 29.22 and a 65 know wind howled across the spume and
spray to force the group to steam at 10 knots. Green seas were breaking over the weather deck
continually. Several ships were lost and all ships were ordered to look for survivors. Very
few survivors were found and by 2 January strikes were being scheduled to hit Formosa on
high-speed runs.

January 3, 1945 turned into a gray, overcast day and all strikes were cancelled due to the
poor visibility. However, 4 January was another day and four strikes were launched in the hit
and run fashion. By 1605 all flights were landed safely and the task group began night
retirement to the fueling area. On 6 January, Task Group 38.3 returned to Formosa and again
gave that island a good going over. Bad weather again overtook the task group by late afternoon
and instead of remaining in position to hit Formosa again, they turned toward Luzon.

At 0645 on 7 January 1945, the first strikes were launched with three more following before
the day was over. Night heckling missions were carried out throughout the night. January 9
found the fast carrier task group pounding Okinawa during the day and passing through Bashi
Channel into the South China Sea during the night. On 11 January, the carriers launched their
planes against Camrahn Bay, French Indo China, and on the 15th Formosa took another pounding.
On 16 January the task group turned toward Hainan and Hong Kong, striking those areas on the
same day.

The following day was spent in fueling the destroyers of the group and on 20 January, while
transiting Balintang Channel to leave the South China Sea, an air raid developed. LONGSHAW
opened fire briefly on three of the planes but scored no hits.

January 21 was to be a rough day for all ships of task group 38.3. At 1039 LONGSHAW
vectored the CAP out to intercept a single enemy plane and was successful in her vectoring, as
the enemy was splashed. At 1200 a single enemy plane dove out of a cloud bank while the carrier
planes were returning and dropped a bomb on USS LANGLEY.

At 1209, the same plane dove on USS TICONDEROGA, crashing into her flight deck forward.
The carrier began to smoke badly and at 1228 a new raid of 3 to 4 enemy planes was detected.
However the raid did not close the group. At 1250 a single engine plane, in a very shallow
glide, was fired on by LONGSHAW as it passed overhead at about 3000 feet. The plane went into a
climbing turn and burst into flames. It crashed a moment later. At 1255 another plane crashed
into USS TICONDEROGA forward and exploded, starting a new fire. Though enemy planes continued
coming in until 2115, no further damage was done to the task group.

January 22 found the task group still steaming and launching strikes against Okinawa Gunto.
On 26 January they returned to Ulithi for replenishment. While at Ulithi, LONGSHAW underwent
repairs to her sound dome and on 9 February received a night fighter director team and radar
maintenance team from USS ENTERPRISE. In coming operations she was to be employed as a fighter
director destroyer.

On 10 February 1945, LONGSHAW stood out in company with Task Force 58 to strike the Tokyo
area. LONGSHAW was to serve as a scout to destroy enemy surface pickets and enemy snoopers
before they could discover the presence of the Fast Carrier Task Force and to give the carriers
and heavier units early warning of enemy surface or air units which could not be destroyed by
the scouting line. Also she was to function as a radar partol to extend the radar range of the
task force against low-flying enemy planes and to control a Combat Air Patrol (CAP) in order to
destroy enemy planes if possible, and to operate equipment to assist returning planes.

On 16 February, LONGSHAW was assigned the southern most station in the radar picket line
along with USS BENHAM. At 0737 an enemy plane came straight in from the port beam, waggling his
wings several times. When he closed to 4000 yards LONGSHAW opened fire with her 5 inch 36
caliber guns and the plane banked vertically to the port, revealing the outline of a Jap
twin-engine "Betty." The plane dove close to the water and retired to the north where
USS CUSHING vectored her CAP to the kill. At 1117 LONGSHAW vectored her CAP division to a kill
when a "Frank" came in on a snooping mission.

At 1216 a returning fighter plane crashed close aboard LONGSHAW and the pilot turned to
starboard and stopped dead in the water. . . with the pilot about 20 feet off the starboard
beam. A bouyed heaving line was thrown to the pilot which he grabbed but at this time it was
seen that his parachute had opened in the water and, in dragging well below the surface of the
water, acted as a "sea-anchor" which prevented his being pulled into the side of the ship. The
line to which the pilot was holding was eased as repidly as possible as the bow swung away from
him. The pull created by his opened parachute prevented the pilot from holding onto the line
and it pulled from his hands. The parachute was dragging the pilot lower and lower in the water
and, in spite of the pilot's struggles to keep his head above the water, every wave washed over
his head. Two swimmers were sent out from the ship to reach the pilot. One of these swimmers
succeeded in reaching him but could not maintain a grip on him because of the pull of the
parachute. This swimmer also tried to reach down to cut or disengage the parachute but it
appeared to be fouled at or below the pilot's waist in the back. At that instant the pilot's
motions ceased and he appeared to lose consciousness.

The ship was swung bow into the wind by redical use of engine power and a grapnel was
thrown to engage the parachute shrouds. Those shrouds were successfully caught but, despite the
efforts of the personnel on deck, could not be pulled in because the parachute had extended to
its full diameter and was acting as a very effective sea anchor. The pilot was now motionless
and apparently lifeless. The grapnel line was secured and another swimmer set out to secure a
heavy line to the pilot, but before he could be reached, the grapnel line parted. Before the
bow of the ship could be swung over to the pilot again, the parachuet had pulled him down and he
was not sighted again.

At 1654 another enemy plane was splashed by LONGSHAW's division of CAP. During the latter
stages of the chase the pilot of the enemy plane kept insisting he was "Friendly" though it did
not fool anyone and he was summarily splashed.

At 1846 a returning friendly plane from USS ENTERPRISE was recovered after his plane began
smoking badly and he was forced to make a water landing in front of LONGSHAW.

By 18 February the task group had completed scheduled strikes and began retiring from the
area. On 20 February night fighters were launched from the carriers to heckle Iwo Jima.
LONGSHAW continued supporting the fast carriers who in turn were supporting the Iwo Jima
operation until 9 March when she sailed for Ulithi. She arrived on 12 March, fueled and loaded
ammunition.

On 21 March 1945, LONGSHAW steamed out of Ulithi on her last voyage, though no one aboard
suspected as much. In company with Task Group 54.2 she participated in various drills on 21
March 1945. On 24 March she joined a fire support unit in preparation for the assault on
Okinawa. March 25th dawned bright and clear as LONGSHAW partolled off the south eastern tip of
Okinawa in support of mine sweeping operations. On 26 March she was assigned to fire night
harassing fire and she continued firing all night with undeterminable results.

The following night brought better results as fires were started in several places. Three
enemy planes also came over but did not close within gun range. On 29 March, LONGSHAW was
assigned to cover an underwater demolition team which was successfully completed.

On 3 April LONGSHAW took Madeora town under fire and the following day the report from the
spotting planes gave the following message: "Our aviator estimates that Medeera town was 90%
intact when taken under your fire. Your WP has burned 75 or 80% of the TownX" USS LONGSHAW
continued her vigilance on fire support duty and on 7 April a suicide plane dove at her, missing
by only a few feet.

April 12th turned into a busy day for LONGSHAW and her cohorts. After taking mail for
distribution to battleships and cruisers, she cast off from alongside USS WEST VIRGINIA just as
an air alert sounded. At 1445 one enemy plane dove on the formation and one minute later 3 more
planes were seen low on the water to the westward. They were coming in on a collision course
and identified as Jap Kates carrying torpedoes. As the planes came within range all shipe on
the port side of the formation began firing. The planes were downed at 5,000 yards range and
shortly before these planes approached, 3 were seen to be shot down in flames by the CAP at high
altitude to the West. At 1446 the CAP downed another plane on the horizon and at 1448 another
was seen to splash.

At 1451 USS ZELLARS appeared hit by a Kamikaze but with the intense activity around, no one
had time to stop and see. At 1505, 3 more enemy torpedo planes were seen coming in from the
westward. At 1507 LONGSHAW commenced firing as did all other ships, and the planes turned away
at 15,000 yards. At this time LONGSHAW's instruction for mail deliveries were cancelled and at
1900 she arrived in her fire support sector.

LONGSHAW continued on fire support duty until 26 April, firing night harassing fire all
night and taking on ammunition and fuel as well as holding her fire support station during the
daylight hours. With her minimum crew of 291 enlisted men and 22 officers weary and at the
breaking point she nevertheless maintained her station in an alert, efficient manner.

The first 17 days of May 1945 were much the same as April with fire support missions
following night harassing missions and still no rest for LONGSHAW's weary crew. During hours
when she wasn't on station she was steaming around the anchorage borrowing ammunition from any
ship that could spare it.

The ship was kept in a condition of readiness of General Quarters or One Easy 90 percent of
the time that LONGSHAW was in the area. During this time, the officers and crew averaged about
4 hours of sleep a day. From 1 April until 18 May, the ship was on almost continuous fire
support missions day and night except for two days taken out for radar repairs. Firing from a
condition of One Easy was done to maintain all hands as close to their battle stations as
possible.

On 12 May 1945, the ship's captain, Commander T. R. Vogeley, was relieved by Lieutenant
Commander C. W. Becker.

Prior to 18 May, LONGSHAW had performed four days and four nights of continuous call fire
and assigned fire support missions, and spent one day at Kerama Rhetto to fuel, provision, and
take on 1,500 rounds of five-inch ammunition. The night of 17-18 May, LONGSHAW fired about 500
rounds of five-inch projectiles after being at General Quarters for an alert until 2300. The
morning of 18 May, all hands were thoroughly battle-fatigued from a very strenuous and arduous
week. After dawn General Quarters the crew relaxed to gather some strength for the coming
days's firing assignment.

At 0630 on that fateful morning of 18 May 1945, LONGSHAW set course to screen to the south
and at 0710 she entered her partol area. After getting a position fix and studying the charts
of the area, it was decided that the ship had set a safe course for at least the next 20
minutes. However, at 0719 LONGSHAW ran hard aground on coral reefs and the engines were
immediately stopped, then backed full with unsuccessful results. The ship had taken a list to
starboard of about 8 degrees as all water tight doors were battened down. The captain relieved
the officer of the deck so the latter could assume damage control duties.

At 0735 LONGSHAW backed with full power and was again unsuccessful. All compartments were
still dry however, and being checked every 18 minutes. The engine room spaces were also
reported dry with no damage to any machinery. A further investigation showed the ship to be
sitting on two coral rocks, one centered a little forward and the other centered at frome 50.
At 0815 all 5-inch ammunition was brought up from the forward section of the ship and placed on
the main deck on the fantail.

Thirty minutes later USS PICKING made the first of several unsuccessful attempts to take
LONGSHAW in tow.

At 0945 USS ARIKARA (ATI 98) anchored in close to LONGSHAW and at 1000 the captain came
aboard to investigate the location of the ship on the reef. He expressed confidence that the
ship could be cleared from the reef, but recommended waiting until high tide prior to making the
attempt. The captain of LONGSHAW agreed to this recommendation and a bridle and tow line were
passed to LONGSHAW.

At 1050, ammunition handling was again ceased as all 5-inch projectiles were cleared from
the lower magazines and the #1 five-inch handling room except for one 5-inch projectile at the
bottom of the hoist and one at the top of the hoist to the gun. The #2 five-inch gun had
projectiles in the upper handling room. Damage control measures were carefully checked
throughout the ship and all hands not on watch or needed for the operation of the ship were
ordered to the fantail again to further lighten the ship forward.

At 1100 the tug commenced taking a strain as LONGSHAW backed full on both engines.
Numerous hands lined up on the port side aft as the ship began moving off the reef. At 1101 the
crew saw their frustrated hopes of the last few hours vanish dismally when a Jap shell hit the
water between USS ARIKARA and USS LONGSHAW at about 100 yards distance. All hands, tired as
they were, scurried for their battle stations as the first Jap hit scored, hitting in the
forward engineroom. More hits followed in rapid succession, one on the superstructure vicinity,
one in #4 40 millimeter gun, followed by one each in #4 five-inch upper handling room, the
bridge, Combat Information Center, #2 five-inch upper handling room. All hits were on the port
side and though LONGSHAW answered immediatley with counter battery fire, it was blind shooting
for no gun flashes could be seen.

The forward 5-inch guns fired about 2 rounds each before the bow was completely blown off.
Numerous personnel had been killed or wounded while going to their battle stations and others
were suffering from shock. A few men jumped over the side and another group attempted to throw
the ammunition on the fantail into the water. It was a futile effort however, and many men were
injured from shrapnel while performing this duty on the open fantail deck.

Sometime between the first shell hit and the last, word was sent down from the bridge,
presumably from the captain, by word of mouth to "Abandon Ship." All communications had been
disrupted. Abandon ship was performed in an orderly manner in spite of the confusion. Many men
jumped into the water trusting that they would soon be picket up. Other groups launched life
rafts and life floats. Several remained aboard to give aid to the wounded. In a half hour all
hands had abandoned ship except a few severely wounded cases who could not be moved.

Lieutenant R. L. Bly, Jr., and Barret, F1c remained on board to aid wounded and weakened
men in the water alongside. Some of the men were brought aboard and given as much relief as
possible.

At 1105 on the bridge, all hands were killed, injured, or stunned so badly from the hit on
the port wing that little was known as to what actually happened. The captain was reportedly on
the bridge, mortally wounded.

The forward fireroom had several men injured from shrapnel and the boilers were leaking
steam. When water began to fill the boilers, they were secured and the men abandoned their
stations.

The forward engineroom was secured after one shell hit in the engine room and a second hit
caused steam leaks. All communications there were lost and the engineroom was secured as all
hands abandoned ship.

At 1115 the after fire room and engine room received word to abandon ship by word of mouth.
The spaces were carefully secured and abandoned. An LCI came alongside about 1200 and removed
all wounded and carefully checked all dead. Later in the afternoon, friendly ship' gunfire
completed the destruction of USS LONGSHAW, a ship that were out guns, officers and crew in a
supreme effort for her country.

In her brilliant career, USS LONGSHAW earned 9 Battle Stars on the Asiatic-Pacific Area
Service Medal for participating in the following operations:

1 Star/Asiatic-Pacific Raids -- 1944
Palau, Yap, Ulithi, Woleai raid -- 30 March to 1 April 1944
Turk, Satawan, Ponape Raid -- 29 April to 1 May 1944

1 Star/Hollandia Operation (Aitape-Humboldt Bay-Tanahmersh Bay) -- 21 to 24 April 1944

1 Star/ Marianas Operation
Capture and Occupation of Saipan -- 15 June to 9 August 1944
Capture and Occupation of Guam -- 21 July to 15 August 1944

1 Star/Tinian Capture and Occupation -- 24 July to 9 August 1944

1 Star/Western Caroline Islands Operation
Capture and Occupation of Southern Palau Islands -- 6 September to 14 October 1944
Assault on the Philippine Islands -- 9 to 24 September 1944

1 Star/Leyte Operation
THIRD Fleet supporting operations Okinawa Attack -- 10 October 1944
Northern Luzon and Formosa Attacks -- 11 to 14 October 1944
Luzon Attacks -- 15, 17-19 October; 13-14, 19-25 November; and 14 to 16 December 1944
Visayas Attacks -- 21 October 1944
Battle of Surigao Strait -- 24-26 October 1944

1 Star/Luzon Operation
Formosa Attacks -- 3-4, 9,15, and 21 January 1945
Luzon Attacks -- 6 and 7 January 1945
China Coast Attacks -- 12 and 16 January 1945
Nansei Shoto Attack -- 22 January 1945

1 Star/Iwo Jima Operation
FIFTH Fleet Raids against Honshu and the Nansei Shoto -- 15-16 and 25 February, and
1 March 1945
Assault and Occupation of Iwo Jima -- 15 February to 12 March 1945

1 Star/Okinawa Gunto Operation
Assault and Occupation of Okinawa Gunto -- 25 March to 18 May 1945

STATISTICS

OVERALL LENGTH 376 feet BEAM 40 feet
DISPLACEMENT 2,050 tons SPEED 35 knots

 


DD 559 -
- DD 559
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