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USS Long (DD-209/ DMS-12)
USS Long (DD-209/ DMS-12) was a Clemson class destroyer that fought in the Aleutians, at Hollandia, in the Marianas, the Palaus and the Philippines, before being sunk during the landings at Lingayen Gulf on Luzon.
The Long was named after John Davis Long, the Secretary of the Navy in 1897-1902, covering the period of the Spanish-American War.
The Long was laid down at Cramp’s of Philadelphia on 23 September 1918, launched on 26 April 1919 and commissioned on 20 October 1919. The Long was one of two ships in the Clemson class to be armed with twin 4”/50 guns, giving her eight guns in place of the normal four in single mounts.
After a shakedown cruise on the Atlantic Coast, the Long departed for the Mediterranean late in 1919. She joined Destroyer Division 26 and operated in the Adriatic and Mediterranean and served as a station ship.
Early in 1921 she left the Mediterranean and sailed east via the Suez Canal to take up a new assignment on the Asiatic Station. She was based at Cavite on Luzon, and operated across the South China Sea. In July 1922 she was ordered back home, and on 30 December she was decommissioned at San Diego.
Late in 1929 she was one of thirty-four destroyers that had been decommissioned in 1921-22 that was chosen to return to service to replace the existing ships of the 11th and 12th Squadrons. The Long was towed out of her berth amongst the decommissioned ships on 21 September 1929. She was recommissioned at San Diego on 29 March 1930, and was based at San Diego throughout the 1930s. She spent most of her time operating along the Pacific coast of North and Central American, taking part in exercises and acting as a plane guard for the carriers. She passed through the Panama Canal in April 1931 as part of that year’s fleet exercises. In 1933-1935 she spent two spells in the Rotating Reserve with Destroyer Squadron 20. In October 1934 she was present in Balbao harbour, along with two battleships, three cruisers, two tenders and over forty destroyers. In 1935 she was part of Destroyer Division 18, along with the Southard (DD-207), Chandler (DD-206) and Hovey (DD-208). In 1937 she too part in a cruise in Alaska waters that was very well documented in photographs. The Long is seen manoeuvring at sea, visiting Juneau, Skagway, Chelkate Inlet, Wrangell Narrows. This cruise also took her to British Columbia. Also present on the cruiser were the destroyers USS Wasmith (DD-338), Dallas (DD-199), USS Trevor (DD-339), Zane (DD-337)
In 1940 the Long was converted into a destroyer minesweeper, and on 19 November 1940 she was reclassified as DMS-12. Over the next year she operated off the west coast and around Hawaii. In December 1941 she was based at Pearl Harbor, but on 5 December she put to sea as part of the screen for USS Indianapolis (CA-35) and thus missed the Japanese attack. She returned to port on 9 December, and carried out anti-submarine patrols around Hawaii. In March-June 1942 she added escort duties to her role, operating between Hawaii, Midway, Palmyra and Canton islands.
On 30 June 1942 the Long left Pearl Harbor for a new base in Alaska. On 27 July collided with USS Monaghan (DD-354) in heavy fog and had to go to San Francisco for repairs. She wasn’t able to return to the Aleutians until 27 September when she reached Kodiak. Her main roles were screening other ships and anti-submarine patrols. Over the winter she was used to patrol the approaches to Adak.
On 12 January 1943 the Long took part in the unopposed occupation of Amchitka. On 31 January and 1 February she helped fight off Japanese air attacks. On 3 May she then joined Task Force 51 (Rear Admiral Rockwell), and took part in the invasion of Attu. She approached the island on 11 May and swept for mines. The landings then took place later on the same day. The Long remained in Alaskan waters throughout the summer of 1943, finally returning to Pearl Harbor on 16 September. She then escorted a convoy to San Francisco, where she underwent an overhaul.
Between 15 November 1943 and 22 January 1944 the Long carried out patrols in Hawaiian waters. She was then used to escort reinforcements heading to Roi and Namur in the Marshall Islands, arriving on 2 February. She then joined Task Force 76, and served as an escort and mine sweeper during the conquest of the Admiralty Islands in March 1944.
On 18 April 1944 she sailed to take part in the landings at Hollandia on New Guinea. She made an exploratory sweep of Humboldt Bay on 22 April, then took part in the pre-invasion bombardment.
In early May 1944 she moved to Guadalcanal to prepare for the invasion of the Mariana Islands. She reached Saipan on 13 June and carried out pre-invasion sweeps west of the the island. She then served as a radar picket and guard ship until 24 June. After a brief trip to the Marshalls she screened USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) during the pre-invasion bombardment of Guam which began on 12 July.
On 6 September 1944 she sailed to take part in the invasion of the Palaus. She cleared mines off Peleliu and Angaur and in the Kossol Passage between 12-16 September. This was followed by a period of escort and patrol duties between the Palaus and the Admiralty Islands.
The Long joined the 7th Fleet on 4 October 1944, ready to take part in the invasion of the Philippines. She entered Leyte Gulf on 17 October, and cleared mines off Dinaget and Hibuson and on the approaches to Dulag-Tacloban. She then swept the Surigao Strait, before acting as a smoke screen ship in Leyte Gulf until 23 October. She then joined the transport screen and escorted the transport ships as they returned to Manus.
The Long’s last mission was the landing at Lingayen Gulf on Luzon. She first came under air attack on 2 January 1945 on the approach voyage, but the real danger didn’t begin until 6 January, when she entered the gulf and began minesweeping. The Japanese conducted a series of kamikaze attacks on the minesweepers, which suffered heavily. Just before noon one Zero crashed into her port side, just below the bridge. The Long soon lost power, internal communications and firefiring capabilities forward. Her CO, Lt. Stanley Caplin, gave permission for men trapped on the forecastle to leave the ship to avoid a possible explosion in the forward magazine, and this was misinterpreted as a general order to abandon ship.
The survivors were rescued by USS Hovey (DMS-11). The Long was still afloat, and Lt Caplin was prepared to try and board her and fight the fires, but Japanese air attacks prevented him from getting onboard. This was probably fortunate, as during the afternoon a second kamikaze hit the same spot as the first, breaking the ship’s back. She capsized and sank on the following morning. Sadly many of the survivors were lost when the Hovey was sunk by a Japanese torpedo later in the same battle.
The Long received nine battle stars during the Second World War, for a possible attack on a submarine on 29 January 1942, the occupation of Attu, operations off Western New Guinea, the Admiralty Islands, Hollandia, Saipan and Guam, the southern Palaus, Leyte and Lingayen Gulf.
2-shaft Westinghouse geared tubines
2,500nm at 20kts (design)
Armour - belt
Eight 4in/ 50 guns
26 April 1919
20 October 1919
Sunk by kamikaze
6-7 January 1945