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USS Somers

Six ships of the United States Navy have borne the name USS Somers in honor of Master Commandant Richard Somers who was killed at Tripoli in action against the Barbary pirates[?].

The first USS Somers was a schooner that fought under Commodore Ferry on Lake Erie and Lake Huron, and took part in the capture of the British Squadron on 10 September 1813.

The second USS Somers was a brig launched by the New York Navy Yard on 16 April 1842 and commissioned on 12 May 1842, Commander Alexander Slidell Mackenzie[?] in command.

After a shakedown cruise in June and July to Puerto Rico and back, the new brig sailed out of New York harbor on 13 September 1842 bound for the Atlantic coast of Africa with dispatches for frigate Vandalia[?]. On this voyage, Somers was acting as an experimental schoolship for naval apprentices.

After calls at Madeira, Tenerife[?], and Porto Praia[?], looking for Vandalia, Somers arrived at Monrovia, Liberia, on 10 November and learned that the frigate had already sailed for home. The next day, Mackenzie headed for the Virgin Islands hoping to meet Vandalia at St. Thomas[?] before returning to New York. On the passage to the West Indies, the officers noticed a steady worsening of morale. On 26 November, Mackenzie arrested Midshipman Philip Spencer[?], the son of Secretary of War Spencer, for inciting mutiny. The next day, Boatswain's Mate Samuel Cromwell[?] and Seaman Elisha Small[?] were also put in irons.

An investigation by the officers of the ship over the next few days indicated that these men were plotting to take over the ship, throw the officers and loyal members of the crew to the sharks, and then to use Somers for piracy. On 1 December, the officers reported that they had "come to a cool, decided, and unanimous opinion" that the prisoners were "guilty of a full and determined intention to commit a mutiny;" and they recommended that the three be put to death. The plotters were promptly hanged.

Somers reached St. Thomas[?] on 5 December and returned to New York on 14 December. She remained there during a naval court of inquiry which investigated the mutiny and the execution and the subsequent court-martial. Both proceedings exonerated Mackenzie.

On 20 March 1843, Lt. John West assumed command of Somers, and the brig was assigned to the Home Squadron. For the next few years, she served along the Atlantic coast and in the West Indies.

Somers was in the Gulf of Mexico off Vera Cruz at the opening of the Mexican War in the spring of 1846; and, but for runs to Pensacola, Florida, for logistics, she remained in that area on blockade duty until winter. On the evening of 26 November, the brig, commanded by Rahael Semmes (later commanding officer of CSS Alabama[?]), was blockading Vera Cruz when Mexican schooner Criolla[?] slipped into that port. Somers launched a boat party which boarded and captured the schooner. However, a calm prevented the Americans from getting their prize out to sea so they set fire to the vessel and returned through gunfire from the shore to Somers, bringing back seven prisoners. Unfortunately, Criolla proved to be an American spy ship operating for Commodore Conner.

On 8 December, while chasing a blockade runner off Vera Cruz, Somers capsized and foundered in a sudden squall. Thirty-two members of her crew drowned and seven were captured. In recent years, her wreck has been discovered and explored by divers.

Table of contents

General Characteristics

  • Displacement: 259 tons
  • Length: 100 feet
  • Beam: 25 feet
  • Depth of Hold: 11 feet
  • Complement: 120 men
  • Armament: ten 32-pounder carronades

The third USS Somers was US Torpedo Boat 22, built in Germany in 1895 and purchased during the War of 1898. Her service until 1919 was principally with the Maryland and Illinois Naval Militias and on coastal patrol during World War I.

The fourth USS Somers (DD-301) was a Clemson-class destroyer[?] engaged in peacetime operations with the Pacific Fleet from 1920 until she was scrapped under the London Disarmament Treaty[?] in 1930. In 1923, while enroute from Puget Sound to San Diego, her squadron encountered heavy fog off the coast of California, and seven ships ran aground. Somers averted disaster by executing an emergency turn and rescued survivors the following day when the fog lifted.

General Characteristics

  • Displacement: 1215 tons standard, 1308 tons full load
  • Length: 314.4 feet
  • Beam: 31 feet
  • Draft: 9.3 feet
  • Armament
    • four 4"/50 caliber guns
    • one 3"/23 caliber anti-aircraft gun
    • four 21" triple torpedo tubes
  • Complement: 8 Officers, 8 Chief Petty Officers, 106 Enlisted
  • Propulsion: 4 Boilers, 2 Westinghouse Geared Turbines, 27,600 horsepower
  • Speed: 35.5 knots

The fifth USS Somers (DD-381) was the lead ship of the Somers-class destroyers[?]. She was built at Federal, Kearny and commissioned 1 December 1937. Though active for only eight years she acquired an enviable record. In 1938 she transported a consignment of gold from the Bank of England to New York. On 6 November 1941, she and the cruiser USS Omaha[?] captured the German freighter Odenwald which was carrying 3800 tons of scarce rubber while disguised as the American merchantman Willmoto. Somers also accounted for two other blockade runners, Anneliese Essberger and Westerland.

Somer next participated in the Normandy and Southern France invasions providing naval gunfire support as well as serving in the anti-submarine screen. On 15 August 1944, four hours before H-Hour, D-Day, along the French Riviera, Somers encountered and sank the German corvettes Comascio and Escabort. Following this action, she moved inshore to give gunfire support to the invasion. For two days she bombarded enemy strongpoints off the coast near Toulon with 5-inch shells and then exchanged fire with enemy shore batteries east of Marsailles[?]. Although Somers sustained many hits during this action, she emerged the victor.

General Characteristics

  • Displacement: 1850 tons
  • Length: 381 feet
  • Beam: 36.2 feet
  • Draft: 16.5 feet
  • Speed: 35 knots
  • Armament: five 5"/38 guns, 8x4 21" torpedo tubes
  • Complement: 294
  • Propulsion: High-pressure geared turbines with twin screws, 52,000 horsepower

The sixth USS Somers (DDG-34, ex-DD-947) was a Forrest Sherman-class destroyer[?] when her keel was laid down at the Bath Iron Works on 4 March 1958, she was launched on 30 May, and commissioned on 3 April 1959.

Somers was decommissioned 11 April 1966, and converted at San Francisco Naval Shipyards[?]. On 15 March 1967 she was reclassified as a Decatur-class guided missile destroyer[?], and was re-commissioned 10 February 1968.

She was decommissioned on 19 November 1982 and on 26 April 1988, she was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register.

On 21 July 1998, two B-52s from the 20th Bomb Squadron fired missiles at Somers as part of the Rim of the Pacific 1998 exercise. Each B-52 crew launched one AGM-142 Have Nap[?] missile that struck its target set adrift about 30 miles northwest of Kauai. On 22 July 1998, she sunk in 2800 fathoms.

General Characteristics

  • Displacement: 3150 tons
  • Length: 418.5 feet
  • Beam: 45.2 feet
  • Draft: 20-22 feet
  • Displacement: 4,050 tons full load, 2,850 tons standard
  • Propulsion:
    • four Babcock & Wilcox 1,200 psi
    • Turbines: two General Electric geared steam (others)
    • Horsepower: 70,000 shp
    • Shafts: two
    • Endurance: 4,500 nautical miles at 20 knots
    • Max Speed: 33 knots
  • Armament
    • Main Battery: three 5"/54 (Mk 42) DP, one single mount forward, two single mounts aft (aft mounts removed in DDG conversions)
    • AAW: four 3"/50-cal in two twin mounts (reduced to 2 then removed from all by 1975)
    • four .50-cal HMG
    • SAM: one Mk13 single launcher w/40 Tartar (RIM-24) missiles aft
    • ASW: one Mk 16 8 tube ASROC launcher amidships
    • Depth Charges: two Hedgehog launchers replaced later by Mk32 torpedo launchers
    • Torpedoes: four Mk-25 fixed torpedo tubes with Mk-32 torpedoes replaced by six 324mm torpedoes in two triple Mk 32 launchers
  • Countermeasures: SLQ-25 Nixie towed torpedo decoy
  • Radars
    • Air Search: SPS 40B/D
    • Surface Search: SPS 10F/D, SPS-52C,
    • Fire Control:
      • Mk-13 weapon director,
      • Mk-86 w/SPG 60D & SPQ 9A
      • two Mk-74 missile fire control
      • Mk-114 antisubmarine fire control
  • Sonars: GE/Hughes SQQ 23 PAIR keel mount
  • Aircraft: helicopter landing pad aft
  • Complement: 319-332 men

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