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USS Melville (Destroyer Tender No. 2) on 15 July 1915
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Class:        MELVILLE (AD-2)
Design        Navy AD-2
Displacement (tons):        5,078 light, 7,150 full
Dimensions (feet):        417.25' oa, 400.0' pp x 54.5' e x 21.1 mx
Original Armament:        8-5"/51
Later armaments:        8-5"/51 1-3"/50 (ca. 1918);
6-5"/51 3-3"/50 (1941);
2-5"/51 4-3"/50 2-1.1"Q 6<8-20mm (1942);
4-3"/50 2-1.1"Q 8-20mm (Aug 1945, planned); 2-3"/50 or disarmed (Oct 1945)
Complement:        482 (1929)
Speed (kts.):        15.09
Propulsion (HP):        4,006
Machinery:        Parsons geared turbine, 1 screw

AD Name Ord. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
2 MELVILLE 20 Jun 13 New York SB 11 Nov 13 2 Mar 15 3 Dec 15

AD Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
2 MELVILLE 9 Aug 46 23 Apr 47 30 Mar 48 MC/D 28 Jul 48

Class Notes:
FY 1913 (Act of 22 Aug 12). In 1911 the Secretary of the Navy noted that the Navy had one suitable destroyer tender (presumably DIXIE, then serving as tender to the Atlantic torpedo fleet) and no suitable submarine tender or repair ship (although PANTHER was serving as a repair ship). Construction of new tenders began in that year with the authorization of Submarine Tender No. 1 and continued in 1912 with the authorization of a second destroyer tender and Submarine Tender No. 2.

On 10 Jul 11 the General Board forwarded military characteristics for destroyer tenders for the Fiscal Year 1913 building program. These called for a displacement of about 10,000 tons, a draft of as much under 22 feet as possible, a steaming radius of 8,000 miles at 10 knots, a sustained sea speed of 15 knots, two masts fitted with powerful derricks, and an armament of 8-4/50" guns of the same type carried on the most recent destroyers plus one above water torpedo tube for testing, adjusting, and tuning up torpedoes. The ship was to use oil fuel exclusively. She was to have machine shop and all necessary equipment and facilities to act as repair ship and tender for 16 destroyers (which by this time were only slightly smaller than the four-pipers mass-produced during World War I) and was to carry provisions and supplies for these destroyers for 15 days and one allowance of torpedoes and 1,000 rounds of spare ammunition for each destroyer. For details of internal arrangements the Board referred the Bureaus to the reports of the Commanders, Atlantic and Pacific Torpedo Destroyer Fleets that had been submitted in 1910, and the Bureau of Construction and Repair also considered various reports received from DIXIE. Not surprisingly the new ship superficially resembled DIXIE, having only slightly larger hull dimensions, slightly more speed, and a similar topside layout.

On 13 Aug 12 the Bureau of Construction and Repair forwarded to SecNav's Division of Material its preliminary design for the 1913 destroyer tender. It stated that it had designed the ship for three groups of destroyers (i.e. 15) which it understood to have been the General Board's intent. Concerning the Board's displacement of 10,000 tons, the Bureau stated that it had obtained the desired characteristics on a displacement of 6,300 tons and believed "that no useful purpose would be served by making the vessel larger." The dimensions of the design were 418' oa, 400' pp x 51.75' molded x 19'. The Bureau noted that the machine shop had been located on the berth deck in order to obtain the best light and ventilation and also to permit a large deck space to be assigned to the shop without deleterious effect upon the watertight subdivision of the vessel. The design allowed the selection of either a triple expansion reciprocating engine or a turbine with reduction gear to drive the ship's single screw, both using oil-fired boilers. Finally, in view of the fact that there were in commission several tenders for destroyers, the Bureau requested to be informed as to the official designation of the ship. On 31 Aug 12 the General Board approved the preliminary design, although it recommended that it be circulated once more to forces afloat before the design was finalized. Presumably with DIXIE in mind, the Board recommended that the new ship be designated "Destroyer Tender No. 2." This left no ship designated "Destroyer Tender No. 1," because conversions including DIXIE were not given official numbers, creating a number gap that was only filled on 17 Jul 20 when DIXIE was designated AD-1 under the new hull number system.

The approved design included the prescribed armament of 8-4"/50 guns like those in modern destroyers, but on 24 Sep 12 and 20 Nov 12 the Board recommended that all auxiliaries have torpedo defense batteries of 5"/51 guns that would be interchangeable with those in battleships. A Board memorandum accompanying its 20 Nov 12 recommendation explained that the extent to which an efficient tender facilitated the operations of a flotilla (either of destroyers or of submarines) was becoming more evident every day, that it might be expected that an enemy would attempt to take any opportunity to destroy such tenders, and that tenders would need as many guns as practicable to defend themselves during the short intervals when they would be beyond the protection of their own main body. Thereafter the Board insisted on strong armaments of 8-5/51" guns in tenders and transports despite protests from other parts of the Navy Department.

On 17 Jan 13 BuC&R submitted to the Department revised plans for Destroyer Tender No. 2 that included the modified armament and various changes to the preliminary design recommended by forces afloat. The General Board approved the revised plans on 24 Jan 13, although it also recommended that the circular defining the characteristics of the vessel contain a paragraph to the effect that, within the limits of cost imposed by Congress, consideration would be given to bids on a vessel of the same general interior arrangement but of increased displacement. The new tender was named MELVILLE on 10 Feb 13. The type plans for the ship were completed and the circular (with the recommended additional paragraph) was signed by the Acting SecNav on 15 Feb 13. Bids were opened on 21 Apr 13 and the only bidder received a contract under which he would install his own design of Parsons geared turbines, furnish and install the tools and shop outfit, and complete the ship within 24 months. The contract speed of 15 knots was slightly exceeded on trials.

MELVILLE's armament included an above-water launching tube for use in adjusting torpedoes, which in January 1923 was described as a 5.2m x 45cm (18") twin torpedo tube on the second deck, starboard side, frame 118. It seems to have been removed circa the late 1920s. Otherwise the ship's armament was not significantly modified (except for some guns being temporarily landed) until 2-5"/51 guns near the mainmast were replaced with two more 3" guns at Norfolk in December 1941. At the Todd Erie Basin in Brooklyn in December 1942 she exchanged four more 5" guns for a fourth 3" gun, two 1.1" quad AA mounts and some 20mm AA guns. When she entered the New York Navy Yard for overhaul circa July 1945 she was to have received 2-3"/50 in place of her 2-5"/51 for a total of 6-3"/50 and 2-40mmT in place of her 2-1.1"Q. However following a verbal statement by the ship's CO that she had only slightly positive stability the ship was inclined and the removal of many weights including 2-3"/50 guns amidships was directed in early August. Following the end of the war the upgrade of her armament was abandoned and when she left the yard on 1 Oct 45 all of her guns had been removed except possibly the 2-3"/50 that were still listed in the January 1946 Armament Summary.

Ship Notes:
AD Name Notes
2 MELVILLE To buyer 19 Aug 48, scrapped by 3 Oct 49.

Page Notes:
AD        1913
Compiled:        30 Apr 2012
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2012