USS Tatum (DE-789)

USS Tatum (DE-789)

USS "Tatum" (DE-789/APD-81) was a sclass|Buckley|destroyer escort of the United States Navy, named for Lieutenant Commander Lawrence A. Tatum (1894–1942).cite web
title = TATUM (APD 81) (ex-DE 789)
work = DoD
publisher = NVR
url =
accessdate = 2007-01-01

"Tatum" was laid down by the Consolidated Steel Corp. on 22 April 1943; launched on 7 August 1943, sponsored by Mrs. Cecile Cofield Tatum, and commissioned on 22 November 1943, Lt. Comdr. William C. D. Bellinger USN, in command.cite web
title = USS "Tatum" (DE-789 / APD-81)
work = US Navy
publisher = NavSource
url =
accessdate = 2007-01-01

Destroyer Escort (DE)

After shakedown training in the vicinity of Bermuda, the destroyer escort performed escort duty along the east coast until 25 March when she departed Tompkinsville, N.Y., in the screen of a convoy bound for England. She reached Plymouth on 19 April and returned — via Milford Haven, Wales, and Belfast, Northern Ireland — to New York City on 12 May.cite web
title = "Tatum"
work = Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
publisher = United States Navy
url =
accessdate = 2008-01-07

Her second and third transatlantic voyages took the ship to North Africa. She departed the east coast on 28 May in the screen of the escort carriers USS|Kasaan Bay|CVE-69|2, USS|Tulagi|CVE-72|2, and USS|Mission Bay|CVE-59|2 headed for French Morocco. Upon delivering planes at Casablanca, the warships returned to the United States on 17 June 1944, and "Tatum" moored at Bayonne, N.J. She joined "Kasaan Bay" and "Tulagi" once again on 28 June as they weighed anchor for Algeria. The ships made Oran on 10 July; and, the next day, "Tatum" got under way to pick up SS "Cross Keys" at Casablanca and escort her to Bizerte, Tunisia. The destroyer escort returned to Oran on the 16th and, four days later, cleared port once again to protect the British aircraft carriers HMS|Hunter|D80|6 and HMS|Stalker|D91|6 during their passage to Malta. On the 23d, "Tatum" dropped 130 depth charges on a submarine contact but apparently scored no kill. The force reached Malta on 25 July. Augmented by "Kasaan Bay" and "Tulagi", the unit steamed to Alexandria, Egypt, and then returned to Malta where they arrived on 3 August.

The next day, "Tatum" reported to Naples where she embarked the commander of a landing craft convoy for the impending invasion of southern France. "Tatum" stood out of Naples on 9 August, joined the landing craft in the Gulf of Pozzuoli, and escorted them to the staging area at Ajaccio, Corsica. Before dawn on the 15th, the convoy arrived off St. Tropez where "Tatum" transferred the convoy commander to "LCI-196". She then patrolled off Cape Camarat until the following afternoon. From 17 July until early autumn, "Tatum" protected convoys shuttling between Corsica, Sardinia, and southern France. On 16 October, she departed Marseilles in the screen of a convoy bound for Bizerte and Oran. During the early part of November, "Tatum" escorted another convoy from Oran to Marseilles then screened the Army transport "Mariposa" to Naples and returned to Oran on 15 November. "Tatum" got underway again on 24 November to screen a convoy back to the United States, arriving at New York on 11 December.

High Speed Transport (APD)

On 12 December 1944, she began conversion to a high-speed transport at Tompkinsville. On 15 December 1944, she was officially redesignated APD-81.

"Tatum" (APD-81) cleared Tompkinsville on 6 March 1945, steamed to the Chesapeake Bay for training until the 14th, and stood out of Hampton Roads on the 16th in company with USS|Prentiss|AKA-102|2. Following port calls at Panama and San Diego, "Tatum" entered Pearl Harbor on 12 April 1945. She conducted more training in the Hawaiian Islands before getting underway with a convoy headed, via the Marshalls and Carolines, for the Ryūkyūs.

"Tatum" arrived off Okinawa's Hagushi beaches on 19 May and reported for duty with the antiaircraft and antisubmarine pickets stationed around the island. At dusk on 29 May, the warship was proceeding to her radar picket station when she was attacked by four enemy planes. As the first intruder swooped in across her bow, "Tatum"'s guns opened up and scored hits on his wing and fuselage. He banked sharply and headed for the ship's starboard side. About 40 feet from her, the plane's left wing and tail struck the water, jarring loose his bomb. It skipped off the surface, struck and careened off the underside of a gun sponson, and pierced "Tatum"'s hull and two of her longitudinal bulkheads. The dud came to rest with its nose protruding eight inches into the passageway inboard of the executive officer's stateroom. The plane also skimmed over the water into "Tatum", dented her hull, and knocked out her director fire control and communications with the engine room.

Meanwhile, the second and third planes were setting up for their attack. "Tatum" drove one of them off with gunfire, but the other pilot continued on toward the ship until a hail of gunfire caused him to lose control of his aircraft. He banked sharply to the right, passed by "Tatum"'s port side, and splashed about 100 yards astern. Within seconds, his cautious comrade renewed his attack. He dove on the fast transport, barely missing the port wing of her bridge, and "Tatum"'s antiaircraft fire followed him up as he climbed, did a wing-over, and prepared to come in again. His third and final attack carried him across the ship's fantail and into the water about 50 feet from her starboard quarter.

The fourth plane apparently had been holding back waiting for his colleagues to open a favorable route of attack. He then circled, banked to his left, and dove at "Tatum". Her barrage ripped off part of his left wing, and he plummeted toward the water, splashing into the sea about 30 feet from her port bow. Then an underwater explosion rocked "Tatum" severely but caused no damage.

Despite considerable damage to the fast transport, her crew had all essential equipment back in operation within 15 minutes. Relieved by USS|Walter C. Wann|DE-412|2 later that evening, she stopped at Hagushi to take on a bomb disposal officer and moved two miles out to sea where the dud was disarmed and dropped overboard. "Tatum" returned to Hagushi the following morning; then moved to Kerama Retto for repairs.

"Tatum" underwent temporary repairs and departed the Okinawa area on 11 June to escort a convoy to Ulithi. From there, she screened USS|Briareus|AR-12|2 to San Pedro Bay, Leyte, where her permanent repairs were completed; and "Tatum" conducted exercises with USS|Texas|BB-35|2, USS|Mississippi|BB-41|2, USS|Gainard|DD-706|2, and USS|Barber|APD-57|2. On 18 August, she departed San Pedro Bay to escort USS|Idaho|BB-42|2 and "Mississippi" to Okinawa, entering Buckner Bay on the 21st.

"Tatum" spent eight more months in the Far East, assisting in various phases of the post war occupation and reconstruction. Between 9 and 11 September, she screened a task unit carrying occupation officials from Buckner Bay to Wakanoura Wan, Honshū, Japan. She remained there until 19 September, assisting in the evacuation of Allied prisoners of war. From there, she shifted to Nagasaki where she supplied boats for the evacuation pool. On 25 September, "Tatum" put to sea for Buckner Bay where she arrived the following day. Three weeks later, the high-speed transport sailed for the Philippines. At Manila, she joined a convoy of troopships bound for French Indochina and arrived at Haiphong on 2 November. After embarking soldiers of the Chinese 52d Army, the convoy got underway on the 4th for Chinwangtao where it arrived on the 12th and disembarked the troops.

"Tatum" continued to shuttle passengers between Chinese ports until mid-April 1946. On the 12th, she stood out of Hong Kong to return to the United States. After stops at Guam, in the Marshalls, and at Pearl Harbor, the ship reached San Pedro, California, on 9 May 1946. On the 18th, she resumed her voyage east and arrived at Philadelphia, Pa., on 3 June. By 5 July, she was in the Charleston (S.C.) Navy Yard undergoing inactivation overhaul. In mid-October, the highspeed transport was towed to Green Cove Springs, Florida where she was placed out of commission on 15 November 1946. "Tatum" remained out of commission, in reserve, until 1 June 1960 when her name was struck from the Navy List. On 8 May 1961, she was sold for scrap to the Southern Scrap Metal Co., New Orleans, Louisiana

USS "Tatum" earned two battle stars during World War II.

See also


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