The USS Gregory (DD-82) was a Wickes-class destroyer named for Rear Admiral Francis Hoyt Gregory, who served in the U.S. Navy from the War of 1812 to the Civil War.
Gregory was laid down in August 1917 at the Fore River Shipbuilding Company in Quincy, Massachusetts. Shewas commissioned on June 1, 1918 under the command of Commander Arthur P Fairfield. Gregory was a little less than 315 feet in length, reached a maximum speed of just under 35 knots, and had a crew of 103 officers and enlisted.
After commissioning Gregory set out for Brest, France, where she escorted convoys from Brest to other allied ports. Just before the end of the war, Gregory was reassigned to Gibraltar. She was then responsible for patrolling the Atlantic and Mediterranean, when not transporting supplies and personnel to the Adriatic or assisting in enforcing the terms of the Austrian armistice. Joining with the USS Arizona, Gregory carried passengers and supplies to the Eastern Mediterranean before picking up the U.S. Consul to Tiflis, Russia and returning to Gibraltar. She then returned to U.S. waters and served briefly before being decommissioned on July 7, 1922 in the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
Gregory was brought out of mothballs in 1939 along with three other destroyers when it became obvious that the United States would enter World War II. After an extensive renovation, the ship lost almost all her armaments to make room for boats, troops and cargo. Recommissioned as APD-3 on 4 November, 1940, Gregory was now classed as a high speed troop transport. She joined Transport Division 12 based out of San Diego and trained to serve in the South Pacific.
Gregory and her fellow APDs provided Marines with transportation and cover during the Battle of Guadalcanal, one of America’s hardest fought campaigns. The converted ships proved to be versatile under fire. On September 4, 1942, Gregory and her sister ships encountered a trio of Japanese destroyers off of Savo Island. Although she fought valiantly, she was outclassed by the more modern ships and sustained hits to two boilers. Her deck was aflame and she sunk within 40 minutes. Her last commander, Lieutenant Commander H.F. Bauer, was gravely wounded when he gave the order to abandon ship. Reluctantly his crew obeyed. He was last seen ordering two crewmembers to assist another sailor who was also badly injured, and posthumously was awarded the Silver Star. All but 11 crewmembers survived the Japanese bombardment and strafing of survivors in the water.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Gregory (DD-82)
Although she was originally constructed before asbestos fireproofing was commonplace on naval vessels, Gregory’s extensive refit for World War II likely brought significant quantities of asbestos on board. The attack that damaged her boilers was particularly likely to send clouds of asbestos swirling into the air. Although she soon sank, the sailors that battled the flames and boiler damage were probably breathing heavily contaminated air. Asbestos fibers that lodge in the lungs can eventually cause mesothelioma.Sources
DANFS: USS Gregory [DD-82/APD3].
Destroyer Photo Index (DD-82/APD-3) USS Gregory.