United States Ship Turner
TURNER is the first destroyer to bear the name of Captain Daniel Turner who gallantly commanded several ships during the War of 1812.
There were 575 destroyer hull numbers between the USS TURNER DD-259 and DD/DDR-834 and their active service was separated by 23 years. It is no wonder most of us know so little about DD-259. Thanks to Commander John Alden's book, Flush Decks and Four Pipes, we get a brief, but interesting, glimpse at how she was used, or misused, by the Navy.
DD-259 was commissioned in 1919. Her pennant was hauled down, as a result of treaty, just three years later in San Diego where she lay idle for 14 years. In 1936 she was stricken from the rolls and became YW-56, an ignominious water barge, being towed between San Diego and San Clemente Island. In 1942 BuShips was desperately searching for ASW ships and inquired about the ex-TURNER. The San Diego Destroyer Base pointed out that, among other things, her propeller struts had been burned off and her turbines had been disabled with the cutting torch. She had no armament and no deck house: hardly "ready for sea."
The District Commander also put his oar in the water because he needed a self propelled water, cargo, and passenger ferry to support the training base on San Clemente. On his recommendation BuShips and CNO concurred and the once proud "four piper" and lowly YW became the Moosehead IX-98. Moosehead got power, a cargo hold and boom where the forward fireroom had been, four officers, 60 men, and two 4 inch/50's, some light machine guns and depth-charges.
This was not the end for Moosehead; she began to grow. Her mission was expanded to training armed guardsmen, towing high-speed target sleds even though she was only capable of 21 knots on two boilers. Along the way BuShips was wondering what was happening to Moosehead and demanded an inclining test. When they looked at the data, they would not certify her for sea. Off came the guns and a number of others measures were taken to make Moosehead seaworthy.
Moosehead soon became the only "flush decker" to become a flagship during WW II. Commander, Operational Training Command refitted her to his own requirements. Out came the cargo hold. In went a CIC and some living quarters. The intermediate-stage turbines were reactivated, electronic equipment was installed as were more deck houses and two 3 inch/50's. She now had six officers and 86 enlisted men, and up went the Admiral's flag.
Moosehead (the ex-YW-56, ex-TURNER DD-259) served out the rest of WW II as one of the Navy's most valuable training assets. In this most important role, the TURNER outlived all but just a few of her original sister destroyers. She didn't serve at Okinawa, Iwo Jima, the Coral Sea or in any other engagement, but the good men who were trained on board her did; proudly and victoriously.
Researched and written by:
Mel Edwards, Lt. (jg) USS Turner, DD/DDR-834 (‘57-’59)