Destroyer Division 80
March 19, 2017
The USS Ward, USS Schley, USS Allen, USS Chew: They may not be among the better-known vessels that were present during the attack on Pearl Harbor, but their presence that morning was more prominent than their absence in retellings may make it seem. The four ships, all destroyer-class vessels in the United States Navy, made up Destroyer Division 80, and as more and more information about Pearl Harbor continues to come out from years of research and recently-released documents, stories like those revolving around Destroyer Division 80 start to get traction.
While the Navy personnel were enjoying their Sunday morning, unaware of what heading their way, one of the ships of the 80th division made an unexpected discovery, effectively the first of the events of December 7th, 1945.
USS Ward (DD-139)
Before Japan even had the chance to strike Pearl Harbor, the USS Ward of Division 80 was engaging a submarine that was making its way towards the entrance to the harbor. The Ward recognized the sub as Japanese and took extreme caution as it was following the USS Antares. The first shots fired came from the Ward, as her crew was taking no chances.
Just as quickly as the submarine was spotted, it was sinking to the bottom of the ocean. The sinking of the sub took place at 0645, about an hour before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Though the Ward sent off intel about an enemy sub, it was widely disregarded as an incorrect identification.
At around 0830, the Ward came under fire from Japan’s fighters but was better prepared for a counter attack. The crew fought off the fighters and suffered no casualties.
USS Schley (DD-103)
While the Ward was patrolling the entrance to the harbor, the Schley was moored in the Navy Yard. Like the rest of the ships at Pearl Harbor, her crew wasn’t prepared for an attack. Unlike many others, however, when the attack was underway, her crew was able to fight back.
During the attack, while still in berth #20, the crew of the Schley fired on incoming fighters. Using two .50-caliber machine guns, she unloaded 150 rounds. Her quick defense kept the on-board casualty count at zero.
USS Allen (DD-66) and USS Chew (DD-106)
At berth X-5, next to the USS Baltimore, the Allen and the Chew were among some of the first vessels to fight back. Using 3” A.A. guns, the crew opened fire on bombers and fighter planes that were swooping over the vessels along Battleship Row. Despite their reduced crews, both destroyers were able to engage the enemy.
According to witnesses who saw the attack, the Chew was responsible for shooting down one Japanese plane. The Allen, which also engaged with the enemy, was said to have taken down two aircraft.
The ships of Destroyer Division 80 may not be as well-known as the USS Arizona or the USS Missouri, but a trip through World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument is an all-encompassing experience that gives an overview of the pressure every vessel and crew was under during the attack.