Daily Event for April 26, 2008

Failure to communicate cost the U.S. Navy a destroyer and seventeen sailors on April 26, 1942 when USS Sturtevant DD-240 sailed out of Key West, Florida and right into a minefield. Sturtevant was a Clemson
Class destroyer built in 1919 in New York and commissioned in 1920, too late for the Great War. She
served in the Mediterranean and even aided the Soviets during the Russian Civil War, not as a warship but
rather as a relief ship. She was used to scout Russian ports for U.S. ships bringing food to the starving Russian people during the famine.

Between the wars the ship was decommissioned twice and recommissioned for the Second World War on
Sept. 26, 1939. She saw duty as a convoy escort and also conducting neutrality patrols in the North Atlantic
until March of 1942 when she was assigned to the Caribbean for much he same duty. On April 6, 1942 she
became a rescue ship when she picked up the survivors of two tankers, Catahoula and the Comol Rico, that
had been sunk by a German submarine the day before. Seventy seven men were pulled out of the water by her crew, twenty days later it was they who had to be rescued.

Two hours after she left Key West on April 26 to escort a convoy she entered a minefield that had been laid
only the day before by the U.S. Navy, apparently the Navy did not feel it important enough to tell her captain,
Lt. Commander C. L. Weigle to avoid the area. An explosion rocked the ship and it was assumed that they had
been hit by a torpedo fired by a German submarine, with this thought in mind her commander ordered depth
charges to be dropped, sources differ as to whether the depth charges were actually dropped or not, some
say that two sets of charges were dropped while others state the second and third explosions came before the depth charges could be released.

In any event there were two other explosions quickly after the first, the ship broke in half, the stern sinking
immediately while the bow section stayed above water for a few hours before going down. With the ship
seventeen men also went down. The 137 men in the water were rescued by patrol craft. This was the third
destroyer lost in World War II by the U.S. Navy. The wreck is still there, laying on the bottom in two sections.
© 2008 Michael W. Pocock

Roll of Honor
In memory of those who lost their lives in
USS Sturtevant DD-240
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Campbell, Robert C.
Seaman 2nd Class
Coyne, Walter
Watertender 2nd Class
Green, Harold T.
Fireman 1st Class
Hanson, Charles C.
Motor Machinist's Mate 2nd Class (USNR)
Howell, Reubin H.
Fireman 1st Class
Hurt, James G.
Chief Watertender (USNR)
Kimberly, Frank D.
Watertender 2nd Class
Klonin, Horace R.
Seaman 2nd Class
Mills, Emery O.
Watertender 1st Class
Montgomery, William H.
Watertender 2nd Class
Ninness, Paul G.
Fireman 1st Class
O'Gorman, Charles P.
Fireman 1st Class
Pfaffengut, Harold
Fireman 1st Class
Stankewicz, Frank
Watertender 2nd Class
Stapleton, John C.
Fireman 1st Class
Yukas, Steve J.
Seaman 2nd Class
Zajkowsky, Benjamin
Fireman 1st Class

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USS Sturtevant DD-240 seen from the USS Indianapolis CA-35.

2005 Daily Event
2007 Daily Event