USS Thorn

Ad: This forum contains affiliate links to products on Amazon and eBay. More information in Terms and rules

cheddar cheese

Major General
Jan 9, 2004
WSM, England
Was just scouring the net and i discovered that there was an American Destroyer by the name of USS Thorn. (im interested because Thorn is my surname) All I know whas that it was decommissioned in August 2004; does anyone have pictures or information on it? Thanks.
Is this enough?

The first Thorn (DD-647) was laid down on 15 November 1942 at Kearny, NJ, by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry-dock Co.; Launched on 28 February 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Beatrice Fox Palmer; and commissioned on 1 April 1943 (April Fools Day), with Lt. Comdr. Edward Brumby in command and Lt. Robert A. Schelling, Executive Officer.

The commissioning ceremonies included a short inspiring address by the Commandant, Third naval District and of the New York navy Yard, Rear Admiral E. J. Marquart, U.S.N. Mr. Charles E. Thorn read an account of the life of the late Jonathan Thorn, U.S.N., for whom the ship was named. He also presented the ship with a silver punch bowl, ladle and tray, suitably inscribed, the gift of the Thorn family. Ensign Warner E. Peterson set the watch as the first Officer of the Deck.

Following shakedown and trials out of Casco Bay, Maine, Thorn joined Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 19. Between 28 May 1943 and 2 January 1944, the destroyer conducted four round-trip convoy escort mission on the New York-Norfolk-Casablanca route – the first trip as part of Task Force (TF) 69 and the other three as part of TF 64.

On 21 August 1943 the Thorn entered the Strait of Gibraltar and sailed into the Mediterranean where she turned over the convoy to the British escorts.

On her last convoy run, the Thorn escorted two oilers to Ponta Delgada, in the Azores, in company with the USS Stockton (DD-646) – the first ships to enter the port under the terms of the new agreement between the Allies and the government of Portugal.

On 3 January 1944, the day after Thorn arrived back to New York harbor, USS Turner (DD-648) blew up and sank in Ambrose Channel, 5,000 yards astern of Thorn. Calling away the ship's motor whaleboat, Thorn sent a rescue party to try to recover survivors. The men were later awarded Medals and commendations for their part in the operation.

Late in January 1944, Thorn sailed for the Pacific. While steaming through "Torpedo Junction" in the Caribbean on 27 January, a successful underway-emergency appendectomy was performed by the ship's medical doctor.

After transiting the Panama Canal on the 29th, the destroyer and her sisters of DesDiv 37 headed for the southwest Pacific to relieve DesRon 1 in New Guinea waters. The first landfall, on 1 February 1944, was Baltra Island in the Galapagos Islands.

The Thorn crossed the Equator for the first time on 2 February 1944. The ship welcomed King Neptunus Rex, Davey Jones and the remainder of their party aboard for ceremonies that included converting approximately 200 lowly, stinking "Pollywogs" into exulted "Shellbacks". Later in the war, these poor souls would return the favor, to initiate other unfortunate "Pollywogs".

The next port of call on 13 February 1944 was Bora Bora, in the Society Islands, the consensus "Most Beautiful Island" by most hands that hoped to eventually return one day. After departing the "Pearl of the Pacific", the Thorn was detoured to escort a detached oiler group to Guadalcanal and Rendova in the Solomon Islands on 23 and 24 February. She finally arrived at Milne bay, New Guinea, on the 29 February.

Thorn moved directly from there to Cape Sudest where, on 4 March 1944, the destroyer embarked troops and supplies of the Army's 7th Cavalry Division and immediately proceeded to Los Negros Island for the invasion of the Admiralties. In addition to making three additional escort trips between Cape Sudest and Seeadler Harbor, Thorn participated in two shore bombardments of Pityili Island, conducted antisubmarine patrols north of the Admiralties, and acted as fighter director vessel. On 1 April 1944 while at Los Negros in the Admiralties, the Thorn celebrated her First Birthday.

On 10 April 1944 – while making a practice torpedo run on the USS Reid (DD-369) during preparations for the forthcoming Allied landings at Hollandia – Thorn struck an uncharted reef off Oro bay, Cape Sudest. Damage to her screws and shafts forced the ship back to the west coast for an overhaul via Buna, Milne Bay, Funafuti, again crossing the International Dateline (this time losing a day, 6 to 5 May 1944) and the Equator on 6-7 May, before arriving at Pearl harbor on 11 May 1944. The Thorn departed Pearl Harbor on 12 May and escorted the USS Massachusetts (BB-59) to Bremerton, WA, arriving at Port Angeles on 19 May. On 20 May, the ship escorted the USS Thetis Bay (CVE-90) from the Puget Sound Navy Yard to San Francisco, CA, where she eventually arrived on 22 May.

On 31 May 1944, during her overhaul at Hunter's Point, Lt. Comdr. Frederick H. Schneider relieved Comdr. Edward Brumby as commanding officer of the Thorn.

In mid-June 1944, a canine Mascot was added to the crew. The Ships Company named the male terrier "Sticker" (Little Thorn). A feline, named "Tiger", was later added. "Sticker" survived the war and eventually became the Schneider family pet. The ultimate fate of "Tiger" is officially unknown. It is believed she was lost overboard at night.

After completing her overhaul at the Hunter's Point Navy yard, Thorn conducted refresher training. On 31 July 1944, during these exercises, the Thorn torpedoed herself with a practice "fish". The outcome was another dent on the port side and loss of a defective torpedo.

On 2 August 1944, the Thorn again headed back to the South Pacific, escorting the USS Mississippi (BB-41) to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 11 August. She then escorted the USS Maryland (BB-46) to Purvis Bay, Solomon Islands, arriving on 23 August 1944, where she joined escort carrier Task Unit (TU) 32.7.1.

En-route, the Thorn again crossed the International Date Line and picked up a day, 18-19 August 1944. She also crossed the Equator on 22 August and held a second ceremony. This time 55 men were transformed from "Pollywog" to "Shellback". As before, King Neptune and his minions spared no posteriors.

The Thorn again crossed the Equator on 8 September 1944 (no ceremonies) before proceeding to the Palau's for the landings on 15 September 1944. During her deployment as screen and plane guard, Thorn rescued the crews of three Grumman TBF "Avenger" torpedo planes from the USS Ommaney Bay (CVE-79) on 13, 18 and 23 September. The latter dates were by the same crew – who "ditched" twice in one week.

On 22 September, during a Dawn Alert, the Thorn was struck by a stray 40 mm projectile, courtesy of the USS Savo Island (CVE-77). There was only slight damage and no casualties.

Detached from escort duty at the end of September, the Thorn made yet another Equatorial crossing on 2 October 1944 (again no ceremonies) before joining the 7th Fleet at manus, in the Admiralties on 3 October. As American forces massed for the initial assaults on the Japanese-occupied Philippine Islands. On 12 October 1944, the Thorn made another line crossing (no ceremony) just prior to joining the fire support screen for TF 77. She entered Leyte Gulf on the night of 18 October 1944 and screened the battleships and cruisers during their early shore bombardments.

As allied troops swarmed ashore two days later, the Thorn provided interdiction fire at Abuyog, south of the Leyte beaches, and patrolled the southern end of Leyte Gulf the following week. At dawn on 21 October 1944, Thorn's gunners opened fire on a Japanese Aichi "Val" and sent the enemy dive-bomber splashing into the sea near the transport area. On 22 October, the Thorn and USS Portland (CA-33) splashed another enemy aircraft.

During the fierce night action at Surigao Strait, Thorn screened the American battleships as they mauled the Japanese force coming through the strait. Originally ordered to conduct a torpedo attack on the Japanese battle line, Thorn and her mates were recalled as the Japanese fled posthaste from the direction whence they had come. Thorn then formed up with the left-hand flank of cruisers and destroyers and headed south to polish off the "cripples" from the Japanese force. The American ships came across one Japanese destroyer and smothered it with fire, which summarily dispatched it to the depths. During her 17 salvos, Thorn observed 12 hits.

That evening, Thorn's division received orders to lie-to off Homonhon Island, to conduct a torpedo attack on a Japanese force expected from the eastward. The enemy, however, retired into the San Bernardino Strait that afternoon, and the American destroyer unit was recalled on 26 October 1944.

Ordered to Ulithi, Thorn departed Philippine waters and made her way to join the Third Fleet in the Carolines, for duty with the Fast Carrier Task Force. From 6 to 24 November 1944, Thorn participated in TF 38's strikes against Japanese targets in the Philippines, screening and planeguarding for the fast carriers.

On 16 November 1944, the Thorn transferred a badly injured Japanese prisoner to the USS New Jersey (BB-62) for further treatment and disposition.

Thorn returned to Ulithi on 24 November 1944 with TG 30.8 for duty with a logistics support group. She subsequently resumed planeguarding, this time standing by escort carriers. She assisted the USS Cape Esperance (CVE-88) during the 18 December "monster" typhoon. Following this heavy storm, which capsized and sank the USS Spence (DD-512), USS Hull (DD-350) and USS Monaghan (DD-354) with a loss of almost 800 souls, the Thorn searched for survivors in the storm area. During this traumatic time, the Thorn survived either a 62° or 70° roll, depending on the storyteller.

On 11 December 1944, while returning to the Caroline Islands, via Leyte Gulf and the Mindoro Strait, Thorn rescued a crew of a ditched Grumman TBF "Avenger" torpedo plane from the USS Rudyerd Bay (CVE-81).

During the carrier strikes on Lingayen in early January 1945 and other subsequent carrier raids on Japanese shipping in the South China Sea, Thorn escorted a fast oiler group for replenishment evolutions with the aircraft carriers. During this duty, the Thorn had the distinction of being the first American "ship" to enter the China Sea since the beginning of hostilities with the Japanese.

On 21 January 1945, the pilot of a Grumman FM-2 "Wildcat" was plucked from the sea and returned to the USS Rudyerd Bay (CVE-81) before returning to Ulithi on 27 January.

On 21 February 1945, Thorn and the USS Ute (ATF-76) learned that two Japanese suicide planes had struck the USS Bismarck Sea (CVE-95), and they rushed to the aid of the stricken ship. However, when they searched the scene the escort carrier had already gone to the bottom, the victim of Japanese kamikazes.

The destroyer again screened oilers during the operations against Iwo Jima on 4 March 1945 and also entered waters near the strategic island to screen heavy fire support units.

Two days in Ulithi followed the ship's return, and, on 13 March 1945, Thorn reformed with the 5th Fleet support group formed around USS Detroit (CL-8) for the Ryuku operations. On 25 March, Thorn and USS Aylwin (DD-355) made depth charge attacks on a sonar contact and observed an oil slick after the last drop. They conducted a retirement search before rejoining the formation on 26 March, but could not verify that the contact had actually been a submarine.

Thorn subsequently conducted four escort missions with the replenishment group, escorting oilers into Kerama Retto to fuel the fire support ships off Okinawa and making her first run on 1 April 1945, her Second Birthday. On her second run, Thorn observed two enemy planes splashing into the sea, victims of Combat Air Patrol (CAP) fighters and ships gunfire. On the third, a kamikaze crashed USS Taluga (AO-62), two miles astern, while another enemy suicide plane splashed alongside a nearby small patrol craft.

The destroyer then spent two weeks at Ulithi, replenishing for further operations with the logistics group. She joined the oilers and supply ships at sea on 28 may 1945.

On 5 June 1945, Thorn rode out her second major typhoon, steaming through the eye of the storm. During the 130 knot winds, and heavy seas, the USS Pittsburgh (CA-72) lost her bow. Two days later, the Thorn joined a group of four damaged escort carriers, which were retiring to Guam.

On 4 July 1945, soon after screening the CVE's out of the "front lines" for repairs, Thorn resumed work with the replenishment and support group and continued screening and supporting it through the surrender of Japan. During this period, she sank seven drifting mines.

Following Japan's surrender, Thorn steamed off Tokyo Bay until 9 September 1945, when the entire group entered Sagami Wan. The next day, the support group's base was established at the Yokosuka Naval base, where Thorn remained through the end of September. While in Tokyo Bay, Thorn was ordered alongside the damaged Japanese battleship HIJMS Nagato, to transfer fuel into her tanks. The Navy had hoped to sail the venerable old ship to the U.S. West Coast as a war prize for Navy Day celebrations. It never came about and the battleship was ultimately sunk at Bikini Atoll during the Atomic Bomb tests.

Streaming her homeward bound pennant, Thorn, in company with DesRon 19, steamed out of Tokyo Bay on 8 October 1945 and joined USS Tennessee (BB-43) and USS California (BB-44) off Wakayama the following day.

Thorn survived her third major typhoon, 10 October 1945, by varying her anchorages in Wakayama Wan harbor, Honshu Island.

On 15 October 1945, the group sailed on the first leg of the homeward bound voyage, subsequently stopping at Singapore, Malay States, on 23 October 1945; Colombo, Ceylon on 30 October 1945; and Cape Town, South Africa on 15 November 1945.

On 4 November, Thorn made her final Equatorial Crossing and held her last "Crossing the Line" ceremony. This time Neptunus Rex, Davey Jones and their motley crew were able to indoctrinate only 41 Pollywogs (some were passengers on their way home for discharge) into the "Ancient Mysteries of the Deep". It was indeed a "special" time for all involved, for most would never experience anything like it again in their lifetime.

The destroyer eventually arrived in New York on 7 December 1945 – exactly 4 years after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor – via St. Helena and Ascension Islands in the Atlantic.

After a months overhaul, the Thorn proceeded to Charleston, SC, where she was put into "moth balls", decommissioned 6 May 1946, and placed in Inactive Reserve. In her short but active 37 months of active duty, the Thorn steamed over a quarter million miles, circumnavigated the globe, and received seven battle stars for her World War II service. She is credited with the sinking of 1 Japanese destroyer, the downing of 2 Japanese aircraft and destroying 7 enemy mines.

Thorn lay in reserve through the 1950's and 1960's. Her last overhaul was at Norfolk, VA before being moved to the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. On 1 July 1971, the ship was struck from the Naval Register and her hulk was authorized for use as a target. She was ultimately sunk by aircraft from the USS Saratoga (CV-60) on 22 August 1974, in the Atlantic, approximately 75 east of Jacksonville, FL.

With special permission from the U.S. Navy, eight former Thorn crewmembers – Robert J. Sadowski, Robert L. Simonds, Charles M. Sullivan, Kaj Swenson, George D. Bailey, James G. Oxley, Pat G. Smith and Salvatore Studiale – were flown out to the USS Saratoga to witness the SINKEX. A storm in the Atlantic delayed the Thorn's arrival and as a result, Sadowski, Simonds, Sullivan and Swenson were forced to return home. However, Bailey, Oxley, Smith and Studiale were present at her end.

Finally, an oddity of sorts: George D. Bailey had worked on the Thorn at Federal Shipbuilding in Kearny, NJ when she was just steel plates on the ground. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was later assigned to the Thorn pre-commissioning crew. He spent the entire war aboard the Thorn, and was there at her demise. As Bailey says, "I was at the birth and death of the old 647." We think this is unique.

If you want to read it, it's at
The USS Thorn decommissioned in 2004 was not the WW2 destroyer of the Benson class, but DD-988 of the Spruance class

Had a typo above. Didn't mean to put WWI. My father was an Ensign on the USS Thorn during WWII. I have the journal he kept during his deployment as described in detail in the other post above. I also have many photos during this deployment including their celebration crossing the Equator. In his journal he describes the terrible storm they endured and how many sailors got sick. Very interesting journal and amazing photos of the ship. It references "Sticker" and I have a photo of the dog. He mentions in his journal how the dog liked to chase the cat and they think either the dog chased it off the ship or it somehow fell into the sea.
Last edited:
My father was an Ensign on the USS Thorn during WWI. I have the journal he kept during his deployment as described in detail in the other post below. I also have many photos during this deployment including their celebration crossing the Equator. In his journal he describes the terrible storm they endured and how many sailors got sick. Very interesting journal and amazing photos of the ship.

Users who are viewing this thread