Charlestons Naval History
|In 1706, Governor Johnson and Lieutenant Colonel William Rhett lead the defense of Charleston against the Spanish, French, and Native Americans who sailed into Charleston harbor from St. Augustine.
During the early 1700's Charles Town leaders and residents grew increasingly intolerant of the raiding and plundering done by pirates and privateers. The final straw came when Blackbeard and his men held the city of Charles Town ransom. Blackbeard agreeing to free the hostages only if they received much-needed medical supplies. The governor met Blackbeard’s demands.
Embarrassed and infuriated by the blockade Governor Johnson dispatched Colonel William Rhett in the ships Henry and the Sea Nymph to deal with the criminals once and for all. Rhett finally caught up with Stede Bonnet, a member of Blackbeards fleet, at the battle of Cape Fear River, on September of 1718. Bonnet was hanged in Charleston on Dec. 10th 1718 with 30 of his crew. Blackbeard’s luck eventually ran out, and was killed in battle by the Royal Navy.
Anne Bonny, a women pirate also terrorized South Carolina. She is believed to have been a daughter of a prosperous Charles Town planter. Bonny sailed with Calico Jack Rackham, a pirate known for his fancy calico attire. The two sailed and fought together caught by the British. Bonny, escaped the gallows due to her pregnancy. No one knows for certain what became of Anne Bonny. Legends say she returned to her father, others say that she returned to piracy.
The first decisive Naval victory of the revolutionary war occured on June 28th 1776, The battle began when 11 British warships and 1,500 troops attacked Ft. Moultrie. William Moultrie and 2nd South Carolina Regiment, fought off the British in a 9 hour battle.
Starting in 1777, when it was known as Palmetto Day or Sergeant Jasper's Day, Carolina Day was celebrated to remember the decisive victory. Regardless, the day continued to be marked by the tradition of playing the tune of "Three Blind Mice" at noon at St. Michael's Episcopal Church.
Twenty-four whaleships were sunk in Charleston Harbor by Captain Charles Henry Davis, beginning on 19 December 1861.
In 1864 the 3rd crew of the Confederate submarine CSS H. L. Hunley rams her metal spar afixed with a 135 pound torpedo into the USS Housatonic, becoming the first submarine to sink a vessel in war.
In 1890, Charleston, having never fully recovered economically from the Civil War, was awarded the contract for a naval yard.
President Wilson declared war in April 1917. As the United States entered the Great War, production at Charleston’s shipyard accelerated and there was further expansion of facilities, land area, and workforce.
The declaration of war prompted the seizure of five German freighters interned in Charleston Harbor. The ships were overhauled, refitted, and sent into action as part of the U.S. Fleet. Eighteen new vessels were constructed and work started on the Yard’s first destroyer, the USS Tillman in 1917. Alterations and repairs were made to 160 vessels from destroyers to small craft.
|Pee Dee||Snag Boat||1913|
|AT||17||Tug||3-Apr-17||Reclassified YT 123 1936, then YTB 123, struck 1946|
|SC||106||Sub Chaser||31-Dec-17||Sold 1921|
|SC||107||Sub Chaser||19-Jan-18||Sold 1921|
|SC||108||Sub Chaser||12-Feb-18||To USA 1919|
|SC||109||Sub Chaser||12-Feb-18||Sold 1921|
|SC||110||Sub Chaser||30-Mar-18||Sold 1921|
|SC||111||Sub Chaser||30-Mar-18||Sold 1921|
|SC||112||Sub Chaser||22-Apr-18||Sold 1921|
|SC||113||Sub Chaser||3-May-18||Sold 1921|
|A Naval Training Center, Camp Bagley, was established and up to 5,000 Navy recruits at a time received basic training. A thousand civilians, mostly women, were hired to operate the naval clothing factory. Only six boats and tugs were built during 1920 to 1932.|
|PG||21||Gunboat||1,575||6-Jul-20||Sunk by Japanese gunfire south of Java 1942|
|DD||135||Destroyer||1,090||30-Apr-21||To Britain 1940 as HMS Wells (I 95), scrapped 1946|
|PG||22||Gunboat||1,575||3-Dec-23||Renamed Tacloban 1944, scrapped 1948|
|PG||51||Gunboat||2,000||8-Jul-36||To Mass. Maritime Academy 1948|
|YT||129||Tug||1-Jun-38||Later YTB 129, then YTM 129, struck 1973|
|YT||141||Tug||325||1940||Sold 1963 as Philip Steers, later Venture, Yvonne St. Philip|
|DD||427||Destroyer||1,620||6-Sep-40||To Taiwan 1954 as Han Yan (DD 15)|
|After the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen passed through its military facilities on their way to war. The Navy Yard in Charleston was one of the Navy's primary destroyer builders during WWII.|
|DD||444||Destroyer||7/17/41||Sunk in collision off Nova Scotia 1942|
|DD||463||Destroyer||12/18/41||Sunk by mine off Utah Beach 1944|
|DD||464||Destroyer||1/22/42||DMS 26; sunk 1952|
|DD||640||Destroyer||5/7/42||Sunk by German aircraft off Algeria 1943|
|DD||477||Destroyer||9/15/42||Sunk by kamikaze off Okinawa 1945|
|DD||587||Destroyer||3/4/43||Sunk as target 1975|
|DD||588||Destroyer||4/3/43||Sunk as target 1974|
|LST||353||Landing Ship, Tank||11/27/42||CTL 1944 in Pearl Harbor|
|LST||354||Landing Ship, Tank||11/27/42||Scrapped 1948|
|LST||355||Landing Ship, Tank||12/22/42||Sold for scrap 1948 but may be in China|
|LST||356||Landing Ship, Tank||12/22/42||To Indonesia 1970 as Teluk Tomini (L 508), active|
|LST||357||Landing Ship, Tank||2/8/43||Scrapped 1947|
|LST||358||Landing Ship, Tank||2/8/43||To Britain, scrapped 1947|
|LST||359||Landing Ship, Tank||2/9/43||Lost 1944 off Gibraltar|
|LST||360||Landing Ship, Tank||2/9/43||To Britain, scrapped 1947|
|DD||665||Destroyer||12/4/43||Sunk as target 1969|
|DD||591||Destroyer||11/4/43||Sunk by Japanese aircraft off Okinawa 1945|
|DE||199||Destroyer Escort||10/1/43||Scrapped 1969|
|DE||200||Destroyer Escort||10/18/43||Sunk as target 1967|
|DE||201||Destroyer Escort||11/1/43||Sunk as target 1969|
|DE||202||Destroyer Escort||11/17/43||Scrapped 1973|
|DE||203||Destroyer Escort||12/10/43||Scrapped 1969|
|DE||204||Destroyer Escort||12/17/43||Scrapped 1947|
|DE||205||Destroyer Escort||11/26/43||APD 59, scrapped 1966|
|DE||206||Destroyer Escort||12/6/43||APD 60, scrapped 1968|
|DE||207||Destroyer Escort||1/7/44||APD 61, to Korea as Kyong Puk 1967, struck 1985|
|DE||208||Destroyer Escort||1/19/44||APD 62, scrapped 1968|
|DE||209||Destroyer Escort||2/11/44||APD 63, scrapped 1968|
|DE||210||Destroyer Escort||2/21/44||Sunk as target 1970|
|DE||211||Destroyer Escort||3/6/44||APD 53, scrapped 1968|
|DE||212||Destroyer Escort||3/16/44||APD 80, to Korea as Jon Nam 1967, struck 1986|
|DE||213||Destroyer Escort||3/28/44||Scrapped 1966|
|DE||230||Destroyer Escort||5/9/44||Scrapped 1948|
|DE||231||Destroyer Escort||5/27/44||Scrapped 1973|
|DE||232||Destroyer Escort||11/1/44||APD 91, to Taiwan as Yu Shan 1965, active|
|DE||233||Destroyer Escort||1/11/45||APD 92, to Taiwan as Tai Shan 1966, struck 1991|
|DE||234||Destroyer Escort||2/9/45||APD 93, to Colombia as power barge 1962|
|DE||235||Destroyer Escort||3/8/45||APD 94, scrapped 1961|
|DE||236||Destroyer Escort||4/4/45||APD 95, to Korea as Chi Ju 1967, struck 1989|
|DE||237||Destroyer Escort||6/11/45||APD 96, scrapped 1961|
|DE||281||Destroyer Escort||6/25/45||APD 97, scrapped 1965|
|DE||282||Destroyer Escort||7/9/45||APD 98, to Taiwan as Fu Shan 1966, active|
|DE||283||Destroyer Escort||7/23/45||APD 99, to Colombia as power barge 1962|
|DE||284||Destroyer Escort||Cancelled 1944|
|DE||285||Destroyer Escort||Cancelled 1944|
|DE||960-995||Destroyer Escort||Cancelled 1943|
|LSM||126-187||Landing Ship, Med.||4/44-10/44||For details, see the LSM page|
|LSMR||188-199||Landing Ship, Med.||11/44-12/44||For details, see the LSM page|
|LSM||200||Landing Ship, Med.||12/44||For details, see the LSM page|
|LSM||295-309||Landing Ship, Med.||12/44-1/45||For details, see the LSM page|
|LSM||389-400||Landing Ship, Med.||1/45-3/45||For details, see the LSM page|
|LSMR||401-412||Landing Ship, Med.||4/45-5/45||For details, see the LSM page|
|LSM||413||Landing Ship, Med.||8/45||For details, see the LSM page|
|LSM||553-558||Landing Ship, Med,||9/45-10/45||For details, see the LSM page|
|AS||30||Sub Tender||2/19/46||Reclassified as AD 31, to Indonesia 1971 as Dumai (A 652), scrapped 1984|
|The Cold War and the threat of nuclear attack dominated international affairs from 1945 to 1991. In 1945, the Navy Department reorganized the various activities at Charleston by creating Naval Base, Charleston. During most of the Yard’s history, the commandant of the Charleston Navy Yard also served as Commandant of the 6th Naval District. In November 1945, this dual command ceased and the district commandant was given additional duty as Commander of the Charleston Naval Base.
The Navy Yard became the Charleston Naval Shipyard, a component of the Naval Base. The 6th Naval District was enlarged in 1948 to include the seven states in the southeastern United States and 2,936 miles of coastline, the longest of any district in the country.
|In the late 1950s, the Base became a major home port for combatant ships and submarines of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Operation staffs and fleet support commands also arrived. New facilities for a Naval Mine Craft Base, Mine Warfare School, and Fleet Training Center were constructed.
In 1955, with the advent of nuclear propulsion, submarines were transformed from diesel and battery powered vessels to nuclear powered, which enabled them to move and fight for months without surfacing. SSNs (“fast attacks”) and SSBNs (“boomers”) were considered the new ships of the Cold War. Crews from Charleston were sent throughout the world to protect and act as the final line of defense in the Cold War.
The ammunition depot became home to Polaris missile submarine weapons facilities. As the Cold War intensified and the Base moved into the nuclear age, one of the largest ship conversion jobs ever attempted was initiated in 1959. The World War II ERA 530-foot submarine tender USS Proteus was moved into dry dock, cut amidships, and a 44-foot plug was installed in sections to accommodate the repair and transport of missiles.
In 1983, the Naval Base was the third largest naval home port in the United States, employing roughly 36,700 people, including 23,500 Navy and Marine Corps personnel and 13,200 civilians. This heavy workload of maintaining surface ships, overhauling nuclear submarines, and providing supplies and support to the U.S. Navy, continued until the Base closed in 1996.