United States Navy

Submarine Tenders

USS Sperry

9,250 Built / Launched 2/1/1941 / 12/17/1941
Length 530' 7" Built By Mare Island Naval Shipyard
Vallejo, CA
Beam 73' 4" Class Fulton
Draft 22' 5" Commissioned 5/1/1942
Speed (rated) 15.4kts Decommissioned 1982
Compliment 1,307 Disposition Holding for sale at Suisun Bay

Commanding Officers, USS Sperry AS 12
Captain R.H. Smith May 1942 - January 1943
Captain R.L. Blue January 1943 - March 1944
Captain J.P. Thew March 1944 - May 1945
Captain R.J. Ramsbottom May 1945 - July 1947
Captain J.E. Davis July 1947 - July 1948
Captain L.T. Stone July 1948 - July 1949
Captain D.L. Welchel July 1949 - July 1950
Captain J.E. Stevens July 1950 - June 1951
Captain D.T. Hammond June 1951 - September 1952
Captain J.W. Williams, Jr. September 1952 - August 1953
Captain R.H. O'Kane August 1953 - June 1954
Captain E.B. Fluckey June 1954 - July 1955
Captain A.K. Tyree July 1955 - August 1956
Captain J.G.Turner August 1956 - June 1957
Captain M.G. Lytle June 1957 - July 1958
Captain J.G. Andrews July 1958 - July 1959
Captain W.L. Small July 1959 - July 1960
Captain F.B. Clarke July 1960 - June 1961
Captain H.A. Thompson June 1961 - August 1962
Captain W.S. Antle, Jr. August 1962 - June 1963
Captain W.S. Bryant June 1963 - November 1963
Captain W.W. Price, Jr. November 1963 - January 1965
Captain A.E. May January 1965 - September 1966
Captain M.M. Elliot September 1966 - August 1967
Captain L.E. Mayes August 1967 - September 1969
Captain R. Williamson, II September 1969 - August 1971
Captain M.C. Scoggins August 1971 - July 1973
Captain J.W. Ailes, IV July 1973 - September 1975
Captain P. Durbin September 1975 - November 1976
Captain J.L. Willis, Jr. November 1976 - June 1979
Captain J.G. Reynolds June 1979 - May 1980
Captain J.F. Sullivan May 1980 - September 1982

Throughout USS Sperry's (AS 12) 40-year history, many awards have been bestowed on her.
The following is a listing of those awards:
Asiatic Campaign Medal 1942-46
American Campaign Medal 1942-46
World War II Campaign Medal 1942-46
Battle Efficiency "E" 1948
Battle Efficiency "E" 1949
Battle Efficiency "E" 1950
National Defense Medal 1954
National Defense Medal 1974
Meritorious Unit Commendation 1978
Battle Efficiency "E" 1980

Named for Elmer Sperry - one of America's best - (and tragically least known) inventors.
Elmer Ambrose Sperry was born on 12 October 1860 at Cortland, N.Y. After spending three years at the state normal school there, be became interested in dynamo electricity during a year of study at Cornell University in 1878 and 1879. He moved to Chicago. Ill., early in 1880 and, soon thereafter, founded the Sperry Electric Co. He organized the Sperry Electric Mining Machine Co. and the Sperry Electric Railway Co. in 1888 and 1890, respectively. In 1900, Sperry established an electrochemical laboratory at Washington, D.C., where he and his associate, C. P. Townshend, developed a process for making pure caustic soda from salt and discovered a process for recovering tin from scrap metal. Sperry experimented with diesel engines and gyroscopic compasses and stabilizers for ships and aircraft. In 1910, he started the Sperry Gyroscope Co. in Brooklyn, N.Y.; and his first compass was tested that same year in Delaware (Battleship No. 28). His compasses and stabilizers were adopted by the United States Navy and used in both world wars. In 1918, he produced a high-intensity arc lamp which was used by both the Army and Navy. After setting up eight companies and receiving over 400 patents, Sperry died at Brooklyn, N.Y., on 12 June 1930.

Webmaster's note: We're proud to announce that the Sperry's Launch site "issue" has been resolved. Through the efforts of Bob White, Dale Hurd, and Fred Cassidy (NVR, NAVSHIPSO, Philadelphia) - the Sperry's entry in the Naval Vessel Register has been corrected to show her correct launch place, etc. The Sperry's current entry in the NVR can be viewed on-line at: http://www.nvr.navy.mil/nvrships/details/2824.htm and her entry in the DANFS should be corrected in the next update of the "S" volume (somtime in the 2003 - 2008 time frame).
USS Sperry AS 12 sliding down the ways at Mare Island.
Plaque with reply message.

Sperry (AS-12) was laid down on I February 1941 by the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, CA.; launched on 17 December 1941, just 10 days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; sponsored by Mrs. Robert B. Lea; and commissioned on 1 May 1942, Capt. R. H. Smith in command. Sperry completed trials and shakedown training; and, on 2 August 1942, she reported for duty to the Commander, Submarines, Pacific, at Pearl Harbor. Just days after Pearl Harbor was bombed, the Secretary of the Navy sent the following RadioGram to all Navy Yards:
To the Management and Workmen:
The Navy at Hawaii is undaunted; the Marines still hold at Wake. Will you meet their challenge?"
Just tens days after the attack - as the Sperry slid down the ways, the Commandant of Mare Island Navy Yard sent back his reply:
The Sperry is one answer, Mr. Secretary; Mare Island will give you many more."

She remained at Oahu for almost three months, refitting seven submarines and making voyage repairs to four others. On 26 October, she weighed anchor and headed for Australia. After cautiously skirting the Solomon Islands and making a three-day stopover at Noumea, New Caledonia, the submarine tender reached Brisbane on 13 November. During her two-month stay "down under," Sperry refitted seven submarines and made a voyage repair on one. On 17 January 1943, she sailed for Pearl Harbor, where she arrived on the 31st. After 10 refits, 10 voyage repairs, and over four months at pearl Harbor, Sperry got underway on 8 June.

Steaming in company with Kern (AOG-2) and Coast Guard cutter, Taney, she reached Midway Island on 12 June. Her stay there was probably the busiest period in her career. During five months, she serviced 70 submarines, refitting 17 and making voyage repairs to 53. In mid-November, she joined Florikan (ASR-9) in a voyage back to Pearl Harbor, from the 12th to the 16th. She refitted eight submarines and accomplished voyage repairs on seven others between 15 November 1943 and 9 March 1944; then headed west once again. Sperry's tour of duty at Majuro Atoll lasted from 15 March until 19 September. During her stay, the submarine tender accomplished 19 refits and two voyage repairs. In addition, her crew erected Camp Myrna, the first recuperation camp for submarine crews in the central Pacific area, on Myrna Island. On 19 September, she exited the lagoon with Litchfield (DD-336) and headed for Pearl Harbor again. They reached Oahu on the 24th, but Sperry was underway again by 8 October as part of an 11-ship convoy.

At Eniwetok, she parted company with the convoy; and, with Corbesier (DE-438), she continued on to the Marianas. The two ships arrived at Guam on 20 October to begin a four-month tour of duty during which she serviced 20 boats, 14 for refit and six for voyage repairs. Again, her crew constructed a submarine recuperation facility, Camp Dealey. On 13 February 1945, Sperry and Southard (DMS-10) departed Guam to return to the United States. The two ships reached Pearl Harbor on 22 February. Southard remained at Pearl Harbor but Sperry continued eastward on 1 March.

The submarine tender entered Mare Island Naval Shipyard on 7 March and commenced an overhaul which lasted until 30 April. By 10 May, Sperry was back at Pearl Harbor where she completed one refit and three voyage repairs before sailing on 30 June for the Marianas. She was stationed at Guam from 11 July 1945 to 11 January 1946. During those six months, her stay in the Marianas was interrupted only once, in late November and early December, when she joined Blend (SS-324), Blower (SS-325), Bluebook (SS-326), Charr (SS-328), Reddish (SS-395), Sea Cat (SS-399), and Segued (SS-398) in a training cruise. They visited Ulithi Atoll in the Carolines an Manus Island in the Admiralties before returning to Apra Harbor 10 days before Christmas.

Eleven days into the new year, Sperry weighed anchor at Apra and headed for Long Beach. She arrived at Terminal Island on 20 February and began an extensive overhaul which was completed in July of 1947. Unlike many of her sister ships, Sperry remained an active unit of the fleet, operating out of San Diego. She earned the coveted battle efficiency "E" three years in a row in 1948, 1949, and 1950. In 1949, She participated in Operation "Miki," a war game which simulated the recapture of an enemy-occupied 0ahu; and, while returning to San Diego, she operated in support of the first publicized firings of missiles from submarines.

Between 1950 and 1953, her pace was quickened by the hostilities in Korea as she serviced and supplied many of the submarines recommissioned for that conflict. In 1952, she made her only voyage to the western Pacific. She sailed via Pearl Harbor, where she stayed from 6 August until 21 September, and served at Chi Chi Jima in the Bonin Islands from 2 to 9 October. She returned to the west coast of the United States on 25 October. In December of 1951, the battle lines in Korea were more or less stabilized along the 38th parallel and hostilities were slowly lessened over the next two years.
While USS Rendova is the "subject" in this photo - that's USS Sperry on anchored with her brood in the San Diego Harbor. The other Fulton class tender at the right is (so far) unidentified.
This resulted in a gradual return to peacetime routine for Sperry. Over the ensuing 10 years, the submarine tender continued to operate out of San Diego, spending most of her time in port servicing the submarines of the fleet, but occasionally getting underway for training cruises along the west coast.
USS Sperry AS 12 along with USS Nereus AS 17 "doing some subs" in 1967.
Her area of operation extended from Mexico north to Canada. From April to September 1961, Sperry was at Long Beach Naval Shipyard being brought up to date by a Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization overhaul. In mid-September, she returned to her duties as submarine tender at San Diego. Since then, she has continued to support submarines of the Pacific Fleet, again spending most of her time in port and departing occasionally for cruises along the west coast of North America and to Hawaii. As of November 1974, Sperry was still active.

History from the Dictionary of American Fighting Ships.

In June of 1979 the Secretary of the Navy awarded Sperry the Meritorious Unit Commendation for meritorious service in support of the units of Submarine Group Five, Submarine Development Group One and Submarine Squadron Three from 1 April 1978 to 1 December 1978. Once again in 1980 Sperry was awarded the coveted Battle Efficiency "E" for fiscal year 1980.

On 1 May 1982 Sperry celebrated her fortieth anniversary of service to the fleet. Sperry's long history can be summed up in her motto "service is our business". Sperry's many conspicuous achievements are a testimonial of a proud ship and many proud crews who steadfastly adhered to this motto.

After Decommissioning
September 30, 1982

Sperry earned the distinction of being the first Navy ship to be launched after "Pearl Harbor" on December 17, 1941 at the beginning of World War II - and achieved many successes in a career spanning some forty years. During those years she earned a reputation of excellence that is a standard by which other submarine tenders and even war ships of the line would aspire to. Her gallant career came to an end on September 30, 1982 [when she was decommissioned].{Webmaster's note: the original writer stated "Her gallant career came to an end on September 30, 1982 when her name was struck from the record." However - that is an error - as of this date (10/1/1998) USS Sperry AS 12 is still carried on the NVR.}

The Sperry swung from a buoy in the Sinclair Inlet of Pudget Sound in Washington State for several years after decommissioning, and during that time she was cannibalized for any and all parts and equipment that could be salvaged. Word is that the U.S.S. Cod SS-224 among others was allowed to take several things from the Sperry to enhance their display at Cleveland, Ohio on the shore of Lake Erie.

On March 10 1998 at 09:30 ex-Sperry left Mooring G at the Navy Inactive Maintenance Facility Bremerton, Washington being towed by USNS SUIOX to the RESERVE FLEET at Suisun Bay, which is just east of Vallejo and Mare Island, to be scrapped. It is rather ironic that the Sperry will meet her demise only about ten miles from where she started such a gallant career.

Sperry arrived in Suisun Bay around March 23 1998, and only time will tell how long before final "recycling" will take place.

Thanks to several people who have put together the Sperry's "final" history... those include: Bob White, Howard Asbe, and of course our eyes and ears in "the Sound" - Frank Cantrell.
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