(Destroyer No. 142: dp. 1,090; l. 314'4"; b. 30'11" (wl.); dr. 9'10" (full); s. 36.12 k. (tl.); cpl. 122;a. 4 4", 2 3", 12 21" tt.; cl. Wickes)
Tarbell (Destroyer No. 142) was laid down on 31 December 1917 at Philadelphia, Pa., by William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Co., launched on 28 May 1918; sponsored by Miss Virgie Tarbell; and commissioned on 27 November 1918, Comdr. Halsey Powell in command.
Tarbell operated along the eastern seaboard until September of 1919 when she was reassigned to the Pacific Fleet. Base at San Francisco, she served with Destroyer Division 15, of Destroyer Flotilla 5 and Destroyer Squadron 4, until late January of 1920 when she joined Division 13 of the same flotilla and squadron. In February, her home yard was changed to Cavite in the Philippines, and, the following month, the destroyer joined the Asiatic Fleet. Tarbell served on the Asiatic Station until the summer of 1921, when she returned to the Pacific Fleet with her home yard at Puget Sound. She operated with the Pacific Fleet until she was decommissioned on 8 June 1922 and berthed at San Diego, Calif.
On 29 May 1930, Tarbell was recommissioned and assigned to Destroyer Division 11, Destroyer Squadron 10, Destroyer Squadrons, Battle Fleet. Her home port was San Diego until January 1931, when it was changed to Charleston, S.C. However, she remained assigned to the same administrative organization until March when she was reassigned to Destroyer Division 3 of the Scouting Force. Sometime between July and October of 1934, the destroyer changed home ports back to San Diego, but remained a part of the Scouting Force Destroyers. Late in 1936, Tarbell returned to the east coast to prepare for her second decommissioning, this time at Philadelphia.
She remained there until after war broke out in Europe in September 1939. To keep the war out of the Americas, President Franklin Roosevelt issued two Neutrality Proclamations on the 5th and ordered the Navy to form a Neutrality Patrol. A month later, on 4 October 1939, Tarbell was placed back in commission at Philadelphia, Lt. Comdr. Edward W. Rawlins in command. She operated in the Atlantic with the Neutrality Patrol for over two years before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor jolted the United States into the war.
Tarbell's duties remained much the same after the United States entered the conflict. The destroyer continued to escort convoys and perform antisubmarine work in the northern Atlantic. She shuttled merchantmen back and forth across the ocean and operated out of the east coast ports on rescue missions to pick up survivors of torpedoed ships.
One such rescue mission occurred on 26 March 1942. A Socony tanker, SS Dixie Arrow, was torpedoed off Cape Hatteras, N.C., and Tarbell's lookouts sighted her distress flares a little before 0900. The destroyer instantly rang up full speed; and, one half hour later, she arrived at the scene of the attack. She dropped a depth-charge barrage to drive off any U-boats lurking in the vicinity and then picked up 22 survivors. After a futile search for the enemy submarine, she disembarked the survivors at Morehead City, N.C.
In May 1942, the destroyer began helping in the surveillance of Vichy French warships in the Caribbean. To assure that those French ships were not turned over to the Germans and that, in accordance with the Panama Declaration, there be no transfer of European possessions in America to any non-American power, she was assigned a patrol area around Pointe-a-Pitre, Grand Terre Island, Guadeloupe, and her specific charge was the old training cruiser Jeanne D'Arc.
Her rescue missions continued along with observation missions. On the 16th she rescued 24 members of the crew of SS Lammont bapont, torpedoed four days out of New York. On the evening of 25 May, when word reached her at San Juan of a U-boat attack on Blakeley (DD-150), Tarbell got underway so rapidly that two of her officers and 13 crewmen were left behind in Puerto Rico. The following day, she picked up eight wounded Blakeley crewmen at Martinique and then participated in the search for the U boat until the afternoon of the 27th. On 2 June, Tarbell rescued 19 survivors of SS Alegrete. Two days later, the destroyer sighted survivors of the sinking of SS M. F. Elliott and brought them aboard, running her tally up to 31 men rescued on that mission.
Following additional escort duty in the Caribbean and in the Gulf of Mexico, Tarbell began screening transatlantic convoys in mid-May 1943. Her first voyage was in the escort of convoy UGS-9 which was augmented by the latest development in antisubmarine warfare (ASW) an escort carrier. The convoy reached Casablanca safely on 15 June. Tarbell returned to the United States at New York, underwent repairs, and conducted training before joining another Casablanca bound convoy in August. Upon her return to New York, the destroyer resumed local escort work until 22 October, when she departed New York in company with Croatan (CVE-25), Lea (DD-118), and Upshur (DD144) to cover the passage of another convoy. The unit steamed via Bermuda where it was joined by Albemarle ( AV-5), and arriver at Casablanca on 3 November. Following a short voyage to Gibraltar, Tarbell headed back across the Atlantic on 10 November. The return convoy entered New York harbor on the 21st.
The following month brought an availability, refresher training, and time spent in training prospective crews for destroyer-type warships. On 26 December, she departed Norfolk in company with Mission Bay ( CVE-59) and Destroyer Division 61 to cover convoy UGS-28 to North Africa, thence to operate as a hunter/ killer group in the vicinity of the Azores. On 31 December, Lea was severely damaged in a collision, and Tarbell took her in tow for Bermuda. On 3 January 1944, the destroyer was relieved of her towing duties by Cherokee (AT-66) and Twiggs (DD-591) and caught up with the convoy at Horta in the Azores on the 7th.
After hunting submarines along the convoy routes, Tarbell's group reached Norfolk, Va., on 7 February, and the destroyer set out for a 10-day availability at Boston. Following that, she was assigned to the Air Force, Atlantic Fleet (AirLant) for air crew training operations off Provincetown, Mass. Relieved of that duty in April, she operated for a time in the screen of Ranger (CV-4) and Kasaan Bay (CVE-69). From then until July 1945, she alternated between carrier escort duty and target ship duty with AirLant. On 20 July 1945, Tarbell was placed out of commission at Philadelphia. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 13 August 1945, and she was sold for scrapping on 30 November 1945 to the Boston Metal Salvage Co., Baltimore, Md.