The first Sturtevant (DD-240) was laid down on 23
November 1918 at Camden, N. J., by the New York Shipbuilding Co.;
launched on 29 July 1920; sponsored by Mrs. Curtis Ripley Smith; and
commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 21 September 1920. Lt.
Comdr. Edward G. Haas assumed command of Sturtevant on 4 November 1920.
In early November of 1920, Sturtevant sailed to
Newport, R. I., and thence proceeded to New York City. On 30
November, she departed New York to join the United States Naval
Forces, European Waters. She reached Gibraltar on 10 December and,
after four days, continued on to the Adriatic Sea On the 19th, she
arrived at her new base, Spalato, on the Delmatian coast. For the
next six months, she conducted various missions fran Spalato to the
ports on the Adriatic littoral.
On 16 June 1921, the destroyer was reassigned fran
the Adriatic detachment to the Constantinople detachment and, three
days later, commenced docking and overhaul at Constantinople. During
this assignment, Sturtevant conducted drills in the Sea of Marrnara,
between the twin straits, the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus, and
operated in the Black Sea. She visited Samsun, Turkey; Burgas,
Bulgaria; and Sulina and Braila on the Rumanian coast. From 25
October to 28 November, she flew the flag of Admiral Bristol.
Following this duty, the ship visited the ports of Beirut and Joffa
and then Alexandria, Egypt, and the Isle of Rhodes. In late December,
she returned to Turkey at Samsun, thence to Constantinople in January
1922, before reentering the Black Sea to visit southern Russia.
Between 1921 and 1923, the Russian Civil War and a
drought brought a great famine to Russia, particularly to the usually
food-rich Volga region of southern Russia. America responded with
nearly a million short tons of food which the Bolsheviks accepted
grudgingly and often as surreptitiously as possible. Sturtevant
Investigated potential ports of debarkation in southern Russia for
the supplies soon to be shipped by the American Relief
Administration. To this end, she visited Odessa, Sevastopol,
Novorossisk, Theodosia, and Yalta between early February and
mid-April. Thereafter, through the end of the year, she made voyages
across the Black Sea to various Russian ports in conjunction with the
relief operation She stopped at numerous other foreign ports on the
voyages, Including Samsun, Trebizond, and Mudania, Turkey. From July
to October, she made a round-trip voyage back to the United States,
during which she was overhauled at the New York Navy Yard and
exercised out of Yorktown, Va.
On 1 October, Sturtevant was ordered back to the
eastern Mediterranean and, the following day, got underway for
Gibraltar. She arrived there on the 14th and continued on Turkey,
reaching Mudania ai the 27th. For the next seven months, the
destroyer visited the ports of the eastern Mediterrean and those
along the coast of the Black Sea. In addition to ports of call of the
previous cruises, she visited Varna, Bulgaria; Marsina and Smyrna,
Turkey; Piraeus, Greece; and Naples, Italy. From the latter port, she
sailed for Gibraltar in late May of 1923 and, by 12 June, was back at
the Navy Yard in New York. She operated along the Atlantic seaboard
through the end of the year, Conducting gunnery exercises in October
at the southern drill grounds off Virginia. In November, the ship
paid an Armistice Day visit to Baltimore, Md. Three days before the
end of the year, Sturtevant became flagship of Division 41, Squadron
14, ScoutIng Fleet.
In early January, Sturtevant proceeded to the Canal
Zone to participate in a war problem with the Scouting Fleet. At the
end of the month, she sailed with the Fleet, via Culebra Island, to
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the British West Indies, conducting
tactical exercises along the way. In May, the destroyer returned
north and operated along the east coast for the remainder of the
year. In January 1925, Sturtevant again headed south. After a month
and one-half of operations In the Caribbean, she transited the Panama
Canal and entered the Pacific. She visited San Diego and San
Francisco in California in April before getting underway for the
Hawaiian Islands. From late April to mid-June, the ship participated
in a joint Army/Navy war problen simulating the attempt of an enemy
force to capture the island of Oahu. On 11 June, she set a course for
San Diego and arrived on the 17th.
The destroyer started on her return voyage to the
Atlantic on the 22d and reached New York City on 16 July. She cruised
the Atlantic coast until mid-October and then proceeded south for
winter maneuvers at of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Transiting the Panama
Canal In late January 1926, she participated In fleet exercises on
the Pacific side. Returning to the Atlantic side of the isthmus to
resume drills and exercises in the vicinity of Cuba, Sturtevant
steamed north to Boston during the first week In May.
Between May 1926 and January 1931, Sturtevant
continued to operate with the Atlantic Fleet in Destroyer Division
41, Destroyer Squadron 14. Each year summer operations along the
north and central Atlantic coast of the United States were alternated
with winter maneuvers in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea and the
Gulf of Mexico. During the fall of 1930, she was assigned Charleston,
S. C., as her home port, but was ordered north again in January of
1931 for decommissioning. On 30 January 1931, Sturtevant was placed
out of commission at Philadelphia, Pa.
She was recommissioned there on 9 March 1932 and on
30 April, reported for duty to the Commander, Special Service
Squadron, at Coco Solo in the Canal Zone. For the next two years, the
destroyer plied the warm and troubled waters of the Gulf and the
Caribbean, supporting the activities of the marines ashore in
Nicaragua, Haiti, Cuba, and other Latin American Republics. Early in
1934, she left the Special Service Squadron to rejoin the destroyers
of the Scouting Force. During this tour of duty, she was home ported
at Norfolk, Va. In the latter half of 1935, the ship was reassigned
to the Battle Force, located in the Pacific. After operating out of
San Diego until 20 November, she was decommissioned once again.
On 26 September 1939, Sturtevant was Recommissioned
once more. By mid-1940, she was back in the Atlantic escorting
convoys and conducting neutrality patrols along the eastern seaboard.
The destroyer operated out of Norfolk, Va. in the North Atlantic
until early March 1942, then escorted a convoy from New York to the
Canal Zone. There she reported for duty to the Commander, Caribbean
Sea Frontier, screening convoys between the various ports of the
Caribbean until late April.
On 26 April, she departed Key West in company with
a convoy. Just over two hours out of port, a violent explosion lifted
Sturtevant s stern fran the water, but caused no apparent
damage. Thinking herself under submarine attack, the destroyer
dropped two depth charge barrages. About a minute after she dropped
the second barrage of charges, a second detonation rocked the ship.
She began to settle rapidly, but on an even keel. Minutes later, a
third burst ripped her keel apart beneath the after deckhouse. The
midships section sank immediately, and the stern settled soon
thereafter. The bow curiously renamed above water for several hours.
Finally, however, all but the crow's nest disappeared beneath the
waves. Probably the victim of a mine, Sturtevant went down off Key
West about eight miles north of Marquesas Key. Fifteen of her ship's
company joined her in the watery grave. Her name was struck from the
Navy list on 8 May 1942.