On this date in 1936 the destroyer USS Preston (DD 379) was launched at the Mare Island Navy Yard. She was the second ship launched at Mare Island within a two-month period, following her sister ship USS Smith. Just before 3:00 p.m. on April 22nd Mrs. Edward Hale Campbell of San Francisco christened the ship and the 1,500-ton destroyer slid down the ways. The Vallejo Times-Herald described the scene:
“The crowd stood in admiration as the navy yard’s latest addition to the Navy’s fighting forces afloat started down the ways. As her stern hit the water, cheers broke from the crowd.”
When USS Preston was launched the United States was in the depths of the Great Depression. Fortunately for the city of Vallejo, Mare Island remained active throughout those dark years, building or repairing destroyers, cruisers, submarines, tugs, and a variety of other vessels.
USS Preston served in the Pacific for her entire career. At the outbreak of WWII she was assigned patrol and escort duties. In November 1942, during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, she was one of four destroyers escorting the battleships USS Washington and USS South Dakota. The Preston was hit by enemy fire and sank, carrying 116 crew members to their deaths.
You can learn more about USS Preston at the U.S. Naval Historical Center’s website: www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-p/dd379.htm or at “Tin Can Sailors: The National Association of Destroyer Veterans” www.destroyers.org/index.html.