Lest We Forget: Coast Guardsmen Arrighi and Deyampert; USS Melville, (AD-2)

By Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired), and A. D. Baker III

Just when one of the Dorchester 's lifeboats was secured to the Escanaba 's side, one of the survivors fell in between the two. The man was covered with oil and the men in the lifeboat could not extricate him from his perilous position. Ensign Arrighi swam between the boat and the ship—placing himself in grave danger of being crushed between the two vessels—and pulled the man out, then held him up so a line could be put around him for rescue. Arrighi continued his efforts until his rubber suit became worn and filled with water, and he was hauled on board the Escanaba , where he was then treated for exposure.

Both Coast Guardsmen were awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for their heroism that night, and both men perished four months later when the Escanaba was torpedoed off the coast of Newfoundland while protecting another convoy and went down with all but two survivors. Pictured above and on the far right is Ensign Arrighi in late 1942.

—Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired)

USS Melville (AD-2)

The first U.S. Navy ship built as a destroyer tender was the Melville (AD-2), named for the first Chief of the Bureau of Engineering and former Arctic explorer Rear Admiral George W. Melville. Laid down on 13 November 1913 by New York Shipbuilding Corporation at Camden, New Jersey, the Melville launched on 2 March 1915 and commissioned on 3 December of that year. The ship's first operational duty came with the U.S. entry into World War I, when she was deployed to Queenstown, Ireland, during May 1917 to act as tender to U.S. destroyers protecting Allied convoys and as flagship for the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, in Europe, Vice Admiral William S. Sims. The ship's ability to rig some 330 portable cots also made her useful as a troop transport when she returned home in January 1919. In May of that year, the 7,150-ton, 417-foot Melville deployed to the Azores to support the transatlantic flight of the Navy's NC-series seaplanes. The Melville deployed to the Pacific Fleet in July 1919 and arrived at her new home port of San Diego at the end of October, having undergone repairs in Panama after a boiler explosion that caused the only personnel casualties the ship ever suffered.

The Melville served the Pacific Fleet until November 1940, when she was detached to the East Coast to service the newly established Patrol Forces, U.S. Fleet; she was permanently reassigned to the Atlantic Fleet on 1 February 1941. During January 1942, the destroyer tender deployed to Londonderry, Northern Ireland, where she gave support to Allied convoy escorts. During 1942-1943, the Melville operated at bases established in Iceland, Brazil, and Scotland, and at U.S. East Coast ports. From May 1944 to the end of the war in Europe, the ship was based at Portland, England, primarily as a minesweeper and amphibious warfare craft tender. Her planned transfer to the Pacific was canceled by the Japanese surrender, and the aged tender was sent to Jacksonville, Florida, to assist in the mothballing of escort vessels. The Melville , now too small and too worn to serve with a much-reduced postwar fleet that had numerous newer and far better-equipped tenders, was decommissioned at Norfolk, Virginia, on 9 August 1946, stricken on 23 April 1947, and sold for scrap on 19 August 1948.

—A. D. Baker III

Thomas J. Cutler is a retired lieutenant commander and former gunner's mate second class who served in patrol craft, cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft carriers. His varied assignments included an in-country Vietnam tour, small craft command, and nine years at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he served as Executive Assistant to the Chairman of the Seamanship & Navigation Department and Associate Chairman of the History Department. While at the Academy, he was awarded the William P. Clements Award for Excellence in Education (military teacher of the year).

He is the founder and former Director of the Walbrook Maritime Academy in Baltimore. Currently he is Fleet Professor of Strategy and Policy with the Naval War College and is the Director of Professional Publishing at the U.S. Naval Institute.

Winner of the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Naval Literature, the U.S. Naval Institute Press Author of the Year, and the U.S. Maritime Literature Award, his published works include NavCivGuide: A Handbook for Civilians in the U.S. Navy; A Sailor's History of the U.S. Navy [one of the books in the Chief of Naval Operations Reading Program]; The Battle of Leyte Gulf; Brown Water, Black Berets: Coastal & Riverine Warfare in Vietnam; and the 22nd, 23rd (Centennial), and 24th editions of The Bluejacket's Manual. His other works include revisions of Jack Sweetman's The Illustrated History of the U.S. Naval Academy and Dutton's Nautical Navigation. He and his wife, Deborah W. Cutler, are the co-editors of the Dictionary of Naval Terms and the Dictionary of Naval Abbreviations.

His books have been published in various forms, including paperback and audio, and have appeared as main and alternate selections of the History Book Club, Military Book Club, and Book of the Month Club. He has served as a panelist, commentator, and keynote speaker on military and writing topics at many events and for various organizations, including the Naval History and Heritage Command, Smithsonian Institution, the Navy Memorial, U.S. Naval Academy, MacArthur Memorial Foundation, Johns Hopkins University, U.S. Naval Institute, Armed Forces Electronics Communications and Electronics Association, Naval War College, Civitan, and many veterans' organizations. His television appearances include the History Channel's Biography series, A&E's Our Century, Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, and CBS's 48 Hours.

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Events and Conferences

Guest Lecturer
12:30pm, “Shifley Lecture Series,” U.S. Naval Academy Museum, 118 Maryland Ave., Annapolis, MD /... Read More
Videotape Interview
10:00am, “Veterans Oral Histories Series,” American Veterans Center, 1100 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington,... Read More


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