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USS WILLIAM B. PRESTON (DD-344 / AVP-20 / AVD-7)


Flag Hoist/Radio Call Sign - NUMQ

CLASS - CLEMSON As Built.
Displacement 1,215 Tons, Dimensions, 314' 5" (oa) x 31' 8" x 9' 10" (Max)
Armament 4 x 4"/50, 1 x 3"/23AA, 12 x 21" tt..
Machinery, 26,500 SHP; Geared Turbines, 2 screws
Speed, 35 Knots, Crew 114
Operational and Building Data
Laid down by Norfolk Navy Yard November 18 1918.
Launched August 9 1919 and commissioned August 23 1920.
Star of the 1932 movie IT'S TOUGH TO BE FAMOUS with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Mary Brian.
Decommissioned October 15 1934, Recommissioned June 14 1940.
Converted to Sea Plane Tender AVP-20 (AVD-7) August 2 1940.
Decommissioned December 6 1945.
Stricken January 3 1946.
Fate Sold November 26 1946 and broken up for scrap.

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Preston 122kBorn on 25 November 1805 at Smithfield, Va., William Ballard Preston entered Hampden-Sydney College in 1821, where he was active in literary and forensic activities. Graduating in 1824, Preston studied law at the University of Virginia and was admitted to the bar in 1826. The young attorney soon entered politics as a Whig and was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1830. During the 1831-1832 session, he took an active part in the campaign to abolish slavery. Then there followed an eight-year hiatus in his political activities during which he returned to the practice of law. In 1840, he was elected to the State Senate, where he served from 1840 to 1844, before returning to the House of Delegates. In 1846, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. In March of 1849, President Zachary Taylor appointed the Virginia lawyer and congressman Secretary of the Navy. During Preston's tenure in that office, the United States Navy acquired new duties in the course of America's westward expansion and acquisition of California. Trade and commerce in the Pacific beckoned, and the Stars and Stripes flew from the masts of Navy ships in Chinese waters, while the shores of Japan, then unopened to the west, presented a tantalizing possibility for commercial intercourse. The Navy also was progressing through a technological transition, especially in the area of moving from sails to steam propulsion, and with the improvements in gunnery and naval ordnance. Upon the death of President Taylor, new President Millard Pillmore reorganized the cabinet and appointed another Secretary of the Navy. Preston retired from office and withdrew from politics and public life. Resuming his private law practice, Preston acquired a reputation for being a fine defense lawyer before being sent to France in 1858 to negotiate for the establishment of a line of commercial steamers to operate between Le Havre and Norfolk. The mission to France progressed well, and the project appeared promising until it was brought to naught by the American Civil War. As states in the lower South seceded from the Union, the pressure mounted upon Virginia to do likewise. Moderate sentiment still held sway through 1860; but, early in 1861, increasing tensions forced Virginians to consider secession. On 13 February 1861, the secession convention met in Richmond and numbered William B. Preston amongst the delegates. As the Confederacy was established and the United States divided into two hostile camps, both sides moved steadily toward open conflict. A special delegation, composed of William B. Preston, H. H. Stuart, and George W. Randolph, traveled to Washington where they met President Lincoln on 12 April. Finding the President firm in his resolve to hold the Federal forts then in the South, the three men returned to Richmond on the 15th. With the news of the firing on Fort Sumter in South Carolina on 12 April 1861, conservative and moderate strength in the secessionist convention melted away. On the 16th, convinced that secession was inevitable, William B. Preston submitted, in secret session, an ordinance of secession. Supported 88 to 55, the Preston Resolution passed, and Virginia left the Union. Elected senator from Virginia in the Confederate States Congress, he served in that legislative body until his death at Smithfield on 16 November 1862. Digital ID: cph 3c10164, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.Bill Gonyo
Preston 34kUndated, location unknown.-
Preston 152kUndated, in China. Photo from the collection of the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum.Darryl Baker
Preston 42kUndated, location unknown. City of Vancouver Archives, Photo No. CVA 447-2839.Mike Green
Preston 34kAugust 19, 1919 launching at Norfolk Navy Yard.Joe Radigan
Preston 100kUSS William B. Preston (DD-344) underway with a homeward-bound pennant at the mainmast, probably at the end of her Asiatic Fleet deployment in the later 1920s. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Photo #: NH 51995.Robert Hurst
Preston 301kBalboa Harbor, Panama Canal Zone. Aerial photograph taken 23 April 1934, with U.S. Fleet cruisers and destroyers moored together. Ships present include (left to right in lower left): USS Elliot (DD-146); USS Roper (DD-147); USS Hale (DD-133); USS Dorsey (DD-117); USS Lea (DD-118); USS Rathburne (DD-113); USS Talbot (DD-114); USS Waters (DD-115); USS Dent (DD-116); USS Aaron Ward (DD-132); USS Buchanan (DD-131); USS Crowninshield (DD-134); USS Preble (DD-345); and USS William B. Preston (DD-344). (left to right in center): USS Yarnall (DD-143); USS Sands (DD-243); USS Lawrence (DD-250); (unidentified destroyer); USS Detroit (CL-8), Flagship, Destroyers Battle Force; USS Fox (DD-234); USS Greer (DD-145); USS Barney (DD-149); USS Tarbell (DD-142); and USS Chicago (CA-29), Flagship, Cruisers Scouting Force. (left to right across the top): USS Southard (DD-207); USS Chandler (DD-206); USS Farenholt (DD-332); USS Perry (DD-340); USS Wasmuth (DD-338); USS Trever (DD-339); USS Melville (AD-2); USS Truxtun (DD-229); USS McCormick (DD-223); USS MacLeish (DD-220); USS Simpson (DD-221); USS Hovey (DD-208); USS Long (DD-209); USS Litchfield (DD-336); USS Tracy (DD-214); USS Dahlgren (DD-187); USS Medusa (AR-1); USS Raleigh (CL-7), Flagship, Destroyers Scouting Force; USS Pruitt (DD-347); and USS J. Fred Talbott (DD-156); USS Dallas (DD-199); (four unidentified destroyers); and USS Indianapolis (CA-35), Flagship, Cruisers Scouting Force. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.Fabio Peņa
Preston 89kAnother view of the above photo. Ships in this view probably include the USS William B. Preston (DD-344), USS Preble (DD-345), USS Crowninshield (DD-134), USS Buchanan (DD-131), USS Aaron Ward (DD-132), USS Dent (DD-116), USS Waters (DD-115), USS Talbot (DD-114), USS Rathburne (DD-113), USS Lea (DD-118), USS Dorsey (DD-117), USS Hale (DD-133), USS Roper (DD-147), USS Elliot (DD-146) and USS Detroit (CL-8) in the right background.Paul Rebold

USS WILLIAM B. PRESTON DD-344 / AVP-20 / AVD-7 History
View This Vessels DANFS History Entry
(Located On The hazegray Web Site, This Is The Main Archive For The DANFS Online Project.)

Commanding Officers
Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler & Ron Reeves

LTJG James Blackburn Ryan    Aug 23 1920 - Sep 7 1920
CDR William Edgar Eberle    Sep 7 1920 - Sep 27 1920
CDR Willis Augustus (Ching) Lee Jr.    Sep 27 1920 - ? (Later VADM)
LCDR Granville Benjamin Hoey    Jun 21 1924 - ?
LCDR George Bamford Ashe    Jun 16 1926 - Jun 7 1928
LCDR Thomas Lewis Nash    Jun 7 1928 - ?
LCDR Robert Stevenson Haggart    ? 1929 - ? (Later COMO)
LCDR George Dixon Hull    ? 1930 - 1932
LCDR Carlyle Craig    1932 - ?
LCDR Robert Stevenson Haggart    ? 1934 - Oct 15 1934 (Later COMO)
LCDR Francis Joseph Bridget    Jun 14 1940 - ?
LCDR Etheridge Grant    1941 - Feb 18 1942
LCDR Lester Orin Wood    Feb 18 1942 - Feb 23 1942
LCDR Etheridge Grant    Feb 23 1942 - May 1 1943
LCDR Eugene Carter Rider    May 1 1943 - Nov 14 1943
LT William Harvey Holcombe Jr.    Nov 14 1943 - Apr 18 1945
LCDR William Henry Dyer Jr.    Apr 18 1945 - Dec 6 1945

Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
NavSource AVD Seaplane Tender (Destroyer) Index
NavSource AVP Small Seaplane Tender Index
Tin Can Sailors Website
Destroyer History Foundation
Destroyers Online Website
Official U.S.Navy Destroyer Website

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