Built by William Cramp and Sons. Laid down September 9, 1919, launched on March 23, 1920. Commissioned October 27, 1920. Named for John Pope.
Served as part of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, was refitted and deployed to the Pacific at Chefoo, China and Cavite.
As tensions in China heightened, Pope evacuated American civilians from Manchuria ports and later removed American nationals and embassy staff, then returned to the the Philippines and continued patrolling off China.
Returned to Philippines in late June, 1941 and remained there until December 11, 1941. Then, departed for Balikpapan and participated in the Battle of Bali Sea and Battle of Badung Strait interfering with the Japanese invasion of Bali.
Participated in the Second Battle of the Java Sea. During the evening of February 28, 1942 USS Pope and HMS Encounter left Soerabaja and proceeded north, escorting HMS Exeter on her proposed escape route from the Java Sea. Japanese surface ships of CruDiv 5 first intercepted them the next morning, sinking Exeter and Encounter. Pope fired all her torpedoes in this action, and expended most of her ammunition too, in a vain attempt to protect her charge.
On March 1, 1942 after the sinking of HMS Exeter and HMS Encounter, Pope escaped the melee only to be attacked about an hour later and sunk by D3A Val dive bombers from Ryūjō and shell fire from the heavy cruisers chasing her. Pope earned two battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation for her World War II service.
"The planes were from the aircraft carrier Ryūjō, and if I remember correctly, the two seaplane tenders stationed near Bawean. However at the last moment at least two of the big cruisers that helped sink Exeter came up over the horizon and started shelling Pope too! So it was a combination of bombs (that slowed / stopped her), her own crew scuttling her (the only man to die on board was killed by shrapnel for the scuttling charge), and the big guns of the cruisers.
According to the book Mr. Michel's War (an officer from Pope) and as far as I am aware from other extensive study, she received NO direct hits whilst her crew were still on board. As far as I recall It was several very near bomb misses that holed her, bent the screw shaft and killed the port engine and made her list initially to port, and which led to her eventually abandonment. It was only AFTER the crew got off that she started receiving the direct hits from the heavies coming up over the horizon. I have many of the Japanese reports of that day translated into English also, along with Popes after action report and Michel's book."
Fates of the Crew
Afterwards, Inazuma rescued 376 survivors from the battle. On March 3, 1942 Inazuma rescued 151 survivors from USS Pope.
The survivors rescued became Prisoners Of War (POWs) including:
S1c Joe Sam Sisk, 3565278 (POW, survived) Emory, TX
During December 2008, a group of divers off MV Empress located the shipwreck of USS Pope approximately 60 nautical miles (110 km) from the shipwreck of HMS Exeter (68). However, they found that commercial salvage divers had discovered the shipwreck previously and had scrapped most of the vessel.
Jennifer Watanabe (granddaughter of Joe Sam Sisk)
"Hello, I am a U.S. citizen and I am currently residing in Japan. I don't know if you can help me or not but my grandfather and I were very close. He was a navy man in WW2. His ship, the U.S.S. Pope was sank by the Japanese. Later another Japanese ship came and pulled my grandfather and the rest of the men out of the water. After these men were pulled out of the water the Japanese soldiers seized their dog tags. My grandfather made me promise that if I ever went to Japan I was expected to find and bring home his dog tags. Any Idea where I should start looking or who I should start asking?"
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Joe Sam Sisk
FindAGrave - Joe Sam Sisk (photo, grave photo)
Thanks to Kevin
Denlay for additional information.
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September 16, 2018