Concept

USS Helm

Summary
USS Helm (DD-388) was a Bagley-class destroyer in the United States Navy during World War II. She was named for Rear Admiral James Meredith Helm. Helm received 11 battle stars for her World War II service in the Pacific. Helm was launched by Norfolk Navy Yard on 27 May 1937; sponsored by Mrs. J. M. Helm, widow; and commissioned on 16 October 1937, with Lt. Comdr. P. H. Talbot in command. After shakedown, Helm operated in the Caribbean until March 1938. Following summer exercises, she was attached to the newly formed Atlantic Squadron on 1 October 1938. Early in 1939, she deployed with Carrier Division 2 in the Caribbean for Fleet Problem XX. After being transferred to the West Coast in May 1939, Helm engaged in fleet exercises and screening maneuvers out of San Diego and the Hawaiian Islands. At 0755 on the morning of 7 December 1941, Helm had just turned into West Loch in Pearl Harbor, en route to deperming buoys, when Japanese carrier planes attacked the naval base. Helm was the only ship under way at the beginning of the attack. The destroyer manned her guns and brought down at least one of the attackers while she was strafed and slightly damaged by two bombs close aboard. At 0817, through the flames and smoke, Helm left West Loch Channel and sped to the open sea through the Pearl Harbor Inlet. As she left the channel, a lookout on board spotted a Japanese miniature submarine, HA. 19, snagged on a reef. Helm turned hard right toward the enemy submarine, shot and missed. The two-man sub broke free and submerged but it snagged again. Trying to escape from the sub, one crewman drowned. The other was washed ashore and became the United States' first World War II prisoner of war. After the attack, Helm joined the task group of carrier USS Saratoga, just arrived from San Diego, and served as a screening ship and anti-aircraft guard. The destroyer sailed 20 January 1942 on a special mission to rescue Department of the Interior workers from Howland and Baker islands. Using her whaleboat Helm brought off six men from the two islands 31 January.
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