THE SHIP IS COMMISSIONED


Two weeks later, on October 21, 1943, amid subdued wartime pomp and ceremony, the ship was commissioned, and almost exactly one year after its keel was laid.

The ship's complement at commissioning was 18 officers (that later grew by two or three) and 310 enlisted personnel.

After making several trial runs of the ship not far beyond the Golden Gate Bridge at the end of October, we headed on a shakedown cruise down to San Diego, to undergo a rigid training agenda under the watchful eyes of 11th Naval District Training Command, with the Destroyer Base facilities close at hand.

In the course of the next five weeks, we put the brand‑new 2100‑ton DD through its paces, ranging from speed runs that pushed the ship's boilers and engines close to their maximum limits; gunnery exercises‑‑firing at moving targets of towed surface sleds and sleeves pulled behind aircraft, and even a "bombardment" of the uninhabited end of San Clemente Island.

Several of the officers who were married were fortunate to get a remarkably economical month‑long rate for their wives to live at the grand old Hotel Del Coronado while the ship was in and out of port during shakedown. Some enlisted crew members and chiefs found small apartments in town for their wives to spend time together, knowing we would be shoving off in a few weeks to the Pacific war zone for an indefinite time. Once finished with our shakedown training, we headed back to San Francisco for minor repairs at Mare Island, then berthed under the Bay Bridge just prior to our scheduled departure on Christmas Eve, 1943 to join the fleet at Pearl Harbor.

Taken from "USS Stephen Potter - The Story of DD538" compiled and edited by Lt. Wilson F. (Bill) Minor USNR (Ret).