|The story begins with sinking of USS Langley AV-3. USS Whipple DD-217 had picked up
picked up some 308 men from Langley's
embarked Army personnel for the P-40 fighters
carried on the doomed ship's abbreviated flight deck. At 1358, the task
at hand completed, Whipple backed
off and stood out ot destroy the derelict, opening fire at 1429 with
her 4 inch main battery, After nine rounds of 4 inch and two torpedoes,
Langley settled lower
and lower but refused stubbornly to sink. soon, orders arrived
directing Whipple and her
sister ship to clear the area prior to anymore bombing attacks. She
proceeded close aboard to rescue survivors, using two destroyer's life
rafts, a cargo net slung over the side, and a number of lines trailing
over the side. Staying 25 yards off the sinking seaplane tender.
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USS Whipple DD-217
Whipple accordingly vacated the vicinity and subsequently rendezvoused with USS Pecos AO-6 in lee of Christmas Island to transfer the Army pilots to the oiler. AT 1020 on 27 February, three Japanese twin-engined bombers attacked christmas Island. One later singled out Whipple and dropped a stick of bombs which missed the rapidly dodging destroyer.
On 28 February, Whipple began transferring Langley crew members to Pecos, completing the task by 0800. While one destroyer transferred personnel, the other circled and maintained an antisubmarine screen. When the job of transferring survivors from the lost seaplane tender had been completed, the two destroyers parted company with the oiler. Changing course in anticipation of orders to retire from Java. Whipple, then under attack by Japanese bombers near Christmas Island, was preparing to send a message relative to these orders when the destroyer's chief radioman heard a call for help over the radio from Pecos. Whipple sped to the scene to render assistance if possible.
Throughout the afternoon, as the destroyer closed the oiler, all hands on board prepared knotted lines and cargo nets for use in picking up survivors. whipple went to general quarters at 1922 when she sighted several small lights off both bows. Whipple slowly closed and began picking up survivors of Pecos. after interrupting the proceedings to conduct an unsuccessful attack on a submarine thought to be nearby, she returned to the task and continued to search until she had received 231 men from the oiler. Whipple soon cleared the area, believing that a Japanese aircraft carrier was close.
Within a few days, Java fell to the Japanese who were gradually consolidating their expanded "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity sphere." Whipple joined what remained of the Asiatic Fleet in australian waters.