When at low tide they had a their first chance to look at the underwater battle damage, her men had reason to bless the unknown designers of the sturdy little four-stack destroyer of 1917–18 vintage. Her struts were big and strong enough to hold a cruiser together, and it was that solid construction that had held the ship afloat while her plates were peeling off her sides on the run from Lunga Point to Tulagi.
With torch and trip-hammer the crew set to work and patched up the bottom and sides. Then her engineering officer got into a huddle with his chief machinist’s mates and they came up with a jury rudder the likes of which the Navy had never seen before.
A big rusty steel plate, discarded from some other part of the ship, served as the rudder. It was lashed to a V-like structure of tree trunks and the entire apparatus was towed astern, with lines running from the logs to winches inboard. Right and left rudder was a laborious affair of hauling in one side while slacking up on the other. But “the thing” worked in some mysterious manner. Thus equipped, McFarland steamed from her hiding place on Thanksgiving Day 1942 and set course once more four Nouméa. The spirit of thankfulness on the part of the crew was liberally mixed with anxiety until they were safely into the open sea where they at last could make a run for it.
To balance her sideways drag, she trailed forty fathoms of anchor chain from the starboard hawse. In this manner, McFarland literally dragged herself comically and heroically into Pearl Harbor.
At Pearl Harbor, McFarland was repaired and sent on to the Navy Yard at San Francisco, where her stern was partially rebuilt. Converted back to a destroyer again, McFarland was pronounced as ready for duty once again. However, her role in World War II had been reduced to that of operating off the California coast with carriers during training excerises and plane qualification landings. There McFarland spent the remainder of the war until the inspectors decided she was too far gone for a general overhaul.
Before the cutting torches ripped open her sides, the gallant, the tenacious, the faithful McFarland listed crazily in a mudbank at Bordentown, New Jersey. The casual passers-by blandly looking at a heap of scrap metal ingloriously rusting in a salvage yard never suspected the great symbol of American spirit behind the story of USS McFarland from the bud banks of Tulagi to a mudbank in New Jersey. There was no Oliver Wendell Holmes to stay the cutter’s torch as in the case of “Old Ironsides” and USS McFarland was decommissioned on 8 November 1945 and sold for scrap in 1946.
Source: Office of Naval Records and History, Ship’s Histories Section, Navy Department: History of USS McFarland (DD 237), 1952.