Thomas Wright Rudderow was born at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 8 August 1885. He attended the Pennsylvania Nautical School and served as navigator and watch officer in SS Adams and SS Mexico prior to assuming duties as Port Captain, Port of Philadelphia, in 1914. Commissioned Ensign in the Naval Militia of Pennsylvania on 14 July 1916, he was mustered into Federal service 7 April 1917, and assigned in May to the interned Prinz Eitel Friedrich, later renamed DeKalb. On 1 July 1918, he transferred to the U.S. Naval Reserve Force.
In September, he reported for duty with Destroyer Forces at Queenstown, Ireland. He served in USS Allen (DD-66) during November 1918; in USS McCall (DD-28) from December 1918 to March 1919; and under Commander, Flotilla B, Destroyer Force, Atlantic, between March and June 1919. Relieved from active duty on 25 June 1919, he remained in the Naval Reserve until transferred to the Honorary Retired List on 1 September 1939.
On 3 January 1942, shortly after World War II broke out, while Superintendent and Commanding Officer of the Pennsylvania Nautical School Ship Seneca, Lieutenant Commander Rudderow was recalled to active duty and assigned to the yacht Cythera (PY-26), another World War I veteran being fitted out for coastal patrol work. Assuming command of Cythera when she commissioned on 3 March, Lieutenant Commander Rudderow was killed when his ship was torpedoed by U-402 off the North Carolina coast on 2 May 1942. Only two of Cythera's crew survived. They were picked up by the German submarine, taken to Germany, and interned for the duration of the war.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.
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