Gleaves class destroyers (1940)

Gleaves class Destroyers (1939)

US Navy Fleet Destroyers (1939-70s) – 66 destroyers: USS Gleaves, Niblack, Livermore, Eberle, Plunkett, Kearny, Gwin, Meredith, Grayson, Monssen, Woolsey, Ludlow, Edison, Ericsson, Wilkes, Nicholson, Swanson, Ingraham.
Sub-class Bristol: USS Bristol, Ellyson, Hambleton, Rodman, Emmons, Macomb, Forrest, Fitch, Corry, Hobson, Aaron Ward, Buchanan, Duncan, Lansdowne, Lardner, McCalla, Mervine, Quick, Carmick, Doyle, Endicott, McCook, Frankford, Davison, Edwards, Glennon, Jeffers, Maddox, Nelson, Baldwin, Harding, Satterlee, Thompson, Welles, Cowie, Knight, Doran, Earle, Butler, Gherardi, Herndon, Shubrick, Beatty, Tillman, Stevenson, Stockton, Thorn, Turner.
DD 423 to DD 444, DD 453 to 464, DD 484 to 497, DD 618 to 622, DD 628, DD 632 to 641, DD 645 to 648

The Gleaves class destroyers were a parallel development of the Benson class, the former being built by Bethlehem yard with their own powerplant, whereas the Gleaves were built in other yards under strict Gibbs & Cox original design. They also shared echelon machinery arrangement, two funnels (rounded ones on the Gleaves) and the innovative quintuple torpedo tubes banks. 30 ships were made, including the « repeat-gleaves », sub-class Bristol and Laffey. The repeats were an emergency design, modified with one gun and one TT banks removed for extra AA, interim before the completion of the Fletchers. In all, more than 90 Benson-Gleaves were made until 1942, taking the brunt of of the fighting notably in the Atlantic for the « repeat » ships, as Fletchers were reserved for the Pacific, but the early batches soldiered on in all the most significant pacific battles, and alltogether they cumulated xx battles stars. #ww2 #USN #usnavy #destroyers #gleaves #fletcher #pacificwar #battleatlantic #1942 #1943 #1944

The Benson/Gleaves in brief

USS Gleaves (DD-423) underway on 18 June 1941, after completion.
The GLEAVES-class (DD-423) destroyers were almost identical to their near sisters of the BENSON class (DD-421), and together they were often referred to as the BENSON/GLEAVES class. About the only external feature by which they could be distinguished was the shape of their stacks; the GLEAVES class had round stacks, and the BENSONs’ stacks were flat-sided. The difference was the result of the work of naval architects at two different design firms. Gibbs & Cox designed the GLEAVES class, which was built in various navy and private shipyards. Bethlehem Steel designed the BENSONs, built only in that company’s shipyards.

An improvement on the SIMS class, which preceded them, the new destroyers were built on the same basic hull design. They introduced a new machinery arrangement, however, that featured alternating boiler and engine rooms calculated to give the ships a better chance at surviving torpedo damage. Their scantlings, or framing dimensions, were increased to carry the weight of the new machinery, which in turn increased the GLEAVES’s displacement by about sixty tons.

The topside arrangement of the GLEAVES class was similar to that of the SIMS class, but instead of one stack they had two because of the new machinery arrangement. A notable feature of the BENSONs and the early ships of the GLEAVES class was the streamlining of their bridge, superstructure, and deck edges forward, which were subjected to considerable windage, especially at high speeds. The rounded bridge became a flat-sided design in later units of the GLEAVES class beginning with the DAVIDSON (DD-618). The height of the Mark 37 director barbette also was lessened so that it was only slightly above the top of the bridge, thus eliminating a considerable amount of weight high in the superstructure. The ships of the GLEAVES-class were the last U.S. Navy destroyers designed with a raised forecastle deck.

Five 5-inch/38 caliber single gun mounts, two located forward and three aft, were the original main armament of the class. The two mounts on the after superstructure deck were open mounts separated by a deckhouse that served as a shelter for the gun crews. A 36-in. searchlight was mounted atop the shelter. Soon after the war began, the number-three mount was removed and replaced with two twin 40-mm gun mounts. Number-four mount was given a half shield to save weight. Unlike the other mounts, it lacked roof plates. To protect the gun crew from the elements, the designers added a simple framework with a canvas top fitted as a roof for the mount.

Fitted to port and starboard of the centerline were two twin 40-mm gun mounts, which replaced the number three 5-inch gun mount. The deckhouse shelter was removed, and the searchlight was remounted on a short platform just forward of the 40-mm mounts. The .50 caliber machine guns were replaced with four single 20-mm gun mounts; two located forward on each side of the bridge and two amidships on each side of the second stack.

The BENSON/GLEAVES class also introduced the 21-inch quintuple torpedo tube mount, which became the standard for all subsequent U.S. Navy destroyers built during World War II. Originally, the men operating the after set of tubes were shielded from the blast of the number three 5-inch gun by a circular enclosure. When the number three gun was removed, the shield on the torpedo tubes was also removed.

Some references identify the BENSON-GLEAVES class as the BENSON-LIVERMORE class. This was a designation for the FY 38-destroyer procurement coined by popular writers in compiling a number of fleet handbooks, for example James C. Fahey’s The Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet, volumes 1-4, 1939-45. Some handbooks further split the class, adding the BRISTOL (DD-453) as yet another division. According to tradition, however, a class is identified by the lead ship; hence BENSON-GLEAVES is the proper designation for this group of destroyers

The sixty-six Gleaves were built in parallel to the Benson class, and were ten tons heavier but only differed by minor details, yard-based. Distinction between the two classes is rather superficial, as they were virtually identical, only differing by weight and the Benson having flat-sided funnels, whereas they were round on the Gleaves. They were the last USN destroyers built with a forecastle (no flush deck), but in essence, had the genes of the following Fletchers. They had the same armament of five 5-in/38, six single 0.5 in (12.7 mm) AA HMGs Browning of the liquid-cooled types, and two quintuple TT banks with slightly differing ASW armament. src

Production for both classes went on until February 1943 when the USS Thorn and Turner (DD 647, 648) were launched. Most authors and Conways mixed the two classes into one in fact. However a major difference came with the Bristols sub-class, from DD 453 onwards, which tended to sacrifice the antiship capability for reinforced AA and ASW capabilities. The biggest difference was the adoption of a more potent and modern AA artillery, sacrificing a turret and TT bank in the process.

The Gleaves sub-class Laffey (DD 453) concerned 48 ships in all, wartime redesigned and with four 5-in guns as ordered, but also AA reinforced with four 40 mm AA in twin mounts, seven 20 mm AA and just one TT bank, plus 4 to 6 DC throwers and two DC racks at the stern.

uss buchanan, gleaves class

The Bristol and Laffey subclass (repeats)

USS Ludlow

The Fletcher design was the brand new wartime design started in September 1939 already, no that all peacetime treaty limits were gone. This class was for prompt reinforcement of the US Navy wiht basically the destroyers the admiralty dreamt of for many years. But since it was also an emergency, compromises were found to the design and the final draft approved for construction was much simpler and closer to the Benson/Gleaves design (same armament but better provision for AA, larger machinery, greater speed and range). However as the new design was slow in coming, the admiralty saw the writing on the wall, as at least 1.5 years were necessary for a new destroyer from laying down to completion, even after simplifying the design and setting up pass production in various yards, all underdimensioned.

The admiralty ordered wisely to just continue with the existing, albeit imperfect Benson/Gleaves design, they also appeared easier in production and could be built faster at that stage. The first 12 ships (DD453-464) were ordered in May 1940 and 15 more (DD483-497) in September. After 7 December 1941 more ordered were placed, for DD598-628 and 632-641 and by February, the last four, DD645-648, knopwing they would be ready perhaps in 1944. Two final series reinforced their old Browning HMGs for a single 28mm quadruple MG mount placed instead of the N°3 gun mount aft well before completion.

By early 1941 from DD 453 onwards, the armament was setup to four 5-in/38mm guns all in covered mounts. But also two twin 40mm Bofors, four single 20mm Oerlikons as specificied. Since production of the latter was late in coming, quadruple 28mm Mark 1 were provided in their place. ASW armament was wartime standard also as specified, for service in the Atlantic as the Fletchers were intended for the Pacific. Each of the new Bristo/Laffey sub-class were to received two DCRs astern (32 DCs) plus a single DCT (Y-gun) on the quarter deck (ten). The increased weight obliged to remove the aftermost TT bank as approved by August 1941. Still, the planned AA increase fuelled fears about these repeat ships to be overweight and some proposed during construction to increase the hull breadth, a measure that was in the end refused to not delay the serie and only accepted for two « prototypes », DD634 and DD635 which had a 11.3m breadth. The extra buoyancy was to provide this stability, ad they were confidently well armed.

The Bristol sub-class were essentially the Bethlehem design ships (lighter machinery, flat-side funnels) built under two detailed designs both by Bethlehem (DD459, 460, 491, 492 and 598-617) and Gibbs & Сох (DD453-458, 461-464, 483-497, 618-641 and 645-648). External were still flat-sides funnels (Bethlem, or « repeat Benson ») and rounded ones (Gibbs & Cox or « repeat Gleaves ») but the machinery on all was the same under Gibbs & Сох design. Simplification of construction was the main effort here. All the measures (simpler shapes, omitted elements) bore fruits only on the late series (DD493-497, 618-628 and 645-648) with a superstructure that reverted to a simpler rectangular forward section and the director placed directly over the chart room roof and not on a special structure for vibraiton damping (which also reduced weight).

The Laffey sub-class was essentially a repeat of the Gleaves class, Gibbs& Cox design, with heavier machinery and rounded funnels, including the last ones widened to 11.3 m (feet), USS Thorn and Turner.

The first destroyers of these new series were commissioned without 40mm guns, but additional Oerlikons (6 guns at all) as interim, or temporarily with a single 28mm quad « chicago piano » Mark I mount. Standard Bofors for appeared on DD 606 onwards. In November 1942 the armament composition was stabdardized to 4 Bofors, 7 Oerlikons. Earlier destroyers were retrofitted in 1944 in this way. By 1945 their ASW suite was often curtailed as the Atlantic Operations came to and end and this was no longer required for the Pacific.

USS Gleaves laying smoke during the invasion of Southern France, 18 August 1944. Probably half of the class took part in Operation Dragoon, dealing with shore batteries, and later patrolling the Franco-Italian border as far as Genoa, sometimes dealing with E-Boats, Mas-Boats attacks as well as human torpedoes and explosive boats.

⚙ Bristol/Laffey (DD 634)* specifications

Displacement 1900t standard, 2600t FL
Dimensions 103.9 wl 106.2 oa x 11 (11.3 DD 634) x 4.92m
Propulsion 2 shafts, Westinghouse geared steam turbines, 4 Babcock & Wilcox boilers, 50,000 hp
Speed 35 kts max
Range 302 – 453t fuel oil, 3,630 to 3,880nm at 20 kts
Armament 4x 5-in/38 Mk 12, quad 28mm/75 Mk 1, 5-6x 20mm/70 Mk 4, 1×5 21-in TT, 6 DCT, 2 DCR (62)
Sensors SC, SG, Mk 12.22 radars, QCJ sonar
Crew 208

Note that DD453 to 464, 483 to 492, 598, 599, 602, 605, 633, 640, and 641 had the original armament listed on the table above. DD600, 601, 603, 604, 606 to 609, 611 to 613, 618 to 620, 622, 632, 634 to 637 received at completion tjheir planned two twin 40mm/56 Mk 1.2, and four 20mm/70 Mk 4. DD493 to 497, 610, 614 to 617, 621, 623 to 628, 638, 639, 645 to 648 had the same but seven single 20m/70 Mk 4 AA. Electronic equipment also varied over time, with the first batches equipped with the SC, Mk 4 radars, QCJ sonar (DD453 to 464, 483, 484). The remainder were all given the SC, SG, Mk 4 radars, and improved QCJ sonar and the Laffey sub-class but a few late ships (DD625 to 628) swapped the Mark 4 for a Mk 12.22 radar.

Design of the class

Hull and general design

ONI schematics of the Bensons as modified with the extra AA in late 1942. Note the absence of the aft TT bank and extra intermediate 5-in gun.

The Gleaves class were a repeate of a prewar design, with some stability improvements, but nothing else but what the Benson class brought already. The Machinery made them a stacks profile (rounded in Gleaves) and the same « in echelon » machinery arrangement with alternated boiler and engine rooms. This was to ensure a torpedo hit survival, first time this measure was taken. Gibbs and Cox design team had been the driving force behind this adoption, and specified that even with a Loss of one or two adjacent compartments the powerplant at least could be half saved, ensuring that the destroyer could extract itself from the danger zone, albeit at low speed. Displacement varied also between the Gleaves class: DD423, 424, and 429-444 displaced 1838 tonnes standard and 2,572 tonnes fully loaded.

They were also the first destroyer to feature two axial quintuple torpedo tube mounts, as for the Bensons. Construction-wise they were fitted wit the same extensive scantlings (framing dimensions) as the bensons to strenghtened flexion of the hull in heavy seas sea while heaving a bit heavier machinery. The hull was catacterized by fuller hull lines, more buoyant which took part in the stability. Globally as seen from above, the hull was almonf shaped, with fine entries and limited bow flare and a generous, rounded poop but typical anti-collision bars, and counterkeels to reduce roll.

Also measures has been taken for oil bunkerage in the hull to avoid any imbalance and precises advices given to captains for managing the tanks by filling them with seawater in case of low fuel levels while heavy weather was enountered. Typhoon cobra cayastrophy mostly affected Farragut class ships, none of the benson-Gleaves. The hull was the same exactly in dimensions, 341 ft (103.9 m) waterline, 348 ft 2 in (106.12 m) overall (short than the Sims) but featuring the same beam of 36 ft 1 in (11.00 m) and equal draft up to 17 ft 9 in (5.41 m) mean (or full load).

The bridge also retook the same Bensons and Sims class one, designed by Gibbs and Cox. It was streamlined rather than trapeziodal with flat sides, as for the previous destroyer, somewhat lighter, narrower and offering far less drag in high wind, reducing the sail effect in crosswinds. It was also safer in combat that the former glasshouses, a liability in case of shrapnels. Some « ld salts » did not liked the new portholes, but they were far less vulnerable and there was both the open deck above and wings either side for open view.

The surprerstructures were pretty much a repeat of the Sims and Bensons, continuous superstructure after the forecastle, all the way the the quarterdeck supporting superfiring guns. Five main guns were provided, with an intermediate three guns position aft (two on top of the quarterdeck house, on on the poop deck), and two superfiring forward. As the bensons, the twp torpedo tibes banks were elevated one level, which had its reasons for reloads but was not ideal stability wise. Later when modified in WW2, one of these and the N°3 main gun were removed, notably to add more AA. There was no way to concile both due to the prewar stability limits of the class. The Gleaves repeated the exact same fire control system, a single unit placed above the bridge, fully enclosed. There were two masts of unequal size, a pole foremast aft of the bridge supporting light radars and smaller mainmast aft in front of n°3 main gun. A radio detector of the « Huff-Duff » type was placed over it in wartime.


USS Kearny (DD-432) approaching Gibraltar c1944

These ships were fitted with the proven high pressure, high temperature boilers from the Mahan class. Unlike Bethlehem which asked for design changes for a simpler type to be equally efficient, at first rejected by the Bureau of Engineering, and in the end only FY 1938 ships (DD 421–428, six ships) were later built to the original Bethlehem or revised Benson design, while the first two (DD 423–424) were completed to the original admiralty design, and Gibbs & Cox planned machinery configuration. Both were made by Bath Iron Works, and the set adopted comprised two sets of Westinghouse geared steam turbines fed by four Babcock & Wilcox boilers.

The Bureau of engineering also asked to increase boiler temperature to 825° boilers for the later repeat Gleaves underGibbs & Cox design, which were called the Livermore class (from DD 429 onwards). Bath Iron Works incorporated this change also for its first two ships during construction. FY1939 and FY1940 ships became DDs 429–444. Repeat-Bensons also obtained these new boilers rated for 850 °F (454 °C), later also fitted on the Fletchers. The standard of two sets Westinghouse geared steam turbines, four Babcock & Wilcox boilers remained the same for both the initial Gleaves, Livermore, and repeats, only temperature changed.

These turbines drove 3-bladed propellers (two shafts). They were geared steam turbines with reduction and total output was circa 50,000 shp (37,000 kW). Best top speed acheved was 37.5 knots (69.5 km/h) light load on sea trials but it was officiallt 37 knots and when fully loaded, 33 knots (61.1 km/h). As for oil carried, this varied over time, from 302 on the first two to 453 tones on the repeat Gleaves. Range was also a function of the oil load, between 3,630(20) nautical miles initially at 20 knots up to 3,880 nm at the same speed or at 12 knots, up to 6,500 nautical miles (12,000 km; 7,500 mi). The bulk capacity was indeed radically augmented both on the « repeat Bensons » and « repeat Gleaves », with extra inner hull tanks. Needless to say, the range of the following Fletcher class way above this.


This was complete repeat of the Benson class:
-Five single 5-in/38 standard DP guns, fully (N°1,2, 5) or partially enclosed (N°3,4)
-Two quintuple torpedo tibes banks amidship, centerline, with 14 torpedoes (4 reloads)
-Six single cal.0.5-in (12.7mm)/90 Browning M1921 (1929).
This was upgraded from 1942.

Main: 5x 5-in/38

The original five 5-in/38 (127 mm) were in Mk 12 enclosed gun mounts for two forward superfiring and the deck aftermost one. The aft and intermediate mount on the aft quarterdeck house were open mounts, unshielded to reduced top heaviness. Later as the N°3 was landed, the N°4 sometimes received an enclosed mount.

⚙ 5-in/38 Mark 12 specifications

Open Mount full weight Mark 30 mount Mod 1: 33,500 lbs. (15,195 kg)
Enclosed Mount full weight Mark 30 mounts Mod 41: 41,400 lbs. (18,779 kg)
Barrel 3,990 lbs. (1,810 kg) without breech, 223.8 in (5.683 m) long
Muzzle Velocity 2,500 fps (762 mps) average
Rate of Fire 15-22 rounds/minute
Elevation -10 to +85°
Range Max 85°, 2,940 yards (2,688 m)
Crew 8 inside, 7 outside open src
Ammunition Bensons: 320 (Gleaves 360)
Penetrating power 13,800 yards (12,620 m): 1.0″ (25 mm) armor*

*with special common shell

Torpedo Tubes

ONI explanation on the Mark 14 Quintuple Bank of the Benson-Gleaves (from navweaps).

The Gleaves class quintuple banks became the « new normal » on USN Destroyers, until the swap to missile destroyers (the were dropped in effect from Forrest Sherman destroyers already). The new arrangement was a return of experience on side TT banks, a typical feature of interwar US destroyers. The main problem was stability, and these deck TTs were regularly tossed by waves, with corrosion and accidents, plus difficult reloading in all but calm seas, when available. FY1939 program destroyers swapped to centerline TT banks (a worldwide accepted standard) and to avoid spray, they were raised well above the deck. Often also the seated operator had his own armored box. The curve-ahead fire was still optional by settings.

These quintuple torpedo tube banks were also a world’s first. Triple or quadruple was the norm, even for British destroyers late into the war. This gave these destroyers the largest broadside at the time, a solid answer to Japanese « special type destroyer ». The latter had typically three triple banks. Depending on the sources, each Gleave class destroyer carried 14 torpedoes, thus 4 reloads, or 14 reloads in all, which seems unlikely. Having reloads (stored close to the banks with manual crane/winch system) was a plus compared to previous class, although limited. Again, topweight matters prevailed and it is not even sure than these reloads were carried at all times. It was assumed than once the volley was done, destroyers would return to the nearest base for reload. The reload process if anything was a risky and long operation requiring calm seas, and virtually impossible in a war zone. Engineers also studied the effect a full volley on the ship’s stability while at sea, and it was advised to stick to the usual successive fire of tubes. This was also to alleviate wake interferences. See a color rendition of the mount.

The MK 14 and MK 15 torpedo tube mounts launched 21-inch MK 15 torpedo. This trainable arrangement derived from the quadruple one had a larger base and reinforcements below the hull deck; Each mount had a stand, saddle, barrels, controls, heating equipment, and the optional rounded blast shield (MK 15 mount) to protect the operator from shrapnel and nearby 5-inch gun blast. The five tubes in a parallel arrangement were secured via hold down clips. The assemblies comprised the main tube barrel, its hinging door and spoon extension, all bolted to the saddle via ring flanges. These spoon extensions were also hinged and folding backwards on top of the barrel for access to the torpedo warhead. Controls from the torpedo gyro gave displays for the depth and speed settings mounted aft of the ring flanges using electrically input. The torpedo tubes also had barrel heaters underside for cold weather, which proved handy during the Aleutian campaign in 1943 (winter 1942-43 especially).

The firing mechanism of each tube was placed on the aft end forward of the breech doors, launched individually by ignition of black powder using replacable impulse cartridges using either hydraulic percussion or electrical input. A tripping latch after the torpedo left the muzzle retrigerred the system (like re-cocking a firearm). Each Gleaves class destroyer also had a pair of retractable loading cranes and a set of holding chain bracing the torpedo until it was aligned with the tube when reloaded and manually pushed inside, after greasing.

⚙ Mark 14 Bank, 21-inch MK 15 Mod 3 torpedoes specs

Weight 3,841 lbs. (1,742 kg)
Lenght 24 ft (7.315 m)
Settings 4,500 yds/45 kts – 9,000 yds/33.5 kts – 14,000 yds/26.5 kts
Propulsion Wet-Heater steam turbine
Warhead 801 lbs. (363 kg) TNT or 823 lbs. (373 kg) HBX
Exploder Contact
Guidance Mark 12 Mod 3 gyro
Reloads Bensons: 0 to 4


Single liquid-cooled HMG, navy standard in 1941 (navsource).

The Gleaves like the Bensons had originally as designed three pairs of liquid-colled M1921 Browning Heavy Machine Guns, located of platforms forward, amidships and aft. This was less the Sims class, and from December 1941, the admirakty planned to have them all equipped asap by 20 mm Oerlikon guns, replacing all mount on a one-to-one ratio. The Brownings fired 550 rounds per minute up to 5,000 feet (1,524 m) ceiling or 15,000 feet (4,570 m) range depending on the target.
More on navweaps

The admiralty in 1942 wanted also to mount the new 40 mm Bofors in twin mounts as soon as available also. The only way to get rid of the N°3 main gun to fit two. Later the N°2 TT bank was also removed enabling to fite two more, and later. Bottlenecks in production made the 40mm/56 Mk 1.2 arriving late, and fitted during refits. In 1945 a single quad mount was added also on some ships.

The twin-barrel 40mm/55 Mark 1.2

More on the naval weapons encyclopedia
It seems that some Gleaves class destroyers were fitted also with a single 1.1-in quad (28mm/75) Mk 1 mount from 1942 as an interim for the Bofors. The later became mandatory by early 1944, replacing the N°3 gun, with two twin 40mm/56 Mk 1.2, four single 20mm/70 Mk 4 as standard and all 21-in torpedo tubes plus a larger ASW defence.

20 mm/70 Mark 4 single mount. These ships had at first those, then twin mounts. More.


Installed at the poop were two depth charge racks of the Mark 1, Mod 1 holding five depth charges each. In wartime the model was changed to the Mark 3 to hold ten, and this was completed by a battery of four or six Mark 6 K-gun depth charge throwers. K-guns had each a single launcher and three ready reloads, with more than can be reloaded from below. It fired the Mark 9 DC by 1945. There were up to 50 depth charges carried.

Types in use were the following:
Mark 7 (1937, service 1938): 745 lbs. (338 kg) with 600 lbs. (272 kg) TNT warhead
Sink Rate or Terminal Velocity 9 fps (2.7 mps), set range from 50 to 300 feet (15-91 m)
Mark 8 (1941, s. 1943)-Magnetic pistol DC.
525 lbs. (238 kg), 270 lbs. (122 kg) TNT warhead, sink Rate 11.5 fps (3.5 mps), up to 500 feet (unreliable but probably tested on Atlantic ships of the 1st serie)
Mark 9 (1941, s. 1943): late war teardrop model with greater sink rate.

320 lb to 340 lbs. (154 kg) warhead 190-200 lbs. (86-91 kg) TNT
Sink rate 14.5 fps (4.4 mps) up to 22.7 fps (6.9 mps) for mod 2
Setting range from 50 to 600 feet (15-183 m). Standard for ships re-equipped in 1944-45.

Sensors & FCS

As completed, DD421 to 434 were given a QCE sonar in complement to their ASW additions. For the later « repeats » serie, DD435-444 presumably they were fitted with the SC, Mk 4 radars, and QCE sonar as standard.


The fire-control system on bridge top was a fully enclosed and lighter model, better protecting the operators from shrapnels. It was fitted with a radar on top and data was transmitted for a solution inside the ship to a computer Ford Mark 1. Rate information for height changes allowed to fire on aircraft flying up to 400 miles per hour (640 km/h). The computed and FCS were later revised and recalibrated to put into good use the VT (Variable Time) proximity fuze way more efficient against aviation.

SC radar

SC radar antenna
From 1942 was installed on the formast this 220 kW Air/Surface-search radar working in VHF band:
PRF 60 Hz, Beamwidth 10–25°, Pulsewidth 4–5 μs, Range 48–120 km (30–75 mi), Precision 90–180 m (98–197 yd)

Mark IV FE FCS Radar

The Radar Mark 4 Or Type FD was mounted on top of the Mark 37 Fire Control System. Photo; USS McCalla, 5 January 1944. src Naval History and Heritage Command.
Bearing Accuracy 0.225, Bearing Resolution 10, Horizontal Beamwidth 12, Vertical Beamwidth 12
Range Accuracy 37m, Range Resolution 365.76m, Range in Nautical Mile 19.966
Radar Antenna Siz 1.829 m

QC Sonar

From the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, first destroyer-mounted, echo-ranging sonar. Worked on 15 to 20 kHz and operated from 1933, and became the standard ASW active sonar on all U.S destroyers. src and also and this.


Both the Bensons and Gleaves were initially armed the same, and thus, underwent about the same upgrade when commissioned in 1941: All received that yea a single 1 DCT (« Y »-gun) with 22 Depht charges in total and then by early 1942 they saw the replacement of their six single Browning M1921 AA HMGs and the aftermest quintuple TT banks, as well as one « Y »-gun for the addition of six 20mm/70 Mk 4 Oerlikon and four to six DCT (44-50 DC). Later that year, many losed their N°3 5-in/38 for a single quad 28mm/75 Mk 1 for AA defense and for esome one extra 20mm/70 Mk 4 AA gun. Between 1942 and 1944 dependng on upgrades, they also received electronics, in the shape of SC, SG, Mk 4 or Mk 12.22 radars, and typically at the end of the war, they gad four 5-in/38 Mk 12, two twin 40mm/56 Mk 1.2, four single 20mm/70 Mk 4 AA guns, one or both 21-in quntuple TT banks, four to six DCTs and two DCR for up to 50 depth charges.

As for the repeat Gleaves, they already came out with a modified armament, with four main guns, one TT bank (the one between funnels), a single quad 28mm/75 Mk 1 instead of N°3 turret, all remaining ones fully enclosed, five to six 20mm/70 Mk 4 AA guns and six DCT, tow DCR (62 depth charges). They were intended indeed mostly for the Atlantic, freeing the brand new Fletchers for the Pacific. Later, they were upgraded when available with Bofors. Already the late series came up with two twin 40mm/56 Mk 1.2 and seven single 20mm/70 Mk 4.

As for electronics, they came out with SC, Mk 4 radars, QCJ sonars, then SG, Mk 12.22 radars. Upgrades concerned mostly the swapping of the single quad 28mm but two twin Bofors mounts, but it varied considerably towards the end of the war: Some were left with only three main guns 5-in/38 Mk 30, the two twin Bofors, seven Oerlikon Mk 10, but an ASW complement rediced to 2 DCT, 2 DCR (34 DCs) since the threat of UBoats was virtually nullified by late 1944, they also had a minesweeping gear.

Other retained all four main guns, got rid of their remaining TT bank for a much strenghtened AA, with two two quad 40mm/60 Mk 2, and the original two twin 40mm/60 Mk 1, and two twin 20mm/70 Mk 24, two single Mk 10, and their ASW capability intact with six DCT and two DCR for 62 Depth charges in reserve. They were essentially Pacific stationed picket « gunboats » and escorts dealing with Kamikazes.


Profiles to come

⚙ Gleaves class specifications

Displacement 1,839 t, 2,395 T FL
Dimensions 106.17 oa x 11.1 x 4 m ()
Propulsion 2 shafts Westinghouse turbines, 4 B&W boilers, 50,000 hp.
Speed 37 knots max (33 FL)
Range 6500nm/12 kts, see notes
Armament 5× 5-in/38, 6x 0.5-in AA, 2×5 TT 21-in (533 mm), see notes
Sensors Mark 37 FCS, later QCE sonar, SC, Mk 4 radars
Crew 208

Name: R.A. Gleaves

greaves The lead ship of the class, USS Gleaves, was named after Admiral Albert Gleaves, who is credited with improving both, the accuracy and precision of torpedoes. It was appropriate for destroyers. However so far, no other USN ships has been named after him. Born in Nashville, Tennessee, R.A. Gleaves graduated from the USN Academy in 1877. Her served on two frigates, USS Hartford and Trenton, before becoming an Ensign in 1881. He notably commanded USS Cushing, an early torpedo boat during the Spanish–American War. Later he was promoted to the rank of commander, being assigned the battleship North Dakota. A rear admiral in 1915 her was in charge of the cruiser & transporte force during the great war, being awarded the Army and Navy Distinguished Service Medals. In 1919, now an Admiral, her commanded the Asiatic Fleet and while at the Naval Ordnance Proving Ground, he made outstanding contributions in gunnery and torpedoes, fields for which he would be the most remembered for, the precision and accuracy he brought into these. On USS Cushing he tested a gear that was adopted prior to 1917 and became standard on US destroyers.
He retired on January 1, 1922, became an author, companion of the Naval Order of the United States, died at Haverford, Pennsylvania on January 6, 1937, so the name was reserved as part of FY1938 naval plan to name a new destroyer after him. He had a statue at the State Capitol in Nashville, Tennessee, later moved to the Tennessee State Museum. His most famous alleged quote was:

« To seamen a ship becomes endowed with human virtues and faults; she ceases to be a mere inanimate thing. »

The Bensons/Gleaves in action:

Following the end on the Atlantic-Mediterranean operations, 24 ships (Bensons and Gleaves) were converted as high-speed minesweepers (DMS) for the Pacific: 12 were pressed into MinRon 20 in 1944, operating off Okinawa, spring 1945 and Tokyo Bay by August, plus 12 in MinRon 21 which arrived too late. 16 were lost during the war, including Meredith, Monssen, Laffey, Duncan and Barton in the long Guadalcanal campaign, USS Aaron Ward and Gwin in the Solomons. On the Atlantic theater, USS Lansdale, Bristol, Corry, Glennon, Maddox and Beatty were sank by U-Boats. USS Emmons was sunk by Kamikaze off Okinawa, USS Ingraham to a collision, USS Turner after an accidental magazine explosion. Forrest, Harding, Butler and Shubrick, the first three engaged as DMS were badly damaged by mines at Okinawa.
12 were decorated for outstanding action, well beyond usual battle stare. USS Hilary P. Jones, Plunkett and Woolsey in the Mediterranean, USS Hobson as Atlantic escort carrier task group 2 escort, USS Laffey and Buchanan for action in the Solomon Islands, USS Bailey for the Battle of the Komandorski Islands, four minesweeper conversions, Rodman, Emmons, Macomb and Butler at Okinawa with commendations.

Deployment (src)

The eight ships authorized in fiscal year 1938 plus Plunkett, authorized in 1939 but, after Gleaves, the second ship of the class commissioned.
DESDIV 13 — 421 Benson, 422 Mayo, 423 Gleaves, 424 Niblack, 431 Plunkett (flag).
DESDIV 14 — 425 Madison (initial flag), 426 Lansdale, 427 Hilary P. Jones, 428 Charles F. Hughes.

After Bristol, the nine low-numbered repeat 1,630-tonners (Bristol class); the first squadron of F/Y 1941 ships commissioned.
DESDIV 19 — 454 Ellyson (flag), 455 Hambleton, 456 Rodman, 457 Emmons, 458 Macomb.
DESDIV 20 — 461 Forrest (flag), 462 Fitch, 463 Corry, 464 Hobson.

The remaining F/Y 1939 ships plus Ericsson, initially with Sims-class Roe as flagship. DesDiv 22 was deployed to the Pacific in 1942 where, after two of its four ships were lost, survivors were attached to DesRon 12.
DESDIV 21 — 418 Roe (flag), 429 Livermore, 430 Eberle, 432 Kearny, 440 Ericsson.
DESDIV 22 — 433 Gwin (flag), 434 Meredith, 435 Grayson, 436 Monssen.

The second squadron of repeat 1,620- and 1,630-tonners commissioned: the three lowest-numbered 1,620-tonners plus six consecutively-numbered 1,630-tonners from Federal.
DESDIV 23 — 459 Laffey, 460 Woodworth, 483 Aaron Ward, 484 Buchanan, 491 Farenholt (flag).
DESDIV 24 — 485 Duncan, 486 Lansdowne (flag), 487 Lardner, 488 McCalla.

The remaining F/Y 1940 ships plus repeat 1,630-tonner Bristol, initially with Sims-class Buck as flagship.
DESDIV 25 — 420 Buck (flag), 437 Woolsey, 438 Ludlow, 439 Edison, 453 Bristol.
DESDIV 26 — 441 Wilkes (flag), 442 Nicholson, 443 Swanson, 444 Ingraham.

DESDIV 27 — 602 Meade, 607 Frazier, 608 Gansevoort (squadron flag from June 1943), 619 Edwards.
DESDIV 28 — 492 Bailey (initial squadron flag), 598 Bancroft, 605 Caldwell, 606 Coghlan.

DESDIV 29 — 489 Mervine (flag), 490 Quick, 618 Davison, 640 Beatty, 641 Tillman.
DESDIV 30 — 632 Cowie (flag), 633 Knight, 634 Doran, 635 Earle.

DESDIV 31 — 604 Parker (flag), 612 Kendrick, 613 Laub, 614 Mackenzie, 615 McLanahan.
DESDIV 32 — 600 Boyle (flag), 601 Champlin, 616 Nields, 617 Ordronaux.

DESDIV 33 — 603 Murphy, 620 Glennon, 621 Jeffers, 622 Maddox, 623 Nelson (flag).
DESDIV 34 — 636 Butler (flag), 637 Gherardi, 638 Herndon, 639 Shubrick.

DESDIV 35 — 493 Carmick, 494 Doyle, 495 Endicott, 496 McCook, 497 Frankford (flag).
DESDIV 36 — 624 Baldwin (flag), 625 Harding, 626 Satterlee, 627 Thompson.

DESDIV 37 — 645 Stevenson (flag), 646 Stockton, 647 Thorn, 648 Turner.
DESDIV 38 — 609 Gillespie, 610 Hobby (flag), 611 Kalk, 628 Welles.

Combat reports

USS Hornet (CV-8) with USS Gwin (DD-433) during the Doolittle Raid
USS Hornet (CV-8) with USS Gwin (DD-433) during the Doolittle Raid

Twenty-one of these Gleaves & Bristol subclass class were in commission when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Of course afterwards, production was step up and the logical step was to deliver the simplified Fletchers. But in 1941 already, the admiralty ordered simplifications in design to Seattle-Tacoma batch (DD493-497, 624-628) and Federal/Kearny (DD618-623, 645-648) with squared-faced bridges and directors directly on the pilot house rather than suspended on pedestals. After these changes, USS Livermore was tested at 50,400 hp and 37.58 knots at full speed. In total, sixteen of both class were sunk in action, starting with the USS Meredith (15.10.1940) the USS Lansdale (20.4.1944), Gwin (13.7.1943), Monssen (13.11.1942), Ingraham (22.8.1942), Bristol (12.10.1943), Emmons (06.04.1945), Laffey (13.11.1942), Corry (6.6.1944), Hobson (27.4.42), Aaron Ward (7.4.43), Duncan (12.10.42), Glennon (10.6.44), Maddow (10.7.43), Beatty (6.11.43) and Turner (3.1.44).

Bensons/Gleaves in the cold war

ROCS Nan Yang (DD-17) in the 1960s

Post-war saw the fast minesweepers remaining in commission. USS Nicholson and Woodworth were transfered under MDAP to the Italian Navy in 1951 as the Artigliere class, while the others were mothballed.
Some however were recommissioned for the Korean War. 12 were transferred abroad later still under MDAP:

-USS Lansdowne, Lardner and McCalla joined the Turkish Navy in 1949.

-Eberle and Ludlow joined the Greek Navy in 1951

-Ellyson and Macomb made the bulk of the JMSDF in 1954

-Benson, Hilary P. Jones and Rodman joined the ROCN (Taiwanese Navy) in 1954–55 and USS Plunkett in 1959, many of these ships were still active in the 1970s, at a time the US-mothball ships were stricken and BU.

Read More


Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. Greenwood Press.
Friedman, Norman (2004). US Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History (Revised ed.). NIP
Gardiner, Robert; Chesneau, Roger (1980). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1922–1946.
Gardiner, Robert; Chumbley, Stephen (1995). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1947–1995 (cold war Gleaves).
Silverstone, Paul H. (1965). U.S. Warships of World War II. Ian Allan Ltd.
Public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.


navypedia bensons/gleaves
navypedia bristol/laffey (repeats) global
PDF general info about the USS Gleaves, Bath Iron works. Bethleham steel ships
Gleaves class on
CC Photos, gleaves class

Model Kits

The Gleaves in service

US Navy ww2 USS Gleaves DD 427


USS Gleaves was commissioned on 14 June 1940 at Boston Navy Yard. She was assigned first to the Atlantic convoys, after a shakedown in Cuban waters, starting convoy escort work off the Atlantic coast and Caribbean, homeported to Boston from 19 March 1941 and starting her first mission on 23 June 1941 to Iceland and back to Boston on 23 July. She made four more convoy voyages to Iceland but pushed also to Ireland and started later her participation to Operation Torch (North Africa) supply convoy route. During her escort missions (ON 18, HX 154, ON 30, HX 164, ON 49, HX 171, ON 62, HX 178, ON 79, HX 185, ON 92 and AT 18) she pinged and spotted U-boats, but recorded no confirmed kill. On 11–12 May 1942 she could not prevent the destruction of ONS 92 by a large wolfpack, attacking night after night.

USS Gleaves took part from 10 May to the Allied landings in Sicily, Operation Husky. Convoy operations in the battle area with USS Plunkett were concluded with acceptation of the surrender of the Italian garrison on the island of Ustica, on 5 August 1943. Both also drive off an attack of five German E-boats attempting to attack Palermo. She also bombarded the Italian mainland by September 1943, covering the Salerno landing forces, before making another convoy mission in and out of Salerno. By January 1944 she fought off the Luftwaffe and by May underway for another mision she chased down U-616, picking up survivors by 17 May. By August she took part in Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France in August 1944, covering the Rangers landing and dealing with shore defences.

On 1 October a single army Piper Cub pilot spotted an assembly of German MAS boats in nearby San Remo. Gleaves was depatched with other destroyers for a bombardment of the port, sinking three MAS and damaging the others as well as the shore repair installations and facilities around the port and silincing several 88 mm (3 in) batteries. With the spotter from USS Brooklyn, she went only shelling shore establishments and battery positions this time in the harbor of Oneglia, damaging two large cargo ships, destroying a shore battery and an AA battery. She went not unscaved, taking a 88-mm shell, perforating her hull and showering splinters. She had two lightly wounded. By radar during the night she spotted three vessels moving down the coast and she soon encountered them, destroying one, driving the others. The remaining two were detected later underway to San Remo, she caught them and sink one, the other retreating back to Genoa, badly damaged.

Back to San Remo a third time during the night five suicide-manned explosive motor boats tried to hit her. By gun-fire and her own violent maneuvering at top speed, she all dodged them, sinking four. She captured the fifth one intact with two boat operators aboard, bringing precious intel. By December 1944, she was back at the gunline on the Franco-Italian frontier, until back to the US by February 1945. After outfitting at New York, training in the Caribbean by 30 June 1945 she was reassigned to the Pacific, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 4 August and learning about the surrender during training. She escorted still outbound occupation convoys and arrived in Nagasaki by September 1945. She assisted several ships (got a navy commendation) after the 29 September 1945 typhoon.

By late November she also assisted the smallpox-quaratined SS Adabelle Lykes underway from Shanghai to San Francisco, with 2000 servicemen aboard. She also took part in « magic carpet » with 300 veterans aboard from the Aleutian Islands to Seattle on 10 December 1945. Sent to San Francisco and then Charleston, arriving on 18 January 1946, she was decommissioned on 8 May 1946, reserve at Philadelphia and then Orange, Texas, until 1967, stricken on 1 November 1969, sold on 29 June 1972, BU. Five battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Niblack DD 428

Laid down on 8 August 1938, Launched on 18 May 1940 and Commissioned on 1 August 1940, USS Niblack had about the same career as her sister: Europe and then Pacific lately. After shakedown and training she made her first convoy from NS Argentia in Newfoundland. By July 1940 she escorted troopships to Iceland. On 10 April 1941 she picked up three survivor’s boats from a torpedoed merchantman and later detected an U-Boat, depth charged under orders. U-52 fled the area. This was apparently the first action between US and German forces in World War II, part of the Atlantic « quasi war ».
With four other destroyers, she was escorting another fast convoy when on 31 October 1941, USS Reuben James was sunk by an U-Boat, and she picked up 44 survivors. Orderrs from then on was « sink without orders all Uboats ». But the attack on Pearl Harbor made it official. She went on with North Atlantic convoys, to Reykjavík, Derry, Greenock, and by July 1942 was transferred to the Caribbean and back north in August. By November 1942, shr took part in Operation Torch convoy escorts followed by coastal convoy escort duty.

Long story short she took part in the invasion of Sicily, operations near Gela, to Syracuse, fighting E-Boats, entered Palerm. Then bombardments of the Italian mainland, landings at Salerno and gunline on the Salerno campaign, assisted radio-guided bom damaged USS Philadelphia and Savannah. Chased U-boat off Bizerte. Assisted sank U-593. Left TF 86 for the landings at Anzio. Fought of Luftwaffe and E-boats plus human torpedoes. OVL New York, back Med in May, Southern Italy. Part of a hunter-killer group with her and Woolsey, Madison, Benson, Ludlow, starting ops by 18 May 1944. Destoyed U-960. Fighter-director training with USS Gleaves for the 8th Fleet, directed French and British planes on luftwaffe attacked on Allied, invasion of Southern France.

Assigned to TF 86 and « Flank Force, » support for 1st Airborne, Franco–Italian frontier up to 25 December 1944. She sank 43 mines, destroyed a German MAS boat, damaged four others in San Remo. Back Oran flagship DesRon 7, 8th Fleet and OVL Boston Navy Yard February 1945. Sailed out to the Pacific on 3 July 1945 , Pearl Harbor via San Diego and in training on V-Day. Escort to Sasebo, Japan, 22 September 1945, Matsuyama, and decomm. back home by June 1946, Atlantic Reserve at Charleston, then Philadelphia, stricken 31 July 1968, BU. 5 battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Livermore DD 429

uss livermore

Often associated with a sub-class, USS Livermore was laid down on 6 March 1939 by Bath Iron Works, launched 3 August 1940, commissioned 7 October 1940 (LtCom. Vernon Huber) and after shakedown and brief training was assigned on 29 April 1941 to the neutrality patrol, escorting USS Wasp and tok part in Iceland convoys. She ws present when USS Kearny was torpedoed on 17 October. She had a temporary grounding on 24 November during a storm while having a « blue on blue » battery fire with a battery in Iceland. On 7 April 1942 she left New York for her first transatlantic escort mission to Greenock, Scotland and coastal patrol duty to the Caribbean. She took part in Operation Torch invasion convoys and was tasked there for ASW patrols. She was back in Norfolk by November.

Later she patrolled off Brazil, and made five escorts from 14 April to 17 January 1944 between New York and Casablanca. She was present for the Anzio Landings and on the gunline on 5 March. She rotated convoys between Algeria and Naples and took part in Operation Dragoon in southern France, 16 August. She was hit by a shore battery at Cavallaire Bay and silenced it. By 26 October she left Oran for overhaul in New York Navy. She made her last trip by 29 May, and was prepared for the Pacific. Departing New York on 22 June she was training when the war ended at Pearl Harbor. By 27 September she arrived in Japan with the 98th Division, occupation duty. She made trips to Saipan, the Philippines, Wakayama, and the Aleutians picking up discharged troops at Dutch Harbor and Attu Island to Seattle and San Francisco. She was discharged herself in Charleston on 18 January 1946, placed in reserve 1 May 1946, decommissioned but in limited service from 24 January 1947, Naval Reserve training, 6th Naval District, then 1st Naval District 15 March 1949 for training cruises. She ran aground off southern Cape Cod, 30 July 1949, refloated and discharged in Boston, 15 May 1950, inactivated, stricken 19 July 1956, cannibalized and used as testship for experiments off Indianhead, Maryland. Sold 3 March 1961 for scrap. 3 battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Eberle DD 430

USS Eberle

Laid down at Bath on 12 April 1939, launched 14 September 1940 she was Commissioned on 4 December 1940. USS Eberle after a short shakedown and training was assigned to patrol duty off Bermuda until August 1941, then Newfoundland for Icelandic convoys, Ireland and Scotland. From Norfolk on 23 August 1942 she escorted tankers to Cristóbal and from Trinidad to Belém. She started her first north african convoy on 25 October 1942, provided shore bombardment and fire support at Mehedia (Morocco) on 8 November. Then assisgned to South Atlantic patrol based on Recife, Brazil. 10 March 1943 intercepted German blockade runner Karin but lost all her boaridng party when her demolition charges exploded. She took up 72 prisoners. After OVL at Charleston, she returned for north African ports co,voys until 31 January 1944. Based in Naples on 11 March until May and by 20 April repelled an attack by German E-boats. She was in Malta on 13 August 1944 for the invasion of southern France, shalling the Porquerolles island until reddition of the garrison and sent a landing party that took 58 prisoners.

Back to New York on 6 November 1944, she escorted two convoys to Oran by April 1945, had an OVL overhaul 8 June and was prepared for the Pacific, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 20 July to join the aircraft carrier USS Antietam for plane guard duty and departed on 1 November for Alaska, stopp edin Petropavlovsk in December and back to Pearl Harbor. She arrived at Charleston on 8 February, placed out of commission, reserve 3 June 1946. 12 August Naval Reserve Training program in the 3rd Naval District. After being towed to New York in September, she was placed « in-service » 13 January 1947 and carried Naval Reservists on cruises to Canada, Caribbean, Bermuda and decommissioned 19 May 1950 but again in full commission by 21 November 1950, refit at Boston on 21 January 1951 for transfer to the Greek Navy under MDAP (Mutual Defense Assistance Program) as Niki, in service until stricken 1972. 3 Battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Plunkett DD 431

uss plunkett

USS Plunkett was laid down on 1 March 1939 at Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. in Kearny, New Jersey. She was launched on 7 March 1940, commissioned on 17 July 1940. Sh was assigned to neutrality patrols prior to 7 December 1941, Western Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. She also blockaded out off Tampico the departure of several German steamers and cruised off Martinique (French Antilles) watching over Vichy French ships there. Patrol and convoy notably brought her to Reykjavík and Argentia.

Assigned to TF 39 on 20 March 1942 she departed the east coast for Scapa Flow, arrived in Orkney on 4 April and commenced operations with the British Home Fleet, North Sea patrols and the first leg of the Murmansk road until relieved by USS Mayrant, and reassigned to escort USS New York back home. By August she after UK-bound convoys she made her first run to North Africa, to Casablanca and patrolling off the Moroccan coast. She operated later in southern New England and back to Casablanca until May 1943 and Oran in Algeria with TF 60 while detached in May-July in a hunter-killer group in North African waters. On 6 July she left Mers-el-Kebir to take part in the invasion of Sicily screening TG 80.5, and Gela waters, Scoglitti, Palermo and TG 81.6 for the landings at Salerno. She also rescued and tried to save the bombed hospital ship HMHS Newfoundland.

After North Africa–Naples convoys until 21 January 1944, she was sent to Cape Anzio, drove off the Luftwaffe. but that day a new attack by Ju 88s had consequences as she took a 250 kg (550 lb) bomb hit and caught fire. She had 23 kill, 30 missing, many more wounded, extensive damage to her fire control, armament, and port engine. But she was saved, could sail to Casablanca for early repairs completed in New York. Via Belfast on 14 May until 3 June, she was sent training in the Channel for the D-Day landings. She screened transports off Omaha beach and brough fire support and patrol until 9 June and later multiplied shore bombardment missions, notably during the battle of Cherbourg with TF 129. On the 13th she mistook the British cable laying ship (1890) HMTS Monarch and its Canadian escort HMCS Trentonian for axis vessels before realizing its mistake. Her gunfire killed two, with 30+ wounded, including the Master. The ship was badly damaged, the cable was cut and lost, disrupting installation of communications to Normandy, quite a blunder.

In July, USS Plunkett was back to the Mediterranean for Operation Dragoon, carrying officials to and from the beaches, screening, then shore bombardment off St. Tropez, Port de Bouc, and Marseilles follwoed by Italian-French border patorls until 23 November. From Oran, she escorted a convoy back to New York on 16 January 1945. Back to training and ASW patrols, until May, she left UK, for the east coast, OVL, refresher and in the Pacific by 13 August via Panama Canal learning en route to San Diego V-Day. In September she escorted occupation forces and brough back troops from the Philippines and Aleutians, decommissioned 3 May 1946 in Charleston, Atlantic Reserve Fleet, then reactivated, transferred under MDAP to the Nationalist Chinese government on 16 February 1959 as ROCS Nan Yang (DD-17), until 1975. 5 battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Kearny DD 432


USS Kearny was launched 9 March 1940, by Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. Kearny, New Jersey, commissioned on 13 September 1940. After shakedown and sea trials, she sailed on 19 February 1941, from New York Harbor to the Virgin Islands and start of her Neutrality Patrols off Vichy French Martinique until 9 March 1941, then off Puerto Rico, Norfolk until August and NS Argentia for North Atlantic convoys, HX 151, ON 24, SC 48, AT 18 and by October 17, 1941, while docked at Reykjavík, Iceland, a « wolfpack » attacked a nearby British convoy, and the Canadian escorts were soon unsufficient. USS Kearny and three other U.S. destroyers were asked to assist, which was tricky due to the quasi-war situation. Joining the action, USS Kearny depth charged sonar spots, and this went on during the night, cited by Hitler as a provocation. On 17 October she was hit by a torpedo by U-568 on her starboard, killing 11, injuring 22. The flooding was contained to the forward fire room (Gibbs & Cox proved their point there and the ecehelon arrangement for machinery became standard for DDs) and thanks to this they could leave by themselves the danger zone back to Iceland at 10 knots, by 19 October. Six days later she was fully repaired in Boston.

From 5 April to 28 September 1942, she escorted other convoys to Great Britain, down to Texas and Panama and the North African invasion, screening USS Texas and Savannah on fire support missions, notably off Safi (Morocco). In 1943 this was the same, via Port of Spain, Trinidad, Recife, Casablanca. On 25 November she joined USS Core « hunter-killer » task group and on 1 January 1944, depth charged and U-Boatn probable kill (oil slick). Back to the 8th Fleet in Algeria from 10 March she screened USS Brooklyn for fire support, 5th Army in Italy, Anzio beachhead, and she became part of the « Anzio Express » based in Naples, commended by General Mark W. Clark for their fire support. Her missions went on along the coast until the capture of Rome. Next she took part in operation Anvil Dragoon, southern France on 15 August, off Red Beach in Cavalaire Bay. Next she escorted troopships between Naples and southern France.

After several escorts between New York and Oran by 6 August 1945, she crossed Panama to the Pacific, Pearl Harbor, after V-day and escorted transports of occupation troops to Japan, Wakayama, 27 September. She travelled to the Philippines and Okinawa and returned to Pearl Harbor, San Diego, Panama Canal and was put in reserve at Charleston, decommissioned on 7 March 1946, then in Orange, stricken on 1 June 1971, sold 6 October 1972, BU. 3 battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Gwin DD 433

USS Gwin

USS Gwin (DD-433) was third of the name, launched on 25 May 1940, commissioned at Boston on 15 January 1941. She was part of the batch effectively fighting in the Pacific. After shakedown on 20 April 1941 and post-fixes in Boston she started her round of neutrality patrols in the Caribbean and from 28 September 1941, North Atlantic, based mid-way at Hvalfjörður, Iceland. From February 1942 she was back to the Eastern Seaboard, ordered to the Pacific, via San Francisco. On 3 April 1942 she escorted USS Hornet, carrying 16 modified B-25 bombers for the Doolittle raid on Tokyo under command of Admiral William F. Halsey on USS Enterprise, RDV off Midway woth General Jimmy Doolittle aboard, launching the raid on 18 April earlier due to a spotter ship, some 600 miles east of Tokyo. The force rapidly retired to Pearl Harbor and were rapidly redeployed hoping to assist on 30 April 1942 USS Yorktown and Lexington at the Battle of the Coral Sea. They were back to Pearl Harbor on 21 May.

USS Gwin then will narrowly missed the battle of Midway. She departed on 23 May 1942 with Marine reinforcements for Midway and was bacl on 1 June and later joined the Fast Carrier Task Force off Midway. The battle was over when she arrived on 5 June. She launched a salvage party to assist saving the crippled USS Yorktown, until she was finished off on 6 June 1942 by a Japanese submarine, and she rescued all she could with USS Hammann, returning to Pearl with 102 survivor on 10 June. She departed on 15 July, screening fast carriers for the invasion of Guadalcanal from 7 August 1942. She escorted supply/troop reinforcements and patrolled « the Slot » and watched for the « Tokyo Express ». On 13 November 1942 she screened USS South Dakota and Washington taking part in the Savo Island battle, fighting IJN Kirishima, four cruisers, 11 destroyers escorting four transports (1st Naval Battle of Guadalcanal) whre she duelled with other destroyers and in the melee, fought at close quarters the light cruiser Nagara and Japanese destroyers Ayanami and Uranami, taking hell hits in her engine room, fantail and exploding depth charges. Later she escorted the nose-less Benham to Espiritu Santo and rescued survivors when she sank. After Nouméa (New Caledonia) she sailed to Hawaii, and an OVL at Mare Island Navy Yard, back in the pacific by 7 April 1943.

She escorted troopships and supplies in the Solomons, took part in the New Georgia invasion, supported landings off Rendova Island, duelling with Japanese shore batteries after being straddled and having one hitting her main deck aft, killing 3, wounding 7. She also laid a heavy smoke screen and repelled aerial raiders. But she met her fate at the Battle of Kolombangara, racing to the « Slot » on 7 July to rescue 87 survivors from cruiser USS Helena (Battle of Kula Gulf). She was part of Rear Admiral Walden L. Ainsworth intercepting the « Tokyo Express » force which developed as the Battle of Kolombangara on 13 July, helping to sink IJN Jintsu, but she was in the path of a Japanese volley of 31 « long lance » torpedoes at the American formation. USS Honolulu, St. Louis and Gwin turned right into their path and if the cruisers survived, USS Gwin received hit amidships in her engine room exploded, and she became crippled. Her suvivors were picked up later by USS Ralph Talbot took off Gwin’s crew after she was scuttled, all effort to save her being spent. 2 officers and 59 men went down with her. 5 battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Meredith DD 434

Meredith was laid down 1 June 1939 (Boston Naval Shipyard), launched 24 April 1940, commissioned on 1 March 1941. After her short Cuban shakedown, post-fixes at Boston on 8 June 1941 she was assigned to Destroyer Division 22 and patrolled along the southern coast until 20 September. From 28 September she was based at Hvalfjörður, Iceland, and escort ships up to the Denmark Straits. On 17 October 1941, she rescued survivors from the steamer Empire Wave. She left Iceland for Boston with a convoy, then to Norfolk by 18 February 1942 and escorted USS Washington, and USS Hornet with TF 18 to the Pacific.

In San Diego on 21 March, then San Francisco on 2 April after preparation she met TF 16 on 13 April for the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, launched on 18 April and she was back in Hawaii on 25 April. On 13 May until 21 June Meredith she escorted fleet oilers to New Caledonia, and patrolled off Nouméa, escorting USS Tangier to Pearl Harbor. She departed Pearl on 15 August 1942 for Samoa, Pago Pago and escorted Transport Force 2 to the Solomons and Guadalcanal on 20 September, then patrolled the New Hebrides. She departed Espiritu Santo on 12 October 1942 under Commander Harry E. Hubbard, escorting a convoy with Alchiba, Bellatrix, Jamestown, Nicholas, and Vireo loaded with aviation gasoline and 500 Ibs bombs to Guadalcanal but were turned back by a Japanese carrier task force. Having only its surface-search Commander Hubbard decided however to press on and deliver its critical payload anyway after approval of the crew.

Unfortunately she was sighted by a Japanese patrol plane on 15 October, and after taking aboard the 68-man crew of Vireo, just hit and crippled, while preparing to torpedo her, she was attacked by 38 planes from IJN Zuikaku. After 3 minutes of dodging torpedoes she was struck by a bomb exploding beneath her bridge. She lost communications, steering and gun direction. A second forward hit her forward port side, detonating torpedoes below the ready ammunition locker, burning through pyrotechnics and and fuel oil leaking from her bunkers. Menwhile her AA gunners shoot down three but her fate was sealed when she took another 14 bombs and 7 torpedoes (as estimated by suvivors). She rolled over and sank in 10 minutes, wuth 8 officers and 73 enlisted men staying in water for three days in open sea and sharks until discovered and rescued by USS Grayson, Seminole and Gwin and a PBY Catalina on 19 October. 1 battle star.

US Navy ww2 USS Grayson DD 435


Laid down on 17 July 1939 at Charleston Navy Yard, launched on 7 August 1940, Grayson was commissioned on 14 February 1941. After shakedown she was assigned to DesDiv 22, Atlantic Fleet. On 28 August she became flagship, DesRon 11 in the Caribbean, neutrality patrols, then North Atlantic Newfoundland-Iceland from 26 October. In all ten months of escort missions until ordered to tge Pacific, San Diego, 2 April 1942, USS Hornet Carrier Group and the Doolittle Raid. After OVL in California on 5 July she escorted USS Enterprise and Hornet to Guadalcanal via Tongatapu. Campaign of Guadalcanal, defended USS Enterprise on 24 August. She claimed two attackers. She joined TF 11, USS Saratoga. 25 August, sighted a Japanese submarine surfaced, dropped 46 depth charges in five passes, probable kill. She escorted resupply ships and patrolled « The Slot » or radar picket duties and on 18 October rescued 75 survivors from sister USS Meredith

Back to Pearl Harbor on 15 April 1943 for OVL she resumed service from New Caledonia, 24 September, claimed several Japanese barges at Kolombangara with DesRon 21 and had another OVL in Puget Sound on 16 December and returned to the Pacific, Majuro Atoll (Marshall Islands) on 10 February 1944. She patrolled in the Carolines and Marshalls for six months. Covered the landings at Pityilu Island, Admiralties in April. Fighter-director ship for the landings at Tanahmerah Bay, New Guinea. In July, pounded Biak Island, Noemfoor Island before landings. 1 September 1944 joined TG 38, Palau Islands. Next took part in air raids over Okinawa and the Philippines. 15 October rescued 194 men from USS Houston. 3 November, assignd radar picket off Saipan, and SAR. Sent to Seattle on 9 June 1945 for OVL, back to Pearl Harbor 1 September 1945 and back home, transiting Panama to Charleston, 16 October. Hosted 5,000 visitors on Navy Day. Decommissioned 4 February 1947, reserve, stricken 1972, sold 12 June 1974, BU. 13 battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Monssen DD 436


Monnsen was laid down on 12 July 1939 on the west coast, Puget Sound Navy Yard (Bremerton, Washington), launched on 16 May 1940, commissioned on 14 March 1941 under Lt. Cdr Roland N. Smoot. After shakedown and training, assigned to the Atlantic Fleet on 27 June 1941 in DesDiv 22 she made five months of neutrality patrols in the northwestern Atlantic, to Iceland, and until 9 February 1942 and an OVL in Boston Navy Yard. She was assigned to the Pacific Fleet, transiting tp San Francisco on 31 March 1942 and joined TF 16. Escorted USS Hornet Carrier group for the Doolittle Raid. From 30 April she escorted USS Yorktown and Lexington at the Battle of the Coral Sea but this was over when she arrived. She returned briefly to Pearl before her deployment to Midway and by 2 June, TF 16 met TF 17 350 miles northeast, the battle starting on 4 June, until 7 June.

Next she took part until mid-1943 to the entire Solomon Islands campaign. First she was in the Tonga Islands and on 7 August Guadalcanal and Tulagi. On 7–8 August with Buchanan dhr patrollred Gavutu and Tanambogo, covering the 2nd Marine Regiment in an amphibious assault and the eastern approaches to Sealark, Lengo, and Nggela Channels. She was enearby during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, and escorted the damaged USS Saratoga to the Tonga Islands. Back to Guadalcanal on 18 September she escorted supply ships and 8 November, departed Nouméa with two cruisers, two destroyers as TG 67.4 (RADM Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan) as escort up to Lunga Point on 12 November. The transports unladen in the afternoon under IJN torpedo plane attacks. She sailed to Espiritu Santo, however Callaghan turned back to help outnumbered Admiral Scott and started the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.

On 13 November, VADM Hiroaki Abe was spotted 3 miles (4.8 km) north of Kukum to shell Henderson Field and the Battle became furious at 01:50. Monssen fired five torpedoes at IJN Hiei hitting her on her port side and second salvo of five at an unidentified ship (which was USS Atlanta) and fortunately missed. At 02:00 she start firing at all Japanese warships spotted by projectors and in fire. At 02:03, Hiei fired point-blank at USS Monssen with main and secondary batteries. Caught under spotlight she was hit by 39 shells and completely destroyed. 20 min. later she was completely immobilized and abandoned. The last 8 men still aboard were rescued and survivors (40%) were picked up and brought to Guadalcanal. She sank, still ablaze, in the afternoon. 4 battle stars. The wreck was rediscovered in 1992 by Robert Ballard.

US Navy ww2 USS Woolsey DD 437


USS Woolsey was laid down on 9 October 1939 at Bath, Maine, launched on 12 February 1941, commissioned on 7 May 1941. After Carribean shakedown she was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet Neutrality Patrols for a short time from September to December 1941. She also screed the newly commissioned USS North Carolina and escorted convoys to Iceland. Next to the British Isles and Puerto Rico until the fall of 1942 and Operation Torch with DesRon 13, Center Attack Group and Fedhala landing force followed by antisubmarine patrols. On 11 November, U-173 sank Joseph Hewes and until 16 November other attacks went on but that day she spotted and attacked U-173, which escape. But she repicked her and she was destroyed. Back home for eastern seaboard off New England she restarted to transatlantic convoys by mid-January 1943 with UGF-4 to Casablanca, GUF-4 to New York and others.

Based in Gibraltar she joined the 8th Fleet for the invasion of Sicily, Licata landing beaches, gunfire support, notably claiming an enemy railroad battery. Mid-August, she swapped to Salerno, Southern Attack Force fire support group with five cruisers, 4 destroyers of DesRon 13. Afterwards routine escort missions resumed between Naples and North African ports. On 16 December she sunk U-73, escued and made POW 23 survivors. January 1944 saw her in the Fire Support Group, Anzio landings. She went back home for an OVL, via Gibraltar and Horta, Azores to Boston, 25 February until mid-March, refresher training off Maine, Gibraltar and Oran in May. For three months, she performed ASW patrols and with an hunting group (Benson, Ludlow, Niblack) she spotted and attacked U-960 on 17 May and respotted on the 19th, attacked by a British Wellington and attacked on surface, submerged, depth charged, damaged, resurfaced, crew evacuated before she sunk again for good. 21 POW. July-August saw her in action off South France for Operation Dragoon.

Next she supported the 1st Airborne TF toward Italy and supported the liberation of Cannes on 24 August, followed by operations on the Franco–Italian coast until late October and more operations in the area until mid-January 1945. Via the Azores she was back in New York on 23 February 1945, prepared for the Pacific. After retraining and preps in June she crossed Panama on 7 July, San Diego, and learned about V-Day at Pearl Harbor. She escorted occupation troops to Japan, Sasebo, and made port visits at Manila, Shanghai, Okinawa, and Saipan, repatriating troops until 3 November. In Charleston on 4 December, she was inactivated, decomm. 6 February 1947, Atlantic Reserve Fleet then Boston October 1957, stricken 1 July 1971, sold for BU 29 May 1974. 7 battle stars .

US Navy ww2 USS Ludlow DD 438


USS Ludlow was laid down 18 December 1939 in Bath Iron Works, launched 11 November 1940, commissioned at Boston 5 March 1941. After shakedown, from Boston by October 1941she headed for neutrality patrols in the north atlantic, Newfoundland and Iceland. From 7 December she escorted ships to Derry, Liverpool, Greenoch, and even Freetown in South Africa. By October 1942, she took part in Operation Torch with TF 34, Cape Fedhala (Morocco) on 7 November 1942. She dealt with shore batteries and Vichy French air and naval attacks, at the Naval Battle of Casablanca. She was hit by a 6-inch shell forward and straddling shots until Augusta and Brooklyn sunk the French ships. Next was Operation Husky after repairs in New York, training off Maine, escorting a convoy to Casablanca. On 10 July, she gave fire support off Licata and Porsa Empedocle and 11 August downed a Luftwaffe bomber.

Next was the invasion of Italy on 9 September, Salerno where she was commended by her accurate and decisive close range fire support. After convoy duty between Naples and Oran until 11 January 1944 she was back at Anzio on 22 January, repelling counterattacks by the air, splashed two bombers, one fighter, three rocket glider bombs but took a 5-inch shell through her torpedo director deck and pilothouse. Chief Gunners Mate James D. Johnson managed to retrieve and disposed of the the hot, unexploded shell overboard. After repairs-OVL in New York, training she was back in the Mediterranean on 20 April, ASW patrols. On 19 May she destroyed U-960 surfaced by gunfire. From 11 she took part in Operation Dragoon in southern France. She screened USS Augusta 25-30 August off Marseilles. Off Monaco, she she destroyed floating mines and E-boats, suicide boats and human torpedoes, capturing three operators on the latter on 5 September. After plane guard duty off African west coast she had an OVL in Boston on 28 February, back to UK escorted LSTs until recalled for the Pacific.

Through Panama on 27 June, Pearl Harbor on 17 July, training to join the fast carriers until V-Day. Escorted convoys with occupation troops, Wakayama (27 July) and stayed there until 3 November, repatriated GIs from the Aleutians (« Magic Carpet »), returned on the east coast, decom. 20 May 1946 at Charleston, but used for reserve training. Full decom. on 6 June 1950, but reactivated status, refurbished and modernized, decommissioned 22 January 1951, transferred to the Royal Hellenic Navy as Doxa (D20). Career ended in 1972. 6 battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Edison DD 439


USS Edison was launched 23 November 1940 at Federal Kearny, commissioned 31 January 1941 (Lt.Cdr. A. C. Murdaugh) and after shakedown and east coast training, she went on with neutrality patrols from NS Argentia, convoy to Iceland. February 1942 saw her with ON 67 from Iceland to Halifax, combating three U-boats. 24 October 1942 saw her with Op. Torch, Fedhala landings, 8 November, dealing with shore batteries and French ships at Cape Fedhala, Naval Battle of Casablanca, firing 362 rounds, all director-controlled with average range 9,500 yards, to 14,000 yards and 12,500 yards, with a sustained rapid fire of 268 rounds, so 12 rpm without a hitch. She later escorted tanks to Gulf ports and convoys from New York City and Norfolk to Casablanca-Oran.

From July 1943 to February 1944 she took part in the landings in Sicily, escorted support convoys from Algiers and Bizerte, took part in the invasion at Salerno, provided fire support and co-claimed U-73. On 21 January 1944 she was off Anzio for patrol and fire support until home for overhaul, back on 1 May 1944, escort work off Italy, followed by the invasion of southern France. She rampaged and patrolled the Iatlo-French border. Back to NyC 17 January 1945, overhaul, then coboy convoy to Le Havre in April-May. Departing NyC she was sent to the Pacific, learning about V-Day as she trained at Pearl Harbor. Occupation troopship escorts, Nagoya, then weather station Aleutian and back to San Francisco on 30 December 1945, east coast training, decom. at Charleston, 18 May 1946, then Philadelphia, from 1962, sold for BU 29 December 1966. 1 battle star.

US Navy ww2 USS Ericsson DD 440


Ericsson was launched on 23 November 1940 by Federal Kearny, commissioned on 13 March 1941. Shakedown, training from HP Norfolk, May 1941, East Coast-Bermuda Naval Reserve midshipmen cruises and tranining with submarines, battle practice. Fall 1941 she made two runs from Newfoundland to Iceland escorting convoys, and patrols off NS Argentia by January 1942, rescued survivors from SS Dayrose and USCGC Hamilton on 30 January. February 13, collided with trawler Græðir off Reykjavik, the latter sank, rescue six. Escorted a convoy to Panama May 1942, to Ireland-Scotland in June and coastal east coast-Caribbean, Puerto Rico. October she sailed to take part in Op. Torch in North Africa, landings in Morocco, fire suppor, enemy batteries and back to Norfolk. OVL In Charleston, and by May 1943, convoys to Casablanca. She took part in the invasion of Italy, escorts and Anzio gunline, Gulf of Gaeta. Next, invasion of southern France from Malta with British ships. Covered the amphibious landings 15-17 August, escreened HMS Ramillies to liberate Corsica and gunline along the French coast, patrols, interceped trawler with U-230 crew, scuttled in the area. Back to Oran, Azores escort duty, Gibraltar, and NyC, overhaul in fall 1944.

Refresher training, escorted convoy to Oran April 1945, Boston in 5 May, started a last submarine hunt, USS Block Island group. Sank U-853. Prepared for Pacific, training Caribbean, Pearl Harbor, departed to Saipan, arrived 13 September 1945. Then to Okinawa, Japan, Philippines, Japan on escort, Sasebo brought back home servicemen to San Diego. Charleston 5 December 1945, decommissioned 15 March 1946, reserve. Later sold, BU. 3 battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Wilkes DD 441


Third of the name, USS Wilkes was laid down on 1 November 1939 at the Boston Navy Yard, launched on 31 May 1940, commissioned on 22 April 1941. On 1 June 1941 after shakedown training off New England she was sent to Bermuda in August to screen USS North Carolina and Washington on their shakedown cruises. After extra training in Cuban waters in October she was sent to New York and Casco Bay, NS Argentia, escorting Convoy HX 162 to Iceland, making several runs. Resplenished in Boston, she returned to Newfoundland with Convoy HX 169, later based in Derry. Next this was Convoy ON 59 and an OVL in Boston. On 18 February 1942 she was grounded on the fog as Pollux or Truxtun, but the latter were totally lost. By April 1942 she joined TF 21, escorting USS Augusta for the Argentia Conference. She later collided with the oil tanker SS Davila. In the summer she escorted Convoy BX-26 and patrolled Newfoundland.

Next she was with Convoy AS-4, had spottings and made depth charge attacks, rescuing survivor. On 17 July, other sound contact, this time claimed unknown U-Boat.
She entered Norfolk on 25 July, made two coastal runs and back to Halifax and Greenoch until 5 September. Next she trained with TF 33. On 24 October she departed for Operation Torch, covered landings on 8 November 1942 at Fedhala, and taked part in the Battle of Casablanca, reassigned to TF 34 as control vessel. She also made an U-boat attack and duelled with a French destroyer from Casablanca, destroyed the shore battery on Pointe d’Oukach. On 11 November she chased another sub as on the 12th, 13th and 15 November. On the 30th she was back in Norfolk. Next year started with escorts New York-Casablanca and back and New York-Norfolk until May 1943. By January 1944, she escort ships to Panama and back. She transited and escort ships to Bora Bora and Nouméa, then New Guinea by 20 February 1944, and then Cape Gloucester. She covered the 1st Cavalry Division there.

She carried troops to the Wakde–Sarmi area of New Guinea and joined TF 77 as radar picket. On 22 April 1944, she took part in the landings of Tanahmerah Bay, Wakde Island, Biak Island, Schouten Islands, gunline on Aitape and Toem, landings at Noemfoor Island, Cape Sansapor before heading for the Marshall Islands, Eniwetok on 25 August 1944, joining TF 38 for raids on Iwo Jima, Saipan, Yap, Ulithi, Peleliu, and Formosa, Luzon, Leyte on 17 October and took part in the battle of Samar Island on 24 October. She joined TG 38.4 and took part in the battle of Cape Engaño. After resplenishment she sailed to Guam, Manus, and escorted Convoy GE-29 to Eniwetok before heading back to Pearl Harbor and via Puget Sound OVL at Todd’s Pacific Shipbuilding Co., Seattle until 28 January 1945.

She screened USS Franklin, proceeded to San Francisco, Pearl Harbor and took part in exercises and drills with USS Shangri-La. By March, she joined USS New Mexico to Ulithi and Guam, then Saipan, for two trips until 27 April. Next she escorted a convoy to Okinawa, Hagushi anchorage in May, and Kerama Retto and in May she covered carriers for strikes on Nansei Shoto. She escorted USS Makin Island to Kerama Retto and returned to patrols and covering carrier strikes on Nansei Shoto. By July 1945 until V-Day she stayed with TF 38. She operated with TU 30.8.9 off the Mariana and Bonin Islands. In September she was at Okinawa, with TG 70.6 and proceeded to Korea, Jinsen (now Inchon), used as « taxi ». On 21 October 1945 she sailed to Saipan on 27 October, Hawaii and San Diego, then Charleston on 2 December 1945, Inactive Fleet, moored for preservation, decom. 4 March 1946, stricken 16 September 1968, sold on 29 June 1972. 10 battle stars, with a balanced service in the Atlantic and Pacific, which was rare.

US Navy ww2 USS Nicholson DD 442


USS Nicholson was laid down on 1 November 1939 at Boston Naval Shipyard, launched on 31 May 1940, commissioned on 3 June 1941. After shakedown, eastern Atlantic, she started escorting north atlantic convoys (HX 160, ON 41, HX 173, ON 67, AT 17 and AT 18) from Boston to Newfoundland and to Scotland and England, until fall 1942. Next she was to take part in the Casablanca landings, but her turbine broke down and she missed the initial operations. She was there four days later on 12 November for the consolidation, patrol, Bizerte campaign and the assaults on Salerno, repelling the Luftwaffe. Five months later she was overhauled at Boston and prepared for the Pacific. Leaving Boston in January 1944 she corss Panama, San Diego and sailed to Pearl Harbor before assigned to a convoy to New Guinea in February, LSTs for the the Cape Gloucester campaign. She escorted successive assaults on coastal points and islands with gunfire support and did the same in the Admiralties until Seeadler Harbor fell. While shelling Hauwei Island she was hit in return by a 4-inch (102 mm) shell landing in No. 2 ammunition handling room, killing 3, wounding 4, but silence the battery.

In August 1944 she was assigned the 3rd Fleet for the Marshalls Campaign. She screened fast carriers in the Bonins, Formosa, Philippines, supported the invasion of the Palaus, neutralization of Yap and assisted the 7th Fleet for the invasion of Leyte, taking part in the Battle for Leyte Gulf before leaving for Pearl Harbor and Seattle for OVL. Back in February 1945 she escorted vessels between Guam and Ulithi and took part in the campaign of Okinawa in March, notably as radar picket, and escape kamikazes, rescued survivors from USS Little and Morrison. She was with the 3rd Fleet (TF 38) for final air strikes against the home islands and at V-Day was off Honshū. She was in Sagami Wan on 29 August, Tokyo Bay on 15 September and back to San Diego on 6 November, then Charleston, Atlantic Reserve Fleet. She was decommissioned on 26 February 1946, Naval Reserve training ship (3d Naval District) on 30 November 1948. She won 10 battle stars for her WW2 services.

In reserve training ship, Brooklyn NyD Nicholson she became a backdrop for the big-screen musical « On the Town » (Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Vera Ellen, Ann Miller, Betty Garret) at the start and last scene. Recommissioned on 17 July 1950, she was decommissioned for MDAP transfer to the Italian Navy on 15 January 1951 as Aviere (D 554) and converted as experimental gun ship in 1970, stricken, sunk as a target in 1975.

US Navy ww2 USS Swanson DD 443


Swanson was laid down on 15 November 1939 by the Charleston Navy Yard, launched on 2 November 1940; sponsored by Mrs Claude A. Swanson, widow of Secretary Swanson; and commissioned on 29 May 1941. After shakedown cruise, shortened training, she started right away convoy escorts from New England to Bermuda and later Iceland as well as USS Washington and North Carolina, USS Hornet in sea trials. Post-December she made three runs to Scotland, Nova Scotia and Greenland. From October 1942 she took part in Operation Torch, on 8 November 1942 off Fedhala. She was targeted by French shore batteries and dealt with these. Next she took part in the naval battle of Casablanca, when seven French destroyers sallied out to attack the transports. They targeted USS Ludlow, Wilkes and Swanson, and Ludlow was hit and withdrew but Swanson and Wilkes were soon joined by USS Augusta and Brooklyn and they came back opening fire, ending the matter decisively, while USS Massachusetts later dealt with Jean Bart.

On 11 November while on patrol she was reported an attack by U-130 and U-173, sinking four transports and on the 16th Woolsey got sonar contact, attacked and later turned the contact over to Swanson and Quick, which sank U-173. Next she was in Atlantic convoy duty (HX 158, ON 37, HX 165, ON 51, HX 172, ON 65, AT 17, ON 115, UGF 1) until July 1943 and took part in Operation Husky, off Licata. On 10-11 July she collided with Roe while searching for radar contacts. The damage was considerable, she had a flooded fire room and lost all power. After regaining control she retired to Malta for temporary repairs and sailed to Brooklyn Navy Yard for completion, resumed Atlantic escorts until 7 January 1944, rassigned to the Pacific.

She was asked to join the 7th Fleet off New Guinea and there, provided gunfire support at Seeadler Harbor (3-7 March), became command ship at Hollandia (22 April), gunfire support at Noemfoor (2 July) and command ship at Sansapor (30 July). She left the area late August and joined TF 38 (USS Franklin, Enterprise, San Jacinto group) for air strikes on the Bonins, Ulithi, Yap, Palau, Okinawa, Taiwan, the Philippine landings and the battle of Leyte, San Bernardino Strait Battle and later Cape Engaño, Luzon. 26 October 1944 saw her detached to escort a patrol group at Saipan and spent the rest of the year and early 1945 with SAR missiones and ASW patrols, radar picket missions, between Iwo Jima and Saipan and HQ for the commander. She was back in April 1945 for OVL, Puget Sound and back for the Iwo Jima post-Campaign operations. She repatriated GIs and sailed back home on 9 September 1945, decommissioned on 10 December 1945, reserve at Charleston, stricken 1 March 1971, sold 1972. 8 battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Ingraham DD 444


USS Ingraham was launched on 15 February 1941 at Charleston Navy Yard, commissioned on 19 July 1941, under Lt.Cdr William M. Haynsworth, Jr., and after shakedown, East Coast training, she started convoy escort missions from December 1941 and until mid-1942, to Iceland and UK, making a few U-boats picks and attacks but no kill. Her career was shortened by fog; While in T-20 convoy from Halifax to Scotland on 22 August, still underway close to Nova Scotia she received an erroneous U-Boat report. She tried to pick it up in heavy fog but this night she was detached to investigate a collision between USS Buck and a merchant vessel, and soon collided herself with the oil tanker Chemung. The latter rammed her, she sank almost immediately when her Depth charges exploded. Only 11 men survived. She was struck on 11 September 1942, earning no battle star.

Sub-class Bristol (Repeats)

(In writing)

US Navy ww2 USS Bristol DD 453

USS Bristol (DD 453) was launched on 25 July 1941 by Federal Shipbuilding, Kearny, New Jersey, commissioned on 22 October 1941. Patrol and convoy escort, North Atlantic. Operation Torch. HP Norfolk until 14 January 1943. Mediterranean until 13 October 1943. Operation Husky, Salerno landings. Shore bombardment, destroyed the Italian Navy armed train (« treno armato ») T.A. 76/2/T at Licata. Hit by torpedo from U-371 (Waldemar Mehl) abandoned, sank 52 losses. 3 battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Ellyson DD 454

Built in Kearny, launched on 26 July 1941, commissioned on 28 November 1941. Atlantic patrols, Halifax, West Indies, Panama. Flag DesDiv 10 and MineDiv 20. Escorted USS Ranger, Operation Torch. Operations with the Royal Navy, escorted South Dakota and Alabama British Home Fleet, Scapa Flow, Murmansk-Iceland convoys. Feint invasion of southern Norway. Screened Iowa, escort Teheran Conference. Escorts to Bahia, Freetown, Dakar, Port Royal, Boston. Attacked U-616, sunk by gunfire. DD-Day, support Pointe du Hoc, battle of Cherbourg. Operation Dragoon SFrance 15 August. Boston conversion to high-speed minesweeper DMS-19 15 November 1944. Pacific, Okinawa, radar picket line. July 1945 flagship East China Sea TG. Tokyo Bay, occupation duty, Buckner Bay command ship, Norfolk, Charleston reserve 1948, training duty, Mediterranean 6th Fleet 1949-1953, DD-454, decommissioned 19 October 1954, transferred MDAP 20 October, JMSDFS Asakaze. 1970 to Taiwan cannibalized. 7 battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Hambelton DD 455

Hambleton built at Kearny, launched 26 September 1941, commissioned on 22 December 1941. Shakedown southAM, ASW patrols, East Coast. Ecorted Augusta and Ranger to North Africa. 17 May collided with Ellyson, repaired Charleston. Convoys New York-Ireland. Joined Royal Navy, escorted HMS Duke of York. Operation Torch, screened USS Sangamon 8 November, Fedala. Hit 11 November by U-173. Towed to Casablanca floating dry dock by Seabees, tugged to Boston 28 June 1943. Back to Oran April 1944, then Normandy invasion. Sank U-616 on 17 May. Escorted LSTs 7 June Omaha Beach. Attacked E-boats, sank one severely damaged another. Battle of Cherbourg. Mediterranean, Naples, Operation Anvil. Back to Boston 8 November conversion DMS-20. Pacific, Ulithi 9 March 1945, invasion of Okinawa. Damaged 3 April by kamikaze. Ryukyu Islands campaign, East China Sea. Tokyo Bay 28 August. Rode out four typhoons. Norfolk December 1945. Postwar Caribbean-East Coast service, Mediterranean 6th Fleet, decom. 15 January 1955, Atlantic Reserve Fleet, DD-455, stricken 1 June 1971, sold 22 November 1972. 7 battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Rodman DD 456

Built in Kearny, launched 26 September 1941, commissioned 27 January 1942. Joined TF 22 NS Argentia, escorted Ranger, ferried 33rd Pursuit Squadron to Gold Coast May 1942. Based Scapa flow, TF 99, escorts Scotland and Iceland Murmansk PQ/QP convoy lanes. Operation « Easy Unit »farrying RAF planes to Kola Inlet in August. OVL Boston, joint TG 34.2, TF 34, Operation Torch, escorted USS Santee. 2 more ferry runs to Africa; Western Atlantic Argentia-Panama service. Back Home Fleet, patrols Scotland-Iceland, screening HMS Duke of York, USS South Dakota, USS Alabama luring out Tirpitz. Escorted USS Iowa to Teheran Conference. Joined TG 80.6 Med hunter-killer group. Destroyed U-616 surfaced. Joined CTU 126.2.1 for Operation Neptune (Overlord) 4 June escorted convoy B-1, Omaha Beach, joined TG 122.4, battleof Cherbourg. Operation Dragoon, TU 85.12.4 from Taranto. Boston, conversion to DMS-21 16 December 1944. Pacific, operation Iceberg, Kerama Retto, Okinawa. 6 April kamikazed crashed into port bow (16 Kia, 20 wd), downed 6. Repaired FDD Kerama Retto, Charleston. War ended, 3 years east coast training and Mediterranean. DD-456 15 January 1955, decom. 28 July 1955 transferred as ROCS Hsien Yang (DD-16), lost 1970. 5 battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Emmons DD 457

Built at Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, commissioned 5 December 1941. Patrols New England waters, escorted Ranger to Gold Coast. NS Argentia escorts, Boston-Halifax, Iceland. Escorted HMS Duke of York to Iceland-Scapa Flow, Scottish coast patrol. Murmuanks, Kola Inlet, Greenock. NyC, Bermuda, screened carriers Op. Torch, landings at Safi. OVL, convoy from New York to north Africa. May 1943 back Home Fleet, northern waters, watch for Norwegian bases, guarded British carriers. Escorted Iowa to Teheran Conference. HK group, sank 17 May U-616. D-Day Operations, screening USS Texas. Battle of Cherbourg with TF 129. Convoys to Mediterranean, Operation Dragoon, patrols Italy, Corsica. Boston, converted DMS-22. Pacific, Ulithi, invasion of Okinawa. 6 April hit by 5 kamikaze. Crippled and ablaze, long crew fight (Navy Unit Commendation), 60 Kia 77 wd, abandoned, torpedoes 7 April. 5 battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Macomb DD 458

Built Bath Iron Works, launched 23 September 1941, commissioned 26 January 1942. East coast, screened aircraft carriers. South America, West African coast, Newfoundland, Scotland, Iceland. Back Norfolk Caribbean patrols, Operation Torch, carrier screen. Convoys east coast-Caribbean, north Africa, North Atlantic patrol. British Home Fleet, Azores, Freetown, Dakar, Bermuda. 18 May 1944 72-hour submarine chase, sunk U-616. Operation Dragoon. Charleston 9 November, conversion DMS-23, MineRon 20. Pacific, 3 January 1945, TG 52.2 to Okinawa. 27 April attack, splashed 3 Kamikaze. 3 May one crashed into her (7 Kia) awarded the Navy Unit Commendation. Repairs Saipan. 3d Fleet, Japanese home islands raids. Tokyo Bay surrender. Minsweeping missions Yellow Sea, Chosen Straits. Back Norfolk, Atlantic Fleet duty, 6th Fleet Mediterranean, HP Charleston. Reserve July 1954, decommissioned MDAP transfer as Hatakaze (DD-182) JMSDF and back in 1969, sold ROCS 6 August 1970 as Hsien Yang (DD-16), discarded 1978. 5 battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Forrest DD 459

USS Forrest was launched on 14 June 1941 (Boston Navy Yard) commissioned 13 January 1942. Started escorts from NS Argentia, and with USS Ranger to West Africa, and later Bermuda for Operation Torch, Safi, Casablanca, Fedhala, HP Norfolk. Still with Ranger group up to Scapa Flow and 4 October raid on Bodø, Norway. Mediterranean-Scapa Flow and coast of Norway to Kola inlet; OVL Boston 3 December 1943, early 1944 training precommissioning crews for new destroyers, escorting USS Hornet shakedown. Atlantic hunter-killer group USS Guadalcanal. Northern Ireland, British Isles service, Normandy invasion: Utah Beach. Operations off Cotentin Peninsula, shore batteries. August 1944 invasion of southern France. Escorts Palermo, Naples, Ajaccio, Oran. Norfolk 8 November 1944 conversion to high speed minesweeper DMS-24. Pacific 17 January 1945 San Diego, Pearl Harbor, Ulithi 9 March 1945, Okinawa. 27 May down two kamikaze, third crashedr starboard side (5 Kia, 13 Wd) but damage control efficient. Sailed to Kerama Retto then Boston 6 August 1945, but decommissioned 30 November 1945 sold 20 November 1946. 6 battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Fitch DD 462

Fitch was launched on 14 June 1941 (Boston) commissioned on 3 February 1942 and by August 1942 escorted Ranger to the Gold Coast. Later Bermuda in October with Ranger group, Op. Torch, Fedhala 8 November. Back Norfolk exercizes Casco- Chesapeake Bays, coastal escort duty until fall 1942. 2 more runs with Ranger to Africa. NS Argentia and Scapa Flow, Iceland. Sept 43 escorted convoy to Derry, Thurso Bay, and Scapa Flow two more months, attack on Bodø, patrols Spitzbergen. Boston December 1943, Caribbean escort, hunter-killer group to April 1944. Prep Normandy invasion, 6 June Utah Beach until 19 June. Convoy escort Belfast-Oran. Taranto 11 August 1944, invasion of Southern France. Escorts Naples, Palermo, Oran, Gibraltar, Marseilles. 3 January 1945 converted as DMS-25.
Pearl Harbor 10 February 1945, Ulithi, (propellers badly damaged coral, Repairs Pearl Harbor til 6 August) missed Okinawa ops. 3rd Fleet, Tokyo Bay 28 August, surrender 2 September, East China Sea, San Diego 23 December, Norfolk, Charleston, New York transferring minesweeper crews, then regular ops training Mine Force officers, ToDs Mediterranean 1949, 1951, 1953. 1955 tests for Operational Development Force. Decommissioned 24 February 1956, reserve, later stricken and BU. 5 battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Corry DD 463

USS Corry launched 28 July 1941 Charleston, commissioned 18 December 1941. Special operations with Radio Washington, Annapolis 18 to 21 May 1942, escorted RMS Queen Elizabeth New York. Bermuda, Newfoundland, Newport summer ASW patrols, coastal patrol/escort Caribbean-Bermuda, headed 25 October for Casablanca landings, USS Ranger. OVL Boston, coastal escorts til February 1943, more trips to north Africa. 11 August joined Home Fleet, Ops. Norway, Ranger group, Bodø raid. Iceland, Murmansk convoys. Back home, service New Orleans-Panama until 16 February 1944. Hunter-killer ops TG 21.16. Sunk U-801. Picked survivors U-1059. Boston on 30 March 1944 overhaul. Preps Normandy invasion, lead destroyer task force, fire support Utah Beach. 6 June duelled with German shore batteries down to 1,000 yards from the beach, suffered 210mm (8-inch) hits engineering spaces amidships, rudder jammed, steam lost; sank rapidly, keel broken, abandon ship. Survivors rescued by Fitch, Hobson, Butler, and PT-199. 24 Kia 60 wounded. 4 battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Hobson DD 464

Hobson was built at Charleston (cost $5 million), launched 8 September 1941, commissioned 22 January 1942. Flag DesDiv 20 (USS Forrest, Fitch, Corry) and DesDiv 19 made in DesRon 10. After shakedown training Casco Bay escorted USS Ranger to Africa. Next Operation Torch with TG 34.2 Airgroup (Ranger, Suwannee, Cleveland), TF 34 Western Naval Task Force tp Morocco. Witnessed the Naval Battle of Casablanca, spotted French submarine Le Tonnant, dropped DCs. Back to Norfolk, Casco Bay, Panama Canal and back with Ranger early 1943, ASW group western Atlantic. Portsmouth, NS Argentia, escorted RMS Queen Mary to Quebec Conference. Operation Leader, Bodø from Scapa Flow. Hunter-killer anti-submarine duty with USS Bogue (CVE-9). Norfolk, joined Operation Neptune, Utah Beach, Assault Group « U », Bombardment Group 125.8 to « Point Mike ». Duelled with shore batteries, hit amidships. Temp. Repairs taer, took part in the Bombardment of Cherbourg, TF 129.Jobson praised for accuracy. Assembled Northern Ireland to Mediterranean, TG 120.6, Mers-el-Kébir, Taranto, and Operation Dragoon. Next Palermo convoy duty. Assisted S.S. Johns Hopkins. October-November converted as DMS 26. San Diego, San Francisco, Pearl Harbor 11 February 1945, MinDiv 58, MinRon 20 TU 18.2.3 Ulithi for Operation Iceberg (Okinawa).
13 April 1945 radar picket station. Kamaikaze attacks on her and USS Pringle. Hobson hit by bomb on starboard side. Fires gunnery workshop, machine, electrical shops, 4 kia 6 wounded. Under control after 45 minutes, rescued Pringle’s 258 survivors. Back Ulithi 29 April 1945, Pearl Harbor for repairs, San Diego, Norfolk on 15 June, learned surrender.

From February 1946 mine-sweeping operations, East Coast-Caribbean, amphibious/mine warfare operations, exercizes RCN late 1948. Korean War, June 1950, plane guard screening ship. Joined USS Wasp (CV-18) off Newfoundland, night flight operations en route to Gibraltar. Course changed, USS Hobson rammed by Wasp, broke in two. 40 survivors aft section. Worst non-combat accident since USS Cyclops. Court of Inquiry. 6 battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Aaron Ward DD 483

Aaron Ward built at Kearny, launched 22 November 1941, commissioned 4 March 1942. Part of the batch sent to the Pacific, 20 May 1942, San Diego. Part of VADM William S. Pye TF 1 (4 BBs + USS Long Island). Tonga Islands with TF 18, escort duties, escorted USS Cimarron (AO-22) to Nouméa. 2 sub contacts, DC attacks. Guadalcanal: Was there when USS Wasp was torpedoed by I-19 15 September 1942. Lunga Roads, shore bombardment, attacked by five enemy bombers, shot one. Assisted USS Chester sunk by I-176. Later screened USS Atlanta, flag, off Lunga Point. Took part in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, 13 November 1942. Had two near misses torpedoes, narrowly avoided San Francisco fired on IJN Akatsuki but received 10+ direct hits and cleared the area, lost steering 0225, latter spotted Hiei, but restarted, met tug Bobolink, until respotted by Hiei, more damaged, but lost sight, joined Tulagi harbor, temp. repairs, Hawaii. Back February 1943, escorted USS Ward and LSTs from Russell Islands to Savo. Air raid at Guadalcanal. Near miss, one hit engine room, lost control, hole port side, rudder, two near misses port side, 20 Kia, 59 wounded, 7 MiA. Sank, rescued. Rediscovered 4 September 1994. 4 battle stars.

US Navy ww2 USS Buchanan

(To be completed)

US Navy ww2 USS Duncan

US Navy ww2 USS Landsdowne

US Navy ww2 USS Lardner

US Navy ww2 USS McCalla

US Navy ww2 USS Mervine

US Navy ww2 USS Quick

US Navy ww2 USS Farenholt

US Navy ww2 USS Bailey

US Navy ww2 USS Carmick

US Navy ww2 USS Doyle

US Navy ww2 USS Endicott

US Navy ww2 USS McCook

US Navy ww2 USS Frankford

US Navy ww2 USS Davidson

US Navy ww2 USS Edwards

US Navy ww2 USS Glennon

US Navy ww2 USS Jeffers

US Navy ww2 USS Maddox

US Navy ww2 USS Nelson

US Navy ww2 USS Baldwin

US Navy ww2 USS Harding

US Navy ww2 USS Satterlee

US Navy ww2 USS Thompson

US Navy ww2 USS Welles

US Navy ww2 USS Cowe

US Navy ww2 USS Knight

US Navy ww2 USS Doran

US Navy ww2 USS Earle

US Navy ww2 USS Butler

US Navy ww2 USS Gherardi

US Navy ww2 USS Herndon

US Navy ww2 USS Shubbrick

US Navy ww2 USS Beatty

US Navy ww2 USS Tillman

US Navy ww2 USS Stevenson

US Navy ww2 USS Stockton

US Navy ww2 USS Thorn

US Navy ww2 USS Turner

Spruance class destroyers (1975)

Spruance class Guided Missile Destroyers (1975)

US Navy Flag 40 ships (DDG 2-DDG 24) 1975-2020:

USS Spruance, Paul F. Foster, Kinkaid, Hewitt, Elliot, Arthur W. Radford, Peterson, Caron, David R. Ray, Oldendorf, John Young, Comte de Grasse, O’Brien, Merrill, Briscoe, Stump, Conolly, Moosbrugger, John Hancock, Nicholson, John Rodgers, Leftwich, Cushing, Harry W. Hill, O’Bannon, Thorn, Deyo, Ingersoll, Fife, Fletcher, Hayler (DD-963-997)
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020625-N-1056B-004.Eastern Pacific (Jun. 25, 2002) — The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fife (DD 991) is the U.S. Task Group flagship for the Pacific Phase of the annual UNITAS exercise conducted between June 27 and July 11, 2002, with naval forces from five nations off the coast of.Chile. The ships five-month deployment to the Eastern Pacific Ocean for Counter-Drug Operations and the UNITAS exercise is the final deployment for the Spruance-class destroyer, which is scheduled to be de-commissioned in February 2003. U.S. Navy Photo by Lieutenant Corey Barker (RELEASED).

Design Development

The Spruance class destroyers were controversial: In more ways than one. The production of 30 ships by a single yard, Litton Industries, Ingalls Shipbuilding Division at Pascagoula, Mississippi, this was already a risk. This was later confirmed by personnel and component problems. Delays accumulated, but every year five destroyers were launched, a feat for ships of that size. The Navy did not liked them particuarly at first: They were considered too large, too little armed, and only serious attempt to replace the mass of vintage FRAM modernized WW2 destroyers arriving at the end of their active lives.
It was thought by many in the Navy that the Knox Class Frigates, who would have provided an interim before the construction of improved ships. The failure of the Typhoon system planned FY 1963 ruined all these plans. Aa balance of escort aircraft carriers (6 ship including 3 ASW and three SAM ships) and commonality of ASW systems between ships of different classes were a development guide. Mc Namara added that only one contractor was needed for propulsion, as ship being able to be declined from a single ASW or SAM base.

The advantage of the system, besides the mass production savings, was that the standardized hulls could be adapted, for example if the ASM threat was more present in the future than the aerial one and vice versa. However, at the base, the Spruance were « default » SAM destroyers, first responsible for air protection. In fact, with the budget cuts that followed, many of the additional embedded systems were never installed, large superstructures containing large empty spaces. Their large size was also required to install machines powerful enough to maintain 30 knots in bad weather with sufficient autonomy. In 1978 it was planned to install 8in / 55 (203mlm) parts to cover amphibious operations, which never happened. However, the modular structure allowed for modernization. Iran became interested in modernized versions, and commanded four units, but with the revolution these units were seized and were completed by US navy on a specific design, the subclass Kidd.

Kidd sub-class

This Kidd class (Kidd, Callaghan, Scott, Chandler completed 1981-83) had a much superior SAM capability with two dual-SA-2 SAM launchers and 50 missiles in reserve, an AM ASROC x16 launcher, and SPS-48 radars. SPG-51 Another specific point was the addition of an armor that moved the weight to 9200 tons.The Spruance class, DDG-997 USS Hayler, was started on 20 October 1980, launched on 27 March In 1982, with an enlarged helicopter hangar, Kevlar armor, and an SPS-49 radar, the Reagan administration added six new buildings to its 1987 plan, which was built in 1983. The most promising Ticonderoga were then in operation. At the tests, the Kidd was able to reach 32 knots, the Kidd were only 29.

From 1981, the built ships received a Kevlar armor around most sensitive points, a modification which ended in 1986. This concerned the in-hull loading of the ASROC launcher, and Tomahawk launchers. From 1986, the buildings received modified Mk41 vertical tubes on the Mk26 base to launch Tomahawk missiles. 45 of this type and 16 ASROC ASW system. Later these launchers could also receive Sea Sparrow and SM-2 SAM missiles. However, it would have been necessary to modify the Mk86 firing system to control them, which was never done. These ships also eventually received the TAS Mk23 system coupled with the sonar SQQ-89, the towed SQR-19 and the SQS-53 bow. Some ships were modified for testing, such as the DDG-971 (Ram Launcher), DDG-976 (30 mm EX-83 Gatling), DD-997 (Mk86 modified to operate Sparrohawk missiles). In 1988-90 the Kidd were also modernized, including the SPS-48E and SPS-49 radar, receiving Phalanx missile guns and Harpoon systems.

Spruance class DDs
Spruance class DDs

⚙ specifications

Displacement 5,830t, 7,800t FL
Dimensions (171.7 x 16.8 x 6.3m)
Propulsion 2 shafts, 4 CODOG LM2500 Gas Turbines 80,000 hp
Speed 30 knots ()
Range 6,000 nm
Armament 2x 5-in/54, 1×8 Sea Sparrow (24 spare), 1×8 ASROC, 2×3 Mk32 TTs, 1 ASW helicopter.
Sensors Radars SPS-40, sonars SPQ-9, SPG-06, SQS-33
Crew 65 to 900

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Model Kits


US Navy ww2

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Spruance DD-963
Paul F. Foster DD-964
Kinkaid DD-965
Hewitt DD-966
Elliot DD-967
Arthur W. Radford DD-968
Peterson DD-969
Caron DD-970
David R. Ray DD-971
Oldendorf DD-972
John Young DD-973
Comte de Grasse DD-974
O’Brien DD-975
Merrill DD-976
Briscoe DD-977
Stump DD-978
Conolly DD-979
Moosbrugger DD-980
John Hancock DD-981
Nicholson DD-982
John Rodgers DD-983
Leftwich DD-984
Cushing DD-985
Harry W. Hill DD-986
O’Bannon DD-987
Thorn DD-988
Deyo DD-989
Ingersoll DD-990
Fife DD-991
Fletcher DD-992
Hayler DD-997

Note: First published Nov, 18, 2017

UB-III Type U-Boats

UB-III class (1916-18)

German Empire – 200 submarines, 96 comp. UB-48 to UB-155
[wpcode id= »43005″]

The UB-III became the mainstay of the the German submarine force in WWI. They were also arguably the best of the whole lineage, albeit not coming from 1st class boats from from a coastal type lineage. If the UB-I and UB-II had been successful on their own right, they still had a lot of issues. Thus were designed two-shafts, much larger and more balanced boats, with extra torpedo armament. They eventually became the most produced submarine of that era with 200 on order, before being eclipsed her « successor », the Type VII of WW2 fame, via the cover of a design bureau at the Hague… Despite their late arrival into the war in 1917, the UB-III did better than their predecessors, sinking 521 ships (1,123,211 GRT) and 7 warships.

Design genesis of the UB-III

The UB III draw less from the preceding Ub-IIs than from the other specialized U-Boat branch of the time, the minelayer types (UC), and especially the very successful UC IIs which gained their reputation by sinking more than 1,800 Allied and neutral vessels. German engineers were thus asked to improve on the design and create a pure torpedo launching vessel, perfectly in line for an unrestricted surb warfare. Their task was to greatly expand its potential, for what was a fairly capable design, incorporating as many features and creating the « perfect submersible torpedo boat ».
The UB-III indeed had nothing to do with the UB-II, despite sharing the same lineage. This was a brand new league in submarine design.

Final design

Hull Design

Powerplant and Performances


The armament of the type UB II consisted of two tubes forward, in tandem as said above, so one above the other for a finer bow design for greater surfaced speed (no drag). These wer for 50 cm G torpedoes, but four spare were carried in addition for the two in the tubes. The UB-I only had two spares. It seems however sources states that the normal provision was four, including the two in the tubes, but the missing two were external stern tubes fitted in some boats. It seems 6 torpedoes became the norm after 1916.

Also for surface encounters, the UB-II were far better capable than the UB-I. They indeed had a 5 cm gun at first provided, instead of a 28 mm or a 8 mm (0.31 in) machine gun.
This submarine gun 5cm or 50mm/37 SK L/40 C/92 was installed on the first UB18-29 serie.
For the second batch (UB30-47) it was even augmented to a 88mm/27 TK L/30 C/08 gun, far more capable.

UB-II type drawing in heavy weather (allegedly – pinterest)

Modifications were made during the war:

⚙ UB-III specifications

Displacement 263–279 t surfaced, 292–305 t submerged
Dimensions 36.90 m oa x 4.36 x 3.75 m oa (121 ft 1 in x 14 ft 4 in x 12 ft 4 in)
Propulsion 1 shaft, 2x diesel engine 270–284 PS, 2x SS electric motor 280 PS
Speed 8.82–9.15 knots surfaced, 5.71–6.22 knots submerged
Range 6,450–7,200 nmi/5 knots surfaced, 45 nmi/4 knots submerged
Armament 2× 45 cm TTs bow (4-6 Ts), 50/88 mm deck gun, see notes
Test depht/diving time 50 metres (160 ft), 28-40 sec.
Crew 2+21


In the end, more than 200 UB III boats were ordered, 96 completed but 89 commissioned into the Kaiserliches Marine. Of these, 37 were lost including four in accidents and the rest in action. Surviving ones were surrendered to the Allies according to Armistice terms and were thorouhly examined and even seing extra service under other flags until 1935.


Legacy of the UB-III

The UB-III Type in service

Kaiserliche Marine UB-

Read More


Bendert, Harald (2000). Die UB-Boote der Kaiserlichen Marine, 1914-1918. Verlag E.S. Mittler & Sohn GmbH.
Gröner, Erich; Jung, Dieter; Maass, Martin (1991). U-boats and Mine Warfare Vessels. German Warships 1815–1945. Vol. 2. Conways
Preston, Anthony (1978). U-Boats. London, England: Bison Books.
Baumgartner, Lothar; Erwin Sieche (1999). Die Schiffe der k.(u.)k. Kriegsmarine im Bild=Austro-Hungarian warships in photographs978-3-901208-25-6.
Gibson, R. H.; Maurice Prendergast (2003). The German Submarine War, 1914–1918. NIP
Imperial and Royal Navy Association. « Tengeralattjárók » (PDF) Imperial and Royal Navy Association.
Jung, Dieter (2004). Die Kaiserliche Marine 1914-1918 und ihr Verbleib. Bernard & Graefe.
Karau, Mark D. (2003). Wielding the Dagger: the MarineKorps Flandern and the German War Effort, 1914–1918. Praeger Publishing.
Messimer, Dwight R. (2002). Verschollen: World War I U-boat losses. NIP
Miller, David (2002). The Illustrated Directory of Submarines of the World. St. Paul, Minnesota
Stern, Robert Cecil (2007). The Hunter Hunted: Submarine versus Submarine: Encounters from World War I to the Present.
Tarrant, V. E. (1989). The U-Boat Offensive: 1914–1945. Annapolis NIP
Williamson, Gordon (2002). U-boats of the Kaiser’s Navy. Oxford: Osprey.
Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1906–1921
Rossler, Eberhard (1975). The U-boat: The evolution and technical history of German Submarines. Annapolis NIP


Model Kits


Benson class destroyers (1939)

Benson class Destroyers (1939-41)

US Navy Fleet Destroyers (1938-70s) – 96 destroyers:

USS Benson (DD-421) as completed.

These thirteen ships (Benson class) were the last USN destroyers designed and built on a prewar design. This basic design was ready in 1938 and their keels laid down; The very first, USS Benson, which gave her name to the whole serie, was launched in November 1939, just a month and 11 days after the invasion of Poland. The Bensons were also the first to escape the mass scrapping wave postwar. They were closely derived from the Sims, but with a new boiler arrangement, four smaller boilers instead of three, and placed in échelon to save space. They shown this by having two funnels instead of one, and were the first to adopt quintuple torpedo banks, on the centerline fore and aft of the rear funnel on the superstructure.

Design of the class

Although officially still 1,620 tons destroyers, the Benson class was far heavier, reaching 1,840 tons standard and up to 2,395 tons fully loaded. This made little difference as the Washington treaty was abrogated in September 1939.
USS Benson was built in Bethlehem, Quincy, and Gleaves (DD 423, 9 December 1939) at Bath Iron Works. Other yards joined in the effort, Puget Sound, Federal -Kearny, Boston NyD, Charleston NyD, Seattle-Tacoma, and later Staten I yard, freshly built at Bethlehem and another at San Francisco, and San Pedro.

Hull and general design

Armour protection layout







The lead ship of the class was named after William Shepherd Benson, a graduate of the Naval Academy in 1877. He commanded USS Albany, USS Missouri, USS Utah, and the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Benson was appointed first Chief of Naval Operations in 1915 and then served as CNO until he retired 25 September 1919. He died in Washington, D.C., 20 May 1932.[5]

A prewar design still built in 1943

The Benson class were built in 1939–1943, thirty 1,620-ton vessels in two groups: The first six were authorized FY 1938, laid down at Bethlehem Steel, Quincy, Massachusetts and three other naval shipyards. The remaining 24 were essentially emergency « repeat Bensons » authorized in 1940–42, built at the four Bethlehem Steel yards which were massively scaled up for the purpose. Laid down after the first group was commissioned they saw a few improvements, and were distinguished by a sub-class known as the « repeat Livermores » (or « repeat Gleaveses ») later renamed by authors for more clarity the Bristol class.
Bensons-Livermores (Gleaves class) or Benson-Livermore class persisted in references until the 1960s. Now most authors separates them, if not called « benson-gleaves » or simplu the « benson class » and considering the remainder, Gleaves, Livermore and Bristols as sub-classes based on the minimal changes between them.

Essentially they became the first mass-produced USN destroyer class of WW2, stretching far too long in construction. In between the new Fletcher class, first true wartime design got rid of all limitations and went straight to maximum, ideal capabilities asked for the Navies.

General Assessment

These destroyers arrived in time to take the brunt of the most difficult combats in the Pacific. They were already the backbone of the pre-war Neutrality Patrols and after Pearl Harbor, participating in every major campaign of the war. Only a fraction served in the Pacific, as they were the most recent and best design available for operations. The apparition of the Fletcher class no doubt was regarded with envy by the « old salts » which served on the Benson-Gleaves, which looked cramped, unstable, slow and vulnerable in comparison. When Fletchers arrived in service in mid-1942 (USS Fletcher was completed in 33 days, between her launch on 3 May 1942 and 30 June 1942…) the Bensons, and later Gleaves class started to be sent back to the Atlantic (for those which survived).
Thus, between their freshness and availability, they really took the brunt of the fighting in the Pacific, with more losses and more battle starts combined than any other US destroyer class in history -related to their numbers- Indeed, the Fletchers earned more battle stars, but they had another round in Korea and even in Vietnam for some, not even talking of their service under other flags.

Old author’s profile

⚙ specifications

Displacement 1839 t, 2395 T FL
Dimensions 106.17oa x 11.1 x 4 m ()
Propulsion 2 shafts Westinghouse turbines, 4 B&W boilers, 50,000 hp.
Speed 35 knots max ()
Armament 5×5 in/38, 10x 0.5-in AA, 2×5 TT 21-in (533 mm), see notes
Crew 208

Near-sisters: the Gleaves class

USS Gleaves (DD-423) underway on 18 June 1941, after completion.
The sixty-six Gleaves were built in parallel, and were ten tons heavier but only differed by minor details, yard-based. Distinction between the two classes is rather superficial, as they were virtually identical, only differing by weight and the Benson having flat-sided funnels, whereas they were round on the Gleaves.
They were the last USN destroyers built with a forecastle (no flush deck), but in essence, had the genes of the following Fletchers. They had the same armament of five 5-in/38, six single 0.5 in (12.7 mm) AA HMGs Browning of the liquid-cooled types, and two quintuple TT banks with slightly differing ASW armament.

Production for both classes went on until February 1943 when the USS Thorn and Turner (DD 647, 648) were launched. Most authors and Conways mixed the two classes into one in fact. However a major difference came with the Bristols, from DD 453 onwards, which tended to sacrifice the antiship capability for reinforced AA and ASW capabilities. The biggest difference was the adoption of a more potent and modern AA artillery, sacrificing a turret and TT bank in the process.

The Benson/Gleaves had indeed a subclass known as the Bristol (DD 453) class, 48 ships in all, which were wartime-designed and had four 5-in guns as ordered, four 40 mm AA in twin mounts, seven 20 mm AA and just one TT bank, plus 4 to 6 DC throwers and two DC racks at the stern.

Twenty-one of these Gleaves & Bristol subclass class were in commission when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Of course afterwards, production was step up and the logical step was to deliver the simplified Fletchers. But in 1941 already, the admiralty ordered simplifications in design to Seattle-Tacoma batch (DD493-497, 624-628) and Federal/Kearny (DD618-623, 645-648) with squred-faced bridges and directors directly on the pilot house rather than suspended on pedestals. After these changes, USS Livermore was tested at 50,400 hp and 37.58 knots at full speed.
In total, sixteen of both class were sunk in action, starting with the USS Meredith (15.10.1940) the USS Lansdale (20.4.1944), Gwin (13.7.1943), Monssen (13.11.1942), Ingraham (22.8.1942), Bristol (12.10.1943), Emmons (06.04.1945), Laffey (13.11.1942), Corry (6.6.1944), Hobson (27.4.42), Aaron Ward (7.4.43), Duncan (12.10.42), Glennon (10.6.44), Maddow (10.7.43), Beatty (6.11.43) and Turner (3.1.44).

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Model Kits

The Bensons in service

US Navy ww2 USS Benson

US Navy ww2 USS Mayo

US Navy ww2 USS Madison

US Navy ww2 USS Landsdale

US Navy ww2 USS Hilary P. Jones

US Navy ww2 USS Charles F. Hugues

US Navy ww2 USS Laffey

US Navy ww2 USS Woodworth

US Navy ww2 USS Farenholt

US Navy ww2 USS Bailey

US Navy ww2 USS Carmick

US Navy ww2 USS Doyle

US Navy ww2 USS Endicott

US Navy ww2 USS McCook

US Navy ww2 USS Frankford

US Navy ww2 USS Bancroft

US Navy ww2 USS Barton

US Navy ww2 USS Boyle

US Navy ww2 USS Champlin

US Navy ww2 USS Meade

US Navy ww2 USS Murphy

US Navy ww2 USS Parker

US Navy ww2 USS Caldwell

US Navy ww2 USS Coghlan

US Navy ww2 USS Frazier

US Navy ww2 USS Ganzevoort

US Navy ww2 USS Gillespie

US Navy ww2 USS Hobby

US Navy ww2 USS Kalk

US Navy ww2 USS Kendrick

US Navy ww2 USS Laub

US Navy ww2 USS Mackenzie

US Navy ww2 USS McLahan

US Navy ww2 USS Nields

US Navy ww2 USS Ordonaux


27-knotters class destroyers

United Kingdom (1894-1899)
A class Destroyers, 36 built.

The lineage of British Destroyers started with the experimental « 26-knotters » in 1892 when Yarrow, Thornycroft and Laird were ordered ships tailored to hunt down torpedo boats. But as they were built, the naval programme of 1893-94 saw further orders of a type defined also about the specified top speed of the time. More yards took part in it, namely in addition of the former, Doxford, Pamler, Earle, White, Donald & Wilson, Fairfield, Hawthorn Leslie, J&G Thomson, NCO, Armstrong, and Thames Iron Works. At 280 tonnes on average and without forecastle but a turtleback, they were just glorified torpedo boats. It would take the 30 and 33 knotters and prototype turbines destroyers for the concept to mature into the River class in 1903. For the ucoming months, this will a serie of articles looking at the early history of British destroyers leading up to the Great War. Apart nine exceptions, these 36 ships were discarded before the war.

The « 27 Knotters » in brief

First envisioned by the Admiralty as follow-up of the six prototype « 26-knotters » ordered in the previous 1892–1893 Estimates these ships (for those that survived) were certainly the oldest destroyers in service with the Royal Navy in 1914. Relatively small, they were barely able to sustain long cruises by bad weather. Painted gray with wireless telegraphy, new Lewis guns, and sometimes enclosed bridges they moslty took on auxiliary roles and training. Not therefore well suited for the North Sea, like the 30 and 33-knotters, were used mainly in coastal squadrons during the war. The class was originally ordered in 1892 for that year’s programme, and a total of 36 spread between 14 different shipyards and associated designs. The Royal Navy, still unsure about the concept was willing to comparatively test the most able designers and builders, of which Thornycroft nearly emerged as a winner. But the multi-yard policy went on for the 30/33 knotters, albeit on a reduced list, as a way to rapidly ramp up production.
Most of the 36 « 27-knotters » were discarded in 1910-1911, but by August 1914 nine were still in service, with two rapidly moved to the reserve.

27 knotters
HMS Daring, 27-knotters in the late 1890s. At that time these ships had a black hull and sand colour superstructures.

Design of the 27-knotters

All differed according to their manufacturer and their displacement ranged from 295 to 365 tonnes fully loaded for 61-62 meters long. Their engine power also varied greatly, from 3600-4800 HP. Their shape also, according to their arrangements of machines and weapons. However, they all had triple-expansion machines, except the three ships built by Thornycroft, fitted with a four-cylinder Compound.

Hull and general design

A typical 27-knotter was a stretched 26-knotter generally with four funnels. The Ardent-class for example was a glorified 26-knot Daring class, larger with more output. The armament was specified early on to be single 12-pounder quick-firing (QF) forward, three 6-pounder guns broadside and aft, plus three single 18-inch torpedo tubes: One in the bow two on revolving mounts abaft the funnels. Often the froward fixed tube was removed for seaworthiness, leaving these with just two tubes. By October 1893 the bow tube was eliminatyed for good, not included on almost all ships completed to « clean sharp stem with no projections ». Two extra 6-pdr guns were installed en echelon amidships to compensate. These became the first British TBs without fixed bow tube. The crew varied over time, but generally comprised 2 officers and 48 ratings, 20 on the « deck department », mostly manning guns, 28 in the engine room. The captain was generally a Lieutenant.


HMS Fervent as built in sea trials. Note her single large funnel for the two loco boilers with exhausts so close, they were not even truncated together. She was reboilered after completion and changed in appearance

HMS Fervent after reboilering.

Powerplants were very diverse, left to the discretion of various yards, although specifications were simple: Two propellers (thus two shafts, two steam engines) for 27 knots. All adopted vertical triple-expansion steam engines as standard, mostly from Thornycroft, but this could vary. The greates adjustmùent variable was in boilers. The first class for example had loco boilers and caracteristics funnels close together. But they were considered obsolete. Water Tubes boilers became the norm but they varied considerably between yard’s choices and arrangements. Typically two to eight boilers with truncated funnels sometimes into three funnels, although some had four, and some had two with further truncating, changing their appearance considerably.

HMS Hasty in sea trials, showing her two narrow tall funnels, loco boilers
HMS Hasty in sea trials, showing her two narrow tall funnels, loco boilers.

-Ardent class (Thornycroft): 2x 3-cyl VTE, 3 Thornycroft boilers
-Janus class (Palmers): 2x 3-cyl VTE, 4 Reed boilers
-Banshee class (Laird): 2x 3-cyl VTE, 4 Normand boilers
-Handy class (Fairfield): 2x 4-cyl VTE, 3 Thornycroft boilers (2 funnels)
-Rocket class (J&G Thomson): 2x 4-cyl VTE, 4 Normand boilers (3 funnels, mid truncated)
-Charger class (Yarrow): 2x 3-cyl VTE, 2 locomotive fire-tube boilers (later 4 Yarrow water-tube boilers)
-Haughty class (Doxford): 2x 3-cyl VTE, 8 Yarrow boilers
-Salmon class (Earle): 2x 3-cyl VTE, 8 Yarrow boilers
-Sunfish class (Hawthorn Leslie): 2x 3-cyl VTE, 8 Yarrow boilers
-Sturgeon class (Naval Construction & Armament Co): 2x 4-cyl VTE, 4 Blechynden boilers
-Swordfish class (Arsmtrong): 2x 4-cyl VTE, 8 Yarrow or White boilers
-Conflict class (White): 2x 4-cyl VTE, 3 White boilers.
-Fervent class (Hanna, Donnald & Wilson): 2x 3-cyl VTE, 2 locomotive boilers (later changed to 4x Reed boilers)
-HMS Success (): 2x 4-cyl VTE, 4 Thornycroft boilers.
-HMS Zebra (Thames Iron works): 2x 4-cyl VTE, 4 Thornycroft boilers.

Not only that, but they all underwent boilers, or tubes changes sometimes thrice in their career, changing again in appearance. In addition, renaming and renumbering did not simplified recoignition to say the least. 27 knots was the specified speed, and was reached by most, but not all classes. Some barely managed to reach 26 knots on trials.
Coal-capacity wise, this all differed between ships, but the average was 50-80t, for circa 1,200 down to 1,100 nmi (1,175 nm for the Sunfish class or 2,176 km; 1,352 mi) at 11 kn (20 km/h; 13 mph). This was not that bad, at 2,200 km for destroyers of that era.

Reed Water tube boilers cross section. These were installed on the Janus class, considered as the best 27-knotters.

HMS Wizard as completed on sea trials, just reboilered


The Admiralty specifications were very clear about these new destoyer’s armament. Basically the same as for the 26-knotters: One 12 pdr (3-in gun), and three 6-pdr QF guns, two abaft the 12-pdr under bulwarks and two further aft on the sides. The bow tubes and two deck swivel mounted tubes saw most of the tube the bow tube removed from the early boats and not mounted on the remainder of the 27-knotters. Instead two extra 6-pdr were installed on the sides.
Q.F. 6-pdr on Mark IV H.A. mountings replaced their 12-pdr in 1920, just befored being sold for the ones that remained. The other change concerned the torpedo tubes. On many stability issues dictated the removal of one TT, the remaining one operated the short range Mark IV S.R.

Main: QF 12-pounder 12 cwt naval gun

The QF 12-pounder 12 cwt naval gun was brand new when the 26-knotters were in construction, enterering service in 1894. placed on a raised platform overlooking the foredeck, and generally behind a platform protected by canvas. This 0.6 tons (510 kg) ordnance made a superb career going up to 1945, with more than 8,000 delivered. It was also used by Italy and Japan and became the staple of light artillery on most RN ships, especially those of WW1. In the case of these destroyers, the Mark I was shielded and placed on the conning tower platform, high enough to avoid water spray. But in heavy weather, as the ship were ploughing deep due to their turtleback, they were wet anyway.
It used a Separate-loading QF round, caliber 7.62 cm, with a single-motion screw breech.
Rate of fire was 15 rounds per minute, at 2,210 ft/s (670 m/s) for an effective range of 11,750 yd (10,740 m) at 40° for the latter version.

Secondary: 3-5 QF 6-pdr Hotchkiss

This “classic among classic” was developed in 1883 by Hotchkiss et Cie and a licenced was acquired by Elswick in Britain for mass manufacturing. It became the go-to light QF gun, still very much in favor by the 1890s. Weighting around 821–849 lb (372–385 kg) and shielded, the three guns were located forward for the first pair, abreast the main 12-pdr behind bulwark (but they were wet also) and the third was located on an axial platform aft, close to the stern.
Later in the early 1900s the side TTs were removed and replaced by two more, also shielded, placed on sponsoned platforms for a better arc of fire forward and aft.
Together with the 3-in gun (12 pdr) they could send 140 rounds every minute at the infortunate TB that could cross their path. They generally replaced the dismoured bow tube (not installed on the bulk of the 27 knotters).
57x307R 57-millimetre (2.244 in), Vertical sliding-block breech, 4 inch hydro-spring recoil
Rate of fire 25/minute at 1,818 feet per second (554 m/s), range 4,000 yards (3,700 m)

Torpedo Tubes

The Type used was likely the 18-inches Whitehead (45 cm) type, developed in 1888, and introduced as the 26-27 knotters were completed in 1894:
They weighted 845 lbs. (383 kg) for 140 in (3.556 m) in lenght, with an explosive charge of 118 lbs. (53.5 kg) using wet gun-cotton, single setting, 800 yards (730 m) at 26.5 knots (which was actually slower than the destroyer’s top speed!). It was driven by a three cylinder radial Brotherhood pattern engine, fed by an Air-flask (cold running) of compressed air.
No upgrade as they were ultimately all retired. Outside the bow tube, the two other ones were axial, located aft, often before the aftermost funnel and close to the aft steering post and before the stern gun. Six torpedoes were carried, the three already in the tubes, and three spares.

specifications (Janus class)

Displacement 275 long tons (279 t)
Dimensions 204 ft oa x 19.5 ft x 8ft (62.26 x 5.94 x 2.44m)
Propulsion 2 shafts VTE, 4x Reed boilers 3,900 hp (2,908 kW)
Speed 27 knots (50 km/h; 31 mph)
Range 1,175 nmi (2,176 km; 1,352 mi) at 11 knots*
Armament Standard 1×12-pdr, 5x 6-pdr, 2x 18-in TTs
Crew 53

*Sunfish class


HMS Boxer, showing all all-white hull, black waterline and superstructures, red or most often all black underbelly (less visible), sand canvas barriers, no wooden decks after the forecastle but all reddish dark or dark grey metal.

This is a quite interesting topic. There were researches made on the first 27-knotter to determine the best appearance for these ships, but not only this evolved over time, but also between ships of a single class. Not that i don’t even speak of their silhouette, which varied considerably between classes, single ships, and over time as well. The pennants numbers alone changed three times, and their classifications also thrice.
Color-wise, most had black hull, which was seemingly the best disguise under covered weather. Also superstructures were black-painted, but the forecastle and part of the superstructures were also often white. Some had also canvas sand color superstructures, including the turtleback forward, white hull, and medium grey canvas. See HMS Banshee model kit.

HMS Janus, all black livery
HMS Janus, all black livery.


Plans of Thonycroft’s Charger class with the original loco boilers. This was an obolete tech when completed, tnad they were rebuilt to small tubes boilers, changing their narrow funnels apperance to three far apart.
Initially six torpedo boat destroyers, Thornycroft and Yarrow vessels only for comparative tests ordered under the 1893-94 Programme. However the « russian scare » of the time pushed the admiralty to ordered a series of follow-up orders so the 27 knotters jumped to 36 vessels total, the bulk of the « A » class as none of the 26-knotters were still active in 1914. In addition, only about 1/3 of the 27 knotters (records for those only). Initial Estimates for £651,000 were destined to 14 destroyers only, with a last-minute postponement of the 1st Class cruiser programme enabling fundng for 25 destroyers on order that year, the balance of 11 funded under the 1894-95 Estimates, and yet still part of the 1893-94 Programme.

Plans of HMS Spitfire
Plans of HMS Spitfire, Sturgeon class.

Active service

Only a fraction of the 27-knotters saw action in WW2. Generally instead of being scrapped and stricken in 1912 or later, inspection showed their general excellent maintenance records and little speed loss if any. They had the best and most durable powerplants. This was generally the winning criteria here. But the situation still can change from a builder to another. Some in the same class were either stricken or maintained until 1914. One that narrowly missed the war was HMS Zebra, sold for breaking up on 30 July 1914, a few days before.
The ships that actually took part in the great war were the following:
-HMS Boxer (lost in collision with SS St Patrick in the Channel 8 February 1918).
-HMS Conflict
-HMS Wizard
-HMS Fervent
-HMS Zephyr
-HMS Lightning (sunk, probably by mine, 30 June 1915).
-HMS Porcupine
-HMS Sunfish
-HMS Opposum
-HMS Ranger
-HMS Surly
The only lost in action as saw here was HMS Lightning, sunk probably by a mine in 1915. These three ships, with HMS Porcupine and Janus (built by Palmer) were considered the best in the series, the most seaworthy.
They narrowly escaped the scrapyard: In 1905 already, Rear Admiral (Destroyers) condemned al the 27-knotters as being « ..all worn out », with « every shilling spent on these old 27-knotters is a waste of money ». They were often semi-mothballed and their boilers proved troublesome, they spent many years combined on refits, re-tubing most of the time. He recommended that they be withdrawn from flotilla use and used either as tenders to training schools, or as local defence torpedo boats, or disposed of altogether.
They were rapidly sidelined. Many of the 27 knot destroyers took part in the 1896 and 1899 naval exercises were not present in the 1900 Manoeuvers, completely superseded by the 30 knotters. From there, and in between collisions (at least each one had one of several of these) and frequent retubing, they were mostly attached as tenders of other ships and establishments, still taking part in the naval reviews for Queen Victoria Golden Jubilee and King Georges VII Coronation.

Critics were many. Like the 30-knotters they were criticized for the emphasis on maximum trial speed, carried on light fuel load without armament, and thus, the top speeds achieved were never realized in service. In practice they were down to 18 knots at best and this started to cause issues in fleet manoeuvers as they could not keep up with cruisers. And this was their best speed when the sea was a lake. In heavy weather their turtleback foredecks threw blinding level of water spray, bridges and deck being very wet at high speed. The position of the 12-pounder gun was also criticized as it interfered with command of the ship. Some still active in WW1 received a modified bridge structure wih an enclosed platform and the bridge moved on top but it mostly concerned the 30 and 33 knotters.

HMS Sturgeon by James Scott Maxwell
HMS Sturgeon by James Scott Maxwell.

On 30 August 1912 they were all grouped into classes designated by letters, based on contract speed and appearance. After 30 September 1913 this was the A class for all 26 and 27 knotters.
By February 1913 most of thse destroyers were no longer part of an active flotilla, and rather attached as tenders to a various shore establishments and nucleus crew, only charged of basic maintained. Thanks to this, a dozen were still active when WWI broke out. If the First World War saw them in rather « static » assignments in various ports; as the war progressed the the U-Boat campaign intensified, their patrols did so too, including sometimes hunting sorties, for which they had received all depht charges (details not known with precision), likely stern racks.
They also occasionally rescued crews of sunken trade ships close to the shore.

Painting of HMS Sunfish by James Scott Maxwell

Kills were rare, as well as encounters with enemy torpedo boats. The A class was spared as much as possible given their fragile machineries and indeptitude of service in heavy weather. By January 1915, for example, HMS Opossum was part of the Devonport Local Defence Flotilla but took a more active role by the the evening of 20 December 1917. Together with the destroyers HMS Spitfire and Roebuck of her own A-class, plus five Motor Launches to screen them, and four drifters, two fishing trawlers covering all angles, she was ordered to patrol Lyme Bay, looking, searching for a German submarine which recently has been signalled sinking three merchant ships the previous night, but the U-Boat already left the area and they found nothing but a few survivors.

However on 8 August 1918, she ahd more luck: The minelayer sub (they were feared, sinking more than 1,800 vessels for the UC-II class alone) UC-49 layed a minefield off Start Point (Devon) when fouled one of her own mines. The explosion was spotted by the patrolling nearby HMS Opossum on a routine ASW patrol and so, with several Motor Launches which accompanied her (as a mini-flotilla) she started a search towards the site, using recently installed Hydrophones, sweeping the whole area. UC-49 was believed to sit on the sea bed. So the Oppossum’s captain decided to stop as well and just wait. So when the submarine restarted motors at 15:20 pm, this was immediately picked up by the destroyer, which also dropped depth charges, and went on until her racks were near-depleted at 17:57 pm.

She then noisily withdrew at 2.5 nautical miles (4.6 km; 2.9 mi) as a ruse, then slowed down and then shut down its engines to convince the U-Boat commander she was away. After 17 minutes, sure enough, the already badly shaken UC-49 surfaced just 200 yards (180 m) from one of the Motor Launches, 800 yards (730 m) from Opossum. Now just put yourself in the shoes of the U-Boat captain when he realized and probably exclaimed the meme-like « it’s a trap! » and was immediately found under heavy fire, including machine guns and rifles for the launches. After 20 seconds, she resubmerged, but very fast and in an unbalanced way, at an angle of 50 degrees. Oppossum then came for the coup de grace, as she was probably stuck at the bottom. She dropped the remainder of her depth charges eventually bringing up oil and bubbles. She marked the site and went back to port to resupply. The next day, the wreck was located again, and litteraly plastered with depth charges to confirm the kill. Debris, including a light bulb manufactured in Vienna were picked up at the surface, confirming the kill for good. This was the only one confirmed for any 27-knotter.

Others would have many « probable kills ». So ultimately these old vessels still proved their worth. The following career section will go into lenght on their wartime career.



Chesneau, Roger & Kolesnik, Eugene M., eds. (1979). Conway’s All The World’s Fighting Ships 1860–1905. London: Conway Maritime Press.
Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006). Ships of the Royal Navy: Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy. Chatham Publishing.
Dittmar, F.J.; Colledge, J.J. (1972). British Warships 1914–1919. Shepperton, UK: Ian Allan.
Friedman, Norman (2009). British Destroyers: From Earliest Days to the Second World War. Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing.
Gardiner, Robert & Gray, Randal, eds. (1985). Conway’s All The World’s Fighting Ships 1906–1921. London: Conway Maritime Press
Lyon, David (2001) [1996]. The First Destroyers. London: Caxton Editions.
Manning, T. D. (1961). The British Destroyer. London: Putnam & Co.
March, Edgar J. (1966). British Destroyers: A History of Development, 1892–1953. London: Seeley Service.

The 27-knotters on wikipedia
White 27-knotters on navypedia

Model Kits

Combrig 1:700 HMS Spitfire 1895 review


27 knotters illustration
1/750 Profile of a 27 Knotter torpedo-boat destroyer, HMS Lighting (Laird) in 1915.

HMS Charger by Ernest Hopkins, after reconstruction.

HMS Banshee in rough weather, 1899. Note her white livery and turtleback foredeck proper to her class

HMS Wizard, Conflict class, after refit, with two funnels truncated into one. Still active like the latter in WWI.

HMS Hunter (1895) of the Handy class, Scanned by Steven Johnson from « The Navy and Army Illustrated’, circa 25 June 1897.

HMS Ranger
HMS Ranger, Sunfish class (Hawthorn Leslie)

All sub-classes by builder

Royal Navy ww1 Ardent-class

All built by John I. Thornycroft & Company, Chiswick. Quickspecs: 245 lts/301 ltfl, 201 ft 8 in x 19 ft x 7 ft 3.25 in (61.47 x 5.8 x 2.2162 m), 2 shafts TE, 2 Coal-fired WTB boilers 4353-4680 ihp for 27-29 kts, crew 50, one 12-pounder gun, 5 × 6-pounder guns, 2 × 18 inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes (same for all following for the powerplant and armament, not mentioned anymore but the output).
HMS Ardent: Launched 16 October 1894, sold for breaking up 10 October 1911.
HMS Boxer: Launched 28 November 1894. In May 1896, Mediterranean Squadron, helped to determine the optimum colour scheme for torpedo boats, to avoid being spotted in night attacks. From 1 January 1902 commanded by Lt. Bertram Owen Frederick Phibbs, repairs, re-tubed boilers same year. Visited Lemnos in August. Home waters 1911, 6th Destroyer Flotilla. 30 August 1912 redesignated by letters based on contract speed and appearance. 30 September 1913, part of the A class. March 1913 tender to the training establishment Excellent with a nucleus crew.
June 1915, Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla. Lost in collision with SS St Patrick in the Channel 8 February 1918, all but one survived.
HMS Bruizer: Launched 27 February 1895, sold for breaking up 26 May 1914.

Royal Navy ww1 Charger-class

HMS Dasher in 1895, IWM
They were built by Yarrow Shipbuilders Ltd, Poplar. 255 lts/295 ltfl, 195 x 18.5 x 7.25 ft, 2 shaft VTE, Normand loco boilers (1899-1900: 4 Thornycroft WT boilers), 3,800 hp 27 knots, crew 50. Not the fastest of the bunch, they topped 25-26 knots on trials. Their Locomotive boilers being made obsolete by water-tube boilers when completed they were refitted at Earle’s Shipbuilding in 1899–1890 with water-tube boilers, and from two narrow funnels, their appareance changed to three-funnels further apart.
HMS Charger, launched 15 September 1894, sold for breaking up 14 May 1912.
HMS Dasher, launched 28 November 1894, sold for breaking up 14 May 1912.
HMS Hasty, launched 16 June 1894, sold for breaking up 9 July 1912.

Royal Navy ww1 Banshee-class

Built by Laird Brothers, Birkenhead. 290 lt standard, 210 x 19 x 7 ft (64 x 5.8 x 2.1 m), 2 shafts VTE, 4 Normand boilers, 4,400 horsepower (3,300 kW) top speed 27 knots, crew 53.
HMS Banshee: launched 17 November 1894, sold for breaking up 10 April 1912.
HMS Contest: launched 1 December 1894, sold for breaking up 11 July 1911.
HMS Dragon: launched 15 December 1894, sold for breaking up 9 July 1912.

Royal Navy ww1 Conflict-class

Built by J. Samuel White, Cowes. 320 long tons Length 200 ft (61 m). 2 shafts VTE, 4x White-Forster boilers 4,500 hp (3,356 kW), crew 53.
HMS Conflict: Launched 13 December 1894. After commission by July 1899, served at the Mediterranean station, tender to Victorious. Gunnery/tactical exercises Arucas, Las Palmas. Plymouth 5 July 1902, PO 24 July. 1910 6th Destroyer Flotilla, at the Nore, refit Chatham Dockyard. March 1913 Portsmouth, tender to the torpedo school HMS Vernon with nucleus crew. 1 November 1914 Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla. 24 November escorted transports from Southampton to Le Havre. 4 June 1917, close behind TB 98 which attacked and missed an U-Boat, dropped two depth charges. Later judged « improbable » kill. Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla still by August-Dec. 1918, paid off. Sold for breaking up 20 May 1920.
HMS Teazer: launched 9 February 1895, sold for breaking up 9 July 1912.
HMS Wizard: launched 27 February 1895. Com. July 1899, tender to Excellent, Portsmouth. December 1901 (LtCdr Frederick Hare Hallowes) damaged in a collision with tug, Portsmouth. PO Portsmouth 13 May 1902 to be strengthened. Fleet review Spithead 16 August 1902 coronation King Edward VII.. Oct. 1902 collision with German liner Kronprinz Wilhelm in Southampton. 8 November Portsmouth instructional flotilla. Refit White 1904–1904. 1908 docked Sheerness Dockyard examined for other refit, completed April 1909. Nore flotilla. 1910 two funnels trunked together. November 1909: Escorted scout cruiser HMS Forward, depot ship Vulcan, ten C-class submarines to Dundee, Scotland. 3 September 1910 rammed by other DD in Thames Estuary. Repaired Sheerness. February 1913 tender to HMS Excellent gunnery school, Portsmouth, nucleus crew. Fully recom. Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla June 1915 until March 1917. Sold for breaking up 20 May 1920.

Royal Navy ww1 Fervent-class

Built by Hanna, Donald & Wilson, Paisley. 275 long tons, Length 200 ft (61 m), 2 shafts VTE, 4 boilers, 3,850 shp (2,871 kW), crew 53.
HMS Fervent: launched 20 March 1895, comp. June 1901. 1901 Naval Manoeuvres. Strenghtened Portsmouth after hull damage heavy weather. Portsmouth instructional flotilla. 1910-1912, 6th Destroyer Flotilla, The Nore. Ran aground Maplin Sands 26 November 1910, Court Martial. February 1913 attached as tender to torpedo school Chatham, nucleus crew. February 1915, Local Defence Flotilla, The Nore until November 1918. Paid off Chatham 26 April 1919. Sold for breaking up 20 May 1920.
HMS Zephyr: launched 10 May 1895, completing July 1901, last of the « twenty-seven knotters ». Naval Manoeuvres of July 1901. Instructional tender to Cambridge gunnery schoolship, Portsmouth instructional flotilla until April 1902. Refit, strengthened after hull damage in heavy weather, Channel. Fleet review Spithead 16 August 1902. 18 August 1904 rammed by Torpedo Boat No. 68 in Portsmouth and 4 February 1908 when ramming Cricket-class TB 2 in Portsmouth. 1910-1912 6th Destroyer Flotilla, The Nore. 14 June 1911 collided with Zebra during night exercises in River Thames. Harwich submarine flotilla. February 1913 tender to torpedo school Chatham, nucleus crew. Summer 1914 Nore Local Defence Flotilla until August 1916. Refit summer 1917 until February 1918, Irish Sea Flotilla until November. Sold for breaking up 20 May 1920.

Royal Navy ww1 Handy-class

Built by Fairfields, Govan. 275 long tons (279 t)n Length 194 ft (59 m), 2 shafts VTE, 4x Thornycroft boilers 4,000 hp (2,983 kW), crew 53. All three served in the China Flotilla but were stricken or BU before WWI.
HMS Handy: Launched 9 March 1895, commissioned in October 1895. Portsmouth destroyer flotilla. Tested, good seaboat, deployed to overseas station Hong Kong 1897–1898, China Station. Bow structure strengthened April 1901. January 1901 salvaging dredger Canton River after Typhoon November 1900. November 1911 Xinhai Revolution, ferried Chang Ming-Ch’i (Governor-General of Kwangtung province) to safety in Hong Kong. Paid off 1912. March 1913 sale list, sold Hong Kong 1916.
HMS Hart: Launched 27 March 1895, sold for breaking up 1912 at Hong Kong.
HMS Hunter: Launched 28 December 1895, sold for breaking up 10 April 1912.

Royal Navy ww1 Hardy-class

built by William Doxford & Sons, Sunderland. 260 long tons (264 t) standard (lts) 325 long tons (330 t) full load (ltfl) 200 ft 3 in x 19 ft x 7 ft 9 in (61.04 x 5.8 x 2.36 m), 2 shafts VTE, 8 Yarrow boilers. Same speed, armament and crew as the others. No cc photo.
HMS Hardy: launched 16 December 1895, served in the Med Squadron. Sold for breaking up 11 July 1911.
HMS Haughty: launched 18 September 1895, Medway and 6th flotilla. Sold for breaking up 10 April 1912.

Royal Navy ww1 Janus-class

Built by Palmers, Jarrow. 275 long tons (279 t), 204 ft 6 in x 19 feet 9 inches x 8 feet (62.33 x 6.02 x 2.4 m). 2 shafts VTE, 4x Reed boilers 3,900 hp (2,908 kW). Good sea boats, one was sent to China Station. The Palmer-built ships were considered the best of the 27-knotters.
HMS Janus: Launched 12 March 1895. Tender to HMS Goliath, China Station, served on that station for most of her career. Re-tube her Reed boilers in 1902. Sold for breaking up 1912 at Hong Kong (other sources tells BU 1914).
HMS Lightning: Launched 10 April 1895, completed January 1896. Comm. home waters, 1896 British Naval Manoeuvres, Channel Fleet (trained from southern Ireland), based at HMNB Portsmouth, tender to Excellent in 1900. Re-tube boilers 1902 and again at Sheerness 1907. HP Portsmouth. 17 February 1908 rammed a mooring buoy, Portsmouth harbour. 1910 6th Destroyer Flotilla, The Nore until 1912. 25 April 1912 collided with TB 17 in Stangate Creek. As N.23, Nore Local Defence Flotilla January 1915. 30 June sent out to deal with mines, destroyed three before struck another (laid by UC-1). She broke in half, sank, lost 15 out of 53. Stern stayed afloat, towed back to Sheerness, later scrapped.
HMS Porcupine: Launched 19 September 1895, completed March 1896. Chatham, 1896 British Naval Manoeuvres, Channel Fleet operation from Milford Haven. Refit Chatham late 1899, Fleet Reserve 15 January 1900. Medway Instructional Flotilla. PO Chatham 31 July 1902, boilers retubed. Fleet review Spithead 16 August 1902. 1910, 6th Destroyer Flotilla, The Nore until 1912. Ran aground off Clacton 18 October 1910, Court Martial. February 1913 tender torpedo school Chatham, nucleus crew. The Nore until November 1917. Sold for breaking up 29 April 1920.

Royal Navy ww1 Sunfish-class

HMS Ranger
HMS Ranger, Sunfish class (Hawthorn Leslie)
built by Hawthorn, Newcastle upon Tyne. As completed they had eight Yarrow or White boilers for 4,000 hp (2,983 kW) and were armed by one single forward 12 pounder gun and two swivel-mount torpedo tubes. Later five 6-pdr were installed. Rather successful, they all saw service in WW2.

HMS Sunfish: Launched 9 August 1895, comm. Chatham on 18 February 1896, replaced Havock as tender to HMS Royal Sovereign, Channel Fleet. 1896 British Naval Manoeuvres. Mediterranean Fleet, boiler problems, repairs Malta 1900-1902 (boilers re-tubed, bottom reservoirs repaired). June 1902 Gibraltar, then Plymouth, Chatham PO. Medway instructional flotilla. Damaged at Dundee in a gale. 1905, condemned as being « ..all worn out », with « every shilling spent on these old 27-knotters is a waste of money » but retained after examination.
6th Destroyer Flotilla Devonport 1910-1912. 5 June 1911 collided with Havock at Waterford Harbour, and then TB 045. February 1913 tender to Vivid at Devonport, nucleus crew and still from July 1914 to the end of WWI, but January 1915, Devonport Local Defence Flotilla. 23 July 1917 hunted down U-Boat spotted in Lyme Bay. Sold for breaking up 7 June 1920.

HMS Opposum: Launched 4 October 1895, comp. February 1896. 26 June 1897 naval review, Spithead (Golden Jubilee Queen Victoria). Based at Devonport, summer 1901 Royal Navy Naval Manoeuvres. November 1907 refit Chatham, boilers retubed, until June 1908. February 1913 tender to SE Vivid at Devonport, nucleus crew. January 1915 Devonport Local Defence Flotilla. 1 April 1917 salvage of merchant ship SS Valacia. 20 December 1917 patrolled Lyme Bay to search for U-Boat. 8 August 1918 looked for UC-49 off Start Point, Devon, found and sunk. March 1919 laid up reserve Devonport, sold for breaking up 29 July 1920.

HMS Oppossum at sea.

HMS Ranger: Launched 28 May 1895, comp. June 1896. Reserve Chatham, naval review Spithead (Queen Victoria Jubilee), then from 1901, based at Portsmouth. On 2 July 1908 (annual Naval Manoeuvres) she collided with the destroyer Haughty. Her hull hole was patched with canvas until she was back to Chatham. August 1910, Nore Destroyer Flotilla. Another collision (pier) and repaired at Sheerness.n 5 November, 6th Destroyer Flotilla, ran aground off Selsey Bill. Repaired Portsmouth. In June 1911 collided with pleasure steamer King Edward in Torquay harbour, repaired in Devonport. March 1913, tender to SE Vivid Devonport, listed for sale but recom. on March 1915, 7th Destroyer Flotilla, East coast. Local Defence Flotilla Portsmouth until January 1917, unlisted, reserved, sold for breaking up 20 July 1920.

HMS Ranger underway
HMS Ranger underway

Royal Navy ww1 Rocket-class

hms shark
HMS Shark underway
Built by J & G Thomson (later to become John Brown and Company), Clydebank. They displaced 280 long tons (284 t) for a hull 200 ft (61 m) long, powered by two VTE, fed by four Normand boilers for an output of 4,100 hp (3,057 kW).
HMS Rocket, launched 14 August 1894, was sold for breaking up 10 April 1912.
HMS Shark, launched 22 September 1894, was sold for breaking up 11 July 1911.
HMS Surly, launched 10 November 1894, commissioned in July 1895, was based at Portsmouth. 1901 British Naval Manoeuvres. 1898 was used in sea trials using oil fuel instead of coal, until 1906. March 1913 nucleus crew, Portsmouth, tender HMS Fisgard until July 1914. Became a member of the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla. She was sold for breaking up 23 March 1920.

Royal Navy ww1 Salmon-class

HMS Snapper underway.
Built by Earle’s, Kingston upon Hull. They were among the largest, displacing 305 long tons (310 t) for 200 ft (61 m) in lenght and powered bt two VTE engines and 4 Yarrow boilers for 3,600 hp (2,685 kW).
HMS Salmon: launched 15 January 1895. In late 1901 she was damaged in a storm, temporarily repaired at Harwich by December, PO at Sheerness, drydocked, refitted with her decks strengthened until December 1902. Fleet Reserve Chatham. Sold for breaking up 14 May 1912.
HMS Snapper: launched 30 January 1895, served as part of the Medway Instructional Flotilla 1901. Stem repaired in late May 1902. Fleet review held at Spithead 16 August 1902 (coronation King Edward VII). Sold for BU the same day as her sister.

Royal Navy ww1 Sturgeon-class

HMS Sturgeon in 1896, note the interesting hull livery, with the forward section in black, after section in grey.
Built by Naval Construction and Armament Company (later to become Vickers and eventually Vickers-Armstrongs), Barrow in Furness. Dimensions 194 feet 6 inches (59.28 m) oa, beam 19 feet (5.79 m)a draught of 7 feet 7 inches (2.31 m). Displacement 300 long tons (300 t) light, 340 long tons (350 t) deep load. Three funnels. 2 shafts 3-cyl. VTE, 4 Blechyndnen water-tube boilers (200 pounds sq-in or 1,400 kPa), 4,000 ihp (3,000 kW). 60 tons of coal, range 1,370 nautical miles at 11 knots.
HMS Sturgeon: launched 21 July 1894, home waters, fleet review Spithead 26 June 1897. From 1899 Medway Instructional Flotilla until March 1900. Back Medway instructional flotilla. Refit early 1902. May recommissioned at Chatham Flotilla. Spithead fleet review 16 August 1902. Refit Sheerness, little service afterwards, sold for breaking up 14 May 1912.
HMS Starfish: launched 26 January 1895, home waters. Had failures of her propeller brackets (forged scrap iron). January 1900 tender for gunnery school HMS Excellent. Tested a modified spar torpedo as ASW weapon (42 feet 13 m long spar with explosive charge swung out and immersed in action, detonated as the submarine passed). Torpedo school HMS Vernon, Portsmouth 1901, Naval Manoeuvres. Fleet review Spithead 16 August 1902. April 1903 trials with kites designed by Samuel Cody (for lifting radio antennae). 26 October 1907 minor collision with Daring at Devonport. Sold for breaking up 15 May 1912.
HMS Skate: launched 13 March 1895, 1900, Mediterranean station, but back home early 1902. Gibraltar 9 May, convoyed cruiser HMS Astraea to Plymouth. PO Devonport 20 May, A Division Fleet Reserve. Fleet review Spithead 16 August 1902. Devonport instructional flotilla. Damaged by heavy sea (upper deck destroyed, fore-bridge too, fitting twisted). Drydock repairs. 1906 used as a target, firing trials. Conformed the validity of the 12-pdr gun. Sold for breaking up 9 April 1907.

Royal Navy ww1 Swordfish-class

hms spitfire
HMS Spitfire, official yard photo.
Built by Armstrong Mitchell and Company (later part of Vickers-Armstrongs), Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne. The machinery was supplied by Belliss & Co of Birmingham: Two 4-cyl. VTE steam engines fed by eight Yarrow-type water-tube boilers (working pressure 200 psi (1,400 kPa)). Three funnels, admiship one truncated. Home waters, none was active in WWI.

HMS Swordfish: Launched 7 June 1895, commissioned on 7 March 1900, tender to HMS Wildfire, Sheerness. Chatham 1901, rotating with Sheerness and Portsmouth. April 1902 refit at Sheerness. Medway Instructional Flotilla. Fleet review Spithead 16 August 1902. Full armament mounted (1× 12 pounder, 5× 6-pounder, 2x 18-in TTs) stability concerned led to retire on torpedo tube. 1909 top speed fell to 18+1⁄2 knots (21.3 mph; 34.3 km/h), worn out. Placed in reserve. Sold for breaking up 11 October 1910.

Plan HMS Swordfish
Plan HMS Swordfish

HMS Spitfire: Launched 27 February 1895, home waters. February 1900 repairs at Chatham, Medway instructional flotilla. Tender to SE Wildfire, Sheerness. Boilers re-tubed 1902. 7 May 1902 tender to cruiser HMS Immortalité at Sheerness. Sold for breaking up 10 April 1912.

Royal Navy ww1 Zebra class

HMS Zbra was built by Thames Iron Works, Bow Creek, launched 13 December 1895. Thames Iron Works was relatively inexperienced. Took a long completion time and to complete trials, by January 1900. Not particularly successful in service. Home waters, tender to Wildfire SSV, training duties, Sheerness Naval School of Gunnery. 1901 British Naval Manoeuvres. Portsmouth Instructional flotilla May 1902. Spithead review 16 August 1902. 6th Destroyer Flotilla 1910-1912. 14 June 1911 collided with Zephyr in night exercises in the Thames. Submarine flotilla, Dundee. From 1912 class letters painted on the hull below the bridge area and funnel. March 1913 laid up Sheerness, sold 30 July 1914.

Tupolev MR-6 (1932)

Tupolev MR-6 (1932)

1932-36: 150 converted.

Inspired by Heinkel models, the all-metal cantilever monoplane twin engine reconnaissance Tupolev R-6 was also used by the Navy as the MR-6, equipped with floats. MR-6 stands for Morskoj razvyedchik, maritime reconnaissance (also sometimes called “KR-6P”). It was also used as a torpedo bomber version from 1932 and still used for training in 1939-40. It was retired in 1942 for good. The MP-6 2M-17 was a seaplane passenger transport powered by two 507.1 kW (680 hp) Mikulin M-17 V-12 engines.

The Tupolev reconnaissance seaplane

The Tupolev TB-1 was the first mass-produced, modern bomber of the USSR, declined later as a seaplane variant called the TB-1P. However to this very first model from the great designer was soon added a new, lighter one called the ANT-7. Andrei Nikolayevich Tupolev (1888, Pustomazovo, Kimry) specialized in aerodynamics under Nikolay Zhukovsky and teatcher by 1920 at the Moscow Higher Technical School, then prominent figure at the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) until 1972, later director. He was fond of the construction techniques developed by Hugo Junkers and in 1925, designed the first modern Soviet twin-engine bomber called TB-1.
But the ANT-7 was not a true bomber. It was merely another experimental aircraft reusing some of the same techniques. The ANT-4 (produced as the TB-1) had its prototype in flight by 1925, and it was decided to improve in performances, which led to a scaling down essentially, leading to the development of the ANT-7, which first flew on 20 October 1929.
To place it in the right lineage, Tupolev’s models could be listed as such:
Tupolev ANT-1: First wood-aluminium tiny prototype (FF 20 October 1923)
Tupolev ANT-2: Small monoplane passenger plane, 6 made (FF 26 May 1924)
Tupolev ANT-3: Main reconnaissance monoplane, 105 made (FF 6 August 1925)
Tupolev ANT-4: Prototype for the first soviet bomber, the TB-1 (FF 1925)
Tupolev ANT-5: Prototype single seat fighter, built at the I-4, 369 made (FF 1927)
Tupolev ANT-6: Prototype for the next bomber, TB-3 (FF 22 December 1930)
Tupolev ANT-7: Our current Reconnaissance model.

The ANT-7 is actually anterior to the TB-3. It was designed as a scaled down version of the TB-1 bomber, tasked as a reconnaissance model and …escort fighter.
In the name, Tupolev R-6, « R » stands for « razvedchik », reconnaissance. It traces its roots by early 1928 when the Soviet Air Force requested a long-range multirole aircraft, usable for long-range transport, defensive patrolling, reconnaissance, light bombing and even torpedo attack. A « jack of all trade » with the risk (easier to see with indsight) of a model that would end as good at nothing.

Development of the R-6

Under Ivan Pogosski and guided by Andrei Tupolev, TsAGI developed the ANT-7 from the Tupolev TB-1 by scaling it down by about one third.[1] Power for the ANT-7 was intended to be provided by two 388 kW (520 hp) – 455 kW (610 hp) Hispano Suiza engines or 313 kW (420 hp) Bristol Jupiter engines, but the prototype was powered by two 373 kW (500 hp) – 529 kW (709 hp) BMW VI engines.

The first flight of the ANT-7 took place on 11 September 1929, piloted by Mikhail Gromov. Flight tests started in March 1930 after TsAGi decided to postpone them until after the winter. That summer, the NII-VVS (Nauchno-Issledovatel’skiy Institut Voyenno-Vozdooshnykh Seel – air force scientific test institute) conducted state tests which revealed tailplane buffeting, which was alleviated by fitting enlarged elevators. The next flight encountered radiator damage and an engine failure, but in spite of this, the ANT-7 passed the state acceptance tests.

The floatplane Variant: MR-6 or KR-6P

MR-6 standard for « Morskoj razvyedchik », maritime reconnaissance, torpedo bomber version of 1932. KR-6P was an alternative designation found in many sources. It was basically the float-equipped version of the multi-purpose reconnaissance aircraft already under construction was a reduced copy of the TB-1 with the same M-17 engines.
The lead R-6 was tested on October 5, 1931. On the second serial one, Short-type floats were installed, with them the aircraft passed state tests and could be used as a multi-seat fighter, air cruiser, long-range naval reconnaissance and torpedo bomber. At the beginning of 1933, the floatplane was tested with various variants of mine and torpedo armament. It was designated MR-6 and was mass-produced at the Taganrog plant No. 45. In 1934, the production of MR-6 was transferred to Moscow, and sometimes called from there KR-6P.
In civil and polar aviation, it was designated MR-6 and was widely used, mainly in the North and Siberian river airlines until 1945. It is not known exactly how many of the 400 serial ANT-7s were put on floats althugh 150 is the most common figure given.

Design in Detail

General construction



Other equipments

⚙ PLANE specifications

Gross Weight
Max Takeoff weight
Wing Area
Top Speed, sea level
Cruise Speed
Climb Rate



Author’s illustrations

Tupolev R6 of a pacific squadron, 1939. A few remaining R-6s of land-based coastal squadrons still used for training and patrols in 1939-40. The last were retired in 1942.


Read More

Gunston, Bill. Tupolev Aircraft since 1922. — Naval Institute Press, 1995.

USS Nautilus (1954)

USS Nautilus (SS-475)

US Navy Flag Nuclear Attack Submarine 1952-1980, preserved.

The world’s first nuclear submarine

The sub’s Propulsion Problem

In WW2 submarine propulsion remained what it was in WWI already, as developed in 1905-1910: Diesel-electric. Diesel engines were more compact, allowed more range for surface cruise, which was the « normal » state of any submarine -which needs to be called a « submersible » for this very reason- and emergency dives for attack or flee an attacker. Which were allowed by electric power, limited by the battery technology of the time. Construction methods limited depth as well. But underwater propulsion only allowed for short speeds (up to 9 knots and 14 with the late war Type XXI) in a short time. The favourite game of allied escorts was thus to « keep their head underwater » until they just gave up and surface to surrender, if not destroyed with gunfire. If something showed, is that Submarine could be very effective when deployed in packs, both in the Atlantic and Pacific.
The Type XXI did not have the time to be really operational in 1945, and was studied with great care by allied powers after the war. It showed the way forwards and indeed, all submarines retook the fundamental recipes of stremlining and greater electric power for better underwater speeds. As tested it could reach 17.2 knots (31.9 km/h; 19.8 mph) submerged and yet it was not enough to leave behind all allied escorts (destroyers were capable of 30+ knots) but at least left a better fighting chance to escape. Still, when performing high speed runs, batteries were rapidly depleted, and this could not be enough if the escorts were persistent, added to aviation which could spot these underwater if the conditions were right.

Thus on paper a new generation was needed. One that can make 25+ knots underwater for longer periods of time and not be handicapped by range. Given the technology of batteries in the 1950s this was simply not possible. No amount of batteries could be realistically fit into a submarine to achieve this without compromising all the rest. And batteries were still also unsafe at the time, between acids and fires. Steam power was tried a long ago and proved unsuitable. Navies were looking for a new AIP (Air Independent Propulsion), but apart hazardous chemical compounds like the Walter propulsion tested in WW2, nothing really worked. But there was a shortcut. The Manhattan project showed that uranium fission could be used in an explosive way, but some also argued that it could be tamed and controlled to produce heat, and thus indirectly, electricity. If nuclear power could be tested on land (it started in the US at Oak Ridge in 1946), one day it could be perhaps fit into a ship… or submarine. That was the opinion of Captain Rickover, a former submarine commander hismelf (S-9 and S-48 in 1929-1933), a central character in this story.

Eisenhower’s nuclear power dream

USS Nautilus is certainly a world’s history bending event. A landmark and a leap forward in submarine, but also ship technology regarding propulsion. In 1954, it enabled a new capability unheard of since the age of sail (already enabling unlimited range), coal (limited), and oil (less limited). If nuclear power did not catch up that well on surface ship (a few cruisers, aircraft carriers, almost all in the US) while being anecdotal for civilian use, it never really measured to Dwight D. Eisenhower’s dream of « atoms for peace » initiative, trying to turn over Oppenheimer (and other manhattan’s scientists) nightmare into a benefit for humanity. In the 1950s there was the fear of nuclear doomsday as well as a craze for « everything nuclear ». The army developed a range of tactical nukes, going as far as making nuclear shells fir its heavy artillery, or jeep-carried nuclear-tipped rockets, the first naval nuclear-tipped SAMs or SSMs missiles. As for propulsion, the Army studied its first tank, the Chrysler VT8. Ford even went further and even proposed a nuclear car, the « Ford Nucleon », which never passed the mockup stage (fortunately

Eisenhower (« Ike »), former allied generalissimo in Europe, became president from 1953 to 1961, a crucial decade for the country, and he tried to turn the fear that inspired nuclear deterrence into a benefit to humanity, understanding that is the US would keep nuclear power in its military applications (and thus making the US the de facto « world’s gendarmes »), civilian applications would be accessible to the rest of the world. This also was accompanied by the Marshall plan and MDAP assistance to allies and would-be allies in the new chess game with USSR. Nuclear power as alternative to coal started to develop in the 1950s and stations « mushroomed » in the country.

As for the US Air Force, it didn’t wanted to be distanced, keeping the relevance of its recently forged MAD doctrine, based on nuclear bombers aloft at all times. They wanted to complete the loop with nuclear-powered bombers, which led to the creation of the Convair NB-36H. The Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion (ANP) program started as early as 1946, was crowned by a first flight in 1955, after USS Nautilus, and eventually closed in 1961, cancelled as impractical. It was killed because of unsufficient crew protection (lead shielding !), more than the irrelevance of bombers with the apparition of ballistic missiles, and the first SSBNs the same year. The nuclear tank was cancelled as well as any civilian projects for about the same reason: Nuclear radiation shielding. This war practical for building though, and nuclear plants mushroomed around the worlds, for the best -or worst after Chernobyl and Fukushima.

But where it failed in the air or the ground, it won underwater. Buoyancy allowed nuclear lead protection (or any other heavy material) to stop radiation. Between size constraints and displacement it was possible there. In this field, USS Nautilus was a prioneer. Nobody knew it was possible before some took the matter in their own hands. Admiral Rickover of course, but not only.

Development of Naval Nuclear Power in the US

The story already has been covered in part with USS Enterprise (which simply multiplied Nautilus’s reactors). Work on nuclear marine propulsion started in 1946-47 already. The first operational reactor was in 1953 and technology was setup from 1951 at Oak Ridge. These went into Nautilus reactors and, were stopped, then resumed by late 1954 for the large ship reactor project or LSRP, a kind of enw type of pressurized water type reactor with smaller core, tighter space, highly enriched fuel and less extensive shielding. This Mark 1 reactor delivered 60 MW in 1957, compared to 200MW in land installation which did not had all these constraints. This one went later to USS Long Beach and Enterprise.

Rickover’s drive towards the first SSN

It is hard to underestimate the performance of Hyman G. Rickover. Albeit a somewhat abrasive peronality, the man was instrumental in this development. Now dubbed the “father or US Nuclear Submarines” he was by December 1945 Inspector General of the 19th Fleet (west coast), and working with General Electric, Schenectady, New York on a very early project of nuclear propulsion plant. Her intended them for destroyers, as one of the major critic of the type since decades in all navies but especially the USN in the pacific was to « give them legs ». In 1946, a teamed up with Manhattan Project’s Clinton Laboratory, now Oak Ridge center. The goal was to create even a primitive nuclear electric generating plant. The intermediate, as general groves was for Manhattan, with the Pentagon and the Navy, was Rear Admiral Earle Mills, later crucially posted at Bureau of Ships.

But Rickover’s difficult relations with hierarchy saw him soon sidelined in an « outcast » bureau and frequently marred in his attempts to shake up the Navy top brass about his projects. In the en he resolved to directly went over their heads to legendary CNO Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, a former submariner himself, which he personally knew, and who he believed to quickly grasp use of the concept. Nimitz in turn soon had the current Secretary of the Navy, John L. Sullivan, in the loop, and this enabled an order for USS Nautilus in 1951. Construction took another year for setup and went on ffrom built to 1952 1954, a remarkably short time due in large part to Rickover’s constant  » breathing down the neck » attitude with the construction team, whic hwas of course General Dynamics, Groton.

The STR nuclear reactor (later S2W) soon reliable enough to become USS Nautilus’ main reactor. Still under Rickover’s the drive for an improved model led to the A2W, for a first aircraft carrier. The Nautilus success made Rickover Director of the Naval Reactors Branch in the Bureau of Ships until 1982. He would also supervise the next generation of nuclear submarines, and its first class, the Skipjacks.

The boat: USS Nautilus Technical challenges

Hyman Rickover and Dan Kimball
Hyman Rickover and Dan Kimball. The path was hard to success as Rickover was recalled by top brass from Oak Ridge to Washington as « advisors » with his team in 1947 as his did not followed orders to focus on nuclear plant for destroyers, but instead focused on submarines. He worked after hourse without authorization, got caught, and was forcibly relocated to an abandoned ladies bathroom and practically muted until he found his former CO in 1930, Chester Nimitz…

Building the first nuclear submarine for the navy did not have to start from a blank page. Apart the reactor section and it’s command post, which defined the central section of the new sub, the rest was more « navy grade » and needed to answer to the classic roles of a USN attack submarine, by the way the only known type before the advent of SSBNs. And what was between the WW2 mass-built GATO/Balao/Tench classes and Nautilus ? After obtaining two of the German Type XXI, including one captured and in perfect working order, it was clear that the technology shown dictated changes in ways submarines were built.
So on one hand, the USN started an ambitious conversion program of its WW2 fleet, named the « Greater Underwater Propulsion Program ». On the other hand, budgets were obtained to built prototypes of a modern, tailored attack submarine. These were the first three small USS Barracuda class launched in 1951 and more importantly the much larger Tang class also launched in 1951 and much closer to an ideal « USN Type XXI ». When worked started on USS Nautilus, there was an even more evolved version called USS Darter (SS-576), and experimental model based on the Tang class but incorporating many improvements and built by the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics (Groton, Connecticut) just after USS Nautilus: She was ordered on 30 June 1954, laid down on 10 November 1954.

Specifics of the SCB 64 program

The hull and most systems of USS Nautilus, were thus borrowed from the Tang class. The latter were being launched already when the Congress authorization of July 1951 related to the SCB 64 program came. Plans of the Nautilus could both benefit from the design of this class in large part, as well as the improvements planned for USS Darter. Conceptual design began in March 1950 under this project SCB 64 name. It was planned and personally supervised by Captain Hyman G. Rickover at the time. Assigned to the Bureau of Ships in September 1947 and trained in nuclear power at Oak Ridge (Tennessee) her wrote reports about possibilities of nuclear ship propulsion until February 1949 when he received assignment to the Division of Reactor Development and U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, and then after shortcircuiting the hierarchy, became director of the Naval Reactors Branch at the Bureau of Ships, and from there spent all time on SSN-571 from 1950 to the latter joining the fleet in January 1955. However the path was tortuous as he was initially assigned in 1946 the task of fitting a reactor on a destroyer and clearly disobeyed.

After he went directly to Nimitz to get his project approved, he found the only yard that accepted to work on it (a civilian contractor) the historical pioneer (of J. Holland fame), Electric Boat of Groton in Connecticut. Indeed naval yards at the time were understaff, underfunded and often behind schedule, and waiting not only for top brass but also congress approval. However Rickover was getting any of this, knowing the technology was there. Then after refining the project, he went to setup a construction time table obtained costs estimation, returned to the Navy office, but top brass refused to fund the project, obstructing him again. So captain Rickover went to Washington DC where he met congressmen and senators he already befriend with during his previous assignation back in the days, and soon obtained a congressional hearing to get the funds. One key advantage in this was the signed approval of CNO Chester Nimitz and he played all the cards he had.
The Congress eventually approved the project in July 1951, so that the design could be at least refined back at Groton.

Tech drawing, comparative of SSN 571 and 168, the two Nautilus of the USN – Popular science

Proper blueprints were established, but this was a complicated process, even though the plans of both the Tang class and USS Darter could be worked out. The final product was way larger and more complex, and it was just a mere « jumboisation » of those to fit in a new section containing the pressurized reactor (PWR). So that only by June 1952, almost a year after, that SS-574 keel is laid down at Electric Boat shipyard. All this time, Rickover was not present, forced to work on petty assignations back in Washington DC, instead he sent frequent letters and one of his colleagues to Groton to report on the progress and help polishing even minor details.


Nautilus’s keel was laid at General Dynamics’ Electric Boat Division in Groton, Connecticut, by Harry S. Truman on 14 June 1952, with fanfares, flags and Congressmen there. However since the Navy was responsible for it, Rickover was not invited, kept in his Washington makeshift office. Thge press and congress noted his absence as well, which led to some rumble towards the navy in 1953.
Navy anger towards him costed three times a promotion: He was passed over until not elegible anymore for promotion, meaning no longer desirable in the Navy, thus forced to retire from the project due to seniority issues. However in 1953 his Congress friends talked to Navy secretary to get him a rare « special election board » promoting him to rear admiral so the « father of nuclear subs » could stay at his post, still against the Navy which did not lacked epithets and birds names for the man.

120120-N-ZZ999-003.WASHINGTON (Jan. 20, 2012) In this file photo taken Jan. 21, 1954, spectators gather around the nuclear-powered submarine USS Nautilus (SSN 571) during a christening ceremony. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

The christening launch by Mamie Eisenhowever, also in presence of Chester Nimitz (no longer CNO) and the same congressmen and RADM Rickover this time, on 21 January 1954. She slipped into the Thames River.
However this was certainly not done yet, a lot of extra work was necessary until she was commissioned on 30 September 1954 (again in presence of Rickover), so almost two years after launch. It happened under command of Commander Eugene P. Wilkinson, first captain.

RADM Rickover inspecting his boat after completion. The inflexible « KOG » (Kind Old Gentleman) eventually had its way and became another American hero in the eyes of the general public. The photo is very reminiscent of John Holland and his bowler hat emerging from the hatch of his creation, USS Holland (SS1).


By 12 December 1951, the US Department of the Navy announced the name was chosen, « Nautilus ». It was the fourth USN vessel named that way assorted by the hull number SSN-571. The name « nautilus » was the scientific one for a pelagic marine mollusc of the cephalopod family Nautilidae, but it was also famously one of a revolutionary submarine at the time the concept was in its early infancy. When « Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas » was published in 1871 by French author Jules Verne from 1969 (1873 in the US) it had a worldwide impact in its depiction of future underwater exploration. After its enigmatic captain « Nautilus » was the other main protagonist, a submarine powered by a « new formidable energy source » (not steam). Parallels seems obvious. It seems planned, as Walt Disney’s « 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea » Ft. James Mason and Kirk Douglas aired on 1954 and the combination of both had quite an impact on the US public at the time.

Disney collaborated with the Navy for the interior decoration as well, with the wardroom displaying a set of tableware made of zirconium (like the nuclear fuel cladding) and designed the ship’s patch, probably as a return gesture for the name choice. It is often forgotten by Walt was also a visionary and futurist perfectly in line with the naive enthusiasm for the nuclear technology of its time. « USS Nautilus » has been previously attributed to SS-168, a Narwhal-class submarine (1930–1945), USS H-2 (SS-29) during construction (later changed to a simple number) and USS O-12 (SS-73) carrying symbolically this name during a civilian arctic expedition in 1931.

USS Nautilus Underway
USS Nautilus Underway

Main Hull and Specifics

Comparison between USS Tang and Nautilus
USS Nautilus was essentially a « scaled-up » and well modified Tang class. She was displacing 3,533 long tons (3,590 t) surfaced and 4,092 long tons (4,158 t) submerged versus 1,560–2,050 surf./2,260–2,700 long tons submerged and far larger, nearly reached 100 meters 320 ft (97.5 m) by 28 ft (8.5 m) in beam and 26 ft (7.9 m) in draft versus 277 ft by 27 ft by 17 ft. They did not playes in the same category. The very early design when first presented with Dan Kimball almost looked like a GUPPY type with a large powerplant taking most of the internal space. The final boat was massive, in fact she was the largest US submarine ever built, larger than 1927 USS Argonaut. The Japanese I-400 still had the record at the time. With her beam to lenght ratio she still could take advantage of her raw power, while her beam to height ratio ensured good agility, at least all things measured for such large submarine.

The prow shape was before the age of « teardrop » and thus still inspired by the Type XXI design, narrow forward but rounded, with a straight section, and then rounded again downards with increased width down to the belly. The latter was straight to about 3/4 of the end, then ending with the Tang class in straight line up to the location of the cross-style tail. The streamlining was important, and this part was well rounded, apart the upper end of the « deck ». Two shafts protruded fro mthis section, ended short of the horizontal tail.
The deck had a flat section going up to the raised end above the tail. Just underneath were located the crews quarters.

The USS Nautilus was also the first submarine in US history to have three full decks in the pressure hull. The conning tower was inspired by the ones fitted on later variants of the GUPPY converted subs. It consisted in a large water-filled aft part comprising all the various masts (in order main persicope, two radar and two antennae masts, intake snorkel mast and snorkel exhaust). The forward part where the ladder well accessed, comprised three levels, the navigating room, the surface bridge (with portholes) and above, the access room to the open bridge.
The attack center with all consoles and boatswain position, were located behind the CT as customary. Below the CC were located the radar machinery, mess and fresh water tanks.
The forward section comprised three levels, with the Captain’s statesroom, officer’s wardroom, below the crew’s mess and galley, a small nuclear lab, and below, batteries and food stores. After the forward crew’s quarters were located the armament’s room, with the spare torpedoes, controls, loading and maintenance equipments, then the six torpedo tubes. Above it was located the forward escape hatch and signals ejector.

Access to the rear was through a cramped passage above the recator section to the upper machinery space level. An engine room hatch was located above, through the upper section of the outer hull; The main machinery control room was located aft of it. Then came the aft escape hatch, and aft crew’s quarters. They still have to access the forward section’s mess to eat, so often meals were carried at some hours to their section. The galley was to feed thrice a day a crew of 13 officers, 92 enlisted, plus on-demand snacks and meals for the Captain and officers. Since range was on paper unlimited, and the food stores were not much larger than on previous generation SSKs, it was the achilles heal of the sub and resplenishments at sea had to be planned (or half-supplies via helicopter’s packages). The latter solution also used to transfer personal, allowed the sub to remain surfaced for a much shorter time. The crew had at least two professional divers that can retreive any heliborne packages or personal.
Later SSNs and SSBNs had far larger food stores as well as new types of dehydrated food rations which took far less internal bulk.

On that topic, about one third of the lenght was reserved to the nuclear reactor module and the engine room behind. For simplification, only forward Torpedo tubes were fitted.
For her paint scheme, she had a medium gray supestructure (above water part), as the conning tower, with darker reddish decks, small id number on the CT, and black underwater hull, not red. The red paint primer used as anti-fooling material was still there, but an anechoic black paste was painted over it, one early way to deal with noise reduction.

Powerplant & Performances

Left: Nautilus’s reactor core prototype at the S1W facility in Idaho. The beating hart of the vessel was its S2W reactor, S for « sub », 2 as it was the core generation, and W for Westinghouse. This reactor was the shipborne equivalent of the prototype S1W with minor design changes, generating 13,400 horsepower (10.0 MW) and originally called STR.
Located close aft to the conning tower, it was composed of an outer and innder shield for better protection, in which was located the core itself and its rods and their drive motor, the enclosure being cooled by water through a loop. There was no Water entries into the core which just boiled water and produced heat by indirect proximity.
This was turned into steam feeding two classic (also Westinghouse) geared steam turbines via a main upper steam line, driving two shafts. The indirect loop system was there to avoid any contamination, superheating steam being pushed to the turbines behind. Thus was the return of steam power into a submarine as there has been no way to obtain this steam with and air-independent system so far.

Differences between all three submarines types from the 1940s GATO class to the 1967 Los Angeles class

This power was passed onto two 5-bladed propellers, of a new design. They were changed after a refit to 7-bladed screws. This enabled a 22 knots surface speed, excellent at the time (15.5 kts for Tang and Darter), and 25 knots underwater (versus 16 kts) so it also blew away every and any design so far. However later on trials she experienced issues preventing her to reach this speed, not related to power but essentially vibrations, and so noise. In practice it was reduced to 23 knots at best (43 km/h; 26 mph).
She could dive up to 700 feet, which also was about the same as USS Darter (Test depth 210 m). Submerging time was greater than the previous attack subs however due to her larger size.
USS Nautilis had other sources of power. There were two electric generators which can be fed by two small diesels as backup, and batteries, located in the third deck.


She had six Mark 50 torpedo tubes of standard type (21-in or 533 mm) all in the bow close together on the straight section, behind three series of openings on either side. At this time, these were still of the trusted 21″ (53.3 cm) Mark 35 type (design 1946, service 1949) weighting 1,770 lbs. (803 kg) for 13 ft 5 in (4.089 m) in lenght, carrying a 270 lbs. (122.5 kg) HBX warhead to 15,000 yards (13,710 m) at 27 knots and powered by an Electric-Battery coolded by seawater and guided by active and passive acoustic system, with spiral search. This model stayed in service until 1960.
So it got rid of the aft tubes of the uss Darter, way smaller. This was criticized by the Navy, but technically there were few ways to have these installed.
These tubes had two reloads each and more, so 22 in all. Again compared to the size of the new sub, this also was criticized. She was fit for great patrols but lacked the torpedo supply to really take advantage of this.
During her major refit of the 1960 she mostly received a new ECM suite WLR-1 to replaced her original BLR-1 system, but perhaps also obtained new torpedoes of the 21″ (53.3 cm) Mark 39.
These entered service in 1956, weighting 1,275 lbs. (578 kg) for 11 ft 1 in (3.378 m) in lenght, so being actually shorter, carrying also a smaller 130 lbs. (59 kg) HBX warhead, and at shorter range of 13,000 yards (11,890 m) at 15.5 knots (Electric Battery) but what was new was her guiding system, using Wire and passive acoustic sonar. It was far more accurate. It’s also possible USS Nautilus kept both types until the end of her service.


Fleet Admiral CW Nimitz and officers are presented USS nautilis by Capt. Anderson after his exploit
Fleet Admiral CW Nimitz and officers are presented USS nautilis by Capt. Anderson after his exploit.

USS Nautilus was equipped with a set of radars for surface scanning and sonars.
BPS-12 radar: Medium-range surface search and navigation radar, modified BPS-5, similar to BPS-14.
BQS-4 Sonar(as completed):. Active/passive detection with AN/BQR-2 passive detection and active detection system with vertically stacked cylindrical transducers located inside the BQR-2 chin bow dome, from which it transmits its active « pings ». In addition to passive listening, the sonar can operate in either automatic echo-ranging or « single-ping » modes. Later updated to the BQR-4A.
BLR-1 EW suite: Radar warning receiver (RWR).
Replaced in 1962 by WLR-1 system, shipborne radar warning receiver for real-time intercept, direction-finding, processing and evaluation of radio-frequency signal emitters in the 0.5-18 GHz (C to J) bands.
The Nautilus had also two sets of long range communications antennae, receiver and transmitter.

Career of USS Nautilus

USS Nautilus during its initial sea trials, 20 January 1955
Following her commission on 30 September 1954, under command of Commander Eugene P. Wilkinson, she remained dockside for further testing and fixes. On by 17 January 1955, 11 am Wilkinson, ordered all lines cast off, signalling « Underway on nuclear power » for a first round of sea trials. On 10 May she travelled submerged to Cuban waters for her shakedown over 1,100 nmi (2,000 km; 1,300 mi) from New London to San Juan in Puerto Rico, and in less than 90 hours, part of it was done at max speed more than two hours, setting a world record.

1955-1957 saw her testing her new plant in a wide range of runs, increasing submerged speeds and multiplying endurance tests. On 4 February 1957, she registered her 60,000th nautical mile (110,000 km or 69,000 miles), a wink to her fictional contermart in Jules Verne’s « Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea ». In May 1957 she transited the Panama Canal to the Pacific Coast for exercises with the fleet and take part in Operation Home Run starting to train ASW groups to the presence of a nuclear submarine.

Nautilus after passing under the George Washington Bridge, visits New York Harbor in 1956

USS Nautilus was back to New London (Connecticut) on 21 July for a short resupply and crew’s leave, but departed on 19 August for her first voyage 1,200 nmi (2,200 km; 1,400 mi) underwater test trip under the polar pack ice. Next she sailed to the Eastern Atlantic for various NATO exercises, making numerous port calls in Europe, notably British and French ports where, where she was inspected by defense personnel there. Back at HP New London (28 October) she stayed for upkeep. The next spring she made post-overhaul trials and coastal operations.

Operation Sunshine:

< Navigator's report: Nautilus, 90°N, 19:15U, 3 August 1958, zero to North Pole. Her shining moment arrived when President Eisenhower wanted to answer Soviet achivement with Sputnik, which also went with the new Soviet ICBM threat. Her asked the submarine a transit of the North Pole, which would be at the same time a prestige feat, record setter, scientific endeavour and on the other hand, reinforce SLBM trials. It prepared the venue for better SSBNs in the USN. On 25 April 1958, USS Nautilus went for the West Coast under command of William R. Anderson, stopped at San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle on her way north, and departed along the coast for her polar transit from 9 June. On the 19th she was in Chukchi Sea, but deeper than expected drift ice in those shallow waters rebuffed her to another path. On the 28th she was back at Pearl Harbor to await better ice conditions, which was still not well understood, albeit seasonal.

By 23 July, she returned northward, submerging in the Barrow Sea Valley (1 August) and two days later at 23:15 PM she became the first watercraft to reach the geographic North Pole, accompanied by a famous log sheet. This was made possible by the North American Aviation N6A-1 Inertial Navigation System. Previously indeed, navigating with classic systems relying on sky configuraiton by night for example was no longer possible. The trip was done at some point, at near-maximul depht of 700 ft, under a huge depht of pack ice, in pitch black conditions. Above 85°N both indeed magnetic compasses and normal gyrocompasses become inaccurate and this became « longitude roulette ». There was no way a classic navigaton system would do, so engineers had the idea to adapted a system based on the Navaho cruise missile’s N6A system. It installed on Nautilus and also USS Skate after initial sea trials on USS Compass Island in 1957.

She departed from the North Pole for a run of 96 hours over 1,590 nmi (2,940 km; 1,830 mi) under the ice, to surface northeast of Greenland. She made history with the first submerged voyage around the North Pole. Scientists from the Naval Electronics Laboratory were all thrilled, notably the mediatic Dr. Waldo Lyon aboard USS Nautilus as chief scientist and ice pilot.
This was risky endeavour. In case of a serious hazard which would have forced the sub to surface, Commander Anderson considered using torpedoes to blow a hole in the ice…
The Bering Strait crossing of the first crossing was made under 60 ft (18 m) of water below sea level, there just was no room between ice and bottom. The second was through a channel close to Alaska.
Proceeding south from Greenland, she surfaced and Captain Anderson wet top the deck to be airlifted by helicopter directly to Washington D.C. for a White House ceremony on 8 August. Here President Eisenhower was presented the famous log page « 0 longitude-latitude » and in turn, presented Anderson with the Legion of Merit and a crew’s Presidential Unit Citation, a first in peacetime. He announced in his speech that one day nuclear cargo submarines might use that route for trade, but to the Soviets the message was clear.

USS Nautilus, meanwile arrived at the Isle of Portland, England, to receive her Unit Citation from American Ambassador JH Whitney from London. She crossed the Atlantic back to New London on 29 October for a well deserved rest after a city’s parade.

Later service and overhauls 1959-1979

Personal transfer from a ship via Tyrolian line.
By early 1959, USS Nautilus started exercizes, until sent to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (Maine) for her first of two major overhauls from 28 May 1959 to 15 August 1960. There was a short (4 month and a half) core change, refreshing of many powerplant elements, cleaning and replacement of all lines, etc. as well as eletrical equipments upgrades and new radar. This was followed by sea trials and a refresher training. After her post-fixes she departed on 24 October for her first deployment with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. There again, she made numerous port calls, enabling officials to visit her and showing the flag. On 16 December she was back to her homeport.

Nautilus in Sardinia, during her first Med TOD.

Next as part of Submarine Squadron 10, berthed in State Pier, New London she joined the squadron tender to upgrade maintenance procedures, and doing some preventive maintenance and a few repairs with USS Fulton (AS-11). She soon returned for exercises in the Atlantic, all geared towards improving ASW tactics, and NATO exercises. By October 1962 she took part in the quarantine of Cuba, a first for a nuclear sub. She pinged Russian diesels subs in these waters. Next she returned for a second, but short 2-month Mediterranean TOD from August 1963. She entered Portsmouth NyD for asecond and last overhaul from 17 January 1964 until 2 May 1966, with notably new sensors changes and probably new torpedo types embarked. It was also urgent to reduce her noise issues. Toward the end of her service both hull and sail vibrated so much that her sonar became « blind » to anything beyond 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) of speed. She clearly also fell to sonar detection. A few measured were taken but nothing was practicable but a full reconstruction. Thus, her service afterwards was limited, but lessons were well taken for future SSNs.

USS Nautilus departed New London for the Atlantic Fleet thus logging her 300,000th nautical mile underway and made a serie of « special operations » for ComSubLant (classified). From August 1967 she was back to Portsmouth for extra refit. There was an incident, during an exercise on 10 November 1966 she went too close -and colided with- USS Essex at shallow depth. She was repaired in Portsmouth and resumed exercises on the southeastern seaboard. Back to HP New London in December 1968 she returned with SuBron 10 for another ten years of routine service.

Decommission and Museum

Tugged into place in New London, 1985

On 9 April 1979 she departed Groton, her builder, for a final voyage under command of Richard A. Riddell whch brought her to Mare Island Naval Shipyard (Vallejo) by 26 May 1979. She was decommissioned there, stricken on 3 March 1980.

A port bow view of the nuclear-powered attack submarine ex-USS NAUTILUS (SSN 571) being towed into the Gatun Locks by canal commission tugs during its transit of the canal. The NAUTILUS is en route to its original home port at Naval Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut, where it will become a memorial at the Submarine Force Library and Museum.

She would be awared a Presidential Unit Citation with « For outstanding achievement in completing the first voyage in history across the top of the world, by cruising under the Arctic ice cap from the Bering Strait to the Greenland Sea » and National Defense Service Medal for Operation Sunshine clasp.
She could have been scrapped in 1980 and was placed in the disposal list, but was designated a National Historic Landmark by US Secretary of the Interior, on 20 May 1982.
She was to be based in Connecticut by 1983 butr received an extensive conversion at Mare Island Naval Shipyard to refit her as a museum ship (notably decontaminated), and towed back to Groton, under Captain John Almon on 6 July 1985. By 11 April 1986 she opened to the public (Submarine Force Library and Museum) and now under the Naval History and Heritage Command. She underwent anotther preservation refit in 2002 at Electric Boat. USS Nautilus nowadays is visited annually by 250,000 visitors while berthed in New London.

Underway for maintenance as museum ship in 2002

She celebrated her 50th anniversary on 30 September 2004 attended by Vice Admiral Eugene P. Wilkinson, first Commanding Officer. She was also presented with the American Nuclear Society National Nuclear Landmark badge. To that point, tours aft of the control room are not permitted for safety and security.
By March of 2022 she underwent a new restoration process for 6-8 months, notably maintaining her hull, new top decks, upgraded interior lighting/electrical lighting, completed at US$36 million. She reopened in late 2022.

As of today.

The team in charge of the maintenance poses for a drydock photo, June 2022


590609-N-XXXX-001 .GROTON, Conn. (June 9, 1959) The ballistic-missile submarine USS George Washington (SSBN 589) slides down the ways during her launching ceremony at Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation, Groton, Conn. George Washington was originally scheduled to become USS Scorpion (SSN 589) but during her construction she was lengthened by the insertion of a 130-foot missile section and was finished as a fleet ballistic-missile submarine. George Washington was commissioned as the Navy’s first nuclear-powered fleet ballistic-missile submarine on Dec. 31, 1959. (U.S. Navy photo/Released). This was another landmark

USS Nautilus announced a new submerine era, negating all WW2-era countermeasures: Radar and anti-submarine aircraft, crucial in defeating submarines, proved now ineffective against a vessel that coukd so fat underwater and change depth quickly or staying submerged near-indefinitely. The while ASW doctrine was made obsolete and new ones were to be found. USS Nautilus thus was as history-shaking as was HMS Dreadnought for its time.

Both USS Nautilus and Seawolf were built under the FY52 programme, as SSN prototypes. But only the first really retained attention today. The story of USS Nautilus is in line with great technological advances and the men behind programs that enabled it. Nuclear propulsion is the last major advance in ship propulsion (that is also submarine propulsion). Although AIOP is now a popular way to propel « conventional » subs today underwater, nother comes close to nuclear for raw power and range. For nations that can afford these today (USA, Russia, China, UK, France) they are the go-to submarine choice for deterrence (SSBNs) and protect it underwater with equally powered SSNs. Why nuclear propulsion is not more mainstream for subs is a matter of choice, but also cost, practicability, risk assessment and treaties restrictions.

There is a ban on nuclear ships (that includes subs) in many harbours worldwide which limit operational possibilities in case of damage repir, although alleviated by the range which allows such submarine to circle the world and get back to the home port, and only tolerance from the crew’s nerves and food supplies. In all occurence, USS Nautilus was the first submarine to use a safe and reliable means of air-independent propulsion (AIP) – a technology that had consisted, to date, of experimental closed-cycle combustion engines fed by bottled or chemical sources of oxygen that were inherently unsafe.

At the same time USS Nautilus was completed for tests, the USN tested their first atomic cruise missile launcher submarine, USS Grayback.

Since the record underwater cruise of USS Triton, the nuclear submarine performs almost routine exploits, being in « secret service » by nature, always « somewhere » to patrol, gather intel or place deterrence points on the world’s map ready to launch doomsday anywhere, whenever required. This is also why deterrence mostly relies today on SSBNs (the navy got its revenge on the air force): Bombers can be shot down, and fixed ground missile sites, one day or the other with the advances in satellite phot accuracy, are always discovered and catalogued. A SSBN is by nature an invisible launch point. Its shadowy presence ensure rogue nation’s military ambitions checked and the greater ones at forced peace through MAD. But despite of it, it never prevented conventional wars to happen, as a common undertanding is that nuclear use, even tactical and very limited would trigger a very dangerous, soapy slope towards full on nuclear war. It’s the red line today everyones recoignises.

Anyway, creating a first nuclear missile launcher submarine, even experimental, happened at the same time the first experimental nuclear-powered sub was made. It was possible only because of USS Nautilus, the one and only precursor. Stage one of this quest. Stage two was to fit ballistic subs in a nuclear powered one, as least as long as the US and NATO were concerned although some nations proceeded differently. France had its SSBNs before SSNs and Russia had conventional SSBs before SSBNs.
However as AIOP tech grows in sophistication and performances, the SSN solution seems less and less relevant, at least for Attack Subs. Sweden went for Stirling engine AIP, Japan, France and Germany towards fuel cells. It allows a month and more underwater so far, and this is just the beginning.

Poscard in Groton, Conn. « first atomic submarine ».

The Nautilus could in theory also stay submerged indefinitely and to prove it, crossed 1,800 miles under the Arctic ice by the summer of 1958, from the Bering Strait to the eastern coast of Greenland; This was a history changing even for the Cold War. The Soviets had the time had a 450-to-110 advantage in submarines over the US, and just launched Sputnik I, to under the blessing of « Ike », the United States could now reset the clock and retained the world’s medias attention when unveiling a boat which could patrol from Murmansk to Vladivostok, the whole coastline of the Soviet Union, making quite a statement as the Regulus nuclear-armed guided cruise missiles when just announced ready. The US were back in technological superiority and although this was questioned a few times (Kirov, the November class (through speed), the Echo-Charlie-Oscar missile subs, Typhoons, the Alfa class, the Ekranoplanes…) the Soviet Union wasted money in prestige projects, ultimately leading to the collapse and end to the cold war.

Read More


Christley, Jim; Bryan, Tony. US Nuclear Submarines: The Fast Attack. Osprey.
Polmar, Norman; Moore, Kenneth J. Cold War submarines: the design and construction of US and Soviet submarines. Brassey’s.
« National Register Information System ». National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
« Nautilus (Nuclear Submarine) ». National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service.
Winters, Ann (28 March 2017). « Underway on Nuclear Power » The Man Behind the Words: Eugene P. « Dennis » Wilkinson, Vice Admiral USN. The American Nuclear Society.
Hewlett & Duncan, Nuclear Navy, pp. 162
« Biography of Admiral Hyman G. Rickover ». Naval History & Heritage Command.
« Lab’s early submarine reactor program paved the way for modern nuclear power plants ». Argonne’s Nuclear Science and Technology Legacy (Press release). 21 January 1996.
« Argonne National Laboratory News Release, 21 January 1996, retrieved 31 December 2014 ».
« Reactors designed by Argonne National Laboratory, retrieved 31 December 2014 ».
« Nautilus IV (SSN-571) ». Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval History & Heritage Command
Anderson, William R. « Fact Sheet – USS Nautilus and Voyage to North Pole, August 1958 » (PDF).
« History of USS Nautilus (SSN 571) ». Submarine Force Library and Museum.
Steel Boats, Iron Men: History of the US Submarine Force. Turner. 1994. p. 71.
Leary, William M. (1999). Under Ice: Waldo Lyon and the Development of the Arctic Submarine. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press.
Konstam, Angus (May 2010) [2008]. Naval Miscellany. Oxprey.
Anderson, William R; Blair, Clay (May 1989) [1959]. Nautilus 90 North. McGraw-Hill.
« Navy retires Nautilus sub after 25 years ». Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. 4 March 1980.
Norman Polmar and Kenneth J. Moore (14 May 2014). « Chapter 4 ». Cold War Submarines. The Design and Construction of U.S. and Soviet Submarines. Potomac Books, 2004.
Sheire, James W. (12 February 1982). « National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination / USS Nautilus (SSN-571) » (pdf).
Friedman, Norman (1994). U.S. Submarines Since 1945: An Illustrated Design History. NIP
Hewlett, Richard; Duncan, Francis (1974). Nuclear Navy 1946-1962. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press.


History Of USS NAUTILUS uss-nautilus-the-worlds-first-operational-nuclear-submarine-is-commissioned-by-the-u-s-navy/


Laying down ceremony of USS Nautilus (hosted archive)

Model Kits USS-Nautilus.htm
building the RC version, 1/72 of Nautilus


CNS O’Higgins (1897)

CNS O’Higgins

Armada de Chile – Armoured Cruiser, 1894-1958

CNS O’Higgins, was Chile’s largest cruiser before the cold war. The thunderstuck of Argentina ordering two Italian armored cruisers at the last minute stunned the Chileans, which ordered in turn by April 1896 to Vickers Armstrong Yard a cruiser specifically tailored to answer the Italian ships. She was tailor-designed and built at a staggering cost of 700,000 pounds, completed on 2 April 1898. The 8,500, 21 knots armoured cruiser sported four 8-in in single turrets, ten 6-in in casemates as well as four 4.7 in, ten 12-pounder and ten 6-pounder… As Argentina soon acquired two more and wished to acquire another pair, soon after Chile also ordered in Britain two battleships.

As a symbol, it’s on O’Higgins deck the Argentinian presidential delegation met the Chilean one at Punta Arenas on 15 February 1899 to normalise relations between the two countries. This put an end to the Chile-Argentina naval arms race (under international pressure), lasting for ten years and near-bankrupting both countries, before bouncing again in 1906 after Brazil ordered three dreadnoughts…

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So in In April 1896, the Chilean government ordered its first armoured cruiser, to be called O’Higgins (see later for the name). It was ordered on precise specifications from Armstrong, Whitworth & Company, and put to the good care of its superstar director, Sir Philip Watts, for a staggering cost at the time of £700,000, far more than the Argentinian Italian-built ships. After plans were reviewed by the commission she was laid down at Armstrong’s Elswick Naval Yard, located at Newcastle-on-Tyne, on 4 April 1896. After a construction without issue, she was launched on 17 May 1897, and completed on 2 April 1898. The ship had been an interesting test as the Royal Navy itself had a line of contemporary armoured cruiser such as the Diadem class, which rather had sixteen 6-in guns, but no heavier artillery. The entrance of the Garibaldi class in the Mediterranean revised its plans. On the next Cressy class the admiralty chose indeed to place two single 9.2 in (234 mm) guns fore and aft, and repeated this for the next classes.

Design of the class

The O’Higgins unlike many ships of her age looked rather unique. Between her armament, size and appearance she really was unique, albeit still conventionally built by Philip Watts. The latter directed the world’s largest naval yard at a time of great international tensions, being at the center of a « gold age » in British naval construction for export. He designed notably NMS Elisabeta for Romania, the Italian Castore-class gunboats and the cruiser Piemonte, Brazilian Republica, ARA Veinticinco de Mayo and Nueve de Julio, IJN Yoshino, CNS Esmeralda, USS New Orleans, Almirante Barroso, and IJN Yashima prior to the O’Higgins and will ultimately design HMS Dreadnought in 1906, and then the super-dreadnoughts of the Queen Elizabeth-class.
In some ways, the O’Higgins was considered a successful design had two sister ships, IJN Asama and Tokiwa, which fought at Tsushima.

Hull and general design

O’Higgins was undoubtely a large ship, the largest and costiest ever ordered by Chile. At 7,796 long tons (7,921 t) standard and 8,500 long tons (8,636 t) full load she was larger than Esmeralda or Blanco Encalada indeed, measuring 126 m (412 ft) overall, for a generous beam of 19.13 m (62 ft 9 in) and a draught of 6.93 m (22 ft 9 in). To compare with Esmeralda (468 ft 3 in (142.72 m) x 52 ft 5 in (15.98 m) x 20 ft 6 in (6.25 m)), she was shorter but beamier and draftier. Which argued for more stability, whereas Esmeralda was a « greyhound » built for speed. A more compact hull were and advantage as shortining the surface to cover with a thicker armour, thus keeping the displacement balanced compared to the output of her machinery.

Her silhouette was rather unique with a bridge built over the conning tower, two military masts and three funnels, tall and close together. They had siw service boats under davits on either side. The bridge was extensive and built above the conning tower, with the military mast located behind. Two wings supported light guns and communication projectors. The two military masts fore and aft were supporting each a fighting top with four light guns and a spotting top above supporting a large searchlight. The upper part of the mast was setup for rigging (planned by never mounted).
The aft bridge as tall and almost as extensive as the forward one.

Armour protection layout

O’Higgins in Brasseys naval annual 1899
Main protection included -armoured cruiser obliges improvements in armour:
-A belt 260 feet (79 m) long and 7 feet (2.1 m) high 7 inches (178 mm) machinery, 6 inches (152 mm) fore and aft.
-An armoured deck for the entire length and beam, with 3 inches (76 mm) slopes, 1.5 inches (38 mm) flat section.
-The Conning tower forward had walls 8 in (203 mm) thick.
-The turrets were protected by 7–5 in (178–127 mm) sides, the strongest at the front
-The secondary casemates and gun shields still reached 6–5 in (152–127 mm)
The hull was clad in copper and wood to reduce fouling and compartimentation between 15 bulkheads for underwater protection, sub-divided into a lot of void small compartmennts that could be filled with extra coal in wartime and added some protection against torpedo hits. In fact the coal could be almost doubled from 700 to 1,200 tonnes.


O’Higgins had two shafts, driven by two vertical triple-expansion (VTE) steam engines, fed by steam coming from no less than 30 Belleville water-tube boilers. Total output in normal condition was 16,500 indicated horsepower (12,300 kW), enough for 21.6 knots (40.0 km/h; 24.9 mph). For range, she carried 1,253 long tons (1,273 t) of coal max (700 tons of coal normally, 1,200+ tons maximum) for 4,580 nautical miles (8,480 km; 5,270 mi) at 8 knots, but again in normal conditions. It could be probably extended in wartime. She was assumed to be a steady platform, seaworthy, with predictable roll.


Compared to Ministro Zenteno, it was more than double, with an array of five calibers (8-in, 6-in, 4.7-in, 3-in and 2-in) and torpedo tubes.

Main armament:

Four 8-inch (203 mm) 40 calibre guns in single turrets, with two on the ship’s centreline fore and aft and two port and starboard in line with the forward funnel.
These were introduced in 1893, weighted 15 t for 9.7 m (31 ft 10 in) (barrel alone 8.2 m/26 ft 11 in) and used separate loading bagged charge and projectile with 95–113 kg (209–249 lb) shells carrying a 32–44 kg (71–97 lb) charge. Rate of fire was 2 rpm, Muzzle velocity 685 m/s (2,250 ft/s), range was probably below 15,000 yards.

Secondary Armament:

Ten 6-inch (152 mm) 40 calibre guns were fitted, with six in casemates and the remaining four in single turrets. MV 2,154 fps (657 m/s), ROF 5-7 rpm, range 10,000 yards (9,140 m)/20.

Tertiary (anti-torpedo boat):

-Four 4.7-inch (119 mm) Elswick QF Mk V naval guns, located in the wings.
-Ten 12-pounder guns standard 3-in 12 cwt Elswick Type, between decks and bridges
-Ten 6-pounder guns standard 37mm Hotchkiss Type in the fighting tops and bridges
Torpedoes: Three 18-inch (457 mm), two submerged broadside, one above the waterline, right aft, there was none in the bow. Likely the Whitehead Mark 2C torpedo model.
1,232 pounds, 197 inches (5.0 meters) by 17.7 inches (45 centimeters) range 1500 yards Warhead 132 pounds wet guncotton, Mk 1 contact exploder, Engine 3-cylinder reciprocating engine for 28.5 knots. Likely to have been adopted after completion, the 2C was available in 1898.
Her Modernization in 1919-1920 saw the removal of four 120mm/44 guns and all ten 57mm/40 for the addition of three single 76m/40 (3-in) Armstrong AA guns.

Author’s old illustration

⚙ Ministro Zenteno specifications

Displacement 7,796t standard, 8,500t full load
Dimensions 126 x 19.13 x 6.93m (412 ft x 62 ft 9 in x 22 ft 9 in)
Propulsion 2 shafts VTE steam engines 30 Belleville boilers 16,250 ihp (12,120 kW)
Speed 21.6 kn (40.0 km/h; 24.9 mph)
Range 4,580 nmi (8,480 km; 5,270 mi)
Armament 4× 8 in/40, 10× 6 in/40, 4× 4.7 in, 10× 12-pdr, 10 × 6-pdr, 2× MGs, 3× 18 in TTs
Protection Belt 7–5 in, Deck 3–1.5 in to 2–1.5 in, Turrets 7–5 in, casemates 6–5 in, CT 8 in
Crew 500

CNS O’Higgins in service

While O’Higgins was close to completion at Elswick (winter 1897) tensions between Spain and the United States on Cuba grew and rumours circulated that Spain was trying by purchasing new warships, including from other countries (the same rumors were justified as many ships in construction were often resold amidst the evolution of the situaiton and economical issues. For example the US just acquired USS New Orleans and another cruiser destined initially to Brazil. The rumors included O’Higgins, just newly completed Chilean cruiser Esmeralda(ii) and protected cruiser Ministro Zenteno nearing completion at Elswick yard. This in return was answered as the Spanish–American War was more likely, by the United States attempting to purchase O’Higgins, but negotiations failed. Eventually, the Chilean crew arrived in Britain and O’Higgins was commissioned, proceeded to sea trials and sailed for Valparaiso, arriving on 25 July 1898.

The armored cruiser had an official role soon: She hosted a meeting between the President of Chile, Federico Errázuriz Echaurren and the Argentine President Julio Argentino Roca at Punta Arenas on 15 February 1899, to normalise relations between the two countries, practically ending the naval arms race altogether. This meeting was also known as the « Embrace of the Straits » (El Abrazo del Estrecho).

She was sent to Panama in 1903 to watch for the United States and Columbia in high tensions after the separation of Panama from Colombia. She was posted there during the dispute, ready to intervene and save local residents or interpose between the two fleets, as other international vessels, but negociations put an end to it.

In 1919, O’Higgins was fitted with a floatplane. It could be lowered at sea and recover after operations by her main boom crane. The same year after an overhaul she was sea trialled and obtained a top speed of 21 knots, remarkable after all her service already. Most of the small tubes of her boilers has been cleaned up or replaced after her 1919–1920 refit. During the same she saw her armament also rejuvenated with four 4.7-in/44 removed as her 6-pdr/40, receiving 3-in/40 (3-in) Armstrong anti-aicraft guns.

On 12 March 1920, she collided with the Chilean cargo SS Llai Llai, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the cargo sank.
On 24 August 1920, while anchored in Mejillones, she had an aircraft hitting a cannon while flying too close, killing the pilot, Midshipman Julio Villagrán. There was no victim aboard the cruiser.
In 1928–29 she was refitted. Details are not known.
She was involved in a large scale mutiny sweeping the Chilean fleet, and she was seize forcibly (at gun point) by its crew on 1 September 1931, officers locked away. The « Sublevación de la Escuadra » was a violent rebellion of enlisted men against the government of Vice President Manuel Trucco. Officers mostly stayed loyal to the government. The rebellion was put down notably by the intervention of the Chilean aviation.

However after her refit she saw little service. The latter was not enough to keep her relevant and with the arrival of the Battleship Almirante Latorre she was considered surplus to requirement. Already in sermi-reserve in 1933, then decommissioned she became a utility pontoon, stripped of her armament, seeing WW2 in that state. Eventually she was stricken in 1958, but was kept as hulk and eventually sold by June 5, 1964 to the Pacific Steel Company for BU.


Built at Armstrong, Withworth & Co. Ltd shipyards, Newcastle upon Tyne, Elswick, England and designed by Philip Watts. The government ordered its construction in March 1896 at a cost of £700,000. She was launched in April 1896. Between her steel hull lined with wood and copper, and good overall protection, inclduding up to 7-in on her main turrets, her underwater divided into 15 watertight compartments and modern triple expansion engines, state of the art 30 Belleville boilers in three groups she was fast for her category. A formidable ship, whioch noi doubt would have been an interesting choice of acquisition by Spain or the US with the impending war. She served with the Evolution Squad and then the Active Squad, hosted the reunion which put an end to the naval rivalry between Chile and Argentina, thus defeating the very purpose of her existence in a twist of irony. She had little to do afterwards, and cost a lot to Chilean taxpayers. The rest of her carreer was cushy like the rest of the fleet, between exercizes and training cruises. Her modernization was cosmetic in 1920 and 1930 but her conception was definitely obsolete by that time.

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Cámara de Diputados. Boletín de las Sesiones Estraordinarias en 1903, Imprenta Nacional, Santiago, 1904, sesión 22ª Estraordinaria en 25 de noviembre de 1903

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Ministro Zenteno (1896)

CNS Ministro Zenteno

Armada de Chile – 1894-96

CNS Ministro Zenteno (1894). Another landmark of the Chile-Argentina naval arms race. Before even Argentina ordered by surprise the first two Garibaldi class armoured cruisers, Chile obtained also by surprise in 1895 yet another protected cruiser from Vickers Armstrong Yards. After 21 de Mayo, 9 de Julio, Blanco Encalada and Esmeralda, Ministro Zenteno was in fact one of the three Almirante Barroso class cruisers ordered by Brazil in 1894, also joining the fray. Finiancial difficulties led the yard to sell it the Chile in September 1895. Later Brasil only obtained Barroso, cancelling the remaining two Amazonas and Almirante Abreu, resold to the USN (just in time for the Spanish-American war…).

But what was worth Ministro Zenteno ? She was a reasonable 20-knots protected cruiser armed with eight 152mm/40 Armstrong guns, much smaller than the previous Esmeralda and Encalada. She was mostly there to surpass Argentina in numbers, which just obtained ARA Buenos Aires. She had a cushy, unremarkable career marked by the Pan-American Conference in Mexico in 1901, until decommissioned in 1930. Sister ships USS New Orleans and Albany were even scrapped earlier. #ww1 #chileannavy #armadadechile #ministrozenteno

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In November 1894, the Brazilian government placed an order for three protected cruisers with Armstrong, Mitchell & Co Yard in Britain. The first was laid down as Chacabuco on 6 May 1895 at Armstrong’s Elswick. However the government failed to secure the first installment and the yard had the construction delayed so it was instead sold to the Chile by September 1895. She was launched as CNS Ministro Zenteno, on 1 February 1896. Brazil would eventually had one of these, Almirante Barroso, Amazonas being sold to the US and becoming USS New Orleans and Almirante Abreu became USS Albany as tension grew with Spain over Cuba. So, the Chilean cruiser was an undesired opportunity. There were no specifications for her.

Design of the class

She was a fairly straithforward medium sized protected cruiser with a homogeneous main armamament unlike behemoths like Esmeralda or Blanco Encalada. Symmetrical in appearance, with a forecastle and poop, lower gun battery where were located the other four main guns and two lighter ones on either side. Two military masts with three tops (fighting and spotting) and rigging as shown on Brassey’s depiction. Two equal size vertical funnel, heavenly spaced. Six service boats under davits.

Hull and general design

CNS Ministro Zenteno displaced 3,473 long tons (3,529 t) -standard apparently- and she had a hull 108.00 metres (354 ft 4 in) long overall, 100.58 metres (330 ft) between perpendiculars. For her beam was 43 feet 9 inches (13.34 m) this gave her a good hull ratio close to 1/10. She had a draught of 5.14 metres (16 ft 10 in).

Armour protection layout

She had a full-length arched (« turtle ») deck, all steel armour and 3+1⁄2 inches (89 mm) thick on slopes but down to 1+1⁄4 inches (32 mm) on the flat section. No belt as this armoured deck played that part. There were no bulkheads. Apart this, The ship had a conning tower forward with 4 inches (100 mm) walls, located just below and forward of the bridge. The thickness of shields for the main and secondary guns is unknown, but assumed to be 1-in (25 mm) and below.


She had two propellers, two 3-bladed ones, drived by two vertical triple-expansion steam engines, fed in turn by four boilers, for a grand total of 7,500 indicated horsepower (5,600 kW) in forced draught, trials, but 6,500 indicated horsepower (4,800 kW) in natural draught. Top speed obtained in forced draught on trials was 20.25 knots (23.30 mph; 37.50 km/h) which was not stellar. This means in service and full load she rarely went beyond 19 kts for short period of times and in ideal conditions. She could carry 850 tons oil in normal conditions, but range is unknown.


Main guns: Eight 6-in (152 mm)/45 QF Elswick guns: Forecastle and poop, centerline, then three either beam, sponsoned, all shielded. Specs as the standard 152/40 Armstrong W Type.
Secondary armament:
-Ten 6-pdr (57mm), Four in casemates bow and stern, four battery deck, two in the wings. Standard Hotchkiss QF type.
-Four 3-pdr (47mm) guns. Located in the fighting tops. Standard 23 caliber QF Hotchkiss Type.
Torpedoes: Three 18-inch (450mm) torpedo tubes: One bow, fixed, two on swivelling mounts, broadside, all surfaced.

⚙ Ministro Zenteno specifications

Displacement 3,437 tons
Dimensions 100.6 x 13.3 x 5.2 m (330 ft 1 in x 43 ft 8 in x 17 ft)
Propulsion 2 VTE, 8 cyl. boilers shp 7,500
Speed 20.2 knots (37.4 km/h; 23.2 mph)
Range 850 t oil, unknown.
Armament 8× 6-in/40, 10× 3-pdr/40, 1× pdr/23 Hotchkiss, 3x 18-in TTs
Protection Armoured Deck 32-89 mm (1.3 in-3.5 in), CT 102 mm (4 in)
Crew 317

CNS Ministro Zenteno in service

CNS Ministro Zenteno entered service in 1898, no known date. She sailed to Chile and started her service in training in home waters. Nothing notable nut she joined the Evolution Squad. She made several trips abroad. By August 1901 she was sent to Mexico under the command of Captain José María Villarreal for the duration of the Pan-American Congress.

Her attending to the Pan-American Conference was linked to the organizion by the US state secretary Blaines, of a trade agreement to clos ties between the United States and southern counterparts, and open Latin American markets to US trade. During the trip she made a stopover in El Callao and Guayaquil, where she stayed on September 18-19 receiving an extraordinary welcome from the Government and population. After the Pan American Congress, she visited Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala.
Nothing notable in 1902-1907 but that year she departed for a very long cruise.

Ministro Zenteno in 1897

She sailed from Valparaíso under command of Captain Arturo E. Wilson on a very special midshipman training cruise, taking advantage of attending the Great International Naval Review in Hampton Roads in Virginia, at the entrance of the bay of Chesapeake,.
So in March 14, 1907, she departed and stopped to Punta Arenas, Bahía, La Guaira, Bermudas, Hampton Roads, Annapolis, Newport, Plymouth, Brest, El Ferrol, Lisboa, Argel, Malta, Spezia, Genova, Barcelona, Cartagena, Gibraltar, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Río de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Puerto Madryn, Punta Arenas, Puerto Montt, Talcahuano. She also stopped at Puerto Barroso, Grappler, Dixon, Fortescue, Tamar, Puerto Bueno, Puerto Edén, Puerto Laguna, Melinka, and dropped anchor back in Valparaíso by December 8 the same year.

Ministro Zenteno in Barcelona, 1907

Nothing notable between 1908 and WW1. She kept patrolling Chilean waters during the war. Apart some periods of reduced commission, she made also a few trips of hydrographic works in the south. The restr was alternated betwene cadet training, battle squadron exercises, and refits. She never was modernized however.

On June 19, 1919, she took part in an Hydrographic mission under the directuon of Commander Hipólito Marchant in the Beagle Channel area, when she went astray on Lennox Island, loosing men thrown overboard, and causing alarm. The crew requested authorization to lower a boat and despite the bad weather, disembarked in Lennox, went on searching for the unfortunate cabin boys missing. After searching for more than ten hours without sleep, enduring low temperatures and snow, they eventually found Baeza, exhausted but alive. Requiring medical help from the cruiseer, the cutter « Yañez » was dispatched, its Commander skilfully avoiding rocks and managed to rescue all the expedition members. The tugboat « Yánez » carried also a body on board Zenteno, which was identified as second Sailor Idelfonso Ormeño Bravo in help of Baeza. A small island was named Ormeño in homage.

Ministro Zenteno, centennial of Chile, 1910
The cruiser saw little service in the 1920s, being partly decommissioned by Supreme Decree on January 3, 1930. She was sold for BU soon after.

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The Peruvian Navy in the cold War

Peruvian Day ! – The Peruvian Navy in the cold war. With 4 Cruisers, 12 destroyers, 10 frigates, 16 submersibles, 12 patrol vessels, 15 Amazon riverine gunboats and 78 misc. ships Peru was not a small player in south American waters. It went from far in 1947. But renewed between MDAP transfers in the 1940-50s and acquisitions of British destroyers and cruisers (and yet the only south american navy not jumping into the bandwagon of postwar British fleet carriers). It was also mostly made of second-hand ships, albeit modernized, giving them an additional career life often close or beyound half a century. It was rejunated in the later 1970s and 1980s around Netherlands cruisers and destroyers, Italian frigates, French corvettes and German submarines. The full monty: History, Organization, ships in detail, bases, Marines and naval air force. #coldwar #peruviannavy #armadadoperu #marinadoperu #PeruIndependenceDay