U.S. Navy - A Brief History of Destroyers

The Destroyers

A Brief History of U.S. Navy Destroyers
Part II -- World War II (1941-1943)

American Naval History, 1984
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

All images below are hyperlinked to larger images for better viewing. All images are official Navy photographs.

April 10, 1941 - USS Niblack (DD 424) used depth charges against a German U-boat while conducting rescue operations of a torpedoed Dutch freighter. This was the first action taken by an American naval vessel against the Axis Powers.
Sep. 4, 1941 - USS Greer (DD 145), while patrolling south of Iceland, was attacked by the U-652. Greer had held the German U-boat in sound contact 3 hours and 28 minutes; had evaded two torpedoes fired at her; and with her 19 depth charges had become the first American ship in World War II to attack the Germans.
Sep. 11, 1941 - Following the Greer incident off Iceland, President Roosevelt orders all naval vessels to attack any ship that threatens American shipping or foreign shipping under escort.
Oct. 17, 1941 - USS Kearny (DD 432) was torpedoed on her starboard side by a German U-boat while on patrol off Greenland but did not sink. The crew confined the flooding to the forward fire room enabling the ship to get out of the danger zone form power from the aft fire room. After regaining power in her forward fire room Kearny steamed to Iceland. Eleven men were killed and 22 other were injured in the explosion.
Oct. 31, 1941 - USS Reuben James (DD 245) was torpedoed and sunk with a crew of 115 by the U-552 while escorting a convoy from Halifax, Nova Scotia. She was the first U.S. vessel destroyed by the Axis Powers.
Nov. 6, 1941 - USS Somers (DD 381) and the cruiser USS Omaha (CL 4) captured the Odewald, a German blockade runner, in the central Atlantic. The Odewald was disguised as the American merchantman Willmoto.
Jan. 20, 1942 - USS Edsall (DD 219) cooperated with Australian forces to sink I-124, a Japanese submarine. This was the first Japanese submarine to be destroyed by forces which included U.S. surface forces.
Jan. 24, 1942 - USS John D. Ford (DD 228), USS Parrott (DD 218), USS Paul Jones (DD 230) and USS Pope (DD 225) surprised a Japanese invasion force off Balikpapan, Borneo. The U.S. ships sank 4 of 12 transports and a patrol boat during the nighttime attack, known as the Battle of Makassar Strait.
April 26, 1942 - USS Sturtevant (DD 240) ran into an American-laid minefield off the Florida Keys. No one on board was notified of the field's location in the area.
March 26, 1943 - The Battle of Komanadorskis occurred in the Aleutian Islands. Several U.S. ships took part in the action which included USS Bailey (DD 492), USS Coghlan (DD 606), USS Dale (DD 353) and USS Monaghan (DD 354).
Oct. 6-7, 1943 - USS Chevalier (DD 451) sank during the Battle of Vella Lavella in the central Solomons. Japanese forces, including 9 destroyers and 12 small craft, went to evacuate 600 troops on Vella Lavella. Six American destroyers intercepted the evacuation forces sinking one destroyer, HIJMS Yugumo. The Japanese finally got their troops off the island using the small craft.
Oct. 9, 1943 - USS Buck (DD 420) was sunk by the U-616 off Salerno, Italy with the loss of 166 lives. Buck received three battle stars for her service in World War II.
Nov. 1, 1943 - USS Borie (DD 215) engaged in a nighttime battle with U-405. Borie succeeded in ramming the u-boat after an hour-long battle. The two ships were stuck together briefly while both crews exchanged small arms fire. Borie sank the next day due to her damaged bow.
Nov. 25, 1943 - The Battle of Cape St. George occurs when Captain Arleigh Burke's Destroyer Squadron 23 intercepted a Tokyo express transporting troops to Buka, just north of Bougainville. Burkes' destroyers sank three of the five Japanese destroyers. The other two left the area. DESRON 23 did not take a single hit.
Dec. 24, 1943 - USS Leary (DD 158) was sunk during an escort mission in the North Atlantic and became the third (and last) American destroyer to be sunk by a German U-boat.