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Destroyer Command Reference Supplement

I. Destroyers i. ii. iii. iv. v. vi. vii. viii. ix. x. xi. xii. xiii. xiv. Bagley Benham Benson Clemson Farragut Fletcher Gleaves Gridley Mahan Porter Sims Somers Sumner Wickes

II. Destroyer Weapons i. Torpedo Armaments ii. Main Battery Guns iii. Anti Aircraft Guns iv. Depth Charges III. Destroyer History
IV. Decorations

I. Destroyers
Destroyers were designed as very fast, maneuverable weapons platforms with significant offensive punch and a wide range of roles. Because of these conflicting requirements, a number of design components were made. For instance, in order to save weight, destroyers carried little or no armor plating, making them vulnerable to large-caliber naval guns and aerial bombardment. A destroyer relied on its speed and maneuverability to stay out of harms way. To maintain these high rates of speed, a significant amount of a destroyers below deck space was taken up by engines, boilers and reduction gearing. This left little room for carrying fuel, limiting the destroyers endurance and leading to the destroyer force slogan, We are ready now sir, that is, as soon as we finish refueling. The fuel situation led to such practices as shutting down one engine when high speed wasnt required and refueling in mid-ocean from battleships and destroyer tenders. DESTROYER COMMAND models every US destroyer class that saw significant action in World War II. The following sections discuss the different destroyer types and the weapons they used.

i. Bagley Class
The Gridley/Bagley class (the two were almost indistinguishable) represented an attempt to maximize the torpedo battery of the 1620-ton U.S. destroyer. Unfortunately, problems with U.S. torpedoes ultimately limited the effectiveness of this configuration. Launch: Displacement: Length: Beam: Draft: Max Speed: Endurance: Armor: Guns: AA: Torpedo tubes: First launched 1936 1646 tons 2245 tons full load 341ft 4in 35ft 6in 12ft 10in 38.5 kt 6,500 nm (12 kt) n/a 4x5in/38 dual-purpose 5x20mm Oerlikons 4x4 21in

ii. Benham Class

The Benhams were effectively a continuation of the Gridley/Bagley class. The large torpedo batteries would eventually be replaced by additional AA armament as the threat from aircraft was fully realized. Launch: Displacement: First launched 1938 1657 tons 2250 tons full load

Length: Beam: Draft: Max Speed: Endurance: Armor: Guns: AA: Torpedo tubes:

340ft 9in 35ft 6in 12ft 10in 38.5 kt 6,500 nm (12 kt) n/a 4x5in/38 dual-purpose 5x20mm Oerlikons 4x4 21in

iii. Benson Class

The Benson/Gleaves class (the two were almost indistinguishable) was the last of the prewar U.S. destroyer types and was kept in production mainly as a stopgap until the production of Fletcher-class destroyers came up to speed. Originally armed with 5 5-inch guns and 2 5-torpedo mounts, the armament was reconfigured early in production to accommodate additional AA guns. Most Benson/Gleaves-class destroyers were stationed in the Atlantic where their forecastle design had the advantage in sea keeping over the Fletchers. Launch: Displacement: Length: Beam: Draft: Max Speed: Endurance: Armor: Guns: AA: Torpedo tubes: First launched 1939 1839 tons 2395 tons full load 348ft 4in 36ft 1in 13ft 2in 35 kt 6,500 nm (12 kt) n/a 4x5in/38 dual-purpose 2x40mm twin Bofors 7x20mm Oerlikons 1x5 21in

iv. Clemson Class

This large class of World-War I destroyers as well as the Wickes class was retained by the U.S. Navy, though many were kept in mothballs until the start of World War II, at which time 50 were given to England in exchange for basing rights. These ships were considered obsolete even when they were built and many were converted to mine sweepers and fast transports. Launch: Displacement: Length: Beam: Draft: Max Speed: First launched 1918 1190 tons 314ft 30ft 10in 9ft 10in 35 kt

Endurance: Armor: Guns: AA: Torpedo tubes:

2,500 nm (20 kt) n/a 4 4in/50 3x20mm Oerlikons 4x3 21in

v. Farragut Class
The Farragut class was the first of the post-WWI destroyer designs commissioned for the U.S. Navy and served as the prototypes for all subsequent U.S. destroyers until the Fletcher class appeared. The 5-inch guns and centerline torpedo mounts were a distinct improvement over the armament of the old Clemson and Wickes "4-stackers." Originally these ships had 5 5-inch guns, but the midships mount was removed for a pair of twinBofors during the war. Built to the London treaty limitations of 1500 tons for destroyers, the Farraguts were considered rather flimsy, hence the up sizing of later classes. Launch: Displacement: Length: Beam: Draft: Max Speed: Endurance: Armor: Guns: AA: Torpedo tubes: First launched 1934 1358 tons 2064 tons full load 341ft 3in 34ft 3in 11ft 7in 36.5 kt 6,500 nm (12 kt) n/a 4x5in/38 dual-purpose 2x40mm twin Bofors 5x20mm Oerlikons 2x4 21in

vi. Fletcher Class

The largest single class of U.S. destroyers with 175 ships built, the Fletchers were the first "big" destroyers built for the U.S. Navy and fully broke from the treaty restrictions that had hampered earlier designs. The large increase in size over previous classes allowed a substantial increase in AA armament without reducing the main battery or torpedo loads. Because of their flush-deck design, the Fletchers were mainly stationed in the Pacific while the earlier forecastle designs were mainly sent to the Atlantic. Many Fletchers continued in service after the war and even through the 1960's. Launch: Displacement: Length: Beam: Draft: Max Speed: First launched 1942 2325 tons 2924 tons full load 376ft 5in 39ft 7in 13ft 9in 38 kt

Endurance: Armor: Guns: AA: Torpedo tubes:

6,500 nm (15 kt) Side 0.75in Deck 0.5in 5x5in/38 dual-purpose 5x40mm twin Bofors 7x20mm Oerlikons 2x5 21in

vii. Gleaves Class

The Benson/Gleaves class (the two were almost indistinguishable) was the last of the prewar U.S. destroyer types and was kept in production mainly as a stopgap until the production of Fletcher-class destroyers came up to speed. Originally armed with 5 5-inch guns and 2 5-torpedo mounts, the armament was reconfigured early in production to accommodate additional AA guns. Most Benson/Gleaves-class destroyers were stationed in the Atlantic where their forecastle design had the advantage in sea keeping over the Fletchers. Launch: Displacement: Length: Beam: Draft: Max Speed: Endurance: Armor: Guns: AA: Torpedo tubes: First launched 1939 1839 tons 2395 tons full load 348ft 4in 36ft 1in 13ft 2in 35 kt 6,500 nm (12 kt) n/a 4x5in/38 dual-purpose 2x40mm twin Bofors 7x20mm Oerlikons 1x5 21in

viii. Gridley Class

The Gridley/Bagley class (the two were almost indistinguishable) represented an attempt to maximize the torpedo battery of the 1620-ton U.S. destroyer. Unfortunately, problems with U.S. torpedoes ultimately limited the effectiveness of this configuration. Launch: First launched 1936 Displacement: 1590 tons 2219 tons full load Length: 340ft 10in Beam: 35ft 10in Draft: 12ft 9in Max Speed: 38.5 kt Endurance: 6,500 nm (12 kt) Armor: n/a Guns: 4x5in/38 dual-purpose

AA: Torpedo tubes:

5x20mm Oerlikons 4x4 21in

ix. Mahan Class

The Mahan class was the first up-sized successor to the Farragut, allowing a third torpedo mount to be squeezed in, though this required two aft mounts positioned outboard of the centerline. Like the Farraguts, these were originally 5-gun destroyers, but the number 3 gun was landed during the war to make room for the twin Bofors mounts. Launch: Displacement: Length: Beam: Draft: Max Speed: Endurance: Armor: Guns: AA: Torpedo tubes: First launched 1935 1488 tons 2103 tons full load 341ft 4in 35ft 5in 12ft 4in 36.5 kt 6,500 nm (12 kt) n/a 4x5in/38 dual-purpose 2x40mm Twin Bofors 5x20mm Oerlikons 3x4 21in

x. Porter Class
Although the U.S. Navy possessed the largest fleet of destroyers in the world, it desired a class of ships which could serve as destroyer "leaders", mainly due to the lack of light cruisers with which to fill that role. The result was the Porter class. Built to the treaty limit of 1850 tons for "leaders", the Porters originally had 8 5-inch single-purpose guns in 4 turrets. The 5-inch guns were replaced by 6 heavier but more useful dual-purpose guns and heavier AA armament for wartime service. Launch: Displacement: Length: Beam: Draft: Max Speed: Endurance: Armor: Guns: AA: Torpedo tubes: First launched 1935 1834 tons 2597 tons full load 381ft 1in 37ft 13ft 37 kt 6,500 nm (12 kt) n/a 3x2 5in/38 dual-purpose 2x40mm Twin Bofors 1x40mm Quad Bofors 6x20mm Oerlikons 2x4 21in

xi. Sims Class

Freed from the 1500-ton per ship limitations, the Sims class ended up badly overweight in its original incarnation. As a result, like most of its predecessors the original 5-gun battery was reduced to 4 just to accommodate a pair of twin Bofors mounts, as well as the addition of depth charge weaponry. The original torpedo battery was to have been 3 mounts as in the Mahan, but the third mount was omitted to save weight (the extra mounts were later used on the Atlanta-class cruisers.) Launch: Displacement: Length: Beam: Draft: Max Speed: Endurance: Armor: Guns: AA: Torpedo tubes: First launched 1938 1764 tons 2313 tons full load 348ft 4in 36ft 12ft 10in 35 kt 6,500 nm (12 kt) n/a 4x5in/38 dual-purpose 2x40mm twin Bofors 5x20mm Oerlikons 2x4 21in

xii. Somers Class

This was a modified version of the Porter-class destroyer leader designed to carry an additional 4-tube torpedo mount on the centerline, giving it the largest torpedo broadside of any U.S. Navy destroyer. Unfortunately, the extra weight made it difficult to mount additional AA armament. Launch: Displacement: Length: Beam: Draft: Max Speed: Endurance: Armor: Guns: AA: Torpedo tubes: First launched 1935 2047 tons 2767 tons full load 381ft 1in 36ft 11in 12ft 5in 37 kt 7,500 nm (15 kt) n/a 4x2 5in/38 dual-purpose 2x40mm Twin Bofors 3x20mm Oerlikons 3x4 21in

xiii. Sumner Class

This upgrade to the Fletcher class was designed to carry the 5-inch twin gun mount which was beginning to see use on cruisers and battleships, allowing an increase in main battery armament and an increase in available centerline space. Unfortunately, the class

became a victim of all this extra space and was badly overweight, resulting in poor range and handling characteristics. In fact, the follow-on Gearing class had essentially the same armament on a longer hull to improve the situation. Launch: First launched 1943 Displacement: 2610 tons 3218 tons full load Length: 376ft 6in Beam: 40ft 10in Draft: 14ft 2in Max Speed: 36.5 kt Endurance: 3,300 nm (20 kt) Armor: Side 0.75in Deck 0.5in Guns: 3x2 5in/38 dual-purpose AA: 2x40mm twin Bofors 2x40mm quad Bofors 11x20mm Oerlikons Torpedo tubes: 2x5 21in

xiv. Wickes Class

This large class of World-War I destroyers as well as the Clemson class was retained by the U.S. Navy, though many were kept in mothballs until the start of World War II, at which time 50 were given to England in exchange for basing rights. These ships were considered obsolete even when they were built and many were converted to mine sweepers and fast transports. Launch: Displacement: Length: Beam: Draft: Max Speed: Endurance: Armor: Guns: AA: Torpedo tubes: First launched 1917 1090 tons 314ft 30ft 10in 9ft 10in 35 kt 2,500 nm (20 kt) n/a 4 4in/50 3x20mm Oerlikons 4x3 21in

II. Destroyer Weapons

Because of the number of roles a destroyer was required to perform, a variety of weapons systems were included. Fitting all of these weapons on a relatively small ship while staying within certain weight constraints was a serious challenge. As World War II progressed, the roles changed and the composition of weapons aboard destroyers changed as well. The most significant trend was the reduction of torpedo tubes in favor of additional anti aircraft weapons as all the powers recognized the new role of aircraft in naval conflicts.

i. Torpedo Armament
Torpedoes were the most potent surface weapons carried on destroyers and torpedo boats. The tremendous destructive power of the torpedo made small ships a menace to even the largest warships. In some circles of the Navy, the torpedo was thought of as the true main battery of the destroyer, although by the end of the war, there were few enemy ships left to provide opportunities for torpedo attacks. All US Navy destroyers used during World War II were equipped with some combination of 21-inch torpedo tubes, ranging from sixteen (on the Gridley/Bagley classes) to only five (on several classes of destroyers that had tubes removed to make space for additional AA armament). Tubes were normally controlled from the bridge using by using a Mark 26 torpedo directors. This equipment included a mechanical computer which, given course, speed and bearing information, could calculate the torpedo gyro setting. This data was transmitted to the mount, where the torpedo crew set the gyros on the fish, and launched them from the tubes using a black powder charge. A trio of torpedoes developed during the 30s made up the bulk of US inventory during the war. The Mark 13 was developed for aircraft, the Mark 14 for submarines, and the Mark 15 for surface ships. During the first two years of the war, these torpedoes, especially the Mark 14, suffered infamously from a variety of technical problems: their depth-keeping mechanisms let the torpedoes run underneath, their magnetic exploders did not work or exploded prematurely, and their contact exploders suffered from a high dud rate. These technical problems were, one by one, finally rectified in 1943. The Mark 15 torpedo was strangely spared from much of the criticism of the Mark 14, despite the fact that both torpedoes shared nearly identical mechanisms. This lack of criticism can be partly explained by the difficulty of evaluating torpedo performance in the chaos of a surface engagement. It is worth noting that US destroyermen were significantly outmatched in the Pacific by the quality of Japanese torpedoes. The Japanese 24 Type 93 torpedoes (carried on most IJN destroyers) were much larger, faster, longer-ranged, carried a larger warhead, and were more reliable than their American counterparts.

21 Torpedo, Mark 15
The Mark 15 torpedo was 24 feet long, 21 inches in diameter, and weighed over 3,000 pounds. It carried an 825 pound warhead, initially filled with TNT, but later upgraded with the more powerful explosive Torpex. The torpedo could be set to one of three different speeds, with three corresponding ranges: 6,000 yards at 45 knots 10,000 yards at 33.5 knots 15,000 yards at 26.5 knots

Since torpedoes were often fired and long range (and in the face of enemy fire), multiple torpedoes were usually fired simultaneously in a spread, with a one or two degree angle between each torpedo.

21 Torpedo, Mark 8
At the outbreak of World War II, unmodernized Clemson/Wickes flush decker destroyers were often equipped with the older Bliss-Leavitt Mark 8 torpedo, a design which dated back to 1911. While the Mark 8 showed remarkable longevity, it was overmatched by the larger torpedoes of the Second World War. This torpedo was just over 21 feet long, 21 inches in diameter, and weighed 2,600 pounds. It carried a 466 pound TNT warhead. The Mark 8s speed was not adjustable, and it was capable of a range of 16,000 yards at 36 knots.

ii. Main Battery Guns

5/38 Gun
Maximum Range: 18,200 yards AA ceiling: 37,200 feet Rate of Fire: 12 to 22 rounds per minute Projectile Weight: 55.18 pounds Muzzle Velocity: 2,600 feet per second Maximum Elevation: 85 degrees Unquestionably the best dual purpose gun of WWII, the 5"/38 Mark 12 was designed to replace the mixed batteries of single purpose 5"/25 anti-aircraft and 5"/51 single-purpose guns used on WWI-era ships. The 5"/38 (127mm) dual-purpose gun was first installed the Farragut class of destroyers, and was eventually used in the main batteries destroyers and aircraft carriers, and the secondary batteries of most cruisers and battleships. It was also used on many auxiliaries and smaller warships as well as some US Coast Guard vessels. Compared to guns of similar caliber used by Japan, Germany, and Italy, the 5/38 had a fairly low muzzle velocity, and relatively short maximum range. However, the gun was also reliable, robust, and accurate. These guns were also capable of a high rate of fire while at a high elevation, a critical feature in any antiaircraft weapon. By the end of WWII, with major advances in radar-directed fire control and the introduction VT-fuzed anti-aircraft shells dramatically increased the effectiveness of the gun, and these guns accounted for an even larger percentage of enemy aircraft shot down. The guns of the main battery could be controlled locally, but most U.S. warships provided a main battery director which allowed all of the guns to be remotely controlled

to aim and fire at targets determined by the gunnery officer, assisted by high-quality optical or radar rangefinding and the ships fire control computer.

4/50 Gun
Maximum Range: 15,920 yards Rate of Fire: 8-9 rounds per minute Projectile Weight: 33 pounds Muzzle Velocity: 2,900 feet per second Maximum Elevation: 20 degrees The 4/50 (102mm) caliber guns, Marks 7, 9, and 10, was installed on US flush-decker destroyers and S-class submarines build during WWI. This gun was easy to handle on smaller ships, but was somewhat obsolescent even when introduced, being smaller than the contemporary British 4.7 guns of the V&W class, and incapable of high-elevation use against aircraft. Before and during WWII, as the old Clemson/Wickes class destroyers were converted into escorts, minesweepers, or transports, these guns were generally replaced with dual-purpose 3-inch guns. However, unmodernized destroyers, especially those in the Pacific and Asiatic fleets, were still equipped with these weapons at the beginning of the war. Notably, it was a 4/50 gun, on the destroyer Ward, that was credited with the first US shot of WWII when it fired upon and sank a Japanese midget sub attempting to enter Pearl Harbor on early morning of December 7, 1941.

iii. Anti-Aircraft Guns

20 mm Oerlikons
Maximum Range: 4,800 yards Effective Range: 2,000 yards Rate of Fire: 450 rounds per minute Magazine Capacity: 60 rounds Projectile Weight: 0.271 pounds Muzzle Velocity: 2,725 feet per second The Swiss-designed Oerlikon 20mm/70 AA machine gun was widely used by all the Allied nations. It was probably produced in higher numbers than any other AA weapon of WWII. The USA alone manufactured a total of 124,735 guns, with the first examples being built in 1941. These weapons were manually controlled close range (4000 yards) guns usually used as anti-aircraft weapons. Rate of fire is around 450 rounds per minute with ammunition being stored in drum magazines. This weapon proved very popular with its ease of

maintenance and good rate of fire. In the USN, this weapon quickly replaced the .50 caliber machine gun, as each heavier 20mm projectile with its high-explosive charge caused much more damage than the non-explosive .50 caliber bullet. The relatively light weight and simple operation of the 20mm gun also allowed them to be bolted onto any available deck space, covering larger warships with veritable thickets of automatic weapons. Early in the war in the Pacific, the Oerlikons accounted for more Japanese aircraft kills than any other weapon. However, these guns were obsoleted by later developments in the war. In the Atlantic, their limited range made it impossible to engage the fast-moving guided bombs being introduced by Germany. In the Pacific, it was found that the 20mm shell was incapable of stopping kamikaze aircraft from hitting ships, and the gun became little more than a revenge weapon. As one sailor put it, by the time he heard the 20mm guns firing, the kamikazes were almost ready to hit the ship.

40 mm Bofors
Maximum Range: 11,000 yards Effective Range: 4,000 yards Rate of Fire: 120 rounds per minute Magazine Capacity: 4 rounds (continuous loading) Projectile Weight: 2 pounds Muzzle Velocity: 2,800 feet per second One of the best heavy AA machine guns of WWII, the Bofors 40mm/60 Model 1936 was used not only by the Allies, but also by Germany and Japan, and is still in service in some nations to this day. This weapon was used on almost every US and UK warship of WWII and was a very potent AA gun. For naval use, these guns were generally mounted in twin or quad mounts. Each gun had a four round magazine which was tended my multiple loaders and ammunition passers to keep the rate of fire nearly continuous. The Bofors were primarily anti-aircraft weapons but could be trained on ships or small seagoing craft. Most US projectiles were fitted with a self-destruct fuze, which destroyed the round after about 4,000 yards to prevent the rounds from landing on friendly ships. The first US destroyer fitted with the 40mm mount was the Coghlan (DD-606), in July 1942. However, supplies of the gun were limited until 1943 and 1944. Additionally, installation of the Bofors mounts required significant space for hydraulic equipment and ammunition storage, often requiring the removal of 5-inch guns or torpedo tubes, and slowing installation. The only destroyer classes never fitted with the 40mm weapon were the Clemson, Wickes, and Gridley classes. Total USA production was about 39,200 weapons. These weapons quickly proved their usefulness in action. As enemy air attacks grew increasingly violent in the Pacific, the greater range and hitting power of the Bofors guns

became even more important. For example, half of all Japanese aircraft shot down between 1 October 1944 and 1 February 1945 were credited to the 40mm guns. The increasingly desperate situation of US destroyers enduring kamikaze attacks during the Okinawa campaign led some destroyers to undergo even more extensive refits in favor of installed quad 40mm mounts. Older destroyers were sacrifice all of their torpedo tubes, and Fletcher and Sumner classes were to be left with just one bank. However, as the conversions were not authorized until April 1945, few of these refits were completed before the end of hostilities.

iv. Depth Charges

Depth charges are thin-walled containers filled with a heavy charge of TNT, designed to explode at a predetermined depth in the water (usually by use of a hydrostatic fuze). The Royal Navy first introduced depth charges in 1916 to counter German U-boats during the First World War. Since the exact location of an enemy submarine was not usually known, depth charges relied on the percussive wave of the explosion to cause damage rather than direct contact with the hull of the sub. Depth charges were dropped in patterns by both rails mounted on the stern of the ship, and by multiple depth charge projectors. These projectors, called Y or K guns, launched the depth charges by means of a black powder charge. K-guns were capable of launching a charge off the side of the ship to a range of up to 120 yards, thus increasing the size of a pattern that one ship could lay. In a well-spaced pattern, it was likely that only a single depth charge, at best, would cause significant damage to a submarine. Reloading of K-guns could take anywhere from two to four minutes depending on the proficiency of the crew at the fitting of the heavy charges. Racks could drop depth charges continuously, although moving additional charges from below-decks stowage to replenish the rails could take quite a while.

600 lb Depth Charge, Mark 7

Prewar studies indicated that a depth charge with 600 pounds of high explosive would be more effective than 300-pound charges, and the Mark 7 was the standard depth charge on all destroyers that could accept it at the beginning of WWII. During the war, it was expected that a 600-pound depth charge could cause moderate damage to a submarine 100 feet away, and be fatal if it exploded within 40 feet. Postwar concluded that these estimates were somewhat optimistic. The heavy weight of these charges (745 pounds total) meant that they could not be launched from K-guns, and were only on the stern rails of destroyers. Additionally, the Clemson/Wickes destroyers were not capable of carrying these charges at all.

The sink rate of the Mark 7 was a fairly slow 6 feet per second, which meant there was a very long blind time during which a deep-diving enemy sub could attempt to evade before the pattern reached it. In late 1942, a modified Mark 7 charge was equipped with added lead weight, which increased the sink rate to 13 feet per second.

300 lb Depth Charge, Mark 6

The somewhat lighter (420 pound) Mark 6 depth charge was also in use on US Navy ships at the beginning of the war. These were used with the depth charge projectors of all ships, and were also used in the stern rails of the old flush-deckers. The smaller 300pound charge was estimated to be fatal within 30 feet of a submarine. The sink rate of the Mark 6 was 8 feet per second. When weight was added, the sink rate was increased to 12 feet per second.

200 lb Depth Charge, Mark 9

In 1943, the new Mark 9 teardrop depth charge was introduced to combat increasingly sophisticated and deep-diving enemy submarines. The Mark 9 used a streamlined shape that allowed it to sink faster and with greater accuracy than the earlier cylindrical ashcan depth charges. When introduced, the Mark 9 has a sink rate of 14.5 feet per second. The Mark 9 actually had a smaller explosive filling than the older depth charges. However, it was usually filled with the more powerful explosive Torpex, giving it the same damage potential as the Mark 6. The Mark 9 depth charges eventually went on to replace both the Mark 6 and Mark 7 charges on stern rails and projectors on destroyers and other escorts during the war.

III. Destroyer History

By Mike Bennighof The destroyer's development always remained linked to what would remain, until very recently, its chief weapon system - the torpedo. A retired Austrian naval captain presented designs for an unmanned explosive boat in the early 1860's, and by the end of the decade naval engineer Robert Whitehead had perfected a self-propelled torpedo. So-called spar torpedo boats, with an explosive charge tipping a long pole extending from the bow, had come into use during the 1860's. Union naval hero W.B. Cushing used one to sink the Confederate ironclad Albemarle, while the Confederate "submarine torpedo boat" Hunley sent the Union corvette Housatonic to the bottom. Spar torpedoes often proved as hazardous to the attacker as the target. Throughout the 1870's several navies built special-purpose torpedo boats, with spar torpedoes and a towed version - less dangerous in every respect. These primitive delivery systems soon

gave way to today's familiar torpedo tube. As torpedo tubes became more prevalent, the small, cheap warships posed a tremendous threat to the expensive ironclad battleships at the core of most fleets. The British Royal Navy tried to respond with the "torpedo-boat catcher" Rattlesnake, which failed to catch any torpedo boats during her trials. Refinements led to the "torpedoboat destroyer," a torpedo boat enlarged to mount a respectable gun armament. The Royal Navy built the first vessels of this type, and other nations followed. These early destroyers only displaced 200 to 300 tons, and were designed simply to counter enemy torpedo boats. They could not stand heavy seas or rough weather, but since their prey could not do so either, this was not considered a serious problem. In 1898, a new German torpedo boat destroyer type, the S-90, changed the destroyer concept radically. The S-90's designers sacrificed some of the speed of early types for a slightly larger and substantially more rugged hull. Unlike her contemporaries, S-90 could accompany the fleet on the high seas. The Royal Navy quickly recognized the S-90's potential - in fact, faster than her owners did - and ordered the River class, the first true destroyers. The River class - half again as large as previous boats - could only make 25 knots compared to the 29 or 30 of most torpedo boats. However, their greater size and raised forecastle allowed them to maintain that speed in seas that would sink a tiny torpedo boat. Other nations copied the concept, though many designs soon managed to maintain high speeds on the larger hull. Armament became fairly standardized around the world, with three to five guns in the three-inch to four-inch range plus two to four torpedo tubes. By the time the First World War broke out in August, 1914, the destroyer had become an integral part of the battle fleet, charged with protecting the mighty dreadnoughts from enemy torpedo attack and launching their own torpedoes at the enemy battle line. The Great War also brought a new task to the destroyer, one to become an integral part of her wartime duties up to the present day. A new kind of torpedo boat made its presence known when the German submarine U-21 sank the British cruiser Pathfinder on 5 September 1914. Seventeen days later the U-9 sent three British armored cruisers to the bottom of the North Sea. Destroyers at first could only attempt to ram submarines or destroy them with gunfire, but since the early submarine made its attacks while surfaced there was a good chance of success with these methods. As submarines became more sophisticated, destroyer weaponry had to keep pace. The destroyer truly became the "maid of all work" during the First World War. Naval histories written in the years immediately after the war - whether in English, German, Italian, Russian or French - invariably put the word "precious" in front of "destroyers." Destroyers laid and swept mines, protected merchant shipping and warships from submarines, hunted enemy airships, attacked enemy merchant shipping, shelled enemy land targets and maintained their vital torpedo attack and defense roles in the battle fleet. The destroyer once again grew larger. From the 550-ton British River class, most standard destroyers - the Austrian Tatras, German V25s, British Tribals or Italian

Audaces - all weighed in between 800 and 850 tons. Wartime experience called for bigger boats, with heavier gun and torpedo armaments, more rugged construction and greater range. The Imperial Russian Navy, helped by the bitter experience of the 1904-1905 RussoJapanese War, led the way in this destroyer revolution. The Novik, launched in 1911, could hit 38 knots and carried four four-inch guns and eight torpedo tubes. Improved versions boasted as many as 12 tubes. By the end of the war Britain was building dozens of 1,500-ton W-class destroyers with four guns and six torpedo tubes, while the German S-113 class topped 2,000 tons with four 5.9-inch guns (larger and more heavily-armed than some cruisers). The war also brought new types of equipment to destroyers, requiring more space and crew to handle them. Depth charges and hydrophones, known to Americans as sonar, gave the destroyer a means of detecting submerged submarines and attacking them. While the destroyer remained the chief defense of the battle fleet against submarines, naval planners realized that the destroyer's high speed and slender shape did not lend themselves to the anti-submarine struggle. Specialized escorts that sacrificed speed for longer range and greater maneuverability took over convoy defenses. After the war, most naval construction ground to a halt, though both Italy and Japan continued their wartime building programs. New destroyer construction halted in the United States for a decade and a half. With hundreds of war-built "flush-deck" destroyers laid up in reserve status, the U.S. Congress was understandably reluctant to spend money for new ones. Except for the old American flush-deckers and a handful of Japanese and Italian boats, almost all destroyers that saw action in World War Two were built after the First World War. The hard service conditions of the Great War wore out the small destroyers, and they went to the scrap heap with all use wrung out of them. In 1927, the Japanese took the next great leap forward in destroyer capability, launching the Fubuki class, known as the Special Type destroyers. The Fubuki carried six five-inch guns in three twin turrets, as opposed to the single, open mounts used on destroyers up to that time. The guns could elevate to 75 degrees, making them usable against aircraft as well as ships. The big (2,300-ton) destroyers also carried nine 24-inch torpedo tubes, burned oil fuel and could make 38 knots when new and still maintain 34 knots 15 years later. The massive Japanese 24-inch torpedo, a closely-guarded state secret, carried a warhead half again as large as that tipping the 21-inch torpedoes standard in the American, British, Italian and German navies. In 1933 the Japanese introduced the oxygen-fueled Type 93 "Long Lance" torpedo, with a speed of 49 knots and a maximum range of 22,000 yards, three times that of American torpedoes. In Europe destroyer construction went in two opposite directions, sparked by the naval limitation treaties of the 1920's and 1930's. The French, impressed by the German S-113 (which they seized as a war reparation), built a series of large "super-destroyers." These were to continue the original destroyer concept and serve as a "destroyer of destroyers."

By the late 1930's this concept culminated in the Mogador class - over 4,000 tons displacement, with eight 5.5-inch guns in twin turrets and ten torpedo tubes. They were more powerful, though less sturdy, than the British Arethusa-class light cruisers built at about the same time (six six-inch guns, six torpedo tubes, 6,700 tons). During World War Two American and British reports always called the giant French destroyers "light cruisers." The arms treaties put no limits on warships of 600 tons or smaller, and first Italy and then others built ships to take advantage of this loophole. Through some creative accounting the boats could be made somewhat larger than that. These torpedo boats in practice proved dangerously overloaded (a Japanese torpedo boat capsized in a gale in 1934) and far less capable than true destroyers. Italian designers saved weight in the Spica class, for example, by reverting to a 17.7-inch torpedo. By the time the last of the American flush-decked destroyers slid into the water they were already obsolete, but new vessels did not appear until the mid-1930's. The London Naval Treaty of 1930 limited destroyers to 1,500 tons, and the first new American destroyer classes held to this limit, climbing only slightly when the size limit on individual destroyers rose to 3,000 tons. American destroyer designs emphasized long range, looking toward a future war with the Japanese across the vast stretches of the Pacific Ocean. The pre-war pattern destroyers mounted five five-inch guns. The torpedo battery steadily rose from eight to 12 to 16 tubes. By 1939 the U.S. Navy entered large-scale production of new destroyers, holding to a very similar design but with 10 torpedo tubes. When war returned in 1939, the destroyer had assumed a crucial role in all navies as a flexible, multi-purpose warship. The first action involving destroyers came on 3 September, two days after the German attack on Poland, with the Polish destroyer Wicher damaging the German Leberecht Maass. Within weeks destroyers had carried out a bewildering array of missions. German destroyers laid mines and hunted enemy merchant shipping. British destroyers hunted German submarines and returning passenger liners, escorted the battle fleet and transported troops across the English Channel. American destroyers helped form neutrality patrols in the Atlantic, quietly helping the British spot German ships. The war expanded to the Mediterranean Sea in June 1940 when Italy joined Germany in the struggle against Britain and France, and destroyers fought vicious battles in the enclosed sea against submarines and against one another. No single commander built a greater reputation for courage and daring than Italian Commander Francesco Mimbelli of the torpedo boat Lupo. In May 1941, 20 motor sailing craft ventured from Greece to Crete with the Lupo as their lone escort. Three British cruisers and four destroyers set upon the small convoy. Mimbelli and his tiny boat charged the British squadron, seeking close range to launch their small torpedoes. The British scattered under the ferocious attack, and most of the convoy managed to escape.

Later that year Lupo fought another impossible battle against two British cruisers and two destroyers, but this time could not save her convoy. Finally in 1942 she went down after a furious fight, a lone wolf facing four British destroyers. American destroyers joined the war well before the formal declaration of war. As German submarines continued their attacks on British shipping, the U.S. Navy took a more and more active role in helping detect them. In July 1941, U.S. Marines occupied Iceland. In September President Franklin Roosevelt issued a "shoot on sight" order for German submarines, and a month later the U.S. Navy began escorting convoys well into the war zone. A German submarine attacked the destroyer Greer in September, and in October another sank the American destroyer Reuben James with the loss of 115 American sailors. The Second World War became truly global with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. American and Japanese destroyers undertook the same missions as their European counterparts, made both more and less difficult by the vastness of the Pacific. The Japanese destroyer Hayate became the first enemy warship sunk by American forces in World War Two during a bombardment of Wake Island. U.S. Marine gunners hit her with three salvoes and the Hayate exploded, taking all 168 crewmen down with her. About an hour later a Marine fighter plane hit the Japanese destroyer Kisaragi's depth charge racks, causing another massive explosion that wiped out the destroyer and all 150 of her crew. Destroyer combat did not always prove that deadly, but the intense involvement of destroyers in all types of naval action caused severe losses. The Imperial Japanese Navy sent over 120 destroyers into action during the war; the IJN finished the war with 11 of them. The small warships could not take nearly as much punishment as a cruiser or battleship, since destroyers had no armor, and their crews suffered accordingly. That became clear when Japanese and Allied destroyers tangled among the Indonesian archipelago in the opening weeks of the war. The Japanese used their destroyers to escort invasion and bombardment forces, and as fast transports to carry assault troops. The American, British, Dutch and Australian defenders sent out their own outnumbered warships to intercept. The four elderly "flush-decked" destroyers of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet gave a good account of themselves. But the fighting in Indonesia stressed the importance of well-trained crews and aggressive captains. The poorly trained Dutch crews were no match for the sharply honed Japanese destroyer men, especially in night actions. The IJN had prepared for years to fight at night, carefully selecting sharp-eyed lookouts and gunners and training hard in the unforgiving waters of the North Pacific. The training paid off as the crack Japanese destroyer flotillas finished off the Allied East Indies fleet with little help from their larger warships. Japanese tactics were built around their weapons. Expecting to fight while outnumbered, the Japanese sought night action and carefully avoided daylight battles. Their outstanding

Long Lance torpedo gave them an enormous range advantage. The preferred tactic was to launch dozens of the big torpedoes in a huge salvo at the start of the battle, preferably before the enemy spotted the Japanese. In the confusion that was sure to follow, the Japanese would dash in among the enemy and finish him off. That tactic worked well at the Java Sea, the largest engagement in Indonesian waters, but proved less useful later in the war. While the Long Lance could travel over 12 miles, the odds of hitting something at that distance were miniscule. The target ships almost always had time to spot the approaching shoal of torpedoes and avoid them. All torpedo salvo really accomplished was to alert the enemy to the Japanese attack. In the late summer of 1942 American Marines landed on Guadalcanal, starting a bloody struggle for control of the strategic Solomon Islands. In the Solomons, Japanese and American sailors proved themselves the equal of their countries' naval heroes of 1904 and 1812. Immediately after he heard the news of the American landings, Japanese Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa gathered every available warship at Rabaul, the Japanese base at the northern end of the Solomons chain. The Japanese admiral headed out with seven cruisers and one lone destroyer - all others were out on convoy escort operations. Off Savo Island they caught the Allied covering force unprepared and sank three American and one Australian heavy cruisers without loss to themselves. But in repeated night actions in the waters of "Ironbottom Sound" the Americans emerged victorious. Energetic and inventive Japanese admirals like Mikawa and Raizo "Tenacious" Tanaka found their match in American destroyer leaders Frederick Moosbrugger and Arleigh "31-Knot" Burke. The Solomons marked the high point for surface warfare in the Pacific theater, but a new type of naval battle decided the war. After the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway in 1942, the aircraft carrier emerged as the backbone of the modern navy. Destroyers protected the carriers from enemy submarines and air attack. They also took on the dangerous task of acting as "plane guard," picking up downed fliers at the risk of being run down by the giant carriers. In October 1944, American destroyer men found that carriers also had to be protected from enemy surface attack. Off the island of Samar in the Philippines, a large force of Japanese battleships and cruisers successfully eluded American air attacks and surprised an American escort carrier group. The group commander ordered his three destroyers and one destroyer escort to charge the oncoming Japanese while the carriers tried to hide in a rainsquall. Without hesitation, the Americans entered the fray, trying to keep their boats between the giant Japanese warships to hamper enemy fire. Somehow the four small ships kept the Japanese busy for over an hour. The destroyer Hoel traded gunfire with the battleship Kongo and then fired her torpedoes at the pinkpainted cruiser Haguro, driving her out of the battle. Next the small Fletcher-class boat took on the cruiser Chikuma, the Japanese flagship at Savo Island. Finally the cruiser

Tone finished off the destroyer and then pulled away. Renewed air attacks and the threat of bigger American ships caused the Japanese to withdraw. In the Atlantic, destroyers left the convoy routes by the middle of the war. Specialized escort craft, better suited to the anti-submarine struggle, took their place. But U.S. Navy destroyers wrote new chapters of American heroism there as well. On 6 June 1944, Allied troops stormed ashore in Normandy. While battleships and cruisers delivered shells from far offshore, destroyers steamed in close to provide pinpoint support. Three American, three British, one Norwegian and one French destroyer were lost supporting the attack. U.S. Army veterans still speak of the "phantom destroyer" which charged into the surf to silence German guns at point-blank range, but was never identified. By the end of the war, the destroyer had grown once again. Anti-aircraft defense became far more important, and both Japanese and American destroyers swapped some of their main guns for more light anti-aircraft guns (the Royal Navy preferred to sacrifice torpedo tubes and keep the gun armament). Radar sets first sprouted on American warships in 1940, and by the end of the war became essential equipment. Radar operators at first had specialized radar rooms, which gave way to Combat Information Centers where all sorts of data could be gathered and interpreted. The U.S. Navy converted a number of destroyers to "radar pickets," with extensive radar equipment and communications gear to guide friendly fighter planes to their targets. The standard American destroyer of 1945, the Gearing class, displaced 3,500 tons and carried six five-inch guns in twin turrets plus ten torpedo tubes. The Gearings remained in service until the early 1970's, though heavily modernized. A handful are still operated by foreign fleets. A small, inexpensive destroyer known as the destroyer escort also appeared during the course of the war. With minimal armament but extensive range and anti-submarine equipment, she was perfectly suited to guard convoys. Simple construction allowed them to be built in large numbers. The Royal Navy began the trend with its Hunt class, and the U.S. Navy built hundreds of its equivalent. The Japanese launched their own version, and the Italians built three dozen of a similar vessel, though they continued to call them torpedo boats. In the decades following the Second World War, the destroyer became even more important to the world's navies. No new battleships were laid down after the war, and very few cruisers. The destroyer took over all surface ship roles, and grew even larger to accommodate the weapons and personnel this required. The U.S. Navy has not launched a true cruiser since the early 1970's; only the Soviet Union has done so in the last 20 years. The American Spruance class, the backbone of the fleet in the last decades of the Cold War, displaces more than twice what a Gearing did. Their Soviet/Russian equivalent, the Sovremmenny class, is even larger. From a specialized torpedo attack and defense vessel, the destroyer has become a general-purpose warship, taking over every surface role.

IV. Decorations

Commendation Awarded to members of the US Coast Guard, Coast Guard Reserves and to other members of the US Armed Forces, serving in any capacity with the Coast Guard, for heroism, or meritorious service resulting in unusual and outstanding achievement rendered while the Coast Guard is under the jurisdiction of the Treasury Department.

Navy Medal First authorized on August 7, 1942, the Navy Medal is awarded to those serving with the Navy who distinguish themselves by heroism not involving an actual conflict with enemy forces. Amongst those receiving the Navy Medal is John F. Kennedy. This medal may be awarded retroactively to those who served from December 6, 1941.

Bronze Star First authorized on February 4, 1944, the Bronze Star is awarded to any person in any branch of the military, serving in any capacity, who distinguishes him or herself through heroic or meritorious achievement not in aerial flight.

Distinguished Service Medal First authorized on February 4, 1919 and amended on August 7, 1942, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal is awarded to any member of the Armed Forces serving with the US Navy in any capacity who distinguishes him or herself by exceptionally meritorious service in a duty of great responsibility.

Silver Star Authorized on July 9, 1918 as the citation star of the US Army, it was redesignated as a medal on August 8, 1932. The star is awarded to any member of the United States Armed Forces who while serving in any capacity distinguished themselves by gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States or while serving with friendly forces against an opposing armed enemy force. It is awarded for combat action only, and ranks as the third highest valor decoration of the United States.

Navy Cross Authorized on February 4, 1919 and awarded to officers and enlisted personnel of the US Navy and Marine Corps who distinguished themselves by extraordinary heroism not justifying the award of the Medal of Honor in military operations against an armed enemy. Originally awarded for combat heroism and other distinguished service, it was the Navys third highest award. An Act of Congress on August 7, 1942 gave the Navy Cross precedence over the Distinguished Service Medal, making it a combat decoration only, awarded only for extraordinary heroism in the presence of great danger and personal risk. It is now the second highest decoration for US Naval personnel.

Medal of Honor First authorized on December 12, 1861, the Medal of Honor is awarded to sailors for gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. It is the highest honor awarded by the US Navy. The original design was later updated three times. Shown is the fourth and latest style, used from 1942 to the present.