Tuesday, June 10, 2008
USS Mahan (DD-364)
Figure 1: USS Mahan (DD-364) underway at sea, circa 1938. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Mahan underway at sea, circa 1938. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Mahan off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 28 April 1942. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Mahan (DD-364) maneuvers near another destroyer and a battleship during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, 26 October 1942 (USN Photo No 80-G-30169). Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: Guadalcanal Campaign, 1942-43. USS South Dakota (BB 57) and two destroyers alongside USS Prometheus (AR 3) for repairs, probably at Noumea, New Caledonia, in November 1942. The inboard destroyer, with the distorted bow, is probably USS Mahan (DD 364), which was damaged in a collision with South Dakota at the close of the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands on 27 October 1942. South Dakota received damage in both that battle and in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on 15 November 1942. The other destroyer may be USS Lamson (DD 367). Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (USN Photo 80-G-36088). Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: USS Mahan off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 21 June 1944. Her camouflage design is Measure 31, Design 23d. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after the famous naval historian and strategist Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840-1914), the 1,450-ton USS Mahan (DD-364) was the lead ship in a class of 16 destroyers. Built at the United Dry Dock Company, Staten Island, New York, Mahan was launched on 15 October 1935 (sponsored by Kathleen H. Mahan, great-granddaughter of Rear Admiral Mahan) and was commissioned on 18 September 1936. The ship was approximately 341 feet long and 34 feet wide, and had a top speed of 35 knots and a crew of 204 officers and men. Mahan was initially armed with five 5-inch guns, 12 21-inch torpedo tubes and depth charges, but this changed during World War II with the addition of several anti-aircraft guns.
After the ship was commissioned, Mahan went on its shakedown cruise to the Caribbean and South America. Mahan remained in the Atlantic until July 1937, when she was sent to the Pacific. After arriving on the West Coast in mid-August, she participated in fleet training operations off southern California before being sent to her new base at Pearl Harbor. Until December 1941, Mahan made periodic visits to the West Coast and took part in numerous training exercises and patrols off the coast of Hawaii.
When Pearl Harbor was attacked on 7 December 1941, Mahan was at sea as part of the USS Lexington (CV-2) Task Force. These ships were ordered to search for the Japanese ships that attacked Pearl Harbor but were unable to locate them. Mahan returned to Pearl Harbor on 12 December. Over the next ten months, Mahan was assigned to escort and patrol duties between Hawaii and the West Coast.
By mid-October 1942, the Mahan was sent south to take part in the battle for Guadalcanal. While en route to Guadalcanal, Mahan conducted raids against Japanese patrol boats near the Gilbert Islands. Later that same month, Mahan fought in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands and its bow was seriously damaged in a collision with the battleship South Dakota. After temporary repairs were made at Noumea, New Caledonia, Mahan was sent to Pearl Harbor for more permanent repairs and to have a whole new bow attached to the ship.
Mahan was sent back to the South Pacific on 9 January 1943 and escorted convoys between the New Hebrides, New Caledonia and the Fiji Islands. She was transferred to the Seventh Fleet to take part in operations off New Guinea in July. She was in continuous action for the next three months and participated in the landings at Nassau Bay on 9 August, bombarded Finschhafen on 22 and 23 August, and escorted the landing force at Lae on 4 to 8 September. From October to November, Mahan patrolled around New Guinea while based at Buna. In December, she bombarded Japanese installations on New Britain and provided fire support for landings at Cape Gloucester. On 28 February 1944, Mahan also provided gunfire support for the seizure of Los Negros Island in the Admiralties.
After more than two years of steady combat operations, Mahan was sent to San Francisco for a major overhaul in the spring of 1944. In July she was sent back to Pearl Harbor and participated in naval exercises until 15 August. She returned to New Guinea on 20 October 1944 and escorted convoys between Hollandia and Leyte in the Philippines. She began antisubmarine patrol duties off Leyte at the end of November.
Mahan then took part in the landings at Ormoc Bay, Leyte, and on 7 December 1944, while on picket duty protecting the invasion zone, she was attacked by several Japanese aircraft. Although she shot down three of the attacking planes, three other suicide aircraft managed to get through the ship’s antiaircraft fire and all three crashed into the destroyer. Fires quickly spread out of control throughout the Mahan and the order to “abandon ship” was given. What was left of the Mahan’s crew jumped into the water and was rescued by nearby vessels. An hour later, the destroyer’s burnt-out hulk had to be sunk by another American destroyer. It was a tragic end to a destroyer that had certainly seen its share of action. Mahan received five battle stars for its service in World War II.
Posted by Remo at 8:52 AM