Tuesday, July 8, 2008
USS Drayton (DD-366)
Figure 1: USS Drayton (DD-366) underway at sea, circa 1938. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Cushing (DD-376) steams ahead of USS Drayton (DD-366), at sea on 8 February 1938. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: Destroyers underway in San Diego Harbor, California, 1938. Identifiable ships are: USS Drayton (DD-366), at left; USS Preston (DD-379), at right; and USS Perkins (DD-377), in center, partially masked by Preston. Note colored bands painted on these destroyer's after smokestacks, possibly for unit identification purposes. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Drayton (DD-366) in port, during the late 1930s. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1969. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: Rare color photograph of the USS Drayton underway at sea off the U.S. West Coast, circa October 1941. Photographed from a Navy SNJ aircraft, whose starboard wing is in the foreground. Note Drayton's camouflage, which was the source of her contemporary nickname "The Blue Beetle." Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: USS Drayton photographed at Pearl Harbor on 5 October 1942. Drayton had collided with USS Flusser (DD-368) during exercises in the Hawaiian area the day before. USS Portland (CA-33) and USS Saratoga (CV-3) are partially visible in the background. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: USS Drayton underway off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 28 June 1944. Her camouflage is Measure 31, Design 23d. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: USS Drayton bombarding Palawan Island, Philippines, on 28 February 1945. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after Percival Drayton (1812-1865), a famous Union Civil War Captain, the USS Drayton (DD-366) was a 1,500-ton Mahan class destroyer that was built by the Bath Iron Works at Bath, Maine. She was commissioned on 1 September 1936 and was approximately 341 feet long and 35 feet wide, and had a top speed of 37 knots and a crew of 158 officers and men. Drayton was originally armed with five 5-inch guns, twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes and depth charges, but additional anti-aircraft guns were added during World War II.
From 6 October 1936 to 5 December, Drayton visited Europe during her shakedown cruise. In 1937, Drayton was sent to the Pacific and in July she took part in the search effort for Amelia Earhart. After the search was called off, Drayton took part in numerous training exercises along America’s West Coast and Hawaii. In October 1939, the ship’s home port changed from San Diego, California, to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
When Pearl Harbor was attacked on 7 December 1941, Drayton was at sea escorting the aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-2). Drayton was assigned to escort duties during the first few months of the war, traveling to Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean and to Fiji. She then escorted the carrier Enterprise (CV-6) on raids in the central Pacific and, after a brief overhaul at Mare Island, California, in April 1942, Drayton patrolled the waters off the West Coast and Hawaii for the next six months. In November 1942, she took part in the terrible naval battle off Guadalcanal. At the end of that month, Drayton participated in the disastrous battle of Tassafaronga, in which the US Navy suffered a stunning defeat at the hands of the Japanese Navy. The ship did not sustain any major damage during the battle and continued escorting merchant ships and warships in the Solomon Islands, as well as bombarding Japanese shore targets and taking part in several amphibious assaults in New Guinea.
After completing a second major overhaul at Mare Island in late June 1944, Drayton was sent back to Hawaii for a brief period of time before being assigned to patrol duties in the Marshall Islands. In October 1944, Drayton returned to New Guinea and then was sent to the Philippines to support the American amphibious assault on Leyte. While escorting a convoy of amphibious assault ships on 5 December 1944, Drayton was hit by a Japanese suicide plane. The resulting explosion killed eight men and wounded 19 others. The surviving crewmen were able to put out the fires and keep the ship in action, allowing Drayton to complete her original mission of escorting the amphibious assault ships to a secure harbor. The destroyer then steamed unassisted to Manus Island in New Guinea for repairs.
After being repaired, Drayton participated in the invasion of Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, in the Philippines on 9 January 1945. She provided constant fire support for the American forces on shore and went on to take part in the amphibious assaults at Mangarin Bay, Puerto Princesa, Cebu, and Ormoc Bay. On 23 April 1945, Drayton escorted ships for the invasion of Borneo, a job that lasted until 21 July. She returned to Manila on 29 July and left for New York on 7 August, arriving there on 12 September. Drayton was decommissioned in New York on 9 October 1945 and was sold for scrapping on 20 December 1946. Drayton received 11 battle stars for her service in World War II. She performed all of the typical duties normally associated with a “tin can” (as destroyers were called during the war), from escorting merchant ships and warships to bombarding enemy shore targets. Drayton, like so many other destroyers during World War II, showed just how tough a “tin can” could be.
Posted by Remo at 9:16 AM