USS Cassin (DD-372)

USS Cassin (DD-372) was a Mahan class destroyer that was one of the worst damaged ships at Pearl Harbor, but was rebuilt using her original machinery in a new hull and went on to take part in the occupation of the Mariannas Islands, the invasion of Leyte and the battle of Leyte Gulf and the invasion of Iwo Jima.

The Cassin was named after Stephen Cassin, commander of USS Ticonderoga during the Battle of Lake Champlain in the War of 1812.

Crewmens mess on USS Cassin (DD-372) Crewmens mess on USS Cassin (DD-372)

The Cassin was launched at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 28 October 1935 when she was sponsored by Mrs H.C. Lombard, and commissioned on 21 August 1936. However she almost immediately needed modifications, which weren’t completed until March 1937. She then carried out a cruise to the Caribbean and Brazil, presumable a belated shakedown cruise. On 16 August 1937 one sailor was killed and six injured in an accident in the engine room.

In April 1938 the Cassin took part in that year’s Fleet Problem which took part around Hawaii and in the Panama Canal Zone.

In 1939 she worked with the torpedo and gunnery schools on the US west coast.

On 1 April 1940 she was assigned to the Hawaiian Detachment, as part of the general move of the Pacific Fleet to Pearl Harbor.

In February-April 1941 she took part in a fleet visit to Samoa, Australia and Fiji. In the autumn of 1941 she visited the US west coast, but she was back at Pearl Harbor by December.

USS Cassin (DD-372) after Pearl Harbor USS Cassin (DD-372) after Pearl Harbor

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 the Cassin was in Drydock Number One, alongside the Downes (DD-375) and with the Pennsylvania (BB-38) at the other end. The drydock protected the Pennsylvania from serious damage by stopped any torpedo attacks, but the more fragile destroyers were vulnerable. Japanese incendiary bombs landed between the two destroyers, starting a fire. In an attempt to put it out water was let into the docks, but the burning oil floated on top of the water, and caused fires on the two destroyers, which had to be abandoned when their ammo and torpedo warheads began to explode. To make things worse the Cassin then slipped off her keel blocks and came to rest against the Downes.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack both ships were burnt out, and were considered to be lost. The Cassin was officially decommissioned, backdated to 7 December. At first the main focus was on how to get them out of the dry dock to free it up for other use.

On 23 January she was still on her side, but with much of the above decks damage and her guns cleared away leaving most of the superstructure intact. By this point the Downes had most of her superstructure removed.

On 5 February 1942 the Cassin was righted and salvage operations were well underway. To reach this point hundreds of holes had to be patched on the port side. Once she had been righted work could begin on the starboard side.  

Impressively she was repaired enough to be floated by 18 February 1941 when she was moved out of the dry dock.

At this point there was a debate about what to do with the two destroyers. The Salvage Officer wanted them to be quickly repaired for use as limited escort or patrol ships, but the more general view was that the machinery, weapons and any suitable fittings should be removed and installed in new hulls. This was the plan that was adopted. Everything that could be reused was removed and sent to Mare Island. The old hull of the Cassin was then scrapped at Pearl Harbor, with the work ending in October 1942. New hulls were then built at Mare Island, and all of the surviving equipment installed. The ‘new’ Downes was completed in November 1943, and the Cassin in February 1944.

1944

The Cassin was recommissioned on 5 February 1944 and returned to Pearl Harbor on 22 April. She was then sent to Majuro, and carroued out escort duties from there until August. On 28 May 1944 she escorted the submarine USS Whale (SS-239) out of Majuro at the start of the submarines’ eighth war patrol.

USS Cassin (DD-372) and USS Downes (DD-375) after Pearl Harbor USS Cassin (DD-372) and USS Downes (DD-375) after Pearl Harbor

The Cassin then joined the fleet that supported the invasion of the Marianas. She supported the fighting on Tinian (15-25 August 1944), bombarding Aguijan Island. She then carried out escort duties from Saipan.

On 9 October she took part in the bombardment of Marcus Island, which was an attempt to convince the Japanese that the Americans were about to invade the Bonin Islands.

The Cassin then joined TG 38.1 on 16 October, and supported the group’s fast carriers (Hornet and Wasp) as they attacked Japanese airfields around Manila. As US troops landed on Leyte the Cassin’s group cruised to the north-east of Luzon. Once the troops were established ashore, the Cassin and her group were sent to Ulithi to refuel and replenish. However the group was recalled when TF 38 detected the Japanese Centre Force off Mindoro (Battle off Samar). On the afternoon of 25 October the group was close enough for her carriers to launch a very long range attack on the Japanese, but by this point the Japanese had already decided to withdraw, after a clash with the escort carriers of ‘Taffy 3’. The Hornet and Wasp’s aircraft didn’t do significant damage, but did confirm the decision to retreat.

On the night of 11-12 November 1944 the Cassin took part in a bombardment of Iwo Jima. 

1945

On 24 January 1945 she returned to Iwo Jima to take part in the pre-invasion bombardment.

She was then used on patrol, escort and picket duties around Saipan. On 23 February she left to escort an ammo ship to Iwo Jima, and returned to Guam on 28 February with a hospital ship full of the wounded from the fighting on the island.

In mid-March she returned to Iwo Jima to carry out radar picket and air-sea rescue duties. She performed this role for most of the rest of the war, apart from visits to Guam and Saipan to take on supplies. On 6 June 1945 she survied a typhoon, but did lose one of her men overboard.

One of her more unusual activites came on 7 August when she stopped and searched a Japanese hospital ship. The hospital ship was found to be obeying international law, so was allowed to continue on its way.

After the end of the war she continued to perform air-sea rescue duties off Iwo Jima to help with the air evacuation of liberated POWs from Japan.

She returned to Norfolk, Virginia, on 1 November 1945 where she was decommissioned on 17 December 1945. She was sold for scrap on 25 November 1947.

Cassin received six battle stars for World War II service, for Pearl Harbor, the Marcus Island raid of 1944, Leyte, Iwo Jima, the Mariana Islands and the Western Caroline Islands.

Displacement (standard)

1,487.9 standard

Displacement (loaded)

2,102.6t

Top Speed

37.8kts at 44,477shp at 1,749t on trials (Mahan)

Engine

2-shaft General Electric tubines
4 boilers
46,000shp design

Range

6,500nm at 12kts design
7,300nm at 12kts on trials (Mahan)
6,940nm at 12kts at 2,200t wartime
4,360nm at 20kts at 2,200t wartime

Length

341ft 3in

Width

35ft 6.5in

Armaments

Five 5in/38 DP guns
Twelve 21in torpedoes in three quad mounts
Four 0.50in AA guns
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement

158

Laid down

 

Launched

28 October 1935

Commissioned

21 August 1936

Sold

25 November 1947

U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History, Norman Friedmann . The standard history of the development of American destroyers, from the earliest torpedo boat destroyers to the post-war fleet, and covering the massive classes of destroyers built for both World Wars. Gives the reader a good understanding of the debates that surrounded each class of destroyer and led to their individual features.
cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (19 January 2022), USS Cassin (DD-372), http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Cassin_DD372.html

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