USS Davis (DD-395)

USS Davis (DD-395) was a Somers class destroyer that took part in the neutrality patrol in 1939-40, briefly served in the Pacific in 1940-41, then served in the Atlantic for most of the rest of the war, apart from a brief break to support the D-Day landings. 

The Davis was named after Charles Henry Davis, who served in the US Navy during the Civil War, including as Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, then went on to hold high rank in the post-war navy.

The Davis was launched at the Bath Iron Works of Bath Maine on 30 July 1938 and commissioned on 9 November 1938.

After the outbreak of war in Europe on 1 September 1939 the Davis joined the Neutrality Patrol in the North Atlantic.

USS Davis (DD-395) from above, c.1944-45 USS Davis (DD-395) from above, c.1944-45

On 5 September 1939 the Davis and Benham (DD-397) from Newport, Rhode Island, to carry out a neutrality patrol in the Grand Banks area (south-east of Newfoundland). She performed this duty for the next two months, with the one moment of excitement coming in early October, when the Benham, Davis and Coast Guard cutter Campbell were sent to escort the American passenger liner Iroquois safely to New York. This came after Admiral Raeder told the US Naval Attache in Berlin that a plot was underway to sink the liner on her voyage between Cobh, Ireland and New York, in what he called ‘Athenia Circumstances’. The liner Athenia had been sunk by U-30 (commanded by Fritz-Julius Lemp) late on 3 September, the day Britain entered the war. At first Raeder genuinely believed that none of his U-boats had been within 75 miles of the Athenia¸ but by the time he invented the story about the Iroquois he knew that Lemp had been responsible. In October the German press claimed that the Athenia had been sunk by the British to turn American opinion against Germany, and Iroquois ‘plot’ appears to have part of the same general attempt to deny responsibility. The three US warships met the Iroquis on 8 October and escorted her safely to New York. In 1940 the Iroquois was taken over by the US Navy and turned into the hospital ship USS Solace II (AH-5). She was present when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and served throughout the Pacific War.

On 13 November she departed from Boston heading for Galveston, Texas, from where she patrolled in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Davis was then sent to the east coast, where she operated from 11 March 1940 to 26 April 1941.

The Davis returned to the Caribbean at the end of April 1941. She was still serving there when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. After the US entry into the war she also sometimes operated from Recife, Brazil, with occasion trips to the southern US to collect personel or cargo.

In May 1941 she was part of a force based at Guantanomo Bay, made up of the Cincinnati (CL-6), Memphis (CL-13), Davis (DD-395) and the newly arrived Warrington (DD-383), covering the eastern Caribbean and part of the western Atlantic running south from the West Indies.

On 4 November 1941 the British oiler Olwen reported being attacked by a surface raider, triggering a sizable British and American naval response. The Memphis (CL-13), Davis and Jouett (DD-396) were near the reported position and were sent to search the area, but found nothing. At first the assumption was that the Olwen had been sunk by the unknown raider, but she soon turned up safely, having been briefly fired on by a surfaced submarine. However the effort to find the non-existent raider did result in the capture of the German blockade runner Odenwald by other US warships.

On 19 July 1942 she rescued 10 men from the torpedoed British sailing ship Glacier.

On 16 September 1942 the Davis, Eberle (DD-430) and Beatty (DD-640) carried out an anti-submarine sweep near Tobago. The Eberle attacked a possible target but without success.

On 4 January 1944 the Omaha and Jouett sank the German blocklade runner Rio Grande and then left the scene to avoid the risk of U-boat attack. On 5 January the Omaha found the blockade runner Burgenland, which was scuttled by her own crew. Three days late, on 7 January, the Davis rescued 21 survivors and the Winslow (DD-359) picked up another 35 from the blockade runners.

On 15 April 1944 the Davis arrived at New York as part of the escort for the Franklin (CV-13). She departed for England on 14 May escorting a convoy, and arrived at Plymouth on 25 May.

On 5 June 1944 the Davis left Milford Haven in south Wales to escort a convoy heading for the Bay of Seine to take part in the Normandy invasion. The Davis arrived off the beaches on 7 June (D+1). She then remained in the area, and five days later fought off a German torpedo boat attack. Later in June she was used to escort a convoy from Devonport to the Bay of Seine, but on 21 June she was badly damaged by an explosion on her port side, probably caused by a mine. She needed emergency repairs off Normandy, and then had to return to Charleston, South Carolina for full repairs, arriving on 11 August.

This was probably the point at which the Davis had her original low angle 5in guns replaced with new 5in/38 dual purpose guns, to improve her anti-aircraft firepower. She was shown with the new guns in a picture dated to late 1944 or 1945.
These repairs were over by 26 December 1944 when the Davis returned to convoy escort duty. Between then and 21 June 1945 she made four trans-Atlantic voyages between New York and England.

On 10 July 1945 she moved to Norfolk, Virginia, where she was decommissioned on 19 October 1945. She was sold for scrap on 24 November 1947.

Davis received one battle star for World War II service, for the Normandy landings

Displacement (standard)

1,850t (design)

Displacement (loaded)

2,130t (design)
2,766.6 (Sampson)

Top Speed

37.5kts (design)
38.56kts at 53,271shp at 2,179t on trial (Sampson)


2-shaft General Electric turbines
4 boilers
52,000shp design


7,500nm at 15kts (design)
10,540nm at 15kts at 2,143t on trial (Sampson)
7,020nm at 12kts at 2,750t wartime
4,250nm at 20kts at 2,750t


381ft 6in


36ft 10in


Eight 5in/38 SP guns in twin mounts
Twelve 12in torpedos in three quad mounts
Eight 1.1in AA guns in four twin mounts
Four 0.5in AA guns
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement


Laid Down



30 July 1938


9 November 1938


24 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 (29 June 2022), USS Davis (DD-395),

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