USS Drayton (DD-366)

USS Drayton (DD-366) was a Mahan class destroyer that fought at the battle of Tassafaronga, supported the campaign on New Guinea, and the invasions of the Marshall Islands, the Philippines and Borneo.

The Drayton was named after Percival Drayton, captain of Admiral Farragut’s flagship during the battle of Mobile Bay of 1864.

The Drayton was launched on 26 March 1936 at the Bath Iron Works of Bath, Maine, when she was sponsored by Captain Drayton’s great-grandniece Miss B.E. Drayton, carried out her trials in July 1936 and was commissioned on 1 September 1936.

USS Drayton (DD-366) at Mare Island, 1944 USS Drayton (DD-366) at Mare Island, 1944

Her shakedown cruise lasted from 6 October to 5 December 1936 and took her to Europe. After final trials she was accepted for service, and departed for San Diego, where she arrived on 19 June 1936. She joined the Scouting Force of the Pacific Fleet. One of her first duties was the search for Amelia Earhart, who had disappeared over the Pacific and was never found. She then took part in maneuvers at Pearl Harbor, and was back at San Diego by 30 July 1936.

For the next two years she took part in the normal life of the fleet, a mix of exercises off the west coast and visits to Hawaii and the Caribbean to take part in Fleet Problems.

Early in 1939 she took part in Fleet Problem XX, which took place in the Caribbean and along the north-eastern coast of South America. On 23 February the Drayton and Flusser were able to get into Culebra Harbour where they ‘sank’ the seaplane tenders Lapwing and Sandpiper but an attempt to carry out a similar raid on the following day saw both destroyers ‘sunk’.

In March 1939 her commander, Lt Commander Jesse H. Carter, was photographed with his fellow Destroyer Division Three commanders at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

From 12 October 1939 the Drayton’s home port was Pearl Harbor. This was one of the first steps in the move that led to the entire Pacific Fleet being based at Hawaii in an attempt to convince the Japanese not to risk war with the United States.

In October 1941 she was photographed off the US West Coast, but she was back at Pearl Harbor by December.

In early December the Drayton left Pearl Harbor as part of Task Force 12 (Lexington (CV-2), Chicago (CA-29), Portland (CA-33), Astoria (CA-34), Porter (DD-356), Drayton (DD-366), Flusser (DD-368) and Lamson (DD-367). She was thus at sea when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The Task Force was ordered to search for the Japanese fleet somewhere to the south of Hawaii, but found nothing.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor the Drayton was at sea with the Lexington and Task Force 12. In the immediate aftermath of the raid the force attempted to find the Japanese fleet, before returning to Pearl on 13 December 1941.

The Drayton left Pearl Harbor again on 24 December as part of the escort for a convoy heading to Christmas Island. During the voyage she carried out two attacks on suspected submarines.


The Drayton returned to Pearl Harbor on 7 January, and was at sea again on 11 January, this time as part of the screen for the Enterprise (CV-6). The carrie launched an air strike on Bougainville on 20 February, and the force was back at Pearl Harbor on 24 January.

The Drayton was then used to screen a tanker heading to Suva in Fiji, before heading back to the United States on 24 March. She arrived at San Pedro on 5 April.

USS Drayton (DD-366) on Trials, 1936 USS Drayton (DD-366) on Trials, 1936

She was photographed at the Mare Island Navy Yard on 14 April 1942, at which point she was still painted a single colour.

The Drayton took part in training exercises and patrol duties along the west coast until 1 August, and then departed for Pearl Harbor.

She joined in training exercises and patrol duty on the west coast until 1 August 1942.

On 4 October 1942 she collided with the Flusser (DD-368) during exercises near Hawaii, suffering damge to the tip of her bows.

On 17 November the Drayton left Pearl Harbor with a fleet heading towards the Solomon Islands, and the crucial battle for Guadalcanal.

She took part in the battle of Tassafaronga (30 November 1942). She was part of Task Force 67, which departed from Espiritu Santo on 29 November to intercept a Japanese force escorted transports to Guadalcanal. The Drayton lacked surface radar, which limited her role in the resulting night battle, when ended as a Japanese victory. Japanese torpedoes hit and seriously damaged four American cruisers, sinking the Northampton (CA-26), although the result of the battle had little impact on the fighting on Guadalcanal. The Drayton picked up 128 survivers of the Northampton, including her captain, and was back at Espiritu Santo on 2 December.


Early in 1943 the Drayton took part in a bombardment of Munda on New Georgia (which was invaded in June-August 1943).

The Drayton escorted transports carrying troops to the Russell Islands (Operation Cleanslate), which were occupied without resistance on 21 February 1943. She then escorted the empty transports to Wellington, New Zealand.

She then returned to Noumea, arriving on 7 March. She remained there for two months, taking part in exercises and patrolling with TF 64, before departing for Townsville, Australia on 13 May as part of a convoy escort. The convoy arrived on 17 May, and the Drayton then spent the rest of the summer escorting Australian troop transports from Townsville to Milne Bay to support the fighting on New Guinea.

In mid July the Drayton and Milne escorted the transport Henry T. Allen (AP-30) to Brisbane.

USS Drayton (DD-366) at Sea, 1938 USS Drayton (DD-366) at Sea, 1938

On 1 September the Drayton left Milne Bay as part of TG 76.6 (with the Perkins, Smith (DD-378), Lamson (DD-367), Mugford (DD-389) and Reid (DD-369), as part of the naval force supporting the landings at Lae, New Guinea. These took place on 4 September, and the Drayton and her force came under Japanese air attack.

The Drayton bombarded Finschhafen on 22 September.

She then returned to Brisbane for a brief overhaul, but was back in service in time to escort transports to Arawe on New Britain for the landings on 15 December. She then covered the US Marines landing at Cape Gloucester on New Britain on 26 December.

On 27 December the Drayton was part of a force that escorted three submarine chasers and four LSTs to Yellow Beach.


At the start of 1944 the Drayton escorted high speed transports carrying troops from Buna Road to take part in the invasion of Saidor on 2 January. She then took part in the occupation of parts of the Bismarck Archipelago, carried out to isolate the Japanese base at Rabual.

On 9 February the Drayton, Flusser and Mahan patrolled off Borgen Bay and Cape Gloucester while the LSTs unloaded their contents.

On 11 February the Drayton, Flusser, Mahan and Smith escorted three LSTs and a tanker to Cape Gretin.

The Drayton was part of Task Force 76.1 (Drayton, Reid Bush, Welles, Flusser, Mahan, Drayton, Smith, Stevenson and Stockton and three high speed transport). This force carried the soldiers who landed at Los Negros Island on 29 February. The Drayton then took part in the shore bombardment and provided fire support during the battle.

On 4 March she returned to the Admiralty Islands escorting reinforcements coming from Milne Bay. She was then used as the HQ for the Landing Craft Control Officer for the Admiralty Islands.

On 12 March she bombarded Pityilu Island, off the north coast of Manus Island. She then escorted a convoy of LSTs heading for Seadler Harbor to take part in the landings there later in March.

The Drayton then returned to New Guinea, before leaving Milne Bay on 22 March to escort transports heading for Canton Island. This was the first stage of a voyage back to the US west coast for a refit.

She was photographed off the Mare Island Navy Yard on 28 June 1944, at which point she had been painted in camouflage Measure 21, Design 23d. She was also given extra depth charges along her sides, and extra anti-aircraft guns with two twin 40mm mounts added just to the rear of her torpedo tubes.  

The Drayton, Mahan and Columbia (CL-56) left the west coast on 29 June 1944, and arrived at Hawaii on 5 July.

Following an overhaul at San Francisco, Drayton trained out of Pearl Harbor before arriving at Eniwetok 8 August. For the next 2 months she patrolled off Maloelap, Wotje, Jaluit, and Mille - bypassed Japanese-held atolls in the Marshalls.

On 4 September she replaced the Mahan on patrol off Jaluit Atoll.

On 8 September the Drayton, Mahan, Smith and Lamson left Majuro heading for Eniwetok, arriving there on 17 September.

On 20 September she took part in training exercises at Eniwetok with three heavy crusiers and four other destroyers.

On 20 October the Drayton joined the 7th Fleet at Humbodlt Bay, New Guinea. Five days later she departed to carry out patrol and escort duties in Leyte Gulf, arriving on 29 October. Probably in November she also went to New Guinea to escort transports bringing reinforcements to Leyte.

On 4 December the Drayton, Flusser, Lamson and Shaw, along with eight LSMs and three LCIs departed from Leyte Gulf heading for San Pedro Bay, where they were to land troops at a beach held by Filipino guerrillas. This was part of a wider plan to landing Ormoc Bay to avoid more fighting in the interior of Leyte. The troops were landed late on 4 December, but on 5 December the naval force was attacked by Japanese aircraft while on their way back to base. Before dawn the Drayton was attacked by a twin engine bomber which scored a near miss and strafed her, killing two and wounding seven. At about 1100 the Japanese attacked while the convoy was in the Surigao Strait. This time kamikaze attacks sank LSM-20, damaged LSM-23 and hit the Drayton near one of her 5in guns, killing six and wounding 12. The Drayton was able to put out the fires and remained with the convoy. After returning to Leyte Gulf she was sent on to Manus for full repairs. These were completed by 26 December, when she departed to join the forces gathering for the invasion of Luzon.


On 9 January 1945 the Drayton supported the landings at Lingayen Gulf on Luzon. She provided fire support at Lingayen Gulf until 13 January, then returned to San Pedro Bay (between Leyte and Samar) to escort a convoy back to Lingayen. From 27 January to 18 February she provided fire support for the fighting on Luzon, destroying one Japanese strong point built into a cave.

On 28 February she took part in a bombardment of Palawan Island to support the landings at Puerto Princesa which took place on the same day.

The Drayton supported the landings at Cebu City (Cebu Island), which began on 26 March 1945, and the liberation of Masbate City (Masbate island) at the start of April 1945.  

On 23 April the Drayton sailed from San Pedro Bay to take part in the invasion of Borneo. She was used to screen the fighting at Tarakan (1-27 May 1945) and Balikpapan (1-21 July). She then returned to the Philippines, reaching Manila on 29 July. This ended her active service in the Pacific, and it was now decided to move her to the Atlantic, where the fighting had already come to an end.

On 9 August the Drayton and the Phoenix (CL-46) left San Pedro heading for Pearl Harbor. They were still at sea when the Japanese surrendered and the war ended. They reached Pearl Harbor on 19 August, and the Drayton continued on to the United States, reaching New York on 12 September. She was decommissioned on 9 October 1945 and sold for scrap on 20 December 1946.

Drayton received 11 battle stars for World War II service, for the Pacific Island raids of 1942, battle of Tassafaronga, Guadalcanal, the Solomon Islands, Eastern New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, the Western Caroline Islands, Leyte, Luzon, Borneo and the southern Philippines.

Displacement (standard)

1,487.9 standard

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

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


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


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


341ft 3in


35ft 6.5in


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

Crew complement


Laid down



26 March 1936


1 September 1936


20 December 1946

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 (8 December 2021), USS Drayton (DD-366),

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