USS Dunlap (DD-384)

USS Dunlap (DD-384) was the name ship of the Dunlap class of destroyers and fought at the battle of Vella Gulf, took part in the British raid on Surabaya in 1944, was on the fringe of the battle of Leyte Gulf, took part in the invasion of Iwo Jima, and was the site of the Japanese surrender of the Bonin Islands at the end of the war.

The Dunlap was named after Robert H. Dunlap, who served in the Marine Corps during the Spanish-American War, the Boxer Rebellion, the occupation of Vera Cruz in 1914 and on the Western Front. He was killed while attempting to rescue a woman who was trapped in a landslide in France on 19 May 1931.

USS Dunlap (DD-384) firing a torpedo USS Dunlap (DD-384) firing a torpedo

The Dunlap was launched on 18 April 1936 by United Shipbuilding of New York when she was sponsored by Robert Dunlap’s widow, and was commissioned on 12 June 1937.

The Dunlap spent just over a year based on the east coast, mainly on training duty, although in June 1938 she escorted the Crown Prince of Sweden on SS Kingsholm at Philadelphia.

On 1 September 1938 she departed for the west coast. After a few months on the west coast she returned east early in 1939 to take part in a fleet problem in the Caribbean, and then an overhaul on the US East Coast. She spent the send half of 1939 and the first three months of 1940 back on the west coast, before she departed for her new base at Pearl Harbor on 2 April 1940.  

Just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the Dunlap left as part of the escort of the Enterprise, which was to deliver twelve F4F-3s from Marine Fighting Squadron VMF 211 to Wake Island. Eleven of the aircraft were flown off to Wake on 5 December, and the task force then turned back towards Pearl Harbor. They were still 200 miles to the west when the Japanese attacked, although some aircraft from the Enterprise had been sent off ahead and flew right into the battle.

The Dunlap entered Pearl Harbor on the day after the battle. She was soon back out at sea, and was used to patrol the areas around Hawaii into January 1942.


On 11 January 1942 the Dunlap left Pearl Harbor as part of Task Force 8, which was to carry out a series of air strikes and bombardments of targets in the Marshall Islands.

The Dunlap was assigned to Admiral Spruance’s TG 8.1 (Northampton, Salt Lake City and Dunlap), which was to carry out a bombardment of Wotje. On 1 February, during the raid on Wotje, the Dunlap sank a Japanese warship that was identified as an auxiliary submarine chaser (No.10 Shonan Maru). The task force returned to Pearl Harbor on 5 February.

USS Dunlap (DD-384) recovers a torpedo USS Dunlap (DD-384) recovers a torpedo

The Dunlap then took part the raid on Wake Island on 24 February, forming part of the escort for the Enterprise as she operated to the north of theisland.

The Dunlap was then part Task Force 16.5 during the carrier raid on Marcus Island on 4 March 1942.

In early April she was part of the escort for the USS Enterprise (CV-6) as the carrier prepared to take part in the Doolittle raid, and was with her until 8 April, the day the carrier set off west across the Pacific.

After that she began escorting convoys between ports along the US West Coast. She was photographed at Mare Island on 10 May 1942.  She also took part in training exercises during this period, and on 3 July 1942 was photographed firing and then recovering a practise torpedo.

She returned to Pearl Harbor on 22 October 1942. After spending November around Hawaii she departed for Noumea on New Caledonia, where she arrived on 5 December 1942. She was used on local patrols and to escort convoys to Fiji, Tonga and the New Hebrides, and carried out these duties into July 1943.


One of her roles in this period was to escort the new battleship Indiana (BB-58), as she entered the war zone for the first time. On 2 January the Indiana, Dunlap, Fanning (DD-385), Lardner (DD-487) and Maury (DD-401) left Noumea to take part in a training exercise in which they were ‘attacked’ by aircraft from the Saratoga.

On 30 July 1943 she arrived at Guadalcanal and began to operate in the Solomon Islands.

USS Dunlap (DD-384) on high speed trials USS Dunlap (DD-384) on high speed trials

On the night of 6-7 August she fought in the battle of Vella Gulf, which saw a force of six American destroyers sent to intercept a Japanese force carrying reinforcements to Kolombangara. The American force was organised into two columns, with the Dunlap in the left hand column, slightly in the lead of the right hand column. The Americans detected the Japanese on radar and were able to fire their torpedoes before they were detected, hitting three of the four Japanese destroyers (Hagikaze, Arashi and Kawakaze). The fourth, Shigure, managed to escape unharmed but all three of the damaged destroyers were then sunk by the Americans.

Soon after this battle the Dunlap returned to the US for an overhaul at San Diego.

On 23 November 1943 she left San Diego heading to Alaska, where she spent a short spell on patrol duties at Adak. This only lasted until 16 December, when she departed for Pearl Harbor, arriving on 21 December.


The Dunlap then joined the Fifth Fleet, and from 19 January to 4 March 1944 was used to screen the carriers while they carried out air strikes in support of the invasion of the Marshall Islands.

From the Marshalls she moved to Espiritu Santo, and then to Fremantle, Australia, where she joined the British Eastern Fleet. 

After training at Fremantle, she moved to the British base at Trincomalee, Ceylon, for more training. She then took part in the British fleet’s raid on Surabaya on Java on 17 May.

On 18 May she left the British fleet to return to Pearl Harbor, where she arrived on 10 June. She then moved back to the US West Coast, reaching San Francisco on 7 July 1944. Once there she joined the screen for the cruiser USS Baltimore (CA-68) as she carried President Roosevelt for a series of meetings with the senior Pacific commanders and an inspection of Alaskan bases.

The Dunlap was detached from the Baltimore at Seattle on 12 August and returned to Pearl Harbor.

The Dunlap was soon back in action, taking part in a bombardment of Wake Island on 3 September.

She then moved to Saipan to join the Marianas Patrol and Escort Group, arriving on 12 September.

On 9 October she took part in a bombardment of Marcus Island.

On 16 October she joined the Third Fleet to take part in the invasion of Leyte. She was with the fleet during the diversionary attacks on Luzon, then supported the landings on Leyte. She was then sent back to Ulithi, and was on her way when the Japanese fleet attacked (battle of Leyte Gulf). She turned back and formed part of the screen for TG 38.1 as it attempted to attack the surviving Japanese warships as they retreated on 25-26 October.

The Dunlap returned to Ulithi on 29 October, from where she carried patrol duties, mixed in with the bombardments of Iwo Jima of November and December 1944 and January 1945.

On 27 December she took part in an attack on Iwo Jima. Between then the Dunlap (DD-384), Fanning (DD-385) and Cummings (DD-365) sank the Japanese fast transport T.7 and landing ship T.132.


On 5 January she took part in a bombardment of Iwo Jima and nearby islands. The Dunlap and Fanning (DD-385) attacked the Japanese tank landing ship T.107, taking over an hour to sink her! The two destroyers then attempted to rescue the survivors, but they refused help.

On 24 January the Dunlap and Fanning sank three small cargo ships off Iwo Jima (the transport I-Go Yoneyama Maru and the minesweepers Keinan Maru and No.7 Showa Maru).

On 19 February the cruiser Chester collided with the amphibious force flagship Estes (AGC-12) while moving into position to support the landings on Iwo Jima. She was able to take part in the invasion, but then returned to Saipan, before departing for Pearl Harbor on 23 February 1945, escorted by the Dunlap. On 27 February they were ordered to search for any survivors from a Consolidated C-87A Liberator Espress that had gone missing while carrying Lt Gen Millard Harmon, Commander of the US Army Air Forces in the Pacific, from Guam to Washington, D.C. No sign was ever found of Harmon or his aircraft.

The Dunlap returned to Iwo Jima on 19 March, late in the battle for the island. After the fighting was over on Iwo Jima itself she was used to try and intercept any Japanese ships attempting to evacuate the remaining isolated Japanese garrisons of the Bonins.

On 19 June she attacked and sank a Japanese ship attempting to evacuate Chichi Jima in the Bonins, then picked up 52 survivors.

On 31 August Japanese officers came onboard to discuss surrender terms for the Bonin Islands.

On 3 September Lt General Yoshio Tachibana signed the surrender of the Bonin Islands onboard the Dunlap.

The Dunlap soon departed for the United States, reaching Houston, Texas in time for Navy Day. She reached Norfolk, Virginia on 7 November, was decommissioned on 14 December 1945 and sold on 31 December 1947.

Dunlap received six battle stars for World War II service, for the Pacific Raids of 1942 (Marshall-Gilbert Islands and Wake), New Georgia, the Marshall Islands, Pacific Raids of 1944, Leyte (supporting raids on Luzon) and Iwo Jima. 

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.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 March 2022), USS Dunlap (DD-384),

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