USS Fanning (DD-385)

USS Fanning (DD-385) was a Dunlap class destroyer that took part in the Doolittle Raid on Japan, the campaign in the Solomons and the Marshalls, operated with the British Eastern Fleet, took part in raids on Luzon and the occupation of Leyte, and the invasion of Iwo Jima, ended the war on patrol duties

The Fanning was named after Nathanial Fanning, who served under John Paul Jones during the War of Independence, taking part in the famous battle with the Serapis.

Crewman being transferred from USS Fanning (DD-385) Crewman being transferred from USS Fanning (DD-385)

The Fanning was launched by United Shipbuilding of New York on 18 September 1936, when she was sponsored by Lt Fannin’gs great-great granddaughter Miss Cora A Masrh, and commissioned on 8 October 1937.

Her trials and shakedown cruise occupied her time into the spring on 1938. On 22 April she joined the Philadelphia (CL-41) to escort her as she carried President Roosevelt on a Caribbean cruiser, returning to New York on 11 May. She was then used to escort the Crown Prince of Sweden on MS Kungsholm.

In September 1938 she moved to the US West Coast to join the Battle Force at San Diego. She spent the next three years operating with the Pacific Fleet, taking part in the normal mix of fleet problems and training. By 1941 she had moved to Pearl Harbor along with most of the Pacific Fleet.

Just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the Fanning 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 Fanning returned to Pearl Harbor on the day after the attack, and was back at sea with the Enterprise force on 9 December, hunting for submarines. The destroyers made several attacks on suspected targets, but the only confirmed victory came when aircraft from the Enterprise sank I-170 on 10 December.

On 19 December the Fanning left Pearl Harbor as part of Task Force 8, heading to Wake Island. However the island fell before the relief effort could reach it, so the reinforcements the fleet was carrying went to Midway instead.


USS Fanning (DD-385) waiting for President Roosevelt USS Fanning (DD-385) waiting for President Roosevelt

In January she was part of a force sent to Tutuila, the main island of American Samoa, but on the way she collided with the Gridley (DD-380) in a rainstorm, damaging both ships. The Fanning was forced to put in at Pago Pago for emergency repairs, then returned to Pearl Harbor for full repairs to her bow.

She was probably soon repaired, as photographs from late February 1942 show her as part of the escort for the Enterprise when she raided Wake Island.

She was back at Pearl Harbor on 19 March when she was seen in the background of a photograph of new 20mm AA guns on the Enterprise (CV-6). She then took part in the Doolittle raid, where she was part of the escort of the Enterprise (CV-6), which provided fighter cover for the force, while the Hornet carried the B-25s that actually carried out the raid. She was back at Pearl Harbor on 25 April.

The Fanning escorted an Army Tug to Canton Island, half way between Hawaii and Fiji. She then returned to San Francisco for repairs.

Once the repairs were completed she was used on escort duties, making two voyages along the US west coast and escorting three convoys to Pearl Harbor.

On 12 November she was allocated to Task Force 11, and spent the rest of the year on convoy and escort missions in the Solomon Islands.


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.

In January 1943 the Fanning took part in the last stage of the Guadalcanal campaign.

From 20-25 February she was part of TF 64 and took part in the occupation of the Russell Islands.

In September 1943 she escorted a convoy from Noumea to Guadalcanal, coming under air attack and avoiding both torpedos and bombs. Later in the month she joined with the Case (DD-370), McCall (DD-400) and Craven (DD-382) to return to San Francisco and another overhaul.

Once the overhaul was completed she moved north and spent the rest of 1943 training, patrolling and on exercises off the Aleutians.


On 19 January 1944 the Fanning joined TG 58.4 to take part in operations in the Marshall Islands. She escorted the Saratoga (CV-3) as she attacked Wotje, Taroa, Utirik and Rongelap, then carried out four days of attacks on Eniwetok. During the rest of January the force carried out 25 strikes in 19 days on Kwajalein and Eniwetok, then provided support for the invasion of Eniwetok.

In March 1944 the Saratoga, Fanning, Dunlap (DD-384) and Cummings (DD-365) were ordered to join the Combined Far Eastern Fleet, a mainly British force but with Dutch, French and Austalian ships. The Fanning escorted the Saratoga and HMS Illustrious as they attacked Sabang on Sumatra (19 April) and Surabaya (Java) on 17 May.

After the second raid the Fanning left the Combined fleet to head back to San Francisco. On 17 July she left San Francisco heading for San Diego, and on 21 July she joined up with the Baltimore (CA-68) and escorted that cruiser as she carried President Roosevelt on a visits to Adak and Kodiak. On 7 August the President moved to the Cummings, which carried him to Bremerton, Washington, escorted by the Fanning and Dunlap.

The Fanning spent the next few months training, before departing for the war zone on 17 September. She escorted the SS Antiguq to Eniwetok, then patrolled with TG 57.7 off Tinian.

On 9 October she was part of TG 30.2 and provided escort for a diversionary raid on Marcus Island.

On 16 October she sailed with TG 38.1 to screen a carrier group that carried out two attacks on Luzon to distract attention from Leyte. She then supported the invasion of Leyte, before being sent back to Ulithi to refuel and resupply.

On 22 October the Fanning was ordered back to Leyte Gulf in response to the Japanese attack, and was on the fringes of the battle of San Bernardino Strait (battle off Samar).

Once the battle was over she returned to Ulithi to resupply.

She then joined TG 30.2 at Saipan, and took part in a series of raids on Iwo Jima. The first of these came on 11-12 November. She then served as a radar picket ship, before taking part in bombardments of Iwo Jima on 8 December and 24 December.

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


At the start of February she spent a few days on air sea rescue duties, to rescue the crews of B-29s forced to ditch during raids on Japan. She was relieved on 4 February by USS Bering Strait (AVP-34).

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. She then took part in the bombardment of Chichi Jima, but had to be detached to escort the mine damaged David W. Taylor i(DD-551) to Ulithi.

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).

The Fanning spent the new two months serving as a radar picket, air rescue ship and local escort ship around Iwo Jima. After that she carried out similar duties, but between Eniwetok, Iwo Jima and Guam.

On 19 September the Fanning departed for the United States, reaching Galveston on 23 October 1945. She was decommissioned on 14 December 1945.

Fanning received four battle stars for World War II service, for the Marshall Islands, Pacific Raids of 1944, Leyte (support 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 (30 March 2022), USS Fanning (DD-385),

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