USS Maury (DD-401)

USS Maury (DD-401) was a Gridley class destroyer that served at Midway, the invasion of Guadalcanal, the battles of the Eastern Solomons, Santa Cruz and Vella Gulf, the invasion of Tarawa and Makin, the Marianas, the battle of the Philippine Sea and the invasion of the Philippines,

The Maury was named after Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury, an astronomer and hydrographer who served as the first superintendent of the Naval Observatory, publishing a series of valuable scientific works.

The Maury was laid down at the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp’s Union Plant at San Francisco on 24 March 1936, launched on 14 February 1938 when she was sponsored by Maury’s granddaughter Miss Virginia Lee Maury Werth and commissioned on 5 August 1938. 

The Maury joined the Pacific Fleet. Sheformed part of Destroyer Division 12 (Benham (DD-397), Maury, McCall (DD-400) and Somers (DD-381), itself one of two divisions in Destroyer Squadron 6.

By 1941 the Maury was based at Pearl Harbor. On 28 November the Maury left Pearl Harbor as part of the Enterprise’s task force, which was taking reinforcements to Wake Island. The task force was heading back to Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked, and in the aftermath attempted to find the Japanese fleet, but without success. The Maury spent the rest of the year operating around Hawaii to guard against a second attack.


In January-February 1942 the Maury was part of the screen for the Enterprise and Yorktown (CV-5) during the early American carrier raids. The first of these raids hit Maleolap, Taroa and Reuters Islands on 1 February

USS Maury (DD-401) rescuing crashed airmen USS Maury (DD-401) rescuing crashed airmen

The Maury was allocated to the Malelap bombardment group. Their target was Taroa Island, in the eastern part of the attol, where there was a seaplane base. The three destroyers in the bombardment force were attacked by Japanese bombers, but were able to drive them off.

For the Wake and Marcus raids the Maury was allocated to the Enterprise task force, commanded by Halsey. During the Wake raid of 24 February she was given the task of bombarding the small island of Peale, acting as the guide ship for the bombardment. She fired 348 rounds of 5in shells at the island, but also fired at several Japanese seaplanes that attempted to attack the group. As the fleet withdrew the Maury sank a Japanese patrol boat that had already been the target of aircraft from the Enterprise. She was in turn attacked by a Japanese seaplane which dropped two bombs without being engaged (both missed). The attack on Marcus Island on 4 March was an air attack.  

For most of April she took part in anti-submarine and anti-aircraft exercises around Hawaii. However on 8 April the Maury left Pearl Harbor as part of TF 16 (Enterprise) to support the Doolittle Raid.

On 30 April the Maury was part of Task Force 16 when it left Pearl Harbor heading for the Coral Sea, east of New Guinea. However the task force was too late to take part in the battle of the Coral Sea, and returned to Hawaii on 26 May. 

Two days later TF 16 left Pearl Harbor heading for Midway. On 2 June they joined TF 17 and took up a position 350 miles to the north-east of Midway. The Maury formed part of the carrier screen during the battle of Midway, which saw four of the Japanese fleet carriers sunk. 

After a month back at Pearl Harbor the task force departed for the South Pacific to take part in the invasion of Guadalcanal.

On 24 July the Maury was at Nukualofa, Tonga, where she was refuelled by the Atlanta (CL-51)

The Maury served as a plane guard for the Enterprise during the landings on Guadalcanal and Tulagi on 7 August, and over the next few weeks. She was still with TF 16 during the battle of the Eastern Solomons (24-25 August 1942), which saw the Americans stop Japanese reinforcements reaching the island, but also saw the Enterprise badly damaged. In the aftermath TF 16 retired to Tonga and then to Pearl Harbor for repairs, arriving on 10 September.

On 16 October the Maury left Pearl Harbor as part of TF 16, built around the South Dakota and Enterprise. This force joined up with TF 17 (Hornet) to the north-east of the New Hebrides and the combined fleet was then ordered to sweep around to the north of Santa Cruz to search for a Japanese fleet that was attempting to intervene in the battle on Guadalcanal.

The Maury was with TF 16 during the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands (26 October), which again saw Japanese reinforcements turned back. However the Enterprise was damaged once again, and the Hornet (CV-8) sunk. The Maury formed part of the screen of the Enterprise during the battle.

The Maury was based at Noumea and Espiritu Santo for the next ten months, well into the summer of 1943.


She was used on anti-submarine patrols and escort duties, and supported the attacks on the Russell Islands (Operation Cleanslate, 21 February 1943), New Georgia (Operation Toenails, 30 June-5 August 1943)Rendova (30 June 1943), Munda (July-August 1943), and Vella Lavella (August-October 1943).

USS Maury (DD-401) refueling from USS Guadalupe (AO-32) USS Maury (DD-401) refueling from USS Guadalupe (AO-32)

On the night of 6-7 August 1943 the Maury was part of a fleet of six destroyers that defeated a Japanese force attempting to bring reinforcements to New Georgia (battle of Vella Gulf). The destroyers were arranged in two columns, with the Maury at the back of the west (port) column. The Americans spotted the Japanese force of four destroyers first, and were able to fire off a salvo of torpedoes before being detected. Three of the four Japanese destroyers were hit and later sank, and the fourth was forced to flee.

At the end of August, while the fighting on Vella Lavella was still going on, the Maury departed for San Pedro and six weeks of yard availability.

She then returned to the war zone as part of Task Force 52, to take part in the invasions of Tarawa (20-23 November 1943) and Makin (20-24 November 1943) in the Gilberts.  


At the start of 1944 the Maury was allocated to Task Force 58, the fast carrier force, and was part of its screen during the series of carrier raids that dominated much of 1944.

On 19 January the fleet put to sea to raid Wotje, Taroa, Eniwetok and the Palaus.

In March the fleet moved to the new US base at Majuro. On 30 March-1 April they raided the Palaus, Yap, Ulithi and Woleai.

On 22 April they supported the landings at Hollandia on New Guinea and from 29 April-1 May raided Ponape, Satawan and Truk. The Maury then returned to Pearl Harbor for a period of yard availability.

She rejoined TF 58 at Majuro on 4 June, two days before the fleet sortied to take part in the invasion of the Mariana Islands. She screened the carriers during the pre-invasion bombardment of Saipan and raids on Guam and Rota. She then took part in raids on Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima, designed to stop the Japanese moving reinforcements from there to the Marianas.

The attack on the Marianas triggered Japan’s last great effort for a decisive naval victory, an attempt to use the longer range of their aircraft to attack the American fleet without exposing their own carriers to the risk of a counterattack. However the resulting battle of the Philippine Sea ended as a disaster for the Japanese, who lost hundreds of aircraft as well as thre carriers. Japanese naval aviation never really recovered from this crushing blow. In the aftermath of the battle the Maury took part in the pursuit of the retreating Japanese, then supported a raid on the Bonin Islands before returning to their base at Eniwotok on 27 June.

After a brief pause the fleet returned to sea, raiding Iwo Jima on 4 July then returning to the Marianas to support the invasion of Guam (21 July) and Tinian (24 July).

The Maury then formed part of the carrier screen during another raid on Iwo Jima, and during attacks on Peleliu, Ngesebu, Angaur, Yap and Ulithi. Okinawa was hit on 10 October, followed by attacks on Formoas and Luzon and a raid on the Manila Bay area on 15 October.

These were all designed to support the upcoming invasion of Leyte, the start of the return to the Philippines. The Maury was part of the carrier screen when the fast carriers dashed north from Leyte Gulf to attack a decay force of Japanese carriers that largely lacked aircraft (battle of Cape Engano). This allowed a Japanese surface fleet to briefly threaten the invasion forces off Leyte (battle off Samar), but they failed to take advantage of their chance.

The Maury operated to the east of the Philippines for most of November supporting the fighting on Leyte and Samar. She then returned to Manus for another spell of availability.

On 27 December she sailed as part of TG 77.4 heading for Lingayen Gulf and the invasion of Luzon.


The Maury rescued 19 survivors from the Ommaney Bay (CVE-79), which had been scuttled on 4 January 1945 after suffering heavy damage in a kamikaze attack in the Sulu Sea, to the west of the Philippines.

On 5 January 1945 the Maury passed the survivors to the Wake Island (CVE-65). On the same day she probably shot down a kamikaze attacker heading for the task force.

In mid-January the Maury was allocated to TG 78.12 for a brief spell of convoy escort duties.

From 24-27 January the Maury led a force of six destroyers (TU 78.12.4) as they secorted a troop convoy heading from Leyte Gulf to Lingayen Gulf. The convoy came under heavy attack, and the Shadwell (LSD-15) was hit by a torpedo fired from an aircraft that was then shot down. However she stayed afloat and managed to get back to Leyte.

At the end of January the Maury returned to TF 77 and spent the first part of February guarding Lingayen Gulf.

On 10 February she departed for Ulithi, arriving on 16 February. This ended her combat career. She was used to escort the Mississippi back to Hawaii, arriving on 3 April. After six weeks of training she then departed for New York, arriving on 14 June. At New York she was inspected and it was decided to dispose of her, so on 18 August she moved to Philadelphia, where she was decommissioned on 19 October. She was struck off on 1 November and sold for scrap on 13 June 1946.

Maury received 16 battle stars for World War II service, for the Pacific Raids of 1942 and 1944, Midway, invasion of Guadalcanal, the battles of the Eastern Solomons, Santa Cruz Islands and Tassafaronga, consolidation of the Solomons, New Georgia, Gilbert Islands, Marshall Islands, Hollandia, Marianas, Western Caroline Islands, Leyte and Luzon.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

37kts design
38.99kts at 47,265shp at 1,774tons on trial (Gridley)
38.7kts at 53,073shp at 1,992tons on trial (Gridley)


2 shaft Bethlehem turbines
4 boilers
44,000shp design, 50,000shp as built


6,500nm at 12kts design
7,735nm at 15kts at 1,771t (trial)
5,520nm at 12kts at 2,150t (wartime)
4,910nm at 15kts at 2,150t (wartime)
3,660nm at 20kts at 2,150t (wartime)


341ft 4.25in


35ft 6.5in


Four 5in/38 DP guns
Sixteen 21in torpedo tubes in four quad mounts
Four .50in AA guns
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement


Laid down

24 March 1936


14 February 1938


5 August 1938

Sold for scrap

13 June 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 (18 May 2022), USS Maury (DD-401),

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