USS Shaw (DD-373)

USS Shaw (DD-373) was a Mahan class destroyer that had her bows blown off during the attack on Pearl Harbor, but that was rebuilt and took part in the fighting off Guadalcanal late in 1942, the campaign on New Guinea and New Britain, and the invasions of the Marianas, Leyte and Luzon,

The Shaw was named after John Shaw, who fought in the US Navy during the Quasi War with France, the Barbary War and the War of 1812.

The Shaw was laid down at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 1 October 1934, launched on 28 October 1935 when she was sponsored by Miss Dorthy L. Tinker and commissioned on 18 September 1936.

However the Shaw wasn’t quite ready for service, and her shakedown cruise didn’t take place until April-June 1937, when she crossed the Atlantic to European waters. Even then she wasn’t quite right, and it took another year of yard work before she finally completed her acceptance trials in June 1938.  She spent the rest of the year on training duties in the Atlantic. These took her quite some way south, and she was photographed at Rio de Janeiro on 1 September 1938.

The Shaw then moved to the Pacific Fleet, but after her arrival needed another overhaul, this time at Mare Island from 8 January-4 April 1939. She then joined the normal life of the fleet on the west coast.

In April 1940 she departed for Hawaii to take part in Fleet Problem XXI, the last peace time fleet problem, and based around the defence of Hawaii. Pearl Harbor then became her new base, although she had to return to the west coast for an overhaul from November 1940 to February 1941.

In March-April 1941 she was part of an American fleet that visited Samoa and New Zealand.

USS Clark (DD-361), USS Case (DD-370), Cummings (DD-365), Shaw (DD-373) and Tucker (DD-374) , San Diego 1941 USS Clark (DD-361), USS Case (DD-370), Cummings (DD-365), Shaw (DD-373) and Tucker (DD-374) , San Diego 1941

In October 1941 she was photographed at San Diego with Destroyer Division Six, Destroyer Squadron Three. At the time the unit contained the squadron flagship USS Clark (DD-361), Case (DD-370) , Cummings (DD-365), Shaw (DD-373) and Tucker (DD-374).

In November the Shaw went into floating drydock YFD-3. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December the drydock was bombed by aircraft that were aiming at the nearby Nevada. The drydock sank, and the Shaw was set on fire. By 0925 her fire fighting facilities had failed and the order was given to abandoned ship. Just after 0930 her forward magazine blew up, in a massive explosion caught by chance on photographs of the battle. The bows sank with the floating drydock.  

USS Shaw (DD-373) on fire in floating dry dock YFD-2 USS Shaw (DD-373) on fire in floating dry dock YFD-2

Severed Bow of USS Shaw (DD-373) Severed Bow of USS Shaw (DD-373)

The explosion effectively split the Shaw in half, splitting off the bows section, with the two forward 5in guns. The remains of the bows ended up on their side on the floor of the dry dock. The rest of the destroyer remained just about afloat, with part of the bridge structure still standing. However it was badly damaged, with the front half of the bridge blow off and water in the forward boiler rooms.

At first the Shaw was seen as a total loss, but further investigations showed that the machinery was intact, and the serious damage was limited to the area from frame 65 forwards. The area from frame 60 forwards was cut off to make a clean cut, and the remaining part of the ship was pulled out onto the marine railway on 19 December.

The Shaw was given a new stub bow at Pearl Harbor, which left her with a very unusual appearance. Her entire bridge and forward superstructure had either been destroyed or removed during the repairs, and the new bow started just in front of the new temporary foremast and the forward funnel.


On 8 February 1942 the Shaw carried out a full power trial off Pearl Harbor to test out her new stub bow. This was successful, and on 9 February she departed for San Francisco.

The repairs were completed by July 1942, and she was photographed off Mare Island on 5 July with her new bow and bridge installed.  After training in the San Diego, the newly repaired destroyer returned to Pearl Harbor on 31 August.

In September and the first half of October the Shaw escorted convoys heading between the US West Coast and Hawaii.

On 16 October she left Pearl Harbor as part of Task Force 16 (South Dakota and Enterprise), heading south to join Task Force 17 (Hornet).

The combined force then moved towards Guadalcanal. On 26 November it became caught up in a clash with a force of Japanese carriers, in the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. Both of the carrier groups were soon under attack, but the first serious damage came from accidental friendly fire after a torpedo bomber crashed into the sea, its torpedo began running and hit the Porter (DD-356).  The Porter had to be abandoned, and the Shaw was given the task of picking up her crew then sinking her.

Two days after the battle the Shaw left for the New Hebrides. She then spent November and December escorting ships bringing men and supplies to Guadalcanal.

On 12 November 1942 the Shaw, Barton (DD-599) and Helena (CL-50) fired on Japanese 6in guns that were firing on a group of transports that were bringing reinforcements to Guadalcanal to guard against an expected Japanese offensive. The warships combined with Marine artillery to silence the Japanese guns, and the transports were unloaded safely.

During December she was normally part of TU 67.4.1 (Shaw, Drayton and Perkins (DD-377))


The supply runs lasted into January 1943, but on 10 January the Shaw ran aground on Sournois Reef while entering Noumea Harbor. It took five days to get her off the reef, and she had suffered serious damage to her hull, propellers and sonar. After initial repairs at Noumea she moved to Pearl Harbor for full repairs, which took into September.

The Shaw left Pearl Harbor on 9 October, reaching Noueam on 18 October and Milne Bay, New Guinea, on 24 October, where she joined the 7th Amphibious Force to take part in the campaign on New Guinea.

USS Shaw (DD-373) on Trials USS Shaw (DD-373) on Trials

For the rest of October and November she was used to escort reinforcements heading to Lae and Finschhafen.

On 15 December the Army carried out a diversionary attack at Umtingalu, New Britain, but it ended in failure and with the evacuation of the army. The Shaw picked up survivors from two rubber boats, then escorted the Westralia and Carter Hall to Buna.

On 25 December she escorted ships taking part in the attack on Cape Gloucester on New Britain, then provided fire support and served as a fighter director ship.

On 26 December the Shaw was attacked by two Vals. Thirty six men were wounded, of whom three later died. The same attacks sank the Brownson (DD-518) and damaged the Lamson (DD-367) and Mugford (DD-389).

The Shaw returned to Cape Sudest on 27 December where she landed the wounded. She then moved on to Milne Bay for temporary repairs.


The Shaw then returned to the US for full repairs, which were carried out at Hunter’s Point, San Francisco.

The repairs were completed by 1 May, and she reached Pearl Harbor on 10 May where she joined the 5th Fleet. On 15 May she left Pearl heading for the Marshalls, and on 11 June she left the Marshalls as part of Task Force 52, to take part in the invasion of Saipain.

The Shaw supported the fighting on Saipan for three and a half weeks, starting on 15 June. She split her time between screening duties and fire support missions, before returning to the Marshalls in mid July.

On 18 July she left the Marshalls as part of the Guam assault force. This time she carried out a mix of escort and patrol duties. She remained in the Marianas until 23 September.

On 20 October she rejoined the 7th Amphibious Force, this time to take part in the invasion of Leyte, arriving in Leyte Gulf on 25 October.

On the night of 28 October 1944 the Shaw, Jenkins (DD-477), Bush (DD-529), Coronado (PF-38) and PC-623 left San Pedro Bay to escort TU 78.2.21,

On the night of 4-5 December 1944 the Shaw, Flusser (DD-368), Drayton (DD-366), and Lamson (DD-367) escorted a force of eight LSMs and three LCIs to Ormoc Bay on Leyte, where they met up with Filipino guerrillas to prepare to the way for the 77th Infantry Division to land. The outward voyage went off smoothly, but Japanese aircraft attacked on the way back, sinking LSM-20.

For the rest of December the Shaw carried out escort missions between New Guinea and the Philippines.

 Convoy escort duties between the Philippines and New Guinea involved Shaw until the invasion of Luzon took place at Lingayen Gulf on 9 January 1945.


The Shaw formed part of the invasion fleet for the landings at Lingayen Gulf on 9 January 1945. On the same day the Shaw, Charles Ausburne (DD-570), Braine (DD-630) and Russell (DD-414) sank the Japanese destroyer Hinoki fifty miles to the south-west of Manila Bay.  The Japanese destroyer had been damaged on 5 January, and after emergency repairs was attempting to flee from Manila, but instead ran into the Allied invasion force heading to Lingayen Gulf. The four American destroyers opened fire at 10,000 yards and eventually closed in to 1,100 yards, sinking the Hinoki with all hands, in the last significant surface action between US and Japanese warships. From 9-15 January she carried out fire support missions, screening and night illuminations missions off Lingayen Gulf.

On 19 February she left Leyte as part of the escort for a convoy heading to Mindoro. On 21 February the submarine RO-43 torpedoed the Renshaw (DD-499) leaving her dead in the water. The submarine then escaped (although was sunk one week later). The convoy moved on, but the Shaw remained behind to guard the Renshaw. A tug as then sent from Leyte and safely got her to port.

From 27 February to 4 March the Shaw took part in the invasion of Palawan.

On 2 April she set two Japanese barges on fire while close to Bohol in the Visayans, but she was then damaged on an uncharted underwater pinnacle, and needed more repairs.

After temporary repairs she returned to San Francisco, arriving on 19 May, for full repairs. During the repairs she was also modified. Her torpedo tubes, forward 20mm gun mount and the awkwardly placed #3 5in gun were removed. The space was used to give her two twin and two quad 40mm gun mounts in the amidships area.

Once the repairs were completed the Shaw departed for the East Coast, eventually reaching New York where she was decommissioned on 2 October 1945. She was scrapped in July 1946.

Shaw earned eleven battle stars during World War II, for Pearl Harbor, the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, Guadalcanal, the naval battle of Guadalcanal, Eastern New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, the Mariana Islands, Leyte, Luzon, the Southern Philippines and Manilla Bay.


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

1 October 1934


28 October 1935


18 September 1936


July 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 (pending), USS Shaw (DD-373) ,

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