Benham Class Destroyers

The Benham class ships were the last of the officially 1,500t 16 torpedo destroyers. They shared the same basic armament as the Gridley class, which had introduced the sixteen torpedo layout, with four 5in/ 38 guns and sixteen torpedoes carried in four quad mounts.

fffff USS Benham (DD-397) carrying survivors from Yorktown

The Gridley class ships were built by Bethlehem and used Bethlehem turbines. They were built alongside the Bagley class, which carried the same balance of guns and torpedoes, but used the General Electric turbines introduced on the Mahan class. All eight were built by the Navy Yards.

The detailed design of the Benham class ships was produced by Gibbs & Cox. The main different was the use of a base ring mount for all four 5in guns. In most previous classes the 5in guns had been carried on a mix of pedestal and base ring mounts. On the Benham class this was replaced with a new 'base-ring' mount, making these mounts more like minature versions of the great battleship turrets. The gun crew stood on a rotating floor carried on top of the base ring, which rotated with the gun. The shell hoist also came up through the platform. This design was used on all later US destroyers. The front guns were in enclosed gun houses, the rear guns were unprotected.

USS Ellet (DD-398) during Naval Review, 1939 USS Ellet (DD-398) during Naval Review, 1939

Twelve destroyers were built using FY 36 funds (authorised in 1935), ten Benham class ships and two further Gridley class ships. Three of the Benham class ships were built by Federal at Kearny and the rest by the Naval Yards - two each at Boston and Norfolk and one each at Philadephia, Charleston and Puget Sound.  

The Benham class ships had more efficient engines than their predessors. Benham reached a range of 8,730nm at realistic weights, compared to 7,400nm on the Farragut. They had Westinghouse turbines and three boilers (instead othe four used on the Gridley class), giving them less prominent smoke uptakes.

Those Benham class ships that served in the Battle of the Atlantic had a Y-gun depth charge projector installed and their depth charge tracks extended so they could carry twelve 600lb charges. Three extra 0.50in machine guns were added, and two of the four quad torpedo tube mounts were removed.

Service Record

By January 1941 three members of the class were serving in the Atlantic, as part of the Neutrality Patrol (DD-402 to DD-404). By June eight of the ten ships were in the Atlantic.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor many of the modern destroyers were transferred to the Pacific, including six of the Benham class, while four (DD-402 to DD-405) remained in the Atlantic.

USS Lang (DD-399) from above, 1943 USS Lang (DD-399) from above, 1943

USS Benham (DD-397) served with the neutrality patrol from 1939-1940 then moved to the Pacific. She was at sea when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. In 1942 she supported the Doolittle raid, fought at the battle of Midway, took part in the invasion of Guadalcanal, the battles of the Eastern Solomons, the Santa Cruz Islands and the naval battle of Guadalcanal. In the last battle she was hit by a torpedo and eventually split in two, sinking on 14 November.

USS Ellet (DD-398) was at sea when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. In 1942 she supported the Doolittle Raid, fought at the battle of Midway and took part in the invasion of Guadalcanal. 1943 was split between operations in the Solomons and an overhaul. In 1944 she took part in the invasion of the Marshalls, the landings at Hollandia, the invasion of the Marianas and was then based in the Marianas until July 1945. She was decommissioned in October 1945

USS Lang (DD-399) served with with the neutrality patrol in 1939-40 and the Pacific in 1940-41, but was in the Carribean training with carriers when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. In 1942 she operated with the Royal Navy for the first half of the year, then moved to the Pacific, where she supported the invasion of Guadalcanal. In 1943 she supported the invasion of New Georgia, fighting at the battle of Vella Gulf, and later the invasion of the Gilberts. In 1944 she supported the invasion of the Marshalls and the Marianas, and fought at the battle of the Philippine Sea, before moving to the New Guinea theatre. Late in the year she took part in the invasions of Leyte and Luzon. In 1945 she took part in the invasion of Okinawa, then left the war zone for repairs which lasted to the end of the war. She was decommissioned in 1945.

USS Mayrant (DD-402) under fire, Casablanca USS Mayrant (DD-402) under fire, Casablanca

USS Mayrant (DD-402) served in the Atlantic from 1939-41, joining the neutrality patrol. She was near Cape Town when the Japanese attacked Pearl Habor, and spent the first five months of 1942 on convoy escort duty in the North Atlantic. She then joined the British Home Fleet and took part in operations against the Tirpitz and escorted convoys to Murmansk. In October-November she escorted the trans-Atlantic convoys to North Africa to take part in Operation Torch, and then supported the invasions. 1943 began with a spell of convoy escort work off the US East Coast, followed by a similar role off North Africa. From July-November she operated around Sicily, before suffering damage that took her out until May 1944. She spent the next year operating off the US east coast, before moving to the Pacific in May 1945, where she served as a convoy escort. After the end of the war she helped accept the surrender of Marcus Island. She was later used as a test ship in the Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests and was decommissioned soon afterwards. 

Iced Up USS Trippe (DD-403), 1942 Iced Up USS Trippe (DD-403), 1942

USS Trippe (DD-403) served with the Caribbean Neutrality Patrol in 1940-early 41 then in the North Atlantic from 1941-May 1943. She then moved to North Africa, and took part in the invasions of Sicily and the Italian mainland. She remained in the Mediterranean until the start of 1944, then escorted convoys beween the US and Italy, mixed in with training duties. This continued into 1945, before in May she moved to the Pacific, where she escorted convoys in the central Pacific. She was used as a target during the Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests, and was decommissioned later in 1946.

USS Rhind (DD-404) served with the Neutrality Patrol in 1941. In 1942 she operated in the North Atlantic, before joining the British Home Fleet for operations on the Russian convoy route. At the end of the year she supported Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. 1943 began with a period escorting convoys from the US to North Africa. She then took part in the invasions of Sicily and the Italian mainland. Late in 1943 she returned to the US and began a period of convoy escort work and anti-submarine warfare that lasted into 1945. In May 1945 she transferred to the Pacific, where she took part in an attack on Wake, then resumed convoy escort duties. She was a target during the Bikini Atoll tests and was decommissioned in August 1946

USS Rhind (DD-404) near New York, 1944 USS Rhind (DD-404) near New York, 1944

USS Rowan (DD-405) served in the Pacific in 1940-41 before joining the Atlantic Neutrality Patrol in May 1941. 1942 started with a spell of convoy escort duty, followed by a spell with the British Home Fleet on the Russian convoy route. In October-November she escorted one of the invasion convoys across the Atlantic and then took part in Operation Torch. From then to May 1943 she escorted convoys across the Altantic, before in July she supported the invasion of Sicily. In September she supported the landings at Salerno, where early on 11 September she was hit by a torpedo and sank with the loss of 202 men.

USS Stack (DD-406) served in the Pacific from 1940-June 1941 then joined the Atlantic Neutrality Patrol. She operated in the Atlantic and off the US East Coast until June 1942 when she moved to the Pacific to take part in the invasion of Guadalcanal. In 1943 she operated in the Solomons, fighting in the battle of Vella Gulf (6-7 August) and took part in the invasion of the Gilberts. In 1944 she took part in the invasion of the Marshalls, then underwent a refit. On her return she operated off New Guinea in July-September, then took part in the invasion of Leyte in October and Luzon in December. In 1945 she took part in the invasion of Okinawa. She was used as a target for the Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests and was decommissioned in August 1946

USS Rowan (DD-405) underway, 16 August 1940 USS Rowan (DD-405) underway, 16 August 1940

USS Sterett (DD-407) served in the Pacific from 1940 to June 1941, then moved to the Atlantic to join the Neutrality Patrol. She operated in the Atlantic early in 1942 then joined the British Home Fleet for training, before supporting the carrier Wasp's second run to Malta. In June she moved to the Pacific, where she spent the next year and a half operating in the Solomon Islands. She supported the invasion of Guadalcanal, fought at the naval battle of Guadalcanal, where she suffered heavy damage. She returned to the war zone in March 1943 and fought at the battle of Vella Gulf (August 1943). Finally she supported the invasion of Bougainville. In 1944 she supported the invasion of the Marshalls and the Marianas, and was on the edge of the battle of the Philippine Sea. In December she briefly joined the campaign in the Philippines. 1945 began with a spell of escort duty in the Solomons. She then took part in the invasion oof Okinawa, where on 9 April she was hit by a kamikaze. Although she was repaired by June, she didn't return to the war zone and was decommissioned in November 1945.

USS Wilson (DD-408) served in the Pacific in 1940-May 1941 then joined the Neutrality Patrol in the Atlantic. She joined the British Home Fleet from April-May 1942, covering the Russia convoys. She then moved to the Pacific, where she took part in the invasion of Guadalcanal, the battle of Savo Island, and operating in that area into the summer of 1943. She supported the invasion of the Gilbert Islands late in 1943 and the Marshall Islands early in 1944. She joined the fast carrier task force in June and supported the carriers during the invasion of the Marianas. After a refit in the US she escorted a convoy to Mindoro, which came under very heavy Japanese attack. In 1945 she took part in the invasion of Okinawa, where she suffered minor damage in a kamikaze attack. She carried out escort and patrol duties for the rest of the war. After the war she was a target at the Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests and was decommissioned in August 1946

Forward view of USS Stack (DD-406) Forward view of USS Stack (DD-406)

Kamikaze Damage to USS Sterett (DD-407) Kamikaze Damage to USS Sterett (DD-407)

USS Wilson (DD-408) from above USS Wilson (DD-408) from above

Displacement (standard)

1,656.2t

Displacement (loaded)

2,250t

Top Speed

38.8kt design
40.86kt at 50,200shp at 1,738t on trial (Benham)
37.9kt at 49,250shp at 2,038t on trial (Benham)

Engine

2-shaft Westinghouse turbines
3 boilers
50,000shp

Range

6,500nm at 12kt design
9,500nm at 15kt at 1,762t (Benham)
5,390nm at 12kt at 2,300t (wartime)
4,860nm at 15kt at 2,300t (wartime)
3,600nm at 20kt at 2,300t (wartime)

Armour - belt

 

 - deck

 

Length

341ft 4in

Width

35ft 5in

Armaments

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

Crew complement

184

Ships in Class

Fate

USS Benham (DD-397)

Scuttled November 1942

USS Ellet (DD-398)

Struck off 1945

USS Lang (DD-399)

Sold 1945

USS Mayrant (DD-402)

Struck off 1948

USS Trippe (DD-403)

Struck off 1948

USS Rhind (DD-404)

Sunk 1948

USS Rowan (DD-405)

Lost 11 September 1943

USS Stack (DD-406)

Sunk 1948

USS Sterett (DD-407)

Sold 1947

USS Wilson (DD-408)

Sunk 1948

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 (11 May 2022), Benham Class Destroyers , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_benham_class_destroyers.html

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