Mahan Class Destroyers

The Mahan Class Destroyers were similar to the Farragut class, but with high speed turbines and high pressure boilers, a more advanced power plant that was later used on the the Dunlap and Bagley classes.

Design

Work on the Mahan class design began in January 1933, when the General Board work on a new set of requirements. At this point none of the Farragut class ships had been launched, although some had been laid down. Some issues that had been decided in the earlier design were thus still open for debate, including the number of torpedos and the type of gun to be used. The Farragut class was to be armed with five 5in/ 38 dual purpose guns in single twin mounts and eight torpedoes in two quad mounts. This time the General Board requested the 5in/ 38 dual purpose gun and twelve torpedo tubes, with space for reloads. The Construction & Repair Bureau offered to include four triple torpedo tubes and five 5in single purpose guns, and this was accepted by the General Board, on the grounds that destroyers were unlikely to be attacked by the sort of high level bombers that the dual purpose 5in guns were designed to counter. Eventually they were built with the dual purpose guns, which turned out to be very useful when destroyers formed part of an anti-aircraft screen.

In March 1933 work began on the new design. In this version No.3 gun was replaced by a third quad torpedo tube. The existing torpedo tubes were moved from the centre line to the sides, which allowed No.3 gun to be relocated near No.4 gun. This change wasn't a success - the beam mounted torpedo tubes were too close to the sides, were difficult to use in rough weather, and were easily damaged in storms.

Destroyer Evolution 1920-1944 Destroyer Evolution 1920-1944

The Mahan class ships had gun-crew shelters built near the inner guns rear fore and aft. Twin 0.50in anti-aircraft machine guns were mounted on top of the shelters. No.1 and No.2 guns had partial gun shields, open at the rear, while No.3, No.4 and No.5 were unprotected.

They were also the first US destroyers to carry emergency diesel generator instead of batteries.

The Farragut class ships were proving to be under weight, and so the chance was taken to increase engine power, add extra torpedoes and make the Mahan class ships generally more robust.

The most important change made on the Mahan class was the introduction of new, more advanced machinery. The Farragut class ships used licence-built Parsons turbines, which were rather conservative, operating at 3,460rpm, 400psi and 648 degrees F. The Navy wanted to move onto more advanced turbines being developed in the United States by General Electric and Westinghouse. The new GE turbines had a tenth of the number of blades, each of which was more robust than in the Parsons type. Turbine speed increased on both the high and low pressure turbines, and the lighter construction meant that there was space for cruising turbines. The existing destroyer builders proved unwilling to produce the new machinery, and so the Navy turned to Gibbs & Cox, a commercial company that had recently designed some impressive cruise liners. The first six Mahan class ships were ordered from three small shipyards - United Shipyards of Staten Island, the Bath Iron Works (no longer the major power it had been during the First World War, after emerging from bankruptcy in the interwar period) and Federal of Kearny. None of these yards produced their own turbines, so had no objections to using the GE Curtiss turbines. The remaining members of the class were built by the Boston, Philadeplhia, Norfolk, Puget Sound and Mare Island Naval Yards. The Mahan class ships got turbines that operated at 5,820rpm on the high pressure turbines, with boilers at 400psi and 700 degrees F (originally planned for 850 degrees but reduced because of possible problems with lubricating oil). Two sets of reducing gears had to be installed to reduce the speed down to the correct speeds for the propellers.

The Mahan class ships were funded in 1933 by President Roosevelt, using money from the National Industrial Recovery Act. Twenty destroyers were funded in this way, including all sixteen Mahan class ships.

Individual Ships

USS Mahan (DD-364) was on patrol when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. After a spell of convoy duties, she was sent to Guadalcanal, where she fought in the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. Having emerged from that battle intact, she was then badly damaged in a collision and needed a new bow. She was back in action early in 1943 and returned to escort duties in the south Pacific. From the summer she operated off New Guinea, supporting the landings at Nassau Bay, Lae and Finschhafen and Cape Gloucester on New Britain. In 1944 she returned to convoy duties, then underwant a refit. In November she started anti-submarine patrols off Leyte. On 7 December 1944 she was attacked by Japanese aircraft, caught fire and had to be sunk.

USS Cumming (DD-365) suffered minor casualties at Pearl Harbor. In the aftermath of the attack she was used on patrol and convoy secort duties. From August 1942-May 1943 she took part in the Guadalcanal campaign. In 1944 she took part in the invasion of the Marshall Islands and then joined the Royal Navy for attacks on Sumatra and Java, then supported the invasion of the Philippines. She took part in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. In 1945 she supported the invasion of Iwo Jima, and was then based around that island for the rest of the war.

USS Drayton (DD-366) was at sea with the Lexington when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. She spent most of the next year on convoy escort duties and operating off the US west coast. In November she escorted a convoy to Guadalcanal and took part in the battle of Tassafaronga. She supported Australian troops fighting on New Guinea, and took part in the invasion of Lae and Finschhafen, the landings at Arawe and Cape Gloucester on New Britain and the invasion of Saidor early in 1944. She then took part in the invasion of Los Negros. Later in 1944 she watched bypassed Japanese bases in the Marshalls. In October she moved to Leyte Gulf, and in December she supported the invasion of Luzon. In 1945 she continued to operate in the Philippines, then took part in the invasion of Borneo. After that she returned to the US, where she was decommissioned on 9 October 1945.

USS Lamson (DD-367) was based in the Pacific from 1937 and was at sea when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. She spent the next six months on anti-submarine patrol duty in the South Pacific.  In November she took part in the Guadalcanal campaign and fought at the battle of Tassafaronga. After that she spent another eight months on convoy escort duty in the South Pacific. In August 1943 she moved to New Guinea, where she took part in the invasions of Lae and Finschhaven and the invasions of Arawe and Cape Gloucester on New Britain. She supported the invasion of Leyte, where in November she was hit and badly damged by a kamikaze attack. She returned to action in May 1945, and was used for patrol duties around Iwo Jima. At the end of the war she accepted the surrender of the Bonin Islands.

USS Flusser (DD-368) was based at Pearl Harbor from 1939, but was at sea when the Japanese attacked. She was used on convoy duty until September 1942 when she began a refit that lasted until February 1943. After another spell of convoy duties she took part in the attacks on Lae and Finschhafen on New Guinea and Arawa and Cape Gloucester on New Britain. Early in 1944 she took part in the invasion of Los Negros in the Admiralty Islands and then returned to the US for an overhaul. On her return she was used to watch bypassed Japanese bases in the Marshall Isalnds, then moved to Leyte Gulf. She operated in support of the Philippines campaign well into 1945, and then supported the invasion of Borneo After the end of the fighting she was part of the occupation forces for Japan, then took part in the atom tests of Operation Crossroads. She was decommissioned in 1946.

USS Reid (DD-369) was present at Pearl Habor,. She was used for convoy protection from then until May 1942. She then went to the Aleutians, where she took part in the invasion of Adak and sank the submarine RO-61. Late in 1942 she escorted a convoy to Guadalcanal, then carried out patrols in the Solomons. Late in 1943 she supported the invasion of Lae and Finschhafen on New Guinea, and at Arawe and Cape Gloucester on New Britain. She also took part in the landings at Los Negros, Hollandia, Wakde, Biak and Noemfoor during the long New Guinea campaign. In December 1944 she took part in the invasion of Leyte. On 11 December she was sunk by a kamikaze attack, with 150 survivors.

USS Case (DD-370) was present at Pearl Harbor. After the attack she was used to escort convoys between Hawaii and the US west coast. In 1942 she took part in the Aleutian campaign and the invasion of Kiska. Late in 1942 she escorted a convoy to Guadalcanal, then from January-September 1943 she carried out patrols from Espiritu Santo. In 1944 she joined the screen for the fast carrier groupds, taking part in the invasion of the Marshal Islands, the Marianas, the battle of the Philippine Sea and the return to the Philippines. In 1945 she supported the invasion of Iwo Jima, and then carried out escort and patrol duties between Saipan and Iwo Jima. After the end of the war she helped accept the surrender of the Bonin Islands.

USS Conyngham (DD-371) was based at Pearl Harbor from 1940 and was present when the Japanese attacked. From then until October 1942 she carried out escort duties, apart from a brief break to take part in the Battle of Midway. She then moved to the south-west Pacific, where she took part in the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands (26 October 1942). After repairs to damage caused by a collision she spent the first half of 1943 escorting ships between Australia and the South Pacific. She then supported the New Guinea campaign, taking part in the invasions of Woodlark and Kiriwini Islands, the landings at Lae, Finschhafen, Arawe, Cape Gloucester and Saidor. She left New Guinea in March 1944 to undergo an overhaul. On her return she took part in the Marianas campaign, then the invasion of Leyte. In 1945 she supported the landings in Lingayen Bay, then underwent a refit that lasted to the end of the war.

USS Cassin (DD-372) was caught in a graving dock at Pearl Harbor and very badly damaged. Her machinery and guns were salvaged, and placed in new hulls which retained the same name and number. She was recommissioned in February 1944, and spent the first half of 1944 on escort duties. In August she took part in the fighting around Tinian, and then later in the year the invasion of Leyte. Her carrier group was absent when the Japanese attacked and just about returned in time to take a long range part in the battle of Leyte Gulf. She took part in the pre-invasion bombardment of Iwo Jima, then supported the invasion. After than she served as a radar picket and air-sea rescue ship off Iwo Jima for the rest of the war.

USS Shaw (DD-373) lost her bow during the attack on Pearl Harbor, but after temporary repairs was able to return to San Francisco where a new bow was installed and she was back in action by Augsut 1942. She took part in the Guadalcanal campaign, and was present at the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. She needed extensive repairs after running aground on 10 January 1943 and didn't return until September. On her return she supported the fighting at Lae and Finschhafen on New Guinea and the invasion of New Britain. In 1944 she supported the invasion of Saipan, and the landings in Leyte Gulf, where she carried out convoy escort duties. She then supported the invasion of Luzon and Palawan. Once again she was damaged when running aground, and by the time she was repaired the war was almost over.

USS Tucker (DD-374) was at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked, but survived intact. She was used to escort convoys between Hawaii and the US west coast for five months. She operated in the South Pacific from the spring of 1942. On 1 August she hit a mine while on her way from Suva to Espiritu Santo, and despite efforts to save her sank on 4 August.

USS Downes (DD-375) was caught in a graving dock at Pearl Harbor and very badly damaged. Her machinery and guns were salvaged, and placed in new hulls which retained the same name and number. She returned to action in March 1944, and her first task was to blockade the Japanese on Wothe Atoll. In July she escorted convoys to Saipan, then supported the invasion of Tinian. She supported the invasion of Leyte and played a minor role in the battle of Leyte Gulf. This was followed by a refit in the US, and she spent 1945 on patrol duties in the Marianas, then around Iwo Jima.

USS Cushing (DD-376) was present at Pearl Harbor but survived intact. She escorted convoys between the US west coast and Hawaii, then operated off the US coast until the summer of 1942. She took part in the Guadalcanal campaign and fought at the battle of Santa Cruz (26 October 1942). She was sunk during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal (13 November 1942), after clashing with three Japanese destroyers.

USS Perkins (DD-377) was at Mare Island when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. In February 1942 she joined the ANZAC squadron guarding the eastern approaches to Australia and New Zealand, taking part in the battle of the Coral Sea. She was then used to escort convoys along the Australian coast. In November 1942 she joined the forces at Guadalcanal, and took part in the battle of Tassafaronga. In 1943 she took part in the campaign on New Guinea, serving as flagship of DesRon 5. She took part in the fighting at Lae and Finschhafen. On 29 November she was rammed by the Australian troop transport Duntroon, split in two and sank. All but four of her crew survived. 

USS Smith (DD-378) was at San Francisco when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and was used for convoy escort duties and training until October 1942 whe she joined TF 16 (Enterprise and South Dakota). She took part in the Guadalcanal campaign, where on 26 October she was hit by a Japanese torpedo aircraft. Repairs took until February 1943, when she rejoiuned the fighting off Guadalcanal. In the summer of 1943 she joined the forces operating off New Guinea, where she supported operations in the Huon Gulf, at Finschhafen, on New Britain and at Saidor. In 1944 she took part in the invasion of the Admiralty Islands, then returned to San Francisco for a refit. Late in 1944 she took part in the invasion of Leyte. In 1945 she took part in the invasion of Palawan and Cebu, then supported the Australian invasion of Borneo. After the end of the fighting she transported 180 Allies POWs away from Japan and then returned to the US to be decommissioned.

USS Preston (DD-379) performed patrol and escort duties between Hawaii and the US East Coast in the months after Pearl Harbor. She moved to the war zone just after the Battle of Midway, and then spent another four months on patrol and escort duties around Hawaii. She then took part in the Guadalcanal campaign, fighting at the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. On 14 November she took part in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, where she was hit by a salvo from the Nagara and sunk with the loss of 116 men.

Displacement (standard)

1,487.9 standard

Displacement (loaded)

2,102.6t

Top Speed

37.8kts at 44,477shp at 1,749t on trials (Mahan)

Engine

2-shaft General Electric tubines
4 boilers
46,000shp design

Range

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

Length

341ft 3in

Width

35ft 6.5in

Armaments

Five 5in/38 DP guns
Twelve 21in torpedoes in three quad mounts
Four 0.50in AA guns
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement

158

Ships in Class

Fate

USS Mahan (DD-364)

Sunk 7 December 1944

USS Cumming (DD-365)

Sold 1947

USS Drayton (DD-366)

Sold 1946

USS Lamson (DD-367)

Sunk 1946

USS Flusser (DD-368)

Sold 1948

USS Reid (DD-369)

Lost 11 December 1944

USS Case (DD-370)

Sold 1947

USS Conyngham (DD-371)

Target 1948

USS Cassin (DD-372)

Sold 1947

USS Shaw (DD-373)

Sold 1946

USS Tucker (DD-374)

Lost 4 August 1942

USS Downes (DD-375)

Sold 1947

USS Cushing (DD-376)

Lost 13 November 1942

USS Perkins (DD-377)

Lost 29 November 1943

USS Smith (DD-378)

Struck off 1947

USS Preston (DD-379)

Lost 15 November 1942

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

 

WWII Home Page | WWII Subject Index | WWII Books | WWII Links | Day by Day

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (11 February 2019), Mahan Class Destroyers , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_mahan_class_destroyers.html

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us -  Subscribe in a reader - Join our Google Group - Cookies