Somers Class Destroyers

The Somers Class Destroyers were similar to the earlier Porter Class of large destroyers, but used more advanced machinery that had been introduced on the Mahan Class destroyers.

Design

The first two members of the class, Somers (DD-381) and Warrington (DD-383), were originally going to be built as part of the FY 34 programme as members of the Porter class. However at this point the US Navy was moving from licence built Parsons turbines onto more advanced types. This change was introduced on the 1,500t Mahan class destroyers. Gibbs & Cox were then given the task of installing new General Electric turbines into the 1,850t type, producing the Somers class. The first two members of the class were built by Federal Shipbuilding at Kearny, the last three by the Bath Iron Works. As a result they were funded under the Emergency Relief Appropriaton Act of 1934, which funded twelve 1,500 ton and two 1,850 ton destroyers, as part of the FY 35 programme.

USS Somers (DD-381), Charleston Navy Yard, 1942 USS Somers (DD-381), Charleston Navy Yard, 1942

The Somers class had boilers that designed to operate at 600psi and 850 degrees F. The new machinery gave the Somers class an extra 2,000shp, and a design speed of 37.5kts. They only had a single funnel. Extensive tests with the Somers proved that the new machinery was reliable, allowing its more general adoption as the Navy's standard destroyer machinery in the Gleaves class.

USS Sampson (DD-394), late 1930s USS Sampson (DD-394), late 1930s

They kept the same gun armament as the Porter class ships, with eight 5in/ 38 single purpose guns carried in four twin mounts, but gained a third quad torpedo tube mount in place of the eight reloads carried on the Porters (in part using space freed up by the change from two to one funnels).

The Somers class ships pushed at the boundaries of the 1,850t treaty limits, and were rather top heavy. This caused problems during the Second World War, when new weapons and electronic equipment began to appear in large numbers. Their single purpose guns were also a limiting factor, making them less suitable for service in areas where heavy air opposition was expected, such as the Pacific or Mediterranean.

Service Record

By June 1941 four of the five Somers class ships (DD-381, DD-383, DD-394 and DD-396) were serving in the Atlantic, alongside four Porter class ships, in two DesDivs. DD-381, DD-395 and DD-396 spent the entire war in the Atlantic.

In 1943 DD-383 and DD-394 were posted at Balboa in the Panama Canal Zone, from where they escorted convoys into the war zone.

In late 1944 the surviving leaders were classified as convoy flagships. This included the remaining four Somers class ships.

USS Warrington (DD-383) from Blimp ZP12 USS Warrington (DD-383) from Blimp ZP12

USS Davis (DD-395) from above, c.1944-45 USS Davis (DD-395) from above, c.1944-45

Aft Engine Room Controls of USS Jouett (DD-396) Aft Engine Room Controls of USS Jouett (DD-396)

USS Somers (DD-381) spent her early career in the Altnaic, and joined the Neutrality Patrol from 1939-1941. In 1942 she operated in the South Atlantic. Early in 1943 she joined the fleet that escorted President Roosevelt to the Casablanca Conference. She then escorted the French ships Richelieu and Montcalm back to the United States. In 1943 she returned to the South Atlantic. In the period 1939-early 1944 she interceptred three German blockade runners. In May 1944 she changed roles, and became a convoy flagship, protecting convoys heading for Britain. In June-July she took part in Operation Neptune, the naval part of the D-Day landings, escorting convoys from England to Normandy. She then moved to the Mediterranean to support the invasion of southern France. In November she returned to convoy escort duties, and between then and May 1945 she escorted four convoys across the Altantic.

USS Warrington (DD-383) was based in the Pacific in 1939-1941, but she moved to the Atlantic to join the Neutrality Patrol in April 1941. After the US entry into the war she patrolled the US East Coast before moving to Balboa, at the western end of the Panama Canal at the start of 1942. She operated in the south-east Pacific into the middle of 1943. In June 1943 she moved to the south-west Pacific, where she carried out convoy duties. Later in the year she took part in the invasion of Bougainville, escorting troops ships to Empress Augusta Bay. In March she supported a carrier strick on Kavieng, New Ireland. She then took part in the New Guinea campaign, supporting the fighting at Hollandia and Wakde and on Biak. After a period of repairs at New York she ran into a hurricane off the coast of Florida, and on 13 September 1943 she was sunk, with the loss of 15 officers and 233 men.

USS Sampson (DD-394) served with the Battle Force in 1939-1940, and then joined the Neutrality Patrol in the Atlantic. After the US entry into the war she moved to Balboa, and operated in the south-east Pacific until May 1943. She then moved to the south-west Pacific, where she served as a convoy escort. In March 1944 she joined a strike force that attacked Kavieng on New Ireland. In May 1944 she took part in the invasion of Biak. In June she moved back east, where she became a convoy escort flagship. She escorted five convoys to the Mediterranean, ending on 19 May 1945.

USS Davis (DD-395) joined the Neutrality Patrol in the autumn of 1939 and was based in the Gulf of Mexico. From March 1940-April 1941 she patrolled off the US West Coast, before returning to the Caribbean and South Atlantic until April 1944. She then became a convoy escort flagship and operated between the US and Britain, finishing on 21 June 1945.

USS Jouett (DD-396) served with the Neutrality Patrol from 1939, then moved to Pearl Harbor from April 1940 to April 1941. She then returned to the neutrality patrol in the Caribbean. After the US entry into the war she carried out antisubmarine patrols in the South Atlantic and escorted oil tankers in the Caribbean. On 14 May 1943 she took part in the destruction of U-128. Early in 1944 she helped sink two German blockade runners. In May 1944 she escorted a convoy to  Britain, before joining a Reserve Fire Support Group for the D-Day alndings, She then supported the invasion of the south of France. During 1945 she escorted convoys to Britain and Cuba.

Displacement (standard)

1,850t (design)

Displacement (loaded)

2,130t (design)
2,766.6 (Sampson)

Top Speed

37.5kts (design)
38.56kts at 53,271shp at 2,179t on trial (Sampson)

Engine

2-shaft General Electric turbines
4 boilers
52,000shp design

Range

7,500nm at 15kts (design)
10,540nm at 15kts at 2,143t on trial (Sampson)
7,020nm at 12kts at 2,750t wartime
4,250nm at 20kts at 2,750t

Armour - belt

 

 - deck

 

Length

381ft 6in

Width

36ft 10in

Armaments

Eight 5in/38 SP guns in twin mounts
Twelve 12in torpedos in three quad mounts
Eight 1.1in AA guns in four twin mounts
Four 0.5in AA guns
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement

 

Ships in Class

 

USS Somers (DD-381)

Struck off 1947

USS Warrington (DD-383)

Lost in storm 13 September 1944

USS Sampson (DD-394)

Sold 1946

USS Davis (DD-395)

Sold 1947

USS Jouett (DD-396)

Sold 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 (13 April 2022), 13 April 2022 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_somers_class_destroyers.html

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