USS Bailey (DD-492)

USS Bailey (DD-492) was a Benson class destroyer that served in the Aleutians, taking part in the battle of the Komandorski Islands, then the invasion of the Marshalls, Gilberts, Marianas, Philippines and Borneo.

The Bailey was named after Theodorus Bailey, who served in the US Navy from 1818, fighting in the Mexican War and the American Civil War, and retiring with the rank of rear admiral in 1866.

The Bailey was launched at the Bethlehem Steel yard on Staten Island on 19 December 1941 when she was sponsored by Mary de Peyster Charles, Admiral Bailey’s granddaughter. She was commissioned on 11 May 1942.


Her shakedown cruise and training lasted until September 1942. On 3 September she left the Brooklyn Navy Yard, heading for the Panama Canal. On 8 September she passed through the canal and on 16 September she reached San Diego. She was then allocated to the Alaskan theatre, and reached Kodiak on 28 September.

On the same day she departed to the Bering Sea, to carry a new commanding officer to USS Nashville (CL-43). After that duty was complete she escorted a convoy to Adak, then joined Task Group 18.6, commandeered by Rear Admiral Smith and built around the Indianapolis (CA-35). That group was used to protect American held islands and stop the Japanese reinforcing their garrisons on occupied islands.

On 29 December the group put to sea to support the occupation of Amchitka. This operation was postponed twice due to bad weather.


The occupation of Amchitka finally took place on 12 January 1943 and was unopposed. The only sign of the Japanese was a single float plane that dropped a bomb near the cruiser Raleigh on 10 February.

USS Bailey (DD-492), Mare Island, 1944 USS Bailey (DD-492), Mare Island, 1944

In the spring of 1943 the Bailey was part of Task Group 16.69 (Read Admiral Charles H. McMorris). This was built around the heavy cruiser USS Salt Lake City (CA-25), light cruiser USS Richmond (CL-9) and Destroyer Squadron 14. In March US intelligence reported that a Japanese convoy escorted by their Northern Force was about to try and reinforce the garrison on Kiska. The US force was sent to try and intercept the Japanese, unaware that they had been reinforced and now had two heavy cruiers.

The Bailey fought at the resulting battle of the Komandorski Islands (26 March 1943), where she was the flagship of Captain Ralph S. Riggs, commander of Destroyer Squadron 14. During the battle the Bailey, Monaghan (DD-354) and Coghlan (DD-606) carried out a torpedo attack on the two Japanese cruisers present after the US cruiser Salt Lake City suffered heavy damage leaving her almost dead in the water. The Bailey was in the lead, and came under heavy fire from the Japanese force. The Bailey got to maximum torpedo range before being badly damaged by Japanese gunfire, so launched five torpedoes at that distance. All five missed, but luckily the Japanese commander, Admiral Hosogaya, had already decided to withdraw, in the belief that he was either already under air attack or soon would be. The Bailey suffered five dead in the battle and her commander was awarded the Navy Cross.

In the aftermath of the battle the Bailey only had one functioning engine, and was limited to a speed of 24 knots. The Salt Lake City was also slowed by battle damage, and the Monaghan by mechanical problems, so the group retired towards Adak at 20 knots. The fleet later split, with the Salt Lake City and destroyer escort heading to Dutch Harbor, while the Bailey reached Adak on 28 March. She then departed for Mare Island, arriving on 8 April.

These repairs took much longer than expected. The main problem was with the starboard reduction gear in the engines, which resisted attempts to repair it. Eventually a new unit had to be installed, delaying the completion of repairs until October 1943. During that time the Bailey was used as a training ship for the crews of newly completed destroyers.

The work was finally complete on 6 October. She was then used to escort the Tennessee from San Pedro, to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 15 October. At Pearl Harbor she became the flagship of Destroyer Squadron 14.

On 16 October the Bailey departed for Wellington, New Zealand. She then moved on to Efate, where her squadron trained for the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. She was assigned to the Southern Attack Force, which was to invade Tarawa.

On 13 November the squadron joined the main part of Task Force 53 and headed towards the Gilberts. The invasion of Tarawa took place on 20 November. The Bailey took part in the pre-invasion bombardment then screened the fire support and transport ships. Over the next two weeks she screened the fire support ships and carriers and acted as a picket ship near Tarawa.

From 8-14 December 1943 the Bailey and Aylwin (DD-355) escorted the Maryland (BB-46) from the Gilbert Islands to Pearl Harbor.


She remained at Pearl Harbor until 22 January 1944, when she departed as part of Task Unit 52.8.3, part of the fleet that supported the invasion of the Marshall Islands. The Bailey took part in the pre-invasion bombardment of Maloelap Atoll, working alongside the San Francisco. The unit then departed for the next target, Kwajalein Atoll.

On 1 February the Bailey supported the invasion of Kwajalein, acting as a fire support ship then anti-submarine vessel. The next three and a half weeks were mainly spent screening the carriers that were providing air support for the fighting on Kwajalein.

On 25 February she departed for Roi, where she joined TU 56.2.9. This unit then departed for Pearl Harbor, arriving on 8 March. Most of the next few weeks was spent training for the invasion of the Marianas Islands.

In April 1944 she was part of TG 16.6, built around the carriers Kalinin Bay (CVE-68) and Copahee (CVE-12), and the destroyers Bailey and Capps (DD-550), as this group moved to Majuro. They arrived on 23 April, and the group was dissolved.

The Kalinin Bay, Bailey and Capps then formed TG 57.14 and from 25 April-1 May the group hunted submarines off Mili Atoll. The group then joined TG 11.1 and returned to Pearl Harbor, where they resumed training for the invasion of the Marianas Islands.

In June 1944 the Bailey took part in the invasion of Saipan. She arrived off the island on 15 June and carried out fire support and counter-battery duties. By 16 June she had fired off much of her 5in ammo and had to take on another 755 rounds from LST-278. On 17 June she was allocated to Task Group 52.5, which screened a force of LSTs and LCIs that were waiting north of Saipan until they were needed. On 23 June she moved to the transport area, just before a Japanese air raid.

Towards the end of June she departed for Eniwetok escorting ships back to Eniwetok for upkeep. Once this was complete she escorted more transports back to Tinian, where she remained until 28 July.

After leaving Tinian she moved to Eniwetok, then on to Purvis Bay on Florida Island, where on 11 August she joined Task Force 32 of the South Pacific Force. A few days later she became the flagship of LST Flotilla 14, and trained for the invasions of Peleliu and Angaur.

During the invasion of Peleliu on 15 September the Bailey was part of the reserve force. Two days later she supported her LSTs as they landed troops on Angaur. She spent the rest of September operating as a radar picket ship at night and with the screening forces during the day.  On 1 October she was the target of a Japanese air raid in which three officers and six men were killed, and significant damage was done to her electrical systems. After emergency repairs she moved to manus, then on to San Francisco, arriving on 25 October.

These repairs were completed by 5 December. She then escorted the Missouri to Pearl Harbor.


On 2 January the Bailey, Bancroft and Wadsworth left Pearl Harbor to escort the Missouri and Tuscaloosa to Ulithi. The Bailey and Bancroft were then sent back to Eniwetok, from where the Bailey escorted a convoy to Guam, arriving on 27 January.

From 16-19 February 1945 the Bailey and Bancroft (DD-598) escorted five auxiliaries from Ulithi to San Pedro Bay in the Philippines.

At San Pedro Bay the Bailey joined TG 76.6, part of the Seventh Amphibious Force. On 27 February she left Leyte as part of the escort of a convoy of LSTs heading to Mindoro to take part in operations at Zamboanga. However on 1 March she was detached and ordered to move to Nasugbu on Luzon, from where she escorted TU 76.3.8 to Mangarin Bay on Mindoro. She then rejoined the fleet supporting the landings at Zamboanga, Mindanao, which took place on 10 March. The Bailey supported that operation until 17 March when she departed for Leyte Gulf.

At Leyte Gulf she was equipped to act as a Group Headquarters Ship, and she was allocated that role for the landings at Legaspi in Albay Gulf on Luzon. This took place on 1 April, with the Bailey carrying the commander of Task Group 78.4 and the Support Aircraft Controller Afloat and their teams. During the day she fired 370 rounds of 5in ammo, before departing for Subic Bay at dusk. She made one more trip to Legaspi.

From 14-19 April the Bailey escorted the Culebra Island (ARG-7) to Morotai in the Dutch East Indies, where she joined TG 78.1, part of the force supporting the Australian landings on Borneo. During the upcoming operations the Bailey acted as a screening and fighter director ship.

On 28 April the Bailey left Morotai to take part in the landings on Tarakan Island. On 1 May she served as a radar picket ship during the initial landings. On 2 May she screened against suicide boat attacks. From 1-6 May she controlled all fighter cover before a RAAF unit was activated on shore. After a week at Tarakan she returned to Morotai. From 12-16 May she escorted a convoy back to Tarakan,  then spent two days on fire support duties.

She then returned to Morotai to prepare for the landings at Brunei Bay. These took place on 11 June, without any Japanese resistance.

Next came the landings at Balikpapan on 3 July. The Bailey initially served as a radar picket ship but had to move to the screen after her radar failed. On 4 July she acted as a fire support ship, but was only called on to fire star shells. On 5 July she departed for Morotai to collect a resupply convoy. This arrived on 20 July and the Bailey remained at Balikpapan until 22 July.

This was her last mission in the Dutch East Indies and on 29 July she returned to Subic Bay in the Philippines.  From 31 July to 14 August she provided fire support for units training in fire control. From 17-20 August she escorted the Teton (AGC-14) to Buckner Bay, Okinawa. On 1 September they departed for Manila, but on 3 September they were diverted to Mangarin Bay, only to be turned back to Manila when only two hours from their new destination.

On 4 September she left Manila to escort convoy IOK-111 to Okinawa, arriving on 9 September. She then returned to Subic Bay, where she remained for most of the rest of September.

The Bailey was soon ordered back to the United States, and reached Boston on 11 December. She was decommissioned at Charleston on 2 May 1946. She remained in the reserve for twenty years, before being struck off on 1 June 1968 and sunk as a target ship on 4 November 1969.

The Bailey received nine battle stars for the Second World War, for the Aleutians, Gilbert Islands, Marshall Islands, Marianas, Tinian, Western Carolines, Leyte, Borneo and the South Philippines.

Displacement (standard)

1,620 design
1,911t as built

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

37.89kt at 51,390shp at 2,065t on trial (Mayo)


2-shaft Westinghouse turbines
4 boilers
50,000shp design


6,500nm at 12kt design
5,520nm at 12kt at 2,400t wartime
3,880nm at 20kt at 2,400t wartime


348ft 1in


36ft 2in


Five 5in/38 guns
Five 21in torpedoes
Ten 0.5in AA guns
Two depth charge tracks
One Y-Gun depth charge projector

Crew complement


Laid Down



19 December 1941


11 May 1942,


2 May 1946

Sunk as target ship

4 November 1969

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 (26 April 2023), USS Bailey (DD-492) ,

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