USS Barton (DD-599)

USS Barton (DD-599) was a Benson class destroyer that took part in the Guadalcanal campaign, before being sunk by Japanese torpedoes at the naval battle of Guadalcanal in November 1942.

The Barton was named after John Kennedy Barton, who served in the engineering branch of the US Navy from 1871-1908, ending as Chief of the Bureau of Steam Engineering.

USS Barton (DD-599) newly commissioned, Boston, 1942 USS Barton (DD-599) newly commissioned, Boston, 1942

The Barton was laid down by the Bethlehem Steel Co at Quincy, Mass on 20 May 1941, launched on 31 January 1942 when she was sponsored by Barton’s grand-daughter Barbara Dean Barton and commissioned on 29 May 1942.

After a brief shakedown cruise she was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet. In late June she escorted the Salinas (AO-19) to Portland, Maine, then the Massachusetts (BB-59) to Hampton Roads. On 2 August she was placed under the command of the Commander, Eastern Sea Frontier. From 4-8 August she patrolled between Point Lookout and Cape Henry. She then escorted the New York (BB-34) to New York, then moved to Boston to escort the Savannah (CL-43) to Norfolk. She then escorted the Massachusetts to Casco Bay.

She was then transferred to the Pacific Fleet. On 23 August she left New York with the Washington (BB-56) and Meade (DD-602). They passed through the Panama Canal at the end of the month, and the Barton then joined Task Group 2.12 and headed west to Tonga, arriving on 12 September. She then moved on to Noumea.

At Noumea she joined Task Force 17, which was built around the carrier Hornet (CV-8). On 2 October the Task Force left Noumea to carry out a sweep to the north of the Solomon Islands, to deal with a concentration of Japanese ships in the Shortland Islands. On 5 October the Hornet’s aircraft damaged two Japanese destroyers and sank a transport, and damaged the airfield at Kieta.

The Barton took part in the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands (26 October 1942). She was part of the screen for the Hornet, but was unable to stop the carrier taking damage that eventually forced her to be abandoned. The Barton came alongside and rescued 250 survivors from the carrier. Her commander, Lt Commander Fox, was awarded the Navy Cross for his ‘superb judgement and expert seamanship’ during the rescue.

On 30 October the Barton rescued the crew and passengers from an Army C-47 that had ditched on 20 October after getting lost on its way from Guadalcanal to New Caledonia or the New Hebrides, along with the crews of three Navy PBYs that had landed to try and rescue them a week later, but themselves become stuck. After a difficult operation all of the stranded men were rescued, and on 31 October they were landed at Noumea.

The Barton left Noumea on 8 November to escort four troop transports from Task Force 67 (Rear Admiral Richmond K Turner) to Guadalcanal, where a Japanese offensive was underway. The transports anchored off Kukum Beach on Guadalcanal early on 12 November. The warships formed two protective semi-circles around the transports and cargo ships, and fired on any Japanese guns that attempted to attack them. They also fought off an attack by Japanese aircraft later in the day.

The Americans knew that the Japanese were sending a naval force to bombard Henderson Field, believed to contain at least two battleships, two to four heavy cruisers and a significant number of destroyers. This was a slight over-estimate – the Japanese fleet, under Rear Admiral Hiroaki Abe, contained two battleships, a light cruiser and fourteen destroyers. Rear Admiral Turner decided to sent TG 67.4 north to try and stop the Japanese, even though it would be outclassed by Abe’s force. The American force headed north in a column, with four destroyers in the lead, then five cruisers, and finally four destroyers at the rear. The Barton was at the rear. At 0124 on 13 November radar detected the Japanese and soon afterwards battle was joined (Naval Battle of Guadalcanal).

The Barton fired sixty rounds from her forward guns and ten from each of her rear guns. She then turned towards the Japanese column and fired a spread of five torpedoes. However she then had to stop her engines to avoid a collision, possibly with the Aaron Ward (DD-483). While she was stopped a torpedo from the Japanese destroyer Amatsukaze hit her forward fire room. A second hit the forward engine room a few moments later. The Barton split in half and exploded. The Fletcher (DD-445), next in line, then had to alter course to avoid another Japanese torpedo, wounding some of the survivors in the water. Only 42 survivors from the Barton were rescued. Lt Commander Fox wasn’t amongst the survivors, and the destroyer Douglas H. Fox (DD-772) was named after him.

Barton (DD-599) earned four battle stars for her World War II service, for the Buin-Faisi-Tonolai raid, Santa Cruz Islands, Guadalcanal and naval battle of Guadalcanal.

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

20 May 1941


31 January 1942


29 May 1942


13 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

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (10 May 2023), USS Barton (DD-599) ,

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