USS Belknap (DD-251/ AVD-8/ APD-34 )

USS Belknap (DD-251/ AVD-8/ APD-34) was a Clemson class destroyer that serving as a seaplane tender in 1940-42, with hunter-killer anti-submarine groups in 1942-43 and as a high speed transport in 1944-45, where she was badly damaged by a kamikaze attack.

The Belknap was named after George Eugene Belknap, who served in the US Civil War and the Formosa Expedition, retiring with the rank of rear admiral.

The Belknap was launched by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corps at Quincy, Mass, on 14 January 1919 and was sponsored by Admiral Belknap’s grand-daughter. She was commissioned on 28 April 1919.

Her first executive officer was Anton Bennett Anderson, who joined her in April 1919 while she was still fitting out, and remained on her until November 1919. He went on to command Transport Division Two in the Pacific during the invasion of Bougainville in 1943.

USS Belknap (DD-251) at Boston, 1919
USS Belknap (DD-251)
at Boston, 1919

On 5 June 1919 the Belknap and Williams (DD-108) left Newport, Rhode Island, heading for the Azores, and then on to the Mediterranean. However this was a brief visit, and after a few months she returned to the US and joined Division 28 of the Atlantic Fleet. She was then placed in the reserve at Charleston in 1920 and decommissioned at the Philadelphia Yard on 28 June 1922.

The Belknap was recommissioned in 1940 and converted into a seaplane tender. She was reclassified as AVD-8 on 2 August 1940 and recommissioned in her new role on 22 November 1940.

After the work was completed the Belknap was allocated to Patrol Wing 5, based at Hamilton, Bermuda. She was posted there until early in 1941 when she moved to Newport, Rhode Island.

In March 1941 a new Support Force was created, based around the destroyer tender USS Denebola (AD-12), the seaplane tender USS Albemarle (AV-5), USS Belknap and USS George E. Badger (AVD-3), four patrol squadrons and three destroyer squadrons. The new unit was created for assignment to distant seas. Between May and September 1941 the Belknap’s duties took her to Newfoundland and Iceland three times.

Anyone who served on her between 20 July-19 August or 12 September-7 December 1941 qualified for the American Defense Service Medal.

The Belknap was based at Reykjavik from September 1941 to May 1942. On 29 January 1942 the Navy Cutter USS Alexander Hamilton was hit by a torpedo just outside Reykjavik. The Belknap was one of a number of ships sent out to try and save her, but the cutter capsized late on 30 January. In January 1942 she was officially part of Patrol Wing 7, which contained Patrol Squadrons VP-71, VP-72, VP-73 and VP-74. In May 1942 the Belknap moved to Charleston Navy Yard for an extensive overhaul.

USS Belknap (AVD-8) from USS Core (CVE-13) USS Belknap (AVD-8) from USS Core (CVE-13)

From August 1942 until January 1943 the Belknap carried out patrols in the Caribbean.

Between February 1943 and January 1944 the Belknap served with a series of anti-submarine hunter killer groups, based around the escort carriers Bogue (CVE-9), Croatan (CVE-25) and Core (CVE-13). On 14 November 1943 she was reclassified as DD-251, reflecting her return to the destroyer role. She was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for her time with the Bogue group (TG 21.12) between 20 April and 20 June 1943.

In February- June 1944 the Belknap carried out convoy escort duties along the US East and Gulf Coasts.

In the second half of 1944 the Belknap was converted into a high speed transport, and reclassified as APD-34 on 22 June 1944.

The Belknap arrived in the Pacific in September 1944, but she had a fairly brief career in her new role. She took part in the invasion of Leyte, serving with the destroyer screen from 18-22 October 1944. She was then allocated to the bombardment and beach reconnaissance forces for the landings at Lingayen Gulf on Luzon. She was there from 3 January 1945. On 11 January 1945 she was hit by a Japanese kamikaze aircraft which hit at stack number two, knocking out her engines, killing 38 men and wounding 49.

This ended her active career. Emergency repairs were carried out at Lingayen. These were completed by 18 January when she was towed away by the Hidatsa (ATF-102). She underwent further repairs at Manus in the Admiralty Islands, and then returned to the US. She reached Philadelphia on 18 June and was decommissioned on 4 August 1945. She was sold for scrap on 30 November 1945.

The Belknap received three battle stars, for the Leyte Landings, battle of Surigao Strait and her time with Task Group 21.12

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35.51kts at 24,890shp at 1,107t on trial (Preble)


2-shaft Westinghouse geared tubines
4 boilers
27,000shp (design)


2,500nm at 20kts (design)


314ft 4in


30ft 10.5in


Four 4in/ 50 guns
One 3in/23 AA gun
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple mountings
Two depth charge tracks
One Y-Gun depth charge projector

Crew complement



14 January 1919


28 April 1919

Sold for scrap

30 November 1945

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 (14 November 2019), USS Belknap (DD-251/ AVD-8/ APD-34 ) ,

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