USS Bernadou (DD-153)

USS Bernadou (DD-153) was a Wickes class destroyer that spent most of the Second World War performing various escort duties in the Atlantic theatre, as well as taking part in Operation Torch, the invasion of Sicily and the Salerno landing.

The Bernadou was named after John Baptiste Bernadou, a US naval officer during the Spanish-American War.

The Bernadou was laid down at Cramps on 4 June 1918, launched on 7 November 1918 and commissioned on 19 May 1919. She almost immediately departed for European waters, and spent the first part of the summer visiting various ports, including Hamburg. She returned to New York on 6 August 1919 and joined Division 19, Flotilla 3, Destroyer Squadron 3, Atlantic Fleet. She spent the next three years operating off the East Coast apart from the annual winter visits to southern waters for exercises. The 1921 exercises took her to the Pacific for the first time. In the autumn of 1921 she escorted the cruiser Olympia as she returned from France with the body of the American 'unknown soldier'. On 1 July 1922 the Bernadou was decommissioned.

USS Bernadou (DD-153) at Safi, 8 November 1942
USS Bernadou (DD-153)
at Safi, 8 November 1942

The Bernadou was reactivated on 1 May 1930 and joined Destroyer Division 2, Scouting Force, based on the East Coast. Her commander between July-October 1932 was Mervyn Bennion, who was later killed at Pearl Harbor while commander of the battleship USS West Virginia. The Bernadou was with that unit until 25 October 1932 when she entered Reserve Destroyer Squadron 19 at Norfolk. She joined Destroyer Division 29 on 10 March 1933, but returned to the reserve with Reserve Destroyer Squadron 19 in May 1934. She rejoined the active fleet on 15 August 1934 with Destroyer Division 1, and operated with this unit until she was decommissioned for the second time on 8 January 1937.

The Bernadou was reactivated for the third time on 16 October 1939, as part of the expansion of the Navy in the aftermath of the outbreak of war in Europe. She joined the neutrality patrol, and was based at Charleston, where she patrolled with the Middle Atlantic Patrol. She moved to Norfolk early in 1940.


In March 1941 the navy created the Support Force, which was used to escort convoys in the western Atlantic. The Bernadou operated with this force until the autumn of 1941. 

Anyone who served on her between 6 August and 13 September 1941 could wear the American Defense Service medal with a bronze letter 'A' in the centre.


The Bernadou spent most of 1942 on a variety of escort duties. At the start of the year she was part of Destroyer Division 60, Destroyer Squadron Thirty, Destroyer Flotilla Eight. Between 24-31 March she escorted the Mizar (AF-12) to Casco Bay, Maine, where she then spent part of 31 March hunting for a possible submarine. On 7-9 April she escorted a convoy from New York to Brooklyn, attacking another possible submarine on 8 April. On 10-18 April she escorted Task Force 37 to Iceland. On 19-27 April she escorted a convoy from Iceland to Londonderry. On 1-9 May she escorted a convoy back to Halifax, and on 4 May made another attack on a possible U-boat.

On 28 May she joined Task Force 34 (including the battleship Texas (BB-35), and the destroyer Cole), which then escorted a convoy to the mid ocean meeting point, where a British force took over the escort on 9 June. On 1 June she rescued some of the survivors from the SS Fred W. Greene, sunk on 30 May by U-506. On 22-23 June she hunted for yet another possible U-boat off Bermuda. On 26 June U-107 sank the SS Jaegersfontein, which at the time had 220 people on-board. The Swiss SS St. Cergue picked up many of the survivors, and on 27 June passed 86 US Army Officers and 13 British and Dutch gunners to the Bernadou.

On 11-13 August the Bernadou escorted some British merchant ships from Nova Scotia to St. John's Newfoundland. She then escorted the SS Lord Kelvin as she repaired some damaged underwater cables on 18-23 August. On 17-25 September she formed part of Task Unit 24.8.2, and escorted Convoy SH 8 from Nova Scotia to Argentia.  She then escorted a convoy to Boston, where she underwent a period of repairs that lasted to 11 October.

USS Bernadou (DD-153), Charleston Navy Yard, 8 February 1945 USS Bernadou (DD-153), Charleston Navy Yard, 8 February 1945

On 12 October she was ordered to join the forces gathering for Operation Torch. She was chosen to take part in the landings at Safi, and in order to help her mast was removed, presumably to alter her appearance. On 13 October she embarked Company 'K' of the 47th Regiment at Norfolk for training exercises. She then joined Task Group 34.2 as it crossed the Atlantic. On 7 November Company 'K' was taken onboard once again. Early on 8 November she landed her troops at 'green' beach (inside the harbour) at Safi in French Morocco. The troops came under heavy fire, as did the destroyer, but the port was soon in Allied hands. On 10-11 November she was used to ship essential supplies to the troops at Mazagan in French Morocco. This ended her involvement in Operation Torch, and she returned to Boston on 26 November 1942.

In late December the Bernadou performed three unusual escort missions, working with Russian submarines.


On 1-2 January 1943 the Bernadou moved to St. Johns, Newfoundland. On 2-8 January she returned to New York for an overhaul. After this was complete she moved to Bermuda, arriving on 31 January. By 3 February she was back at Hampton Roads. On 8-10 February she escorted a group of LSTs to New York. On 23-26 February she escorted another group of LSTS from New York to Bermuda.

At the start of March she joined TF 32, and on 22 March she entered the Mediterranean. On 27 March she departed from Gibraltar as part of the escort of a convoy heading back to the US. After a spell in the US she rejoined the task force, and on 23 May she reached Mers-el-Kebir, Algeria, at the start of a longer spell in the Mediterranean. On 29 May she took part in training exercises with TG 81.7. On 1 June she trained with a French submarine. On 5-7 June she trained with MTBs. On 23-24 June she escorted a convoy to Algiers.

On 6 July an Allied fleet set sail heading for Gela, on Sicily. Early on 10 July the Bernadou began a series of patrols on the seawards side of the transport area off Sicily. On 11 July she carried out anti-submarine patrols off Scoglittie. This ended her first period off Sicily, and on 11-15 July she escorted a convoy back to Mers-el-Kebir. On 17-20 July she escorted a convoy to Bizerte in Tunisia, then another one to Algiers, arriving on 23 July, where she was used to patrol outside the harbour to protect the unloading process. 

The Bernadou spent the next month operating around Mers-el-Kebir. She then moved to Bizerte on 5 September, and then escorted a convoy to Palermo, Sicily, arriving on 6 September. On 8 September Convoy FSS 2X came under air attack. The Bernadou's gunners claimed two of the four attackers, and Allied aircraft completed the job. On 9 September she reached the Italian coast, to support the landings at Salerno. The Bernadou screened a number of LSTs while they unloaded reinforcements. She then escorted a convoy back to Oran, Algeria, arriving on 14 September.

On 17-21 September she escorted Convoy NSF 3 to a rendezvous point off southern Italy. While there she was able to rescue two of the crew from a USAAF bomber that crashed just astern of her. On 23 September she returned to Mers-el-Kebir. Late September saw her back on convoy escort duty off North Africa. On 8-9 October she escorted a convoy to Palermo. The rest of the month saw her visit Algiers, Arzeu, Mers-el-Kebir and Naples. On 28 November-1 December she escorted a convoy to Naples.

This ended her second period in the Mediterranean. On 11 December she set sale for the US, and she was back at Charleston on 24 December 1943.


The Bernadou spent most of 1944 on convoy escort duties, mainly crossing the Atlantic. From 22 February-9 March she escorted Convoy UGS-34 from Hampton Roads to Casablanca. On 17 March-3 April she escorted Convoy GUS 33 from the Straits of Gibraltar to New York. From 22 April-10 May she escorted Convoy UGS-40 from Boston to Mers-el-Kebir. She paused to refuel while the convoy pushed on towards Bizerta. She was then ordered to escort four ships that were catching up with the main convoy. This small force opened fire on four German torpedo aircraft on 11 May but without success, and the reunited convoy reached Bizerte on 13 May. On 21 May-9 June she escorted Convoy GUS 40 on its way west to the United States, but she left the convoy on 9 June to undergo repairs at Boston. On 11-17 July she escorted the New York to Trinidad, repeating the task on 9-15 August.

This proved to be almost the end of her active service. She was back at New York on 25 August, and Boston on 1 September. She escorted the Bennington (CV-20) from New York to Hampton Roads, arriving on 26 September. She then began a period of anti-submarine training, but damaged her starboard screw on 1 October and needed repairs.


By now there were plenty of more modern escort vessels available, and so the Bernadou was relegated to training duties. She operated between Key West and Casco Bay, mainly serving as a plane guard for new escort carriers. This ended on 25 May when she was ordered to Bayonne, New Jersey. She then moved to Philadelphia, where she was decommissioned on 17 July 1945. She was struck off on 13 August 1945 and sold for scrap on 30 November 1945. 

The Bernadou earned five battle stars during the Second World War, for escorting Convoy ON-67, Operation Torch, the invasion of Sicily, the Salerno landings and escorting Convoy UGS-40

Displacement (standard)

1,160t (design)

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35kts (design)
35.34kts at 24,610shp at 1,149t on trial (Wickes)


2 shaft Parsons turbines
4 boilers
24,200shp (design)


3,800nm at 15kts on trial (Wickes)
2,850nm at 20kts on trial (Wickes)

Armour - belt


 - deck



314ft 4in


30ft 11in

Armaments (as built)

Four 4in/50 guns
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple tubes
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement



4 June 1918


7 November 1918


17 July 1945

Struck off

13 August 1945

Sold for scrap

30 November 1945

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (4 January 2018), USS Bernadou (DD-153) ,

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