USS Bristol (DD-453)

USS Bristol (DD-453) was a Gleaves class destroyer that served on convoy escort duty and took part in Operation Torch and the invasion of Sicily before being sunk by a torpedo in October 1943.

The Bristol was named after Mark Lambert Bristol, who served in the US Navy during the Spanish-American War, commanded the Oklahoma (BB-37) during the First World War, served as US High Commissioner in Turkey from 1919-27 and as Commander of the Asiatic Fleet from 1927.

The Bristol was launched on 25 July 1940 by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Kearny, N.J. when she was sponsored by Mrs. Powell Clayton and commissioned on 22 October 1941,

The Bristol was originally classified as the name ship of the Bristol class, which were built with four 5in guns instead of the five installed on the Livermore/ Gleaves class. However after the fifth gun was removed from those ships all of the Bristol class ships joined the Livermore/ Gleaves class.

After completed her shakedown cruise the Bristol began to carry out convoy escort duties in the Atlantic. After the US entry into the war this included several trips to the United Kingdom.


The Bristol continued her escort duties for most of 1942, before she was allocated to the forces taking part in Operation Torch, the invasion of French North Africa. She left the US on 24 October at the start of the voyage to Fedhala in French Morocco.

USS Bristol (DD-453) refueling from USS Brooklyn (CL-40) off Sicily USS Bristol (DD-453) refueling from USS Brooklyn (CL-40) off Sicily

The Bristol was allocated to the screen for TG 34, which was carrying nearly 19,000 men to Fedhala. She supported the initial landings on 8 November.

On 11 November U-boats attacked the shipping off Casablanca. The Winooski (AO-38) was hit and the Joseph Hewes (AP-50) hit and sank. After dark the Bristol detected a U-boat on the surface, turned on her spotlights and opened fire, although without result. She also carried out a depth charge attack, again with no result.

The Bristol returned to the United States in late November and was based at Norfolk into January 1943.


On 14 January 1943 the Bristol departed for the Mediterranean, where she would spend almost all of her remaining time, apart from one trip to the Panama Canal Zone in April 1943.

The Bristol took part in the invasion of Sicily. Late on 9 July she was part of the Beach Identification Group for the landings at Licata, along with the submarine chaser PC-546 and the British submarine HMS Safari. On the morning of the attack (10 July) she met up with TG 86.1 and helped guide four groups of LSTs to the beach. On 10 July the Bristol, Edison, Nicholson and Woolsey laid smoke to screen landing craft on the beaches. On 16 August the Bristol helped screen an amphibious landing on the north coast of Sicily. The original plan had to be land behind enemy lines, but Patton’s troops were advancing too fast for that and the amphibious forces instead landed just behind US lines. The Bristol continued to support the fighting on Sicily until 17 August.  

The Bristol supported the landings at Salerno on 9 September. At about 1630 she was called on to attack an enemy tank formation, and was soon joined by the Woolsey. She continued to support the fighting at Salerno until 21 September.

On 11 September 1943 Bristol rescued 70 survivors from the torpedoed Rowan (DD-405), which had been sunk by E-Boats off Salerno.

On 13 October the Bristol was escorted a convoy heading from Salerno to Oran. At 0430, while the convoy was near the coast of eastern Algeria, the Bristol was hit by a torpedo fired by U-371. The torpedo hit the port side of the forward engine room, breaking the back of the ship. All power was lost, and four minutes after being hit she split in half. It was obvious she was sinking, so the order was given to abandon ship. Only eight minutes after she was hit her aft section sank, followed four minutes later by the bow section. Fifty two of her crew were killed in the attack, mainly from the three main machinery compartments, where there were no survivors. The survivors were rescued by Trippe (DD-403) and Wainwright (DD-419).

Bristol received three battle stars for her World War II service, for North Africa, Sicily and Salerno.

Displacement (standard)

1,630t design
1,838t as built

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35kts design
36.5kt at 50,200shp at 2,220t on trial (Niblack)


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


6500nm at 12kt design

Armour - belt


 - deck



348ft 3in


36ft 1in


Four 5in/38 guns
Ten 21in torpedo tubes
Six 0.5in AA guns
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement


Laid down



25 July 1940


22 October 1941

Sunk by U-boat

13 October 1943

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 (11 January 2024), USS Bristol (DD-453) ,

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