USS Buck (DD-420)

USS Buck (DD-420) was a Sims class destroyer that served in the Pacific in 1940-41 then joined the Neutrality Patrol in the Atlantic in July 1941. After the US entry into the war she served as an escort vessel in the Atlantic, and was badly damaged in a collision on 22 August. Convoy escort duties resumed in November, before she moved to the Mediterranean to support the invasion of Sicily. In September 1943 she supported the landings at Anzio, but on 9 October she was torpedoed and sank quickly.

Cleaning 5in gun on USS Buck (DD-420) Cleaning 5in gun on USS Buck (DD-420)

The Buck was named after James Buck, who won the Medal of Honor for his service on the Mississippi during the American Civil War.

The Buck was laid down at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, launched on 22 May 1939 when she was sponsored by Mrs Julius C. Townsend, wife of Rear Admiral Julius C Townsend, and commissioned on 15 May 1940.

After her shakedown cruise the Buck briefly joined the Atlantic Fleet, but she was then sent to the Pacific, where she served from February to June 1941.

She then returned to the Atlantic, where on 1 July she joined Task Force 19 as it moved to Argentia, Newfoundland, then sailed to Reykjavik, Iceland, carrying the First Marine Brigade (Provisional). On 7 July the Marines landed, and the Americans took over the island from the British. The Buck was then used on convoy escort duties between Iceland and the United States.


After the American entry into the war the Buck continued to serve on convoy escort duties, but to a wider range of destinations, including Newfoundland, Iceland, Northern Ireland, North Africa (late in the year) and the Caribbean.

Prisoners from Argento on USS Buck (DD-420) Prisoners from Argento on USS Buck (DD-420)

On 22 August the Buck was hit by the British transport Atwatea in a dense fog off Nova Scotia. Her keel was broken, and the transport cut almost two-thirds of the way through her fantail. The starboard propeller was destroyed and the port propeller damaged. Seven men were killed. The crew tried to secure the fantail to the rest of the ship with lines and wires, but a few hours later the port propeller went, leaving the Buck unable to stear. The fantail was cut off as its movements were damaging the rest of the hull. To add to the disaster the Ingraham (DD-444) was fatally damaged in a collision with the oiler Chemung (AO-30) while attempting to come to the aid of the Buck. The Chemung rescued the survivors from the Ingraham and then took the Buck under tow. This role was later take over by the Cherokee (AT-66), and the Buck safely reached Boston on 26 August.

The Buck was extensively damaged and the repairs weren’t completed until November. She then returned to convoy escort duties, once again operating on the trans-Atlantic route.


This ended in June 1943, when she was moved to the Mediterranean and used for patrol duties from ports in Tunisia and Algeria.

The Buck was assigned to the Western Naval Task Force for the invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky). On 10 July she escorted a convoy of LCTs to their beach, then provided fire support (with the Brooklyn and Woolsey),  before returning to North Africa to escort the next set of convoys to Sicily.

On 3 August, while escorting a convoy from Sicily back to Algeria, the Buck sighted the Italian submarine Argento, which was carrying out a patrol off the coast of Sicily. The Buck carried out three depth charges attacks, which forced the Argento to surface. The Buck then opened fire with her guns, and the Italians abandoned ship. The Buck rescued 45 of her crew of 49, before the submarine sank.

The Buck escorted a convoy back to the United States, then returned to the Mediterranean to support Operation Avalanche, the landings at Salerno on 9 September. She then carried out patrols off the coast of southern Italy.

Sicily seen under 40mm guns of USS Buck (DD-420) Sicily seen under 40mm guns of USS Buck (DD-420)

On 9 October the Buck was patrolling off Salerno when she was torpedoed by U-616. The Buck sank within four minutes. Although her depth charges had been set to safe there was a large underwater explosion which killed some of the survivors. The Buck was operating alone, and her survivors were spotted in the water by friendly aircraft on the following morning. 97 survivors were rescued by the Greaves (DD-423) and the British LCT-170 that evening, after spending twenty hours in the water.

Buck received three battle stars for World War II service, for sinking the Argento, the invasion of Sicily, and her own loss.

Displacement (standard)

1,570t design
1,759.3t as built 

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35kt design
38.75kt at 51,387shp at 1,948tons on trial (Anderson)
36.91kts at 51,138shp at 2,230tons on trial (Anderson)


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


6,500nm at 12kts design
5,640nm at 12kts at 2,350t wartime
3,660nm at 20kts at 2,350t

Armour - belt


 - deck



348ft 3.25in


36ft 1.5in


Five 5in/38 DP guns
Twelve 21in torpedo tubes in three quad tubes in design
Eight 21in TT in two quads as built
Four 0.50in AA guns
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement


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 February 2023), USS Buck (DD-420) ,

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