USS Conyngham (DD-371)

USS Conyngham (DD-371) was a Mahan class destroyer that fought at Pearl Harbor, at Midway, the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, supported the campaign on New Guinea and New Britain, the invasion of the Marianas Islands and the Philippines.

The Conyngham was named after Gustavus Conyngham, who fought as a privateer with the rank of Captain in the Continental Navy during the War of Independence and remained in the Navy after the war, fighting in the Quasi-War with France and during the War of 1812

The Conyngham was launched at the Boston Navy Yard on 14 September 1934 when she was sponsored by Mrs A. C.G. Johnson, and was commissioned on 4 November 1936.

USS Conyngham (DD-371) transfers mail between destroyers USS Conyngham (DD-371) transfers mail between destroyers

In the spring of 1937 her cruise took her to northern Europe. After a brief overhaul at Boston she sailed to her new base at San Diego, arriving on 22 October 1937. She joined the Pacific Fleet, and took part in the normal mix of operations along the US West Coast and visits to Hawaii and the Caribbean to take part in Fleet Problems.

On 2 April 1940 she left San Diego to head to Hawaii for the last peacetime Fleet Problem, and like most of the fleet she remained there after exercises, in an attempt to deter Japanese aggression.

On 3 March she left Pearl Harbor to take part in a cruise in the South Pacific, which took her to Samoa, Fiji and Australia, returning to Pearl Harbor in April.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 the Conyngham was moored alongside the depot ship USS Whitney undergoing an overhaul, with the Reid (DD-369) , Tucker, Case (DD-370) and Selfridge (DD-357) to her outboard. She opened fire with two of her 5in guns and all of her machine guns at 0808, and at 0813 the combined fire from the nest of destroyers shot down one aircraft. Two more of her 5in guns opened fire at 0825 and in the next few minutes two more aircraft were shot down. After a brief pause she opened fire again at 0855 and the next claimed another victory. During the battle one .30in bullet hit the Conyngham, causing minor damaged to a battery box, and either a bullet or fragment slightly damaged the cover of the 5in battery rangefinder. During the battle she fired 115 5in shells and 2,500 rounds of .50in machine guns. Once the attack was over work began on getting her ready for sea, but that took until 1714.

1942

In the immediate aftermath of the attack she was used to escort convoys heading to and from the US west coast. This duty lasted until 16 October, apart from a break in May-June to take part in the battle of Midway. She was photographed off Mare Island on 22 January 1942, when she was still carrying her no.3 5in gun in its awkward position amidships. She was also photographed moored at Mare Island on 6 March.

The Conyngham sailed from Pearl Harbor in 28 May with Admiral Spruance’s Task Force 16 (Enterprise and Hornet). She was present with that task force during the battle of Midway (4-6 June 1942).

On 16 October the Conyngham left Pearl Harbor with Task Force 16, which then joined Task Force 17 to form a fleet built around the Hornet, Enterprise and South Dakota. This was heading to the south-west Pacific to reinforce the fleet operating around Guadalcanal. She arrived in time to take part in the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands (26 October 1942), where she formed part of the screen for the Enterprise.

On 2 November she was taking part in a bombardment of Kokumbona village on Guadalcanal when she collided with another destroyer. Initial repairs were done at Noumea, New Caledonia. On 24 November the Conyngham, San Francisco (CA-38), Sterett (DD-407) and Mahan (DD-364) left Noumea for Pearl Harbor to have the repairs fully completed.

1943

The damage was quickly repairs and she was back at Espiritu Santo by 4 February 1943. She then returned to Guadalcanal in time to take part in a bombardment of Doma Cove on 7 February.

USS Conyngham (DD-371) at Pearl Harbor, 1946 USS Conyngham (DD-371) at Pearl Harbor, 1946

This was followed by five months of patrol and escort duties between Australia and the south Pacific bases.

On 1-3 July she provided gunfire support during landings on Woodlark and Kiriwini Islands, off the coast of New Guinea.

On 18 July the Conyngham and Helm (DD-388) escorted LST-457 from Milne Bay to Kiriwina Island.

On 23 August she took part in a bombardment of Finschhafen, New Guinea.

On 4 September she helped screen the landings at Lae. The fleet was attacked by Japanese bombers, three of which attacked the Conyngham, causing damage with near misses.

On 22 September she supported the landings at Finschhafen. She then sailed to Brisbane, before returning to support the landings at Arawe, New Britain on 15 December and Cape Gloucester, New Britain, on 26 December.

1944

On 2 January 1944 she supported the landings at Saidor, New Guinea. She then briefly returned to Australia for repairs, before returning to New Guinea.

In March she departed for an overhaul at San Francisco, and was back at Majuro by the end of May.

She then joined Task Force 58, where she screened the battleships during the invasion of the Mariana Islands. On 12 June she screened the carriers Bunker Hill (CV-17), Wasp, Monterrey and Cabot (CVL-28) during air strikes on Saipan and Tinian, shooting down one Japanese aircraft which crashed in flames. On 13 June she took part in the bombardment of Saipan. She then remained in the Marianas, carrying out fire support, escort and patrol duties until August.

She was then used to escort ships preparing for the invasion of Leyte in the Philippines. She entered Leyte Gulf on 4 November screening ships carrying reinforcements for the troops fighting on the island.

On 16 November she was strafed by a Japanese float plane, which caused minor damage to the ship and wounded 17.

On 7 December she covered landings in Ormoc Bay, on the opposite side of Leyte to the original lands, and came under heavy air attack. On 11 December she escorted reinforcements to Ormoc Bay.

1945

At the start of 1945 she joined the forces that took part in the landings in Lingayen Gulf on Luzon. She took part in the pre-invasion bombardment, then patrolled the area from 9-18 January to support the fighting on shore.

On 1 February 1945 the Conyngham (DD-371) and Lough (DE-586) sank PT-77 and PT-79 in error off Talin Point on Luzon.

On 8 February she left Mangarin Bay heading for Subic Bay, which had been liberated by US troops at the end of January(with the Denver (CL-58), Montpelier (CL-57), Boise (CL-47), Fletcher, Radford, Claxton, Saufley, Taylor, Abbott and La Vallette).

The Conyngham returned to Subic Bay on 22 July for an overhaul in what was once again a US naval base. She was still there at the end of the war.

She was back at Pearl Harbor by 24 March 1946, and was decommissioned on 20 December 1946. She took part in the 1946 atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll, and was sunk off California on 2 July 1948.

Conyngham received 14 battle stars in World War II, for Pearl Harbor, Midway, the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, Guadalcanal, Eastern New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, Eastern New Guinea, the Mariana Islands, Tinian, Leyte, Luzon, Borneo, Manilla Bay and the southern Philippines

Displacement (standard)

1,487.9 standard

Displacement (loaded)

2,102.6t

Top Speed

37.8kts at 44,477shp at 1,749t on trials (Mahan)

Engine

2-shaft General Electric turbines
4 boilers
46,000shp design

Range

6,500nm at 12kts design
7,300nm at 12kts on trials (Mahan)
6,940nm at 12kts at 2,200t wartime
4,360nm at 20kts at 2,200t wartime

Length

341ft 3in

Width

35ft 6.5in

Armaments

Five 5in/38 DP guns
Twelve 21in torpedoes in three quad mounts
Four 0.50in AA guns
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement

158

Laid down

 

Launched

14 September 1934

Commissioned

4 November 1936

Sunk

2 July 1948

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.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (12 January 2022), USS Conyngham (DD-371), http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Conyngham_DD371.html

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