USS Dewey (DD-349)

USS Dewey (DD-349) was a Farragut class destroyer that was present at Pearl Harbor, fought at the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, the invasion of Guadalcanal, the battles of Savo Island and the Eastern Solomans, the Aleutians, the invasions of the Gilbert, Marshall and Mariana Islands, the invasion of Okinawa and the landings at Hollandia on New Guinea.

The Dewey was named after Admiral Dewey, the commander of the victorious American fleet at the battle of Manila Bay of 30 April 1898.

USS Dewey (DD-349) off San Diego, 14 September 1936 USS Dewey (DD-349) off San Diego, 14 September 1936

The Dewey was launched at the Bath Iron Works of Maine on 28 July 1934 when she was sponsored by Admiral Dewey’s great-grandniece Miss A. M. Dewey, and commissioned on 4 October 1934. After taking part in two training cruises to Guantamamo Bay, she left Norfolk on 1 April 1935 heading for her new base at San Diego, where she joined the Pacific Fleet. Over the next few years she took part in the normal mix of operations of the Pacific Fleet, with winters on the west coast and summers often spent on cruises into Alaska Waters. She also took part in some of the Fleet Problems.

The Dewey was built with two almost equal height stacks. This placed the top of the foreward stack very close to the open bridge, and at some point after the middle of 1934 the forward stack was increased in height. However this change can’t have been a great success, as within two years it had been removed. Photographs show her with the taller stack in March 1935, but with a shorter stack once again by 14 September 1936.

On 20 May 1936 she was part of a large US fleet that crossed the Equator, presumably during a fleet exercise as the commemorative leaflet produced on the Lexington has them divided into the Black Fleet and the Brown Fleet.

On 14 September 1936 she took part in a demonstration of destroyer tactics that was filmed by Movietone News. At the time she was part of Destroyer Squadron 20, made up (at least during the filming) of Destroyer Division 60 (Dewey as flagship, Hull (DD-350), MacDonough (DD-351), Worden (DD-352)) and Destroyer Division 61 (Farragut (DD-348), Dale (DD-353), Monaghan and Alywin (DD-355)).

On 27-29 April 1937 she was at Iliulikl Bay, Alaska.

From 4 January-12 April 1939 she took part in Fleet Problem XX, which took her back to the Atlantic.

On 12 October 1939 the Dewey arrived at Pearl Harbor, as part of a larger move of part of the Pacific Fleet from the US West Coast to Hawaii, in an attempt to convince the Japanese not to risk a war.

1941

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Dewey was undergoing a tender overhaul. However she was in a better position than some other ships, which had had most of their guns removed for overhauls. The Dewey had no power onboard, but four .50in machine guns opened fire just after 8am. The firing locks had to intalled on her 5in guns, but four of the five were in action by 0810, although under local control. She was able to fire on the Japanese during the second wave of attacks at about 9am. During the third wave, at about 9.45, her division was one of the targets, and one bomb about 75ft astern of her, in the gap between the Dewey and the Hull. She fire 75 rounds from her 5in guns and 1,300 rounds from her .50in machine guns, and suffered no damage during the attack. She was able to get underway by 1505.

On the night of 11-12 December the Dewey believed she had spotted a surfaced Japanese submarine dangerously close to the oiler Neosho(AO-23), which was escorted from the area while the Dewey attacked the possible contact, although without any success.

On 15 December the Dewey joined Task Force 11 for the attempt to save the garrison of Wake Island. However the operation was poorly organised, and the island fell on 23 December before the fleet could reach the area. The Dewey then returned to patrol duties outside Pearl Harbor.

1942

In February 1942 the Dewey joined Task Force 11 for a raid on Rabaul, but the force was spotted by two Japanese patrol aircraft and the raid had to be cancelled. A force of 18 Japanese bombers attacked the fleet, and the Dewey claimed some success against them.

The Dewey screened the Lexington (CV-2) during raids on Lae and Salamaua on New Guinea on 10 March, then returned to Pearl Harbor on 26 March.

USS Dewey (DD-349) on her builder's trials USS Dewey (DD-349) on her builder's trials

The Dewey left Pearl Harbor with TF 11 on 15 April 1942 heading for the Solomon Islands. On 5 May the task force was ordered to join the Yorktown’s group to stop the Japanese fleet heading for Port Moresby on the south-eastern coast of New Guinea. She was thus present at the battle of the Coral Sea, the first major battle in which the surface fleets never came into sight of each other. The Dewey was part of the anti-aircraft screen for the Lexington, and suffered five men wounded in strafing attacks. Despite shooting down some of the attackers, the screen was unable to stop the Lexington being badly damaged, set on fire and eventually abandoned. The Dewey rescued 112 survivors from the Lexington.

The Dewey then escorted the Yorktown to Noumea, arriving on 12 May, then the Enterprise to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 25 May.

She was’t able to stop long at Pearl Harbor, as news arrived that the Japanese were heading for Midway. The Dewey departed on 28 May as part of the Enterprise’s task force, then screened the oiler Platte(AO-24) during the battle of Midway.

The Dewey left Pearl Harbor again on 7 July as part of the fleet heading towards Guadalcanal. When the Marines landed on 7 August the Dewey took part in the shore bombardment, and was attacked by Japanese dive bombers. She then took part in the battle of Savo Island, the first in a series of naval battles around Guadalcanal. During the battle the Jarvis (DD-393) lost power after being hit by an aerial torpedo. The Dewey took her in tow, and towed her into shallow water near Lunga Point and helped to restore power onboard. She then helped to fight fires on the transport George F. Elliot (AP-13), but these eventually reached the engineering spaces, and the order was given to abandon ship. The Dewey rescued forty of her survivors, then was ordered to sink her, firing three torpedoes into the transport, which sank in shallow water off Florida Island.

The Dewey remained in the Solomons. She screened the Saratoga during the battle of the Eastern Solomons (24 August 1942), a battle that stopped a Japanese attempt to move reinforcements to the island on transport ships.

On 12 September the Dewey left Tonga heading for Pearl Harbor as part of Task Force 11, which also included the damaged aircraft carrier Saratoga, the battleship South Dakota (heading home for repairs after hitting an uncharted coral pinnacle while attempting to leave her anchorage at Tonga), the heavy cruiser New Orleans (CA-32) and five destroyers. This force reached Pearl Harbor on 22-23 September. Six days later the Dewey departed for San Francisco and an overhaul.

Towards the end of 1942 the Dewey and the Worden (DD-352)helped screen the battleship Nevada during her post Pearl Harbor repair trails in the San Diego area.

On 27 December 1942 the Dewey departed for Alaska.

1943

On 12 January 1943 the Worden (DD-352) ran aground in Constantine Harbor, during the US occupation of Amchitka in the Aleutian Islands. The Dewey attempted to tow her off the rocks, without success, then stood by to help with the rescue operations. The Worden soon broke up and sank, with the loss of 14 of her crew.

USS Dewey in port, 1935 USS Dewey (DD-349) in port, 1935

On 7 April the Dewey left for San Pedro to collect an assault group that was to take part in the invasion of Attu of 11 May.

On 18 July the Dewey, Phelps (DD-360), Dale (DD-353) and Hull (DD-350) took over the escort of a convoy heading from San Francisco to Alaska.

On 15 August the Dewey took part in the landings on Kiska, where it was discovered that the Japanese had already evacuated the island. She then departed for San Francisco escorting a group of LSTs, arriving on 19 September.

She may then have been sent west once again, as the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ship’s article on the Monaghan has her and the Dewey departing from Funafuti Atoll, Tuvalu, to escort the damaged aircraft carrier USS Independence (CVL-22) back to Pearl Harbor, before both destroyers continued on to San Francisco.

1944

On 13 January 1944 the Dewey left San Diego to take part in the invasion of the Marshall Islands. She arrived off Kwajalein on 31 January, the day of the invasion of that island. She then escorted the carriers during a strike on Majuro on 11 February and landings on Eniwetok on 18 February.

She was then used to escort convoys between Eniwetok, Roi and Majuro, as well as taking part in the bombardment of Mille Atoll on 17-18 March.

From 22 March to 6 June she was in the screen of Task Force 58, taking part in the raids of Palau, Yap, Ulithi and Woleai. She was with the same force as it supported the invasion of Hollandia on New Guiena on 21-22 April, and for the raid on Truk of 29 April-1 May, carried out on the way back from New Guinea to the main Pacific theatre.

On 6 June she sailed as part of the carrier screen for the invasion of the Mariana Islands. She screened them during fighter sweeps across Tinian and Saipan on 11 June, then bombarded the islands on 13-14 June.

For the shore bombardments of Saipan she was part of the Western Bombardment Unit (TU 58.7.3), with the battleships Indiana, North Carolina and Washingtonand the destroyers Hull (DD-350), MacDonough (DD-351) and Selfridge (DD-357). During the initial bombardments she fired on enemy barges and set an oil dump on fire.

The Japanese replied to the invasion of the Marianas with a major air attack, hoping to take advantage of the longer range of their aircraft to attack the US carriers while their own fleet was safely out of range. The plan resulted in the battle of the Philippine Sea, and was used to rescue several of the air crews who were forced to ditch after carrying out long range attacks on the Japanese carriers. The battle saw the effective destruction of Japanese naval air power, with hundreds of aircraft lost for no result.

On 1 July the Dewey joined the screen for the transport group heading for the invasion of Guam. Before the invasion itself she provided close fire support for underwater demolition teams and reconnaissance groups. She remained off Guam until 28 July when she departed for an overhaul at Puget Sound.

After the overhaul was complete the Dewey and Monaghan escorted the North Carolina (BB-55) to San Pedro.

The Dewey joined the logistics group of the 3rd Fleet on 10 October. She screened this group as it refuelled the ships taking part in the invasion of the Philippines. She was with the fleet when it was hit by Typhoon Cobra on 18 December. The Dewey was in serious danger of capsizing, and at the worst moments had rolled by more than 75 degrees! She was saved by the prompt jettisoning of any moveable topside weight, the use of salt water to fill her partly empty port ballast spaces (she was rolling to starboard), and ironically by the loss of her no.1 funnel, which was torn off and thrown onto the boat deck, which reduced the amount of ‘sail’ area. Three of the fleet’s destroyers, the Hull (DD-350), Monaghan (DD-354) and Spence (DD-512) weren’t so lucky, and sank with the loss of 775 men.

1945

The Dewey was repaired at Ulithi, and was able to rejoin the logistics group on 8 February 1945. She reached Iwo Jima on 17 February, where she helped put out fires on the Patuxent (AO-44). She then supported the Marine landings on Iwo Jima on 19 February, and remained off the island for several days, helping to disrupt a Japanese counter attack on 23 February by firing star shells to illuminate the scene.

From 4-6 March she escorted a convoy to Leyte. She then joined the logistics group for the invasion of Okinawa, once again screening the vital oilers during the pre-invasion air strikes on Okinawa, and the series of raids on targets across the shrinking Japanese empire.

On 21 August she departed for San Diego, arriving on 7 September. She reached Brooklyn on 25 September, was decommissioned on 19 October 1945 and sold for scrap on 20 December 1946.

Dewey received 13 battle stars for World War II service, for Pearl Harbor, an air action off Bougainville and the Salamaue-Lae raids of early 1942, the battle of the Coral Sea, the Guadalcanal landings and battle of Savo Island, the Eastern Solomans, the occupation of Attu, the Gilbert Islands, the Marshall Islands, raids on the Marianas, Palau area and Truk areas in 1944, the Marianas campaign, the landings at Mindoro, the invasion of Okinawa and the Hollandia campaign.

Displacement (standard)

1,500t

Displacement (loaded)

2,064t

Top Speed

36.5kts
36.6kts at 40,353shp at 1,513t on trial (Farragut)

Engine

2-shaft Parsons turbines
4 boilers
42,800shp (design)

Range

6,500nm at 12kts
8,968nm at 12kts on trial (Farragut)
5,980nm at 12kts at 2,150tons (wartime)
3,710nm at 12kts at 2,150tons (wartime)

Armour - belt

 

 - deck

 

Length

341ft 3in

Width

34ft 3in

Armaments

Five 5in/38 DP guns
Four 0.5in AA guns
Eight 21in torpedoes in two quad mounts
Two depth charge tracks added later

Crew complement

160 (much higher in wartime)

Laid down

 

Launched

28 July 1934

Commissioned

4 October 1934

Sold for scrap

20 December 1946.

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 (12 August 2021),USS Dewey (DD-349) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Dewey_DD349.html

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