USS Edison (DD-439)

USS Edison (DD-439) was a Gleaves class destroyer that served on convoy escort duty, and took part in Operation Torch, the invasion of Sicily, helped sink U-73, supported the landings at Anzio and the South of France and reached the Pacific after the surrender of Japan.

The Edison was named after the famous inventor Thomas Edison, a rare example of a destroyer not named after a member of the US Navy or Marine Corps.

USS Edison (DD-439) underway, 1942 USS Edison (DD-439) underway, 1942

The Edison was originally classified as a Livermore class ship, but became a Gleaves class ship when the two classes were merged because the two Gleaves class ships were given the same more powerful engines as the Livermore class.

The Edison (DD-439) was launched on 23 November 1940 by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Kearny, N.J when she was sponsored by Mrs. Thomas A. Edison, the widow of the inventor; and commissioned on 31 January 1941.

After her shakedown cruise the Edison operated along the US East Coast, taking part in training exercises with the fleet and carrying out passenger and mail runs to Argentia.

On 6 June she escorted the new aircraft carrier Wasp as she moved from Grasy Bay, Bermuda to Norfolk.

In November she escorted her first convoy to Iceland. She carried out this role for much of 1942.


The Edison was assigned to the forces that took part in Operation Torch. She was part of TG 34.9, carrying troops that were to land around Casablanca. The Edison was one of six destroyers that were given the task of screening against enemy submarines. She set sail from Norfolk on 24 October.

On 8 November she supported the troops as they landed around Fedhala. She also engaged French gun batteries at Cape Fedhala and screened the shipping off the beachheads.

On 10 November American troops advancing on Casablanca from the east were attacked by French warships Gracieuse and Commandant Delage. The Augusta (CA-31), Tillman and Edison intervened, attacking the French ships. They then came under fire from the French shore batteries at El Hank. The French ships retired after the Commandant Delage was hit.

After the end of the fighting in North Africa the Edison returned to Norfolk, arriving on 1 December.

She was then used to escort a convoy of tankers to the Gulf of Mexico, before beginning a period of several months escorting convoys from New York and Norfolk to Casablanca and Oran.


The Edison carried out her convoy duties during the first half of 1943, then in July 1943 she moved to the Mediterranean, where she would largely remain until February 1944.

During the initial stages of the invasion of Sicily she was part of Task Force 86, part of the Western Naval Task Force. She was part of DesRon 13, which was used to screen the task force.

On 10 July, the day of the initial invasion, she laid down smoke to cover landing craft as they approached the beaches, and then provided fire support. She then provided fire support for the troops. She also screened the Birmingham as she bombarded artillery batteries on Mount Desusino. 

After the initial invasion she escorted convoys from Algiers and Bizerte to Sicily.

The Edison screened the assault ships during the landings at Salerno on 9 September. She was then used to provide fire support and protect minesweepers during the hard fought battle at Salerno.

In mid- November President Roosevelt crossed the Atlantic on USS Iowa on his way to the Tehran Conference. The Edison formed part of a task group from the Mediterranean forces that joined up with the Presidential party at sea on 19 November and helped escort it through the Straits of Gibraltar. After landing the President at Mers-el-Kebir the Iowa departed for Bahia, Brazil. The Edison formed part of the escort until the battleship had left the Mediterranean, then on 21 November was detached from this duty and returned to the Mediterranean.

On 4 December she took over the escort of the transport General M.C. Meigs (AP-116) at Gibraltar, after she had been escorted across the Atlantic by the Omaha and two Brazilian destroyers.

On 16 December the Edison, Trippe and Woolsey put to sea from Algiers to hunt for survivors from a merchantship that had been torpedoed. Early on the same evening they detected U-73 on sonar, and attacked with depth charges. The U-boat was forced to the surface, and both destroyers opened fire. After only six minutes the U-boat sank. The Edison rescued 11 survivors from the U-boat.


The Edison formed part of the force that supported Operation Shingle, the landings at Anzio. She formed part of TG 81.8, made up of the Brooklyn, the British light cruiser HMS Penelope and DesRon 13.  On 22 January, the day of the landings, the Brooklyn, Edison and Trippe provided fire support for the troops going on shore. On 24 January she helped fight off a Luftwaffe attack. On the night of 29-30 January her gunfire helped fight off a German attack, and she was credited with killing a large number of German troops. She provided fire support for the troops at Anzio and escorted convoys moving to the beachhead until February when she departed for an overhaul in the US.

The Edison returned to the Mediterranean on 1 May 1944 and resumed her escort and patrol duties off Italy.

In late July the Edison joined the forces being gathered for the invasion of the south of France. She was part of Rear Admiral Morton L. Deyo’s bombardment group, built around the Arkansas (BB-33), Marblehead (CL-12), HMS Argonaut and the French cruisers Duguay Trouin and Emile Bertin. She supported the initial invasion on 15 August, then continued to support the fighting, mainly on the coast around the Franco-Italian border, for the rest of 1944.


The Edison returned to New York for an overhaul on 17 January 1945. After this was completed she escorted a convoy to Havre in April-May.

She was then chosen for transfer to the Pacific. She left New York on 8 June 1945, but was still training at Pearl Harbor when the war ended. She then took part in the occupation of Japan.

On 30-31 October she escorted the transport Admiral W.S. Benson from Hiro Wan to Wakayama.

On 3 November she left Nagoya to move to the Aleutians, where she served as a weather station. Fortunately for her crew this was a short assignment and she was back at San Francisco on 30 December.

The Edison was decommissioned at Charleston on 18 May 1946. She was later moved to Philadelphia, and was sold for scrap on 29 December 1966.

Edison received six battle stars for World War II service, for Convoy ON-67, the Algeria-Morocco Landings, Naval Operations off Casablanca, Sicily, Salerno, Anzio and the South of France. Anyone who served on her between 1-23 November or 1-7 December 1941 qualified for the American Defense Service Medal. Anyone who served on her between 2-26 September or 20 October-4 November 1945 qualified for the Navy Occupation Service Medal.

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


348ft 3in


36ft 1in


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

Crew complement


Laid down



23 November 1940


31 January 1941

Sold for scrap

29 December 1966

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 (2 December 2023), USS Edison (DD-439) ,

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