USS Ericsson (DD-440)

USS Ericsson (DD-440) was a Gleaves class destroyer that served on convoy escort duty, then took part in Operation Torch, the fighting at Anzio, the invasion of the South of France, helped sink U-853, and was on her way to the Pacific when the war ended.

The Ericsson was named after John Ericsson, the Swedish inventor who was involved in the design and construction of the USS Monitor and worked on the screw propeller and other advances in naval engineering.

USS Ericsson (DD-440) underway in 1941 USS Ericsson (DD-440) underway in 1941

The Ericsson 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 Ericsson was launched on 23 November 1940 by the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Kearny, N.J. when she was sponsored by Mrs. Ruth E. Wallgren the great-great-grandniece of John Ericsson and commissioned on 13 March 1941.
After her shakedown cruise the Ericsson carried out a mix of duties along the east coast and out to Bermuda, including exercises with submarines and training Naval Reserve midshipmen. In the autumn of 1941 she carried out two trips to Newfoundland and Iceland, escorting convoys. On 15-16 December she left Halifax as part of Canadian Troop Convoy TC 16, heading for the UK. They reached Iceland on 23 December, where British ships took over. The American escorts left Iceland on 25 December to return to the US.


On 15 January she rescued two survivors from the life rafts of SS Dayrose, which had been sunk off Argentia.

By mid-January the Germans were in the middle of Operation Drumbeat, their submarine offensive against US shipping off the East Coast and in the Caribbean. The US Navy didn’t want to risk moving the battleship Arkansas and escort carrier Long Island (AVG-1) on the trip from Argentia to Boston, so instead organised a hunter killer group made up of the Ericsson, Greer, Badger and Ellis and four Canadian Flower class corvettes. This group attempted to find any U-boats operating on their route, but without success. The larger ships remained at Argentia until 22 January, when they left port, reaching Boston on 24 January.

On 29 January U-132 torpedoed the coast guard cutter Alexander Hamilton (WPG-34) close to Iceland. The cutter stayed afloat for a day, before capsizing on 30 January. The Ericsson was used to patrol the area while survivors were being rescued, then shelled the capsized hulk in an unsuccessful attempt to sink it. The US ships then departed, but the Ericsson was sent back on the following morning to investigate reports that the cutter was still afloat. This time no sign of her was found.

On 7 April she left New York as part of the escort for convoys AT 17 and NA 7. On 15 April the two convoys split, and the Ericsson formed part of the escort for AT 17 as it continued on to Iceland.

In May 1942 the Ericsson escorted a convoy to the Panama Canal Zone.

In June she escorted a convoy to Northern Ireland and Scotland.

For the rest of the summer she escorted convoys along the US East Coast and into the Caribbean, and carried out patrols from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

On 18 July she joined up with the South Dakota off the Hampton Roads and provided part of her escort during her shakedown cruise.

On 6 August the Arkansas, Brooklyn (CL-40), Roe (DD-418), Ericsson (DD-440), Madison (DD-425), Eberle, Nicholson (DD-442), Kearny, Mayo, Niblack, Benson, Gleaves, Hilary P. Jones (DD-427) and Charles F. Hughes (DD-428) left Brooklyn to escort a convoy of fourteen US, British and Polish troop transports to Halifax, arriving on 8 August.

On 25 August the Eberle, Kearny, Ericsson and Livermore left Norfolk to escort the tankers Chicopee (AO-34), Mattaponi (AO-41), Esso Richmond (II) and White Plains to Galveston, arriving on 30 August. The escorts then split and the Livermore and Eberle escorted three tankers back to Boston, arriving on 8 September.

On 24 October, she sortied from Norfolk to take part in Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. She formed part of the anti-submarine screen for Cruiser Division 8, the advance guard for the troop transports heading to French Morocco.

On 7 November, the day before the invasion, the Ericsson was allocated to the Northern Attack Group, TG.34.8, which supported the landings at Mehida.  She provided fire support during the invasion of 8 November and for the following week. On the first day she helped knock out four French gun batteries on a ridge overlooking the landing areas. She was also used to screen the transports. She left North Africa later in November and returned to Norfolk on 26 November.

On 18-22 December the Ericsson, Boyle (DD-600) and Livermore escorted a convoy from Norfolk to Guantanamo Bay.

She spent 30 December-2 January 1943 at Trinidad with the Savannah and Kearny.


The three ships then moved on to Recife, Brazil, where the Savannah joined TF 23, hunting for blockade runners in the South Atlantic. The first few months of 1943 were spent on patrol and escort duties in the Caribbean, and south to Recife in Brazil.

In May 1943 she carried out the first of five convoy escort missions from the US East Coast to Casablanca.

On 30 November-1 December she carried out anti-submarine drills with the Glennon and the submarine Barracuda (SS-163). On 2-3 December she joined a force of six destroyers that carried out gunnery exercises while moving from Long Island to the New York Navy Yard.


On 11 February 1944 she reached the Mediterranean, where she spent the next six months supporting the fighting in Italy. She was used to escort convoys between North Africa and Italy, and supported the fighting at Anzio.

On 29 March the Kearny, Ericsson and three sub-chasers began an attack on U-223. The submarine survived the American attack, but was sunk on the following day by British warships.

On 23, 24 and 26 May the Kearny, Brooklyn (CL-40) and Ericsson (DD-440) bombarded enemy positions near Ardea, Italy (just to the south of Rome).

On 13 August 1944, Ericsson sortied from Malta to take part in the invasion of the South of France. She was part of a task group mainly made up of British ships, with one French ship and Ericsson's destroyer division. She supported the invasion forces from 15-17 August. She then escorted HMS Ramillies to Corsica. On her return she joined a US Task Group and carried out fire support missions along the French coast. On 27 August she captured fifty German U-boat crew who were attempting to escape in a trawler after their U-boat ran aground and had to be scuttled.

On 30 August-1 September the Ericsson, Kearny, HMS Lookout and HMS Eggesford escorted Convoy SRF 7 from the South of France to Naples.

On 7-9 September the Ericsson, Kearny and Livermore escorted Convoy SF 9 from Naples to the Gulf of St. Tropez.

On 17-19 September the Ericsson, Kearny and Livermore escorted Convoy SF 12 from Naples to Toulon.

Ericsson remained in the Mediterranean until 11 November on patrol and escort assignments. She then escorted a convoy from Oran to the Azores.  

From the Azores she returned to Gibraltar, where she met up with the Kearny and Brooklyn. The three then departed for New York, arriving on 30 November. The Ericsson then underwent an overhaul.


After her overhaul she underwent a spell of overhaul training. In April she was used to escort a convoy from the US East Coast to Oran.

On 5 May U-853, either ignoring or not receiving the order to cease hostilities, sank the collier Black Point near the entrance to Narraganseet Bay, Rhode Island, killing twelve. The Ericsson was passing through the Cape Cod Canal on her way back to Boston from Oran at the time, and her commander took control of the hunter killer group formed to find the U-boat. The Atherton (DE-169), Amick (DE-168) and Moberly (PF-63) were first on the scene, but eventually eleven US Navy and Coast Guard ships would take part in the hunt. The Atherton found the U-boat on sonar and dropped nine depth charges and carried out two hedgehog attacks. After a gap of three hours sonar contact was regained and more depth charges dropped. On the following day more than 100 depth charges were dropped, and by noon the debris on the surface included the captain’s hat and chart table. Soon afterwards a diver from the submarine rescue ship Penguin found the wreck of the U-boat, and reported that the pressure hull and interior were both split open.

The Ericsson spent 6 May-18 June at Boston preparing to move to the Pacific. She trained in the Caribbean and then at Pearl Harbor, but the war ended before she reached the combat zone. In September she escorted a convoy of transport ships to Saipan, arriving on 13 September. She then visited Okinawa, Japan, the Philippines and Japan again. She left Sasebo on 14 October 1945, with a cargo of returning servicemen, heading to San Diego. She then moved on to Charleston, arriving on 5 December
 1945. She was decommissioned on 15 March 1946 and entered the reserve.

The Ericsson was struck off on 1 June 1970 and sunk as a target on 17 November 1970.

Ericsson received three battle stars for World War II service, for the Algeria-Morocco Landings, Anzio and the South of France. Anyone who served on her between 11 September-14 October or 26 October-28 November 1941 qualified for the American Defense Service Medal. Anyone who served on her between 19-27 September 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

Armour - belt


 - deck



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


13 March 1941

Sunk as target

17 November 1970

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 (6 December 2023), USS Ericsson (DD-440) ,

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