USS Farragut (DD-348)

USS Farragut (DD-348) was the name ship of the Farragut class destroyers, and fought in the Pacific, taking part in the battle of the Coral Sea, the Guadalcanal campaign, the Aleutian campaign, the invasion of the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, the landings at Hollandia, the Mariannas and the battle of the Philippine Sea, the Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

The Farragut was named after the Civil War naval hero David Farragut.

The Farragut was laid down on 20 September 1932 by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp of Quincy, Mass. She was briefly renamed as the Smith on 15 July 1933, but the change was cancelled on 12 August 1933. She was launched on 15 March 1934 when she was sponsored by Mrs Betsey C. Roosevelt, one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s daughters in law, and commissioned on 18 June 1934.

The Farragut class destroyers were the first new American destroyers since the flush deck Clemson class ships of the First World War, so much of the Farragut’s early career was spent exploring the capabilities of the new and much improved ships. She didn’t complete her acceptance trials until 14 October 1934.

In January 1935 the Farragut joined the fleet in the Caribbean. On 15-16 January she served as a plane guard for aircraft carriers, then moved to Guantanamo Bay. A period of gunnery and anti-aircraft practice followed, before she returned to Norfolk on 18 February. The new destroyer visited the US Naval Academy at Annapolis on 16-18 March 1935. She then moved south and embarked President Franklin D. Roosevelt at Jacksonville, Florida, on 26 March, to transport him to William Astor’s yacht. She then escorted the yacht while the President cruised around the Bahamas, before returning the President to Jacksonville on 8 April.

The Farragut was then assigned to the Pacific Fleet, reaching her new base at San Diego on 19 April 1935. She spent the next few years on a mix of fleet maneuvers, trips to Hawaii and summer training cruises in Alaskan waters. She took part in Fleet Problem XVI (29 April-30 May 1935), which took place in the area between the US West Coast, Hawaii and the Aleutian Islands, and included a task force of four aircraft carriers. July was spent on a cruise in Alaskan waters, before she returned to San Diego on 9 August. In the summer of 1935 the Farragut was the flagship of Destroyer Squadron 20, made up of Destroyer Division 60 and Destroyer Division 61, which contained all of the Farragut class ships and USS Mahan (DD-364).

The Farragut took part in Fleet Problem XVII (20 April-6 June 1936), which was again carried out in the Pacific, but this time saw two aircraft carriers on each side. The Farragut’s role in the problem took her to southern California and Panama. This was followed by a trip to Paru in May, before she returned to San Diego on 16 June. In July she took part in a cruiser to Alaska. In September 1936 the Farragut led Destroyer Squadron Twenty in a series of maneuvers that were staged for Movietone News in the waters off San Diego. During the exercises the ships operated with aircraft from VP-7 and VP-9, producing some impressive looking footage.  This was followed by a period of training with the Scouting Force, then an overhaul that lasted from 18 October-22 December.

The first part of 1937 was spent on upkeep alongside the destroyer tender Dobbin (AD-3), before the Farragut joined Destroyer Division 2, Destroyer Squadron 1 on 1 April. She then took part in Fleet Problem XVIII, a simulated attack on the Hawaiian Islands. The Farragut sailed for Hawaii on 16 April, took part in the problem on 5-8 May and returned to San Diego on 28 May. She then took part in an overhaul that lasted until 7 September.

The Farragut took part in Fleet Problem XIX of March-April 1938, which took place in poor weather in the Northern Pacific. After the problem was over the Farragut underwent a brief period of upkeep at Pearl Harbor (8-14 April) and returned to San Diego on 28 April. She spent the first half of July in Alaskan waters and the second half completing upkeep at Seattle. She returned to San Diego on 12 April, then took part in a Fleet Review, before going to Pearl Harbor for an overhaul (2 October-6 December).

1939-1940

The Farragut took part in Fleet Problem XX (20-27 February 1939), in the Caribbean and off the coast of South America. This was the first time the Enterprise (CV-6) and Yorktown (CV-50) took part in a fleet problem, and included the use of aircraft and carriers to escort a convoy, antisubmarine exercises and a variety of evasive tactics. After the problem the Farragut joined the fleet at Culebra Bay, P.R., taking part in a Presidential review on 28 February. She returned to San Diago on 12 April, and spent the summer in various training exercises along the US west coast. In October she changed her base from San Diego to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 12 October 1939.

The Farragut took part in Fleet Problem XXI, which included the seizure of advanced bases in order to bring around a decisive naval battle, ironically the tactic that the Japanese Navy relied on during the Second World War with disasterous results. The Farragut underwent an overhaul at Pearl Harbor (27 May-30 June), followed by a period of upkeep at San Diego (9-13 July) and an overhaul at Mare Island (14 July-22 September). She returned to Hawaii in October 1940.

1941

From 7-13 February 1941 the Farragut and Aylwin (DD-355) served as the anti-submarine screen for the carrier Enterprise as she sailed from Hawaii to the US West Coast. The Enterprise picked up aircraft to ferry back to Hawaii, and the flotilla departed for Pearl Harbor on 15 February, arriving on 21 February.

On 19 March the Farragut collided with the Aylwin during night exercises off Hawaii. The Farragut rammed the Aylwin on her port side, damaging the forward part of the ship and starting a serious fire. It took several hours and the help of firefighting parties from four other ships to put out the fires. One man died on the Aylwin¸ and she was out of action for some time.

On 3 July 1941 the Farragut sailed as part of the Saratoga’s Task Force 13 to carry out a simulated bombardment of Fort Rosecrans, California. After a brief visit to San Diego, she was back at Pearl Harbor on 31 July. She then operated with Task Force 1, from 19 September-28 November before returning to Pearl Harbor.

The Farragut was mored at buoy X-14 in the East Loch of Pearl Harbor (just to the north of Ford Island) when the Japanese attacked on 7 December. She was on the starboard side of the Aylwin, and in a next with the Dale and Monaghan (DD-354). At just after 6.30, some time before the Japanese attack began the Ward (DD-139) spotted midget submarine No.20 attempting to get into the harbour by following the general stores issue ship Antares (AKS-3) into the entrance channel. The Ward opened fire on the submarine, and sank her. The wreck was discovered in 2002. The Monaghan was ordered to proceed to sea to join the Ward at 0751, so the ships in her nest had some warning that something was afoot before the first Japanese aircraft appeared.

The Farragut sounded general quarters at 0758, at the very start of the air attack. At the time her captain, Lt. Commander Hunter, was ashore, so her engineering officer, Lt. Edwin K. Jones, took command. She opened fire with her main guns at 0812, but the Japanese didn’t come close enough for her main AA guns to open fire. Monaghan left the destroyer nest at 0828, the Dale at 0840 and the Farragut at 0852. She then sailed down the channel in an attempt to leave the enclosed waters of the harbour. At about 0921, while she was passing Hickahm Field, a Japanese aircraft (probably a Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero) strafed her, but didn’t wound anyone. At 0927 the Farragut exited the channel, and ceased fire as the last Japanese aircraft withdrew. Her own combat report for the day noted that Daniel Bushe, CMC(AA), shot down a Japanese dive bomber with .50in machine gun fire. The author has been unable to trace a convincing meaing for CMC in 1941 – the only options appearing to be Coastal Mine Layer, Combined Meteorolgical Committee or Commandant of the Marine Corps. This could be a typo for CMG – Chief marine Gunner – which would make more sense.
 
On the morning after the attack the Farragut joined the destroyer screen for the carrier Enterprise, but she returned to Pearl Harbor at 1833. She spent the rest of the year patrolling for submarines in the approaches to Pearl Harbor.

On 10 December she helped the Aylwin hunted a suspected submarine that the Aylwin had earlier dropped five depth charges on, but without success. On 27 December the Farragut droped depth charges on another possible contact, but without success.

1942

For the first three months of 1942 the Farragut operated in Hawaiian waters and on convoy escort duties from Hawaii to San Francisco.

On 15 April the Farragut departed from Pearl Harbor as part of Task Force 11 (Rear Admiral Aubrey W. Fitch), built around the Lexington. This was part of a series of moves designed to stop a general Japanese advance in the Solomon Islands and on New Guinea. This was part of Operation MO, which included the capture of Port Moresby, on the south-eastern coast of New Guinea facing Australia. The task force crossed the equator on 20  April, and joined up with Admiral Frank Fletcher’s Task Force 17 (Yorktown) on 1 May. The Farragut was assigned to Task Group 17.2 (the Attack Group), but was then  moved to the Support Group (TG 17.3), whjich contained the Australian cruisers HMAS Australia (D.84) and HMAS Hobart (63), USS Chicago (CA-29) and the destroyers Perkins (DD-377) and Walke (DD-416). This was a rare example of American ships coming under foreign command, as the group was commanded by Rear Admiral John G. Crace, RN, with his flagship on the Australia.

This task group took part in the battle of the Coral Sea, the first naval battle in which the two fleets never came within visual range. Instead it was entirely conducted using aircraft. The Support Group was sent to try and intercept part of the Japanese fleet, Rear Admiral Abe Koso’s Port Moresby Invasion Forc, in the Jomard Passage, which passed between some of the islands to the east of New Guinea, connecting the Solomon Sea to the north with the Coral Sea to the south. However the task group was spotted by a Japanese seaplane at 1240 on 7 May, and was reported as containing one battleship, two heavy cruisers and three destroyers. The Japanese diverted a force of 12 Mitsubishi G4M1s and 11 Zeros, and a second force of twenty Mitsubishi G3M3s, both from Rabaul, that were already in the air, to attack this tempting target. The Farragut opened fire on one group of fighters at around 1430 but without any success. The bombers attacked just after 1500 and this time the Farragut claimd to have shot one down with her forward 5in gun. One torpedo was dropped off the port bow of the Farragut, but she was able to turn away, and it passed 50 yards to her starboard. During this attack the Farragut was strafed. and one gunner was lightly wounded by a Japanese bullet. She was also hit by a 1.1in shell from one of the other ships in the group, which caused a minor fire by igniting paint covered clothes. At 1526, almost an hour later, a formaton of G3Ms attacked the Australia and Chicago. The Farragut opened fire on them without success. She was then attacked by three USAAF B-17E Flying Fortresses from the 435th Bombardment Squadron, 19th Bombardment Group, based at Townsville, Australia, which had mistaken the group for the Japanese invasion fleet. Five bombs were dropped, but the Farragut was able to avoid them. Before the war the USAAC had expected great things from the use of heavy bombers in the anti-shipping role, but they never really lived up to those expectations. This ended the active part of the battle for the Farragut’s group. They reached the Jomard Passage, but didn’t encounter any Japanese ships.

After the battle the Farragut moved to Cid Harbor, Queensland (11 May 1942). She was then used to escort convoys between Brisbane, New Calidonia, Fihi, Tonga and Auckland, New Zealand. This duty lasted until late June, and she returned to Pearl Harbor on 29 June.

The Farragut now joined the fleet being gathered to support the invasion of Guadalcanal and nearby islands, in order to stop the Japanese from building an airfield on Guadalcanal (Operation Watchtower). She left Pearl Harbor with the Saratoga on 7 July, and joined the Expeditionary Force, Task Force 61, under Admiral Fletcher.  The Farragut served as the plane guard and part of the defensive screen for the Saratoga during the landing on Guadalcanal on 7 August. After the carriers withdrew she patrolled in the eastern Solomons. She rejoined TF 61 for the Battle of the Eastern Solomons (24-25 August), which saw the Enterprise badly damaged by Japanese bombs.

On 31 August the Farragut was with the fleet when the North Carolina (BB-55) and Saratoga reported a radar contact. The Farragut was sent to investigate, but found nothing. On the following day the Japanese submarine I-26 torpeded the Saratoga, which was forced to return to base for repairs.

The Farragut remained in the waters off Guadalcanal, guarding transports and also escorted convoys from Australia to the New Hebrides and Fiji.

On 29 October 1942 she was part of a force that included the damaged cruiser Chester (CA-27) and the destroyer Lamson (DD-367), that left Espiritu Santo heading for Sydney where the Chester was to be repaired, arriving on 8 November.

1943

The Farragut returned to Pearl Harbor on 27 January 1943 then continued on to the US west coast for an overhaul.

She then moved north to take part in the campaign in the Aleutians. She reached Adak on 16 April and patrolled Alaskan waters until 11 May, when she was used to screen the transports for the 7th Division as it landed on Attu.

On 12 May the Farragut and the Edwards (DD-619)were part of the anti-submarine screen for the battleship USS Pennsylvania (DD-38) when the Japanese submarine I-31 attempted to attack her to the north-east of Holtz Bay. The Farragut and the Edwards carried out a ten hour long depth charge attack on the submarine, which was eventually forced to come to the surface. She was then badly damaged by gunfire from the Edwards, forced to submerge and was finished off by USS Frazier (DD-607) on the following day.

The Farragut was used on anti-submarine patrols. On 16 June the Farragut detected a possible submarine on radar near to Kiska. However despite a prolonged search she never made visual or sonar contact with any submarine, suggesting that this may not have been a valid target.

On 5 July she joined the blockade off Kiska, but the dreadful weather made this difficulty, and the Americans never realised that the Japanese were evacuating the island. On 22 July, just a few days before the evacuation was complete, the Farragut bombarded possible Japanese anti-aircraft positions on Kiska, firing 225 rounds of 5in shells.

On 26 July 1943 the Farragut was part of the screen for the battleships Idaho (BB-42) and Mississippi (BB-41) during the ‘battle of the Pips’, a long clash with phantom radar echoes. The Farragut detected her first target at 0055 and remained at general quarters until 0710, without ever actually detecting a genuine target. At the time there were no Japanese ships in the area.

On 28 July she did find and sink an empty Japanese landing craft off the south coast of Kiska. She was away from the fleet refuelling when the Japanese completed the evacuation, but returned in time to take part in the bombardment of Gertrude Cove on 30 July, two days after the Japanese had gone. In the poor weather the Americans still believed the Japanese were on the island, and the Farragut took part in several more bombardments before the eventual unopposed landings on 15 August. She remained off Kiska until 4 September then departed for San Francisco on 4 September.

The Farragut left San Diego on 19 October and returned to Hawaii for training, before heading west to rejoin the fleet.

From 13 November-8 December she took part in Operation Galvanic, the invasion of the Gilbert Islands (Makin and Tarawa). She then returned to the US West Coast for more repairs.

1944

On 13 January 1944 the Farragut left San Diego to take part in Operation Flintlock, the invasion of the Marshall Islands. She was used to screen the carriers and carry out anti-submarine patrols during the invasions of Kwajalein and Eniwetok.

On 30 March-1 April she supported the carriers during the Task Force 58’s raid on Japanese targets at Palau, Ulithi, Woleai and Yap in the Western Carolines.

The Farragut then moved to New Guinea, where in late April she supported the US Army landings at Aitape and Tanahmerah Bay (Operation Persecution) and Humboldt Bay on Hollandia (Operation Reckless).

On the way back to their main battlefield the fleet carried out a bombardment of Truk in the Carolines.

The Farragut took part in the invasion of the Mariana Islands. She arrived off Saipan on 11 June with the invasion force, guarded the carriers during the landings on 15 June and took part in a number of bombardments.

The Japanese responded with a massive aerial attack on the US fleet, Operation A-Go. This was to use land based aircraft as well as carrier aircraft from the main fleet, which were them to land and refuel on Guam. Howeer the resulting battle of the Philippine Sea was a crushing Japanese defeat, which saw them lose hundreds of aircraft without inflicting any significant damage on the US fleet. The Farragut served as a radar picket during the battle., then departed to replenish at Eniwetok from 28 June-14 July.

The Farragut returned to support the invasion of Guam, providing covering fire for the underwater demolition teams working off Agat (17-18 July).

On the morning of 18 July the Farragut, Schroeder (DD-501) and Schroeder (DD-501) bombarded Agat. Later in the day she helped provide covering fire for the tug Apache (AFT-67) as she moved in under enemy fire to rescue LCI(G)-348, which had run aground earlier in the day. The landing craft was successfully pulled afloat by 17.33.

On 21 July she acted as part of the seaward screen of the Fire Support Group during the landings on Guam. On 25 July she took part in the bombardment of Rota. On 30 July she departed for the US and another overhaul, this time at the Puget Sound Navy Yard.

The Farragut reached her new base at Ulithi on 21 November 1944. She was then used to screen a group of oilers supporting TG 38.2 and TG 38.3 during a raid on Japanese shipping off Luzon.

1945

In January 1943 the Farragut was part of Task Force 38 during the landings at Lingayen Gulf on Luzon. She shielded the fleet as the carrier aircraft bombed Formosa (3 January), airfields on Luzon (6 January) and the Pescadores and Ryukyu Islands (9 January). The fleet then moved into the South China Sea, with the Farragut and the replenishment group moving through the Balintang Channel. The Farragut screened this group as the carriers attacked Indochina (12 January), Hong Kong, Hainan and Formosa (15 January) and Hong Kong again (16 January).

The fleet then returned through the Balintang Channel on 20 January and attacked Taiwan, the Pescadores and Okinawa,and then raided the Ryukyus again.

In February-March the Farragut was part of Task Force 58 during Operation Detachment, the invasion of Iwo Jima.

She was also part of Task Force 58 during the invasion of Okinawa.

From 25-28 April the Farragut screened the carriers during air attacks on Japanese held islands in the Ryukyu group.

From 11 May-6 August she was then used to escort convoys between Ulithi and Okinawa, with a break in the last two weeks of May to carry out radar picker duties off Okinawa, where the fleet was under heavy kamikaze attack.

The Farragut departed from Saipan heading back to the US on 21 August. On 20 September she joined DesRon 8 in the Caribbean, but five days later she reached New York, where she was decommissioned on 23 October. She was struck off on 28 January 1947 and sole for scrap on 14 August 1947.

Farragut received 14 battle stars for her World War II service.

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)

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

20 September 1932

Launched

15 March 1934

Commissioned

18 June 1934

Decommissioned

23 October 1945

Sold for scrap

14 August 1947

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 (4 August 2021), USS Farragut (DD-348) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Farragut_DD348.html

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