USS Grayson (DD-435)

USS Grayson (DD-435) was a Gleaves class destroyer that took part in the Doolittle raid, the invasion of Guadalcanal, the invasion of the Admiralty Islands, the landings at Tanahmerah Bay, Biak and Nosmfoor in the Dutch East Indies, supported the fast carrier raids during 1944 and took part in the invasion of Saipan

The Grayson was named after Gary Travers Grayson, who served as a surgeon in the US Navy and as President Woodrow Wilson’s personal physician and aide to President Wilson during the First World War.

Retouched picture of USS Grayson (DD-435) Retouched picture of USS Grayson (DD-435)

The Grayson 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 Grayson was originally to have been named the Livermore, while the Livermore (DD-429) was originally the Grayson. However on 23 December 1938, before either ship had been laid down, the names were swapped.

The Grayson was laid down on 17 July 1939 by the Charleston Navy Yard, S.C., launched on 7 August 1940 when she was sponsored by Mrs. Alice Gertrude Gordon Grayson Harrison, the widow of Rear Admiral Grayson and commissioned on 14 February 1941. Her shakedown cruiser took her along the New England coast and into Chesapeake Bay. She then joined Destroyer Division 22 of the Atlantic Fleet, and became involved in the Navy’s neutrality patrols.

From 12-13 July the Grayson, Anderson (DD-411) and Rowan (DD-405) escorted the Wasp from Bermuda to Norfolk.

From 30 July-10 August the Eberle was part of TG 2.5 (Yorktown, Brooklyn, Eberle, Grayson (DD-435) and Roe (DD-418) as the group took part in a 3,998 mile long neutrality patrol that started at Hampton Roads and ended at Bermuda. 

On 28 August she became the flagship of Destroyer Squadron 11, which was operating in the Carribbean from the US Navy base at Guantanamo Bay.

Two months later, on 26 October, the Grayson moved to the North Atlantic, to operate in the area between Newfoundland and Iceland.


From 6-9 Januuary 1942 the Meredith (DD-434) and Grayson escorted the cruisers Tuscaloosa and Wichita on a training cruise to the Denmark Strait.

Soon after this the Grayson was chosen to join the Hornet’s task force as it moved to the Pacific. The Grayson joined the Hornet’s task force just after it left Hampton Roads on 4 March at the start of a voyage that would end with the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo. On 2 April this fleet left San Diego, joined with Admiral Halsey (Enterprise) at sea on 13 April. The Grayson then escorted the Hornet to the launch point, some 650 miles away from Tokyo on 18 April. The task force returned to Pearl Harbor on 25 April, and the Grayson then departed to California for a brief period of repairs.

The Greyson left Pearl Harbor on 15 July as part of the screen for the Enterprise and Hornet, heading for Guadancanal. She protected the carriers during the initial landings on 7 August. The Grayson remained in the waters around Guadalcanal for the next eight months, patrolling in the ‘Slot’, acting as a radar picket ship, on rescue duty and escorting reinforcements to the island.

The Grayson took part in the battle of the Eastern Solomon Islands (24-25 August 1942), which saw the Americans prevent the Japanese land reinforcements on Guadalcanal. The Grayson was part of the screen of the Enterprise when she came under heavy air attack on 24 August, shooting down two Japanese aircraft. However the Enterprise suffered bomb damage that took her out of action until October. The Grayson also suffered some damage, from a near miss and strafing. When the Enterprise was detached from the fleet to return to Pearl Harbor for repairs, the Grayson moved to Task Force 11 (Saratoga). On 25 August she carried out five attacks on a Japanese submarine that had dived after being seen on the surface, dropping all 46 of her depth charges. At the time it was believed that she had sunk her target, but no Japanese submarines were lost on that day.

Her commanding officer during this battle, Frederick Jackson Bell, was awarded the Navy Cross for this action, which was named as the Battle of Ontong Java in the citation.

On 18 October the Grayson and Gwin rescued 88 survivors from the Meredith (DD-434) and tug Vireo, who had been on rafts in the water since the Meredith had been sunk by air attack on 15 October during a desperate attempt to get fuel to Guadalcanal. The Meredith picked up 75 of the survivors. The Vireo had survived and was towed back to Espiritu Santo on 23 October.


Bell was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat V for commanding the Grayson during an attack by Japanese aircraft on a convoy carrying troops and supplies to Guadalcanal on 17 February 1943. The Grayson engaged a group of attacking torpedo bombers, claiming five of them.

The Grayson was out of action for half of 1943. She returned to Pearl Harbor for an overhaul on 15 April 1943, but then had to continue on to the United States for repairs. She didn’t return to the warzone until 24 September, when she arrived at New Caledonia.

From 30 September to 3 October the Grayson took part in a series of operations carried out to sink Japanese barges attempting to evacute the garrison of Kolombangara. On the night of 30 September she was one of three destroyers (Radford, Saufley and Grayson) that attacked a force of  twelve barges, probably sinking three. On the night of 1 October she was part of a much larger force of eight destroyers covered by a cruiser force. At least 35 barges were found and 20 believed to be sunk. The Grayson claimed four certains and two probable sinkings.

On 16 December, after three months of operations, the Grayson departed for the Puget Sound Navy Yard and an overhaul.


The Grayson returned to the Pacific in February 1944, reaching Majuro Attol in the Marshall Islands on 10 February. She spent most of the next six months on patrol duties in the Solomons, Carolines and Marshalls.

She broke this routine several times. On 30 March she supported the initial assault landings on Pitylu Island in the Admiralty Islands, and was photographed in Seeadler Harbour at Manus in the Admiralty Islands on 1 April 1944.

She then moved to join the fighting in Dutch New Guinea. From 22-24 April she served as a fighter-director ship during the landings at Tanahmerah Bay, part of the wider attack on Hollandia. On 27 May she bombarded Biak Island and on 2 July she bombarded Noemfoor.

She then joined Task Group 38, as part of the screen for the fast carriers. On 1 September she supported them during carrier attacks on the Palau Islands. On 2 October she departed from Seeadler Harbour to support the cariers during a series of strikes on Okinawa and the Philippines. On 15 October she picked up 194 men from the light cruiser USS Houston, which had been torpedoed on the previous day. The Houston was towed safely to Ulithi, but the damage meant she couldn’t easily support a large crew, so all but the Captain and damage control parties were removed from her.

After escorting the Houston to Ulithi, the Grayson departed for Saipan, arriving on 3 November. At Saipain she carried out radar picket and lifeguard duties.


In the summer of 1945 the Grayson returned to the US, reaching Seattle on 9 June 1945. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 1 September, the day the Japanese surrender was signed in Tokyo Bay. She didn’t get any further west, and instead returned to the US, reaching Charleston on 16 October. On 27 October she was opened to the public and over 5,000 visitors came onboard.

The Grayson was decommissioned on 4 February 1947 and placed into the reserve. She was stuck off in 1972 and sold for scrap on 12 June 1974.

Anyone who served on her between 12 September and 7 December 1941 qualified for the American Defense Service Medal

Grayson received 13 battle stars for World War II service (although I can only find nine in the official US Navy list - Guadalcanal Landings, Battle of the Eastern Solomons, Consolidation of the Solomon Islands, Treasury-Bougainville Operations, Bismarck Archipelago (Admiralty Island Landings), Hollandia, Western New Guinea (Toem-Wakde-Sarmi, Biak, Noemfoor, Cape Sansapor, Morotai), Western Caroline Islands (Palau Islands), Leyte (Surigao Strait and supporting operations)

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

17 July 1939


7 August 1940


14 February 1941

Sold for Scrap

12 June 1974

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 November 2023), USS Grayson (DD-435),

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