USS Jarvis (DD-393)

USS Jarvis (DD-393) was a Bagley class destroyer that was present when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, took part in the invasion of Guadalcanal and was sunk by Japanese aircraft on 9 August 1942.

The Jarvis was named after James C. Jarvis, who was killed aged only 13 during the battle between USS Constellation and the French frigate La Vengeance in 1800.

USS Jarvis (DD-393) off San Diego, 1938 USS Jarvis (DD-393) off San Diego, 1938

The Jarvis  was laid down at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash on 21 August 1935, launched 6 May 1937 when she was sponsored by Mrs. Thomas T. Craven, the wife of Vice Admiral Craven and commissioned on 27 October 1937.

The Jarvis was based on the US west coast from January 1938 until 1 April 1940, when she left to take part in fleet exercises off Hawaii, arriving on 26 April. This became her new base and she remained in that area apart from a visit to San Francisco for an overhaul between 8 February and 17 April 1941. On 4 December she returned to Pearl Harbor after exercises off Maui Island.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor she was moored next to the Mugford, and was receiving light and water from the navy yard and steam from the Mugford. Two of her boilers had been opened for cleaning and her port reduction gear was also out of commission. She was quickly able to open fire with both her 5in guns and machine guns, and claimed four Japanese aircraft shot down. She was able to get underway at 1018 and suffered no casualties or significant damage. In the aftermath of the attack she patrolled the area outside the harbour.

On 16 December she left Pearl Harbor as part of the Saratoga (CV-3)’s Task Force 14, heading for Wake Island. However the island fell to the Japanese before it could be relieved and the task force returned to Pearl Habor on 29 December. She then resumed her anti-submarine patrols.


On 23 January the fleet oiler Neches (AO-5) was torpedoed by the Japanese. Six hours later the Jarvis, then operating with the Lexington (CV-2), rescued 182 of her survivors.

The Jarvis was awarded a battle star for sinking a submarine on 29 January 1942. Early American documents from 1947 record I-23 as having been sunk on that date by surface vessels, but that submarine was still active in early February. Another possible candidate is I-171, which was the target of depth charges from Jarvis and Long on 28 January, and at the time believed to have been sunk, although it actually survived into 1944.

USS Jarvis (DD-393) off Puget Sound Navy Yard 1937 USS Jarvis (DD-393) off Puget Sound Navy Yard 1937

On 5 February the Jarvis left Pearl Harbor to escort a convoy to Brisbane, returning on 27 March.

On 8 April she departed for San Francisco for an overhaul and alterations, returing on 18 May as part of the escort of a convoy of 13 ships.

On 23 May she departed for Sidney, arriving on 18 June. After her arrival she was used for convoy escort duties and anti-submarine patrols between Australia and the new US bases in New Caledonia.

On 14 July she left Sidney to join Task Force 62, the invasion force for Guadalancal, at Wellington. She sailed with this force on 22 July, and took part in rehearsals in the Fiji Islands on 28-30 July.

Early on 7 August the invasion force landed on Guadalcanal. She helped fight off the first Japanese air attacks, then on the night of 7-8 August patrolled to the south of Savo Island.

At noon on 8 August the Japanese attacked again. Although they suffered heavy losses, one aircraft did manage to torpedo the Jarvis (although it was probably attempting to attack the cruiser Vincennes (CA-44). The Jarvis was hit near the forward fireroom and was stopped dead in the water. The fires were soon under control, and the Dewey (DD-349) towed her into shallow waters off Lunga Point. Once the attack was over she crossed to Tulagi, where her wounded were removed and repairs began.

Despite the damage, the Jarvis was still seaworthy. She was ordered to head east to Efate, New Hebrides, leaving under cover of darkness, but these orders never arrived. Instead her commander, Lt. Commander W.W. Graham, had already decided to head directly for Sidney, heading around the western end of Guadalcanal then going south for Australia. She left Tulagi at midnight on 8-9 August and made her way between Savo Island and Cape Esperance on Guadalcanal. Unluckily for the Jarvis, the Japanese were also in the area at the time – Rear Admiral Mikawa was leading a cruiser force into the area and would soon inflict a costly defeat on the Americans at Savo Island. The Jarvis passed 3,000 yards to the north of the Japanese force and was spotted at about 0134. The Japanese identified her as an Achilles class cruiser, and fired torpedoes at her. She was also attacked by the destroyer Yunagi, but as the Japanese were heading in the opposite direction to the Jarvis they left her alone after that.

At 0325 the Jarvis met the Blue (DD-378), one of two picket ships posted north of Savo Island. The Jarvis refused any assistance and continued on her way. She was spotted later by a scout plane from the Saratoga when 40 miles off Guadalcanal, having almost made her escape. This was the last time she was seen by Allied eyes. However the Japanese still thought she was a damaged cruiser, and sent a force of 31 aircraft from Rabaul to find her. The Jarvis was attacked and split and sank at 1300 on 9 August with all hands.

Jarvis received three battle stars for World War II service, for Pearl Harbor, the Guadalcanal Landings and for sinking a submarine on 29 January 1942, although this is almost certainly in error.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

38kts design
36.8kt at 47,191shp at 1,969t on trial (Blue)


2-shaft General Electric turbines
4 boilers


6,500nm at 12kts design
6,940nm at 12kts at 2,200t wartime
4,360nm at 20kts at 2,200t wartime


341ft 3in


35ft 6.5in


Four 5in/38 guns
Sixteen 21in torpedo tubes in four quad mounts
Four .50in AA guns
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement


Laid down

21 August 1935


6 May 1937


27 October 1937


9 August 1942

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 (13 September 2022), USS Jarvis (DD-393) ,

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