USS Kearny (DD-432)

USS Kearny (DD-432) was a Gleaves class destroyer most famous as the first US warship to be torpedoed by a U-boat during the Second World War, but that survived to take part in the invasion of North Africa, Anzio and the invasion of the South of France.

The Kearny (DD-432) was launched on 9 March 1940 by the Federal Ship Building & Dry Dock Co., Kearny, N. J., sponsored by Miss Mary Kearny and commissioned on 13 September 1940.

The Keanry was named after Lawrence Kearny, who served in the US Navy, fighting against Greek pirates, slave traders in the West Indies and in the 1840s opened negotiations with China.

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


After her shakedown and sea trials the Kearny left New York on 19 February 1941 to join the Neutrality Patrol at St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. Her first role was to patrol off Fort de France, Martinique, part of an effort to make sure that the Vichy warships trapped there didn’t attempt to return to France. This lasted until 9 March, and was followed by a spell operating around Peuto Rico, before she moved to Norfolk to operation in that area.

Damage to USS Kearny (DD-432) seen at Iceland Damage to USS Kearny (DD-432) seen at Iceland

On 8 April the Livermore, Ranger (CV-4), Wichita (CA-45) and Kearny (DD-432) arrived at the new US naval base at Bermuda, which had officially opened on the previous day.

On 26 April the Wasp, Quincy, Kearny and Livermore left Hampton Roads to carry out a neutrality patrol. This lasted until 12 May and saw them steam 5,292 miles.

On 20 May 1941 the Kearny, Livermore (DD-429) and Quincy (CA-39) left Bermuda to escort the new carrier Wasp on a neutrality patrol. These lasted until 3 June when they returned to Bermuda.

On 25 August the Kearny put to sea from Norfolk as part of the escort of the Wasp as she carried out flight operations. This cruise ended at Trinidad on 2 September, but the Kearny may have been detached earlier, as she is also recorded as being part of TG 2.7, the first anti-submarine patrol using an escort carrier. This left Bermuda on 28 August and was made up of the Long Island (AVG-1), Livermore and Kearny. It returned to Bermuda on 9 September.

From September onwards she was used on convoy escort duties in the North Atlantic, where the US Navy was increasingly involved, escorting convoys as far as Iceland and the mid-ocean meeting point, where the British would take over.

The Kearny is most famous for being the first US destroyer to be torpedoed by a U-boat during the Second World War. On 15 October she was at sea with Destroyer Squadron 13 escorting Convoy ON 24 when Convoy SC 48 was attacked by a wolfpack. The US destroyers were detached from ON 24 and sent to support the beleagured escorts of SC 48, arriving on the afternoon of 16 October. On the night of 16-17 October the Kearny dropped a barrage of depth charges in an attempt to keep the U-boats away, but without much success.

Early on 17 October the Kearny stopped to avoid hitting a corvette. U-568 took the opportunity to torpedo her, hitting on the starboard side. 11 men were killed and 22 wounded in the attack, and the forwarf fire room was flooded. However the aft fire room remained in use and she was able to move out of the danger area. The forward fire room was soon back in use and the Kearny was able to head towards Iceland at 10 knots, arriving on 19 October.

There were no drydock facilities at Iceland at the time, so a cofferdam had to be built around the damaged area. Once it was pumped out the cofferdam was kept in place by the waterpressure of the water outside. This allowed temporary repairs to be carried out, and on 25 December 1941 the Kearny departed for Boston. She arrived six days later for permanent repairs. 


From 5 April to 28 September 1942 the Kearny was mainly used on convoy escort duty, working on the routes across the Atlantic to Britain and south to the Panama Canal and the oil fields of Texas.

Crew on deck of USS Kearny (DD-432), Reykjavik Crew on deck of USS Kearny (DD-432), Reykjavik

On 7 April she left New York with the escort for convoys AT 17 (for Iceland) and NA 7 (a troop convoy heading to Scotland). The convoys reached Halifax on 9 April then continued into the Atlantic. On 15 April the convoys split, and the Livermore and Kearny remained with NA 7 all the way to Britain, reaching Greenock on 18 April.

On 19 April Livermore and Kearny left Greenock to escort the destroyer tender Melville (AD-2) to Iceland, arriving on 22 April.

On 26 April Kearny and Livermore met the repair ship Vulcan (AR-5) and provision storeship Tarazed (AF-13) at sea, to escort them to Boston, arriving on 4 May.

From 21-24 May the Kearny and Livermore escorted the seaplane tender Pocomoke (AV-9), US Army Transport Dorchester and the Tarazed from Boston to Argentia. On 25 May the two destroyers and the Dorchester departed for Greenland. On 28 May the Livermore was detached, leaving the Kearny to complete the escort mission alone.

On 2 June the Benson, Livermore (DD-429), Mayo (DD-422), Gleaves (DD-423), Niblack (DD-424) and Kearny (DD-432) departed from Halifax as part of the escort for Convoy AT 16, heading across the Atlantic.  On 10 June the Livermore and Kearny were detached from the convoy and sent to Moville, Northern Ireland, arriving later on the same day.

On 16 June the New York (BB-34), Livermore, Kearny, Gleaves, Niblack, Benson and Mayo  departed from Greenock as part of the escort for convoy CT 1, arriving at Boston on 26 June. 

On 16 July she was part of the escort of Convoy AS-4 when SS Fairport was sunk. The Kearny carried out depth charge attacks, and rescued the survivors from the Fairport.

On 6 August the Arkansas, Brooklyn (CL-40), Roe (DD-418), Ericsson, 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 10 August the Kearny and Livermore escorted the troop transport H.F. Alexander to Boston, arriving on 11 May.

Crew eating in mess, USS Kearny (DD-432) Crew eating in mess, USS Kearny (DD-432)

On 12 August the Kearny, Livermore and Rowan left Narragansett Bay to escort the submarine tender Albermarle to Norfolk.

On 16 August the Livermore, Kearny and Rowan left Delaware Bay to escort the South Dakota to the Panama Canal Zone, arriving at Cristobal on 20 August. The Livermore and Kearny were then released and returned to Norfolk on 24 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.

The Kearny was then allocated to the forces being gathered to support Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa.

On 24 October she set sail with the invasion force, forming part of the anti-submarine screen for Cruiser Division 8, the advance force for the transports heading for French Morocco. She was allocated to the Northern Attack Group (TG 34,8), made up of the Texas, Savannah, six destroyers and two minesweepers. Their task was to escort ten troop and supply ships.

On 8 November she was used to screen the Texas and Savannah during their fire support missions. She also shot down one French aircraft.

On 10 November the Eberle and Livermore bombarded shore emplacements.

The Kearny left North Africa to escort a convoy back to New York, arriving on 3 December 1942.


For most of 1943 the Kearny returned to convoy escort duty, operating on the routes south to Port of Spain and Recife in Brazil and east to Casablanca. Her last convoy ended on 15 November.

On 25 November she joined a hunter killer group built around the escort carrier USS Core.


On 1 January 1944 she was operating with the Core’s anti-submarine aircraft in an attack on a U-boat. The Kearny carried out a depth charge attack that produced a large oil slick, but no U-boat was recorded as being destroyed. She was back at New York on 18 January.

In February the Kearny joined the 8th Fleet, based in French Algeria. On 10 March she joined the cruiser Brooklyn and the two ships moved up to Anzio to support the fighting in the beachhead. They carried out a long series of daily fire support missions which gained them the nickname ‘Anzio Express’ and the thanks of General Mark Clark for their accuracy.

Amidships section, USS Kearny (DD-432) Amidships section, USS Kearny (DD-432)

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).

At the start of June the Kearny was detached from this group and returned to Anzio for one last series of fire support missions. After this the Allies finally broke through the German lines further south, met up with the Anzio beachhead and captured Rome.

The Kearny returned to escort duty in the Mediterranean.

Kearnywas detached from the group the beginning of June and steamed to Anzio alone to give Allied troops their last naval fire support prior to their breakthrough and capture of Rome. The veteran destroyer saw more convoy duty before sailing for the invasion of Southern France.

On 3 July the Kearny and Madison left Mers-el-Kebir to escort the Samarta to Naples.

On 13 August 1944 the Kearny left Malta as part of TF 84, heading towards the South of France to take part in Operation Dragoon. During the landings on 15 August she was the inner fire support ship on Red Beach in Cavalaire Bay, and carried out a pre-landing bombardment and counter battery fire. She was later used to screen the larger cruisers and battleships of the bombardment force, and to lay smoke screens off Toulon.

On 21 August she took part in the naval bombardment of the Giens Peninsula, supporting troops fighting onland.

On 24-25 August the Quincy, Kearny and Plunkett attacked a pair of German batteries near the Baie de Marseilles that were stopping minesweepers from operating. Some damage was done to these targets. On 25 August the Plunkett was relieved by the McLanahan (DD-615).

After this she swapped back to escort duties and spent the next two months escorting convoys moving between Naples and the south of France.

On 30 August the Livermore, Kearny, Ericsson, HMS Lookout and HMS Eggesfort joined Convoy SRF 7 and escorted it to Naples, arriving on 1 September.

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

From 16-19 September the same three destroyers escorted Convoy SF 12 from Naples to Toulon harbour.

From late October onwards she was used on the trans-Atlantic convoy route.

In late November the Kearny and Ericsson escorted the Brooklyn west from the Mediterranean to New York, for a refit that began on 1 December.


After the end of the war in Europe the Kearny was allocated to the Pacific, but she didn’t pass through the Panama Canal until 6 August and reached Pearl Harbor after the end of the war. She was used to escort a convoy carrying occupation troops to Japan via Saipan and reached Wakayama, Japan, on 27 September. Over the next month she visited the Philippines and Okinawa and returned to Japan later in October. On 29 October she left Wakayama to return to the US, reaching Charleston on 5 December 1945.

The Kearny was decommissioned at Charleston on 7 March 1946 and entered the reserve. She remained in the reserve until she was struck off on 1 June 1971, then sold for scrap on 6 October 1972.

Kearny received three battle stars for service in World War II, for the Algerian and Morrocan landings, Anzio and the South of France. Anyone who served on her between 13 September 1941 and 7 December 1941 qualified for the American Defense 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



9 March 1940


13 September 1940


7 March 1946

Struck off

1 June 1971

Sold for scrap

6 October 1972

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 (12 October 2023), USS Kearny (DD-432) ,

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