USS Ludlow (DD-438)

USS Ludlow (DD-438) was a Gleaves class destroyer that served on convoy escort duty and took part in Operation Torch, the invasion of Sicily, the landings at Salerno, Anzio and in the South of France, before ending the war on her way to the Pacific theatre.

The Ludlow was named after Augustus C. Ludlow, who served in the US Navy during the War of 1812, dying during the battle between the Chesapeake and HMS Shannon in 1813.

USS Ludlow (DD-438) off Massachussets, 1945 USS Ludlow (DD-438) off Massachussets, 1945

The Ludlow (DD‑438) was laid down on 18 December 1939 by the Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, launched 11 November 1940 when she sponsored by Miss Frances Nicholson Chrystie, a descendant of Lieutenant Ludlow, and commissioned at Boston on 5 March 1941.

The Ludlow 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.

After her shakedown cruise the Ludlow left Boston to join the US forces operating between Newfoundland and Iceland. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the German declaration of war her duties took her as far as Londonderry, Liverpool, Greenoch in Scotland and Freetown, Africa.

On 15 December the Ingraham (DD-444) and Ludlow (DD-438) escorted Canadian Troop Convoy TC 16 (the Cuba, Letitia and Pasteur) from Halifax at the start of a voyage across the Atlantic. They were joined by a more powerful escort led by the Arkansas on 16 December and the convoy reached Hvalfjordur, Iceland, on 23 December, where a British escort took over. On 25 December the Arkansas and her escorts left Iceland to return to the US.


She was part of TG 34.9 during Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. This was was used to transport the 18,783 men commandeered by Major General Jonathan W. Anderson, who were to land at Fedala, fifteen miles to the north-east of Casablanca. Ludlow was allocated to the fire support part of the task group, along with the Augusta (CA-31), Brooklyn, Rowan (DD-405), Swanson (DD-443) and Wilkes (DD-603). She arrived off Cape Fedhala late on 7 November, and supporting the landings on the following day. The French put up rather more resistance than had been hoped for. The Ludlow soon found herself under attack by shore batteries, bombers and a naval force made up of a cruiser and two destroyers. She was hit forward by an 8in shell and other shells came close, probably from the shore batteries. However the Augusta and Brooklyn soon joined the battle and drove off the French ships.


After her involvement in the fighting in North Africa ended the Ludlow returned to New York for repairs. Early in 1943 she carried out training off Maine.

On 14 January 1943 she left the US on the first of three convoy escort runs to Casablanca. The third of these ended in June, and she moved on from Casablanca into the Mediterranean, to join the forces being gathered for the invasion of Sicily.

On the morning of 9 July the Ludlow, Buck (BB-420), Birmingham (CL-62) and Brooklyn (CL-40) formed TG 86.1, and escorted some of the landing craft towards the beaches on Sicily. Once the troops were ashore the Birmingham, Ludlow and Edison moved to the eastern fire support area, and bombarded German positions on Mount Desusino. She also attacked targets around Licata and Porta Empedocle. The invasion fleet came under repeated air attack, and the Ludlow claimed her first victory on 11 August.

The Ludlow took part in the invasion of Salerno on 9 Septemher, leading a section of landing ships through a gap in a known minefield. She then provided fire support for the troops onshore, who came under very heavy German attack.

Once the crisis was over at Salerno the Ludlow was used to escort convoys moving between Oran and Naples.


This duty ended on 11 January 1944 when she joined the forces allocated to Operation Shingle, the landings at Anzio. The Ludlow was part of TG 81.8, operating with the Brooklyn, HMS Penelope, and the Edison, Mayo and Trippe, and on 22 January she provided fire support for the troops as they landed. At first there was little resistance, but the Germans reacted quickly on land and in the air. Over the next week the Ludlow claimed two bombers, one fighter and three glide bombs.

On 8 February a 6in/ 170mm shell hit the torpedo director deck and pilothouse and ended up between Commander Liles Crieghtons’ legs, badly burning him and reaching within three feet of the hull. Luckily the shell failed to explode and Chief Gunner’s Mate James D. Johnson was able to get the shell off the ship. Even so the shell did enough damage to force the Ludlow to return to New York for repairs.

Once the repairs were over the Ludlow trained along the US East Coast, before returning to the Mediterranean on 20 April to carry out anti-submarine patrols.

In mid-May she was part of an anti-submarine group operating in the approaches to Oran (Benson (DD-421), Ludlow (DD-438), Niblack (DD-424) and Woolsey (DD-437). On 17 May the group responded to a sighting of torpedo tracks and found U-960. This was the start of a two day battle. On the night of 18-19 May the destroyers split into two groups of two. An aircraft then sighted the U-boat ten miles ahead of Niblack and Ludlow. They carried out 11 depth charge attacks over four hours, and forced the U-boat to surface just as the Benson, Woolsey and Madison (DD-425) arrived on the scene. The five destroyers all opened fire, and a Vickers Wellington joined in, dropping depth charges. The submarine was hit several times before submerging. Niblack then dropped more depth charges and the submarine was forced to surface. Her crew abandoned her just before she sank at 0715 on 19 May. Niblack and Ludlow were given credit for the sinking, but all five destroyers played a part in the battle.

On 11 August the Ludlow left Palermo to take part in the invasion of the South of France. She was part of Rear Admiral Morton L. Deyo’s bombardment group, built around the Arkansas (BB-3), Marblehead (CL-12), HMS Argonaut and the French cruisers Duguay Trouin and Emile Bertin. She took part in the pre-invasion bombardment and also screened the shipping area off Frejus. From 25-30 August she supported the Augusta during the fighting around Marseilles. During this period she was attacked by E-boats, human torpedoes and explosive filled speed boats. On 5 September she captured three operators of the human torpedoes, although only after dropping several depth charges on them.

On 14 September she fired on an enemy shore battery and also scored direct hits off enemy ships off Imperia, a coastal town twenty five miles to the east of the Franco-Italian border.


She continued to carry out fire support, patrol duties and convoy escort duties in support of the fighting in the south of France until 23 January 1945.

On 23 January she left the Mediterranean and spent the next month on plane guard duty off the west coast of Africa. She then departed for Boston, arriving on 28 February.

In April she sailed to England, then returned as part of the escort of a convoy of LSTs.

After her return from this trip she underwent a refit ready to transfer to the Pacific. She passed through the Panama Canal on 27 June, reached Pearl Harbor on 17 July and began to train to operate with the fast carriers. However the Japanese surrendered before she joined the carriers, and instead she was used to carry occupation troops to the Japanese Home Islands. She left Pearl Harbor on 7 September and reached Wakayama, Japan on 27 September. She operated in the Far East until 3 November.

She then departed for the Aleutians, where she was used on Magic Carpet duty, returning US service personnel home. 


Early in 1946 the Ludlow retunred to the US East Coast. She was placed out of commission in the reserve at Charleston on 20 May 1946, and was used for Reserve training.

On 6 June 1950 she was placed in commission in reserve, as she was being prepared to be handed over to Greece. She was placed on active status on 21 November 1950.

On 22 February 1951 the Ludlow was decommissioned and transferred to the Greek Navy, where she became the Doxa (D20) (Greek for Glory). She was broken up for scrap in 1972.

Ludlow received six battle stars for World War II service, for the Algeria-Morocco Landings, Naval Actions off Casablanca, Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, the South of France and sinking U-960. Anyone who served on her from 21 October-2 December 1941 qualified for the American Defense Service Medal. Anyone who served on her from 10 September-1 October or 19 October-3 November 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

18 December 1939


11 November 1940


5 March 1941

To Greece




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 (20 November 2023), USS Ludlow (DD-438),

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