USS MacDonough (DD-351)

USS MacDonough (DD-351) was a Farragut class destroyer that fought at Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, the Marshals Islands, Marianas Islands, Leyte, Luzon and Hollandia as well as sinking the submarine RO-45

The MacDonough was laid down at the Boston Navy Yard on 15 May 1933 and launched on 22 August 1934 when she was sponsored by Miss Rose Shaler Macdonough, the granddaughter of Commodore Thomas Macdonough. She was commissioned on 15 March 1935. She was photographed at Boston Navy Yard on 14 June 1935.

USS Macdonough (DD-351) at Boston, 1935 USS Macdonough (DD-351) at Boston, 1935

Her lengthy shakedown cruise took her to Europe and along the western coast of South America. She was then assigned to the Pacific Fleet and was based at San Diego until 12 October 1939.

On 14 September 1936 she was part of Destroyer Squadron 20 (Farragut (DD-348), Dewey (DD-349), Hull (DD-350), MacDonough (DD-351), Worden (DD-352), Dale (DD-353), Monaghan (DD-354) and Aylwin (DD-355)) when that formation put on a demonstration for Movietone News off San Diego.

On 27 April 1937 she was photographed in Iliuliuk Bay in the Aleutian Islands.

Late in 1939 the MacDonough took part in the first stage of the Pacific Fleet’s move from San Diego to Pearl Harbor, which was done in an attempt to convince the Japanese not to risk a war.


When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 the only officer onboard was Ensign R.W. Clark, who thus had to take command. The ship’s commanding officer, J. M. McIsaac, didn’t return to the ship until 0912, when the attack was already over. At the time the Macdonough was undergoing an overhaul alongside the destroyer tender USS Dobbin, with all of her guns and ammo still onboard, but with all power coming from the Dobbin. The Macdonough was the outboard ship in the nest, so her port side was clear. As soon as the Japanese attack the power from the Dobbin failed, so the crew had to load, train and elevate all of their guns manually, while orders had to be passed by megaphone! The port machine guns opened fire at 0801 and the main 5in guns were ordered to open fire at 0806. Ensign Clark reported that one Japanese aircraft was hit and destroyed by her 5in guns and another probably shot down by machine gun fire.


For the first three months of 1942 the MacDonough was used to patrol the seas to the south-west of Oahu. She also took part in early raids on Bougainville, Salamaua and Lae. She was then used to escort convoys between Hawaii and the US West Coast.

USS Macdonough (DD-351), Mare Island, 1942 USS Macdonough (DD-351), Mare Island, 1942

She was photographed at Mare Island on 29 May 1942. Also in May 1942 Erle V. Dennett, who had been her Executive officer since 1938, took over as her commanding officer. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his service as her commander between 27 May 1942 and 23 September 1943, and in particular for his actions at Guadalcanal, the Santa Cruz Islands and in the Aleutians.

Macdonough returned to the western Pacific to prepare for the Guadalcanal invasion. Operating with Saratoga, she provided cover for the landings on Guadalcanal and Tulagi, 7 August 1942. She remained in the area, taking part in the Battle of Savo Island and fighting enemy aircraft and shipping during the landing of reinforcements on the island.

At the battle of the Eastern Solomons (23-25 August) she was part of Task Force Fox (Saratoga, two cruisers and five destroyers).

She was part of the screen of the Saratoga when the carrier was hit by a torpedo fired by the Japanese submarine I-26. The Macdonough was so close the submarine that she scraped against her hull, but as a result her depth charges exploded too deep, and the submarine escaped. The Saratoga also survived although had to return to Pearl Harbor for repairs.

From late September until mid December the MacDonough was used on escort duty between New Guinea, Espiritu Santo and Pearl Harbor. She was then sent to Mare Island for an overhaul, arriving on 22 December.


She was photographed off Mare Island on 16-17 January 1943, with a new radar set on top of her gun director, a new anti-aircraft gun on a platform in front of the bridge marked as recent changes.

On 17-27 March the Macdonough took part in a large amphibious landing exercise at San Clemente Island, including live fire from the battleships Idaho, Nevada and Pennsylvania, and four destroyers as well as two squadrons of aircraft.

The Macdonough then moved north to take part in the invasion of Attu in the Aleutians. She reached Adak on 16 April and was then posted on patrol duty to the north-east of Attu in the period before the invasion.

She was one of seven destroyers in the Support Group of Task Force Roger (the Attack Force) for the invasion, but on 10 May while guarding the attack transports she collided with the Sicard (DM-21) and both ships were forced to withdraw to be repaired. The loss of the Sicard was the bigger blow, as she was to guide the landing craft onto the beach. The Sicard was able to tow the Macdonough part of the way to Adak, before the tug Tatnuck took over. At Adak she was partly repaired by the Black Hawk, before the oiler Tippecanoe towed her back to Mare Island for full repairs.

The Macdonough was in the repair dock until 23 September, then spent a month preparing to take part in the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. She left San Francisco on 26 October, with the Morris (DD-417), Hughes (DD-410), Mustin (DD-413), Cotton (DD-669) and Hoel (DD-533), arriving at Pearl Harbor on 31 October.

The Macdonough arrived at Makin Island on 20 November and was used as the control ship for the landing craft during the invasion. Once the initial landings were over she moved into the lagoon and carried out shore bombardments. The island was declared secure on 23 November and the Macdonough returned to Pearl Harbor.


In January 1944 the Macdonough formed part of the Northern Attack Force for the invasion of the Marshall Islands. She was used as the primary fighter director ship for the initial transport group, operating off Kwajalein Atoll.

On 29 January she moved to Wotje, where she took part in the shore bombardment until 31 January. She then returned to Kwajalein, where she took part in the occupation of Root and Namur Islands. She then joined the radar picket.

In February she moved to Eniwetok Atoll, the next American target. On 21-22 February she joined the Hall (DD-583), Monaghan and Aylwin (DD-355) to provide fire support for the marines landing on Parry Island near Eniwetok. .

In March she was used as a reference and rendezvous ship for Carrier Task Force 58 during a raid on the Palau Islands.

In April she moved to New Guinea, where she supported the landings at Hollandia. This was a brief excursion, and by the end of the month she had moved off to take part in a massive raid on the Japanese base at Truk.

On 30 April 1944 the MacDonough detected a surface contact on radar while operating south of Truk. This disappeared, but she then managed to make contact with sonar. F6F Hellcat aircraft from Fighter Squadron 28 (VF-28) from the USS Monterey (CVL-26) acted as a spotter, helping her make two depth charge attacks. The USS Stephen Potter (DD-538) also joined the attack, which ended with large underwater explosions. The Japanese Navy announced that the submarine Ro-45 had been lost off Truk.

The MacDonough then took part in the invasion of the Marianas. She left the Marshalls on 6 June as part of the Western Bombardment Unit, TU 58.7.3, alongside the battleships Indiana, North Carolina and Washington and the destroyers Dewey (DD-349), Hull (DD-350) and Selfridge (DD-357). She was used on screening and picket duties, and to bombard targets on the western side of Saipan.

She then took part in the battle of the Philippine Sea (19-20 June 1944), a one sided American victory which almost destroyed Japanese naval air power. The MacDonough opened fire on some of the few Japanese aircraft to actually reach the American fleet.

She then took part in the invasion of Guam, supporting the underwater demolition teams and bombarding any Japanese troops who attempt to repair the beach defences. On 21 July she formed part of the anti-submarine screen for the assault craft attacking the island. She remained with the anti-submarine screen until 10 August when she departed for Pearl Harbor.

The Macdonough then moved to the Admiralty Islands, arriving at Manus on 15 September. She was briefly used on escort duties, before on 14 October forming part of the screen for the troop transports heading to Leyte. She remained with the transport ships during the battle of Letye Gulf, then returned to Seeadler Harbor at Manus to collect another convoy heading for Leyte on 3 November.

At Manus she was allocated to the screen for TG 77.2 (built around the battleship Maryland and the cruisers St. Louis (CL-49), Denver and Columbia and nine destroyers). The group departed from Manus on 12 November heading for Leyte, arriving in Leyte Gulf on 16 November to replace TG 77.1 and land reinforcements on the island. The Macdonough was then used to patrol the waters around Leyte Gulf and the Surigao Strait.

In December she returned to Ulithi, where she was used to protect fleet oilers as they moved around the Philippines, Formosa and South China Sea.


In January 1945, she moved to Puget Sound where she underwent a three month overhaul. She left Pearl Harbor on 26 April, along with the Mugford (DD-389) and Monterey (CVL-26), reaching Ulithi on 8 May. She was posted to the radar picket screen off Ulithi until 5 July when she switched to convoy escort duties, working on the route between Ulithi and Okinawa.

The Macdonough was at Guam when the war ended. She soon returned to the United States, reaching San Diego on 3 September then moving to New York. She was decommissioned at New York on 22 October 1945 and sold for scrap on 20 December 1946.

The Macdonough received fourteen battle stars, for Pearl Harbor, the Bougainville and Salamaua-Lae raids of 1942, the Guadalcanal landings, the longer Guadalcanal campaign, the battle of the Eastern Solomons, the Gilbert Islands, Marshal Islands, Palau and Truk raids of 1944, sinking the submarine RO‑45, the Marianas campaign (Guam, Saipan and Philippines Sea), the Leyte landings, the Luzon campaign (including raids on Formosa and the Chinese coast) and Hollandia.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

36.6kts at 40,353shp at 1,513t on trial (Farragut)


2-shaft Parsons turbines
4 boilers
42,800shp (design)


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)

Armour - belt


 - deck



341ft 3in


34ft 3in


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

15 May 1933


20 August 1934


15 March 1935


20 December 1946

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


WWII Home Page | WWII Subject Index | WWII Books | WWII Links | Day by Day

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (24 August 2021), USS MacDonough (DD-351) ,

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us - Privacy