USS Madison (DD-425)

USS Madison (DD-425) was a Benson class destroyer that spent most of 1941-44 on escort duty, as well as serving with the British Home Fleet briefly in 1942 and supporting Operation Torch, the fighting at Anzio and the invasion of the South of France. She then moved to the Pacific for more escort duties and the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay.

USS Madison (DD-425) undergoing refit, New York, 1944 USS Madison (DD-425) undergoing refit, New York, 1944

The Madison was named after Commander James Jonas Madison, who was awarded to Medal of Honor for his actions as commander of the Ticonderoga when she was sunk by German U-boats on 30 September 1918.

The Madison was laid down at the Boston Navy Yard on 19 September 1938, launched on 20 October 1939 when she was sponsored by Madison’s widow Mrs Ethel Madison Meyn and commissioned on 6 August 1940.

Her shakedown cruise was unusually brief. She left Norfolk 0n 20 November and arrived at Guantanamo Bay on 23 November. On 4-6 December she moved to Miami. On 9-11 December she returned to Norfolk, ending the cruise!

Her first active service was to escort the heavy cruiser Tuscaloosa (CA-37) as it carried Admiral William D. Leahy to Portugal, on the way to take up his post as Ambassador to Vichy France. The Madison, Upshur (DD-414) and Tuscaloosa left Hampton Roads on 23 December, and the destroyers remained with the cruiser until 25 December, when they were ordered back to Norfolk.


Her next task was to visit Port de France on Martinique, where she remained from 28 January-12 February, as part of wider American efforts to make sure that the French warships in the Caribbean remained in port and neutralised.

The next few months saw her move from Martinique to Culebra (Puerto Rico), Hampton Roads, Newport, Boston, Newport and Norfolk.

In the summer of 1941 she helped protect the ships assembling at Placentia Bay for the meeting of President Roosevelt and Churchill. On 5 August she moved to Vineyard Sound, and on the same day President Roosevelt boarded USS Augusta (CA-31). The Madison then escorted the Augusta to Placentia Bay, arriving on 7 August. Churchill arrived on 9 August on HMS Prince of Wales, and after the conference left on the same ship on 12 August.  

On 31 August the Madison left Argentia to escort the merchant ships Norwalk and Merrimack to Iceland, arriving at Reykjavik on 7 September. On 11 September she moved to Hvalfjordur, and then from 15-20 September she carried out an anti-submarine patrol off Iceland with DesDiv 14.

The Madison was based at Iceland from where she escorted a series of convoys.

From 24 September-2 October she escorted ON-18 from Iceland to Newfoundland.

From 12-19 October she escorted HX-154 from Newfoundland to Iceland

From 2-9 November she escorted ON-30 from Iceland to Newfoundland.

From 29 November-7 December she escorted HX-162 from Newfoundland to Iceland. On 1 December she suffered damage in a fierce storm that also scattered the 35 merchant ships in the convoy,

After the American entry into the war she operated with DesDiv 14, Destroyer Squadron 7, part of the Atlantic Fleet, still on convoy escort missions.


From 10-18 January 1942 she escorted Convoy HX-169 from Newfoundland to Iceland.

From 29 January-5 February she escorted Convoy ON-59 from Iceland to Newfoundland.

In mid-February she and the Broome (DD-210) escorted the Wasp (CV-7) as she was operating off Maine. On 16 February the Madison made a sonar contact and carried out a depth charge attack, with no signs of success. She continued to hunt for the target into the following day, but didn’t find it.

On 20 February the Madison and Bainbridge (DD-246) left Norfolk to escort the ammo ship Shasta (AE-6) and oilers Kennebec (AO-36) and Winooski (AO-38) to Louisiana. On 22 February she sighted a burning vessel, but it sank before she could reach it. However a sonar contact was detected, and depth charges dropped, again without success. The small convoy then continued on to New Orleans.

From then until 26 March the Madison escorted convoys running from New Orleans to Key West, Boston and Casco Bay.

On 26 March 1942 the Madison left Casco Bay as part of Task Force 39 (Washington (BB-56), Wasp, Tuscaloosa, Wichita (CA-45), Wainwright (DD-419), Plunkett (DD-431), Wilson (DD-408), Lang (DD-399) and Sterett (DD-407), heading for Scapa Flow to join the British Home Fleet. On the second day of the voyage the force commander, Rear Admiral John W. Wilcox, was swept overboard, possibly after suffering a heart attack. Rear Admiral Robert C. Giffen replaced him. The task force arrived at Scapa Flow on 4 April.

For the rest of April the Madison operated between Greenock and the Mediterranean as part of Force W, which screened the Wasp as she carried Spitfires to reinforce Malta (Operation Calendar). The task force passed through the Straits of Gibralter before dawn on 19 April, and early on 20 April flew off the Spitfires. Most of the Spitfires successfully reached Malta, but preparations for their arrival on the island were poor, and they were quickly destroyed by German bombing.

As a result the operation had to be repeated (Operation Bowery of 9 May). This time the preparations at Malta were much better – the Spitfires were refuelled the moment they arrived, handed over to veteran Malta pilots, and were in the air as the Italians attempted to destroy them on the ground. In the resulting air battle the British claimed to have destroyed or damaged 47 aircraft, and the Italians had suffered enough damage to end daylight bombing of Malta. 

The Madison didn’t take part in this second operation. After the first operation she returned to Scapa Flow, and on 28 April she departed as part of the screen for a convoy heading to Russia. She patrolled in the area north-east of Iceland until 4 May, and then joined Task Force 99 as it moved to Hvalfjordur. On 12 May the New York, Madison, Wilson and Plunkett departed for New York. After reaching New York she moved to Boston for an overhaul that lasted for the rest of May. 

After the overhaul she rejoined the Atlantic Fleet. At the start of June she left Boston with DesRon 7 to join the South Dakota (BB-57) off Delaware. On the way she rescued thirteen men from the Norwegian Berganger, which had been sunk by U-578 on 2 June. She joined the battleship on 5 June, and the combined force reached Norfolk on 8 June.

From 10-17 June she steamed from Norfolk to Limon Bay, Panama with DesDiv 14, part of Task Force 39.

On 18 June she left Limon Bay as part of the escort of a convoy heading to Key West, but on 19 June she was detached and ordered to go to Galveston. From 23-28 June she escorted the oilers Housatonic (AO-35) and Mattaponi (AO-41) from Galveston to Norfolk.

She was next used to escort the oiler Salamonie (AO-26) from Norfolk to Iceland, then from 17-25 July escorted the oiler Chicopee (AO-36) back from Iceland to Norfolk.

From 6-17 August she was part of the escort of Convoy AT-18, which was carrying troops and equipment to Iceland and Britain. On 16 August two of the ships were transferred to Convoy DS-31 heading for Iceland. The rest of the convoy reached the Irish Sea on 17 August.

The Madison then moved to Londonderry, where she carried out anti-submarine warfare and gunnery training from 20-23 August.  She then moved to Greenock, from where she departed on 27 August as part of the escort for three troop ships returning to the US. On 3 September a fire broke out on one of those ships, the Wakefield (AP-21). The Madison took part in the rescue efforts, picking up the Captain, executive officer and some of the crew. She then remained with the Wakefield while tugs were sent out to try and save her. On 5 September the Wakefield’s captain and a salvage party moved to the Radford (DD-446) and the Madison continued on to New York.  

After a brief overhaul at New York she escorted the Columbia (CL-56) to Norfolk (15-16 September), then the British troopship Aquitania from Norfolk to New York (18-19 September).

From 29 September-6 October she escorted convoy AT-23, carrying troops and equipment, from Halifax to Greenock, Scotland.

On 10 October she departed for New York, before on 14 October the Madison, Hilary P. Jones and Landsdale were ordered to go to Casco Bay instead. They arrived on 18 October, and on 19 October sailed as part of the escort for the Indiana (BB-58), which was heading to Norfolk. On 20 October the Madison was detached and ordered to New York. The rest of October was spent on training duties.

The Madison was then assigned to the forces supporting Operation Torch. She didn’t take part in the initial invasion, but instead left New York on 2 November 1942 as part of Task Force 38 (Arkansas, DesRon 7 (apart from the damaged Benson, Nicholson (DD-442), HMS Duncan and HMS Anthony). They were escorting the 25 troop transports and cargo ships in Convoy UGF-2, which was carrying reinforcements. The convoy was at sea when the initial invasions took place on 8 November. On 12 November the Madison was detached to find the British escorts which were to join the convoy. She made contact with HSM Jonquil, and the new escorts joined the convoy off Casablanca on 17 November.

The convoy entered Casablanca harbour on 18 November, while the Madison patrolled outside. She carried out patrols again from 21-24 November, and an anti-submarine sweep on 28 November. On 30 November she was sent out to join the incoming convoy UGS-2, which reached Casablanca on 1 December. She was then sent to Safi to escort the Benjamin Rush back to Casablanca (12-13 December). More patrols followed on 18 December. On 22 December she joined Task Force 37, the escort for the west-bound convoy GUS-2.


Most of the rest of January was spent on an overhaul and training.

On 30 January Task Force 99 (Destroyer Division 14 – Lansdale, Hilary P. Jones, Charles F. Hughes and Madison) departed from New York to escort a convoy to Northern Ireland, arriving on 7 February.

On 15 February DesDiv 14 and the 42nd Escort Group got underway to join Convoy UC-1 and Escort Group 44, which were coming from Liverpool. The combined force then headed across the Atlantic to Curacoa in the Dutch West Indies. On 23 February the convoy was attacked by Wolf Pack Rochen (U-43, U-66, U-87, U-202, U-218, U-504, U-521 and U-558) and U-382, U-522 and U-569. The submarines torpedoed the British Fortitude, Empire Norseman, Esso Baton Rouge, Athelprincess and Murena of which the Empire Norseman, Esso Baton Rouge and Athelprincess sank. The escorts carried out depth charge attacks but without success. However on the following day Hilary P Jones, Charles F. Hughes and Lansdale clashed with six surfaced U-boats, probably sinking one and damaging one. There were no more attacks on the convoy and it reached Curacoa on 6 March. 

This was the start of a period in which she was mainly used to escort convoys heading between Curacoa and Britain.

From 20 March-1 April she escorted Convoy CU-1 from Curacoa to Liverpool.

From 9-23 April she escorted Convoy UC-2 from Liverpool to Curacoa.

From 21 May-5 June she escorted Convoy CU-2 from Curacoa to Liverpool

From 10-26 June she escorted Convoy UC-3 from Liverpool to Curacoa.

From 11-24 July she escorted Convoy CU-3 from Curacao to Liverpool.

From 30 July-10 August she escorted Convoy UC-3A from Liverpool to Curacoa.

From 26 August-9 September she escorted Convoy CU-4 from Curacoa to Liverpool.

From 15-27 September she escorted Convoy UC-4 from Liverpool to Curacoa.

This pattern was broken on 1 October when she left Curacoa with DesDiv 14 as part of TG 21.6 to escort Convoy UC-4 from Caracao to New York, arriving on 7 October. She then entered drydock at the New York Navy Yard, where she remained until 19 October. 

From 4 November-21 November she escorted Convoy UGS-23 from Hampton Roads to Casablanca.

From 29 November-17 December she was part of TF 62 as it escorted Convoy GUS-22 from Casablanca back to the US. She reached New York on 17 December and went back into the dry dock for alterations and repairs that took until the end of the year to complete.


At the start of 1944 she was assigned to the Mediterranean. She crossed the Atlantic with the Philadelphia (CL-41) and Hilary P. Jones, reaching Oran on 30 January, where she joined TF 86.

After a brief period of training in shore bombardment she was sent to support the fighting at Anzio. From 17-19 February she carried out anti-submarine patrols off Anzio. She was then sent to escort the Philadelphia away from Anzio. While returning on 20 February she made a sonar contact and dropped two full patterns of depth charges, but without any result. From 21-23 February she carried out anti-submarine and anti-aircraft duties off Anzio. From 26-8 February she screened the Allied shipping off Anzio. From 5-10 March she was back on screening duties. On 10 March she took part in the attack that sank U-450, for which she was awarded a battle honour.

She returned to Anzio again on 15 March. This time there was more activity. On 18 March she dropped eleven depth charges on a suspected submarine, but without any result. On 19 March she chased a possible E-boat detected on radar, but had to abandon the chase when she got close to a minefield. On 20 March she detected another possible hostile and fired her 5in guns but again without success. On 21 March she carried out an anti-submarine and E-boat sweep off the Isla di Ponza with HMS Urchin. On 22 March she escorted a convoy of LSIs and LSTs back to Naples.

She was back at Anzio again from 26-31 March for more anti-submarine and anti-E boat patrols. She returned to Anzio for the last time on 3-4 April, investigating a radar contact near the Tiber on 3 April.

Madison-s next assignment was to the Mediterranean. Arriving at Oran, Algeria, 30 January 1944, she practiced shore bombardment before departing for Italy 11 February. Operating off Anzio, she continued antisubmarine patrols and provided antiaircraft protection and support gunfire until mid‑April when she commenced convoy and patrol duty throughout the Mediterranean.

After leaving Anzio she moved to Naples then Palermo, before returning to North Africa, reaching Bizerta on 9 April and Mers-el-Kebir on 12 April.

From 22 April to 26 April she escorted Convoy UGS-38 from Oran to Naples. She was back at Algiers on 28 April, where she picked up the 238 survivors of USS Lansdale, sunk eight days earlier, and transported them to Mers-el-Kebir.

From 4-7 May she escorted a convoy from Naples to Mers-el-Kebir.

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 21 May the Madison and Hilary P. Jones began a patrol in the Gulf of Oran. They escorted Convoy MKF-31 into port and then convoy UGS-41 before leaving it on 23 May to return to Oran. June and July were  spent on similar escort duties.

The Madison was then allocated to the forces supporting Operation Dragoon, the invasion of the South of France. She joined TG 86.3 and after training in the Gulf of Gaeta she departed for the invasion area on 13 August.

She arrived off the south of France at dawn on 15 August and formed part of the anti-submarine screen. On 20 August she was part of the screen of the Omaha (CL-4) and Nevada (BB-36) as the battleship bombarded targets around Toulon. On 21 August she provided fire support herself off Cape Sicie. On 27 August she served as a fire support ship for minesweepers in the Bay of Marseilles. That afternoon a boat carrying Germans came alongside waving a white flag, and soon agreed the unconditional surrender of the 850 men on the Isle d’If, Isle de Ratonneau and Isle de Pomeques. On 30 August the Madison protected a series of Infantry Landing Craft as they collected the new prisoners.

At the start of September the Madison escorted the Brooklyn to Naples. She then returned to the south of France, this time to join Task Group 86.5 which was providing fire support for the US Army’s First Airborne Task Force around Menton. On 10 September the Madison was operating close to Cape Mortola when she was attacked by human torpedoes. The Madison attacked them with machine gun fire and depth charges and during the day claimed four certain kills and one probable. On the same day she carried out seven shore bombardments.

The Madison remained in action off the south coast of France for the rest of the year, although most of the fighting soon moved away from the coast. She spent much of her time on anti-submarine patrols or escort duties.

On 9 December the Madison and Charles F. Hughes bombarded German coastal artillery and troop concentrations on the border between France and Italy.

On 30 December the Madison, Mervine (DD-489), Hilary P. Jones and Jouett (DD-396) departed from Oran heading back to the United States.


The Madison reached New Jersey on 11 January, then moved to Brookyn for 27 days of yard availability. Trials and tests took up most of the rest of February.

From 27 February to 15 March she escorted Convoy UGS-77 from Hampton Roads to the Mediterranean.

From 23 March-8 April she escorted Convoy GUS-79 from Oran back to the United States. She was detached on 8 April and reached New York on 9 April.

With the naval war against the Germans winding down, the Madison was assigned to the Pacific. On 21 April the Madison, Charles F. Hughes, Trippe (DD-403), Wainwright (DD-419), Satterlee (DD-626) and Herndon (DD-638) left New York at the start of their voyage to the Pacific. They travelled to Hawaii via San Diego. The Madison then stayed in Hawaiian waters undergoing training until 18 June.

She was then sent to Saipan, arriving on 28 June. She then moved to Guam, where she joined TU 94.7.1 to carry out patrols outside Agana Bay, Guam. On 8 July she departed for Ulithi. On 11 July she made a sonar contact and carried out four depth charge attacks without success. On 18 July she reached Buckner Bay, Okinawa. A few days later she departed to escort Convoy OKU-14 to Ulithi, arriving on 26 July. On 31 July she began to patrol around her picket station, 50 miles to the south-west of Ulithi.

On 2 August, while still carrying out this duty, she was ordered to join the belated rescue efforts for the crew of the Indianopolis (CA-35), which had been sunk by U-58 on 30 July and sank in twelve minutes. At first her absence wasn’t noticed, and many men who had survived the sinking died in the water. The Madison reached the search area on 3 August but she had arrived too late, and only found three of the dead. She continued to search until 5 August when she departed for Ulithi.

From 9-14 August she escorted Convoy UOK-46 from UIithi to Okinawa. On the following day the surrender of Japan was announced. 

The Madison escorted Convoy OKU-20 back to Ulithi, arriving on 23 August. On 24 August she put to sea to join TG 33.1, meeting them on 28 August. The combined force then set sail for Tokyo. The Madison was present in Tokyo Bay for the signing of the Japanese surrender on 2 September.

On 4 September she left Tokyo with Benson and Mayo (DD-422) to escort Transport Squadron 16 to Guam. On 5 September she needed 80 rounds of 40mm and 630 rounds of 20mm to sink a floating mine. On the way they were diverted to Leyte Gulf, arriving on 11 September. On 12 September the same three destroyers were ordered to Manila, arriving on 14 September.

From 20-27 September she escorted eighteen LSMs from Manila to Tokyo.

From 1-7 October she escorted amphibious craft from Tokyo to Senami on Honshu.

On 5 November she departed for the United States, reaching Charleston on 7 December 1945.

The Madison was placed into the reserve on 13 March 1946. She was later moved to Orange, Texas, where she remained for the next two decades. She was struck off on 1 June 1968 and sunk as a target off St. Augustine, Florida, on 14 October 1969.

Madison received five battle stars for World War II service, for escorting convoy UC-1, Anzio, the invasion of the South of France, the reinforcement of Malta and for part of the sinking of U-450

Displacement (standard)

1,620 design
1,911t as built

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

37.89kt at 51,390shp at 2,065t on trial (Mayo)


2-shaft Westinghouse turbines
4 boilers
50,000shp design


6,500nm at 12kt design
5,520nm at 12kt at 2,400t wartime
3,880nm at 20kt at 2,400t wartime

Armour - belt


 - deck



348ft 1in


36ft 2in


Five 5in/38 guns
Five 21in torpedoes
Ten 0.5in AA guns
Two depth charge tracks
One Y-Gun depth charge projector

Crew complement


Laid Down

19 September 1938


20 October 1939


6 August 1940

Sunk as target

14 October 1969

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 (7 March 2023), USS Madison (DD-425) ,

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