USS Mahan (DD-364)

USS Mahan (DD-364) was the name ship of the Mahan class of destroyers, and fought at the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, supported the fighting on New Guinea and New Britain, the invasion of Los Negros and Leyte, where she was hit by three kamikazes and had to be scuttled.

The Mahan was named after Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan, the influential American naval historian and US Navy officer, who served in the Civil War, and later as president of the Naval War College as well as writing ‘The Influence of Sea Power Upon History’, which influenced American naval thinking well into the Twentieth Century.

The Mahan was laid down by United Dry Docks at Staten Island on 12 June 1934, launched on 15 October 1935 when she was sponsored by Admiral Mahan’s great-granddaughter Kathleen H. Mahan, and commissioned on 18 September 1936.

USS Mahan (DD-364) with rails manned USS Mahan (DD-364) with rails manned

She was allocated to Destroyer Division 61, part of Destroyer Division 20 in the North Atlantic, along with the Farragut class destroyers Aylwin, Dale and Monaghan). On 16 November she departed for a two month long good will cruiser and shakedown cruiser to the Caribbean and South America, returning to the US in January 1937. She spent the next six months operating in the Atlantic, before departing for the Pacific in July.

She reached the west coast in mid August and took part in fleet training exercises off southern California, before continuing west to her new home base at Pearl Harbor. Between then and December 1941 spent most of her time in Hawaiian waters, but also returned to the west coast for exercises and visited the Caribbean at least once.  

In 1939 she was part of Destroyer Division Three. She was present at Guantanamo Bay on 21 March when her commanding officer, Lt Commander Herbert G. Hopwood, was photographed with his fellow divisional commanders.


The Mahan was at sea with Task Force 12 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The force was ordered to search for the Japanese to the south of Pearl Harbor, but found nothing and returned to harbour on 12 December.

USS Mahan (DD-364) on trials, 1936 USS Mahan (DD-364) on trials, 1936

In late December the Mahan helped transport reinforcements to the marine garrison of Johnston Island, and then evacuated the civilian population back to Hawaii.


The Mahan was then used to escort convoys between the Hawaiin Islands, and to the west coast. From 24 February-24 March she carried out a patrol off Canton Island. She then returned to Hawaii, before moving back to the west coast for an overhaul at Mare Island.

She was photographed off the Mare Island Navy Yard on on 28 February and 28 April 1942. In the earlier photograph she was being repainted.

At the end of May the Mahan left San Diego with the newly repaired carrier Saratoga, heading west in an attempt to reach Midway in time to take part in the upcoming battle, but the group failed to arrive in time.

For the next few months the Mahan split her time between Hawaii and the west coast, carrying out patrols.

USS Mahan (DD-364) at Mare Island, 1944 USS Mahan (DD-364) at Mare Island, 1944

On 16 October the Mahan sailed from Pearl Habor with TF 16, built around the Enterprise, heading to the South Pacific to join the Hornet, which had been left as the only active US carrier in the area after the Saratoga was damaged and the Wasp sunk. On the way south the Mahan and Lamson were detached from the main force to attack Japanese patrol boats south of the Gilbert Islands. On 22 October they sank two, including the gunboat Hakkaisan Maru).

On 26 October the Mahan fought at the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, a generally indecisive carrier battle which saw the Hornet sunk but two Japanese carriers badly damaged and the Zuikaku lost a significant number of trained naval airmen. On the following day the Mahan shot down four Japanese aircraft, but she then collided with the South Dakota. The Mahan suffered damage to her bows.

Following temporary repairs at Noumea (alongside the USS Prometheus (AR-3)), New Caledonia, Mahan proceeded to Pearl Harbor where she was quickly given a new bow. The South Dakota was repaired locally and was back in action in November, although the Mahan had managed to hole her on the starboard side, and actually left one of her anchors in the South Dakota’s wardroom!


The Mahan returned to the South Pacific on 9 January 1943 and was used to escort convoys between the New Hebrides, New Caledonia and Fiji,

In March she was used to patrol off New Caledonia.

In April she escorted a convoy to Guadalcanal and back, and then carried out escort duties in Australian waters into June.

On 2 July she moved to Milne Bay on New Guinea, which became her new base. On 9 August she supported an action at Nassau Bay (which had been occupied by the Allies at the end of June).

On 22 August she bombarded Finschhafen. On 23 August the Mahan, Perkins (DD-377), Conyngham (DD-371) and Smith (DD-378) carried out an unopposed bombardment of Finschhafen.

Secondary conning station on USS Mahan (DD-364) Secondary conning station on USS Mahan (DD-364)

From 4-8 September she supported the landings at Lae, and on 22 September the invasion of Finschhafen, where she shot down three Japanese aircraft.

In October and November she patrolled around New Guinea from a new base at Buna.

In December the Mahan provided fire support for the landings at Cape Gloucester on New Britain.


On 4 January 1944 she met up with the Reid and Mugford. On 8 January the Mahan and Reid bombarded Japanese positions at Gali, New Guinea.

She was one of nine destroyers and three fast transports in Task Force 76.1, which had the job of landing the troops and providing fire support for the invasion of Los Negros on 28 February. This was followed by a short period of convoy escort duty in the Admiralty Islands.

In the spring of 1944 the Mahan returned to the US west coast for an overhaul.

On 24 June 1944 she was photographed at Mare Island, with the recent changes noted. This included extra 20mm anti-aircraft guns, fire control radar added to her Mk 33 gun director and extra depth charge racks close to her aft deck house.

On 29 June the Mahan departed from San Francisco heading for Pearl Harbor, along with the Drayon, Buchanan and the cruiser Columbia, arriving back at Hawaii in early July. From then until 15 August she took part in exercises around the island.This included anti-aircraft battle practice with the Independence (CVL-22) and Bush (DD-529) on 17-18 July.

The Mahan returned to New Guinea on 20 October and began to escort convoys between Hollandia and Leyte. At the end of Novmber she began a period of patrol duties off Leyte.

On 7 December she was patrolling between Leyte and Ponson Islands to support the landings on Ormoc Bay, when the fleet was attacked by Japanese aircraft. She managed to shoot down several, but was hit by three.  

The first aircraft hit hjust begind the bridge. The second hit at the waterline. The third had already flown over, but turned back and hit her. A fourth aircraft then strafed her. The fires spread to the flooding controls, which meant that the magazines couldn’t be flooded. At this point her captain decided that the ship was in immediate danger of a disasterous explosion and orderd his crew to abandon ship. In the event the Mahan actually stayed afloat but the fires remained dangerous, and an hour later the Walke (DD-723) was ordered to sink her. It took gunfire and torpedoes to actually finish off the destroyer. Her crew were picked up by the Lamson and Walke (which picked up 22 officers and 216 men), and on the following day many were passed onto the seaplane tender San Pablo (AVP-30).

The destroyer transport USS Ward (APD-16) was also hit and had to be scuttled, this time by the O’Brien. By a rather unfortunate twist the Ward’s commander when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, William W. Outerbridge, was now commander of the O’Brien, so exactly three years later had to sink his old command.

Mahon received five battle stars for World War II service, for the Pacific Island Raids of 1942, battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, Eastern New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago and Leyte

Displacement (standard)

1,487.9 standard

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

37.8kts at 44,477shp at 1,749t on trials (Mahan)


2-shaft General Electric tubines
4 boilers
46,000shp design


6,500nm at 12kts design
7,300nm at 12kts on trials (Mahan)
6,940nm at 12kts at 2,200t wartime
4,360nm at 20kts at 2,200t wartime


341ft 3in


35ft 6.5in


Five 5in/38 DP guns
Twelve 21in torpedoes in three quad mounts
Four 0.50in AA guns
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement


Laid down

12 June 1934


15 October 1935


18 September 1936


7 December 1944

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 (24 November 2021), USS Mahan (DD-364),

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