USS Manley (DD-74)

USS Manley (DD-74/ AG‑28/ APD‑1) was a Caldwell class destroyer that survived a massive explosion during the First World War, and served as a fast transport during the Second World War, taking part in a series of invasions in the Pacific. Manley received five battle stars of World War II service and was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation.

The Manley was named after John Manley, a US Naval Officer during the War of American Independence, capturing ten British prizes and sharing in the capture of five.

USS Manley (DD-74) after collision, 1918
USS Manley (DD-74)
after collision, 1918

The Manley was laid down at the Bath Iron Works, Maine, on 22 August 1916, launched on 23 August 1917 and commissioned on 15 October 1917, with Commander Robert L. Berry in command. She was fitted out at Boston, and then departed for Queenstown, Ireland, on 25 November 1917, where she was used for patrols and convoy escort duties.

On 19 March 1918, off the Irish coast, the Manley joined up with a convoy coming from Dakar. Soon after approaching the convoy, the Manley's stern collided with the armed merchant cruiser HMS Motagua (formerly the liner Emil L. Boas). This collision triggered an accidental detonation of the Manley's depth charges, which were stowed at her stern. Fragments from the explosion caused leaks in two 50 gallon drums of gasoline and two 100 gallon tanks of alcohol. These both then caught fire, spreading flames across the ship. Thirty four men were killed on the Manley (including the executive officer, Lt. Commander Richard M. Elliott). Another twenty eight men were killed on the Motagua.

Remarkably both ships survived. The British sloop HMS Tamarisk made an unsuccessful attempt to get a tow line onto the Manley. Two British tugs, the Blazer and the Cartmel were finally able to get her under tow on the morning of 20 March, and they were able to tow her to Queenstown. By the time they arrived late on 21 March more than 70 feet of her hull was either awash or under water.

Interwar Period

The Manley was repaired at Liverpool. On 22 December 1918 she set sail for the United States, where she rejoined the fleet. After a brief spell operating off the US East Coast, on 11 April 1919 she departed for the Adriatic, where she was used as a passenger and mail transport and on diplomatic ships. On June 1919 she moved to the Black Sea, where she was used to transport members of the US Food Commission between Turkish ports. This was a short-lived assignment, and on 1 August 1919 she returned to New York. After three more years operating with the fleet, she was decommissioned on 14 June 1922.

USS Manley (DD-74) in First World War Camouflage
USS Manley (DD-74) in
First World War Camouflage

Anyone who served on her between 26 December 1917 and 11 November 1918 qualified for the First World War Victory Medal.

The Manley was recommissioned on 1 May 1930, and was used as an experimental torpedo-firing ship, based at Newport, Rhode Island. In August 1930 she took part in battle practice with the Scouting Fleet. In 1932 she took part in battle practice from San Diego. She returned to the Atlantic early in 1933 and remained there into 1935.

On 10 September 1935 the Manley left for the Panama Canal Zone, where she joined the Special Service Squadron. This unit was used to patrol the Caribbean, and during this period the Manley visited a wide range of locations. During 1936 she visited Panama. In July she was off Nicaragua. In August she was at Acapulco, Mexico.

Early in 1937 the Manley was replaced by USS Taylor (DD-94) in the Special Service Squadron. She then joined DesRon 10, where she was used for training midshipmen.

On 26 October 1937 she departed from Boston (with USS Claxton (DD-140)) to join Squadron 40-T, which was then protecting US interests during the Spanish Civil War. She operated from a range of bases, including Villefranche, Naples, Algiers and Tangiers, part of a multinational force carrying out the same role.

On 29 October 1938 the Manley left Gibraltar, heading for Norfolk, where on 28 November 1918 she was reclassified as a miscellaneous auxiliary as USS Manley (AG-28).

Over the next couple of months the Manley underwent a refit at the New York Navy Yard to convert her into a troop transport. Amongst the changes made was the installation of extra boat davits.

Second World War

The modified Manley conducted the first marine landing drill on 21 February 1939, and spent part of the next year carrying out similar exercises along the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina, and in the Caribbean. She also took part in one exercise on the Californian coast in the spring of 1940.

On 2 August 1940 the Manley was reclassified as a high speed transport, with the new designation APD-1. These fast transports would soon play a vital role in the Pacific War, but for the moment she continued to operate in the Atlantic. She remained in the Atlantic for several months after Pearl Harbor, and on 11 April 1942 rescued 290 survivors from the merchant passenger steamer SS Ulysses, sunk by a U-boat.

On 13 July 1942 the Manley passed through the Panama Canal on her way to join the Pacific Fleet. She reached Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides on 14 August, where she took on a cargo of bombs, ammo and fuel, ready to be used in the battle of Guadalcanal. Her first trip to Guadalcanal lasted from 16-19 August, and after unloading her cargo she returned with wounded Marines. After her return she was ordered to tow the torpedoed destroyer USS Blue (DD-387) to safety at Tulagi. The mission failed when a Japanese surface fleet was detected, and the Blue had to be scuttled. The Manley took 99 survivors back to Espiritu Santo, arriving on 26 August.

USS Manley (DD-74) as fast transport, 1939
USS Manley (DD-74)
as fast transport, 1939

For her second trip to Guadalcanal the Manley was heavily camouflaged. She arrived on 3 September 1942, and two days later rescued five survivors from USS Little and USS Gregory. On 8 September she took part in the 1st Marine Raider Battalion's raid on Taivu Point, Guadalcanal. During this operation she landed paratroopers to reinforce the original marines, used her guns to bombard Tasimbok village and then re-embarked the raiders. She then had to retreat from Lunga Point at high speed as Japanese heavy warships were expected to attack (the first major battleship bombardment of the US positions on Guadalcanal didn't happen until 14 October). The Manley left with 200 marines on board, and she then moved to Noumea, New Caledonia, for minor repairs.

Her next mission was to support a landing at Aola Bay, Guadalcanal. TF 65 landed the main marine force on 4 November 1942, and the Manley and McKean landed reinforcements on the 8th. Over the next few months she was used to run supplies onto Guadalcanal, using her speed to evade Japanese attack, and as an escort.

Between 12 June and 1 August 1943 the Manley underwent an overhaul at San Francisco, before departing for Pearl Harbor. She then escorted a convoy from Pearl Harbor to Funafuti, from where she returned to her supply and escort role in the Solomon Islands.

Her next role was to support Operation Flintlock, the invasion of the Marshall Islands. She was part of Task Force 52. On 30 January 1944 Manley and USS Overton took part in a dawn raid on Carter and Cecil Islands, Kwajalein Atoll. The raid was over by 9am.

On 5 February 1944 she acted as the fire support ship as she and Overton landed scouts on Bennett Islands. She then returned to Pearl Harbor, where she was used to train army troops in landing operations.

In the summer of 1944 the Manley joined Task Group 52.15 for the invasion of Saipan. She reached Saipan on the night of 14 June, and landed her troops on 16 June. She then spent a month as part of the transport screen, but did conduct night harassing attacks on Tinian Town on 9, 12 and 18 July. She then returned to Pearl Harbor.

She was next allocated to the proposed invasion of Yap, where she was to supply explosives for the underwater demolition teams. She had already reached Manua when the operation was cancelled in favour of a landing on Leyte in the Philippines. The Manley was allocated to the bombardment and fire support group for this operation, and she arrived in Leyte Gulf on 18 October 1944. She was used to screen the southern transport area on 18 October. On 19 October she picked up casualties from USS Ross. On 20 October she marked a navigational buoy, but on 21 October she departed for Hollandia (although was later diverted to Seeadler Harbor, Manus) as part of TransDiv 28, and thus missed the battle of Leyte Gulf.

Next came the invasion of Luzon. In early January 1945 the Manley carried reinforcements to Lingayen Gulf, landing her troops on 11 January. On 31 January she landed troops from the 11th Airborne Division at Nasugbu Bay, Luzon. On 15 February she landed 700 assault trios at Mariveles, as part of an effort to prevent the Japanese retreating into Bataan. On 17 February she landed troops on Corregidor. This time her boats came under fire, and one was sunk, although only one army officer was wounded, and the landings were successful, helping to establish a US foothold on the island.

In April 1945 the Manley took part in the battle of Okinawa. She was used to escort the aircraft carriers carrying the first land-based aircraft to the island. The first aircraft were launched on 8 April, and shorter ranged aircraft were sent off during 9 April. On the same day the Manley dropped depth charges on a suspected submarine. She was then used to escort the carriers White Planes and Hollandia Bay as they returned to Guam.

This ended the Manley's active career. She returned to San Diego on 23 May, where she was reclassified as DD-74 on 25 June 1945, showing that her days as a fast transport were over (many more modern destroyers had since been converted to the same role). Instead she was sent to Pearl Harbor, where she was fitted with a catapult to launch target drones. She was then used to train navy gunners to deal with kamikaze attacks.

After the end of the war the Manley was quickly deemed to be surplus to requirements. She was decommissioned at Philadelphia on 19 November 1945, struck off on 5 December 1945 and sold for scrap on 26 November 1946.

Displacement (standard)

1,120t (design)

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

30kts at 18,500shp
30.20kts at 19,930shp at 1,192 tons on trial (Gwin)


2-shaft turbines
4 boilers


2,500nm at 20kts

Armour - belt


 - deck



315ft 7in


30ft 6in


Four 4in/50 guns
Two 1-pounder AA guns
Twelve 21in torpedo tubes in four triple mounts
One Y-gun (DD-70 to DD-71)

Crew complement



23 August 1917


15 October 1917

Sold for scrap

26 November 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 (12 January 2017), USS Manley (DD-74) ,

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