USS McLanahan (DD-615)

USS McLanahan (DD-615) was a Benson class destroyer that served on Atlantic convoy duty, and supported the invasion of Sicily, the fighting at Anzio and the invasion of the South of France.

The McLanahan was named after Tenant McLanahan who served in the US Navy in the 1840s and was killed in Baja California in 1848.

The McLanahan was laid down by the Bethlehem Steel Co., Shipbuilding Division at San Pedro, California on 29 May 1941, launched on 2 September 1942 when she was sponsored by Mrs Dorothy W. Howard and commissioned on 19 December 1942.


The McLanahan was allocated to DesRon 16 of the Atlantic Fleet. She left San Diego on 19 February 1943 and reached Norfolk, Virginia on 10 March. She then underwent a period of training at Casco Bay, Maine, and escorted a number of coastal convoys.

USS McLanahan (DD-615), Mare Island, 1943 USS McLanahan (DD-615), Mare Island, 1943

On 28 April 1943 she left the US to escort her first trans-Atlantic convoy, heading to Algeria. She returned to the US on 8 June, but left again only three days heading for the Mediterranean once again. She arrived at Oran on 21 June, and joined the forces being gathered for the invasion of Sicily.

On 6 July the McLanahan, Nelson, Bernadou, Shubrick (DD-639) and Glennon (DD-620) left Algiers heading for Sicily. From then until 15 July she formed part of Task Force 81 and was used as part of the anti-submarine and anti-aircraft screen for the invasion forces at Gela on Sicily.

On 11 July the fleet came under heavy air attack. In the afternoon the freighter Robert Rowan was hit and caught fire. She was carrying ammunition so the McLanahan was ordered to attempt to sink her to put out the fires. However the transport was shallow water and refused to sink.

After supporting the invasion the McLanahan returned to escort duties, and spent the next nine months escorting convoys in the Mediterranean and Atlantic. The only losses suffered by one of her convoys came on 6 November, when she was escorting a convoy from Oran to Naples that came under air attack. The attackers used rocket bombs and torpedoes and sank one escort and two merchant ships.


This period of escort duty ended on 13 May 1944 when the McLanahan left Oran to move to Naples, from where she supported the fighting around Anzio. She spent the next month and a half operating along the Italian coast, providing fire support for the troops fighting on land and protecting supply convoys.

By the end of July she had joined the forces preparing for Operation Anvil/ Dragoon, the invasion of the south of France. She spent the first part of August taking part in amphibious exercises off Sicily, before departing for the assault area on 13 August.

During the invasion she was part of Rear Admiral Morton L. Deyo’s Bombardment Group, built around the battleship Arkansas (BB-33), one America, one British and two French cruisers. On 15 August she provided fire support for the troops landing near St. Raphael. On 18 August she joined the beachhead screen, a role that saw her operate in a wide area from the south of France back to Sicily to protect the invasion fleet and supply convoys from enemy air and sea attack.

On 27 August she sank a possible mine in Algiers harbour. She then left Algiers with a force that was returning to Toulon, arriving on 28 August. However the Germans had already surrendered in Toulon. On 29 August McLanahan and Quincy were heading south to Palermo when the Quincy detected an incoming aircraft. No IFF signal was detected so they opened fire, but luckily without success as it turned out to be an Allied aircraft. At Palermo they picked up a convoy, which they escorted to Mers-el-Kebir at the end of August.

The Quincy had been selected to transport President Roosevelt across the Atlantic on his way to the Allied conferences at Malta and Yalta. The McLanahan accompanied the Quincy’s group as it left the Mediterranean, before splitting off with the Omaha and Marblehead, heading for New York. The McLanahan arrived at New York on 14 September, presumably for a refit and repairs. These were completed by mid-December and she returned to the Mediterranean on 21 December.


On 19 January she joined what was known as ‘le Grande Garde’ the patrol forces watching the remaining Axis part of the coastline between Monte Carlo and Genoa, taking part in a series of bombardments of German and Italian positions.

On 25 January she bombarded the German command post on the Italian Rivera and also attacked a nearby shore battery.

On 11 February she suffered a near miss from a large calibre shell fired by a shore battery near San Remo. This exploded around 20-40 feet off her port quarter, killing one and wounding eight severely. One gun was knocked out of commission and a number of holes were caused above and around the water line. She remained with the patrol until 20 February when she left for Oran.

She returned to Toulon on 21 March for an awards ceremony in which Rear Admiral P. Jaugard of the French Navy presented her captain, medical officer and twelve others with the Croix de Guerre.

After this she moved to Gibraltar and she spent the rest of the war patrolling the western approaches to the Straits of Gibraltar, covering an area that stretched down to Casablanca.

After the German surrender she returned to the Mediterranean, and cruised in the Tyrrhenian Sea (off the west coast of Italy) and off North Africa. She then departed for the US on 30 June, reaching Boston on 8 July.

The initial plan was for her to join the fleet in the Pacific, but she didn’t leave Boston until 14 August, just as the Japanese were surrendering. After the Japanese surrender she returned to the Atlantic Fleet, visiting New York, New Orleana and Guantanano Bay before being decommissioned at Charleston on 2 February 1946. She was finally struck off on 1 July 1971 and scrapped in 1974.

McLanahan earned four battle stars for World War II service, for Convoy KMF-25A, Sicily, Anzio and the South of France.

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

29 May 1941


2 September 1942


19 December 1942

Struck off

1 July 1971



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 (15 August 2023), USS McLanahan (DD-615) ,

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