USS Meade (DD-602)

USS Meade (DD-602) was a Benson class destroyer that fought at the naval battle of Guadalcanal, in the Aleutians, the invasion of the Gilbert Islands, helping sinking I-35, the invasion of the Marshall Islands, fast carrier raids and the invasion of the Philippines

The Meade was named after Richard Worsam Meade and Robert Lemy Meade, nephews of General George Meade who served in the US Navy during and after the US Civil War

USS Meade (DD-602) being built, 1942 USS Meade (DD-602) being built, 1942

The Meade was laid down by the Bethlehem Steel Co., Shipbuilding Div at Staten Island on 25 March 1941, launched on 15 February 1942 when she was sponsored by Mrs. Moray Nairne Wootton  and commissioned on 22 June 1942. She then undertook a shakedown cruise from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

After her shakedown cruise, the Meade formed part of the screen for the battleship Washington (BB-56) as it moved to the South Pacific. She reached Tongatabu on 14 September, and joined the carrier task groups operating in the area. She was based at Noumea, New Caledonia for most of the rest of 1942, helping protect the convoy routes between the US bases in the South Pacific and the Solomon Islands.

She fought at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. On the night of 13 November she escorted the Kopara (AG-50) and YT-130. On 14 November she reached Tulagi. The night of 14-15 November saw a rare battle between opposing battleships. The fighting also left four Japanese transports stranded on the shore north of Tassafaronga. On 15 November the Meade was sent to destroy the transports, and after a hour long gun bombardment reduced them to flaming wrecks. She was then used to patrol beween Savo Island and Guadancanal and to rescue 266 survivors from the Preston (DD-379) and Walke (DD-416) which had been sunk during the night battle. On 16 November she took part in the search for survivors from the Juneau (CL-52) off San Cristobal.
From 22 November to 16 December she was used to escort the Navajo (AT-64) as she carried out salvage operations. She was then part of the screen of the cruiser Portland (CA-33) as she was towed to Sydney, Australia, for repairs. She was then used to escort the Minneapolis (CA-36) to the New Hebrides.


On 27 January she left Efate as part of Task Force 18, which was escorting four transports carrying US Army troops to Guadalcanal, where they were to replace part of the 2nd Marines. The task force was meant to escort the transports to Guadalcanal by 29 January then join up with destroyers north of the island on the night of 29-30 January to screen them as they unloaded. However the escort carriers with the force, Chenango and Suwanee could only reach 18 knots, so at 1400 on 29 January Admiral Giffen detached the carriers, with Meade and Frazier as their escorts, and sped ahead with the rest of the force. They thus missed the battle of Rennell Island (29-30 January 1943), in which Japanese aircraft sank the cruiser Chicago.

USS Meade (DD-602) afloat after being launched USS Meade (DD-602) afloat after being launched

On 18 March the Meade left the South Pacific heading for the Aleutians, arriving on 15 April. She spent the next four months operating in the Aleutians.  On 11 May she carried out a shore bombardment and then provided fire support for the invasion of Attu. She also took part in the occupation of Kiska, which unknown to the Americans had been evacuated by the Japanese before the invasion took place.

This was followed by an overhaul at Puget Sound. She then moved to Wellington, New Zealand, arriving on 29 October to join the 5th Fleet Assault Force for the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. On 13 November she sailed as part of the southern Task Force (TF 53). During the landings on Betio Island, Tarawa, on 20 November, she was used to screen the cruisers and carry out shore bombardments. Just before the start of the naval bombardment the Meade laid down a smoke screen to hide the flash from the catapult launching the Maryland’s scout aircraft, but this apparently failed to fool the Japanese, who opened fire two minutes later.

On 22 November the Meade detected a Japanese submarine on sonar just to the west of the transport area. Between 1530 and 1736 the Meade and Frazier (DD-607) carried out five depth charge attacks on this target. The Meade’s final barrage forced I-35 to come to the surface. Both destroyers then opened fire, before at 1751 the Frazier rammed and sank the Japanese submarine. After the attack the two destroyers launched boats to try and rescue four survivors. One was killed after opening fire on his rescuers. A second wounded man was picked up by the Meade’s boat, but this was then attacked by an American dive bomber which thought it was a submarine conning tower. A 500lb bomb with a delayed fuse landed 3 feet from the boat, and the explosion lifted it out of the water and holed it. The Meade was able to rescue the crew.

The Meade then returned to Pearl Harbor and spent the next six weeks training for the invasion of the Marshall Islands.


On 22 January 1944 the Meade sortied as part of TF 52. On 30 January she took part in a heavy bombardment of Japanese targets on Taroa Island in Maloelap Atoll. On 31 January she reached Kwajalein, and screened the battleships and cruisers as they carried out a shore bombardment. On 1-2 February she carried out planned bombardments of Japanese installations, hitting blockhouses, pillboxes and machine gun emplacements. She remained at Kwajalein until 16 February, when she departed for Pearl Harbor.

On 8 March she returned to Majuro to join the screen for the fast carriers of TF 58. She screened them during attacks on Mille Atoll in the Marshalls on 18 March, raids on Yap, Woleai and the Palaus from 30 March-2 April, Western New Guinea from 21-24 April and Truk and Ponape in the Carolines on 29-30 April. She returned to the new US base in the Marshalls on 4 May.

From 12 May to 10 July the Meade was based at Majuro and was used to bombard and blockade the bypassed Japanese garrisons in the Marshalls. During this period she operated against Wotje, Maloelap, Mille and Jaluit.

Frontal view of USS Meade (DD-602), San Francisco, 1944 Frontal view of USS Meade (DD-602), San Francisco, 1944

On 11 July she departed for San Francisco, where she arrived on 26 July for an overhaul at Mare Island. After this was over she returned to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 20 September. She then spent two months serving as a training ship for the Pacific Fleet Torpedo and Gunnery School.

On 29 November the Meade joined a new TU 12.5.9 (Wisconsin, Meade and Frazier). From 30 November-1 December this unit carried out gunnery exercises near Hawaii, then later on 1 December departed for Ulithi, where they arrived on 9 December. From 15-19 December she escorted two merchant ships to the Marshalls. Between 25 December and 16 January 1945 she carried out two escort missions between Eniwetok and Guam.


On 21 January 1945 she left the Marshalls heading for the Philippines, where on 28 January she joined Destroyer Division 27 of the 7th Fleet. She spent most of the rest of the war operating in the Philippines.

From 8-13 February she escorted a convoy of LSTs and merchant ships from Leyte Gulf to Mindoro and Subic Bay, then on to Lingayen Gulf, the site of the first landings on Luzon. She was based at Lingayen Gulf for the next two months, patrolling the approaches to the gulf and along the west coast of Luzon. She returned to Leyte Gulf on 5 May.

At Leyte Gulf she joined TG 78.3 ready to take part in the invasion of Mindoro. On 10 May she supported the unopposed landings at Macajalar Bay on Mindoro. She remained in the area until 15 May when she left to escort ships to Cebu and Mindanao.

On 20 May she returned to Leyte, and from then until 9 July she was used on escort duties in the southern Philippines.

In August she departed for Subic Bay, arriving just before the Japanese surrender.

From 31 August to 9 September she carried out an escort mission to Okinawa and back. On 20 September she departed for French Indochina, reaching the Gulf of Tonkin on 23 September where she delivered medical supplies and provisions to the French military.

She returned to Manila Bay on 29 September. October was spent in the Phiippines, before on 2 November she departed for the United States.

She reached Norfolk on 9 December. On 4 March 1946 she departed for Charleston, where she was decommissioned on 17 June 1946. The Meade was struck off on 1 June 1971 and sunk as a target in February 1973.

Meade received eleven battle stars for World War II service, for Guadalcanal, the Aleutians, the Gilberts, the Marshalls, the Asiatic-Pacific Raids of 1944, Hollandia, Tinian, the Marianas, Rennell Island, the southern Philippines and sinking I-35.

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


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

25 March 1941


15 February 1942


22 June 1942

Struck off

1 June 1971

Sunk as target

February 1973

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 (30 May 2023), USS Meade (DD-602) ,

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