USS Monaghan (DD-354)

USS Monaghan (DD-354) was a Farragut class destroyer that fought at Pearl Harbor, the Coral Sea, Midway, in the Aleutians, the invasion of the Gilbert Islands, Marshall Islands, Mariannas Islands and the invasion of the Philippines, before she was sunk by Typhoon Cobra on 18 December 1944

The Monaghan was named after Ens John R. Monaghan, who was killed while defending a wounded officer during a clash with the inhabitants of Samoa in 1899.

The Monaghan was laid down at the Boston Navy Yard on 21 November 1933, launched on 9 January 1935 when she was sponsored by Monaghan’s niece Mary, and commissioned on 19 April 1935. After entering service she spent some time on training duties in the North Atlantic, but by 1941 had moved to the Pacific.

1941

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 the Monaghan was in Ready Duty status, and was moored on the outside of a nest of destroyers from Destroyer Division Two. At 0751 she was ordered to join the Ward, which had just sunk an unidentified submarine, in the defensive sea area outside the harbour. However at 0755, before she could get underway, one of her crew spotted Japanese aircraft and informed the captain. At 0800 the General Alarm was issued and the engine room was ordered to get up steam for an emergency sortie. On 0827 she got underway, heading for the North Channel. However at 0835 it was noticed that the Curtiss was flying a flag that indicated an enemy submarine, and soon afterwards the Monaghan’s bridge crew spotted the conning tower of a submarine close to the Curtiss. Her captain decided to try and ram the submarine and at about 0844 a slight blow was felt. Two depth charges were dropped, and exploded just behind the destroyer. The midget submarine, No.22, was destroyed by the blasts. It was salvaged a few weeks after the attack, and later used as infill for a new pier.

USS Monaghan (DD-354) and USS Dale (DD-353) emerge from smoke USS Monaghan (DD-354) and USS Dale (DD-353) emerge from smoke

The Monaghan was going so fast that she ended up hitting a derrick and getting entangled with its mooring lines. However she was underway once again by 0847 and was able to head out of the harbour as ordered, passing the entrance buoys at 0908.

After the attack the Monaghan spent a week patrolling outside the entrance to the harbour. She was then part of the screen for the Lexington (CV-2) during the failed attempt to relieve Wake Island. On the way back to Pearl Harbor after the failure of this expedition the Dale and Aylwin attacked a possible Japanese submarine, reportedly forcing it to broach the surface and producing a large oil slick.

1942

After her return to Pearl Harbor the Monaghan was used to escort a convoy to the US West Coast (where she was photographed at Mare Island on 17 February). She was back at Pearl Harbor by 15 April when she sortied with the Lexington as part of Task Force 11, heading for the South Pacific.

The Lexington group was soon diverted south to try and block a Japanese invasion fleet heading for Port Moresby, on the south coast of New Guinea, a move that would have threatened northern Australia. The result was the battle of the Coral Sea, the first naval battle in which the opposing side’s fleets never came within sight of each other. The Monaghan was with the main US fleet on 7 May, when the light carrier Shoho was sunk. However she was then ordered away form the main fleet to transmit important radio messages without giving away the position of the carriers, and missed the Japanese attacks on the US carriers. She was ordered to search for survivors from the destroyer Sims (DD-409) and oiler Neosho (AO-23), both sunk on 7 May, but was given the wrong location so failed to find any survivors. She was then sent to Noumea with messages, before rejoining TF 16 just before it returned to Pearl Harbor on 26 May.

After only two days the Monaghan was part of the fleet that left Pearl Harbor to fight the battle of Midway. On the same day, 28 May she rescued Lt Commander Eugene E. Lindsey (commanding officer of Torpedo Squadron 6) and his crew, Chief Aviation Pilot Thomas E. Schaeffer and Aviation Radioman First Class Charles T. Granat, when their TBD-1 Devastator had crashed while attempting to land on the Enterprise (CV-6). On 31 May all three were passed back to the carrier on a breeches buoy, but sadly Granat and Lindsey were both killed during the attack on the Japanese fleet on 4 June 1942.

USS Monaghan at Mare Island, 1942 USS Monaghan at Mare Island, 1942

During the first day of the battle of Midway the Monaghan formed part of the screen for the carrier Enterprise (CV-6). On the morning of 5 June she was ordered to rescue the crew from a downed seaplane. Later in the day she was ordered to go to the aid of the badly damaged Yorktown, reaching her at 1830. However the Monaghan and her fellow destroyers were unable to prevent the Japanese submarine I-168 hitting the Yorktown with a torpedo on 6 June. The destroyer Hammann (DD-412) was sunk in the same attack, and the Yorktown went down sixteen hours later. The Monaghan took part in an attack on I-168 which damaged but failed to sink her.

After returning to Pearl Harbor the Monaghan was sent to the Aleutians, but she was damaged in a collision in thick fog and had to return to Dutch Harbor for emergency repairs. After further work at Pearl Harbor she escorted a convoy back to the US West Coast, then entered the Mare Island Navy Yard for full repairs. A photograph dated to 13 October 1942 shows that some changes were made during this visit to Mare Island, including extra anti-aircraft guns around the funnels and changes to the radar.

The Monaghan’s return to the Pacific wasn’t terribly lucky. She reached Fiji on 17 November, but soon bent her propellers badly in a collision with an underwater obstacle at Noumea and had to return to Pearl Harbor on one screw for more repairs.

1943

These repairs were completed by 21 February 1943. The Monaghan was then assigned to Task Group 16.69 (built around the cruisers Richmond (CL-9) and Salt Lake City (CA-25) in the Aleutians. On 26 March this force clashed with a larger Japanese naval force that was escorting transports carrying reinforcements to Attu. The Americans were able to drive off the Japanese in the battle of the Komandorski Islands, preventing the reinforcements from arriving. 

On 22 June 1943 the Monaghan chased the Japanese submarine I-7 ten miles south of Cape Hita. The Japanese submarine attempted to escape, but ended up running aground 12 miles to the south-southeast of Kiska, and had to be abandoned. At the time she had been evacuating troops from Kiska.

The Monaghan performed escort duty as she returned to Pearl Harbor, then San Francisco. She then moved to San Pedro to join three new escort carriers, forming part of their escort as they headed west to take part in the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. The Monaghan screened the carriers as they attacked shore targets and screened convoys during the invasion of Tarawa

1944

The Monaghan returned to the west coast once again, where she joined a force of escort carriers preparing for the invasion of the Marshall Islands.

She screened the carriers as they supported the invasion of Roi. On 7 February she entered Majuro Atoll, then escorted the Pennsylvania (BB-38) to Kwajalein, where she joined the screen for the transport ships taking part in the invasion of Eniwetok. On 21-22 February she took part in a night bombardment of Parry Island. She then spent the next month on patrol and escort duties in the Marshall Islands.

From 22 March-6 April she formed part of the escort of the fast carriers as they raided Palau, Woleai and Yap.

From 13 April-4 May she screened the fleet as it moved to New Guinea to support the landings at Hollandia, and during the attacks on Satawan, Truk and Ponape on its way back to the central Pacific battleground.

The Monaghan then took part in the invasion of the Mariannas, supporting the carriers as they bombarded Saipan. During the battle of the Philippine Sea the Monaghan’s group patrolled off Saipan to guard against any possible move towards the island by Japanese surface forces.

During the invasion of Guam the Monaghan was part of the anti-submarine screen for the carriers. On the night of 17-18 June she was used to protect underwater demolition teams off Agat then took part in a shore bombardment of the island on 19 June. She continued to carry out bombardment and screening missions in the Mariannas until 25 July when she departed for Pearl Harbor, then for an overhaul at Puget Sound (which was probably over by 26 September when she was photographed there)

The Monaghan departed for Ulithi on 11 November to join the forces engaged in the liberation of the Philippines. She left Ulithi to help escort three fleet oilers to a rendezvous with Task Force 38 on 17 December. As the fleet began to refuel the first part of Typhoon Cobra hit. However the worst of the storm came on 18 December, when three destroyers, Spence (DD‑512), Hull (DD‑350), and Monaghan, was all sunk.

When the storm hit the Monaghan’s fuel tanks were 76% full. She attempted to take on extra ballast to improve her stability, but her valves stuck. At 1130 all electrical power was lost and the steering engine failed, leaving her at the mercy of the waves. She rolled heavily several times to starboard, before eventually sinking at just before noon. Only six members of her crew survived, and 256 were lost. The six survivors were rescued three days later by the Brown.

Monaghan received 12 battle stars for World War II service, for Pearl Harbor, for sinking a midget submarine at Pearl Harbor, the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, the Aleutians, sinking the Japanese submarine I-7, the Gilbert Islands, Marshall Islands, the Palau and Truk raids of 1944, Hollandia, the Mariannas (Guam, Saipan and the Philippine Sea) and raids on Luzon to support the invasion of Leyte.

Displacement (standard)

1,500t

Displacement (loaded)

2,064t

Top Speed

36.5kts
36.6kts at 40,353shp at 1,513t on trial (Farragut)

Engine

2-shaft Parsons turbines
4 boilers
42,800shp (design)

Range

6,500nm at 12kts
8,968nm at 12kts on trial (Farragut)
5,980nm at 12kts at 2,150tons (wartime)
3,710nm at 12kts at 2,150tons (wartime)

Length

341ft 3in

Width

34ft 3in

Armaments

Five 5in/38 DP guns
Four 0.5in AA guns
Eight 21in torpedoes in two quad mounts
Two depth charge tracks added later

Crew complement

160 (much higher in wartime)

Laid down

21 November 1933

Launched

9 January 1935

Commissioned

19 April 1935

Sunk in Typhoon

18 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.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (15 September 2021), USS Monaghan (DD-354) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Monaghan_DD354.html

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