USS Murphy (DD-603)

USS Murphy (DD-603) was a Benson class destroyer that took part in Operation Torch, the invasion of Sicily, trans-Atlantic convoy escort duties, the D-Day landings and Operation Dragoon before reaching the Pacific theatre just in time to take part in the occupation of Japan.

The Murphy was named after John McLeod Murphy, who served in the US Navy during the American Civil War.

The Murphy was laid down by the Bethlehem Steel Corp at Staten Island on 19 May 1941, launched on 29 April 1942 when she was sponsored by Murphy’s daughter Miss M. Elsie Murphy and commissioned on 25 July 1942.

The Murphy’s shakedown cruise took her to Casco Bay, Maine. She then carried out some escort duties off Halifax, before being allocated to the Center Attack Group of the Western Naval Task Force for Operation Torch, the invasion of French North Africa. She was part of the anti-submarine screen for the task force as it crossed the Atlantic.

The Murphy reached the landing area on 7 November. On 8 November she was used to control the waves of landing craft as they carried out the invasion. She then provided fire support off Point Blondin, and became engaged in an exchange of fire with the Sherkhi battery in which she was hit in the aft engine room and lost 3 dead and 25 wounded. She was able to stay in action and helped silence the guns at Cape Blondin as well as fighting off an air attack on 9 November. She was then released to return to the United States for full repairs, reaching Boston on 24 November.


Once the repairs were completed the Murphy was used to escort convoys moving between New York and Panama and between Norfolk and Casablanca.

On 24 June she took part in a rehearsal for the landings on Sicily, which took place at Sid Fredj in French Algeria. After the exercises she escorted a force of transports back to Algiers.

On 10 July the Murphy supported the landings in the Dime Assault Area at Gela, Sicily. That evening she was damaged by near misses during a night air attack, which damaged her stern and wounded one man. After the air raid she patrolled the transport area with the Glennon and Butler. She was then used to provide fire support to the troops fighting on Sicily into early August.

On 12 July she was attacked again, and a German dive bomber only missed her by 100 yards.

On 9 August the Murphy, Glennon, Nelson, Cowie and Herndon left Mers-El-Kebir to escort a convoy containing the Chateau Thierry (AP-31), Orizaba, Borinquen, Evangeline, Mexico, and Shawnee to Casablanca. They passed through the Straits of Gibraltar early on 10 August and reached Casablanca later on the same day.

On 12 August she joined Nelson, Glennon, Herndon and Cowie to form the anti-submarine screen for Orizaba, Shawnee, Borinquen, Mexico, Chateau, Thierry, Evangeline and Buena Vista. Later that day they left Casablanca heading for Brooklyn. Soon afterwards they joined TG 89.6, escorted by Gherardi, Jeffers, Roe and Butler for the rest of the voyage.

After her return to the US the Murphy began to escort convoys to the United Kingdom.

On 5 September she left New York as part of the escort for convoy UT-2, which reached Belfast on 14 September.

On 21 September she left Belfast as part of the screen for convoy TU-2, heading back to New York. This convoy passed through hurricane strength winds on 30 September but all the ships safely reached New York on 1 October.

On 21 October she left New York as part of TF 69, which was to escort the combined merchant and troop convoy UT-4 to Belfast. However that evening the Murphy was hit between the bridge and forward funnel by the tanker Bulkoil. The Murphy split in two, and the forward part sank, drowning 38 men who were trapped below decks. Another 100 men were thrown into the sea, but were rescued by boats from the Glennon, Knight and Jeffers. The aft section remained afloat, and was towed back towards New York by the Glennon. On 22 October the tug Rescue took over, while the survivors from Murphy were transferred to the Coast Guard cutter Cartigan (WSC-132), allowing the Glennon to rejoin the convoy.

The Murphy went into the New York Navy Yard, where she was given an entire new forward section. This took seven months to complete.


The Murphy was repaired in time to take part in the D-Day landings. She crossed the Atlantic in May, reaching Belfast on 14 May. On 15-16 May she moved from Belfast to Plymouth, where she took part in a series of training exercises. On 23 May the Murphy, Glennon and Jeffrey took part in joint shore bombardment exercises off Slapton Sands. On 24 May the same destroyers escorted the Augusta to Portland. On 25 May she was part of the fleet that was reviewed by King George VI in Portland Harbour. She then returned to Belfast, before on 31 May moving to Ardrossan, Scotland, to take part in anti E-boat exercises. On 2 June news arrived that D-Day had been set for 5 June, and she returned south.

The D-Day landings were postponed to 6 June. On 5 June the Murphy left Portland heading to Omaha Beach, where she provided fire support and screened the transport ships on D-Day and into mid June. On 8 June she took part in a gunnery duel with German shore batteries. She also fought off a number of E-boat and torpedo attacks.

On the night of 21-22 June she was forced back to Portland by the great storm that destroyed the American Mulberry harbour.

On 25 June she was part of Battle Group 1 of the Cherbourg Bombardment Force (TF 129) and took part in the bombardment of the port of Cherbourg.

In July the Murphy moved to the Mediterranean to take part in Operation Dragoon, the invasion of the South of France. She was allocated to Task Force 88, the Aircraft Carrier Force. During the invasion itself she carried out a mix of fire support, plane guard and screening duties.

On 6 September the Murphy, Augusta, Tuscaloosa and Fitch left Oran, heading back to the United States. On her arrival the Murphy went to New York for an overhaul.


The Murphy’s next major mission was to provide part of the escort for the Quincy as she carried President Roosevelt across the Atlantic to take part in the Malta Conference and the meeting with King Ibn Saud in the Great Bitter Lake, Egpyt.

Entourage of Ibn Saud on USS Murphy (DD-603), 1945 Entourage of Ibn Saud on USS Murphy (DD-603), 1945

On 21 January 1945 she left Norfolk as part of TU 21.5.4 (and flagship of Destroyer Squadron 17). The President’s convoy left on the same day. On 27 January the Murphy’s group took over the escort. On 29 January the Murphy reported detected a U-boat, but soon decided it was only fish. She escorted the President through the Straits of Gibraltar and was then detached to refuel at Oran before rejoining the convoy. The Presidential party reached Malta on 2 February, the last day of the conference.

The President then flew on to Yalta in the Crimea for the last of the ‘Big Three’ conferences to include Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt. On the way back President Roosevelt met with King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, in the Great Bitter Lake. The meeting was to be held onboard the cruiser Quincy. While Roosevent was at Yalta the US fleet moved to Egypt.

After her arrival at the Great Bitter Lake the Murphy was sent to Jeddah to collect King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia and his party. She arrived off Jeddah on 11 February and the King came on board the next day. His party included his brother, the American Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and heavily armed bodyguards.

The King travelled in some style. A large tent was built covering her forecastle for use by his party. Photographs also show an open area in front of one of the gun turrets covered with rugs, and with a comfortable armchair for the King. A depth charge was dropped to entertain the Royal party

The Murphy reached the Great Bitter Lake on 14 February and the King was transferred to the Quincy to meet the President.

After this excitement, the Murphy departed for New York for a minor overhaul. She then joined an anti-submarine hunter-killer group operating off the coast of New England and Nova Scotia.

In May she helped escort one of the last return convoys from the US to Oran.

On 2 June she entered the Boston Navy Yard for a refit ready to move to the Pacific Fleet. She left Boston on 10 July, but didn’t reach Okinawa until 9 September, too late to take part in the fighting. She joined the Fifth Fleet and spent the next two and a half months helping with the occupation of southern Japan. During this period she visited Nagasaki, Yokosuka, Wakayama, and Nagoya.

On 21 November she left Okinawa heading for the United States. She was decommissioned at Charleston on 9 March 1946 and joined the reserve.

The Murphy was struck off on 1 November 1970 and sold for scrap on 6 October 1972.

Murphy received four battle stars for World War II service, for North Africa, Sicily, Normandy 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

19 May 1941


29 April 1942


25 July 1942

Struck off

1 November 1970

Sold for scrap

6 October 1972

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 (31 May 2023), USS Murphy (DD-603) ,

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