USS Patterson (DD-392)

USS Patterson (DD-392) was a Bagley class destroyer that fought at Pearl Harbor, during the invasions of Guadalcanal, New Georgia, the Eastern Solomons, the Marianas, the Western Caroline Islands, Leyte, Luzon, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. 

The Patterson was named after Daniel Todd Patterson, who served in the US Navy during the Quasi-War with France and the War of 1812.

USS Patterson (DD-392) and USS Jarvis (DD-393) being launched, 1937 USS Patterson (DD-392) and USS Jarvis (DD-393) being launched, 1937

The Patterson  was laid down on 23 July 1933 at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash, launched on 6 May 1937 when she was sponsored by Miss Elizabeth P. Patterson and commissioned on 22 September 1937. Her first cruise took her to Pearl Harbor, where she arrived on 7 December, before she returned to Puget Sound on 22 December. She was based on the US west coast from then until June 1940, apart from a second visit to Hawaii in March-April 1938.

On 3 June 1940 the Patterson departed for her her new base at Hawaii. For the next eighteen months she operated in the Hawaiian Sea Frontier, patrolling the area between Pearl Harbor, Midway and Palmyra Islands.

The Patterson was moored at berth X-11 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and was able to open fire with her 5in and .50in guns soon after the Japanese attack began. She claimed one victory, an aircraft that was attacking USS Curtis and was blown apart just after one of her 5in guns fired. The Patterson was still moored when she claimed this victory, but was underway by 0900. At the time her commander was onshore, but followed her out of harbour on a small boat and came onboard at 0930 when she was two miles south of the harbour entrance. The Patterson patrolled outside the harbour for the rest of the day but had no contact with the Japanese.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack the Patterson formed part of the screen of the Saratoga, as she patrolled off Hawaii. On 28 December she rescued 19 survivors from the  merchant ship Marimi, which had been torpedoed several days earlier. She also helped escort convoys carrying reinforcements to Canton Island.


On 5 February 1942 the Patterson left Pearl Harbor as part of the screen of the cruiser Pensacola. This group then joined the Lexington’s task group for a series of carrier raids in the south-west Pacific.

On 20 February the Lexington attacked Rabaul on New Britain.  The Patterson rescued one pilot whose aircraft ended up in the sea. She then supported the carriers as they attacked Lae and Salamaua on New Guinea on 10 March before returing to Pearl Harbor.

On 7 April she left Pearl Harbor heading for Mare Island, where she underwent an overhaul. She was back at Pearl Harbor on 17 May.

On 22 May the Patterson left Pearl Harbor to join the fleet being gathered in Australia for the invasion of Guadalcanal. On 22 June she left Brisbane to take part in rehearsals for the attack being held in the Fij Islands, then formed part of the screen for the attack transports carrying the Marines to their target.

USS Patterson (DD-392) at sea in 1939 USS Patterson (DD-392) at sea in 1939

When the Marines landed on Guadalcanal on 7 August the Patterson formed part of the screen for the transport ships. She then helped fight off Japanese air attacks on the landing area. On the following day she claimed four Japanese torpedo aircraft, although the Jarvis and transport George F. Elliot were both sunk.

On the night of 8-9 August the Patterson formed part of the force built around the Australian cruisers Australia and Canberra, and the American cruiser Chicago. During the night a Japanese task force managed to slip past the two picket destroyers posted to the north of Savo Island, and caught two Allied cruiser forces by surprise (battle of Savo Island). At 0143 on 9 August the Patterson signalled ‘Warning! Warning! Strange ships entering the harbour!’, but by this point the Japanese had already launched the torpedoes that crippled the Canberra. The Patterson opened fire on the Japanese, but was then hit by a salvo of 5in gun fire, which killed 10 men, injured 8, knocked out No.4 Gun and damaged No.3 Gun. The Japanese also damaged the Chicago before turning north where they almost destroyed the second Allied cruiser force, sinking the Vincennes, Astoria and Quincy. In the aftermath of the battle the Patterson attempted to help the Canberra, but that cruiser had to be sunk when the rest of the force withdrew so she was only able to help rescue some of the crew. She also helped the Australia. After the battle she moved to Noumea, New Caledonia, where she arrived on 14 August.

The Patterson then returned to sea as part of the Saratoga’s task group and screened the carrier as the group guarded the approaches to Guadalcanal. However on 31 August the Saratoga was damaged by a Japanese submarine and had to return to Pearl Harbor. The Patterson was detached from her group, and escorted the Australia to Brisbane, arriving on 3 September. She then joined Task Force 44.

On 9 October 1942 the Mugford (DD-389), Helm (DD-388) and Patterson (DD-392) took part in gunnery exercises inside the Great Barrier Reef, near the Palm Islands.


For the first few months of 1943 the Patterson formed part of an Australian-American force of cruisers and destroyers that carried out patrol and escort duties along the east coast of Australia (Task Force 44 under British Rear Admiral Victor Crutchley).

On 16 January 1943 she was used to escort the submarine USS Wahoo at the start of her third war patrol, a reconnaissaince mission at Wewak on New Guinea.

On 5 May she rescued 19 survivors from the SS Fingal.

The Patterson then escorted the SS Pennant to Noumea, arriving on 13 May. She joined the task force built around the Saratoga and HMS Victorious, and screened the carriers while they guarded the approaches to Guadalcanal.

Over the next few months the Patterson carried out patrols and convoy escort missions in an area that stetched from Guadalcanal to Australia and out to the US bases on the New Hebrides and New Caledonia.

On the night of 23-24 July the Patterson, Conway, Taylor and Ellet escorted four APDs of TransDiv 22 to Enogai Inlet to supply the Marine force fighting in that area. This force came under fire from Japanese shore batteries on nearby Kolombangara, but the Conway and Patterson were able to knock them out.

On 25 July the Patterson was one of five destroyers that bombarded Lambeti Plantation, near the Munda air strip on New Georgia.

On 25 August she was escorting a convoy to the Solomon Islands when her radar detected a submarine. She dropped depth charges as the submarine dived, and the attack ended with an underwater explosion. A number of Japanese submarines were lost in this area at the time, so it isn’t possible to be sure which one, if any, was sunk here, although RO-35 and I-25 are possible.

On 24 September she escorted a convoy of landing craft to Vella Lavella Island. She then left to escort high speed transports to Rendova Island, but had to turn back when news arrived that the landing craft at Vella Lavella were under air attack. However by the time the Patterson returned to the area the attack was over. She was able to send medical and rescue parties to help the survivors.

On the night of 29-30 September the Patterson took part in a sweep up the slot to find Japanese barge traffic. The McCalla left the formation to attack radar contacts, but on her return her stearing failed and she collided with the port bow of the Patterson. Three men were killed and ten injured on the Patterson, and she almost lost her bow. The damaged bow later broke off as the Patterson was on her way back to base. The two destroyers underwent emergency repairs at Purvis Bay. The Patterson then  moved to Espiritu Santo, where she was given a false bow. On 6 December she was able to depart for Mare Island, where she arrived on 22 December.


The repairs were complete by 8 March 1944 when the Patterson left San Francisco heading for Pearl Harbor. She arrived on 15 March, and spent some time training with the fast carrier groups in Hawaiian waters, then in the recently captured Marshall Islands.

On 6 June the Patterson left Mahuro to take part in the invasion of Saipan in the Mariana Islands, forming part of the Bunker Hill Task Group. She took part in the pre-invasion bombardment of Saipan, then protected the troop transports during the initial landings on 15 June.

The invasion of the Marianas triggered a massive Japanese counterattack, the battle of the Philippine Sea. The Patterson formed part of the anti-aircraft screen around the Fast Carrier Task Force, but most of the Japanese were shot down before they reached the US fleet. The Patterson remained with the fast carriers until the Japanese had retreated out of range, then returned to Saipan.

After her return to Saipan she provided night illumination fire. She then bombarded targets on Tinian, and remained in the area supporting the invasion until 9 August when she departed for Eniwetok.

At Eniwetok the Patterson joined the fast carriers again, and screened them as they attacked targets on Iwo Jima and in the Western Caroline Islands, She also took part in a bombardment of Yap Island on 8 September.

The Patterson then escorted the carriers to the Palau Islands, and remained there until 9 October, supporting the fighting on the islands. She then moved to Manus for replenishment.

The Patterson next escorted the fast carriers as they raided Okinawa and the Kerama Retto chain, Northern Luzon in the Philippines, and on 12-13 October Formosa.

The carriers then returned to the Philippines to attack Luzon, as part of the preparations for the invasion of Leyte. The Patterson helped drive off Japanese dive bombers that were attacking the carrier Franklin.

USS Patterson (DD-392) refueling at sea, Lingayen Bay USS Patterson (DD-392) refueling at sea, Lingayen Bay

On 20 October the carriers supported the troops landing on Leyte. This triggered the last major Japanese naval operation of the war, a complex three-pronged attack on the American fleet (battle of Leyte Gulf). The Patterson was part of the screen of the fast carriers, so saw no direct action, but did take part in the dash north to destroyer the empty Japanese carriers which left the landing forces back in the gulf vulnerable. Luckily the Japanese missed their chance and retreated after being held off by a force of escort carriers.

On 30 October the Patterson helped fight off a major kamikaze attack on the fleet. However the carriers Franklin and Belleau Wood were badly damaged in the attack. The Patterson helped rescue men who had been blown off the carriers, then escorted them back to Ulithi, arriving on 3 November.

Her next role was to protect carriers that were providing air cover for convoys heading to the Philippines, a role she performed until 9 December when she was sent to Kossol Roads in the Palau Islands.

On 10 December she joined the screen of a mixed escort carrier and bombardment task group that supported the landings on Mindoro. The Patterson spent seven days in the Sulu Sea, again helping fight off kamikaze attacks.


At the start of 1945 the Patterson formed part of the screen for the escort carriers during the invasion of Lingayen Gulf on Luzon. This once again brought her into contact with the  kamikazes. On 4 January she rescued 124 survivors from the damaged carrier Ommoney Bay and on 5 January from the carrier Manila Bay and destroyer Stafford. On 13 January she shot down an aircraft that was heading for the carrier Salamaua. She remained on post guarding the secort carriers until 17 January when she returned to Ulithi.

On 10 February the Patterson put to see to take part in rehearsals for the invasion of Iwo Jima, then formed part of the screen of the escort carriers protecting the amphibious warfare ships during the landings themselves. On 21 February she rescued 106 survivors from the carrier Bismarck Sea, which had been sunk by a conventional torpedo attack. She remained off Iwo Jima with the escort carriers until 10 March before returning to Ulithi again.

On 21 March she departed as part of the screen of seven escort carriers heading to Okinawa. These carriers supported the landings on Okinawa on 1 April. On 2 April she shot down a kamikaze aircraft that was attacking the carrier Lunga Point. She remained off Okinawa until her sonar equipment broke down on 29 April, when she departed for Guam for repairs.

On 4 June she left Guam to escort the New Mexico to Leyte. She then joined a troop and supply reinforcement convoy heading to Kerama Retto and by 12 June she was back with the escort carriers. She remained off Okinawa for the rest of the battle.

After repairs at Leyte the Patterson moved to Saipan, which became her base for escort and patrol missions from there to Okinawa, Guam and the Marshalls. She was still performing this duty when the Japanese surrendered.

On 16 August she left Saipan to escort the New Jersey to Manila then to Buckner Bay on Okinawa. She left Buckner Bay on 8 September to return to the United States, reaching San Diego on 26 September.

On the following day she departed for the east coast, reaching New York on 11 October. She was decommissioned on 8 November 1945, struck off on 25 February 1947 and sold for scrap on 18 August 1947.

Patterson received 13 battle stars for World War II service, for Pearl Harbor, the Pacific Raids of 1942, the Guadalcanal landings, New Georgia, the Eastern Solomons, sinking I-25,  the Marianas, Tinian, Western Caroline Islands, Leyte, Luzon, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

38kts design
36.8kt at 47,191shp at 1,969t on trial (Blue)


2-shaft General Electric turbines
4 boilers


6,500nm at 12kts design
6,940nm at 12kts at 2,200t wartime
4,360nm at 20kts at 2,200t wartime

Armour - belt


 - deck



341ft 3in


35ft 6.5in


Four 5in/38 guns
Sixteen 21in torpedo tubes in four quad mounts
Four .50in AA guns
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement


Laid down

23 July 1933


6 May 1937


22 September 1937

Sold for scrap

18 August 1947

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 (pending), USS Patterson (DD-392) ,

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