USS Perkins (DD-377)

USS Perkins (DD-377) was a Mahan class destroyer that served on the approaches to Australia in 1942, fighting at the battle of the Coral Sea, before moving to Guadalcanal, fighting at the battle of Tassafaronga, She then took part in the campaign on New Guinea, before she was sunk in a collision with the Australian troopship Duntroon on 29 November 1943.
USS Perkins (DD-377) underway USS Perkins (DD-377) underway

The Perkins was named after Commodore George Hamilton Perkins, who fought in the US Navy during the American Civil War.

The Perkins (DD-377) was laid down at the Puget Sound Navy Yard on 15 November 1934, launched on 31 December 1935 when she was sponsored by Mrs. Larz Anderson and commissioned on 18 September 1936.

The Perkins was allocated to the Pacific Fleet, initially with Destroyers, Scouting Force, then with Destroyers, Battle Force. She was based at San Diego before the outbreak of war, and was in the middle of an overhaul at Mare Island when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.

The overhaul was quickly completed, and she was ready for service by 15 December. On 17 December she departed as part of the escort of a convoy heading to Pearl Harbor. 


On 12 January 1942 she left Mare Island to escort the troopships President Coolidge, President Monroe and Mariposa to San Francisco.

She was back at Mare Island on 15 January and returned to the yard to have new radar installed. This must have been a quick job because on 17 January she left with the Aylwin to escort a convoy to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 25 January.

USS Perkins (DD-377) from above, 1938 USS Perkins (DD-377) from above, 1938

On 2 February she departed fo the south-west Pacific with the cruiser Chicago. On 14 April she joined the ANZAC Squadron, a mix of US, Australian and New Zealand ships operating in the eastern approaches to Australia and New Zealand.

On 1-2 May the squadron joined TF 11 and TF 17 and their fast carriers, to block a Japanese attempt to move around the eastern tip of New Guinea and invade Port Moresby from the sea. This led to the battle of the Coral Sea, the first battle in naval history with no contact between surface ships. On 7 May the Perkins and her squadron were detached to try and intercept a Japanese force that was believed to be heading to the Jomard Passage. Instead they were attacked by Japanese land based aircraft. The attack was driven off, and helped convince the Japanese to turn back for the moment. On the following day the carrier battle took place, and the Japanese were forced to abandon the entire operation.

On 10 May the ANZAC squadron returned to Australia. The Perkins spent the next two months escorting convoys along the Coral and Tasman Sea coasts of Australia. On 11 July she departed for Auckald, then moved on to Noumea. A spell of convoy escort duty between Suva and New Caledonia was ended by propeller damage.

This forced her back to New Zealand for repairs, but the fault was more serious than realised, so on 20 July she left for Pearl Harbor. The repairs were then completed, and she was given 40mm anti-aircraft guns and more radar.

In mid-November 1942 the Perkins returned to the war zone, reaching Espiritu Santo on 27 November.  Three days later she left with Rear Admiral Wright’s task force to try and intercept Japanese ships bring reinforcements to Guadalcanal. She took part in the battle of Tassafaronga, firing eight torpedoes none of which hit, then carrying out a shore bombardment. She then went to help the cruiser Pensacola, which was on fire near Tulagi.

After the battle the Perkins remained off Guadalcanal into January 1943, carrying out a mix of shore bombardments and escort duties.


In mid-January 1943 she briefly returned to Noumea for upkeep, before returning to Tulagi for more escort and fire support missions.

At the end of April she joined Task Force 10 to carry out tactical training.

In May she returned to Australia to join the fleet being gathered for the invasion of the Huon Peninsula on New Guinea.

On 21 August the Perkins, as flagship, led DesRon 5 (Smith, Conyngham and Mahan) from Milne Bay to make a sweep of Huon Gulf. On the night of 22-23 August they bombarded the Japanese base at Finschhafen.

On 4 September the Perkins bombarded the coast between the Bulu and Buso rivers, then supported the landings at Lae. On 8 September she carried out a shore bombardment of the Japanese positions at Lae, and on 15 September the Japanese withdrew from the area.

In October and November the Perkins carried out escort duties along the coast of New Guinea, in particular to Langemarks bay and to Scarlet Beach near Satelberg. On 20 October she was part of a force of five destroyers that was attacked by Japanese aircraft off Finschhafen, suffering casualties from shrapnel during the attack.

On 28 November she left Milne Bay heading for Buna. Just before 0200 on 29 November she was rammed on the port side by the Australian troopship Duntroon. The troopship was twice the weight of the destroyer, and effectively cut her in half, sinking her. However the two halves stayed afloat long enough for most of her crew to escape, and only four men were lost.

Perkins earned 4 battle stars during World War II, for the battles of the Coral Sea and Tassafaronga, Guadalcanal and Eastern New Guinea.

Displacement (standard)

1,487.9 standard

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

37.8kts at 44,477shp at 1,749t on trials (Mahan)


2-shaft General Electric tubines
4 boilers
46,000shp design


6,500nm at 12kts design
7,300nm at 12kts on trials (Mahan)
6,940nm at 12kts at 2,200t wartime
4,360nm at 20kts at 2,200t wartime


341ft 3in


35ft 6.5in


Five 5in/38 DP guns
Twelve 21in torpedoes in three quad mounts
Four 0.50in AA guns
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement


Laid down

15 November 1934


31 December 1935


18 September 1936

Sunk in collision

29 October 1943

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 (2 March 2022), USS Perkins (DD-377),

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