USS Preston (DD-379)

USS Preston (DD-379) was a Mahan class destroyer that fought at the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, before being sunk by Japanese gunfire on 14 November 1942, during the naval battle of Guadalcanal.

The Preston was named after Samuel W. Preston, a Canadian who served in the US Navy during the Civil War and who was killed during an attack on Fort Fisher on 13 January 1865.

The Preston (DD-379) was laid down 1934 at the Mare Island Navy Yard on 27 October (alongside USS Smith (DD-378), launched on 22 April 1936 when she was sponsored by Mrs. Edward H. Campbell, and commissioned on 27 October 1936.

After her shakedown cruiser the Preston briefly came under the direct command of the Chief of Naval Operations, before she was allocated to the Battle Forces, US Fleet, based on the US west coast. At first she joined DesRon 1, then DesRon 5. She was still based on the West Coast when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.


The Preston spend the first few months of 1942 carrying out patrols and coastal escort missions along the US West Coast.

USS Smith (DD-378) and USS Preston (DD-379) under construction USS Smith (DD-378) and USS Preston (DD-379) under construction

On 1 June 1942 she left the west coast heading for Hawaii as part of the escort for the carrier Saratoga. They arrived too late to take part in the battle of Midway, reaching Pearl Harbor on 6 June, but departed on the following day to deliver fresh aircraft and pilots to Enterprise and Hornet to replace the ones lost at Midway.

The Preston returned to Pearl Harbor on 13 June and spent the next four months operating in the Hawaiian area, carrying out a mix of exercises, patrol and escort work.

On 4 October the Preston joined Task Force 16, and on 15 October they departed for the Solomon Islands. On 24 October they met up with TF 16 and the two combined to form Task Force 61.

On 26 October the Preston fought at the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, shooting down two Japanese aircraft. She also rescued the crew of an Avenger that was forced to ditch after being shot at by American anti-aircraft guns while attempting to land on the Enterprise (this isn’t entirely surprising – the sign for a deferred landing was to fly with the tail hook down but wheels up, not a very distinct sign in the chaos of a carrier battle!).

She then returned to Noumea to resupply, before returning to the Solomons.

On the evening of 14 November the Preston and TF 64 moved to the western end of Guadalcanal to intercept a Japanese force that was heading east to land reinforcements and bombard Henderson Field (part of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal). The force was made up of four destroyers and two battleships. The fighting began with a clash between the US battleships and the Japanese cruiser Sendai, which was driven off. Soon after this the American destroyers became the centre of attention. First the Walke was hit, and then a few minutes later the Preston. A salve from Nagara knocked out both of her firerooms and set her on fire. With no power and illuminated by the fires she was an easy target, and at 2336 the order to abandon ship was given. She was probably also hit by friendly fire from the Washington. A few seconds later she rolled, but stayed afloat for another ten minutes before sinking. 116 of her crew were lost with her. Some of her survivors were rescued by the Meade (DD-602).

Amongst the dead was her captain, Max Clifford Stormes, and the Allen M Sumner class destroyer USS Stormes (DD-780) was named after him.

The battle was disasterous for the four destroyers – Walke also sank quickly, Benham was badly damaged and sank on the next day and Gwin was badly damaged. However the USS Washington was able to effectively ambush the Japanese battleship Kirishima while she was attacking the South Dakota, and the Japanese battleship sank on the following morning. Her sister ship Hiei had been lost earlier in the same battle, making them the first two Japanese battleships lost during the Second World War.

Preston (DD-379) earned two battle stars for World War II service, for the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands and the naval battle of Guadalcanal.


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

27 October 1934


22 April 1936


27 October 1936


14 November 1942

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 (16 March 2022), USS Preston (DD-379),

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