USS Russell (DD-414)

USS Russell (DD-414) was a Sims class destroyer that served with the Neutrality Patrol in 1940-41, then moved to the Pacific after the attack on Pearl Harbor. She took part in the early carrier raids, fought at the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, the invasion of Guadalcanal and the battle of the Santz Cruz Islands. In 1943 she took part in the invasion of Kiska in the Aleutians, then supported the invasion of the Gilberts. In 1944 she took part in the invasion of the Marshalls, then was committed to the New Guinea campaign, where she took part in the fighting at Wakde-Sarmi, Noemfoor, Sansapor and Morotai in the Dutch East Indies. She took part in the invasions of Leyte, Luzon and Okinawa. She then went for a refit that was still under way at the end of the war. She was decommissioned in November 1945.

USS Russell (DD-414), 1939-40 USS Russell (DD-414), 1939-40

The Russell was named after John Henry Russell, who served in the US Navy during the Mexican War and the US Civil War.

The Russell was laid down by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co on 20 December 1937, launched on 8 December 1938 when she was sponsored by Russell’s grand-daughter Mrs Charles H. Marshall, and commissioned on 3 November 1939.

The Russell entered service after the outbreak of war in Europe, so after her shakedown period she was assigned to the Neutralily Patrol in the western Atlantic and Caribbean.

In September 1940 she escorted the older destroyer USS Welles (DD-257), Herndon (DD-198), Buchanan and five other destroyers to Halifax, Nova Scotia, arriving on 6 September. The older destroyerswere then transferred to the Royal Navy as part of the Destroyers for Bases deal, becoming HMS Cameron, HMS Churchill, HMS Campbeltown.

In the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the Russell was one of many warships that were moved from the Atlantic to Pacific.

On 16 December 1941 the Russell and Sims (DD-409) were photographed together at the Norfolk Navy Yard. The Russell was then painted in Camouflage Measure 12 (Modified).


The Russell passed through the Panama Canal, and reached San Diego. On 6 January 1942 she departed for Samoa as part of the escort for a convoy carrying reinforcements, arriving on 20 January.

On 25 January the Russell sailed as part of the Yorktown (CV-5)’s TF 17, and screened her as her aircraft attacked Makin, Mili and Jaluit on 1 February. The task force then moved to Pearl Harbor.

In mid February the task force departed from Pearl Harbor, to carry out a raid on Japanese held Wake Island. However it was diverted from this course before the raid, and instead covered the forces establishing an airbase on Canton Island, on the route from Hawaii to Samoa, Fiji and Australia.

USS Russell (DD-414) and USS Sims (DD-409), Norfolk, 1941 USS Russell (DD-414) and USS Sims (DD-409), Norfolk, 1941

The next plan was to raid the new Japanese bases at Rabaul and Gasmata, to cover a convoy carrying troops to New Caledonia. However this plan was abandoned when the Japanese landed at Salamaua and Lae in New Guinea on 8 March, thus threatening Port Moresby, on the south coast and facing Australia. The Yorktown’s group joined with the Lexington (CV-2)’s task force and on 10 March both carriers sent aircraft north across the Owen Stanley Range to attack the new Japanese bases.

During April the Russell formed part of the screen of the Yorktown, operating mainly in the Coral Sea area to the north-east of Australia.

On 3 May she was detached to screen the oiler Neosho (AO-23) as she refuelled TF 11. The Russell rejoined TF 17 on 5 May.

She was thus with the carriers during the battle of the Coral Sea. On 7 May she was part of the anti-aircraft screen for the carriers Yorktown and Lexington when the Japanese attacked. The Lexington was hit and damaged, but at first was still able to operate. However the fires were spreading, and three hours after being hit the first of a series of explosions was reported. The Russell joined her screen as she was evacuated, and picked up 170 of her survivors. She then departed for Pearl Harbor, arriving on 27 May. 

The Russell left Pearl Harbor on 30 May to head towards Midway. On 4 June she formed part of the screen of the Yorktown, but this was unable to stop Japanese torpedo bombers successfully hitting the carrier. The Russell picked up 492 of the Yorktown’s crew when she was abandoned later on the day.

On the following day the Yorktown was still afloat and it was decided to try and save her. The Russell passed 27 of the Yorktown’s crew to the Astoria (CA-34) to take part in the rescue operation, but the Yorktown was then hit by submarine launched torpedoes (which also sank the Hammann (DD-412) and had to be abandoned for the last time.

On 10 June the Russell covered the carriers while replacements were transferred from the Saratoga (CV-3) to the Hornet (CV-8) and Enterprise (CV-6). On 13 June she returned to Pearl Harbor, where two months of training followed.

On 17 August the Russell left Pearl Harbor as part of Task Force 17, part of the screen of the Hornet. The Task Force headed towards the south-west Pacific, where on on 29 August it joined with TF 61 and became TG 61.2. On 31 August the Saratoga was hit by torpedo from the Japanese submarine I-26, and the Russell took part in the unsuccessful anti-submarine hunt that followed. The Russell did pick up one sonar contact and dropped two depth charges, then remained in the area while the task force moved off, but had no more contacts.

On 6 September aircraft from the Hornet spotted an explosion not far from the carrier, then the wake of a torpedo. A second explosion just behind it caused the torpedo to broach, nose dive, and explode before it could hit the Hornet. The aircraft dropped depth charges on the possible location of the submarine. The task force then moved on, leaving the Anderson and Russell behind. They found the Japanese submarine I-11 and the Russell dropped six depth charges. These caused leaks, disabled the sound gear and filled the forward compartment of the submarine with chlorine gas, and forced her to dive to 490 feet, but she survived and made her way back to Truk. On the surface the destroyers spotted a large oil slick but didn’t regain contact with the submarine.

The Russell spent the rest of 1942 supporting the fighting on Guadalcanal.

On 25-26 October the Russell took part in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, where the Hornet was crippled and had to be abandoned. The Hammann came alongside and rescued some of her crew, including Rear Admiral George D. Murray (the commander of Task Force 17) and his staff. Murray and his staff were then transferred to the Pensacola (CA-24) while the seriously wounded went to the Northampton (CA-26).  The Russell then took the remaining wounded to Noumea, where she also underwent repairs to her superstructure, which had been damaged while she was alongside the Hornet.

On 11 November the Russell sortied from Noumea as part of TF 16 (Enterprise, South Dakota and Washington) heading for Guadalcanal. The Russell stayed with the carrier when the battleships headed towards the island, where they took part in the naval battle of Guadalcanal.

On 19-22 November the Russell and Aylwin (DD-355) acted as plane guards for the Nassau (CVE-16) on her way to Noumea.

In December 1942 and January 1943 the Russell was used to screen convoys running between Guadalcanal and Tulagi in the combat zone and Rennell Island


During part of February the Russell was used to screen the Enterprise

On 26 February she replaced the Lamson on patrol duty in the area around Espiritu Santo.

In March and the first half of April 1943 she returnd to convoy escort duty, including one run to Australia.

The Russell was then ordered back to the West Coast for a refit. She departed on 1 May for Mare Island, and the work was completed by the end of July.

She was then allocated to the forces supporting the invasion of Kiska in the Aleutian Islands, although by the time the Americans attacked in mid August the Japanese had withdrawn. The Russell remained in the Aleutians into the autumn, before returned to the West Coast. She then escorted a convoy of landing craft to Hawaii.

In October the Russell moved to Wellington, New Zealand.

In early November she escorted transport ships to the New Hebrides, then joined Task Force 53, ready to take part in the invasion of the Gilbert Islands.

She departed for the Gilberts on 13 November. On 20 November she escorted the troop transports as they landed at Betio on Tarawa. She then screened the heavier ships as they bombarded Japanese positions. She remained off Tarawa until 25 November, providing fire support and screening transports evacuating the wounded.

On 27 November she joined TG 50.3, which joined TG 50.1 to carry out a raid on the Marshall Islands. On 4 December carrier aircraft attacked Kwajalein and Wotje, before the force returned to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 9 December. The Russell then continued on to the US West Coast to join the forces gathering for the invasion of the Marshalls.


On 13 January 1944 the Russell departed from California as part of TG 53.5, commanded by Rear Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf on the Louisville (CA-28). After exercises off the coast the force departed for Hawaii, arriving on 21 January.

The invasion force left Hawaii on 22 January. On 30 January the Russell took part in a bombardment of Wotje. On 31 January she returned to the main fleet off Kwajalein, where she performed a mix of screening and shore bombardment duties. On 2 February she screened Carrier Division 22. On 3 February she entered Kwajalein lagoon, something the Japanese hadn’t expected, and that allowed the Americans to bombard the islands in the atoll from both sides. The Russell left the Marshalls on 8 February, reached Pearl Harbor on 15 February and was sent on to Puget Sound for repairs.

The repairs were completed in March, and the Russell returned to Hawaii in early April. She was then used to escort the US Army Tug Willard Holbrook to New Guinea. At New Guinea she rejoined her squadron, Destroyer Squadron 2. On 4 May they were at Finschhafen and on 6 May they joined Task Force 76 aat Sudest. This was the start of five months of operations along the coast of New Guinea.

The Russell started by escorting LSTs to Hollandia and Aitape. On 16 May she joined TF 77 to escort LCIs and ATs to Wakde-Sarmi. From 17-20 May she took part in the invasion of Wakde. On the first day she was used to mark the approach channel, and after that returned to a familiar mix of fire support and screening duties. On 20 May she returned to Humboldt Bay.

On 25 May she departed for Biak, to take part in Operation Horlick. On 27 May she bombarded the Padaido Islands, patrolled between Pai and Pandiadori, and bombarded targets on Biak, before departing for Humboldt Bay.

During the first half of June she was used to escort convoys heading to Biak and Wakde. In mid June she took part in a bombardment of the Toem area. In the second half of June she returned to escort duties.

In early July she took part in the invasion of Noemfoor, then in mid July moved to the US base at Manus.

At the end of July she took part in Operation Globetrotter, the invasion of Sansapor and she spent August supporting that operation.

In mid September the Russell moved to the Moluccas to take part in the occupation of Morotai. The landings took place on 15 September, and on 17 September the Russell became the flagship of Admiral Daniel E. Barbey, commander of Task Force 76, replacing the Wasatch which was to return to Humboldt Bay.  

The Russell was then allocated to Task Force 78 to take part in the invasion of the Philippines. The task force departed on 13 October. On 20 October she supported the Northern Attack Force as it landed south of Tacloban (in the north-east of Leyte), patrolling off Alabat Point, a point on the coast of Samar, to the east/ south-east of Tacloban. On 21 October she provided fire support to the north of the landing area at Tacloban. She remained in the area until 24 October. On 25 October she patrolled further to the south in Leyte Gulf. On 26 October she departed for New Guinea.

In November and December she escorted convoys from New Guinea to Leyte.

On 28 December she departed from Aitape to take part in the invasion of Luzon.


On 5 January 1945 the Russell entered the Mindoro Sea. On 7 January she she formed part of an interceptor force posted five miles to the starboard of the San Fabian Attack Force to guard against any Japanese attempt to attack the attack force convoy as it passed Manila Bay.

At 22.30 on 7 January the Russell, Charles Ausburne (DD-570), Braine (DD-630) and Shaw (DD-373) found the Japanese destroyer Hinoki fifty miles to the west-southwest of Manila Bay. The destroyers opened fire, and within twenty minutes the Hinoki exploded and sank. This minor clash was the last battle between significant US and Japanese warships during the war.

On 9 January the Russell’s force reached Lingayen Gulf, and she carried out screening duties off the transport area. She operated in the gulf for the next nine days, helping to fight off repeated Kamikaze attacks.

On 11 January she took part in a bombardment of previously unknown Japanese guns that had opened fire on a landing boat from the Warren when it had accidently landed near the Japanese held town of Damortis.

From 18-23 January she was used to escort damaged ships back to Leyte. On 27 January she departed for Luzon, arriving off Nasugbu Bay (to the south-west of Manila) on 31 January, where she covered minesweepers as they cleared the approach channels. She then bombarded Japanese positions on Nasugbu Point, before heading north back to Lingayen Gulf late in the afternoon.

On 2 February she departed for Leyte, from where she moved to Guadalcanal, arriving on 15 February to rejoin the 5th Fleet as it prepared for the invasion of Okinawa.

The Russell supported the landings on Okinawa on 1 April, screening the Northern Transport area. From 3-5 April she patrolled to the north of Ie Shima. She was then used to escort a convoy heading back to Ulithi. She returned to Okinawa on 21 April, escorting transports carrying reinforcements to the beaches at Hagushi. She then moved to Karama Retto, and spent the rest of April and most of May screening the carriers.

On 27 May she left the carrier area at the start of a journey back to the United States for an overhaul at Seattle. This was still going on when the Japanese surrendered, and it was decided not to return her to service. Instead she was decommissioned on 15 November, struck off on 28 November, and sold for scrap in September 1947.

Russell earned 16 battle stars during World War II, for the Pacific Raids of 1942, Coral Sea, Midway, Buin-Faisi-Tonolai raid, battle of Santa Cruz, naval battle of Guadalcanal, consolidation of the Solomons, Gilberts, Marshalls, Rennell Island, Hollandia, Western New Guinea, Leyte, Luzon, Okinawa and Manila Bay.

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 (3 January 2023), USS Russell (DD-414) ,

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