USS Stack (DD-406)

USS Stack (DD-406) was a Benham class destroyer that served in the Pacific from 1940-June 1941 then joined the Atlantic Neutrality Patrol. She operated in the Atlantic and off the US East Coast until June 1942 when she moved to the Pacific to take part in the invasion of Guadalcanal. In 1943 she operated in the Solomons, fighting in the battle of Vella Gulf (6-7 August) and took part in the invasion of the Gilberts. In 1944 she took part in the invasion of the Marshalls, then underwent a refit. On her return she operated off New Guinea in July-September, then took part in the invasion of Leyte in October and Luzon in December. In 1945 she took part in the invasion of Okinawa. She was used as a target for the Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests and was decommissioned in August 1946.

The Stack was named after Edward Stack, who served under John Paul Jones during the battle between Bon Homme Richard and HMS Sarapis in 1779.

The Stack was laid down at the Norfolk Navy Yard on 25 June 1937, launched on 5 May 1938 when she was sponsored by Miss Mary Teresa Stack and commissioned on 20 November 1939. Her shakedown cruise too her to the West Indies and Rio de Janeiro, and ended on 4 April 1940.

The Stack was assigned to the Pacific Fleet, and was based at Pearl Harbor from the spring of 1940 until June 1941.

On 19 March 1941 the Farragut collided with the Aylwin towards the end of night exercises off Pearl Harbor, nearly severing the Aylwin’s bow and triggering a massive fire. The Stack was one of the ships that provided fire parties, and the flames were under control by 0140 on 20 March.

In June 1941 the Stack departed for the east coast, where she underwent an overhaul at the Philadelpia Navy Yard. In November she began to operate with the Neutrality Patrol in the area off Bermuda. She continued this role for a short period after the US entry into the war.

On 22 December she left Bermuda as part of the screen for the Wasp (CV-7), along with the Long Island (AVG-1) and Sterett, arriving at Norfolk on 24 December. On 28 December she left Norfolk as part of the screen for the Long Island (CVE-1), reaching Casco Bay, Maine on 30 December. She then left Casco Bay as part of the screen for the Long Island and Philadelphia (CL-41) as they moved to Argentia, Newfoundland. 


The small flotilla reached Argentia on 1 January 1942, and the Stack was then assigned to patrol duty. On 15 January she rescued two survivors from the Bay Rose, which had been torpedoed off Cape Race on the previous night. From 17-24 January she escorted the convoy carrying the first troops from the new American Expeditionary Force on their way to Northern Ireland. Presumably she left the convoy in mid-Atlantic, as the convoy reached Belfast on 26 January, while the Stack was next reported at Iceland.

On 29 January the Stack was moving from Hvalfjordur to Reykjavik, Iceland, when she was ordered to carry out a submarine sweep in the area where the USCGC Alexander Hamilton had been torpedoed. During the night the Stack’s crew spotted a submarine close to the ship, and returned to the spot where she carried out two attacks on a sonar target. She was jouned by the Sterett (DD-407), which also carried out two attacks. Their target was U-132, which suffered damage to a diesel compressor that forced her to cut her patrol short and return to France for repairs.

On 31 January the Stack left Iceland to return to Casco Bay, where she was based until 16 March.

On 16 March the Stack and the Wasp’s TG 22.6 left Casco Bay heading for Norfolk. However in poor visibility early on 17 March the Wasp rammed the Stack on the starboard side, creating a hole that flooded number one fire room. Given the size difference between the two ships, the Stack was lucky to get off with comparatively minor damage. She was still able to proceed under her own power, and moved to the Philadelpha Navy Yard for repairs that lasted until May.

Once these repairs were over it was decided to transfer the Stack to the Pacific Theatre. On 5 June she joined Task Force 37, with the Wasp, Quincy (CA-39), San Juan (CL-54), Lang (DD-399), Wilson (DD-408), Buchanan (DD-484), and Farenholt (DD-491), and departed for San Diego. The fleet arrived on 19 June, and was redesignated as Task Force 18. This force was allocated to the fleet being formed to support the invasion of Guadalcanal. On 25 June it was ordered to move to Nukualofa, Tongatapu Island, arriving on 18 July. After five days of battle preparation the force departed for Gaudalcanal.

The Stack was part of Destroyer Squadron 12 during the initial landings on Guadalcanal and Tulagi. She was then assigned to independent escort and patrol duties in the Guadalcanal area.

On 23 October she was the escort for the oiler Sabine (AO-25) when the South Dakota refuelled from her on her way from Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal. The South Dakota had only left dry dock on 9 October after the completion of repairs to the damage she suffered when hitting an uncharted rock on Lahai Passage on 6 September.

The Stack then met up with the South Dakota once again on 15 November, when the battleship was retiring from Guadalcanal to Noumea after suffering damage during the naval battle of Guadalcanal. She then escorted the South Dakota and Washington to Noumea, where they arrived on 17 November.


On 16 January 1943 the Stack was ordered back to Mare Island for a period of repairs and an overhaul. She was there from 2 February-23 March when she departed to escort the SS Matsonia to Pearl Harbor. The Stack then continued on to Efate in the New Hebrides Islands.

She was photographed at Mare Island on 19-21 March 1943. Photographs show that she was given two new anti-aircraft guns in gun tubs just behind the rear guns, with smaller platforms, probably carrying the gun control equipment, slightly further forward, and depth charge racks by the side of the rear superstructure. One photograph includes two circles showing modifications, but these appear to be pointing at areas of piping and it isn’t clear what the changes actually were.

From 20 April to late May the Stack was based at Efate, and carried out several patrols off Guadalcanal.

From late May into June she screened the Maryland (BB-46) as the battleship helped cover the southern supply routes to Guadalcanal.

In July-August the Stack was part of Task Froce 31, operating closer to Guadalcanal. On 17-18 July she came under air attack near New Georgia Island.

The Stack fought in the Battle of Vella Gulf, on the night of 6-7 August. She was part of Task Group 31.2, which was searching for Japanese shipping heading for Kolombangara.  The American force, under Commander Frederick Moosbrugger, was arranged in two columns. The Stack was at the rear of the starboard column, which was slightly behind the port column. At 23.35 the Dunlap (DD-384) reported making radar contact. This proved to be with a force of four Japanese destroyers that were attempting to transport troops to Kolombangara. For once the Americans had the best of a night action, hitting the Japanese with a succesful torpedo attack, then opening fire with their guns. Three of the four Japanese destroyers, Arashi, Hagikaze, and Kawakaze, were sunk and the fourth was damaged. After the battle the Americans returned to Tulagi.

On 7-10 October the Stack took part in a series of large scale exercises carried out to test different arrangements of task forces and task groups. She formed part of Task Force 38, built around the Saratoga, Breton (CVE-23), San Diego (CL-53), San Jaun (CL-54) and their destroyer escorts.

In November the Stack was part of TF 38 when that unit carried out carrier attacks on Rabaul. On 11 November the task force was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The Stack opened fire on a group of 20 Vals that were approaching from her starboard side, and eventually about 90 aircraft took part in the attack. The Stack claimed one victory and two probables.

The Stack was part of TG 50.4 during the invasion of Tarawa and Makin in the Gilbert Islands. She was part of the screen for the carriers on 20 November, the day of the invasion, and once again had to fight off Japanese aircraft.

On 8 December she took part in the combined air and shore bombardment of Naura Island, to the west of the Gilberts.


In late January and early February 1944 the Stack formed part of Task Force 58 and took part in the bombardment and invasion of Kwajalein and Majuro in the Marshalls.

On 29 January she rescued most of the crew from a TBF from the Intrepid that had gone out of control while landing back onboard after taking photographs of the Roi-Namur atoll.

On 30 January she formed part of the screen for the battleships South Dakota, Alabama, North Carolina and cruiser Indianapolis as they approached Roi-Namur for a bombardment. She also opened fire herself, targeting gun emplacements and hangers on Roi and a building on Namur. Later in the day she attacked gun positions, oil tanks, ammo dumps and buildings on Namur and gun positions on Roi.

On 17-18 February she was part of the screen for the nine carriers that carried out a raid on the Japanese base at Truk, then on 20 February hit Jaluit Atoll. The Stack then departed for the US West Coast and another overhaul.

She was photographed at Mare Island on 5 May 1944, when alterations included a small platform in front of the bridge, and what appears to be a small antenna of some sort on top of the bridge. By this point she had been painted in camouflage measure 31, design 11d. She also had a long dent on her port side, low down behind the hull number.

This overhaul lasted from 11 March to 22 June, when she departed from Pearl Harbor, from where she moved on to Milne Bay and a period with the Seventh Fleet, supporting the fighting on New Guinea and the Philippines.

The Stack reached Milne Bay on 15 July, where she joined TG 76.7. She took part in the some of the last parts of the campaign on New Guinea, starting by laying a minefield off Wewak. On the night of 31 August-1 September she shelled Kairiru Island near Wewak. On 15 September she was part of the fleet during the invasion of Morotai in the Moluccas.

She then joined the massive fleet that was assembled for the return to the Philippines. She was part of TG 78.4, which entered Leyte Gulf on 17 October. She then spent two days on fire support duties off the Dinagat Island area. On 20 October Stack, Lang and five minesweepers carried out minesweeping operations to support the landings on Pinaon Island.

The Stack then returned to New Guinea, where she joined TG 78.5 for the landings at Lingayen Gulf on Luzon. This group departed from Sansapor on New Guinea on 30 December 1944 heading for Luzon.


From 5-12 January 1945 the Stack performed a mix of anti-submarine patrols, anti-aircraft duty and fire support missions to support the fighting on land around Lingayen Gulf. She then spent three weeks escorting convoys between Leyte and Lingayen Gulf.

On 24 January she departed from Leyte Gulf with TU 78.12.4. On the first day she detected propeller noises from a submerged submarine, and the force made a 50 degree emergency turn. The Stack pursued the contact, and her sonar reported hearing a torpedo pass from starboard to port, missing the ships in the convoy. The fleet also came under air attack which sank the Shadwell (LSD-15). The rest of the convoy arrived safely at Lingayen Gulf on 27 January.

On 8 February the Stack departed for the Solomon Islands, where she underwent a periof of upkeep and training that lasted into mid-March.

She was then allocated to the forces being assembled for the invasion of Okinawa. She left Purvis Bay on 15 March, spent a week at Ulithi, and departed for Okinawa as part of TG 53 on 27 March. She reached Okinawa on 1 April, and operated as an anti-submarine and anti-aircraft ship from then until 5 April whe she was ordered back to Saipan. During these five days she fired on several Japanese aircraft that were attacking the fleet.

From Saipan the Stack moved to Ulithi, from where on 13 April she departed for Okinawa once again. She arrived at Hagushi on 21 April and spent the rest of the month on patrol duty west of Zampa Misaki.

In May and early June she operated to the south-east of Okinawa, covering the Sakashima Islands,

On 15 June the Stack was ordered to screen the Louisville (CA-28) on her way to Pearl Harbor. This marked the end of her active career. On the way to Pearl she suffered from boiler problems that kept her at Pearl Harbor until late July. She departed Pearl Harbor on 27 July heading for Eniwetok, then Saipan, Okinawa and Guam.

On 28 August, the day the first Allied occupation troops reached Japan, the Stack was on her way from Guam to Truk carrying  Brigadier General L. D. Hermle, USMC and a team to negotiation the surrender of Truk. After talks on 30 August the Stack was used to carry the Japanese delegation back to Guam where they wre to sign the surrender.

On 16 September the Stack left the Marianas heading for Iwo Jima. On 19 September she replaced the Cummings (DD-365) as the flagship of the Commander, Naval Occupation Force. She wasn’t there for too long, as on 15 December she left the Marianas heading for Pearl Harbor and then the West Coast. She reaced San Diego on 30 December, where some of her equipment was removed.

The Stack was then allocated to the target force for Operation Crossroads, the atomic bomb trials at Bikini Atoll. She survived the explosions in July and August 1946, but like most of the surviving ships was too badly contaminated to clean. She was decommissioned in the Marshall Islands in August 1946 and sunk by gunfire off Kwajalein on 24 April 1948.
Stack received 12 battle stars for World War II service, for the landings on Guadalcanal, defence of Guadalcanal, consolidation of the Solomons, New Georgia, Treasury-Bougainville, Gilberts, Marshalls, Pacific Raids of 1944, Western New Guinea, Leyte, Luzon and Okinawa.

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 (1 November 2022), USS Stack (DD-406) ,

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