USS Trippe (DD-403)

USS Trippe (DD-403) was a Benham class destroyer that served with the Caribbean Neutrality Patrol in 1940-early 41 then in the North Atlantic from 1941-May 1943. She then moved to North Africa, and took part in the invasions of Sicily and the Italian mainland. She remained in the Mediterranean until the start of 1944, then escorted convoys beween the US and Italy, mixed in with training duties. This continued into 1945, before in May she moved to the Pacific, where she escorted convoys in the central Pacific. She was used as a target during the Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests, and was decommissioned later in 1946.

The Trippe was named after John Trippe, who served in the US Navy during the Quasi-War with France, then against the Barbary corsairs, where he led the boarding party that captured a large Tripolitan boat.

The Trippe was laid down at the Boston Navy Yard on 15 April 1937, launched on 14 May 1938 when she was sponsored by Miss Betty S. Trippe, and commissioned on 1 November 1939.


The Trippe’s shakedown cruise took her to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, before she returned to Boston on 20 March 1940. 

The Trippe left Boston on 24 June to join the Caribbean part of the Neutrality Patrol. She reached San Juan, Puerto Rico in early July, but must then have developed some sort of problem, as she had to return to the Washington Navy Yard for a two day visit on 17-18 July. She was back at San Juan on 26 July and spent the next eight months carrying out neutrality patrols in the West Indies. While serving with the neutrality patrol she also escorted the Tuscaloosa (CA-37) as it escorted President Roosevelt on a tour of the newly aquired US bases in the Caribbean, escorting him back to Charleston on 14 December.


At the start of January the Trippe visited Norfolk for two days then returned to Guantanamo Bay, where she spent the next two months with the neutrality patrol.

On 21 March she began a two-month long overhaul at Boston. By the time this was complete the Neutrality Patrol’s area of operations had been expanded east to the edge of the German war zone. On 11 June the Trippe joined the screen of the USS Texas (BB-35) for the battleship’s first patrol in the North Atlantic.

On 20 June the Trippe was on a neutrality patrol with the Texas, Mayrant and Rhind (DD-404) when they were spotted by U-203, within the German ‘blockade’ zone. However the US ships were faster than the submarine, so the Germans were unable to attack.

The Trippe operated from Newport until 15 August, first with the Texas and then with the New York.

On 15 August she moved her base to Boston and Province-town. On 25 August she left Boston as part of the escort for the Mississippi (BB-41) as head moved to Argentia. A month of training and anti-submarine operations off Newfoundland followed.

On 10-13 October she was part TG 14.3 (built around Yorktown (CV-5), New Mexico (BB-40) and Quincy (CA-39) as it moved from Argenta to Casco Bay, Maine. The Trippe suffered damage in bad weather on the way. After a brief stop at Casco Bay she patrolled the area between there and Boston. She was then part of a force that headed east to relieve the Royal Navy escort of a westbound convoy. The Trippe escorted the convoy west as far as Portland, Maine, when she left the convoy and returned to Casco Bay.

On 9 November the Trippe, Ranger (CV-4), Vincennes (CA-44) and Quincy left Maine to meet another westbound convy and escort it in. In mid November she escorted the Ranger to the West Indies, and then screened that carrier during flight operations around Trinidad until early December. The Trippe and Ranger were on their way back north to the United States on 7 December when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

After the US entry to the war the Trippe remained on escort duty in the Atlantic. On 16 December she was on her way from Norfolk to Newport when she was attacked by a USAAF bomber, which dropped a stick of bombs that landed 200 yards off her bow and caused damage. The bomber reported sinking a German destroyer…


Iced Up USS Trippe (DD-403), 1942 Iced Up USS Trippe (DD-403), 1942

For the first nine months of 1942 the Trippe operated in the north-west Atlantic, performing a mix of duties in a anrea that took her from Newfoundland in the north to the Panama Canal and the West Indies and one across the Atlantic to Londonderry. Her duties included escorting coastal traffic along the US East Coast (where the U-boats were having their ‘second happy time’), and escorting convoys in the western half of the Atlantic. In February she searched for the survivors of a torpedoed merchant ship off Hampton Roads and in June did the same off Bermuda. She also carried out two attacks on suspected U-boats, but without success.

In mid October the Trippe screened the Massachusetts (BB-59) while the battleship practised shore bombardment, ready to take part in Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. Early on 19 October she was heading for Casco Bay when she was rammed on the starboard quarter by the Benson (DD-421). Four men were killed and three injured and the Trippe needed to move to New York for repairs.

The repairs were completed by 13 November, when the Trippe left New York for a brief spell of anti-submarine warfare training at New London.

In late November she escorted a convoy from Boston to New York, at the start of a month of training and coastal convoy duties.


In January the Trippe departed New York to escort a convoy to Casablanca, returing to New York on 7 February 1943. In April she escorted another convoy to Morocco, then escorted a coastal convoy to Norfolk, before returning to the Mediterranean, arriving on 10 May. She was then used to escort convoys heading between Oran and Bizerte as well as preparing for the invasion of Sicily.

On 9 July the Trippe left Oran as part of the escort for a convoy heading towards Sicily and was thus at sea when Allied troops landing on the island. She reached Gela on 14 July, the day after landings at that port, and patrolled in the Gela area until 20 July. Shen then briefly visited Oran, before returning to Sicily to join the forces at Palermo. Three days later she fired at Luftwaffe aircraft that had attacked from the south, claiming one victory.

USS Trippe (DD-403), Boston, 1943 USS Trippe (DD-403), Boston, 1943

The Trippe was next used to support General Patton’s advance along the north coast of Sicily. She left Palermo on 4 August with the Savannah (CL-42), and on 5 August bombarded bridges at Terranova. She spent the next two days operating with the Philadelpha (CL-41), then supported the landings at Sant’ Agato di Militello. On 11 August she supported the landings at Brolo, and on 16 August the landings at Spadafora. On the following day Sicily was declared to be secure, and the Trippe and three PT boats moved north to accept the surrender of the Aeolian islands of Lipari and Stromboli.

On 20 August the Trippe and the Wainwright (DD-419) attacked a railway bridge at Fiume Petrace on the Italian mainland. She then returned to North Africa to escort a convoy from Bizerte to Palermo, before on 31 August heading for Oran.

On 3 September the invasion of mainland Italy began when British troops landed at Reggio. On 5 September the Trippe put to sea to escort a convoy heading towards the American landing zone at Salerno, where the landings took place on 9 September. After escorting the convoy, the Trippe carried out fire support duties, helping the Americans overcome fierce German resistance to secure the beachhead. The Trippe made several round trips escorting convoys between Oran and Salerno. On 13 October, while escorting a convoy from Naples back to Oran a U-boat sank USS Bristol (DD-453). The Trippe briefly attempted to find the U-boat but then returned to rescue the survivors from the Bristol. This was followed by another month of convoy escort duties in the western Mediterranean.

On 18 November the Trippe, (CL-40), Edison, HMS Teazer, HMS Troubridge and HMS Tyrian left Gibralter to meet the USS Iowa, which was carrying President Roosevelt across the Atlantic, to take part in the Allied conferences at Cairo and Teheran. The two forces met on 19 November, and the Iowa was then escorted to Mers-el-Kebir. The President then went ashore, and was flown on to Cairo. The Trippe then escorted the Iowa as she left the Mediterranean to await the Presidents return.

On 16 December the Trippe, Edison (DD-439) and Woolsey (DD-437) put to sea to rescue the survivors of a torpedoed merchant ship and to try and find the U-boat. On the same evening they came across U-73 on the survice. The Woolsey caught the submarine in her searchlights while the Trippe used her fire control radar, and the two destroyers then opened fire, sinking the U-boat with gunfire in only six minutes. The Trippe then guarded against any other U-boats while the Woolsey rescued the survivors from U-73. Sixteen of her crew were killed, but thirty-four were rescued by the two destroyers.


On 21 January the Trippe got underway with the force heading for Anzio. On 22 January she operated with the Brooklyn and Edison to provide fire support for the troops as they landed. On 23 January she helped break up a German counterattack. On 24 January she helped fight off a large Luftwaffe air attack in which the Plunkett (DD-431) was badly damaged. On 25 August she resumed her fire support role. On 31 January she hit troop concentrations, vehicles and an observation post. On 5 February she hit two German strong points. On 10 February she left Anzio to return to Oran, rescuing two downed British airmen on the way.
On 23 February the Trippe moved to Casablanca, where she joined the hunter-killer group built around USS Card (CVE-11) ready to return to the United States. She remained with the group until 4 March when she parted company from it and headed alone to Bermuda. She then went to New York for a month of upkeep. 

On 5 May the Trippe and Wainwright (DD-419) escorted the Quincy as she left Boston heading east to join TG 27.10. The three ships joined the task group early on 6 May.

Late in May, she escorted Hancock (CV-19) on the first leg of the new carrier's shakedown cruise

On 29 May the Trippe and Cooper (DD-695) moved to the Naval Research Laboratory at Chesapeake Beach, where they spent several days taking part in radar jamming experiments. The two destroyers returned to Norfolk on 3 June.

On 4 June the Trippe and the Ticonderoga (CV-14) left Norfolk to carry out air operations off the Virginia Capes.

From 18 June until early July the Trippe took part in exercises in the Gulf of Paria near Trinidad. She then returned to Boston for a 19-day spell of dockyard availability.

Betweeen 28 July and 23 October the Trippe made two round trips escorting convoys from the United States to southern Italy.

She spent the rest of the year training near Casco Bay then supported the Shangri La (CV-38) during air operations near Trinidad.


Late in February 1945, Trippe escorted another convoy to the Mediterranean, this time to Oran. She returned to New York during the first week in April and began a brief yard period.

On 21 April the Trippe left New York with the Charles F. Hughes, Wainwright (DD-419), Satterlee (DD-626) and Herndon (DD-638), heading for the Pacific. The Trippe reached Pearl Harbor on 16 May.

After several weeks of shore bombardment training in Hawaii, the Trippe departed to join the 5th Fleet in the Central Pacific in mid June. However by this point the fighting on Okinawa was almost over, and the planned invasion of the Japanese Home Islands was some way in the future, so she was used to escort convoys moving between Iwo Jima, Saipan, Ulithi and Okinawa. She was at sea heading to Okinawa on 15 August when news arrived of the Japanese surrender.

After the surrender the Trippe helped negotiation the surrender of the remaining troops in the Marianas and Bonin Islands. She spent most of November operating to the north of Saipan, before on 15 December leaving Guam to return to the United States.

She was then chosen to take part in Operation Crossroads, the Atomic Bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. She was part of the target fleet for the underwater test on 25 July, and was so badly contaminated that she was too dangerous to approach. She remained at Bikini to be studied, where she was decommissioned on 28 August 1946. By 1948 she was on the verge of sinking, so on 3 February 1948 she was towed to deep water off Kwajalein and sunk by gunfire.

The Trippe received six battle stars, for the invasion of North Africa, escorting Convoy UGS-6, the invasion of Sicily, the Salerno Landings, Italy and for sinking U-73

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 (11 October 2022), USS Trippe (DD-403) ,

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