USS Wainwright (DD-419)

USS Wainwright (DD-419) was a Sims class destroyer that served with the Neutrality Patrol in 1939-1941, and continued to operate in the Atlantic in 1942. She joined the British Home Fleet on the Russian convoys from April, then served on convoy escort duties until November, when she supported Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. She began 1943 on convoy escort duties, then supported the invasions of Sicily and mainland Italy. In 1944 she supported the Anzio landings, then returned to the US, where she spent 13 months operating on the east coast. In April 1945 she moved to the Pacific, where she operated between American bases. She was used as a target ship for the Bikini Atoll tests and decommissioned on 29 August 1946.

USS Wainright (DD-419) on escort and training duties 1944 USS Wainright (DD-419) on escort and training duties 1944

The Wainright was named after Commander Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright, Master Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright, Jr, Commander Richard Wainwright and Rear Admiral Richard Wainwright, four members of the same family who all served in the US Navy.

The Wainwright was laid down at the Norfolk Navy Yard on 7 June 1938, launched  on 1 June when she was sponsored by Mrs. Henry Meiggs and commissioned on 15 April 1940

On 27 June the Wainwright and Walke left Norfolk for Cuba at the start of a shakedown cruise that took them to South America. They were also used to transport US marines to two cruisers operating in the area, with the Wainwright carrying the marines for the Quincy (CA-39). They visited Brazil and Argentina, and were back in US waters at the start of September.

After her shakedown cruise the Wainwright joined the Neutrality Patrol operating in the Atlantic.

On 22 February 1941 the Wainwright left Bermuda as part of TG 2.7 (RangerAugusta (CA-31)SavannahLangWainwright (DD-419), and Wilson) to monitor the Vichy French warships at Martinique.

On 10 November the Wainwright left Halifax as part of an all-American escort for Convoy WS-12X, a British troop convoy heading to the Cape of Good Hope and then Basra. The US Navy escorted the convoy to Capetown, where it was to be handed over to the Royal Navy. The convoy arrived at Cape Town on 9 December, two days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. As a result the troops were diverted from Basra to Australia and Singapore to face the Japanese. As planned the US escorts returned to the United States.


At the start of 1942 the Wainwright continued to patrol the western Atlantic and Caribbean, but now faced an active opponent as the U-boats came to the US East Coast for their ‘Second Happy Time ’.

On 13 March 1942 the Wainwright left Bermuda as part of TG 22.7 (Ranger (CV-4), Savannah (CL-42), Augusta (CA-31), Wainwright (DD-419), Lang (DD-399), and Wilson (DD-408)) to patrol in the Caribbean.

In  mid-March the Wainwright was allocated to a force that was to join the British Home Fleet at Scapa Flow. This was built around the carrier Wasp (CV-7), battleships North Carolina (BB-55) and Washington (BB-56), the cruisers Tuscaloosa (CA-37) and Wichita (CA-45) and eight destroyers of Destroyer Squadron. This force left Casco Bay, Maine on 25 March, heading east. On 1 April the Wainwright reported making a sonar contact, and she and the Wilson carried out a depth charge attack, although without any clear results.

The American task force reached Scapa Flow on 3 April. The Wainwright remained with the Home Fleet into the autumn of 1942, escorting convoys between Britain, Iceland and the Soviet Union. She was part of the escort for the ill fated Convoy PQ-17 in July, and distinquished herself in the early part of the action. She was part of the close covering force (HMS London, Tuscaloosa, Wichita, and HMS Norfolk, with Wainwright, Rowan (DD-405), and seven British destroyers), and so wasn’t involved in the fighting on 2 and 3 July. However on 4 July she joined the convoy to refuel from the tanker Aldersdale and helped fight off a series of air attacks. The first two came before she had reached the tanker. In the first her gun fire helped keep six torpedo bombers too far from the convoy for their attacks to be effective. She then drove off a single torpedo bomber and evaded the bombs from dive bombers in a second attack. A 2 hour lull followed, in which she was able to refuel. The largest attack came at about 1820 and involved 25 Heinkel He 111s each carrying two torpedoes. The Heinkels split into two groups for the attack. The Wainwright fired a group attacking from her starboard quarter first, but they were still able to hit the Soviet tanker Azerbaijan and the Liberty ship SS William Hooper. She then fired on the group attacking from her starboard bow, and was more effective. All but one dropped their torpedoes too far from the convoy to be effective and the one that did get in closer missed. The Wainwright damaged three or four German aircraft and helped reduce the damage from the air attack. However a few hours later the convoy was ordered to scatter in response to intelligence that suggested the Tirpitz was at sea, supported by the Scheer and Hipper. The escort was ordered to withdraw. Tragically the Tirpitz had soon turned back, but the order to scatter the convoy doomed most of its ships, which were sunk by U-boats and the Luftwaffe. 

The Wainwright performed convoy escort duties for the rest of the summer and most of the autumn of 1942, before she was assigned to the forces supporting Operation Torch, the invasion of French North Africa. She returned to the US to join the screen for the Covering Group (TG 34.1), built around the Massachusetts (BB-59), Tuscaloosa (CA-37), and Wichita (CA-45). This force left Casca Bay on 24 October and joined the Western Naval Task Force (TF 34) on 26 October. The Covering Force had the task of protecting against the major French warships further down the coast at Dakar and any lighter ships from Casablanca. However when the invasion started early on 8 November the Wainwright’s first task was to drive off two Vichy aircraft that approached the fleet.

The main action for the warships came later in the day when a force of French submarines and destroyers led by the elderly light cruiser Primauguet sailed in an attempt to oppose the landings at Fedhala. The Americans responded with the Massachusetts, Tuscaloosa, Wichita, Wainwright and three other destroyers, and in the one sided action sank several destroyers and submarines and so badly damaged the Primauguet that she burnt out after returning to harbour. The Wainwright also took part in a series of gun duels with the French coastal guns. She spent three days off Casablanca, before the French surrendered early on 11 November. On 12 November the Covering Force departed for the US, arriving at New York on 21 November. The Wainwright then needed two weeks of repairs.


The Wainwright spent most of the first six months of 1943 escorting convoys between the United States and North Africa. During this period she hosted a group of dignitaries that included Sultan Sidi Mohammed of Morocco. She was part of the escort of Convoy UGS-6 when it lost five ships to U-boat attack.

In June the Wainwright was used to escort convoys moving between ports along the North African coast, as part of the build-up to Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily.

The Wainwright was part of the Escort Group (TG 80.2) during the invasion of Sicily. It reached the coast of Sicily on the night of 9-10 July and the Wainwright was used to guard the transport ships from air and submarine attack. On 26 July she helped fight off a formation of Junkers Ju 88s that attacked while she was patrolling off Palermo. However both engine rooms of the Mayrant (DD-402) were flooded after she suffered two near misses, and the Wainwright helped escort her as she was towed into port.

The Wainwright then supported Patton’s series of amphibious assaults which he used to outflank strong defensive positions as he advanced east along the north coast of Sicily. She was also used to protect mine sweepers, and on anti-shipping sweeps.

In mid-August the Wainwright returned to North Africa spending several weeks at Mers-el-Kebir in Algeria.

On 5 September she resumed convoy escort duties, now operating on the route between North Africa and Sicily, which often came under Luftwaffe attack. 

On 13 October the Bristol (DD-453) was torpedoed while escorting a convoy to Oran and brokle in half. She sank within twelve minutes, with the loss of 52 of her crew. The Wainwright and Trippe (DD-403) rescued the survivors. Late in October the Wainwright bombarded enemy targets around Naples to support the 5th Army advance towards the city.

On 13 December the Wainwright, Niblack (DD-424), Benson (DD-421), and HMS Calpe were carrying out an anti-submarine sweep ten miles to the north of Algiers when she detected U-593. The Wainwright and Calpe carried out depth charge attacks on the submarine, which forced her to the surface. The Wainwright’s guns then opened fire, and within two minutes the Germans began to abandon ship. The Wainwright rescued survivors from the U-boat, which sank. The prisoners were delivered to Algiers, before the Wainwright returned to convoy and patrol duties.


Early in 1944 the Wainwright provided fire support for the troops fighting at Anzio.

In mid-February she was ordered to return to the United States for an overhaul. She returned with the Ariel (AF-22) and Niblack and was back at New York by 12 February.

The overhaul was completed on 6 March, and the Wainwright was then assigned to escort and training duties along the US eastern seaboard. She carried out that role for 13 months, until late April 1945.

On 20 March 1944 she left Norfolk as part of the secort of the carrier Franklin (CV-13) during her shakedown cruise in the Caribbean.

On 5 May 1944 she was photographed off the US East Coast painted in camouflage measure 22.

On 5 May the Wainwright and Trippe (DD-403) left Boston to escort the Quincy as she headed east to join TG 27.10. They joined up on 6 May and the two destroyers were detached while the Quincy joined the task group.

On 27 May 1944 she departed from Port Royal as part of a hunter killer group (with the Rhind (DD-404) and Stewart (DE-238). On 3 June they joined Convoy UC 24 and escorted it as it headed north.


On 21 April 1947 the Wainwright, Charles F. Hughes, Trippe (DD-403), Satterlee (DD-626), Herndon (DD-638) and Madison left New York heading for the Pacific. They passed through the Panama Canal on 27 April. The Wainwright then went to San Diego and on to Pearl Harbor, before reaching Ulithi on 13 June.

From mid June until mid August the Wainwright operated between the many islands now in American hands, including Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Saipan, Guam and Eniwetok.

On 12 August she left Eniwetok as part of Task Force 49, heading for the Aleutians, However the Japanese surrendered while she was on her way, so the war was over by the time she reached Adak. She remained at Adak until the end of August, when she depoarted for Honshu, Japan, with Task Force 92.

The Wainwright reached Ominato Ko on 12 September and spent the next six weeks supporting the occupation forces. On 30 October she departed for the United States.

She reached San Diego on 16 December, where she was deactivated. In the spring of 1946 she was chosen to be a target ship for the Atomic Bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. She was in the target area for both blasts, but survived them both. For the next two years she was monitored to see the longer term results of the blasts. She was eventually sunk as a gunnery target off Kwajalein on 5 July 1948. She was struck off on 13 July 1948.

Wainwright (DD-419) earned seven battle stars for World War II service, for the Russian Convoys, North Africa, escorting Convoy UGS-6, Sicily, Salerno, Italy and sinking U-593.

Displacement (standard)

1,570t design
1,759.3t as built 

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35kt design
38.75kt at 51,387shp at 1,948tons on trial (Anderson)
36.91kts at 51,138shp at 2,230tons on trial (Anderson)


2-shaft Westinghouse turbines
3 boilers
50,000shp design


6,500nm at 12kts design
5,640nm at 12kts at 2,350t wartime
3,660nm at 20kts at 2,350t

Armour - belt


 - deck



348ft 3.25in


36ft 1.5in


Five 5in/38 DP guns
Twelve 21in torpedo tubes in three quad tubes in design
Eight 21in TT in two quads as built
Four 0.50in AA guns
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement


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 (7 February 2023), USS Wainwright (DD-419) ,

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