Sims Class Destroyers

The Sims Class Destroyers were the first built after the 1,500t limit of the 1930 London Naval Treaty was lifted, and reverted to the five 5in gun armament used on the Farragut, Mahan and Dunlap classes rather than the four guns and sixteen torpedo tube layouts of the more recent Gridley, Bagley and Benham classes. They were also more sturdy than the earlier classes, and came out rather over weight.

Design Discussion

By 1934 the US Navy's Construction & Repair Bureau was increasingly concerned with the characteristics of the 1,500 ton destroyers produced under the terms of the London Naval Treaty of 1930. Tests with existing destroyers suggested that they were very vulnerable to air attack, with near misses and machine gun fire capable of disabling them. C&R produced a number of designs for lightly armoured destroyers, but the Navy had very little information to go on. Although a large construction programme was underway, only the Farragut class ships had entered service, so every other ship under construction had been designed with little or no operational experience to justify the changes.

USS Sims (DD-409), Boston Navy Yard, 1940 USS Sims (DD-409), Boston Navy Yard, 1940

Late in 1935 a review of destroyer policy revealed that the fleet felt that the Farragut class ships were rather too flimsy. C&R abandoned its plans for armour and instead concentrated on making the ships more robust and more streamlined.

The situation changed after the signing of the London Naval Treaty of 1936. In the 1930 treaty destroyers had been split into two catageries - under 1,500 tons and 1,500-1,850 tons, with a limited amount of the larger ships allowed, and an overall tonnage limit. In the 1936 treaty the two types disappeared, and the individual size allowed was raised to 3,000 tons. The largest gun allowed also rose, from 5.1in to 6.1in. However the overall tonnage limit remained in place, putting a practical limit on the increase in size of destroyers.

The General Board responded to the new situation by asking the commanders of the main US fleets, the scouting force, the destroyer force and the first four Farragut class boats for their opinions. As had so often happened with US destroyer forces, their responses were unrealistic. The general consensus was in favour of lighter guns and more torpedoes. Given the destroyer's crucial role in anti-submarine warfare the CinC of the US Fleet's request to have the depth charges removed seems utterly incomprehensible.

USS Hughes (DD-410) at Mare Island, 1942 USS Hughes (DD-410) at Mare Island, 1942

A more credible response came from Wars Plans department, which carried out a study of the role of the destroyer in any war with Japan. The Navy expected to have to fight its way across the Pacific in order to defeat a Japanese invasion of the Philippines. The US battlefleet was more powerful than its Japanese equivalent, but the Japanese would have the chance to attack the fleet on its way across the Pacific. The key role for US destroyers was thus to defend the fleet against torpedo bombers, enemy destroyers and other small scale attacks. This required a destroyer with as many dual purpose guns as possible, anti-submarine warfare capabilities and some torpedoes for use if the chance came up.

Design

The Sims class followed three groups of destroyers (Gridley, Bagley and Benham classes) that carried four 5in guns and sixteen torpedoes in four quad mounts, and that were at least meant to have a 1,500t standard displacement.

USS Anderson (DD-411) at New York, 1939-40 USS Anderson (DD-411) at New York, 1939-40

The Sims class carried five 5in/ 38 dual purpose guns. In the original design they were armed with twelve torpedoes in three quad mounts, one on the centre line and two on the wings. In practise this was reduced to two quad mounts in an attempt to save weight. In 1933 the General Board had requested the ability to carry spare torpedos. On the Sims class racks for four torpedeoes were finally installed.

The guns were carried on base-ring mounts, introduced on the Benham class. A new Mk 37 fire control system was introduced, and remained in use to 1945 (although it appeared too late for the earliest Sims class ships). This included an enclosed armour protected housing and a control room mounted below decks.

No.1, No.2 and No.5 Guns were all enclosed but No.3 and No.4 remained exposed. The pilot house was to be protected by half-inch thick STS armour and the gun shields were to be 1/8in thick. Attempts to save weight by reducing top speed were successfully resisted, but the ships were streamlined with curved bridge fronts.

The hull was lengthened by 7 feet, mainly to provide extra space for the turbines and boilers. The forward superstructure was streamlined in an attempt to reduce wind resistance and increase their speed. The same methods were used on all further pre-war destroyers (Gleaves and Benson classes) but abandoned on wartime production to save time.

USS Hammann (DD-412) at Charleston, 1942 USS Hammann (DD-412) at Charleston, 1942

The Sims class ships emerged badly overweight, with the first members of the class coming in at 120 tons over their designed light displacement. In order to save weight one of the waist torpedo tube mounts was removed and the other one placed on the centre line, maining an eight torpedo broadside. Sixty tons of fixed ballast was added and splinter protection removed from several areas. These changes were approved on 25 September 1939, and later members of the class were built with them from scratch.

The detailed design was produced by Gibbs & Cox. Power was provided by Westinghouse turbines. The Benham class machinery was retained, with boilers operating at 600psi and 700 degrees F.

The Sims class ships were funded by Congress in June 1936, to be built using Fiscal Year 1937 funding. Construction split between Bath, Federal, Newport News and the Navy Yards.

A number of changes were made soon after the Sims class ships began to enter service. The exposed guns were found to be prone to icing in the North Atlantic, where it was clear that the US Navy would soon be engaged. In response a new half-sized gun shield with a canvas rear was developed, and installed on the Sims, Benson and Benham class ships. A Y-gun depth charge projector was installed on the fantail, and the existing depth charge racks were extended to take twelve 600lb charges each. In mid-1941 another four .50in machine guns were added, and the splinter protection removed in 1939 was restored. To compensate for the extra weight No.3 gun was removed, as were the smoke generators, one torpedo director, the 24in search lights and the bridge rangefinder.

Curtiss SBC-3 passes USS Mustin (DD-413) Curtiss SBC-3 passes USS Mustin (DD-413)

The Sims class ships were laid down in 1937-1938 and commissioned in 1939 and 1940 (six in each year).

Service Record

By January 1941 four of the Sims class (DD-410 and DD-414 to DD-416) were serving with the Neutrality Patrol in the Atlantic, and by June the entire class was involved.

After Pearl Harbor this changed, and most of the class moved to the Pacific, leaving only DD-418 to DD-420 in the Atlantic. DD-418 moved to the Pacific in January 1944, but the other two stayed in the Atlantic.

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

USS Sims (DD-409) served with the Neutrality Patrol in 1940-41, then joined the Yorktown task force after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. She took part in the early carrier raids, then moved south to defend New Guinea. During the battle of the Coral Sea she was mistaken for a cruiser by the Japanese and sunk by very heavy air attacks.

USS Hughes (DD-410) served with the Neutrality Patrol in 1949-41. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor she joined the Yorktown task force, and was with her during the early carrier raids and at Midway. She then took part in the invasion of Guadalcanal, the battle of Santa Cruz and the naval battle of Guadalcanal. In 1943 she operated in the Aleutians, taking part in the liberation of Kiska, then supported the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. In 1944 she supported the invasion of the Marshalls, the fast carrier raids, the landings at Hollandia, and the invasion of the Philippines. She was hit by a kamikaze off Leyte on 10 December 1944, and didn't return to service untul June 1945. She spent the rest of the war in the Aleutians and was decommissioned in Augustu 1946.

USS O'Brien (DD-415) under construction, 1938 USS O'Brien (DD-415) under construction, 1938

USS Anderson (DD-411) was based in the Pacific in 1940-41, then joined the neutrality patrol in the Atlantic. Early in 1942 she returned to the Pacific, fighting in the battle of the Coral Sea, the battle of Midway, the invasion of Guadalcanal, the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands and the naval battle of Guadalcanal. In 1943 she briefly served in the Aleutians then took part in the invasion of Tawawa. In 1944 she took part in the invasion of the Marshall Islands, the New Guinea campaign and the invasion of Leyte, where she was hit by a kamikaze. She returned to action in May 1945 when she was posted to the Aleutians, where she remained for the rest of the war. She was used as a target in the Bikini Atoll tests, where she was sunk in Test 'Able'.

Stern plan view of USS Walke (DD-416) Stern plan view of USS Walke (DD-416)

USS Hammann (DD-412) moved to the Pacific in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, where she took part in the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway. In the aftermath of Midway she was hit by a torpedo aimed at the damaged carrier Yorktown and sank with the loss of over 80 of her crew

USS Mustin (DD-413) served with the Neutrality Patrol in 1940-41, before moving to the Pacific after Pearl Harbor. She took part in the invasion of Guadalcanal, the battle of Santa Cruz, the naval battle of Guadalcanal, then moved to the Aleutians in 1943, covering the invasions of Attu and Kiska. She then covered the invasion of the Gilberts in 1943 and the Marshalls in 1944, before joining the fast carriers for their raids and the invasion of Hollandia on New Guinea. She then remained off New Guinea and took part in the series of invasions that led west along that island, ending with the invasion of Morotai in the Dutch East Indies. Late in 1944 she supported the invasion of Leyte, then Luzon in 1945. She supported the invasion of Okinawa, then returned to the US for a refit that lasted to the end of the war. She was used as a target at the Bikini atoll tests and was decommissioned in August 1946.

USS Russell (DD-414) 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

Kamikaze Damage to USS Morris (DD-417) Kamikaze Damage to USS Morris (DD-417)

USS O'Brien (DD-415) served on the US east coast in 1940-41 then moved to the Pacific after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In 1942 she operated in the Central and South Pacific. On 15 September, while escorting a convoy to Guadalcanal, she was hit by a torpedo. At first the damage didn't seem too bad, but on 19 October, while on her way to New Calodonia for repairs she broke up and sank.

USS Walke (DD-416) served with the Neutrality Patrol in 1940-41, then moved to the Pacific after Pearl Harbor. In 1942 she took part in the early carrier strikes, the battle of the Coral Sea and the invasion of Guadalcanal. She fought at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in November 1942 where she was hit by a torpedo and heavy gunfire and sank with the loss of 82 men.

USS Morris (DD-417) served with the Neutrality Patrol in 1941 then moved to the Pacific early in 1942. She fought at the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway and took part in the invasion of Guadalcanal and the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. In 1943 she took part in the liberation of Attu and Kiska in the Aleutian Islands and the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. In 1944 she supported the invasion of the Marshalls and the landings at Hollandia. She then stayed off New Guinea and supported the operations at Wakde-Sarmi, Naik, Noemfoor and Cape Sansapor, then the invasion of Morotai in the Dutch East Indies. She took part in the invasion of Leyte in late 1943 and of Luzon in early 1944. On 6 April, while supporting the invasion of Okinawa, she was hit by a kamikaze and although she survived and returned to the US it was decided not to repair her.

USS Roe (DD-418) carrying survivors from SS Alan Jackson USS Roe (DD-418) carrying survivors from SS Alan Jackson

USS Roe (DD-418) served with the Neutrality Patrol in 1941. After the US entry into the Second World War she remained in the Atlantic throughout 1942, before taking part in Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. In 1943 she supported the invasion of Sicily, where she was badly damaged in a collision with the Swanson (DD-443). After repairs she escorted two transatlantic convoys, before moving to the Pacific early in 1944. She supported the advance along the north coast of New Guinea, then served on support roles in the Marshalls and Marianas. This duty lasted for most of the rest of the war, apart from a number of attacks on Iwo Jima. In April 1945 she moved up to support the air attacks on the Japanese Home Islands. She returned to the US to a refit before the end of the war and was decommissioned in October 1945.

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

Crew being briefed for Sicily on USS Buck (DD-420) Crew being briefed for Sicily on USS Buck (DD-420)

USS Wainwright (DD-419) 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 Buck (DD-420) served in the Pacific in 1940-41 then joined the Neutrality Patrol in the Atlantic in July 1941. After the US entry into the war she served as an escort vessel in the Atlantic, and was badly damaged in a collision on 22 August. Convoy escort duties resumed in November, before she moved to the Mediterranean to support the invasion of Sicily. In September 1943 she supported the landings at Anzio, but on 9 October she was torpedoed and sank quickly.

Displacement (standard)

1,570t design
1,759.3t as built  

Displacement (loaded)

2,293.1t

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)

Engine

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

Range

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

Armour - belt

 

 - deck

 

Length

348ft 3.25in

Width

36ft 1.5in

Armaments

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

192

Ships in Class

Fate

USS Sims (DD-409)

Lost 7 May 1942

USS Hughes (DD-410)

Sunk 1948

USS Anderson (DD-411)

Sunk 1946

USS Hammann (DD-412)

Lost 7 June 1942

USS Mustin (DD-413)

Sunk 1948

USS Russell (DD-414)

Struck off 1945

USS O'Brien (DD-415)

Broke up 19 October 1942

USS Walke (DD-416)

Lost 14 November 1942

USS Morris (DD-417)

Struck off 1945

USS Roe (DD-418)

Struck off 1945

USS Wainwright (DD-419)

Sunk 1948

USS Buck (DD-420)

Lost 9 October 1943

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 (31 May 2022), Sims Class Destroyers, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_sims_class_destroyers.html

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