Benham-class destroyer

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USS Benham (DD-397) 1939.jpg
USS Benham, the lead ship of the class, in 1939
Class overview
Name:Benham class
Builders:
Operators: US flag 48 stars.svg United States Navy
Preceded by: Somersclass
Succeeded by: Simsclass
Built: 1936–39
In commission: 1939–46
Completed: 10
Lost: 2
Retired: 8
General characteristics
Type: Destroyer
Displacement:
  • 1,656 tons (standard)
  • 1,888 tons (normal)
  • 2,250 tons (full load)
Length: 340 ft 9 in (103.86 m)
Beam: 35 ft 6 in (10.82 m)
Draught: 13 ft 3 in (4.04 m)
Installed power:
Propulsion: 2 shafts
Speed: 37.9 knots (70.2 km/h; 43.6 mph) on trials
Range: 5,390  nmi (9,980 km; 6,200 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Complement:
  • 9 officers, 175 enlisted (peacetime)
  • 16 officers, 235 enlisted (wartime)
Armament:

The Benham class of ten destroyers was built for the United States Navy (USN). They were part of a series of USN destroyers limited to 1,500 tons standard displacement by the London Naval Treaty and built in the 1930s. [1] The class was laid down in 1936-1937 and all were commissioned in 1939. Much of their design was based on the immediately preceding Gridley and Bagley-classdestroyers. Like these classes, the Benhams were notable for including sixteen 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, the heaviest torpedo armament ever on US destroyers. They introduced a new high-pressure boiler that saved space and weight, as only three of the new boilers were required compared to four of the older designs. [2] The class served extensively in World War II in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Pacific theaters, including Neutrality Patrols in the Atlantic 1940-1941. Sterett received the United States Presidential Unit Citation for the Battle of Guadalcanal and the Battle of Vella Gulf, [3] and the Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation for her World War II service. Two of the class were lost during World War II, three would be scrapped in 1947, while the remaining five ships would be scuttled after being contaminated from the Operation Crossroads atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. [4]

Destroyer Type of warship

In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast, maneuverable long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller powerful short-range attackers. They were originally developed in the late 19th century by Fernando Villaamil for the Spanish Navy as a defense against torpedo boats, and by the time of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, these "torpedo boat destroyers" (TBDs) were "large, swift, and powerfully armed torpedo boats designed to destroy other torpedo boats". Although the term "destroyer" had been used interchangeably with "TBD" and "torpedo boat destroyer" by navies since 1892, the term "torpedo boat destroyer" had been generally shortened to simply "destroyer" by nearly all navies by the First World War.

United States Navy Naval warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. with the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the Navy is the third largest of the service branches. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the second largest and second most powerful air force in the world.

London Naval Treaty agreement between the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Italy and the United States, signed on 22 April 1930, which regulated submarine warfare and limited naval shipbuilding

The Treaty for the Limitation and Reduction of Naval Armament, commonly known as the London Naval Treaty, was an agreement between the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Italy and the United States, signed on 22 April 1930, which regulated submarine warfare and limited naval shipbuilding. Ratifications were exchanged in London on 27 October 1930, and the treaty went into effect on the same day. It was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on 6 February 1931.

Contents

Design

The ten Benhams were part of a series of three classes with similar characteristics laid down 1935-1937. The other two were the Gridley class (4 ships) and the Bagley class (8 ships). All three featured four 5-inch (127 mm) dual purpose guns (anti-surface and anti-aircraft) and sixteen 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes in four quadruple mounts as built, the largest number of torpedo tubes on any US destroyers. [2] Although all had only one stack, they differed primarily in their machinery. The Benhams were a Gibbs & Cox design with a new high-pressure boiler design that allowed a reduction from four boilers to three, with an efficient turbine arrangement resembling the Mahans'. The Bagleys were a Navy design that duplicated the machinery of the preceding long-range Mahan class; this led to their prominent boiler uptakes around the single stack that were their main recognition feature. The Gridleys were designed by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Company with advanced high-pressure boilers (also built by Bethlehem) but turbines generally similar to the earlier Farragutclass, which limited their range. [1] [2] [5]

Gibbs & Cox is a U.S. naval architecture firm that specializes in designing surface warships. Founded in 1922 in New York City, Gibbs & Cox is now headquartered in Arlington, Virginia.

<i>Mahan</i>-class destroyer

The Mahan-class destroyers of the United States Navy were a series of 18 destroyers of which the first 16 were laid down in 1934. The last two of the 18, Dunlap and Fanning, are sometimes considered a separate ship class. All 18 were commissioned in 1936 and 1937. Mahan was the lead ship, named for Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan, an influential historian and theorist on sea power.

<i>Farragut</i>-class destroyer (1934) class of eight 1,365-ton destroyers

The Farragut-class destroyers were a class of eight 1,365-ton destroyers in the United States Navy and the first US destroyers of post-World War I design. Their construction, along with the Porter class, was authorized by Congress on 29 April 1916, but funding was delayed considerably. Limited to 1,500 tons standard displacement by the provisions of the London Naval Treaty of 1930, the ships were laid down beginning in 1932 and were completed by 1935. After 12 years since the last of the previous class of American destroyers was commissioned, the Farraguts were commissioned in 1934 and 1935.

Engineering

Except for the 1850-ton Somersclass, the Benhams' propulsion plant was the most advanced yet installed in US destroyers. A new Babcock & Wilcox boiler design was used that allowed a reduction from four boilers to three, saving considerable space and weight. Steam pressure was increased from 400 psi (2,800 kPa) to 600 psi (4,100 kPa) (one reference says 565 psi), superheated to 700 °F (371 °C) as in the Gridleys. [1] [6] [7] Features that improved fuel economy included boiler economizers, double reduction gearing, and cruising turbines. Range was somewhat less than in the Bagleys at 5,390  nmi (9,980 km; 6,200 mi) versus 6,940 nmi (12,850 km; 7,990 mi), possibly due to a smaller fuel capacity of 484 tons versus 504 tons. The main turbines developed 49,250  shp (36,730 kW) on Benham's trials and were manufactured by Westinghouse. [8]

<i>Somers</i>-class destroyer

The Somers-class destroyer was a class of five 1850-ton United States Navy destroyers based on the Porter class. They were answers to the large destroyers that the Japanese navy was building at the time, and were initially intended to be flotilla leaders. They were laid down 1935-1936 and commissioned 1937-1939. They were built to round out the thirteen destroyers of 1,850 tons standard displacement allowed by the tonnage limits of the London Naval Treaty, and were originally intended to be repeat Porters. However, new high-pressure, high-temperature boilers became available, allowing the use of a single stack. This combined with weight savings allowed an increase from two quadruple centerline torpedo tube mounts to three. However, the Somers class were still over-weight and top-heavy. This was the first US destroyer class to use 600 psi (4,100 kPa) steam superheated to 850 °F (454 °C), which became standard for US warships built in the late 1930s and World War II.

Superheated steam is a steam at a temperature higher than its vaporization (boiling) point at the absolute pressure where the temperature is measured.

Economizers, or economisers (UK), are mechanical devices intended to reduce energy consumption, or to perform useful function such as preheating a fluid. The term economizer is used for other purposes as well. Boiler, power plant, heating, Refrigeration, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) uses are discussed in this article. In simple terms, an economizer is a heat exchanger.

Armament

The Benhams had the same armament as the Gridleys and Bagleys: four 5-inch/38 caliber dual purpose guns (anti-surface and anti-aircraft (AA)) in single mounts and sixteen 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes in quadruple mounts. [2] The Mark 15 torpedo was equipped. [9] This was the heaviest armament in torpedoes ever on US destroyers. Compared with the Mahans, they sacrificed one gun for four additional torpedo tubes. It was suggested that these ships could use "curved ahead fire", using the adjustable post-launch gyro angle of their torpedoes to launch a sixteen-torpedo spread ahead of the ship. [2] One reason for the heavy destroyer torpedo armament was that, alone among the major navies, the last nine of the seventeen US Treaty cruisers built in the 1920s and 1930s lacked torpedoes; eventually all of the US Treaty cruisers' torpedoes were removed in 1941 in favor of additional heavy AA guns. [10]

5"/38 caliber gun United States naval gun

The Mark 12 5"/38 caliber gun was a United States naval gun. The gun was installed into Single Purpose and Dual Purpose mounts used primarily by the US Navy. On these 5" mounts, Single Purpose (SP) means that the mount is limited to 35° elevation with no provision for AA shell fuze setters, and is designed to fire at surface targets only. Dual Purpose (DP) means that it is designed to be effective against both surface and aircraft targets because it can elevate to 85° and has on mount AA shell fuze setters. The 38 caliber barrel was a mid-length compromise between the previous United States standard 5"/51 low-angle gun and 5"/25 anti-aircraft gun. United States naval gun terminology indicates the gun fired a projectile 5 inches (127 mm) in diameter, and the barrel was 38 calibers long, making the 5"/38 dual purpose midway in barrel length between the 5"/51 surface-to-surface and the 5"/25 anti-aircraft guns. The increased barrel length provided greatly improved performance in both anti-aircraft and anti-surface roles compared to the 5"/25 gun. However, except for the barrel length and the use of semi-fixed ammunition, the 5"/38 gun was derived from the 5"/25 gun. Both weapons had power ramming, which enabled rapid fire at high angles against aircraft. The 5"/38 entered service on USS Farragut, commissioned in 1934. The base ring mount, which improved the effective rate of fire, entered service on USS Gridley, commissioned in 1937.

Mark 15 torpedo

The Mark 15 torpedo, the standard American destroyer-launched torpedo of World War II, was very similar in design to the Mark 14 torpedo except that it was longer, heavier, and had greater range and a larger warhead. It was developed by the Naval Torpedo Station Newport concurrently with the Mark 14 and was first deployed in 1938. It replaced the Mark 8 torpedo on surface ships with tubes that could accommodate the longer Mark 15; this primarily included destroyers built after 1930. Older destroyers, primarily the Wickes and Clemson classes, continued to use the Mark 8, as did PT boats early in World War II. During the war 9,700 were produced at Newport and at the Naval Ordnance Station Forest Park, Illinois.

Torpedo self-propelled underwater weapon

A modern torpedo is a self-propelled weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with its target or in proximity to it.

As with most other US destroyers of this period, the 5-inch guns featured all-angle power loading and were director controlled, making them as effective as the technology allowed against aircraft. By late 1942, radio proximity fuses (VT fuses) made them much more effective. As in the last two Maurys, the two forward 5-inch guns were in enclosed mounts, while the after guns were open. However, in the Benhams, the after two mounts were a Mark 30 Mod 1 base-ring type with an integral ammunition hoist fed from a handling room below each gun, as in an enclosed mount. [2] [5] [11] This allowed some of the class to be fitted with an enclosure for No. 4 gun and an open-top shield for No. 3 gun while on Neutrality Patrol in the Atlantic in 1941; but the shields were removed later to save weight for light anti-aircraft armament. [4] [12] In common with all US surface combatants in the 1930s, the as-built light AA armament was weak; only four .50 caliber machine guns (12.7 mm) were equipped. It was apparently felt that the heavy AA armament would shoot down most incoming aircraft in all situations, but the attack on Pearl Harbor showed that this was not true. [13]

Director (military) computer that continuously calculates trigonometric firing solutions

A director, also called an auxiliary predictor, is a mechanical or electronic computer that continuously calculates trigonometric firing solutions for use against a moving target, and transmits targeting data to direct the weapon firing crew.

Neutrality Patrol

On September 3, 1939, the British and French declarations of war on Germany initiated the Battle of the Atlantic. The United States Navy Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) established a combined air and ship patrol of the United States Atlantic coast, including the Caribbean, on September 4. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared the United States' neutrality on September 5, and declared the naval patrol a Neutrality Patrol. Roosevelt's initiation of the Neutrality Patrol, which in fact also escorted British ships, as well as orders to U.S. Navy destroyers first to actively report U-boats, then "shoot on sight", meant American neutrality was honored more in the breach than observance.

M2 Browning heavy machine gun

The M2 Machine Gun or Browning .50 Caliber Machine Gun is a heavy machine gun designed toward the end of World War I by John Browning. Its design is similar to Browning's earlier M1919 Browning machine gun, which was chambered for the .30-06 cartridge. The M2 uses the much larger and much more powerful .50 BMG cartridge, which was developed alongside and takes its name from the gun itself. It has been referred to as "Ma Deuce", in reference to its M2 nomenclature. The design has had many specific designations; the official designation for the current infantry type is Browning Machine Gun, Cal. .50, M2, HB, Flexible. It is effective against infantry, unarmored or lightly armored vehicles and boats, light fortifications and low-flying aircraft.

While on Neutrality Patrol, some of the class landed their after torpedo tube mounts and .50-caliber machine guns so that their Depth charge and light AA batteries could be increased; photographs show six 20 mm Oerlikon cannon were added along with four K-gun depth charge throwers and, reportedly, a Y-gun on some ships. [14] [15] These ships later received two twin 40 mm Bofors mounts on their after deckhouses before being transferred to the Pacific. In 1945, Lang, Sterett, and Wilson also landed their remaining torpedo tubes and after 5-inch gun shields in favor of a total of four 40 mm twin mounts and four 20 mm twin mounts. [4] [16]

Depth charge anti-submarine weapon

A depth charge is an anti-submarine warfare weapon. It is intended to destroy a submarine by being dropped into the water nearby and detonating, subjecting the target to a powerful and destructive hydraulic shock. Most depth charges use high explosive charges and a fuze set to detonate the charge, typically at a specific depth. Depth charges can be dropped by ships, patrol aircraft, and helicopters.

Service

This class, except Benham and Ellet, served on Neutrality Patrols in the Atlantic and escort duty in the Atlantic and Mediterranean as Destroyer Squadron 8 (with Wainwright as flagship) from April 1940 to December 1941. Benham and Ellet were at sea in the Pacific on 7 December 1941 with Dunlap and Fanning of the Mahan class as Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 12 (part of Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 6, with Balch as flagship). Later, this four-ship division escorted the aircraft carrier Enterprise during the Doolittle Raid on Japan. [4]

In June 1942, while DesDiv 15 (Lang, Stack, Sterett and Wilson) escorted the aircraft carrier Wasp to the Pacific, DesDiv 16 (Mayrant, Trippe, Rhind, and Rowan) remained in the Atlantic, supporting the Operation Torch landings in North Africa in December 1942. In 1943 they served off Italy, where Mayrant was badly damaged by a German air attack off Palermo and Rowan sunk by an E-boat (torpedo boat) attack off Salerno. [4]

Meanwhile, the six Pacific destroyers operated in the Solomon Islands (where Ellet was ordered to sink the Australian heavy cruiser Canberra after the Battle of Savo Island), and were on hand for the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, 13–15 November 1942, in which Sterett was badly damaged and Benham sunk. Lang, Sterett, and Stack formed division "A-2" at the Battle of Vella Gulf in 1943 and, thereafter, all five remaining ships accompanied the advance through the Marshalls and Marianas. Reassigned as DesDiv 4 of DesRon 2, the former DesDiv 15 ships were at Leyte and later Okinawa; Ellet was at Iwo Jima. In April 1945, Sterett and Wilson were both damaged in kamikaze attacks while on radar picket duty; Wilson remained in service while Sterett returned to service as the war ended. Sterett, Ellet, and Lang were scrapped in 1947. The others, contaminated as targets in the Operation Crossroads atomic bomb tests, were decommissioned and scuttled in deep water off Kwajalein in 1948. [4]

Sterett earned 12 battle stars, the United States Presidential Unit Citation for the Battle of Guadalcanal and the Battle of Vella Gulf, [3] and the Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation for her World War II service.

Ships in class

The ten ships of the Benham class were: [5]

Ship nameHull no.BuilderLaid downLaunchedCommissionedDecommissionedFate
Benham DD-397 Federal Shipbuilding, Kearny, New Jersey 1 September 193616 April 19382 February 1939N/ATorpedoed by Japanese at Naval Battle of Guadalcanal 15 November 1942, scuttled by Gwin [17]
Ellet DD-3983 December 193611 June 193817 February 193929 October 1945Sold for scrap 1 August 1947
Lang DD-3995 April 193728 August 193830 March 193916 October 1945Sold for scrap 31 October 1947
Mayrant DD-402 Boston Navy Yard 15 April 193714 May 193813 September 193928 August 1946Damaged during Operation Crossroads atomic tests at Bikini Atoll, July 1946. Scuttled off Kwajalein, 4 April 1948
Trippe DD-4031 November 193928 August 1946Damaged during Operation Crossroads atomic tests at Bikini Atoll, July 1946. Scuttled off Kwajalein, 3 February 1948
Rhind DD-404 Philadelphia Naval Shipyard 22 September 193728 July 193810 November 193926 August 1946Damaged during Operation Crossroads atomic tests at Bikini Atoll, July 1946. Scuttled off Kwajalein, 22 March 1948
Rowan DD-405 Norfolk Navy Yard 25 June 19375 May 193823 September 1939N/ATorpedoed by German E-boats while on convoy duty between Salerno and Oran September 11, 1943
Stack DD-40620 November 193929 August 1946Damaged during Operation Crossroads atomic tests at Bikini Atoll, July 1946. Sunk as target off Kwajalein, 24 April 1948
Sterett DD-407 Charleston Navy Yard 2 December 193627 October 193815 August 19392 November 1945Sold for scrap 10 August 1947
Wilson DD-408 Puget Sound Navy Yard 22 March 193712 April 19395 July 193929 August 1946Damaged during Operation Crossroads atomic tests at Bikini Atoll, July 1946. Scuttled off Kwajalein, 8 March 1948

See also

Related Research Articles

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<i>Gridley</i>-class destroyer ship class

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<i>Bagley</i>-class destroyer class of U.S. destroyers

The Bagley class of eight destroyers was built for the United States Navy. They were part of a series of USN destroyers limited to 1,500 tons standard displacement by the London Naval Treaty and built in the 1930s. All eight ships were ordered and laid down in 1935 and subsequently completed in 1937. Their layout was based on the concurrently-built Gridley class destroyer design and was similar to the Benham class as well; all three classes were notable for including sixteen 21 inch torpedo tubes, the heaviest torpedo armament ever on US destroyers. They retained the fuel-efficient power plants of the Mahan-class destroyers, and thus had a slightly lower speed than the Gridleys. However, they had the extended range of the Mahans, 1,400 nautical miles (2,600 km) farther than the Gridleys. The Bagley class destroyers were readily distinguished visually by the prominent external trunking of the boiler uptakes around their single stack.

References

Citations

  1. 1 2 3 Comparison of 1500-ton classes Archived 26 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine at Destroyer History Foundation Archived 19 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Friedman, pp. 90-91
  3. 1 2 USS Sterett Presidential Unit Citation at Destroyer History Foundation Archived 19 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Behham-class destroyers Archived 7 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine at Destroyer History Foundation Archived 19 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  5. 1 2 3 Bauer and Roberts, p. 187
  6. USS Benham, USS Ellet, and USS Lang General Information Book with as-built data at Destroyer History Foundation Archived 19 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  7. Friedman, p. 469
  8. Friedman, pp. 465-469
  9. "Torpedo History: Torpedo Mk 15" . Retrieved 2015-07-07.
  10. Gardiner and Chesneau, pp. 112-116
  11. DiGiulian, Tony, 5"/38 Mark 12 gun at NavWeaps.com Archived 5 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  12. Photo gallery of USS Sterett (DD-407) at NavSource.org
  13. Friedman, pp. 203-204
  14. Friedman, p. 194
  15. USS Mayrant (DD-402) photo gallery at NavSource.org
  16. Friedman, pp. 218-219
  17. Lenton, H. T. American Fleet and Escort Destroyers (New York: Doubleday, 1973), Volume 1, p.62.

Sources