Farragut-class destroyer (1934)

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USS Farragut (DD-348) underway at sea on 14 September 1936.jpg
USS Farragut in 1936
Class overview
Name:Farragut class
Operators:Flag of the United States.svg  United States Navy
Preceded by: Clemsonclass
Succeeded by: Porterclass
Built: 1932–35
In commission: 1934–45
Completed: 8
Lost: 3
Retired: 5
General characteristics
Type: Destroyer
  • 1,365 tons standard
  • 2,064 tons full load [1]
Length: 341 ft 3 in (104.01 m)
Beam: 34 ft 3 in (10.44 m)
Draft: 16 ft 2 in (4.93 m)
Installed power:
Propulsion: 2 shafts
Speed: 37 knots (69 km/h; 43 mph)
Range: 5,980 nautical miles (11,070 km; 6,880 mi) at 12 kn (22 km/h; 14 mph)
  • 10 officers, 150 enlisted (peacetime)
  • 250 (wartime)

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 Porterclass, 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 (the Clemsonclass) was commissioned, the Farraguts were commissioned in 1934 and 1935.

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 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 US 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. It has 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 336,978 personnel on active duty and 101,583 in the Ready Reserve, the U.S. Navy is the third largest of the U.S. military service branches in terms of personnel. It has 290 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of June 2019, making it the third-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force and the United States Army.

World War I 1914–1918 global war starting in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the resulting 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.


These ships were slightly larger than their predecessors, faster, and they had only two stacks, versus the four stacks common to all the earlier classes. The class was the first of six classes of 1,500-ton destroyers built in the 1930s to modernize the United States Navy, and all eight Farraguts saw extensive front-line service during World War II. [2] None were lost in battle, although only five survived the war. After numerous incremental improvements, the 1,500-tonners were succeeded by the 2,100-ton Fletcherclass, which was not subject to treaty restrictions.

Funnel (ship)

A funnel is the smokestack or chimney on a ship used to expel boiler steam and smoke or engine exhaust. They are also commonly referred to as stacks.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

<i>Fletcher</i>-class destroyer 1940s class of destroyers of the United States Navy

The Fletcher class was a class of destroyers built by the United States during World War II. The class was designed in 1939, as a result of dissatisfaction with the earlier destroyer leader types of the Porter and Somers classes. Some went on to serve during the Korean War and into the Vietnam War.


The Farraguts were a considerable improvement from previous destroyers, taking advantage of technological advances during the 12-year gap in destroyer production. The impact of aircraft on naval warfare was reflected in their heavy dual-purpose main gun armament. They also had greatly improved machinery and greater fuel capacity that extended their range to 5,980 nautical mile s (11,070 km; 6,880 mi) as opposed to the Clemsons'4,900 nautical miles (9,100 km; 5,600 mi). [3] [4] Their larger size and improved habitability soon earned them the nickname of "goldplaters" from the crews of older destroyers. [5]

Nautical mile unit of distance (1852 m)

A nautical mile is a unit of measurement used in both air and marine navigation, and for the definition of territorial waters. Historically, it was defined as one minute of latitude along any line of longitude. Today the international nautical mile is defined as exactly 1,852 metres (1.1508 mi). The derived unit of speed is the knot, one nautical mile per hour.

The list of desired improvements compiled from the operational experience of the earlier Wickes and Clemson classes was both long and comprehensive. Both classes had pointed sterns that deeply dug into the water, greatly increasing turning diameter. [6] [7] This was addressed with the transom stern design of the Farragut class. The previous classes were flush deck designs; while providing good hull strength, this proved to be wet in high seas. [6] [7] This was addressed with the raised forecastle employed on the Farragut class. Cruising range on both the Wickes and Clemson classes had been a constant affliction of commanders; the Clemsons had been built with wing tanks giving better range, but at the cost of having high mounted fuel oil on both sides—a decidedly vulnerable feature in a ship without an armored belt such as a destroyer. [8] The Farragut class corrected this range deficiency by having a design range of 5,980 nautical miles (11,070 km; 6,880 mi) as opposed to the Clemson's4,900 nautical miles (9,100 km; 5,600 mi). [8] [4] Steady improvements to both boilers and steam turbines in the years between the Clemson and Farragut designs allowed this improved range, along with greater speed and a reduction from 4 to 2 stacks.

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

The Wickes-class destroyers were a class of 111 destroyers built by the United States Navy in 1917–19. Along with the 6 preceding Caldwell-class and 156 subsequent Clemson-class destroyers, they formed the "flush-deck" or "four-stack" type. Only a few were completed in time to serve in World War I, including USS Wickes, the lead ship of the class.

Stern back or aft-most part of a ship or boat

The stern is the back or aft-most part of a ship or boat, technically defined as the area built up over the sternpost, extending upwards from the counter rail to the taffrail. The stern lies opposite of the bow, the foremost part of a ship. Originally, the term only referred to the aft port section of the ship, but eventually came to refer to the entire back of a vessel. The stern end of a ship is indicated with a white navigation light at night.

Flush deck ship type

Flush deck is a term in naval architecture. It can refer to any deck of a ship which is continuous from stem to stern. It has two specific common referents:

The success of the efforts become clear with the testimony of Rear Admiral Emory S. Land, head of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, to the General Board, comparing the Farragut class to the Wickes and Clemson classes. Those advantages were:

Emory S. Land United States admiral

Emory Scott Land was an officer in the United States Navy, noted for his contributions to naval architecture, particularly in submarine design. Notable assignments included serving as Chief of the Navy's Bureau of Construction and Repair during the 1930s, and as Chairman of the U.S. Maritime Commission during World War II.

The Bureau of Construction and Repair (BuC&R) was the part of the United States Navy which from 1862 to 1940 was responsible for supervising the design, construction, conversion, procurement, maintenance, and repair of ships and other craft for the Navy. The bureau also managed shipyards, repair facilities, laboratories, and shore stations.

Metacentric height measurement of the initial static stability of a floating body

The metacentric height (GM) is a measurement of the initial static stability of a floating body. It is calculated as the distance between the centre of gravity of a ship and its metacentre. A larger metacentric height implies greater initial stability against overturning. The metacentric height also influences the natural period of rolling of a hull, with very large metacentric heights being associated with shorter periods of roll which are uncomfortable for passengers. Hence, a sufficiently, but not excessively, high metacentric height is considered ideal for passenger ships.

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.

4"/50 caliber gun

The 4"/50 caliber gun was the standard low-angle, quick-firing gun for United States, first appearing on the monitor Arkansas and then used on "Flush Deck" destroyers through World War I and the 1920s. It was also the standard deck gun on S-class submarines, and was used to rearm numerous submarines built with 3-inch (76 mm) guns early in World War II. United States naval gun terminology indicates the gun fired a projectile 4-inch (102 mm) in diameter, and the barrel was 50 calibers long.

This had all been accomplished on a displacement rise of only 22%. [9]

The Farragut-class destroyers were considered unstable in heavy weather and in turns. This was compounded by war-time modifications that made them even more top-heavy. Two of the destroyers, Hull and Monaghan, sank as a result of the December 1944 typhoon. One of the survivors stated

The only thing I could complain about is ever since we left [Seattle] the ship seemed top heavy. I was on there for two years. Ever since we left [the shipyard] in October 1944, she seemed to roll worse than she ever did. Even in the calmest weather and even when anchored, she seemed to roll lots more than she used to.

A court of inquiry after the loss concluded that [the] basic instability of the Farragut-class ships "is materially less than other destroyers." [10]


The Farragut-class propulsion plant was considerably improved over the Clemson-class. Steam pressure and temperature were raised from 300 psi (2,100 kPa) saturated steam to 400 psi (2,800 kPa) steam superheated to 648 °F (342 °C). Superheated steam increased the efficiency of the turbines, improving the ships' range. [1] This was the first use of superheaters in a US destroyer. Economizers were also fitted; these used boiler exhaust gas to preheat the feedwater before it entered the boiler; these increased the ships' range by requiring less fuel to boil the water to steam. [11] The Farragut's turbines were Parsons-type reaction turbines manufactured by Bethlehem Steel. Each main turbine was divided into a high-pressure and a low-pressure turbine feeding into a common reduction gear to drive a shaft, [12] in a similar manner to the machinery illustrated below and at the following reference. [13] This general arrangement became standard for most subsequent steam-powered surface ships of the US Navy. Single-reduction gearing (as in the Clemsons) was used on the Farraguts; the Mahans and later classes had double-reduction gearing, which reduced the required size of the turbines still further. [11]



All ships were present at the attack on Pearl Harbor, where Monaghan sank a Japanese midget submarine. [2] Three of the class were lost in the war: Worden ran aground in Alaskan waters in January 1943 and became a total loss, while Hull and Monaghan were lost in Typhoon Cobra in December 1944. The remaining five ships survived World War II; they were broken up for scrap shortly after the end of the war.

Ships in class

The eight ships of the Farragut class were: [17]

Ship NameHull no.BuilderLaid DownLaunchedCommissionedDecommissionedFate
Farragut DD-348 Fore River Shipbuilding 20 September 193215 March 193418 June 193423 October 1945Scrapped 1947
Dewey DD-349 Bath Iron Works 16 December 193228 July 19344 October 193419 October 1945Scrapped 1946
Hull DD-350 Brooklyn Navy Yard 7 March 193321 January 193411 January 1935N/ALost in Typhoon Cobra, 17 December 1944
Macdonough DD-351 Boston Navy Yard 15 May 193322 August 193415 March 193522 October 1945Scrapped 1946
Worden DD-352 Puget Sound Navy Yard 29 December 193227 October 193415 January 1935N/AGrounded near Amchitka, Alaska, 12 January 1943
Dale DD-353 Brooklyn Navy Yard 10 February 193423 January 193517 June 193516 October 1945Scrapped 1946
Monaghan DD-354 Boston Navy Yard 21 November 19339 January 193519 April 1935N/ALost in Typhoon Cobra, 17 December 1944
Aylwin DD-355 Philadelphia Navy Yard 23 September 193310 July 19341 March 193516 October 1945Scrapped 1946

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 Friedman, p. 463
  2. 1 2 "Farragut-class destroyers". Destroyer History Foundation. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  3. Friedman, pp. 44, 463
  4. 1 2 "The Farragut class". Destroyers Online. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  5. ""Goldplater"s". Destroyer History Foundation. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  6. 1 2 Friedman, p.46
  7. 1 2 "Wickes and Clemson Classes". Destroyer History Foundation. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  8. 1 2 Friedman, p.44
  9. Friedman p.81
  10. Henderson, Bruce, Down to the Sea (An Epic Story of Naval Disaster and Heroism in World War II), copyright 2007
  11. 1 2 Friedman, p. 88
  12. "General Information Destroyer Number 438 U.S.S. Farragut" (pdf). Destroyer History Foundation. pp. 6–7. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  13. "Turbine and reduction gear illustration". Leander Project. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  14. "United States of America 5"/38 (12.7 cm) Mark 12". NavWeaps Naval Weapons, Naval Technology and Naval Reunions. Tony DiGiulian. Archived from the original on 8 July 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2007.
  15. "General Information Destroyer Number 438 U.S.S. Farragut" (pdf). Destroyer History Foundation. pp. 9–10. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  16. Gardiner and Chesneau, p. 125
  17. Bauer and Roberts, p. 183