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Fletcher Class, U.S. Destroyers


Photograph of Fletcher-class destroyer

National Archive # 19-N-31243

Schematic of Fletcher class destroyer

ONI 222


Specifications:


Tonnage

2325 tons standard displacement

Dimensions

376'6" by 39'4" by 13'5"
114.76m by 11.99m by 4.09m

Maximum speed      

35 knots

Complement

273

Armament

5x1 5"/38 dual-purpose guns
2x5 21" torpedo tubes (plus four reload torpedoes)
1x2 40mm Bofors AA guns
6x1 20mm Oerlikon AA guns
56 depth charges
6 Mark 6 depth charge throwers
2 Mark 3 depth charge racks
Machinery
2-shaft G.E.C. geared turbines (60,000 shp)
4 Babcock & Wilcox boilers

Bunkerage

492 tons fuel oil

Range

6500 nautical miles (1200km) at 15 knots
Sensors
SC search radar
QC sonar
Modifications
Light antiaircraft armament steadily improved throughout the war.

By 1943-6 the standard light AA armament had increased to 5x2 40mm and 7x1 20mm guns. Radar was also upgraded to SG surface search radar by this time.

At war's end, the ships were refitting with kamikaze armament of 3x2, 2x4 40mm and 3x1, 4x2 20mm with removal of one bank of torpedo tubes. The quad 40mm mounts also had improved fire control in the form of Mark 63 blind fire directors.

Three of the ships were completed with fewer guns and one bank of torpedoes to make room for an aircraft catapult. This experiment was unsuccessful.


The Fletchers, completed in 1942-45, were the wartime American destroyers. Produced in great numbers, they proved to be a sound design, and became perhaps the most successful of all American destroyer classes. The antiaircraft battery was initially quite weak for a ship of this size, but it was greatly improved as the war progressed. The flush decks gave great structural strength, though at the expense of wet bows. The ships were tough, well-armed, and reliable, with good cruising range. On the other hand, they were not particularly fast for destroyers and lacked somewhat in maneuverability. As designed, they were much less top-heavy than their predecessors, but by war’s end the Navy had dumped enough additional equipment on board to reverse this departure from tradition.

They were the first U.S. destroyers designed after the lapse of the naval disarmament treaties, and the design process took almost two years. The designers originally envisioned relatively small ships, not more than 1600 tons, so that they could be build in greater numbers. The debate over whether torpedoes or guns were to be the primary armament was resolved early in the design process in favor of a balanced armament, and most of the subsequent increase in displacement came from the decision to incorporate Special Treatment Steel (STS) plate as splinter protection around the bridge and machinery spaces. The increase in displacement also meant that a heavier antiaircraft battery could be accommodated, which was just as well, since even this heavier battery proved inadequate and had to be upgraded during the war.

Subdivision was good, with alternating engine and fire rooms for greater machinery dispersion. Construction was all-welded and all decks and the upper hull were of STS, with a thickness of 0.5" (13mm) for the main deck and 0.75" (19mm) for the upper hull. This gave a measure of protection from splinters from near misses. Other portions of the hull and the lower decks were thinner.

The machinery consisted of cruise, high-pressure, and low-pressure turbines, with astern blading incorporated in the low-pressure turbine. The boilers incorporated superheaters and produced steam at 565 psi (3900 kPa) at 850 degrees Fahrenheit (454 degrees Centigrade).

Other improvements to the class included sophisticated radar plotting rooms (ancestors of the modern CIC) and improved antisubmarine gear. The original closed pilot house was replaced in late production units with an open bridge that gave improved all-around vision, which had proven important under air attack. The deck house, as originally designed, was made of lightweight aluminum alloy, but in later units this was replaced by steel due to the shortage of aluminum.

One notable weakness of the class was its poor maneuverability, and it was claimed that even an Iowa-class battleship could out turn a Fletcher. Subsequent destroyer classes adopted twin rudders to improve the turning radius.

The timing of the new design was fortuitous. Friedman (2004) notes that "the 'iron law' of mobilization is that only equipment already in production can pass into mass production, and the design of the Fletcher coincided with the great acceleration of U.S. naval shipbuilding just prior to and early in World War II." Thus the U.S. Navy was poised to mass produce a sound, modern destroyer design for the greatest naval conflict in its history. And mass-produced it was: 175 Fletchers were completed, more than any other destroyer class, and the great majority served exclusively in the Pacific.Construction took place at 11 different shipyards, include Bath-San Francisco, Bath-San Pedro, Bremerton, and Seattle-Tacoma.


Units in the Pacific:

O’Bannon

arrived 1942-7-5

Ringgold

arrived 1942-7-27

Fletcher

arrived 1942-9

Saufley

arrived 1942-9-16

Aulick

arrived 1942-11

De Haven

arrived 1942-11 Sunk by aircraft 1943-2-1 off Savo Island

Jenkins

arrived 1942-11-26

Chevalier

arrived 1942-12 Torpedoed 1943-10-7 off Vella Lavella by Yugumo

Converse

arrived 1942-12

Conway

arrived 1942-12

Waller

arrived 1942-12-7

Radford

arrived 1942-12-12

La Vallette

arrived 1942-12-23

Taylor

arrived 1942-12-24

Beale

arrived 1943-1

Cony

arrived 1943-1

Strong

arrived 1943-1-3 Sunk 1943-7-5 off New Georgia by destroyers Mochitsuki, Mikatsuki, and Hamakaze

Yarnall

completed 1943-1-30 at San Francisco

Bache

arrived 1943-2

Eaton

arrived 1943-2

Abner Read

completed 1943-2-5 at San Francisco Sunk by kamikaze 1944-11-1 off Samar

Ammen

completed 1943-3-12 at San Francisco

Pringle

arrived 1943-2-13 Sunk by kamikaze 1945-4-16 off Okinawa

Renshaw

arrived 1943-3

Stanly

arrived 1943-3-7

Hutchins

arrived 1943-3-25

Stevens

arrived 1943-4

Mullany

completed 1943-4-23 at San Francisco

Anthony

arrived 1943-5

Claxton

arrived 1943-5

Dyson

arrived 1943-5

Foote

arrived 1943-5

Philip

arrived 1943-5

Boyd

completed 1943-5-8 at San Pedro

Bush

completed 1943-5-10 at San Francisco Sunk by kamikaze 1945-4-6 off Okinawa

Halford

completed 1943-5-10 at Bremerton

Bennett

arrived 1943-5-16

John Rodgers

arrived 1943-5-20

Trathen

completed 1943-5-28 at San Francisco

Charles Ausburne

arrived 1943-6

Fullam

arrived 1943-6

Bradford

completed 1943-6-12 at San Pedro

Brownson

arrived 1943-6-18 Sunk by aircraft 1943-12-26 off New Britain

Hazelwood

completed 1943-6-18 at San Francisco

Thatcher

arrived 1943-6-19

Dashiell

arrived 1943-7

Schroeder

arrived 1943-7-1

Spence

arrived 1943-7-1 Lost in typhoon 1944-12-18 off Luzon

Heermann

completed 1943-7-6 at San Francisco

Brown

completed 1943-7-10 at San Pedro

Terry

arrived 1943-7-12

McKee

arrived 1943-7-13

Wadsworth

arrived 1943-7-21

Sigsbee

arrived 1943-7-27

Guest

arrived 1943-7-28

Harrison

arrived 1943-7-29

Hoel

completed 1943-7-29 at San Francisco Sunk by gunfire 1944-10-25 off Samar

Franks

completed 1943-7-30 at Seattle

Braine

arrived 1943-8

Bullard

arrived 1943-8

Burns

arrived 1943-8

McCord

completed 1943-8-19 at San Francisco

Cowell

completed 1943-8-23 at San Pedro

Nicholas

arrived 1943-8-30

Haggard

completed 1943-8-31 at Seattle

Miller

completed 1943-8-31 at San Francisco

Charrette

arrived 1943-9

Chauncey

arrived 1943-9

Conner

arrived 1943-9

Erben

arrived 1943-9

Hudson

arrived 1943-9

Murray

arrived 1943-9

Kidd

arrived 1943-9-1

Luce

arrived 1943-9-13 Sunk by kamikaze 1945-5-3 off Okinawa

Kimberly

arrived 1943-9-17

Owen

completed 1943-9-20 at San Francisco

Sigourney

arrived 1943-9-21

Izard

arrived 1943-9-22

Hailey

completed 1943-9-30 at Seattle

Hopewell

completed 1943-9-30 at San Pedro

The Sullivans

completed 1943-9-30 at San Francisco

Abbot

arrived 1943-10

Black

arrived 1943-10

Caperton

arrived 1943-10

Cotten

arrived 1943-10

Hale

arrived 1943-10-2

Stembel

arrived 1943-10-21

Stephen Potter

completed 1943-10-21 at San Francisco      

Johnston

completed 1943-10-27 at Seattle Sunk by gunfire 1944-10-25 off Samar

Porterfield

completed 1943-10-30 at San Pedro

Albert W. Grant

arrived 1943-11

Charles J. Badger

arrived 1943-11

Clarence K. Bronson      

arrived 1943-11

Cogswell

arrived 1943-11

Daly

arrived 1943-11

Walker

arrived 1943-11-1

Sproston

arrived 1943-11-4

Bell

arrived 1943-1

Wickes

arrived 1943-11-15

Laws

completed 1943-11-18 at Seattle

Isherwood

arrived 1943-11-22

Young

arrived 1943-11-24

Tingey

completed 1943-11-25 at San Francisco

Callaghan

completed 1943-11-27 at San Pedro Sunk by kamikaze 1945-7.28 off Okinawa

Healy

arrived 1943-11-27

Hickox

arrived 1943-11-28

Colahan

arrived 1943-12

Dortch

arrived 1943-12

Twining

completed 1943-12-1 at San Francisco

Knapp

arrived 1943-12-5

Ingersoll

arrived 1943-12-6

Hunt

arrived 1943-12-9

William D. Porter

arrived 1943-12-12 Sunk by kamikaze 1945-6-10 off Okinawa

Remey

arrived 1943-12-13

Gatling

arrived 1943-12-14

Haraden

arrived 1943-12-14

Lewis Hancock

arrived 1943-12-14

Longshaw

completed 1943-12-14 at Seattle Sunk by kamikaze 1945-5-18 off Okinawa

Picking

arrived 1943-12-14

Newcomb

arrived 1943-12-17

Morrison

completed 1943-12-18 at Seattle Sunk by kamikaze 1945-5-3 off Okinawa
Stephen Potter
completed 1943-12-21 at San Francisco

Halligan

arrived 1943-12-28 Mined 1945-3-26 off Okinawa

Cassin Young

completed 1943-12-31 at San Pedro

Capps

arrived 1944-1

David W. Taylor

arrived 1944-1

Hall

arrived 1944-1-4

Wadleigh

arrived 1944-1-10

Marshall

arrived 1944-1-13

Prichett

completed 1944-1-15 at Seattle

Norman Scott

arrived 1944-1-21

Halsey Powell

arrived 1944-1-27

Mertz

arrived 1944-1-31

Robinson

completed 1944-1-31 at Seattle

Benham

arrived 1944-2

Bryant

arrived 1944-2

Uhlmann

arrived 1944-2-2

McDermutt

arrived 1944-2-1

Melvin

arrived 1944-2-8

Stockham

completed 1944-2-11 at San Francisco

Irwin

completed 1944-2-14 at San Pedro

Ross

completed 1944-2-21 at Seattle

Bennion

arrived 1944-3

Evans

arrived 1944-3

Leutze

completed 1944-3-4 at Bremerton

Wedderburn

arrived 1944-3-9 at San Francisco

McNair

arrived 1944-3-12

Rowe

completed 1944-3-13 at Seattle

Preston

completed 1944-3-30 at San Pedro

Smalley

completed 1944-3-31 at Seattle

Bearss

arrived 1944-4

Howorth

completed 1944-4-3 at Bremerton

John D. Henley

arrived 1944-4-13

Heywood L. Edwards

arrived 1944-4-23

Monssen

arrived 1944-4-23

Watts

completed 1944-4-29 at Seattle

Cushing

arrived 1944-5

Richard P. Leary

arrived 1944-5

Paul Hamilton

arrived 1944-5-2

Killen

completed 1944-5-4 at Seattle

McGowan

arrived 1944-5-11

Twiggs

arrived 1944-5-19 Sunk by aircraft 1945-6-16 off Okinawa

Wren

completed 1944-5-20 at Seattle

Jarvis

completed 1944-6-3 at Seattle

Porter

completed 1944-6-24 at Seattle

Colhoun

completd 7-8 at Seattle Sunk by kamikaze 1945-5-6 off Okinawa

Little

completed 1944-8-19 at Seattle Sunk by kamikaze 1945-5-3 off Okinawa

John Hood

arrived 1944-8-28

Melvin

arrived 1944-9

Rooks

completed 1944-9-2 at Seattle

Gregory

arrived 1944-10-16

Van Valkenburg

arrived 1944-10-29

Hart

completed 1944-11-4 at Seattle

Metcalf

completed 1944-11-18 at Bremerton

Shields

completed 1945-2-8 at Bremerton

Wiley

completed 1945-2-22 at Bremerton

Stoddard

arrived 1945-4-15


Image Gallery


Near-silhouette vew of USS Fletcher

U.S. Navy

Detail of bow of USS Fletcher in dock

U.S. Navy

Detail of midships of USS Fletcher in dock

U.S. Navy

Detail of aft of USS Fletcher in dock

U.S. Navy

USS Bullard showing aft and midships

ONI 222

Endurance and radius chart

U.S. Navy

Detailed plans


References

DANFS

Friedman (2004)

Osborne (2005)

Whitley (1988)

Worth (2001)



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