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Wickes Class, U.S. Destroyers


Photograph of Wickes-class destroyer

Naval Historical Center #69499

Schematic diagram of Wickes class destroyer

ONI 222


Specifications:


Tonnage 1090 tons standard displacement
Dimensions 314'3" by 31'8" by 9'10"
95.78m by 9.65m by 3.00m
Maximum speed       35 knots
Complement 150
Armament 4x1 4"/50 guns
1 3"/23 AA gun
4x3 21" torpedo tubes
2 depth charge racks (15 depth charges)
1 depth charge thrower
Machinery
2-shaft Parsons turbines (24,200 shp)
4 White-Foster boilers
Range 2500 nautical miles (4600 km) at 20 knots
Fuel
295 tons fuel oil
Modifications

A number of units were converted before the war to light minelayers by replacing the torpedo banks with storage for 80 mines. These eventually replaced their 4" guns with 3"/50 AA guns and 4 20mm Oerlikon AA guns.

1940-1942: A number were converted to fast minesweepers armed with 4 3"/50 guns, 1x2 40mm Bofors AA guns, and 3 to 5 20mm guns. One boiler was removed. Squared-off false sterns were added to support minesweeping gear. Later two 60kW turbo-generators were installed to support magnetic mine sweeping. Some of these units later removed most of the 3" guns.

1942-1943: A number were converted to fast transports by replacing all torpedo banks with davits for four LCVPs. All fast transports eventually replaced the 4" guns with 6 3"guns, 2x1 40mm guns, and 5 20mm guns and removed their forward boilers, greatly reducing their speed. They could carry a company of Marines.


The Wickes were the first of two major groups of “flush-deck” destroyers ordered by the United States during World War I. Also known as “four-stackers,” they were essentially a mass production version of the Caldwells. (For example, Ward commissioned in just 70 days.) However, they were given more powerful machinery, which was intended to give them the speed to keep up with the Omaha-class scout cruisers and the (never-completed) Constellation-class battle cruisers. Because of the urgency placed on rapidly expanding the destroyer force, the Navy deliberately chose a familiar design with acceptable characteristics rather than a more innovative design resembling the new British "V&W" destroyers. As a result, these ships were already obsolescent when they joined the fleet in 1918-1920.

The ships had a serious reputation for rolling, and the "V" form adopted for the stern, while improving range, also made the ships very unmaneuverable, with a tactical diameter of 860 yards, which was about 40 to 50 percent greater than contemporary British destroyers. It was also discovered that the endurance varied greatly among units of the class. Those built at the Cramp or Bath yards exceeded requirements, while those built at Mare Island had little more than half the endurance of the Cramp and Bath ships in spite of being built to a nominally identical design. A proposal to replace one boiler with a fuel tank was rejected and the units with the poor range were the first to be retired.

The Wickes and succeeding Clemson classes were produced in such huge numbers that the United States had the largest destroyer force in the world by the time of the Washington naval conference. However, this posed a serious block obsolescence problem, which the Navy sought to mitigate through various modernization schemes; by laying up many of the ships in reserve; and by converting others to auxiliary duty as minecraft or fast transports. Some were turned over to the Coast Guard for use on the "Rum Runner" patrol. The availability of so many destroyers also meant that new destroyer construction came to a halt until 1930, and when it finally resumed, priority was put on flotilla leaders. These became the template for the more powerful mass production fleet destroyers of the Second World War.

Although 32 had been scrapped by 1940, so desperate were the Allies for destroyers in 1941 that the remaining ships constituted a significant part of their destroyer flotillas. Some 22 were transferred to the British as part of the destroyers-for-bases agreement that prefigured Lend-Lease.

The fast transport conversions were considered a success in the South Pacific, and additional units were converted, both from the Wickes and from other destroyer and destroyer escort classes.

Units in the Pacific:

Chew

Pearl Harbor


Crane

San Diego


Crosby San Diego Converted to fast transport  1943-2-1
Dent
San Diego Converted to fast transport  1943-3-7

Kennison      

San Diego

Converted to target ship 1944-11-9
Lawrence San Diego
Schley

Pearl Harbor      

Converted to fast transport  1943-2-16
Ward Pearl Harbor Converted to fast transport  1943-2-6. Crippled by kamikazes 1944-12-7 off Ormoc and scuttled.
Stewart Tarakan Scuttled 1942-3-2 at Surabaya. Raised and recommissioned by the Japanese as PB-102 on 1943-9-20
Talbot San Diego Converted to fast transport  1942-10-31
Waters San Diego Converted to fast transport  1942-2
Rathburne     
San Diego Training ship. Converted to fast transport  1944-6.

As light minelayers:

Gamble     
Pearl Harbor     
Crippled by aircraft 1945-2-18 and not repaired
Ramsay     
Pearl Harbor
Montgomery     
Pearl Harbor Mined 1944-10-17 and not repaired
Breese
Pearl Harbor

As fast minesweepers:

Lamberton     
Task Force 1     

Boggs
Task Force 1
Dorsey
Task Force 3

Elliot
Task Force 3
Howard
Arrived 1943-11

Hogan
Arrived 1943-11-23

Palmer
Arrived 1943-11-23?     
Sunk by aircraft 1945-1-7 at Lingayen Gulf
Stansbury
Arrived 1943-12-4

Hamilton
Arrived 1943-12-8


As destroyer-transports:

Gregory Arrived 1942-2
Sunk by gunfire 1942-9-5 off Guadalcanal
Colhoun    
converted 1942-4 (San Diego)       Sunk by aircraft 1942-8-30 off Guadalcanal
Little
converted 1942-4 (San Diego)
Sunk by gunfire 1942-9-5 off Guadalcanal
McKean
Arrived 1942-5
Sunk by aircraft 1943-11-15 in Empress Augusta Bay
Stringham     
Arrived 1943-7-13

Kilty
converted 1943-1-2 (Mare Island)     

Dickerson
Arrived 1943-11
Wrecked by kamikazes 1945-4-2 off Okinawa and scuttled
Herbert
Arrived 1944-3

Roper
Arrived 1945-2-5
Wrecked by kamikazes 1945-5-25 off Okinawa and not repaired

Photo Gallery


Wickes class destroyer

U.S. Navy

Wickes class destroyer

U.S. Navy

Wickes class destroyer

U.S. Navy

Wickes class destroyer seen from above

U.S. Navy

Wickes class destroyer converted to APD

U.S. Navy

Wickes class destroyer converted to APD

U.S. Navy

Wickes class destroyer converted to DMS

U.S. Navy

Wickes class destroyer refueling at sea

U.S. Navy


References

DANFS

Friedman (2004)

Whitley (1988)

Worth (2001)



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