DD-445 Fletcher class

Design History
Although Treaty limitations had not applied during the construction of the Sims and Benson classes, the necessity of producing a large number of destroyer had effectively precluded the design of a ship that was not directly based on its predecessors. It was in the fall of 1939 that the General Board set to work on the design of a new class of destroyers. Once more, it querried the fleet as to the desirable characteristics of a fleet destroyer; asked whether the fleet considered that the destroyers now under production were already too large, or not enough torpedo vessels, or whether the utility of the destroyer made it a ship of so many functions that torpedo attack was but one of them.

To that last premise, Captain Russell S. Crenshaw, Chief of the War Plans Division, heartily concurred. He believed that the ten torpedoes in quintuble centerline tubes as employed in the latest designs was quite sufficient. Size should not be reduced; the destroyers' functions as fleet screening vessels should be stressed more. More depth-charges, and preferably a heavier anti-air battery (possibly adding a quadruple 28mm mount) were desired. Not much later, the General Board summed up its hearings in a characteristic that called for no less than 4 5" L/38 guns, ten torpedo tubes and 36 knots at 1,600 tons. To this general layout the CNO, Harold Stark, agreed. It was, however, pointed out that given the fiscal situation of the day, it might be advisable to procure the best destroyer possible without regard for cost (which Congress was quite ready to disregard as well), and to resort to smaller, cheaper ships when the time came in which Congress would not be as supportive. The tentative design first issued by the General Board became the basis of several Bureau of Construction and Repair draft designs. However, since the initial designs did not exceed 1,600 tons, the differences of the new class would primarily be of emphasis - mainly because the increased depth charge and the proposed providing of torpedo reloads would necessitate the reduction of weights in other places. An option that was considered was the placement of the main artillery in twin mounts, at least partially, saving critical top weight.

FLETCHER class deck layout These proposals did obviously not satisfy the General Board. Although several members proposed further studies of this and that proposed design, the General Board as a whole requested two weeks after the initial proposals had been made that a larger ship be studied, and four new proposals be drawn up. Once made, they drew heavily upon a number of proposals, from within C&R (where a flush-deck hull originated), to the General Board and the Bureau of Engineering. The final ship, which was to have five 5" guns, ten to twelve torpedo tubes, depth charges and K-guns to throw them with, plus most importantly, protection from heavy machine-gun fire in the form of 0.5" STS armor over vital spaces.

This became some of the primary concern, since the added weight of the STS and the "parasitic" weight of a heavier and possibly wider hull to sustain the large weight of the armor increased tonnage immensely. When C&R finished the new proposals, they all came out over 2,000 tons. At the same time, the General Board accepted the need both for size and protection. In the final characteristics which the General Board gave out for the 1941 destroyer program, the new ships made good use of their large size: five 5" guns, ten torpedo tubes in quintuble mounts, a 28mm L/73 AA quad mount, four .50cal machine guns, 38 knots, four K-guns and two depth-charge racks, 0.5" STS protection for engines, boilers (both decks and sides), pilothouse and 0,75" STS over the 5" gun director.

Few changes were made to the design from the initial design to the contract design stage. Proposals to replace the forward two 5" guns with a single twin came to nothing for reasons of space and visibility. However, the initial anti-air outfit was replaced in the design by a 40mm twin in place of the 28mm quad, and six 20mms in the place of the .50-cal machine guns. Later ships, those whose construction was not yet too far advanced when the change was ordered in mid-December 1941, received two twin 40mms and four 20mm guns.

Further design changes were ordered in later ships. While the earliest vessels possessed a round bridge, such as in the SIMS, the experience of the British with aircraft, and the changed role of the destroyer, led to demands for a bridge with an all around view. Later ships had a square open bridge.

The final design had everything in common with the final draft design besides these changes. A Mk37 director controlled 5" fire, a 40mm director Mk49 served the light AA, protection equal to that specified in the final draft was the first armor ever applied to a U.S. destroyer design.

175 ships of the Fletcher class were procured during the war, with funds from Fiscal Years 1941, 1942 and 1943. Most American yards were involved in the production of the class, and several yards were upgraded and improved to allow construction of these ships.

In an effort to provide the fleet with more planes, six Fletchers were ordered modified with a catapult in place of no.3 5" gun. This effort, soon rendered obsolete by a combination of uselessness and difficulty with the handling, was reduced to three ships in early 1943, the decision having been made to retain the removed no.3 gun in storage from quick "reassembly". Three ships were completed with a catapult and plane, and operated for a short while with them, until they, too, lost their equipment in October 1943.

Square-bridge FLETCHER variant Modification History
By the time of their commissioning, all Fletchers had radar SG and SC (some SA), later SC-2, as well as fire-control radar Mk4. Various expansions of the light AA took place in the course of the war, the ultimate battery, not reached in all Fletchers, consisting of 14 40mm and 7 20mm guns. For such a battery, a reduction of the torpedo tubes by one quintuble set was necessary.

Service History
Unlike their contemporaries on the production lines, the repeat Bensons of the Livermore class, Fletcher class destroyers were commonly assigned to the Pacific. Their initial combat took place off Guadalcanal, where Fletcher herself saw combat in the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal among other things. Later on, Fletchers were the primary part of the Cactus Striking Force of destroyers, and participated in every engagement and campaign thereafter conducted by the Allies. Fletchers comprised part of the screen of Taffy 3 at Leyte Gulf, certainly the classic destroyer action of World War II. Slowly supplemented and replaced in carrier screens by Allen Sumner and Gearing class destroyers, Fletchers nonetheless served as fast carrier escorts until the end of the war and beyond, when a large number were converted to DDEs, DDRs and similar ships. Many Fletchers were transfered to foreign navies (were a few still serve), including six to the Federal Republic of Germany and some to Japan. Several U.S. ships were not decommissioned until the late 1960s, when their roles were taken over by newly built ships. The were, however, kept in reserve for several years to come.

Ships in class:
DD-445 Fletcher
DD-446 Radford
DD-447 Jenkins
DD-448 La Vallette
DD-449 Nicholas
DD-450 O'Bannon
DD-451 Chevalier
DD-465 Saufley
DD-466 Waller
DD-467 Strong
DD-468 Taylor
DD-469 De Haven
DD-470 Bache
DD-471 Beale
DD-472 Guest
DD-473 Bennett
DD-474 Fullam
DD-475 Hudson
DD-476 Hutchins
DD-477 Pringle
DD-478 Stanly
DD-479 Stevens
DD-480 Halford
DD-481 Leutze
DD-498 Philip
DD-499 Renshaw
DD-500 Ringgold
DD-501 Schroeder
DD-502 Sigsbee
DD-507 Conway
DD-508 Cony
DD-509 Converse
DD-510 Eaton
DD-511 Foote
DD-512 Spence
DD-513 Terry
DD-514 Thatcher
DD-515 Anthony
DD-516 Wadsworth
DD-517 Walker
DD-518 Brownson
DD-519 Daly
DD-520 Isherwood
DD-521 Kimberly
DD-522 Luce
DD-526 Abner Read
DD-527 Ammen
DD-528 Mullany
DD-529 Bush
DD-530 Trathen
DD-531 Hazelwood
DD-532 Heermann
DD-533 Hoel
DD-534 McCord
DD-535 Millier
DD-536 Owen
DD-537 The Sullivans
DD-538 Stephen Potter
DD-539 Tingey
DD-540 Twining
DD-541 Yarnall
DD-544 Boyd
DD-545 Bradford
DD-546 Brown
DD-547 Cowell
DD-550 Capps
DD-551 David W. Taylor
DD-552 Evans
DD-553 John D. Henley
DD-554 Franks
DD-555 Haggard
DD-556 Hailey
DD-557 Johnston
DD-558 Laws
DD-559 Longshaw
DD-560 Morrison
DD-561 Prichett
DD-562 Robinson
DD-563 Ross
DD-564 Rowe
DD-565 Smalley
DD-566 Stoddard
DD-567 Watts
DD-568 Wren
DD-569 Aulick
DD-570 Charles Ausburne
DD-571 Claxton
DD-572 Dyson
DD-573 Harrison
DD-574 John Rodgers
DD-575 McKee
DD-576 Murray
DD-577 Sproston
DD-578 Wickes
DD-579 William D. Porter
DD-580 Young
DD-581 Charrette
DD-582 Conner
DD-583 Hall
DD-584 Halligan
DD-585 Haraden
DD-586 Newcomb
DD-587 Bell
DD-588 Burns
DD-589 Izard
DD-590 Paul Hamilton
DD-591 Twiggs
DD-592 Howorth
DD-593 Killen
DD-594 Hart
DD-595 Metcalfe
DD-596 Shields
DD-597 Willey
DD-629 Abott
DD-630 Braine
DD-631 Erben
DD-642 Hale
DD-643 Sigourney
DD-644 Stembel
DD-649 Albert W. Grant
DD-650 Caperton
DD-651 Cogswell
DD-652 Ingersoll
DD-653 Knapp
DD-654 Bearss
DD-655 John Hood
DD-656 Von Valkenburgh
DD-657 Charles J. Badger
DD-658 Colahan
DD-659 Colahan
DD-660 Bullard
DD-661 Kidd
DD-662 Bennion
DD-663 Heywood L. Edwards
DD-664 Richard P. Leary
DD-665 Bryant
DD-666 Black
DD-667 Chauncey
DD-668 Clarence K. Bronson
DD-669 Cotten
DD-670 Dortch
DD-671 Gatling
DD-672 Healy
DD-673 Halcox
DD-674 Hunt
DD-675 Lewis Hancock
DD-676 Marshall
DD-677 McDermut
DD-678 McGowan
DD-679 McNair
DD-680 Melvin
DD-681 Hopewell
DD-682 Porterfield
DD-683 Stockham
DD-684 Wedderburn
DD-685 Picking
DD-686 Halsey Powell
DD-687 Uhlmann
DD-688 Remey
DD-689 Wadleigh
DD-690 Norman Scott
DD-691 Mertz
DD-792 Callaghan
DD-793 Cassin Young
DD-794 Irwin
DD-795 Preston
DD-796 Benham
DD-797 Cushing
DD-798 Monssen
DD-799 Jarvis
DD-800 Porter
DD-801 Calhoun
DD-802 Gregory
DD-803 Little
DD-804 Rooks

Standard: 2,276 tons
Full: 3,005 tons
Length: 114,75m / 376ft 6"
Beam: 12,08m / 39ft 8"
Draft (Full Load): 4,12m / 13ft 10 3/4"
Crew (Officers/Men): 9 / 264
Endurance: 3,480nm at 20 knots
Speed: 37,8 knots
Belt: No belt armor
Deck: No deck armor
Barbettes: No barbette armor
Conning Tower: No conning tower armor
Armament and Equipment
(As designed):
Main: 5 x 127mm L/38, in single mounts: two forward, superfiring, one in front of after deck house, two aft, superfiring
Secondary: None
AA: 4 x 28mm L/73 in one quadruple mount, 4 x 20mm L/70
Torpedoes: 10 533mm torpedo tubes in two quintuple centerline mounts
Depth Charges: 6 x K-Gun, 30 depth charges, 2 x depth charge track, 26 depth charges

(Strong, August 1942):
Main: 5 x 127mm L/38, as above
Secondary: None
AA: 4 x 40mm L/56 in two twin mounts, 4 x 20mm L/70
Torpedoes: 10 533mm torpedo tubes in two quintuple centerline mounts
Depth Charges: 6 x K-Gun, 2 x depth charge track

(Bennet, July 1943):
Main: 5 x 127mm L/38, as above
Secondary: None
AA: 6 x 40mm L/56 in three twin mounts, 11 x 20mm L/70
Torpedoes: 10 533mm torpedo tubes in two quintuple centerline mounts
Depth Charges: 6 x K-Gun, 2 x depth charge track

(Stanley, October 1944):
Main: 5 x 127mm L/38, as above
Secondary: None
AA: 10 x 40mm L/56 in five twin mounts, 7 x 20mm L/70
Torpedoes: 10 533mm torpedo tubes in two quintuple centerline mounts
Depth Charges: 6 x K-Gun, 2 x depth charge track

(Isherwood, August 1945, after AAW1945):
Main: 5 x 127mm L/38, as above
Secondary: None
AA: 14 x 40mm L/56 in two quadruple and three twin mounts, 12 x 20mm L/70 in six twin mounts
Torpedoes: 5 533mm torpedo tubes in one quintuple centerline mount
Depth Charges: 6 x K-Gun, 2 x depth charge track