A Tin Can Sailors
Destroyer History


The Gleaves Class Destroyer, KEARNY, was built by the Federal Shipbuilding Co. in Kearny, N.J. She was 348’ 4" long and displaced 1630 tons. Trial speed was 37.4 knots. Wartime crew totaled 276 men. She carried 4 5" guns and 10 21" torpedo tubes plus AA armament. Her 4 Babcock and Wilcox boilers sent steam to two general electric turbines to produce 50,000 shaft horsepower. Her complement of oil was 2,928 barrels. Cost was $5,082,000. The contract was signed on 17 August 1938, keel laid on 1 March 1939, launched 9 March 1940 and commissioned 13 September 1940. The sponsor was Miss Mary Kearny, descendant of Commodore Laurence Kearny, who distinguished himself in capturing slave-trading ships and in fighting Greek pirates in the Mediterranean. Kearny died at his birthplace, Perth Amboy, N.J. in 1868 at 79 years of age. DD-432’s first CO was Cdr. Anthony L. Danis.

After shakedown she started neutrality patrol in the Caribbean. April and May 1941 saw KEARNY escort THE RANGER, WASP and Cruiser QUINCY. The ship left Bermuda on 9 Sept. for Newfoundland and escort duty, which began on 23 Sept. While escorting convoy on the 24th, she was hit in the forward fire room by a torpedo at 10 past midnight. Quick action confined the flooding to the forward fire room. Casualties were 11 killed and 22 injured. The after power plant pushed the ship along at three knots. Repairs were soon made to the forward engine room and speed increased. The ship tied next to the repair ship VULCAN in Iceland on 19 Oct. On 22 Nov., Lt. Com. A.H. Oswald assumed command. The ship left Iceland on Christmas Day 1941 and arrived in Boston on New Years day for repairs.

She picked up 123 survivors of the SS FAIRPORT on 16 July 1942. She escorted HMS QUEEN MARY in August. In Oct. she left for the North Africa invasion with TF 34. During the invasion, KEARNY fired 1192 rounds of 5" fire. On 4 Dec. ‘42, Lt. Cdr. Lindsey Williamson assumed command. The first three months of ‘43 saw #432 patrolling off Brazil. She made convoy runs to Gilbraltar until the end of Nov. Thereafter, she joined USS Core Hunter-Killer group and fired 64 rounds on 1 Jan. 1944 at subs. She screened the USS BROOKLYN in March ‘44 in the Med. Both ships supplied fire support for the 5th Army. Due to their many trips, they became known as the "Anzio Express". Gen. Mark Clark commended both ships for this duty.

KEARNY was inner support ship for the invasion of southern France in August and fired 528 rounds of 5" gunfire in support. KEARNY was straddled on 24 Aug. while screening QUINCY. During Sept., Oct. and Nov., she escorted troops and patrolled in the Mediterranean. On 1 October 1944 Cdr. F.K.B. Wheeler assumed command. The ship arrived in New York on 1 Dec. 1944 and trained until February when again she went into escort duty to Oran as flagship. The ship overhauled and trained from May to Aug. 1945. DD-432 went through the Panama Canal on 6 August 1945. In September she screened transport squadron 18 loaded with occupation troops. She sailed from Japan on 29 October 1945 and arrived in Charleston, S.C. on 5 December 1945. She was decommissioned on 7 March 1946.

KEARNY received 3 Battle Stars for WW II service.

USS KEARNY was struck from the naval register on 1 June 1971 and sold for scrap to Luria Bros and Co. Inc. of Cleveland, Ohio for $67,916.

Here is an example of the awards given as a result of the October 1941 torpedoing. The Navy Cross was awarded to the engineering officer, Lt. Robert J. Esslinger, after the 17 Oct. 1941 torpedoing because, after a quick and accurate analysis of the situation, he, while working under extremely hazardous and difficult situations, coolly and skillfully surmounted all obstacles and kept both engines operative, permitting the KEARNY to proceed out of a danger zone and make port.

Capt. Danis also received a Navy Cross for keeping his ship afloat.

Many thanks to former DD-432 crewmember Donald E. Lake of 116 Pelham Dr., South Kettering, Ohio 45429, for contributing to this story.



From The Tin Can Sailor, January 1985

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