A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History
USS DUNLAP DD-384
The Tin Can Sailor, October 2000
Built by the United Shipyard of New York, the DUNLAP (DD-384) was launched on 18 April 1936. She was commissioned on 12 June 1937 and was operating out of Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on 7 December 1941.
On 1 February 1942 she was off Wotje Atoll in the Marshall Islands when she spotted an enemy gunboat and quickly sent it to the bottom. An hour later, her gunfire ran a second gunboat aground and in short order beached an enemy auxiliary and left two hangars and a row of buildings ashore in flames as she laid a screen of smoke and retired. On the way, she rescued a pilot and radioman from a downed plane. By year’s end she was operating out of Noumea, New Caledonia, and spent the first half of 1943 in exercises and on escort duty in the South Pacific.
On 27 July 1943 the DUNLAP got underway to escort transports to Guadalcanal and on 1 August escorted two LSTs and a sub-chaser to Rendova Island. Five days later she and five other destroyers were dispatched to Vella Gulf to intercept a Japanese cruiser and three destroyers. The Americans split into two groups, one consisting of the DUNLAP, CRAVEN (DD-382), and MAURY (DD-401) and the other, the LANG (DD-399), STERRETT (DD-407), and STACK (DD-406). The DUNLAP’s group attacked first with torpedoes, and as the torpedoes struck home, the second group opened fire. Group one also brought their guns to bear and when the destroyers ceased firing, the entire enemy force had been sunk.
On 9 August 1943 in the Gizo Strait, the DUNLAP and GRIDLEY (DD-380) sank one enemy barge and damaged another. Four days later, while on patrol off Guadalcanal, the DUNLAP and JOHN PENN (AP-51) came under heavy air attack during which an enemy torpedo sank the PENN. Following a return to the West Coast and operations in the Aleutian Islands, she was on her way back to the Western Pacific in December. In January and February 1944 she screened carriers during strikes against Wotje, Taroa, and Eniwetok.
While steaming with the SARATOGA (CV-3) in March, three of the DUNLAP’s crew went into the water to rescue three survivors of a downed plane from the carrier. Later in the month the DUNLAP began operations with the British Eastern Fleet out of Colombo, Ceylon.
In May two British Barracudas collided in mid-air, and the DUNLAP and CUMMINGS (DD-365) rushed to the scene where only two of three crash victims they pulled from the water survived. In July 1944 the destroyer escorted the BALTIMORE (CA-68) and later the CUMMINGS, which carried President Roosevelt on a fishing trip to Auk Bay, Alaska.
By September she was back in the war firing on coastal defense guns and other targets on Wake Island. On 9 October 1944, as a massive U.S. force assembled for a return to the Philippines, the DUNLAP was with Task Group 30.2 headed for Marcus Island to create a diversion. In her group were three cruisers and the FANNING (DD-385), CASE (DD-370), CUMMINGS, CASSIN (DD-372), and DOWNES (DD-375).
When their ruse was successfully completed, the task group got underway to rendezvous with units of the Third Fleet for strikes against Luzon and to support MacArthur’s landings at Leyte on the 20th. Five days later she screened Task Group 38.1 as its carrier planes attacked enemy ships fleeing from their defeat at the Battle for Leyte Gulf and rescued three American airmen.
At 2351 on 11 November the DUNLAP began her first bombardment mission against Iwo Jima hitting enemy aircraft installations and airfields and ships in the boat basin before retiring. She returned to bombard Iwo in December when she sank one LST, badly damaged another, caused the beaching of a freighter, and silenced several shore batteries.
In January 1945 during strikes against Iwo, the DUNLAP and CUMMINGS assisted the FANNING in sinking an enemy ship, and later that month she destroyed several enemy freighters. Beginning in March she patrolled off Iwo during its occupation and downed an enemy plane on 21 May. On 19 June she sank three enemy vessels attempting to evacuate Chichi Jima and picked up fifty-two survivors. The end of hostilities brought Japanese officers to the deck of the DUNLAP for the surrender of the Bonin Islands on 3 September 1945. By the end of the month she was headed for home, arriving finally in Norfolk where she was decommissioned on 14 December 1945. She was sold for scrap on 31 December 1947.