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Hull Number: DD-415

Launch Date: 10/20/1939

Commissioned Date: 03/02/1940

Class: SIMS

SIMS Class

Data for USS Hughes (DD-410) as of 1945

Length Overall: 348' 4"

Beam: 36' 0

Draft: 13' 4"

Standard Displacement: 1,570 tons

Full Load Displacement: 2,465 tons

Fuel capacity: 2,929 barrels


Four 5″/38 caliber guns
Two 40mm twin anti-aircraft mounts
Two 21″ quadruple torpedo tubes


16 Officers
235 Enlisted


3 Boilers
2 Westinghouse Turbines: 50,000 horsepower

Highest speed on trials: 38.7 knots




Sunk 10/19/1942.

A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History


The Tin Can Sailor, April 2000

Captain Jeremiah O’Brien commanded the sloop UNITY, which captured the British armed schooner MARGARETTA when it threatened the town of Machias, Massachusetts (now Maine) in 1775. The destroyer, DD-415, was the third naval vessel to bear his name. She was launched on 20 October 1939 and was commissioned on 2 March 1940.

Throughout 1940 and 1941, she was part of the United States Neutrality Patrol and operated along the eastern seaboard and in the North Atlantic. In early November 1941, she and the other destroyers of Destroyer Squadron Two escorted transports carrying 22,000 British troops from Great Britain to Nova Scotia, the first leg of its voyage to Basra in the Near East. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, headed for the Pacific, leaving Norfolk on 15 January 1942 with the IDAHO (BB-42) and MUSTIN (DD-413). She sailed in late February for Pearl Harbor where on 5 March, she became the flagship of Destroyer Division 4.

After operating out of Pearl Harbor and patrolling French Frigate Shoals, the O’BRIEN escorted the seaplane tender CURTISS (AV-4) to Midway to evacuate civilians at the end of March. The two returned to Pearl Harbor in early April and, in company with the FLUSSER (DD-368) and MUGFORD (DD-389), carried passengers to the Naval Air Station at Palmyra. She escorted convoys from San Diego and San Francisco to Samoa and then operated out of Pearl Harbor until 17 August when she returned to the South Pacific. On 14 September she was part of the screen for the carriers HORNET (CV-8) and WASP (CV-7), which left Espiritu Santo that day to provide air support for a convoy carrying reinforcements and aviation fuel to Guadalcanal. In the early afternoon of 15 September 1942, the carrier group, not the convoy was struck by a pair of enemy submarines, the I-19 and I-15. The WASP was fatally torpedoed by the I-19 and moments later, a torpedo from the I-15 hit the battleship NORTH CAROLINA. Not far from the damaged battleship, the O’BRIEN was the I-15’s next target. The submarine launched two torpedoes at the O=BRIEN. At 1452, the destroyer’s lookouts spotted one of the torpedoes two points forward of the port beam 1,000 yards away. Commander T. Burrowes, the O’BRIEN’s captain, was able to maneuver his ship out of the path of the first torpedo, which passed harmlessly close astern. The destroyer’s gunnery officer saw the second torpedo, but there was no time for the ship to dodge before the “fish” hit the port bow.

The explosion ripped a jagged hole in the O’BRIEN’s bow and sent shock waves  throughout the ship, but caused no fires. Damage control teams soon had the flooding under control and the destroyer was able to proceed under her own power. At 1600, she headed alone to Espiritu Santo, reaching it on 16 September. There, the tender CURTISS made temporary repairs and on the 21st, the O’BRIEN sailed for Noumea, New Caledonia, for further repairs. By 10 October, she was cleared for the return to San Francisco in company with the destroyer LANG (DD-399) and the fleet oiler CIMARRON (AO-22). As she continued across the Pacific, the leaking grew increasingly worse and on the 18th, the O=BRIEN was forced to make her way to the nearest anchorage. Her crew jettisoned all topside weight and prepared to abandon ship, but they still thought they could get the ship to Pago Pago in one piece. At 0600 on 19 October, however, the ship suddenly shuddered and began to break up. Her shell plating fractured, her hull cracked, her keel split, and the bottom suddenly opened up. At 0630, all hands except a salvage crew went over the side, and half an hour later, the ship was abandoned entirely. Just before 0800, she went under after steaming almost 3,000 miles since torpedoed. All of her crew were saved.

USS O`BRIEN DD-415 Ship History

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (Published 1981)

The third O’Brien (DD-415) was laid down at Boston Navy Yard, Boston, Mass., 31 May 1938; launched 20 October 1939 sponsored by Miss Josephine O’Brien Campbell, great-great great granddaughter of Gideon O’Brien, and commissioned 2 March 1940, Lt. Comdr. Carl F. Espe, in command. Since the ship was built in drydock with Walke, Lansdale, and Madison, the christening ceremonies were combined.

Throughout 1940 and 1941, the ship operated along the eastern seaboard. After drydocking and repairs in the fall of 1941, the ship left Norfolk 15 January 1942 with Idaho and Mustin and steamed for the Pacific. Transiting the Panama Canal on the 20th, the trio arrived in San Francisco, 31 January 1942.

O’Brien sailed with a convoy for the western Pacific 4 February, but was forced to return when a collision with destroyer Case damaged her port side. Following repairs at Mare Island, the ship sailed 20 February via San Diego, to Pearl Harbor. There Commander Destroyer Division 4 shifted his flag to O’Brien 5 March.

After operating out of Pearl Harbor and patrolling French Frigate Shoals the ship called at Midway in the latter part of March, escorting Curtiss to evacuate civilian personnel. The two returned to Pearl on 3 April 1942. After increase and improvement of her antiaircraft batteries, the ship embarked passengers for the Naval Air Station at Palmyra and sailed 18 April with Flusser and Mugford. The DD then joined convoys from San Diego and San Francisco escorting them to Samoa, arriving Pago Pago, 28 April.

O’Brien was retained at Pago Pago for local escort work. On 26 May she supported the occupation of Wallis Island, previously taken over by the Free French and joined Procyon 19 June for the return voyage to Pearl Harbor.

Operating out of Pearl Harbor, the ship performed escort duty and acted as patrol and plane guard. She got underway 17 August 1942 with TF 17 to reinforce the South Pacific Force, screening the oiler Guadalupe. While escorting a convoy of transports enroute to Guadalcanal, joint TFs 17 and 18 were attacked by the Japanese submarines I-16 and I-19 on 15 September 1942. Wasp was sunk; North Carolina and O’Brien were damaged by torpedo attacks.

At 1452 that afternoon O’Brien sighted smoke coming from Wasp. As a member of Hornet’s ASW screen she made an emergency turn to the right. At about 1454, while accelerating and swinging right, her lookouts spotted a torpedo two points forward of the port beam 1000 yards away. This torpedo missed close astern, but while attention was concentrated on it another “fish” hit the port bow.

The explosion did little local damage, but set up severe structural stresses through the ship. Able to proceed under her own power, the destroyer on 16 September reached Espiritu Santo, where Curtiss made temporary repairs. O’Brien sailed on the 21st for Noumea, New Caledonia, for further repairs by Argonne before proceeding 10 October to San Francisco.

She made Suva on the 13th and sailed once more on the 16th. The rate of leaking continued to increase, and the 18th it was necessary for O’Brien to proceed to the nearest anchorage. Topside weight was jettisoned and preparations were made for abandoning ship, but it was still thought that the ship could be brought intact to Pago Pago, However at 0600 on 19 October the bottom suddenly opened up considerably and the forward and after portions of the hull began to work independently. At 0630 all hands except a salvage crew went over the side; and half an hour later the ship was abandoned entirely. Just before 0800 she went under, after steaming almost 3000 miles since torpedoed. All the crew were saved.

DD 415 earned 1 battle star during World War II.