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Hull Number: DD-423

Launch Date: 12/09/1939

Commissioned Date: 06/14/1940

Decommissioned Date: 05/06/1946

Voice Call Sign: Vealstew



Data for USS Gleaves (DD-423) as of 1945

Length Overall: 348’ 4"

Beam: 36’ 1"

Draft: 13’ 6"

Standard Displacement: 1,630 tons

Full Load Displacement: 2,525 tons

Fuel capacity: 2,928 barrels


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


16 Officers
260 Enlisted


4 Boilers
2 Westinghouse Turbines: 50,000 horsepower

Highest speed on trials: 37.4 knots



Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (Published 1968)

Albert Gleaves, born 1 January 1858 in Nashville, TN, graduated from the Naval Academy in 1877. After serving on board Hartford and Trenton, he was appointed an Ensign in 1881. Assigned to many ships and station, he commanded Cushing during the Spanish-American War and later North Dakota. Promoted to Rear Admiral in 1915, in World War I he commanded the Cruiser and Transport Force. For his outstanding contribution he was awarded the Army and Navy Distinguished Service Medals.

In 1919 he was promoted to Admiral. While serving at the Naval Ordnance Proving Ground, Admiral Gleaves made outstanding contributions in the field of gunnery and torpedoes. While carrying out some tests on torpedo steering devices he changed these weapons from instruments of luck into instruments of precision. The gear which he tested in Cushing provided the imprints which made the torpedo the “terrible weapon” of World War I. In spite of a life of constant action in war and peace, he found time to write a biography on Captain Lawrence; the “History of the Cruiser and Transport Force,” and the “Life of an American Sailor, William Hensley Emory, Rear Admiral, USN.” After a most distinguished career, he retired in 1921. Admiral Gleaves died 6 January 1937 at Haverford, PA.


Memorialization at the Armed Forces Museum of the Smithsonian Institute, cancelled. Sold on 06/29/1972 to Southern Scrap Material Co., LTD., New Orleans for $68,000.00. Scrapped.

A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History


The Tin Can Sailor, July 1997

USS GLEAVES was launched at the Bath Iron Works yard in Bath, Maine, on December 9, 1939, the first of her type to be built to the “original” specifications with a Gibbs & Cox power plant arrangement. Six months later, the new destroyer was placed in commission at the Boston Navy Yard.

DD-423 was named after ADM Albert Gleaves, a visionary in naval technology whose experiments with torpedoes made them an effective weapon for the U.S. Navy in World War I. He went on to command the Cruiser and Transport Force during the “Great War” and wrote two biographies of prominent naval officers.

Following an extensive period of training along the East Coast, GLEAVES was assigned to convoy duty. DD-423 departed for Iceland on June 23, 1941, delivering her first convoy safely to the island. She returned to U.S. waters in July after briefly patrolling the shipping lanes. Four convoy assignments would follow, to such varied destinations as Iceland, the British Isles, and North Africa. Convoy battles became more frequent. Wolf packs commonly slashed into the streams of merchantmen crossing the Atlantic by the thousands. Escorts were presented with an almost impossibly frustrating task.

In May, 1942, GLEAVES found herself leading Group A3, composed of herself, the Coast Guard cutter USS SPENCER (WPG-36), and four Royal Canadian Navy corvettes. The assignment was to protect a slow-moving collection of ships, code-named ONS 92, plodding westward. Unfortunately, a “wolf pack” patrol line of eight German submarines, Group HECHT, blocked the route. Despite the efforts of the escort group, including hours of depth charge attacks, five ships were lost to the raiders.

Within a year, DD-423 would be in the Mediterranean with many of her sisters hard at work wresting the Italian peninsula from Axis forces. GLEAVES contributed her accurate gunfire to the landings in Sicily and, with USS PLUNKETT (DD-431), accepted the surrender of the Italian garrison on the small island of Utica. In the complex actions that swirled along Italy’s western coast, GLEAVES would called upon to protect the Palermo anchorage from the ravages of Nazi Boats, provide fire support for the advancing Allied armies, and ward off Luftwaffe air assaults. She would even participate in an anti-submarine sweep that would net U-616. GLEAVES would rescue the survivors of the undersea raider on May 17, 1944.

GLEAVES had established an enviable reputation as a fire support vessel, and she certainly proved her worth over the next several months. The destroyer was called upon to land U.S. Army Rangers in southern France, then bombard shore installations in support of the invasion fleet that was to follow. With the landing area secured, she was transferred south again this time off the coast of the Italian town of San Remo, just over the border from France. GLEAVES rampaged along the coast, blasting shore installations, destroying two cargo ships in the harbor of Oneglio, and sinking an explosives-packed German motor launch which was attempting an attack on Allied forces. Two other boats were chased away by the intimidating destroyer. It was only the beginning.

Within hours, the boats had returned in strength. GLEAVES was faced with six of the small speedboats. Each was eighteen feet long and armed with a 500-pound explosive charge. A single helmsman operated the craft; the plan was for the operator to set the boat’s course, then drop over the side to a waiting raft. The boat would smash into the side of a target ship, releasing the main charge which was fused to explode under the speedboat’s victim. GLEAVES had her work cut out for her.

DD-423 maneuvered wildly as the boats attacked in pairs. One set came in from the port side, barely missing the tin can. Two more passed within fifty yards of GLEAVES, then changed heading and roared up her wake. With all guns firing and flank speed reached, the destroyer was still losing the race. GLEAVES seemed doomed until LCDR W. M. Klee, DD-423’s skipper, tried a liberal application of depth charges. The combination of small arms fire and the massive explosion of the depth charges did the job. The following morning, GLEAVES returned to the site of the action to find the remains of five speedboats. The destroyer was also able to capture a disabled boat and two operators. The enemy craft was lifted aboard the destroyer for later examination by a naval intelligence team. GLEAVES would remain off the coast in her role of protector until February 1945.

The war in Europe was moving toward Germany and experienced destroyers were needed in the final push toward Japan. DD-423 was ordered back to the States for a much-needed refit. By the time necessary work was completed and GLEAVES sailed for the Pacific, the war was over.

The multi-talented destroyer was selected for new duties. She supported occupation forces in Nagasaki, Japan, then provided rescue and repair services in the wake of a deadly typhoon which thundered across the Philippine Sea in the late fall of 1945. In November, GLEAVES was called upon to deliver smallpox vaccine to the Lykes Liner S.S. ADABELLE LYKES in mid-Pacific, allowing the vessel to safely proceed to port.

Following service returning troops from the Pacific, GLEAVES was ordered first to Charleston navy yard, South Carolina, for decommissioning, then to Pennsylvania, to be placed reserve. She was later moved to Orange, Texas where she remained until 1969. She was stricken from the Navy List almost thirty years after her launching.

USS GLEAVES DD-423 Ship History

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (Published 1968)

Gleaves was launched by the Bath Iron Works, Bath Maine, 9 December 1939, sponsored jointly by Miss Evelina Gleaves Van Mtre and Miss Clotilda Flornce Cohe, granddaughters of Admiral Gleaves; and commissioned 14 June 1940, at Boston Navy Yard, Lt. Comdr. E. H. Pierce in command.

Departing for shakedown training soon after commissioning, Gleaves operated off the Atlantic coast and in Caribbean waters until returning to Boston 19 March 1941 to prepare for convoy duty. She departed Newport on her first voyage 23 June 1941, and saw her convoy arrive safely at Iceland. After patrolling in Icelandic waters for a time, she returned to Boston 23 July.

Subsequently, Gleaves made four other convoy voyages to Iceland, Ireland, and North Africa protecting the vital flow of supplies to the European Theater. As the pace of German submarine attacks increased, she made more and more attacks on U-boats, but recorded no confirmed kills. On 11 to 12 May 1942, despite the efforts of Gleaves and the other escort vessels, seven ships of the convoy were lost in two separate attacks by a large wolfpack.

After returning to Boston 31 March 1942, Gleaves departed 10 May for participation in the Allied landings in Sicily. After engaging in support and convoy operations in the battle zone, Gleaves and Plunkett accepted the surrender of the Italian garrison on the island of Utica 5 August 1943, and later landed occupation troops on the island. She also drove off a group of five enemy E-boats attempting to attack shipping in the harbor of Palermo, Sicily.

As Allied preparations for the invasion of Italy reached a climax, Gleaves bombarded the Italian mainland. In September 1943 she helped clear the way for the Salerno landing forces. Following the assault, Gleaves convoyed shipping in the Mediterranean area in support of the drive north from Salerno.

When German air and land forces combined in a determined attempt to stop the landings at Anzio in January 1944, Gleaves was again on hand to lend decisive gunfire support and antiaircraft cover. In May of that year she attempted to search out and destroy German submarine U-616 but other ships of the group sank the U-boat. Survivors from the sunken U-boat were picked up by Gleaves 17 May.

Gleaves next took part in the invasion of southern France in August 1944. She escorted the Rangers in their initial landings; bombarded shore installations in support of the main assault; and screened heavier units of the fleet off shore.

Sent to San Remo on patrol and support duty, Gleaves helped in the bombardment of shore installations there 1 October firing on shipping in the harbor of Oneglio, Italy, with hits on two cargo ships on the night of 1 to 2 October, Gleaves was attacked and succeeded in destroying one of three small explosives-laden German motor boats moving down the coast to San Remo. The other two were temporarily driven off. Returning to her station off San Remo, Gleaves was attacked two more times before she, by violent maneuvering, depth charges, and well-placed gunfire, left five boats sunk in her wake. The following morning she returned to the area to find a sixth boat disabled; and captured it with two operators on board, who provided the Allies much valuable information.

In December 1944, Gleaves was assigned as fire support ship near Allied positions on the Franco-Italian frontier, and ably performed this duty until sailing for the United States in February 1945. After a period of outfitting at New York and training activities in the Caribbean, she departed 30 June 1945 from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the Pacific, arriving at Pearl Harbor 4 August. After the war’s end, Gleaves proceeded westward to Saipan and Nagasaki, Japan, with the occupation forces. She distinguished herself for outstanding rescue and salvage work during the powerful typhoon which swept through the Philippine Sea during September and October.

While repairing her machinery at Adak, Alaska, 23 November, Gleaves received word that steamer Adabelle Lyke, in the Pacific was suffering from a smallpox epidemic. The veteran “can do” destroyer put to sea at top speed from Adak on 25 November with the vital vaccine. She met the stricken steamer next day and transferred the life-saving supplies.

Her duty in the North Pacific terminated, Gleaves transported 300 veterans from the Aleutians to Seattle, WA, on “Magic-Carpet” duty, arriving 10 December 1946. She then moved to San Francisco and on 2 January 1946 departed for Charleston, SC. At Charleston, where she arrived 18 January 1946, Gleaves decommissioned 8 May 1946, and was placed in reserve at Philadelphia, PA. She was later moved to the Reserve Fleet at Orange, TX, where she remains in 1967.

Gleaves received five battle stars for World War II service.