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Hull Number: DD-432

Launch Date: 03/09/1940

Commissioned Date: 09/13/1940

Decommissioned Date: 03/07/1946


Class: GLEAVES

GLEAVES Class

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

Armament:

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

Complement:

16 Officers
260 Enlisted

Propulsion:

4 Boilers
2 Westinghouse Turbines: 50,000 horsepower

Highest speed on trials: 37.4 knots

Namesake: LAWRENCE KEARNY

LAWRENCE KEARNY


Disposition:

Stricken 6/1/1971. Sold 10/6/1972


USS KEARNY DD-432 Ship History

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (Published 1968)

Kearny (DD-432) was launched 9 March 1940 by the Federal Ship Building & Dry Dock Co., Kearny, N.J.; sponsored by Miss Mary Kearny; and commissioned on 13 September 1940, Comdr. A. L. Danis in command.

After shakedown and sea trials, Kearny got underway 19 February 1941 from New York Harbor for St. Thomas, V.I., where she took part in the “Neutrality Patrol” off Fort de France, Martinique, French West Indies, until 9 March. The new destroyer patrolled around San Juan, P.R., and escorted ships in the Norfolk area until August when she sailed for Argentia, Newfoundland, to escort North Atlantic convoys.

While Kearny was escorting a convoy in the North Atlantic before the United States entered the war, three convoy merchant ships were torpedoed 16 October.  Kearny immediately began dropping depth charges and continued to barrage throughout the night. At the beginning of the midwatch 17 October, a torpedo struck Kearny on starboard side. The capable crew confined flooding to the forward Fire room enabling the ship to get out of the danger zone with power from the aft fire room. Regaining power in the forward fire room, Kearny steamed to Iceland at 10 knots, arriving 19 October. Kearny lost 11 bluejackets and 22 others were injured in this attack. After temporary repairs Kearny got underway Christmas Day 1941, and moored 6 days later at Boston, Mass., for permanent repairs.

From 5 April to 28 September 1942, Kearny was busy escorting convoys to the British Isles, Panama Canal, and Galveston, Tex. Late in September, she sailed to act as a fire support unit in the North African invasion. There she screened Texas and Savannah on fire support missions, shot down an enemy plane, and escorted troop ships to Safi, French Morocco. Kearny departed the invasion theater and escorted a convoy back to New York, arriving 3 December 1942.

Kearny escorted ships to Port of Spain, Recife, Brazil, and Casablanca until 15 November 1943, then joined the Core hunter-killer task group 25 November. During the day of 1 January 1944, in coordination with antisubmarine planes from Core, Kearny fired a depth charge attack on a submarine resulting in a large oil slick, she returned to New York 18 January.

Next month Kearny joined the 8th Fleet in French Algeria. She reported to Brooklyn 10 March for duty in Italy, where both warships engaged in supplying fire support for the 5th Army. Due to their daily fire-support trips to the Anzio beachhead area, the warships became known as the “Anzio Express.” They later were commended by General Mark Clark for the accuracy of this fire support.

Kearny was detached from the group the beginning of June and steamed to Anzio alone to give Allied troops their last naval fire support prior to their breakthrough and capture of Rome. The veteran destroyer saw more convoy duty before sailing for the invasion of Southern France.

Kearny was inner fire support ship for Red Beach, Cavalaire Bay, France, and rendered counter-battery fire and pre-H-hour bombardment. She screened heavy fire support ships; laid smoke screens off Toulon; and, on 19 August 1944, began 2 months of duty screening transports carrying troops between Naples and southern France.

Afterward, Kearny made several cross-Atlantic voyages from New York to Oran. On 6 August 1945, Kearny transited the Panama Canal for duty in the Pacific, arriving at Pearl Harbor late in August after hostilities had ended. She escorted a transport squadron carrying occupation troops to Japan via Saipan, arriving at Wakayama, Japan, 27 September. During the next month Kearny made voyages to Philippine Islands and Okinawa before returning to Japan in October. She sailed from Wakayama, Japan, 29 October 1945 for home via Pearl Harbor, San Diego, and the Panama Canal, arriving Charleston, S.C., 5 December 1945. She decommissioned there 7 March 1946, and went into reserve. Kearny was subsequently moved to Orange, Tex. where she remains into 1967.

Kearny received three battle stars for service in World War II.

A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History

USS KEARNY DD-432

The Tin Can Sailor, January 1985

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.

A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History

USS KEARNY DD-432

The Tin Can Sailor, July 1999

Commodore Lawrence Kearny successfully hunted and captured slave traders in West-Indian waters, fought Greek pirates in the Mediterranean, and in the early 1840s, was instrumental in opening China to U.S. trade. He later served as Commandant at the Norfolk and New York Naval Shipyards.

The KEARNY (DD-432) was launched 9 March 1940 and commissioned on 13 September 1940. By February 1941 she was cruising off the Virgin Islands, one of the earliest ships to take part in the United States’ “short-of-war” operations” in the central Atlantic. She operated throughout the Caribbean and escorted ships in the Norfolk area until August when she sailed for Argentia, Newfoundland, to escort North Atlantic convoys.

On 16 October, the KEARNY steamed to the aid of a fifty-ship convoy under attack by German U-boats. That night, the wolfpack torpedoed three merchant ships to which the KEARNY and other escort destroyers let loose a barrage of depth charges. That did not stop the enemy who attacked again at the beginning of the midwatch on 17 October. They claimed four more merchantmen. The KEARNY steamed into the melee and earned the dubious honor of being the first American destroyer hit by a German torpedo. She had slowed to avoid a collision with a British corvette picking up survivors when a lurking submarine seized the moment and sent a torpedo tearing into the KEARNY’s starboard side. It struck the forward fire room, ruptured the boiler room’s forward bulkhead, exploded through the deck above, tore off the starboard wing of the bridge, and damaged the forward funnel and the deckhouse. Four men were blown overboard. Seven in the boiler room were scalded; more were injured by shrapnel and other debris. Ultimately, eleven of the KEARNY’s men died that day, twenty-four were wounded. The quick action of engineering and damage-control officer Lieutenant R. J. Esslinger and Chief Motor Machinist’s Mate Aucie McDaniel confined the flooding to the forward fire room. The destroyer was then able to get out of the danger zone powered by her aft engine.

In the meantime, Third Class Shipfitter Samuel Kurtz was thrown to the edge of the bridge’s crumpled wing. He hung on despite the pain from two broken legs and the rolling and pitching of the ship. Chief Yeoman Henry Leenknecht crawled out on the twisted wreckage, grabbed Kurtz, and pulled him to safety on the deck. Others also ignored danger to save their ship and shipmates. First Class Seaman H. C. Barnard worked alone in the darkness below, finding and checking the watertight fittings. Also alone and in the locked steering-engine room was Quartermaster John Booth. With the loss of power, he shifted the helm over to manual operation and was steering the ship by hand. Fellow quartermaster, Muscoe Holland, realized that Booth couldn’t escape, opened the hatch and joined him at his post.

Within ten minutes of the torpedo’s hit, the crew had regained power in the forward fire room, and the KEARNY steamed for Iceland at 10 knots, arriving on 19 October. Technicians on the navy repair ship VULCAN (AR-5) made temporary repairs, and on Christmas Day 1941, she got under way for Boston and dry dock for a more permanent fix. Then, it was a return to escort duty. She served in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico until 28 September 1942 when she screened transports bound for the invasion of North Africa. As a fire support unit of Task Force 34, she provided fire support during the attack on Mehdia. Early on 7 November, a French fighter plane strafing landing craft headed for Mehdia’s beaches turned its guns on the KEARNY, wounding one of her crew. Shortly thereafter, the destroyer’s gunners brought down a bomber. By 11 November 1942, Mehdia had fallen.

On 25 November 1943, the KEARNY joined the hunter-killer task group of the escort-carrier CORE (CVE-13) in the North Atlantic. On New Year’s Day 1944, the KEARNY and antisubmarine planes from the CORE, scored a kill, one of many that would finally put an end to the U-boat menace. Two months later, she was back in the Mediterranean supplying fire support for the Fifth Army at Anzio. She was one of the fire-support destroyers known collectively as the Anzio Express. At the beginning of June, the KEARNY was sent in alone to shell the beaches at Anzio one last time before the Allied troops broke through the enemy defenses and went on to capture Rome.

The veteran destroyer sailed for Southern France and on 15 August 1944 was inner-fire-support ship for troops going ashore on the beach at Cavalaire, France. She later screened the heavy fire support ships; laid smoke screens off Toulon; and spent two months screening transports carrying troops between Naples and southern France. After several transatlantic voyages, on 6 August 1945, turned west transited the Panama Canal for duty in the Pacific. The KEARNY arrived at Pearl Harbor in time to escort a transport squadron carrying occupation troops to Japan. On 29 October 1945, she was on her way home, having earned three battle stars for her service in World War II. The KEARNY was decommissioned at Charleston, S.C. on 7 March 1946 and went into reserve at Orange, Texas. She was finally struck from the navy’s list on 1 June 1971 and sold on 6 October 1972.