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Hull Number: DD-433

Launch Date: 05/25/1940

Commissioned Date: 01/15/1941



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)

William Gwin was born 6 December 1832 in Columbus, IN, and appointed a Midshipman 7 April 1847. One of the most promising officers in the nation, he had risen to the rank of Lieutenant Commander by the time of his death. During the Civil War he commanded several ships of the Mississippi Squadron. He was one of Flag Officer Foote’s “can do” officers, displaying outstanding initiative, energy and dash. After the fall of Fort Henry he swept with his wooden gunboats up the Tennessee River all the way to regions of Alabama, spreading destruction and terror. This action was a major factor in the collapse of the Confederate lines far behind him in Kentucky. Fire support from two of his gunboats, Tyler and Lexington, helped save Union troops front disaster in the Battle of Shiloh, bringing high praise from General Grant. He was wounded in action 27 December 1862 while commanding gunboat Benton in the battle of Haines Bluff on the Yazoo River. He died from these injuries 3 January 1863 on board a hospital ship in the Mississippi River.


Sunk 07/13/1943 by scuttling after being irreparably damaged by destroyer torpedoes, during the Battle of Kolombangara. Sunk at 07 deg 41 min S., 157 deg 27min E.

A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History


The Tin Can Sailor, July 1999

William Gwin was an intrepid gunboat commander who died of wounds received during the Civil War. The DD-433 was the third to bear the Civil War hero’s name. She was launched 25 May 1940, commissioned on 15 January 1941, and saw her first service with the United States’ neutrality patrol in the Caribbean and on the Denmark Strait Patrol, operating out of Hvalfjordur, Iceland.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the GWIN was reassigned to the Pacific where on 2 April 1942, was an escort for the carrier HORNET (CV-8) who carried Colonel Jimmy Doolittle’s bombers on their daring raid on Tokyo. In early June, she was underway with the fast carriers ENTERPRISE (CV-6), HORNET, and YORKTOWN (CV-5) for the Battle of Midway. Japan’s losses were severe, but American losses were heavy, too.

The YORKTOWN was badly damaged, and the crew of the GWIN joined the fight to save her. Another destroyer, the HAMMAN (DD-412), was secured alongside the stricken carrier. Their combined efforts were beginning to pay off and then, at 1536 on 6 June, a Japanese submarine torpedoed both the YORKTOWN and the HAMMAN. Within four minutes the destroyer had sunk. The GWIN’s crew began rescuing survivors, but there was no saving the carrier. She capsized and sank on the morning of 7 June 1942. The GWIN returned to Pearl Harbor with 162 survivors of the two ships.

On 7 August, she provided air support for transports carrying the First Marine Division onto the beaches at Guadalcanal. In the following months, the GWIN convoyed supply and troop reinforcements to Guadalcanal and with a cruiser-destroyer task force, patrolled the route through the Solomon Islands known as the “Slot” to intercept the supply runs of the “Tokyo Express” supporting the enemy’s island bases. During a patrol with the GRAYSON (DD-435) on 18 October, the two destroyers discovered the survivors of the MEREDITH (DD-434) and the tug VIREO lost three days earlier.

When American planes sighted an enemy strike force headed for an attack on Henderson Field on 13 November 1942, the battleships WASHINGTON (BB-56) and SOUTH DAKOTA (BB-57) responded. With an improvised force that included the GWIN and three other destroyers the group sped toward Savo Island to intercept the enemy. At 2317 the following night, they made contact. The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal began with a confrontation between the cruiser NAGARA and her four-destroyer escorts and the four American destroyers: the WALKE (DD-416), BENHAM (DD-397), PRESTON (DD-379), and GWIN. Within a short time, two of the GWIN’s companions, were charred and mangled wrecks and one-by-one, they sank. Mortally wounded the BENHAM was struggling to stay afloat. The GWIN seemed destined to share their fate as the cruiser NAGARA closed in on her. In rapid succession, a shell tore into her engine room, and another struck her fantail, but she continued to fire at the enemy ships as long as any remained within range. The GWIN was saved by the arrival of the SOUTH DAKOTA with her big guns roaring. The battle ended with a duel between the SOUTH DAKOTA and WASHINGTON and the Japanese battleship KIRISHIMA. The American ships were victorious. They had saved Guadalcanal and turned the tide of war toward victory for U.S. forces in the Solomons.

On the afternoon of 15 November, the GWIN had the sad duty of sinking the BENHAM. After carrying the lost destroyer’s survivors to safety, she headed for the Mare Island Navy Yard and an overhaul. Returning to the Southwest Pacific, she joined the amphibious assault force converging on the New Georgia group of islands. Early on 30 June 1943, she a part of the screen covering transports unloading troops on the north coast of Rendova Island. The GWIN was patrolling offshore when she came under fire from batteries on nearby Munda Island. One of the barrage of shells crashed through her main deck aft, killing three men, wounding seven, and stopping her after engine. Not to be put out of action, she moved on to provide air cover for the transport area where her gunners downed three enemy planes. Rendova Island was soon in American possession.

After screening the 5 July landings at Rice Anchorage on New Georgia Island and joining the RADFORD (DD-446) in silencing the batteries at the Anchorage, the GWIN raced out into the “Slot” to rescue eighty-seven survivors of the cruiser HELENA (CL-50), lost in the Battle of Kula Gulf. She then joined a cruiser-destroyer task force to head off a formidable “Tokyo Express” on its way to land troops at Vila. The Battle of Kolombangara was joined at 0106 on 13 July. Four Japanese destroyers launched thirty-one deadly “long lance” torpedoes. Maneuvering to bring their main batteries to bear on the enemy, the cruisers HONOLULU (CL-48) and ST. LOUIS (CL-49) and the GWIN turned into the path of the torpedoes. Both cruisers received damaging hits but survived. The GWIN was not so fortunate. She was struck amidships where the torpedo’s 1,036 pounds of high explosives ripped through her engineering spaces and sent fire raging up into her superstructure. Ensign G. E. Stransky and his damage control party fought the inferno and eventually put out the flames, but there was no stopping the flooding. At 0900, the destroyer RALPH TALBOT (DD-390) took off the GWIN’s crew and then fired four torpedoes to sink her. Two officers and fifty-nine men perished with the gallant destroyer. She had earned five battle stars for her service in World War II.

USS GWIN DD-433 Ship History

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (Published 1968)

The third Gwin (DD-433) was launched 25 May 1940 by the Boston Navy Yard; sponsored by Mrs. Jesse T. Lippincott, second cousin of Lt. Comdr. Gwin and commissioned at Boston 15 January 1941, Lt. Comdr. J. M. Higgins in command.

Gwin completed shakedown training 20 April 1941 and underwent final alterations in the Boston Navy Yard before conducting neutrality patrol throughout the Caribbean Sea. On 28 September 1941 she assumed identical service in the North Atlantic from her base at Hvalfjordur, Iceland. After the infamous raid on Pearl Harbor, she hurried back to the Eastern Seaboard thence through the Panama Canal to San Francisco, CA.

On 3 April 1942 Gwin stood out of San Francisco Bay as a unit of the escort for carrier Hornet who carried 16 Army B-25 bombers to be launched in a bombing raid on Tokyo. Admiral William “Bull” Halsey in carrier Enterprise rendezvoused with the task force off Midway, and Gen. “Jimmy” Doolittle’s famed raiders launched the morning of 18 April when some 600 miles east of Tokyo. The task force made a rapid retirement to Pearl Harbor, then sped south 30 April 1942, hoping to assist carriers Yorktown and Lexington in the Battle of the Coral Sea. That battle concluded before the task force arrived, and Gwin returned to Pearl Harbor 21 May for day and night preparations to meet the Japanese in the crucial battle for Midway Atoll.

Gwin departed Pearl Harbor 23 May 1942 with Marine reinforcements for Midway and returned to port 1 June. Two days later she raced to join the Fast Carrier Task Force searching for the approaching Japanese Fleet off Midway. But the crucial battle was all but concluded by the time she arrived on the scene 5 June 1942. Four large Japanese aircraft carriers and a cruiser rested on the bottom of the sea along with some 250 enemy planes and a high percentage of Japan’s most highly trained and experienced carrier pilots. The Island of Midway was saved to become an important base for operations in the western Pacific. Likewise saved, was Hawaii, the great bastion from which attacks were carried into the South Pacific and Japan itself. But there were American losses too. Gwin sent a salvage party to assist in attempts to save carrier Yorktown (CV-5), heavily damaged by two bomb and two torpedo hits in the Battle of Midway. As attempts continued 6 June 1942, a Japanese submarine rocked Yorktown with torpedo hits and sank destroyer Hamman who was secured alongside the carrier. The salvage party had to abandon Yorktown and surviving men were rescued from the sea. The carrier capsized and sank the morning of 7 June 1942. Gwin carried 102 survivors of the two ships to Pearl Harbor, arriving 10 June 1942.

Gwin departed Pearl Harbor 15 July 1942 to operate in the screen of fast carriers who pounded Japanese installations, troop concentrations and supply dumps as Marines invaded Guadalcanal in the Solomons 7 August 1942. In the following months Gwin convoyed supply and troop reinforcements to Guadalcanal. Joining a cruiser-destroyer task force, she patrolled the “Slot” of water between the chain of Solomon Islands to intercept the “Tokyo Express” runs of enemy supply, troop and warships supporting Japanese bases in the Solomons.

On 13 November 1942, Gwin and three other destroyers formed with battleships Washington and South Dakota to intercept an enemy bombardment-transport force approaching the Solomons. The following night the task group found the enemy of Savo Island: battleship Kirishima, 4 cruisers, 11 destroyers, and 4 transports, The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal was hot and furious. Gwin found herself in a private gun duel with cruiser Nagara and four destroyers. She took a shell hit in her engine room. Another shell struck her fantail and enemy torpedoes began to boil around the destroyers.

Though shaken by exploding depth charges Gwin continued to fire at the enemy as long as any remained within range. In a short time the other three American destroyers were out of action, two sinking and Benham surviving with her bow partially destroyed. But a masterful battleship duel fought by South Dakota and Washington wrecked Japanese battleship Kirishima. She had to be abandoned and scuttled as was Japanese destroyer Ayanami. The battle was over. The gallant American ships had saved Guadalcanal from a savage bombardment in this naval action that marked a turning point toward victory for U.S. forces in the Solomons.

Gwin attempted to escort the noseless Benham to Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides Islands. But when all hope was lost, survivors transferred to Gwin who hurried Benham‘s abandoned hulk to the bottom with gunfire. The survivors were landed 20 November at Noumea, New Caledonia, and Gwin was routed onward to Hawaii, thence to the Mare Island Navy Yard, arriving 19 December 1942.

Having been overhauled, Gwin returned to the Southwest Pacific 7 April 1943 to escort troop reinforcements and supplies throughout the Solomons. On 30 June she served with the massive amphibious assault force converging on New Georgia under the leadership of Rear Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner. She supported the most important landings 30 June on the north coast of Rendova Island, 5 miles across Blanche Channel from Munda. Immediately after the first wave of troops hit Rendova Beach, Munda Island shore batteries opened fire on the four destroyers patrolling Blanche Channel. Gwin was straddled by the first salvo. A moment later a shell crashed her main deck aft, killing three men, wounding seven and stopped her after engine. The half-dozen enemy shore batteries were soon silenced as Gwin laid down an effective heavy smoke screen to protect the unloading transports. When aerial raiders appeared, her gunners shot down three. Rendova Island was soon in American possession. It served as an important motor torpedo boat base to harass Japanese barge lines and a base for air support in the Solomons.

Gwin escorted a reinforcement echelon from Guadalcanal to Rendova, then raced out in to the “Slot” 7 July to rescue 87 survivors of cruiser Helena, lost in the Battle of Kula Gulf. She then joined a cruiser-destroyer task force under Rear Admiral Walden L. Ainsworth to head off a formidable “Tokyo Express” headed through the Solomon Islands to land troops at Vila The battle was joined past midnight of 12-13 July and Japanese cruiser Jintsu quickly slid to the bottom, the victim of smothering gunfire and torpedo hits. But four Japanese destroyers, waiting for a calculated moment when Ainsworth’s formation would turn, launched 31 torpedoes at the American formation. His flagship Honolulu, cruiser St. Louis and Gwin, maneuvering to bring their main batteries to bear on the enemy, turned right into the path of the deadly “long lance” torpedoes. Both cruisers received damaging hits but survived. Gwin was not so fortunate. She received a torpedo hit amidships in her engine room and exploded in a burning white heat – a terrible sight. Destroyer Ralph Talbot took off Gwin‘s crew after their heroic damage control efforts failed and she had to be scuttled. Two officers and 59 men perished with the gallant destroyer, casualties of the Battle of Kolombangara.

Gwin received five battle stars for service in World War II.