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Hull Number: DD-485

Launch Date: 02/20/1942

Commissioned Date: 04/16/1942



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, July 2015

Silas Duncan born in Rockaway, N.J., in 1788, was appointed midshipman 15 November 1809. While third lieutenant of Saratoga during the Battle of Lake Champlain, 11 September 1814, he was sent in a gig to order the gunboats to retire. He succeeded in delivering the orders despite concentrated enemy fire which severely wounded him and caused the loss of his right arm. For his gallant conduct he was thanked by Congress. From 1818 to 1824 Commander Duncan saw active service on board Independence, Hornet, Guerriere, Cyane, and Ferret. He died 14 September 1834 at White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.


Sunk by Japanese squadron off Guadalcanal on 10/12/1942.

A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History


The Tin Can Sailor, July 2005

Named in honor of Commander Silas Duncan, a hero of the War of 1812, the second USS DUNCAN (DD-485), was a LIVERMORE-class destroyer. She was launched on 20 February 1942 by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company of Kearny, New Jersey, and was commissioned on 16 April 1942. Lieutenant Commander Edmund B. Taylor was her first and only skipper. The need for destroyers was critical in early 1942, and the DUNCAN was rushed into service. Her inexperienced crew underwent rigorous training while on convoy duty in the South Atlantic and by mid-August 1942, they were on their way to the Pacific. In company with the SOUTH DAKOTA (BB-57), LANSDOWNE (DD-486), and LARDNER (DD-487), she arrived in Espiritu Santo on14 September. On her arrival, she joined the support force led by the carriers HORNET (CV-8) and WASP (CV-7) to cover transports carrying the Seventh Marines to reinforce Guadalcanal.

On the afternoon of 15 September, the DUNCAN was screening the WASP when two Japanese submarines attacked, surprising the American force by going after the carriers instead of the transports. One, the I-15, took on the HORNET’s group; the other, the I-19, unleashed four torpedoes at the WASP. Three of the four torpedoes struck the WASP with killing blows. Nearby, the LANSDOWNE barely missed being hit when one of the “fish” passed beneath the ship on its way to the carrier. Gasoline fires and exploding ammunition soon followed the torpedoes’ explosions, and the WASP’s captain ordered the crew to abandon ship. The DUNCAN moved in to pick up survivors. The next day, she transferred eighty-seven officers and 644 enlisted men to other ships and took two wounded officers, sixteen wounded enlisted men, and two bodies to the base hospital at Espiritu Santo.

The DUNCAN continued to operate out of Espiritu Santo, screening transports and ships of the covering forces in the Solomons. By the afternoon of 11 October 1942, she was part of the antisubmarine screen with Task Group 64, code-named Task Force Sugar. In the cruiser column were the SAN FRANCISCO (CA-38), BOISE (CL-47) SALT LAKE CITY (CL-25), and HELENA (CL-50). Screening the cruisers in a semi-circle around the head of the column from port to starboard were the destroyers McCALLA (DD-488); BUCHANAN (DD-484); FARENHOLT (DD-491), the squadron flagship; DUNCAN; and LAFFEY (DD-459). The group’s mission was to protect a vital transport convoy carrying 6,000 army troops to Guadalcanal. Late on the afternoon of the eleventh, the BUCHANAN dropped out of the formation to rescue the crew of a downed cruiser plane, but was back on station at 2211. In her absence, the DUNCAN moved up a station to a position that put her off the starboard bow of the SAN FRANCISCO where she stayed. An overcast sky intensified the darkness of the night as the ships neared the entrance to Savo Sound. Her crew was already at general quarters.

The task force was crossing the entrance to Savo Sound at 2223 when the order was given to change formation, and the DUNCAN moved up astern of the FARENHOLT, making her second of the van destroyers who were now ahead of the SAN FRANCISCO. The LAFFEY was astern of the DUNCAN. The BUCHANAN and McCALLA were at the rear of the cruiser column. At 2300 Savo Island lay six miles dead ahead. Shortly after 2308, according to official records, the DUNCAN’s “gun director reported numerous questionable radar pips at varying ranges and bearings to port.”  Twenty-five minutes later the HELENA’s radar confirmed an enemy force headed down the “slot” between Cape Esperance and Savo Island from the northwest. This contact came just as the American ships were reversing course, which put them directly in the path of the oncoming Japanese.

When the change was ordered, the destroyer squadron commander aboard the FARENHOLT, ordered the three van destroyers to slow to see if the destroyers in the rear would assume the van position. When it appeared they were continuing in the rear, he ordered the captain of the FARENHOLT to speed up and resume the lead. The DUNCAN and LAFFEY followed, racing up on the starboard side of the cruiser column. Aboard the DUNCAN, the fighter direction (FD) radar was showing good, clear contacts at a distance of 8,000 yards to starboard. Her captain saw that the FARENHOLT seemed to be running parallel to the port bow of the DUNCAN and “believed [the flagship] was heading to close these radar contacts.” On that assumption, he increased his ship’s speed to 30 knots, and turned more to the right. As it turned out, the FARENHOLT was attempting to get ahead of the cruisers. The DUNCAN was left alone steaming headlong toward the enemy when, at 2343, the American cruisers opened fire on the enemy force in what came to be known as the battle off Cape Esperance. As long as she was in the battle, the DUNCAN had to maneuver radically to avoid both enemy fire and that from her own forces.

As the DUNCAN prepared to launch torpedoes at what was later identified as the cruiser FURUTAKA, she had to back down to avoid colliding with another destroyer, which her captain believed to be the LAFFEY. Missing her first opportunity at the cruiser, the DUNCAN turned to fire her torpedoes to starboard. At that point, the captain saw a flash of gunfire from vessels astern of the enemy cruiser, and the DUNCAN received her first hit in the No. 1 fire room. In the meantime, her main battery had opened fire on the cruiser, hitting the enemy ship with eight or ten salvos followed by two torpedoes. Her guns then shifted to a destroyer, until her gun director was hit.

Fire from both enemy and American guns continued to tear into the destroyer collapsing her forward stack; demolishing her forward fire room and her radio, coding, and radar- and gun-plotting rooms; shutting down electrical lines; starting handling room fires that quickly spread beyond control; and setting the forecastle ablaze. The ship’s repair parties took heavy casualties. Because she had been in the process of a left turn when steering control was lost and her engines continued to run, she went reeling in circles that carried her out of the battle area.

Sometime between 0030 and 0100, her commanding officer ordered the crew to abandon the bridge, which had suffered severe damage and was nearly engulfed in flames. They lowered the wounded into life rafts, and the rest leapt into the water. A few men who thought the captain and others on the bridge had been killed fought gallantly to halt the raging fires and head the ship toward the beach on Savo Island. Around 0200 on 12 October, the loss of power and exploding ammunition finally forced the remaining men to abandon ship. The ship was still making headway, and those who jumped and the wounded who had been lowered to the water were scattered over a large area.

About an hour later, the McCALLA (DD-488) arrived. She had been on a search for the BOISE when she spotted the blazing ship and at 0300 sent a boarding party to see if she could be salvaged. They remained attempting to put out fires and curb the flooding until mid-day. When they finally gave up the attempt, the ship was smoldering but the fires had been so intense that everything metal on the ship had melted except the hull. The McCALLA also began a search for survivors, and at 0630 she picked up the first. Assisted by planes and landing craft sent from Guadalcanal, the destroyer continued her search for the widely scattered survivors until shortly after noon. The greatest number picked up in one location were thirty-one men in three rafts tied together. She received most of the survivors. The most dramatic rescue was a lieutenant who was alone and being attacked by a large shark. Three of the destroyer’s crew with rifles fired at the shark and stopped its attack until a boat could be lowered to pull the lieutenant from the sea. More sharks were seen circling other survivors, but only two were attacked. In all the McCALLA rescued 9 officers and 186 enlisted men. Four officers and forty-three enlisted men were killed or missing.

At about 1100 the DUNCAN began to list to port and settle in the water, which had reached her main deck forty-five minutes later. At 1242 her bow went under and, then, she rolled over and appeared to sink. She remained afloat with only her stern above water, however, and didn’t sink completely until the depth charges rigged by the McCALLA’s salvage party went off with a tremendous explosion. The DUNCAN finally went to the bottom six miles north of Savo Island.

USS DUNCAN DD-485 Ship History

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, July 2015

The second Duncan (DD-485) was launched 20 February 1942 by Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Kearny, N.J.; sponsored by Mrs. D. C. Thayer; and commissioned 16 April 1942, Lieutenant Commander E. B. Taylor in command.

Duncan sailed from New York on 20 June 1942 for the South Pacific, arrived at Espiritu Santo 14 September to join TFs 17 and 18 and with them departed the same day to cover transports carrying the 7th Marine Regiment to reinforce Guadalcanal. Duncan was in the screen of Wasp (CV-7) next day when the task force was attacked by two Japanese submarines. Wasp was torpedoed, and so severely damaged that she had to be sunk by United States ships. Duncan picked up survivors from the carrier, transferring 701 officers and men to other ships, and 18 wounded and 2 bodies to the base hospital at Espiritu Santo upon her arrival 16 September.

Duncan continued to operate from Espiritu Santo to the Solomons, screening transports and ship of the covering forces. On 11 October 1942 she was in the screen of TF 64 which was assigned to protect a vital transport convoy carrying reinforcements to Guadalcanal. Contact was made with a large enemy surface force just as the American ships were executing a course change as part of their battle plan. Duncan having a clear radar contact and seeing her flagship apparently steady upon a course which would close the target, believed the destroyers were closing to attack, and found herself charging alone toward the enemy force. In the resulting battle off Cape Esperance, she pumped several salvos into a cruiser, then shifted fire to a destroyer, at the same time maneuvering radically to avoid enemy fire and that from her own forces who were now joining in the attack. She got off two torpedoes toward her first target, the cruiser Furutaka, and kept firing until hits she had received put her out of action. The commanding officer ordered the bridge, isolated by fire, abandoned by the only route possible, over the side, and the wounded were lowered into life rafts. The men on board attempted to beach the ship on Savo Island, but then, believing she might yet be saved made a gallant fight to halt the raging fires until power failed, forcing the ship’s abandonment. McCalla (DD-488) rescued 195 men from the shark-infested waters and made an attempt to salvage Duncan but she sank on 12 October 1942, about 6 miles north of Savo Island.

Duncan received one battle star for World War II service.