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USS Gleaves (DD-423)
USS Gleaves
Builder: Bath Iron Works
Laid down: 16 May 1938
Launched: 9 December 1939
Commissioned: 14 June 1940
Decommissioned: 8 May 1946
Struck: 1 November 1969
Fate: Sold 29 June 1972 and broken up for scrap
General characteristics
Class & type: Gleaves-class destroyer
Displacement: 1,630 tons
Length: 348 ft 3 in (106.15 m)
Beam:   36 ft 1 in (11.00 m)
Draft:   13 ft 2 in (4.01 m)
Propulsion: 50,000 shp (37 MW);
4 boilers;
2 propellers
Speed: 37.4 knots (69 km/h)
Range: 6,500 nautical miles at 12 kt
  (12,000 km at 22 km/h)
Complement: 16 officers, 260 enlisted
Armament:   5 × 5 in (127 mm) DP guns,
  6 × 0.5 in. (12.7 mm) guns,
10 × 21 in (53 cm) torpedo tubes,
  2 × depth charge tracks

USS Gleaves (DD-423), the lead ship of the Gleaves-class of destroyers, is the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for Admiral Albert Gleaves, who is credited with improving the accuracy and precision of torpedoes and other naval arms.

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, Lieutenant Commander E. H. Pierce in command.

World War II

Atlantic convoys

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 May to 12 May 1942, despite the efforts of Gleaves and the other escort vessels, seven ships of the convoy ONS-92 were lost in two separate attacks by a large wolfpack.

Convoys escorted

Convoy Escort Group Dates Notes
task force 19 1–7 July 1941[1] occupation of Iceland prior to US declaration of war
ON 18 24 Sept-2 Oct 1941[2] from Iceland to Newfoundland prior to US declaration of war
HX 154 12-19 Oct 1941[3] from Newfoundland to Iceland prior to US declaration of war
ON 30 2-9 Nov 1941[2] from Iceland to Newfoundland prior to US declaration of war
HX 164 10-19 Dec 1941[3] from Newfoundland to Iceland
ON 49 27 Dec-5 Jan 1942[2] from Iceland to Newfoundland
HX 171 22-30 Jan 1942[3] from Newfoundland to Iceland
ON 62 7-13 Feb 1942[2] from Iceland to Newfoundland
HX 178 MOEF group A3 6–16 March 1942[3] from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 79 MOEF group A3 24 March-3 April 1942[2] from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
HX 185 MOEF group A3 18–26 April 1942[3] from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland
ON 92 MOEF group A3 7–18 May 1942[2] from Northern Ireland to Newfoundland
AT 18 6-17 Aug 1942[4] troopships from New York City to Firth of Clyde

European invasions

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 (DD-431) 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 October 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.

Post war

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 Aleutian Islands to Seattle, Washington, on "Magic-Carpet" duty, arriving 10 December 1946. She then moved to San Francisco and on 2 January 1946 departed for Charleston, South Carolina At Charleston, where she arrived 18 January 1946, Gleaves decommissioned 8 May 1946, and was placed in reserve at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania She was later moved to the Reserve Fleet at Orange, Texas, where she remained through 1967. Gleaves was stricken from the naval register on 1 November 1969 and sold 29 June 1972 and broken up for scrap.

Gleaves received five battle stars for World War II service.

In popular culture

Gleaves is mentioned in a song "Wolfpack" by Swedish power metal band Sabaton.The theme of the song is the attack of the wolf pack Hecht on the convoy ONS-92.


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

  1. Morison, Samuel Eliot (1975). The Battle of the Atlantic September 1939-May 1943. Little, Brown and Company. pp. 74–79. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 "ON convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "HX convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 
  4. "AT convoys". Andrew Hague Convoy Database. Retrieved 2011-06-20. 

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