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USS Grayson (DD-435)
USS Grayson (DD-435)
Builder: Charleston Navy Yard
Laid down: 17 July 1939
Launched: 7 August 1940
Commissioned: 14 February 1941
Decommissioned: 4 February 1947
Struck: 1 June 1972
Fate: Sold 12 June 1974
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:   11 ft 10 in (3.61 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,
  6 × 20 mm AA guns,
10 × 21 in (53 cm) torpedo tubes,
  2 × depth charge tracks

USS Grayson (DD-435), a Gleaves-class destroyer, is the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for Rear Admiral Cary Travers Grayson, who served as personal physician and aide to President Woodrow Wilson during World War I. He also served as chairman of the American Red Cross from 1935 until his death 15 February 1938.

Grayson was laid down 17 July 1939 by the Charleston Navy Yard, South Carolina, launched 7 August 1940; sponsored by Mrs. Alice Gertrude Gordon Grayson Harrison (Mrs. George Leslie Harrison), widow of Rear Admiral Grayson; and commissioned 14 February 1941, Lieutenant Commander Thomas M. Stokes in command.

Atlantic escort duty, transfer to Pacific and Doolittle Raid

After shakedown along the New England coast and in Chesapeake Bay, Grayson joined Destroyer Division 22 (DesDiv 22) of the Atlantic Fleet. On 28 August the new destroyer be became flagship of Destroyer Squadron 11 (DesRon 11) operating in the Caribbean out of Guantanamo Bay. She reported for neutrality patrol in the North Atlantic waters between Newfoundland and Iceland on 26 October.

After ten months patrolling and protecting convoys in the icy North Atlantic, Grayson was ordered to the Pacific to join an American fleet battered but resolutely carrying the war to the enemy. She sailed from San Diego on 2 April 1942 as part of aircraft carrier Hornet's escort and rendezvoused at sea 13 April with Enterprise (CV-6) under Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr. From this fast carrier force, steaming less than 800 miles from the Japanese home islands, General Jimmy Doolittle launched his famed B-25 raid, the Doolittle raid on Tokyo, 18 April, bringing war to the enemy's own land.

The task group sailed into Pearl Harbor on 25 April. Grayson departed almost immediately for repairs in California, but soon returned to the Pacific war.


Grayson again found herself with a fast carrier force as she sailed from Pearl Harbor 15 July to escort Enterprise and Hornet. Reaching Guadalcanal via Tongatapu on 7 August 1942, the carriers launched their planes to cover Marine landings there, America's first major blow of the war on the road to Japan; and then operated in the area to block Japanese reinforcements. As they maneuvered off Guadalcanal, Enterprise was hit by Japanese bombs 24 August in an action filled half-hour which saw Grayson down two planes and damage a third. The task group dispersed, Enterprise returning to Pearl Harbor for repairs, and Grayson joined Task Force 11 (TF 11), built around Saratoga (CV-3) under Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher. Action soon followed. Sighting a Japanese submarine on the surface the next day, 25 August, Grayson closed for the kill. After expending 46 depth charges — her entire supply — in a series of five attacks, the destroyer saw a huge air bubble and oil slick rise to the surface indicating that they had sunk an Imperial submarine.

The battle-proven ship and crew remained in the bitterly contested waters around Guadalcanal for nearly eight months in a variety of duties. The Grayson convoyed troop transports loaded with reinforcements from Nouméa and other staging areas to Guadalcanal, patrolled in "The Slot", served as a radar picket ship, and performed valuable rescue work. On 18 October she picked up 75 survivors from Meredith (DD-434), sunk by aerial torpedo 16 October, and helped escort the barge Vireo, loaded with desperately needed fuel and ammunition, to Guadalcanal.


Returning to Pearl Harbor 15 April 1943 for overhaul, Grayson continued on to the States for further repairs and finally sailed to New Caledonia, arriving 24 September. She accounted for at least four and possible two more Japanese barges loaded with evacuees from Kolombangara during three nights of action, 30 September – 3 October, with DesRon 21 under Commander A. D. Chandler. After 3 months of patrol duty, Grayson sailed for Puget Sound Navy Yard 16 December for overhaul.


Grayson soon returned to the Pacific, putting in at Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands, 10 February 1944. Patrol duty in the Solomons, Carolines, and Marshalls occupied her the following 6 months. On 30 March Grayson supported initial assault landings on Pityilu Island, Admiralties, from 22 to 24 April she was fighter-director ship for the landings at Tanahmerah Bay, Dutch New Guinea. She bombarded Biak Island on 27 May and Noemfoor Island on 2 July prior to invasion landings.

On 1 September 1944 Grayson joined TG 38, for carrier strikes against the enemy in the Palau Islands, scene of the next major invasion. She returned to Seeadler Harbor on 30 September. She again sailed 2 October for a major strike against Okinawa and the Philippines. Japanese planes harassed the withdrawal, and on 15 October Grayson rescued 194 men from the torpedoed light cruiser Houston (CL-81), who was towed safely to Ulithi.

Prom Ulithi, Grayson sailed straight to Saipan, where on 3 November she took up radar picket and lifeguard duty. Finally Grayson was ordered home, reaching Seattle 9 June 1945 for her first real rest since the war began.

End of World War II and fate

Grayson returned to Pearl Harbor 1 September 1945, the day of the signing of the Articles of Surrender in Tokyo Bay. After brief training she sailed for the United States. transiting the Panama Canal 8 October, she put in at Charleston, South Carolina, 16 October. Eleven days later the battle-scarred "tin can" hosted over 5,000 visitors as a grateful and jubilant public paid tribute on Navy Day. Grayson remained at Charleston until decommissioned, 4 February 1947, and was placed in reserve. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1972 and sold 12 June 1974 and broken up for scrap.

Grayson received 13 battle stars for World War II service. In 1965, Grayson — via stock footage — appeared in Gilligan's Island episode “Forget Me Not” steaming alongside USS Emmons (DD-457), representing U.S. Navy ships looking for the stranded castaways.


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

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