Military Wiki
USS O'Brien (DD-415)
USS O'Brien (DD-415)
O’Brien (DD-415) c. 1940
Builder: Boston Navy Yard
Laid down: 31 May 1938
Launched: 20 February 1939
Commissioned: 2 March 1940
Honors and
American Defense Service Medal ("Fleet" clasp)
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (1 star)
World War II Victory Medal
Fate: Suffered structural damage as a result of being torpeded by I-19 15 September 1942, founded on 19 October 1942 (all hands saved)
General characteristics
Class & type: Sims-class destroyer
  • 1,570 long tons (1,600 t) (std)
  • 2,211 long tons (2,246 t) (full)
Length: 348 ft, 3¼ in, (106.15 m)
Beam: 36 ft, 1 in (11 m)
Draft: 13 ft, 4.5 in (4.07 m)
Propulsion: High-pressure super-heated boilers, geared turbines with twin screws, 50,000 horsepower
Speed: 35 knots
Range: 3,660 nautical miles at 20 kt (6,780 km at 37 km/h)
Complement: 192 (10 officers/182 enlisted)
  • 5 × 5 inch/38, in single mounts
  • 4 × .50 caliber/90, in single mounts
  • 8 × 21 inch torpedo tubes in two quadruple mounts
  • 2 × depth charge track, 10 depth charges

USS O'Brien (DD-415) was a World War II-era Sims-class destroyer in the service of the United States Navy, named in honor of Captain Jeremiah O'Brien and his five brothers, Gideon, John, William, Dennis and Joseph, who captured the HMS Margaretta on 12 June 1775 during the American revolution.

The O’Brien was laid down at Boston Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts, on 31 May 1938; launched on 20 October 1939; sponsored by Miss Josephine O’Brien Campbell, a great-great-great granddaughter of Gideon O’Brien; and commissioned on 2 March 1940, with Lieutenant Commander Carl F. Espe in command. Since this warship was built in a drydock, along with the Walke, Lansdale, and Madison, the christening and commissioning ceremonies were combined.

Service history

Inter-War Period

Throughout 1940-1941, the USS O'Brien operated along the Eastern Seaboard.

World War II

After drydocking and repairs during the fall of 1941, the O'Brien left Norfolk, Virginia on 15 January 1942 along with the Idaho and Mustin, and then steamed for the Pacific Ocean. Transiting the Panama Canal on 20 January, the trio of ships arrived in San Francisco, California, on 31 January.

The O’Brien steamed with a convoy for the Western Pacific on 4 February 1942, but she was forced to return when a collision with Case damaged her port side. Following repairs at the Mare Island Navy Yard, the destroyer steamed out again on 20 February, bound for Pearl Harbor. There Commander Destroyer Division 4 shifted his flag to the O’Brien on 5 March 1942.

After operating out of Pearl Harbor and patrolling the Hawaiian atoll, French Frigate Shoals, the O'Brien called at Midway Island in the latter part of March, escorting the seaplane tender Curtiss there to evacuate civilians. The two warships returned to Pearl Harbor on 3 April. After an increase and improvement of her antiaircraft batteries, she embarked passengers for transportation to the Naval Air Station at Palmyra Atoll, and then steamed out on 18 April with the Flusser and Mugford. The destroyer then joined convoys from San Diego and San Francisco to escort them to American Samoa, arriving at Pago Pago on 28 April.

The O’Brien was retained at Pago Pago for local escort work. On 26 May, she supported the occupation of Wallis Island, previously taken over by the Free French, and then she joined the Procyon on 19 June for the return voyage to Pearl Harbor. Operating out of Pearl Harbor, the ship performed escort duty and acted as patrol and plane guard. She got underway on 17 August with Task Force 17 (TF 17) to reinforce the South Pacific Force, screening the tanker Guadalupe.


While escorting a convoy of troop transports en route to Guadalcanal, the combined Task Forces 17 and 18 were attacked by the submarine I-19 on 15 September 1942. The aircraft carrier USS Wasp (CV-7) was sunk, and the battleship USS North Carolina and the O’Brien were damaged by a spread of six torpedoes from this IJN submarine.

Torpedo from I-19 hits O’Brien. USS Wasp can bee seen burning in the background.

At 1452 that afternoon, the O’Brien sighted smoke coming from the USS Wasp. As a member of Hornet's antisubmarine warfare screen, she made an emergency turn to the right. At about 1454, while accelerating and swinging right, her lookouts spotted a torpedo two points forward of the port beam, 1,000 yards (915 meters) away. This torpedo then missed O'Brien close astern, but while her crew's attention was concentrated on it, another torpedo hit her port bow.

This explosion did little obvious damage, but it set up severe structural stresses throughout the framework of the O'Brien. She was able to proceed under her own power, and on 16 September she reached Espiritu Santo, where the sailors of the USS Curtiss made temporary repairs. The USS O’Brien next steamed out on 21 September, bound for Noumea, New Caledonia, for further repairs by the repair ship Argonne. Then, she steamed out on 10 October, bound for San Francisco Bay.

The O'Brien made it to Suva in the New Hebrides on 13 October, and then she steamed out once more on 16 October. The rate of leakage of seawater into the O'Brien continued to increase, and on 18 October it was necessary for O’Brien to head for the nearest anchorage. Large amounts of topside weights were jettisoned, and preparations were made for abandoning the ship, but her captain still thought that she could be taken intact to Pago Pago. However, at about 0600 on 19 October, her bottom suddenly split open considerably, and her forward and after hull portions began to work independently. At 0630 all hands except for a small salvage crew abandoned, but half an hour later the O'Brien was abandoned entirely. Just before 0800 she descended beneath the waves, and after steaming nearly 3,000 miles (5,500 km) since she had been torpedoed. All members of her crew were saved.


The USS O'Brien earned one battle star during World War II.


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

External links

Coordinates: 13°30′S 171°18′W / 13.5°S 171.3°W / -13.5; -171.3

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