The Benson class was a class of destroyers of the U.S. Navy built 1939–1943. The thirty 1,620-ton Benson-class destroyers were built in two groups. The first six were authorized in fiscal year 1938 (FY38) and laid down at Bethlehem Steel, Quincy, Massachusetts and three naval shipyards. The remaining 24 “repeat Bensons” were authorized in 1940–42 and built at four Bethlehem Steel yards. They were laid down after the first group was commissioned. These plus the “repeat Livermores” (also known as "repeat Gleaveses") were also known at the time as the Bristol class. During World War II the Bensons were usually combined with the Livermores (more correctly the Gleaves class) as the Benson-Livermore class; this persisted in references until at least the 1960s. In some references both classes are combined and called the Benson class. The Benson- and Gleaves-class destroyers were the backbone of the pre-war Neutrality Patrols and brought the action to the enemy by participating in every major campaign of the war.
USS Benson circa 1942
|Preceded by:||Sims class|
|Succeeded by:||Gleaves class|
|Subclasses:||24 Bristol class|
|Lost:||4 (1 returned to service)|
|Beam:||36 ft 1 in (11.00 m)|
|Range:||6,500 nautical miles (12,000 km; 7,500 mi) at 12 kn (22 km/h; 14 mph)|
|Complement:||208 (276 wartime)|
The lead ship of the class was named after William Shepherd Benson, a graduate of the Naval Academy in 1877. He commanded USS Albany, USS Missouri, USS Utah, and the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Benson was appointed first Chief of Naval Operations in 1915 and then served as CNO until he retired 25 September 1919. He died in Washington, D.C., 20 May 1932.
The Bensons were originally envisioned as a single class of 24 ships, the first eight of which were ordered in fiscal year 1938 (FY38). Six of these were designed by Bethlehem Shipbuilding, to be built at a Bethlehem yard and several naval shipyards, and two were designed by Gibbs & Cox, to be built at Bath Iron Works. All were to have 600 psi (4,100 kPa) steam (references vary) superheated to 750 °F (399 °C), with cruising turbines and double-reduction gearing to maximize fuel efficiency. After contract award, Bethlehem requested that their design be modified to use less-complex single-reduction gears and no cruising turbines. Bethlehem claimed they could achieve comparable fuel efficiency with the simpler machinery. This request was granted, but FY39 and FY40 ships, beginning with Livermore, would use the more complex machinery. So the class was known through World War II as the Benson-Livermore class, and this name persisted in many references until at least the 1960s. In the spring of 1938 the Navy's Bureau of Steam Engineering requested that the FY39 and FY40 ships be modified for 850 °F (454 °C) superheat. It proved possible for Bath to build their two FY38 ships, Gleaves and Niblack, to the new design. Gleaves was completed prior to Livermore and had a lower hull number, thus the class name is more correctly the Benson-Gleaves class.
The only external difference between the Benson and Gleaves classes was the shape of the stacks; the Bensons' were flat-sided and the Gleaveses' were round.
After the Fall of France in 1940 a rapid expansion of the Navy was envisioned. To fill the gap until the Fletcher-class destroyers would be ready for service, an additional 72 "repeat" Benson- and Gleaves-class ships were ordered in FY41 and FY42. 24 repeat Bensons were built by several Bethlehem yards, while an additional 48 repeat Gleaveses were built by various other builders. These were initially called the Bristol class after Bristol, a repeat Gleaves and the first of these to be completed, although the machinery of the repeat Bensons was different from the repeat Gleaveses. The repeat ships were ordered with reduced torpedo and gun armament and increased anti-submarine and light anti-aircraft armament.
The Benson class was designed as an improved version of the Sims class with two stacks and a new "echeloned" machinery arrangement that featured alternating boiler and engine rooms, designed to give the ships a better chance at surviving torpedo damage. Loss of one compartment, or even two adjacent compartments, would no longer disable the entire propulsion system. They also introduced quintuple torpedo tube mounts. Their scantlings, or framing dimensions, were increased to carry the weight of the new machinery. This increased the ships' displacement by about sixty tons, to 1620 tons standard displacement.
The class was completed with four or five 5-inch (127 mm) dual purpose guns (anti-surface and anti-aircraft (AA)), controlled by a Mark 37 Gun Fire Control System as in the previous Sims class. The introduction of two centerline quintuple torpedo tube mounts in this class was a significant improvement and was continued in subsequent World War II classes. This allowed a broadside of ten tubes with savings in space and weight compared to previous classes, which had twelve or sixteen tubes and an eight-tube broadside. However, most of the Bensons spent most of the war with only five torpedo tubes equipped in favor of greater light anti-aircraft armament. This varied considerably in different ships as the war went on; for example, the specified pair of twin 40 mm (1.6 in) guns were not widely available until mid-1942 and a quadruple 1.1 in (28 mm) machine cannon mount and a 20 mm (0.79 in) gun were temporarily substituted. In 1945 twelve ships (DD-600-601, 603-604, 608, 610, and DD-612-617) were modified for maximum light AA armament as an anti-kamikaze measure, with four 5-inch guns, no torpedo tubes, twelve 40 mm guns in two quad and two twin mounts and four 20 mm guns in two twin mounts. The first six ships landed a torpedo tube mount early in the war while on Atlantic service, but as they were transferred to the Pacific in early 1945 they were re-equipped with the torpedoes at the cost of a 5-inch gun. Photographs indicate that, as with most pre-1942 destroyers, the initial anti-submarine armament of two depth charge tracks was augmented with four or six K-gun depth charge throwers in 1941-42 on most ships.
The first six ships of the class began their careers on Neutrality Patrols, and after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the US entry into World War II continued to serve in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, supporting operations in North Africa, Italy, and southern France until transferred to the Pacific in early 1945. Several of the remaining ships spent the entire war in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Others served entirely in the Pacific, at first in the Solomon Islands or Aleutians and later in other campaigns. Three were lost in the war; two in the Pacific and one in the Mediterranean. A fourth lost the bow section but was rebuilt and returned to service. After the war the survivors were decommissioned and placed in the Reserve Fleet in 1946-47; one was transferred to Italy and two were transferred to Taiwan in the 1950s. Modernization was considered in the 1950s but not implemented except on the transferred ships. The remainder were scrapped or otherwise disposed of in the late 60s and early 70s.
USS Laffey and USS Barton were lost at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on 13 November 1942; USS Lansdale was lost to air attack in the Mediterranean Sea on 20 April 1944. Additionally, the bow section of USS Murphy was cut off in a collision with the tanker SS Bulkoil 75 nautical miles (139 km; 86 mi) from New York on 21 October 1943 and sank with the loss of 38 crew. The rest of the ship was saved and was rebuilt and returned to service; thus Murphy was not officially considered lost.
USS Laffey received a Presidential Unit Citation for her role in the Battle of Guadalcanal. USS Bailey received a Navy Unit Commendation for her service in the Battle of the Komandorski Islands, 26 March 1943. Also, USS Hilary P. Jones received a Navy Unit Commendation for her actions in the final operations in the Mediterranean Sea in September 1944.
Ships in class
|Ship Name||Hull No.||Builder||Laid down||Launched||Commissioned||Decommissioned||Fate|
|Benson||DD-421||Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts||16 May 1938||15 November 1939||25 July 1940||18 March 1946||Transferred to Republic of China, 26 February 1954|
|Mayo||DD-422||26 March 1940||18 September 1940||18 March 1946||Sold for scrap, 8 May 1972|
|Madison||DD-425||Boston Navy Yard||19 September 1938||20 October 1939||6 August 1940||13 March 1946||Sunk as target, 14 October 1969|
|Lansdale||DD-426||30 October 1939||17 September 1940||N/A||Sunk by the Luftwaffe, 20 April 1944|
|Hilary P. Jones||DD-427||Charleston Navy Yard||16 May 1938||14 December 1939||6 September 1940||6 February 1947||Loaned to Taiwan, 26 February 1954|
|Charles F. Hughes||DD-428||Puget Sound Naval Shipyard||3 January 1939||16 May 1940||6 September 1940||18 March 1946||Sunk as target, 26 March 1969|
|Laffey||DD-459||Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, San Francisco, California||13 January 1941||30 October 1941||31 March 1942||N/A||Sunk by Hiei, First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, 13 November 1942|
|Woodworth||DD-460||30 April 1941||29 November 1941||30 April 1942
21 November 1950
|11 April 1946
14 January 1951
|Transferred to Italy, 11 June 1951|
|Farenholt||DD-491||Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Staten Island, New York||11 December 1940||19 November 1941||2 April 1942||26 April 1946||Sold for scrap, 22 November 1972|
|Bailey||DD-492||29 January 1941||19 December 1941||11 May 1942||2 May 1948||Sunk as target, 4 November 1969|
|Bancroft||DD-598||Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts||1 May 1941||31 December 1941||30 April 1942||1 February 1946||Sold for scrap, March 16, 1973|
|Barton||DD-599||20 May 1941||31 January 1942||29 May 1942||N/A||Sunk by Amatsukaze, First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, 13 November 1942|
|Boyle||DD-600||31 December 1941||15 June 1942||15 August 1942||29 March 1946||Sunk as target, 3 May 1973|
|Champlin||DD-601||31 January 1942||25 July 1942||12 September 1942||31 January 1947||Sold for scrap, 8 May 1972|
|Meade||DD-602||Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Staten Island, New York||25 March 1941||15 February 1942||22 June 1942||17 June 1946||Sunk as target, 18 February 1973|
|Murphy||DD-603||19 May 1941||29 April 1942||23 July 1942||9 March 1946||Bow section sunk in collision with SS Bulkoil 75 miles (121 km) outside New York, 21 October 1943. Ship rebuilt and returned to service. Sold for scrap, 6 October 1972|
|Parker||DD-604||9 June 1941||12 May 1942||31 August 1942||31 January 1947||Sold for scrap, 25 May 1973|
|Caldwell||DD-605||Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, San Francisco, California||24 March 1941||15 January 1942||10 June 1942||24 April 1946||Sold for scrap, 4 November 1966|
|Coghlan||DD-606||28 March 1941||12 February 1942||10 July 1942||31 March 1947||Sold for scrap, 12 June 1974|
|Frazier||DD-607||5 July 1941||17 March 1942||30 July 1942||15 April 1946||Sold for scrap, 6 October 1972|
|Gansevoort||DD-608||16 June 1941||11 April 1942||25 August 1942||1 February 1946||Sunk as target, 23 March 1972|
|Gillespie||DD-609||16 June 1941||8 May 1942||18 September 1942||17 April 1946||Sunk as target, 16 July 1973|
|Hobby||DD-610||30 June 1941||4 June 1942||18 November 1942||1 February 1946||Sunk as target, 1 June 1972|
|Kalk||DD-611||18 July 1942||17 October 1942||3 May 1946||Sunk as target, 20 March 1969|
|Kendrick||DD-612||Bethlehem Steel Company, San Pedro, California, Terminal Island||1 May 1941||2 April 1942||12 September 1942||31 March 1947||Sunk as target, 2 March 1968|
|Laub||DD-613||28 April 1942||24 October 1942||2 February 1946||Sold for scrap, 14 January 1975|
|MacKenzie||DD-614||29 May 1941||27 June 1942||21 November 1942||4 February 1946||Sunk as target, 1 June 1974|
|McLanahan||DD-615||2 September 1942||19 December 1942||2 February 1946||Sold for scrap, 1 June 1974|
|Nields||DD-616||Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts||15 June 1942||1 October 1942||15 January 1943||25 March 1946||Sold for scrap, 8 May 1972|
|Ordronaux||DD-617||25 July 1942||9 November 1942||13 February 1943||27 March 1946||Sold for scrap, 16 March 1973|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Benson class destroyers.|
- Benson class at DestroyerHistory.org
- Benson Class at Destroyers.org
- Friedman, pp. 95-109, 470-471
- Silverstone, pp. 126-135
- USS Benson history website
- Bauer and Roberts, pp. 188-191
- Archived notes on Gleaves class at Destroyers.org
- Gardiner and Chesneau, pp. 128-129
- USS Benson (DD-421) and USS Mayo (DD-422) General Information Book with as-built data at Destroyer History Foundation Archived 19 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- Friedman, p. 107
- NavSource Destroyer Photo Index Page
- DANFS, various entries
- Gardiner & Chumbley, pp. 206, 455
- Friedman, pp. 107-108
- USS Murphy at DestroyerHistory.org
- Quest for Sunken Warships- USS Murphy, 2007, 19 July 2007, Military Channel, 2-3am, MDT.
- Destroyerhistory.org: Benson/Gleaves ship list
- Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775-1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-26202-0.
- Friedman, Norman (2004). US Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History (Revised Edition). Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-442-3.
- Gardiner, Robert; Chesneau, Roger (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-83170-303-2.
- Gardiner, Robert; Chumbley, Stephen (1995). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1947-1995. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 1-55750-132-7.
- Silverstone, Paul H. (1965). U.S. Warships of World War II. London: Ian Allan Ltd. ISBN 0-7110-0157-X.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.
- Benson- and Gleaves-class destroyers at Destroyer History Foundation
- Benson-class destroyers at Destroyer History Foundation
- Tin Can Sailors @ Destroyers.org - Benson class destroyer
- USS Benson (DD-421) and USS Mayo (DD-422) General Information Book with as-built data at Destroyer History Foundation
- NavSource Destroyer Photo Index Page