Historical Sketch of
Text from Principal Investigator
DD-375 was named for 19th century naval hero John Downes (1786-1854).
Aboard the frigate
Downes served against the Barbary
Pirates in 1804. He later served as Capt. David Porter's executive officer
during the War of 1812. He later served as
Commodore of the Pacific and Mediterranean Squadrons. The second naval
vessel to bear the name
, DD-375 was commissioned on 15
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941,
was in drydock adjacent to the destroyer
(DD-372) and the
(BB-38). Unable to maneuver all three ships
came under severe attack. Incendiary bombs landed between
starting fires on both vessels that were fed by ruptured
fuel tanks. Despite heavy strafing the crews of both destroyers got their
antiaircraft batteries into action driving off further attacks. The
drydocks were flooded in an effort to put out the fires but the burning oil
rose with the water level and the flames began to ignite the ammunition and
torpedo warheads stored in both destroyers. This forced the abandonment of
both destroyers. Later in the day,
slipped from her keel
blocks (which held her upright in the drydock) and leaned against
were initially written
off as complete losses.
was officially decommissioned on 20
June 1942. However, salvage operations saved much of the
machinery and it was shipped to the Mare Island Navy Yard and placed into a
new hull. Rebuilt and recommissioned at Mare Island, on 15 November 1943,
the new Downes re-entered service escorting convoys to Pearl Harbor in
earned 4 battle stars for her wartime service.
After the war
was decommissioned on 17 December 1945 and sold
18 November 1947.
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
vols., (Navy Department, Office of Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History
Division, Washington, DC, 1963), Volume II, pp.294-295.
Richard H. Stewart Interview, Oral History
Collection, Manuscripts and Rare Books Department, Collection No. 188.
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