USS MONAGHAN was the second and
last of the FARRAGUTs built at the Boston Navy Yard complex.
She was launched in January of 1935 and was commissioned on
April 10, 1935.
DD-354 was named for ENS John
R. Monaghan who died attempting to defend his superior officer
against an attack by Samoan natives in 1899.
Of the eight FARRAGUTs built,
MONAGHAN spent more of her time in the Atlantic; the big
destroyer was used extensively in her early years of operation
for training purposes. The Navy had already begun the training
program that would supply the nation with capable crews in the
war to come. Many hundreds would learn their trade aboard
MONAGHAN. Inevitably, however, she would be transferred to the
Pacific for operations with her sisters, Plan ORANGE, the Navy
Department's strategy to defeat Japan in the war every planner
saw as inevitable, was in full effect. The big destroyers
required months of "joint operations" to perfect the
skills needed in those fleet actions.
December 7, 1941 found MONAGHAN
serving as the ready duty destroyer at Pearl Harbor. Hours
before Japanese aircraft hit the sprawling Hawaiian base, USS
WARD (DD-139), an aging four-stacker patrolling off the harbor
entrance, reported firing on and depth charging an enemy
submarine in a restricted area. By the time word of the attack
filtered through the staff of the Commander, 14th Naval
District, almost three hours had passed. MONAGHAN, already
with steam up, was ordered to support WARD. The first bombs of
the Japanese attack hit Ford Island just as DD-354 got
Reports flashed across the
harbor; another enemy midget submarine was sighted north of
Ford Island, moving to fire her torpedoes at Battleship Row.
MONAGHAN churned up the harbor as she sped toward the
intruder. The tin can struck the sub a glancing blow, then
immediately rolled two depth charges, a dangerous practice in
such confined and shallow waters. It didn't matter to the crew
of MONAGHAN, they were to score the second submarine kill
against a Japanese undersea "raider" that day. The
wreckage of this midget attacker would be used for landfill in
Over the first several weeks of
the war MONAGHAN, along with DALE and ALYWIN, alternated
between screening American carriers and performing
antisubmarine patrols off Hawaii. Although the trio frequently
depth charged apparent submarine contacts in those hectic
days, post war Japanese records do not confirm a kill for the
MONAGHAN served as a "red
herring" at the battle of the Coral Sea; she was
dispatched from the fast carriers to send important messages
at a location far from the strike force, confusing the
Japanese at a critical time in the drama. Her return to Hawaii
came just in time for the most important single naval battle
of World War II.
DD-354 screened USS ENTERPRISE
(CV-6) during the critical battle, then was called upon to aid
the stricken YORKTOWN (CV-5). Along with four other
destroyers, MONAGHAN remained with the wounded carrier, aiding
in damage control and taking off crew. The Imperial Japanese
Navy (IJN) submarine I-168 succeeded in slipping past the
screening destroyers and firing fatal torpedoes into both
YORKTOWN and USS HAMMANN (DD-412). The carrier went down
sixteen hours later, the destroyer went down in four minutes.
Like her sisters, DD-354 served
next in the Aleutians, where her classic torpedo attack in the
battle of the Komandorski Islands convinced the Japanese
commander not to tangle with angry American destroyer men. Her
very effective operations off Kiska, weeks later, drove the
INJ submarine I-7 ashore. One less submarine would be
available for the Imperial troops being evacuated.
MONAGHAN served in scores of
operations against Japanese strong points in the Central
Pacific and assisted the fast carriers off Saipan, Eniwetok,
Guam, and in the battle of the Philippine Sea.
The valiant destroyer was
screening three fleet oilers bound to resupply Task Force 38's
fast carrier strike force when the December typhoon of 1944
hit. MONAGHAN was "light," she had been storm. The
nearly 100-knot winds and sixty-foot waves railed the
destroyer on her beam-ends; each time she recovered. Finally,
a huge wall of water hammered the vessel under. Three days
later, six men, the only survivors of the gallant MONAGHAN,
were rescued by search craft.
MONAGHAN was awarded twelve
battle stars for her service in World War II.