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USS MONAGHAN (DD-354)

 

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 underway.

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 the 1960's!

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 tin cans.

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.

 

 

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