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DD-423 Gleaves

The Gleaves class was the production destroyer of the US Navy when it entered World War Two. The first, Gleaves (DD-423), was laid down in May 1938; the last, Thorn (DD-647), in November 1942. Sixty five were built at various shipyards between 1938-43. Twenty one were in commission when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. They had a range of 6500 miles at 12 knots.

The Gleaves class was initially known as the Livermore class because the design was standardized with Livermore, DD 429. The Navy had requested a design change - increasing temperature from 700 to 825 for follow-on ships from Gibbs & Cox. Bath acted quickly enough to incorporate this change in its first two ships. Thus, Gleaves emerged as the class leader for all the Gibbs & Cox-designed ships, which also included all sixteen FY 1939 and 1940 ships (DDs 429-444), as Bethlehem's follow-on bid to build more ships with its own machinery was rejected.

In July 1940, the US Navy General Board held a hearing on a variety of destroyer topics, mostly about anti-aircraft guns and protection of ships with armor, but also on the stability of the Gleaves-class of 2000 plus tons. The question reduced to whether the new design of 2100-ton destroyers shall be modified. The Navy had yet to fix, in the design period and before production, the inherent instability in any of the destroyer classes since WW I.

The Board recommended replacing multiple single mount 5" guns with dual mounts as a weight-saving measure, as well as lowering the guns one deck, two among many measures to reduce topside weights and lower the overall center of gravity on destroyers. The primary purpose was to increase stability of the platform in heavy seas and when turning at speed, but the secondary result was the ability to properly distribute the weight throughout the ship so that the Navy did not have to add fixed ballast, thus causing a reduction in speed, cruising radius, and possibly armament.

Ingraham (DD-444) of this class was sunk in a terrible collision with the oiler Chenango (AO-30) in August 1942 and only eleven crew survived. Turner (DD-648) suffered internal explosions off New York on 3 January 1944 and sank with 138 men lost. Hobson (DD-464) was struck amidships by the aircraft carrier Wasp (CV-18) on 26 April 1952, broke in half and sank taking 176 men with her. Eleven were lost to enemy action during World War Two. Most were decommissioned just following World War Two. Eleven remained in commission into the 1950s, the last withdrawn from service in 1956.

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