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DD-409 Sims

This class of destroyers was the last to be completed before the U.S. entered World War II. According to Norman Friedman in his book U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History (Revised Edition), the Sims class was the first to use the advanced Mark 37 Gun Fire Control System. This system enabled remote and automatic targeting of guns against surface ships, aircraft, and shore targets. An interesting design note for the Sims class ships is that they were the last one-stack destroyers. This was because their larger boilers required the boiler rooms to be built adjacent forward and the engine rooms adjacent aft.

USS Sims was the lead ship of a class of 1570-ton destroyers, was built at Bath Maine. The Sims-class destroyers were welded steel vessels with an overall length of 348.3 feet, a waterline length of 341.4 feet, a 36.1-foot beam, a 19.8-foot depth, and a 17.4-foot draft. The Sims-class destroyers displaced 1,720 tons standard - they were supposed to have been 1,570 tons; lack of communication between the Navy's Bureau of Construction and Repair and the Bureau of Engineering led to the overweight problem of the Sims-class. As a result of this and other problems, the two Bureaus were merged into a single organization, the Bureau of Ships, in 1940. The twin screws were driven by Westinghouse steam turbines and three oil-fired Babcock and Wilcox boilers, rated at 50,000 shaft horsepower at 35 knots.

The Navy experimented with streamlining these vessels in an effort to improve speed and fuel consumption; a rounded bridge structure on the Sims-class produced less wind resistance and turbulence than previous classes. Anderson's main battery comprised five 5-inch/38 caliber guns in single mounts. The ship carried twelve triple-mounted 21-inch torpedo tubes on deck. In mid-1941, four .50 caliber machine guns for AA use were installed. Anderson also mounted two depth charge racks aft.

The twelve Sims-class destroyers were the last of the American "single stackers". These vessels were the result of a 1935 request by the Chief of Naval Operations for a new design for destroyers. The U.S. Navy's General Board forwarded a proposal in May 1936 for a 1,570-ton ship with five 5-inch guns and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes. Twelve destroyers were built to the design, commencing with USS Sims (DD-409). Authorized in fiscal year 1937, the destroyers were built by different yards to a design by the noted New York firm of Gibbs and Cox.

The Sims-class had robust hulls and were heavily armed; more significantly, these destroyers were the first to carry the newly developed Mark 37 fire control system, which introduced for the first time in a destroyer a computer room below decks--an innovation that proved highly successful in combat in WWII and was fitted to all major US combatant vessels by 1945.

Of 12 Sims-class destroyers, none survived past 1948; five were lost during the war, Anderson was sunk at Bikini in 1946, three were broken up in 1947, and three were sunk as targets in 1948.

Operationally, all 12 destroyers of the Sims Class saw much action during World War II. Unfortunately, five ships were lost: USS Sims (DD 409) in the Battle of Coral Sea; USS Hammann (DD 412) in the Battle of Midway; USS Walke (DD 416) in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal; USS OBrien (DD 415) while en route to Pearl Harbor for repairs after being torpedoed by Japanese Submarine I-19 more than a month earlier; and USS Buck (DD 420) off Salerno, Italy by German Submarine U-616.

USS Anderson, the third of twelve Sims-class destroyers, was laid down in late 1938 at the Kearny, New Jersey, yard of the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Corporation (a subsidiary of U.S. Steel). The destroyer was launched on February 4, 1939, and fitted out over the next few months. [88] Anderson was commissioned on May 19, 1939, and began a year-long program of tests and trials. Sent into the Pacific in 1940, Anderson spent a year as flagship of Destroyer Division 3 until sent back to the Atlantic in June 1941. There, the destroyer joined the other Sims-class vessels in Neutrality Patrol and convoy duties between Canada and Iceland. Anderson was part of the escort force for three convoys. Following the Japanese attack on the US fleet at Pearl Harbor, Anderson returned to the Pacific in December 1941. The remainder of the ship's career was spent in the Pacific. Anderson ended the war by participating in the occupation of northern Honshu after the Japanese surrender.

The ship was ordered to the Atlantic for decommissioning. Anderson arrived at San Diego on November 8, en route to Philadelphia. On November 14, 1945, however, Anderson was ordered retained in the Pacific "in an inactive status in view of experimental tests." Selected as a target vessel for Operation Crossroads Anderson was "stripped in preparation for use as a target..." at Pearl Harbor between January and May 1946. Arriving at Bikini on May 30, 1946, Anderson was in the company of the carrier Saratoga.

Anderson was moored close to the actual zeropoint for the Able test on July 1, 1946. Following the burst, Anderson suffered two explosions within nine seconds' time. USS Anderson's superstructure was badly damaged by the Able test burst; the stack toppled, and a fire started abaft the bridge. The fire subsided in a minute's time, then flared up as Anderson capsized to port. The ship capsized, while burning, onto its port side, and sank within seven minutes. Once capsized, Anderson sank by the stern. Ironically, the destroyer that had stood by and rendered assistance when Lexington went down, sank at Bikini with Saratoga, sister of the lost carrier.

Shortly after the Able event, Navy divers found the destroyer in 176 feet of water, lying on its port side, with the bow imbedded in the bottom and the stern lying 15 feet off the bottom. The damage that sank the ship was presumed to be on the port side; the starboard hull was wrinkled and "several seams...were leaking oil and air." The worst damage noted was topside; the mainmast was stripped of fittings and the yardarm was snapped in half. Radar antenna and the stack were missing. The deckhouses were crumpled, the No. 2 gun shield split open, bulwarks on several superstructure decks were torn away, the torpedo crane was bent at a 90-degree angle, and the starboard "Y" depth charge launchers were ripped off the deck. The Navy determined that blast damage and a post-blast fire and explosion sank Anderson. This was the only occasion during the tests that shipboard munitions detonated.

Anderson was stricken from the Navy register on September 25, 1946. The ship's bell and nameplate were presented to the city of Anderson, South Carolina, by Congressional request. These had apparently been removed at Bikini and given to an Anderson, South Carolina, press representative on board USS Appalachian.

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Page last modified: 16-11-2017 18:44:35 ZULU