Benson Class, U.S. Destroyers

Photograph of Benson-class

Naval Historical Center #NH 51094

Schematic diagram of Benson class destroyer

ONI 222


Tonnage 1839 tons standard displacement
Dimensions 348'2" by 35'4" by 17'4"
106.12m by 10.77m by 5.28m
Maximum speed       35 knots
Complement 208
Armament 5 5"/38 dual-purpose guns
2x5 21" torpedo tubes
6 0.50 machine guns
2 depth charge tracks (10 depth charges)
2-shaft Westinghouse geared turbines (50,000 shp)
4 Babcock & Wilcox boilers
Bunkerage 453 tons fuel oil
Range 6500 nautical miles (12,000 km) at 12 knots
QC sonar
1942: Removed one bank of torpedoes and one 5"/38 mount. Added 6 20mm Oerlikon AA guns, 6 depth charge throwers, 62 additional depth charges, and SC and FD radar.

Late 1942: Removed 2 20mm guns and added 1x2 40mm Bofors AA guns. This modification was delayed by shortages of 40mm guns and throughout 1942 the ships of the class varied greatly in armament, with some receiving a temporary 1x4 1.1" gun mount.

1944: A number of units were converted to fast minesweepers by removing the torpedo tubes and one 5" gun. These units could sweep a 150 yard (137m) path at 15 knots.

1945-5: Light antiaircraft armament standardized to 2x2, 2x4 40mm guns and 2x2, 2x1 20mm guns with removal of all torpedo tubes. However, only twelve ships received this refit before the end of hostilities.

The Bensons were completed in 1940-43. The individual ships varied considerably in design details and are sometimes treated as up to three distinct classes (Benson, Gleaves, and Bristol). In particular, some of the Bristols were modified by replacing one of the 5" guns with 2 40mm Bofors and 4 20mm Oerlikons. They were "rush job" ships based on the Sims class and were meant to fill the gap until the Fletchers could appear in large numbers. As such, they performed adequately, helping to hold the line in the Solomons and elsewhere.

The ships had excellent machinery dispersal for their size, with widely separated boiler rooms. This required two funnels in place of the single funnel of the Sims. They were the first destroyer class to ship an emergency generator on the main deck, where it would be relatively safe from flooding, and their hulls were significantly stronger than the Sims. All these features enhanced survivability, which was first demonstrated when Kearny survived a torpedo hit by a German U-boat while participating in the Neutrality Patrol. The ships also proved capable of shipping new wartime equipment without excessive loss of stability. Those built by Bath Iron Works used the same high-pressure machinery as the Mahans while those build by Bethlehem used that company's own machinery. 

The Bensons introduced the quintuple torpedo tube mount (Mark 14 and Mark 15) that became standard on all wartime destroyer classes. The only significant difference between the two was that the Mark 15 had a circular blast shield for its operators to protect them from the destroyer's own gun battery. The mount was electrically trained (with manual backup) and remotely directed from Mark 27 directors on the bridge wings, backed up with simple local direction. All torpedoes had to be set to the same running depth, but the gyro angle setter could set all the torpedoes to the same course or to a spread around a base course. Torpedoes were launched using a black powder charge at 50 fps (15 m/s) using a flash eliminator. Torpedoes were usually launched in the sequence left, right, left center, right center, center. The launch tubes were heated in cold climates using ship's auxiliary steam to prevent icing up.

As Fletchers became available for fleet operations, many of the Bensons were optimized for convoy escort duty by replacing one torpedo bank with improved antisubmarine and antiaircraft weaponry. Although some consideration was given to continuing production of the Bensons, the decision was eventually made to focus on mass production of the Fletchers for fleet duty and destroyer escorts for convoy duty. However, following the Japanese surrender, the remaining Bensons were considered still capable enough to be put in reserve rather than scrapped.

Units in the Pacific:


Arrived 1942-2

Crippled in surface action and scuttled 1943-7-13 off Kolombangara


Arrived 1942-3-11

Sunk by aircraft 1942-10-15 in the Solomons


Arrived 1942-3-24

Sunk in surface action 1942-11-13 off Guadalcanal


Arrived 1942-3-25


Completed 1942-3-31 (San Francisco)

Sunk by gunfire 1942-11-13 off Guadalcanal


Completed 1942-4-30 (San Francisco)      

Bailey Arrived 1942-5
Bancroft Arrived 1942-5
Buchanan Arrived 1942-5
Barton Arrived 1942-6 Sunk by gunfire 1942-11-13 off Guadalcanal
Farenholt Arrived 1942-6
Aaron Ward Arrived 1942-6 Sunk by aircraft 1943-4-7 off Guadalcanal
Caldwell Completed 1942-6-10 (San Francisco)
Duncan Arrived 1942-7 Sunk in surface action 1942-10-12
Coghlan Completed 1942-7-10 (San Francisco)
Frazier Completed 1942-7-30 (San Francisco)
McCalla Arrived 1942-8-17
Lansdowne Arrived 1942-8-21
Lardner Arrived 1942-8-21
Gansevoort Completed 1942-8-25 (San Francisco)
Meade Arrived 1942-9-1
Gillespie Completed 1942-9-18 (San Francisco)
Kalk Completed 1942-10-17 (San Francisco)      
Edwards Arrived 1942-11
Endicott Completed 1943-2-5 (Seattle)
Welles Completed 1943-8-16 (Seattle)
Hobby Arrived 1944-1-9
Nicholson Arrived 1944-1-12
Wilkes Arrived 1944-1-12
Swanson Arrived 1944-1-14
Thorn Arrived 1944-1-29
Stevenson Arrived 1944-1-30
Stockton Arrived 1944-1-31
Eberle Arrived 1944-6
Arrived 1944-12
Destroyer-minesweeper conversion. Sunk by aircraft 1945-4-6 off Okinawa.
Arrived 1945-1
Destroyer-minesweeper conversion.
Arrived 1945-1-7
Destroyer-minesweeper conversion.
Arrived 1945-1-8

Arrived 1945-1-8
Destroyer-minesweeper conversion
Arrived 1945-1-10
Destroyer-minesweeper conversion
Arrived 1945-1-10
Destroyer-minesweeper conversion. Wrecked by aircraft 1945-4-16 off Okinawa and not repaired.
Arrived 1945-1-10 Destroyer-minesweeper conversion
Arrived 1945-1-10 Destroyer-minesweeper conversion
Arrived 1945-1-11
Destroyer-minesweeper conversion. Sunk by aircraft 1945-4-16 off Okinawa.
Arrived 1945-1-24
Destroyer-minesweeper conversion. Wrecked by aircraft 1945-4-16 off Okinawa and not repaired.
Charles F. Hughes       Arrived 1945-2
Shubrick Arrived 1945-2-1
Madison Arrived 1945-4-28
Herndon Arrived 1945-4-28
Benson Arrived 1945-5
Hilary P. Jones Arrived 1945-5-1
Odronaux Arrived 1945-5-8
Satterlee Arrived 1945-5-9
Mayo Arrived 1945-5-12
Boyle Arrived 1945-6
Champlin Arrived 1945-6-4

Photo Gallery

Forward quarter view of Benson-class destroyer

U.S. Navy

Profile view of Benson-class destroyer

U.S. Navy

Superstructure of Benson-class destroyer

U.S. Navy

Midships of Benson-class destroyer

U.S. Navy

Midships of Benson-class destroyer

U.S. Navy

Midships of Benson-class destroyer

U.S. Navy

Aft of Benson-class destroyer

U.S. Navy

Radars of Benson-class destroyer

U.S. Navy

FM 30-50 page for Benson-class destroyer

U.S. Navy

Booklet of general plans


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