USS Jarvis (DD-393)

USS Jarvis (DD-393)

USS "Jarvis" (DD-393), a "Bagley"-class destroyer, was the 2nd ship of the United States Navy to be named for James C. Jarvis, a U.S. Navy midshipman who was killed during the Quasi-War with France.

The second "Jarvis" (DD-393) was laid down by Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington, 21 August 1935; launched 6 May 1937; sponsored by Mrs Thomas T. Craven, wife of Vice Admiral Craven; and commissioned 27 October 1937, Lieutenant Commander R. R. Ferguson in command.


Clearing Puget Sound 4 January 1938, "Jarvis" operated along the California coast and in the Caribbean until 1 April 1940 when she departed San Diego for fleet exercises off the Hawaiian Islands. She arrived Pearl Harbor 26 April, cruised the Pacific to Midway and Johnston Islands, and steamed to San Francisco 8 February 1941 for overhaul. Returning to Pearl Harbor 17 April to commence more than seven months of intensive maneuvers as part of Destroyer Division Eight (DesDiv 8) of Destroyer Squadron Four, she put into Pearl Harbor 4 December following exercises off Maui Island.

Attack on Pearl Harbor

Three days later the Japanese executed the carefully planned, devastating attack on Pearl Harbor. Moored next to "Mugford" (DD-389) in berth B6 of the Navy yard for minor repairs, "Jarvis" opened fire with 5-inch guns and machine guns and made preparations to get underway within minutes of the initial attack her 5-inch guns were among the first to challenge the enemy raiders, and her gunners proudly claimed four planes. As the first wave of enemy bombers raked Battleship Row with torpedoes and bombs, Ensign W. F. Greene laconically appraised the situation with the following entry in "Jarvis"' Deck Log: "0758 Hostilities with Japan commenced with air raid on Pearl Harbor. Went to General Quarters." Emerging from the attack with no loss of crew and only superficial damage, Jarvis sortied that morning with several cruisers and destroyers to conduct surveillance and ASW patrols.

First war cruises

On the 16th she cleared Pearl Harbor with "Saratoga" (CV-3) and joined Task Force 14, steaming to relieve the beleaguered defenders on Wake Atoll. Recalled to Pearl Harbor 23 December, after the rescue mission aborted, Jarvis returned the 29th to resume ASW patrols. While operating with "Lexington" (CV-2) and her screening cruisers, Jarvis rescued 182 survivors of the stricken fleet oiler "Neches" (AO-5) 6 hours after she was torpedoed during mid-watch 23 January 1942.

"Jarvis" departed Pearl Harbor 5 February to escort a convoy to Brisbane, Australia. Following her return 27 March, she sailed 8 April for San Francisco to undergo alterations with the other ships of DesRon Four. She returned to Pearl 18 May escorting 13 ships and proceeded 5 days later via Fiji to Sydney, Australia. Arriving 18 June, she commenced convoy escort and ASW patrols from Australia to New Caledonia, continuing this duty until called to participate in the invasion of Guadalcanal.

Guadalcanal campaign

Steaming from Sydney 14 July, "Jarvis" arrived Wellington, New Zealand, the 19th to join Task Force 62, which sailed 22 July for the Solomons. After conducting rehearsal landings in the Fiji Islands 28-30 July, the invasion force of 84 ships and 20,000 marines steamed for Guadalcanal 31 July. Protected from Japanese search planes by rain and heavy mists, the force arrived off the landing beaches at dawn 7 August.

Following naval and air bombardment of enemy defenses, the first amphibious operation of the war commenced at 0650. "Jarvis" patrolled watchfully as part of the protective screen while Marines established a beachhead. As landing operations progressed, Americans expected the Japanese to strike vigorously at the transports with land-based planes. However, during two attacks which occurred that afternoon the Americans sustained only minor damage on "Mugford" (DD-389) while splashing 14 enemy planes.

Following night patrol off the southern end of Savo Island, Jarvis returned to Lunga Point to screen the unloading transports. Warning of an impending air attack suspended these operations; and the transports and their protective screen of destroyers and cruisers deployed in the body of water between Guadalcanal and Florida Island, soon to be called "Ironbottom Sound". When enemy torpedo bombers appeared about noon 8 August, they met a lethal stream of antiaircraft fire. Only 9 of the 26 planes breached the deadly defense of flaming lead, but they set "George F. Elliott" (AP-13) ablaze and torpedoed "Jarvis".


With 5-inch shells and machine gun fire pouring out at the attackers, Jarvis maneuvered between "Vincennes" (CA-44) and one of the planes during the thick of the fight. As antiaircraft fire consumed the plane, its torpedo exploded against Jarvis' starboard side near the forward fireroom, stopping her dead in the water and killing 14 crewmen. Her crew jettisoned the port torpedoes and quickly brought under control the fires that followed the explosion. "Dewey" (DD-349) towed her to shallow anchorage off Lunga Point; and, after the attack, she crossed "Iron-bottom Sound" to Tulagi, where she transferred her seven wounded and commenced emergency repairs.

Despite a 50-foot gash in her side, she was considered seaworthy and ordered to proceed under cover of darkness to Efate, New Hebrides, escorted by the minesweeper "Hovey". Apparently unaware of the order because her radios had been disabled, her skipper, Lt. Comdr. William W. Graham Jr., decided to steam to Sydney, Australia, for immediate repairs from "Dobbin" (AD-3). Unnoticed by her own ships, "Jarvis" departed Tulagi at midnight 9 August and moved slowly westward through "Ironbottom Sound" and between Savo Island and Cape Esperance. At 0134 she passed 3,000 yards northward of Rear Admiral Mikawa's cruisers, steaming to meet the Americans at the costly Battle of Savo Island. Mistaking her for a cruiser of the New Zealand Achilles-class, they fired torpedoes, and destroyer "Yunagi" later engaged her briefly, all without effect.

The destroyer, continuing to retire westward, had little speed, no radio communications, and few operative guns; but she refused aid from "Blue" (DD-387) upon being sighted at 0325. After daybreak, a Saratoga, scout plane sighted her 40 miles off Guadalcanal, trailing fuel oil and down by the bow. That was the last time Americans saw her.

Loss of Jarvis

The Japanese, however, still mistaking "Jarvis" for an escaping cruiser, dispatched 31 planes from Rabaul to search out and destroy her. Once discovered, the determined, but badly damaged, destroyer was no match for bombers raking the ship with bullets and torpedoes. According to Japanese records, "Jarvis" "split and sank" at 1300 on 9 August. None of her 233 remaining crew survived the onslaught.

"Jarvis" received three battle stars for World War II service.


External links

* [ USS "Jarvis"]
* [ USS "Jarvis"]
* [ USS "Jarvis"]

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