O’Bannon and Taylor anchored in Sagami Wan with the sun setting behind Mount Fuji, viewed from Nicholas 27 August 1945.

NARA photo 19-N-35340. Source: Naval Historical Center Photographic Section
Bath Iron Works hull numbers 190 and 191, the future USS
Nicholas (left, background) and O’Bannon, under construction at Bath, Maine, in a progress photo, 1 January 1942.

The first shipyards to change over construction from Gleaves-class ships to Fletchers were Bath Iron Works (BIW) in Bath, ME and Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co. in Kearny, NJ. Both yards customarily laid down ships on adjoining slipways in pairs. Thus Fletcher was laid down side-by-side with Radford at Kearny on 2 October 1941 and Jenkins and La Vallette followed on 27 November. But before this, Nicholas and OBannon, Bath hull numbers 190 and 191, had been laid down on 3 March 1941, followed by Chevalier and Strong on 30 April, then Taylor and De Haven by the end of September.
   O’Bannon was launched 11 April 1942 at Bath. Sponsored by Mrs. E. F. Kennedy, a descendant of Lt. O’Bannon, she was the second Fletcher-class destroyer built at Bath Iron Works, which eventually completed 31 of them before changing over production to Allen M. Sumner- and Gearing-class ships.

On 21 June, 1942, O’Bannon was inclined at Bath. Also present were Chevalier, Strong and Taylor. Click on any image to view it in more detail.

USS O'Bannon (DD-451) inclining experiment 21 June 1942


O’Bannon, 7 July 1942, shortly after commissioning

Like other early Fletchers, O’Bannon initially carried a modified Measure 12 camouflage, but this was painted over before she left the East Coast. The result was a two-tone appearance similar to Nicholas, which was in turn painted over to an all-gray color the week before the Battle of Guadalcanal, 13 November 1942.
   After O’Bannon was modified, she appeared in dazzle camouflage (see below) during part of 1944, including the day she was presented with her Presidential Unit Citation. Later, she was repainted in overall ocean gray, which she carried through the end of the war.


Click on any image to view it in more detail.

O’Bannon passing Savo Island in 1942 (above), at sea in 1943 (top four photos at right), and as damaged by ramming Chevalier during the Battle of Vella Lavella, 6–7 October 1943 (bottom right).

O’Bannon‘s early colors were painted over the week before she participated in the Battle of Guadalcanal, 12–13 November 1942. She retained this all-gray appearance for the duration of her first tour, which ended with the collision with Chevalier in October 1943 (see damage in bottom photo, right). Thus, the photos at right provide a useful reference to her appearance from November 1942 through 1943.


Naval Institute photos
O’Bannon at Mare Island (right) and in San Francisco Bay after her refit and modifications, 8 January 1944.
   These photos reflect her general appearance through the end of World War II.
   Click on any image to view it in more detail.










     The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION to the


for service as set forth in the following


           “For outstanding performance in combat against enemy Japanese forces in the South Pacific from October 7, 1942, to October 7, 1943. An aggressive veteran after a year of continuous and intensive operations in this area, the U.S.S. O’BANNON has taken a tremendous toll of vital Japanese warships, surface vessels and aircraft. Launching a close range attack on hostile combatant ships off Guadalcanal on the night of November 13, 1942, the O’BANNON scored three torpedo hits on a Japanese battleship, boldly engaged two other men o’ war with gunfire and retired safely in spite of damage sustained. During three days of incessant hostilities in July 1943, she gallantly stood down Kula Gulf to bombard enemy shore positions in coverage of our assault groups, later taking a valiant part in the rescue of survivors from the torpedoed U.S.S STRONG while under fierce coastal battery fire and aerial bombing attack and adding her fire power toward the destruction of a large Japanese naval force. In company with two destroyers, the O’BANNON boldly intercepted and repulsed nine hostile warships off Vella Lavella on October 7, 1943, destroying two enemy ships and damaging others. Although severely damaged, she stood by to take aboard and care for survivors of a friendly torpedoed destroyer and retired to base under her own power. The O’BANNON’s splendid achievements and the gallant fighting spirit of her officers and men reflect great credit upon the United States Naval Service.”

              For the President,

              /s/ Frank Knox
              Secretary of the Navy 

Click on the image above to view it in more detail. Then click again to view it in full size.

Deck Logs of O’Bannon
Click on the images below to view OBannon’s deck logs from 27–29 August, when she entered Sagami Wan and Tokyo Bay, and from 1 September 1945, when she departed Tokyo Bay for the voyage home.



Nicholas and O’Bannon together late in World War II.

Laid down the same day at Bath, Maine, built side-by-side over the next year, in action together throughout World War II, selected to enter Tokyo Bay together at the end of the war, recommissioned
O’Bannon Presidential Unit Citation presentation, New Guinea, viewed from Nicholas, with Radford at left.
together for the Korean War, and finally decommissioned together in 1970, Nicholas and O’Bannon were twins.
     The first two Fletchers launched and commissioned, they plus Fletcher, were the only ships of the class to arrive in the Pacific in September–October 1942 during the Guadalcanal Campaign. On 12 November, these three ships were escorting a nearby convoy when RAdm. Daniel Callaghan saw the need to add destroyers to his task force; while Nicholas stayed with the convoy, O’Bannon and Fletcher featured in the Friday-the-Thirteenth naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
     Nicholas and O’Bannon continued to serve together in the Solomon Islands, both participating in frequent actions up the “Slot” including the Battles of Kula Gulf and Kolombangara, 5–6 and 12–13 July 1943

From Nicholas’s Press News, published aboard ship October 21, 1943, following the battle of Vella Lavella, during which O’Bannon lost part of her bow in a collision with the sinking Chevalier.

As we all know, the O’Bannon, Chevalier and Selfridge did a bang up job the other night. On our arrival in port from our last mission, the following messages were sent and received:


Congratulate you on your good work and your good fortune.


Thank you for your message.  We still seem to be lucky.


Heartiest congratulations from each and every one of us. We are proud to know you. Best of luck in all your future operations.


To the Nicholas gang from the O’Bannon gang. It was nuttin fellows really it was nuttin.

and the action off Horaniu, Vella Lavella, 18 August. Nicholas was alongside De Haven when the latter was lost to air attack in February, and in line ahead of Strong when that ship was torpedoed in July. O’Bannon engaged shore batteries while Chevalier rescued Strong survivors in July, then rammed the torpedoed Chevalier and picked up her survivors during the Battle of Vella Lavella in October.
     Nicholas, flagship of their squadron, earned a Presidential Unit Citation with the Radford for her action following the Battle of Kula Gulf. O’Bannon earned a Presidential Unit Citation for her overall action in the Solomons, presented with Nicholas and Radford in attendance (see photo above). Both were lucky to dodge enemy bombs and gunfire and to be missed by torpedoes that could easily have hit. Both sank enemy submarines; both were awarded Philippines Presidential Unit Citations.
     Both were selected by Adm. Halsey to escort his flagship Missouri into Japanese waters at the end of the war. O’Bannon ended the war with 17 battle stars earned (a number surpassed only by aircraft carrier Enterprise’s 20, 7 of which were earned before O’Bannon earned her first); Nicholas earned 16. O’Bannon lost no shipmates throughout the war; Nicholas only two.
O’Bannon and Nicholas in the fifties.
     Throughout, their crews enjoyed the respect and esteem of one another and of the entire Navy—O’Ban non received a particular tribute by Adm. Halsey and was understood by her crew to be his favorite destroyer; Nicholas received similar tributes by DesPac and Adm. Nimitz.
     Mothballed and then recommissioned together nine years to the day after Nicholas was launched, they continued to serve with distinction, even escorting nuclear carrier Enterprise together off Vietnam in the late sixties. Finally, on 30 January 1970, they were decommissioned in the same ceremony, and sold for scrap. Both their names were taken by later US Navy ships and even by starships in science fiction.

Below: Nicholas and O’Bannon escort Enterprise (CVAN 65) off Vietnam in the sixties.