USS Sims (DD 409) stands off the Kennebec River, Maine, 6 July 1939.
Sims class
The 1,570-ton Sims class, authorized in 1937, occupied a transitional niche in US destroyer history. Historian John Reilly places it with the 1,500-ton classes as “third generation” destroyers—the last without a powerplant “split” into pairs of firerooms and engine rooms for increased survivability, as betrayed by their single stack. It was also the last class completed before the United States entered World War II.

It was the first class, however, with a lengthened, 348-foot hull plus a faired sheer strake, which gave it a modern appearance carried on by the Benson and Gleaves classes, and a streamlined bridge, which was carried all the way into early ships of the Fletcher class.

Twelve ships were built in seven yards. Led by Anderson, six of these were commissioned in 1939; the other six in 1940.


Length: 348' 1-3/4" overall; 340' 10-1/8" design waterline.1

Beam: 36' 1-1/8".1

Freeboard: 21' 4-1/8" at bow; 10' 7-1/2" at stern.1

Displacement: 1,570 long tons design; 1,770 long tons to design waterline.1

Draft: 17' 4" max.3

Propulsion machinery: 3 x Babcock & Wilcox boilers; 665 psi, 715° F.; Westinghouse geared turbines; 50,000 shp; 2 shafts.3

Designed speed: 37 knots.2

Fuel bunkerage: 451.39 tons full load (95%).1

Endurance: 5,640 nm at 12 knots.3

Designed complement: 10 officers; 182 enlisted.3


Torpedo battery: as designed: twelve 21-inch: one quadruple centerline mount abaft the stack; one quadruple wing mount on each side of the main deck; in service: eight 21-inch in two quadruple centerline mounts abaft the stack, later four or none.

Main gun battery: four (initially five) dual purpose 5-inch/38: two forward in enclosed base ring mounts; two, (initially three) aft in open and/or enclosed base ring mounts.

Secondary battery: 1939: Four .50 cal machine guns; 1945: Two or four 40mm twins; four 20mm singles.

In 1941, operating in the Atlantic, the eight low-numbered ships were formed as the two divisions of Destroyer Squadron 2 while the four highest-numbered ships Morris, Wainwright, Roe and Buck, were assigned as flagships for Destroyer Squadrons 2, 8, 11, and 13 respectively.

In December, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, DesRon 2 was transferred to the Pacific, where it was assigned carrier escort duty for much of the next year with ships participating in the Battles of the Coral Sea, of Midway and of the Santa Cruz Islands. One or more of them were present at the sinking of all four US carriers lost in 1942; four of them—Sims, Hammann, O’Brien and Walke—were also lost.

In the Mediterranean, Buck was torpedoed in October 1943, but Roe and Wainwright were transferred to the Pacific in 1943 and 1944 respectively, where they were later assigned to DesRon 2.

Collectively, the seven surviving ships served in every theater from the tropics to the Aleutians and, led by Russell, all earned 10 or more battle stars by the end of the war. 1945 brought them to Okinawa, where Hughes, Anderson and Morris suffered kamikaze damage. The flagship was repaired only as needed to make the voyage home; all the rest survived.

After the war, Russell, Morris and Roe were sold for scrap while Hughes, Anderson, Mustin and Wainwright were used as targets for the Bikini atomic tests. There, while Anderson was sunk in Test Able on 1 July 1946, Mustin, Hughes and Wainwright survived both Tests Able and Baker. Scientists monitored their radioactivity until 1948, when they were sunk by gunfire—Mustin and Wainwright off Kwajalein in April and July, and Hughes—the last surviving ship of the class—near California’s Farallon Islands in October.

1 Bureau of Construction and Repair’s General Information book for USS Sims and USS Hughes. Dimensions given for Sims.
2 Bauer and Roberts.
3 Friedman.