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USS Jarvis (DD-393)


USS Jarvis (DD-393)

USS Jarvis (DD-393)
United States
Namesake: James C. Jarvis
Builder: Puget Sound Navy Yard
Laid down: 21 August 1935
Launched: 6 May 1937
Commissioned: 27 October 1937
Fate: Sunk by Japanese aircraft off Guadalcanal 9 August 1942.
General characteristics
Class & type: Bagley-class destroyer
Displacement: 2,325 tons (full), 1,500 tons (light)
Length: 341 ft 8 in (104.14 m)
Beam: 35 ft 6 in (10.82 m)
  • 12 ft 10 in (3.91 m) full,
  • 10 ft 4 in (3.15 m) light
  • 49,000 shp;
  • 2 propellers
Speed: 38.5 knots (71.3 km/h)
  • 6,500 nautical miles (12,000 kilometres)
  •   @ 12 kt (22.2 km/h)
Complement: 158 (254 wartime)

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 at the age of 13 during the Quasi-War with France.

She saw service in the Pacific in the early months of World War II, and participated in the invasion of Guadalcanal.

She was sunk to the south of Guadalcanal on the 9th August, 1942, with all hands - one of only two American major surface warships to be lost in WWII with no survivors.


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 on the 14th July, Jarvis arrived in Wellington, New Zealand, on the 19th to join Task Force 62, which sailed on the 22nd 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 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 Yūnagi 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-based 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.


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

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