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US NAVY SHIPS

USS Benham (DD-397), 1939-1942

USS Benham, lead ship of a class of ten 1,500 ton destroyers, was built at Kearny, New Jersey, and commissioned in February 1939. She served in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico until the Spring of 1940 and was thereafter in the Pacific. When the Japanese opened the Pacific War on 7 December 1941 with the Pearl Harbor attack, Benham was at sea with the aircraft carrier Enterprise. During the first nine months of the conflict, she continued to serve as a carrier escort, mainly with Enterprise, participating in the April 1942 Doolittle Raid on Japan, the Battle of Midway in early June, the Guadalcanal-Tulagi invasion in early August and the Battle of the Eastern Solomons later in August.

Benham remained active in the very difficult Guadalcanal campaign for the next two and a half months. In the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in late October, Benham was with Rear Admiral Willis A. Lee's battleship-cruiser task force and did not make contact with the enemy. However, on the night of 14-15 November 1942, Lee led his force of two battleships and four destroyers into the narrow waters immediately north of Guadalcanal, on a mission to prevent a Japanese bombardment of the U.S. airfields there. Benham was one of the destroyers, and in the resulting second major surface action of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, she was hit in the bow by a torpedo. The "whipping" effect of this blow severely weakened her midships hull structure, and the next day the destroyer began to break up while withdrawing from the combat area. Her crew was taken off by USS Gwin, and Benham was then scuttled by gunfire.

USS Benham was named in honor of Rear Admiral Andrew E.K. Benham, USN, (1832-1905).

This page features all the views we have concerning USS Benham (DD-397).

Photo #: NH 97822

USS Benham (DD-397)


Off Kearny, New Jersey, 4 January 1939.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, Naval History and Heritage Command collection

Online Image: 92KB; 740 x 510 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 81172

USS Benham (DD-397)


Underway in New York Harbor, with the anchor detail assembled on her forecastle and the port anchor partially down, 1939.

Donation of Lieutenant Gustave J. Freret, USN (Retired), 1972.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 41KB; 740 x 465 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 81173

USS Benham (DD-397)


Anchored in New York Harbor, during a naval review in 1939.

Donation of Lieutenant Gustave J. Freret, USN (Retired), 1972.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 52KB; 740 x 460 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 81264

USS Benham (DD-397)


Anchored in New York Harbor, during a naval review in 1939.
Note motion picture screen on her fantail.

Donation of Lieutenant Gustave J. Freret, USN (Retired), 1972.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 56KB; 740 x 465 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 67537

USS Benham (DD-397)


Anchored off New York City, 30 April 1939.

Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1969.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 57KB; 740 x 460 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 90936

USS Benham (DD-397)


Off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 6 February 1942.

Courtesy of Rear Admiral Joseph M. Worthington, USN (Retired), 1980.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 73KB; 740 x 610 pixels

 
hoto #: NH 95574

Battle of Midway, June 1942


USS Benham (DD-397), with 720 survivors of USS Yorktown on board, closes USS Portland (CA-33) at about 1900 hrs, 4 June 1942. A report of unidentified aircraft caused Benham to break away before transferring any of the survivors to the cruiser and they remained on board her until the following morning.
Note Benham's oil-stained sides. The abandoned Yorktown is in the right distance.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 89KB; 640 x 675 pixels

 
Photo #: 80-G-312064

Battle of Midway, June 1942


Survivors of USS Hammann (DD-412) are brought ashore at Pearl Harbor from USS Benham (DD-397), a few days after their ship was sunk on 6 June 1942.
Note Navy ambulance in left foreground, many onlookers, depth charge racks on Benham's stern and open sights on her after 5"/38 gun mount.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives Collection

Online Image: 131KB; 740 x 545 pixels

Reproductions may be available at National Archives.

 
Photo # NH 106830

USS Benham
(DD-397)

Members of the ship's crew at Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, shortly after she was lost on 15 November 1942.

Donation of Danny L. Kruse, 2009, from the collection of his father, former U.S. Navy Carpenter's Mate 2nd Class Quentin L. Kruse, who served in Benham at the time of her loss.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 261KB; 900 x 750 pixels

 

For higher resolution images see: Obtaining Photographic Reproductions

To the best of our knowledge, the pictures referenced here are all in the Public Domain, and can therefore be freely downloaded and used for any purpose.





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