Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

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Allen M. Sumner-class destroyers

Allen M. Sumner-class destroyers

Named after Captain Allen M. Sumner, Jr., USMC, who participated in the Battle of Belleau Wood and later died in battle in France during World War I, the Allen M. Sumner-class of 58 destroyers served during World War II until the early 1970s.   USS Barton (DD-772) was the first destroyer of the class and was commissioned on December 30, 1943.   The destroyers had twin 5-inch/38 caliber gun mounts forward, and the after mount could be trained forward to fire over the mast.   The ships also had twin rudders, allowing for better maneuverability than previous destroyers.   Fifty-five of the class were completed before the end of the war. 

Four of the destroyers were lost by enemy action in battle engagements.   For the Atlantic, USS Meredith (DD-726) struck a mine on June 7, 1944, following supporting the landing at Omaha Beach during Operation Overlord (Normandy).   While being towed on June 9, she was spotted by the enemy and attacked, subsequently sinking.   In the Pacific, USS Cooper (DD-695) was torpedoed and sunk on December 3, 1944, by Japanese destroyer Take at Ormoc Bay.   On April 12, 1945, USS Mannert L. Abele (DD-733) was sunk by an Ohka (Baka) bomb during the Okinawa Campaign.   USS Drexler (DD-741) met the same fate when she was sunk by a Japanese Kamikaze on May 28, 1945.  During the Korean War, the destroyer class provided offshore gunfire support.  

In the early sixties, the destroyer class was converted under the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization II (FRAM II) program.  During the Vietnam War, the ships provided offshore gunfire support and served as escorts for carrier and amphibious groups.  On June 2, 1969, USS Frank E. Evans (DD-784) collided with HMAS Melbourne (R-21) and was later disposed of due to the accident.   In the early 1970s, twenty-nine of the class were sold to foreign navies while the remaining destroyers were either sunk in training exercises or scrapped.  The one surviving Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer remaining in the United States, USS Laffey (DD-724), serves as a museum ship at Patriots Point, Charleston, South Carolina.  She is also a survivor of an intense Kamikaze attack on April 16, 1945, during the Okinawa Campaign. 

A cut-away model of an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer is on display at the "In Harm's Way: Pacific" exhibit at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy, Bldg. 76. 

This page features selected views of the Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer. 

Image:  NH 107014:  USS Barton (DD-722), Allen M. Sumner class destroyer, port view, underway, October 4, 1959.