Saturday, September 19, 2015

America's New Deal Navy: Destroyers USS Drayton and USS Lamson

Above: The PWA provided funds for the construction of the U.S.S. Drayton (DD-366), shown here near Mare Island Naval Shipyard, California, in 1944. The barrel-shaped depth charges seen in this photograph highlight one of the primary roles of a destroyer - finding and eliminating enemy submarines. The Drayton participated in the search for Amelia Earhart in 1937, and was involved in a large number of conflicts in the Pacific during World War II, earning eleven battle stars. Photo courtesy of the National Archives and

Above: PWA funds also built the U.S.S. Lamson (DD-367). The Lamson had a particularly violent life. In late 1944, a Japanese aircraft crashed into her and caused many casualties. Then, on July 2, 1946, she was sunk by one of the atomic explosion tests at Bikini Atoll (the video above shows the wreck of the Lamson in 2012). Nevertheless, the Lamson earned five battle stars during the war, knocking out several enemy aircraft, protecting other ships, and supporting many invasions with shore bombardments. Original YouTube link to the video:

The Drayton and Lamson could travel at 40+ knots, had twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes, five 5-inch guns, and anti-aircraft weapons.  

Sources of information: (1) Federal Works Agency, Millions for Defense, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940. (2) "Executive Order 6174 on Public Works Administration, June 16, 1933," American Presidency Project, University of California - Santa Barbara. (3) Naval History and Heritage Command ( (4) "Brooklyn Navy Yard History: The New Deal Yard, 1933-1937, Part 2," Columbia University. This article lists all 32 PWA-funded ships, citing: "'Ships Under NIRA,' in Letter, Inspector of Naval Material (H.I. Thompson), to Commandants (of navy yards), (and others), 20 September 1933; RG181; National Archives - New York."

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